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Why do jails exist?

keithprosser
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6/5/2016 1:55:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I suggest that jails do not exist primarily as places to lock criminals up in after they have commited a crime. Their main purpose is to be a threat looming over us to discourage committing crimes in the first place.

People naturally have a wide variation in their behaviour, but to function a society needs its members to behave in a standardised way, so everyone knows more or less what to expect of each other. The threat of Jail doesn't stop individuals who naturally behave far from the approved norms from committting crimes, but it does help bring those who would naturally behave slightly outside that range 'into the fold'.

It does this because when we choose what to do we weigh up the risks against the benefits. The risk of Jail diminishes the attractiveness of criminal acts, especially for those who are selfish rather than empathic - empathics hardly need the extra incentive to steal from another person.

So suppose a minor surgical procedure could render a convicted thief less selfish and more empathic so they wouldn't steal again. As a society that procedure could be ignored, mandatory on conviction or offered to a convict as an alternative to jail time.
As a prisoner, if offered, one could choose the procedure or jail time.

I would offer the choice, but not take it because I value choice and the ability to chose quite highly.

Comments?
srehtiw
Posts: 491
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6/5/2016 2:37:45 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/5/2016 1:55:00 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I suggest that jails do not exist primarily as places to lock criminals up in after they have commited a crime. Their main purpose is to be a threat looming over us to discourage committing crimes in the first place.

People naturally have a wide variation in their behaviour, but to function a society needs its members to behave in a standardised way, so everyone knows more or less what to expect of each other. The threat of Jail doesn't stop individuals who naturally behave far from the approved norms from committting crimes, but it does help bring those who would naturally behave slightly outside that range 'into the fold'.

It does this because when we choose what to do we weigh up the risks against the benefits. The risk of Jail diminishes the attractiveness of criminal acts, especially for those who are selfish rather than empathic - empathics hardly need the extra incentive to steal from another person.

So suppose a minor surgical procedure could render a convicted thief less selfish and more empathic so they wouldn't steal again. As a society that procedure could be ignored, mandatory on conviction or offered to a convict as an alternative to jail time.
As a prisoner, if offered, one could choose the procedure or jail time.

I would offer the choice, but not take it because I value choice and the ability to chose quite highly.

Comments?

I think the 5 concepts behind prison were meant to be: Rehabilitation, Deterrent, Punishment, Protection (of the rest of the society from the criminal) and Restitution, to try and somehow make up for what they did.

As for which is most important, I would primarily say the Protection as when it comes down to it when they are allowed to walk free the criminal is in some small way a threat to society itself, and reducing that threat is the most important thing to do.

And for the operation, as you said I would allow it as an option but would not take it myself if given the choice.
keithprosser
Posts: 3,747
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6/5/2016 3:40:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I put deterrence first because it affects everybody whether they go to jail or not, but I take your point.

Of course something similar to the operation already exists in the use of chemical castration for convicted rapists and pedophiles, either currently imlemented or actively considered in several countries.

So it seems you and I are both not too bothered by the state enforcing compliant behaviour from its citizens by chemical and/or surgical means.
dylancatlow
Posts: 13,070
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6/5/2016 9:35:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I think sending criminals to prison serves two purposes: deterrence and containment. It reduces the prevalence of crime as well as takes dangerous people off the street. If a criminal could just opt for a surgical procedure as a way of avoiding a prison sentence then there would be less reason for them to obey the law to begin with, since if they ever got caught they could simply ask to be "fixed" and carry on with their lives. But if such a procedure was developed and proven to be relatively safe and effective, then I'd be in favor of using it in conjunction with the current punitive measures.
"In case anyone hasn't noticed it, the West is in extremis. The undertaker is checking his watch at the foot of its bed, and there's a sinister kettle of croaking, money-feathered vultures on the roof."
zmikecuber
Posts: 4,517
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6/6/2016 1:07:41 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/5/2016 1:55:00 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I suggest that jails do not exist primarily as places to lock criminals up in after they have commited a crime. Their main purpose is to be a threat looming over us to discourage committing crimes in the first place.

People naturally have a wide variation in their behaviour, but to function a society needs its members to behave in a standardised way, so everyone knows more or less what to expect of each other. The threat of Jail doesn't stop individuals who naturally behave far from the approved norms from committting crimes, but it does help bring those who would naturally behave slightly outside that range 'into the fold'.

It does this because when we choose what to do we weigh up the risks against the benefits. The risk of Jail diminishes the attractiveness of criminal acts, especially for those who are selfish rather than empathic - empathics hardly need the extra incentive to steal from another person.

So suppose a minor surgical procedure could render a convicted thief less selfish and more empathic so they wouldn't steal again. As a society that procedure could be ignored, mandatory on conviction or offered to a convict as an alternative to jail time.
As a prisoner, if offered, one could choose the procedure or jail time.

I would offer the choice, but not take it because I value choice and the ability to chose quite highly.

Comments?

Because retribution. You do something evil, you ought to be punished accordingly because the idea of justice demands it. If you torture small children, it is incredibly unjust for you to get away with no punishment. So primarily, I think punishment should be about retribution, although the whole prison thing might also be very much a deterrent.

Especially if you meet this guy in prison...
"Delete your fvcking sig" -1hard

"primal man had the habit, when he came into contact with fire, of satisfying the infantile desire connected with it, by putting it out with a stream of his urine... Putting out the fire by micturating was therefore a kind of sexual act with a male, an enjoyment of sexual potency in a homosexual competition."
ken1122
Posts: 1,127
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6/6/2016 4:18:14 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/5/2016 1:55:00 PM, keithprosser wrote:
So suppose a minor surgical procedure could render a convicted thief less selfish and more empathic so they wouldn't steal again. As a society that procedure could be ignored, mandatory on conviction or offered to a convict as an alternative to jail time.
As a prisoner, if offered, one could choose the procedure or jail time.

I would offer the choice, but not take it because I value choice and the ability to chose quite highly.

Comments?

Suppose the choice were life in prison without any chance of parole? Would you take the surgery then? How about if you were 25 years old and your choices were surgery or 30 years? 20 years? where would you draw the line?

Ken
A1tre
Posts: 272
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6/6/2016 8:05:19 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/5/2016 1:55:00 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I suggest that jails do not exist primarily as places to lock criminals up in after they have commited a crime. Their main purpose is to be a threat looming over us to discourage committing crimes in the first place.

People naturally have a wide variation in their behaviour, but to function a society needs its members to behave in a standardised way, so everyone knows more or less what to expect of each other. The threat of Jail doesn't stop individuals who naturally behave far from the approved norms from committting crimes, but it does help bring those who would naturally behave slightly outside that range 'into the fold'.

It does this because when we choose what to do we weigh up the risks against the benefits. The risk of Jail diminishes the attractiveness of criminal acts, especially for those who are selfish rather than empathic - empathics hardly need the extra incentive to steal from another person.

So suppose a minor surgical procedure could render a convicted thief less selfish and more empathic so they wouldn't steal again. As a society that procedure could be ignored, mandatory on conviction or offered to a convict as an alternative to jail time.
As a prisoner, if offered, one could choose the procedure or jail time.

I would offer the choice, but not take it because I value choice and the ability to chose quite highly.

Comments?

If such a procedure were possible then why not carry it out on every newborn in order to wipe out crime all together? Why not create a world where everyone has perfect manners and is altruistic?
socialpinko
Posts: 11,679
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6/7/2016 4:25:45 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The historical origin of prisons (in America and, to an extent, in Britain)lie almost exclusively in putting the poor to work. Legislation at the time listed idleness as a punishable offense and so work houses were set up and manned by those found guilty of it (I.e., the poor). An interpretation of the genesis of Anglo prisons could therefore be linked to our now entrenched (though not always) attitudes toward economic productivity and its accompanying legal mechanisms and institutions.

Of course there are other factors which could be applied to different regions and time periods (look at the laws erected in post-Civil War South which were not only arbitrary (being out of work reappears amongst others) but applied exclusively to newly freed slaves. Many prisons in this instance served as a means for keeping African Americans in continued subjection.

Even in our current time, the material operation of prisons is not necessarily linked to idealistic social goals such as retribution or what have you. Transgender women in low income areas are routinely (if not systematically) locked up on suspicion of solicitation (penitentiaries as enforcers of gender divisions- which is of course nothing new, laws on the books which made cross dressing or "non-natural" relations legally punishable has its own history).

I don't know if in making a point but if I am its that we can theorize all day about why prisons *should* exist or what kind of function they should serve or even what type of person deserves to live in its walls. But that discourse is of no use when divorced from the ways in which prisons were formed, operate now, or from the traces which connect the two.
Axonly
Posts: 2,392
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6/7/2016 1:12:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/5/2016 1:55:00 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I suggest that jails do not exist primarily as places to lock criminals up in after they have commited a crime. Their main purpose is to be a threat looming over us to discourage committing crimes in the first place.

People naturally have a wide variation in their behaviour, but to function a society needs its members to behave in a standardised way, so everyone knows more or less what to expect of each other. The threat of Jail doesn't stop individuals who naturally behave far from the approved norms from committting crimes, but it does help bring those who would naturally behave slightly outside that range 'into the fold'.

It does this because when we choose what to do we weigh up the risks against the benefits. The risk of Jail diminishes the attractiveness of criminal acts, especially for those who are selfish rather than empathic - empathics hardly need the extra incentive to steal from another person.

So suppose a minor surgical procedure could render a convicted thief less selfish and more empathic so they wouldn't steal again. As a society that procedure could be ignored, mandatory on conviction or offered to a convict as an alternative to jail time.
As a prisoner, if offered, one could choose the procedure or jail time.

I would offer the choice, but not take it because I value choice and the ability to chose quite highly.

Comments?

Interesting points.
"Hate begets hate"
dylancatlow
Posts: 13,070
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6/7/2016 5:49:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/7/2016 4:25:45 AM, socialpinko wrote:
The historical origin of prisons (in America and, to an extent, in Britain)lie almost exclusively in putting the poor to work. Legislation at the time listed idleness as a punishable offense and so work houses were set up and manned by those found guilty of it (I.e., the poor). An interpretation of the genesis of Anglo prisons could therefore be linked to our now entrenched (though not always) attitudes toward economic productivity and its accompanying legal mechanisms and institutions.

Of course there are other factors which could be applied to different regions and time periods (look at the laws erected in post-Civil War South which were not only arbitrary (being out of work reappears amongst others) but applied exclusively to newly freed slaves. Many prisons in this instance served as a means for keeping African Americans in continued subjection.

Even in our current time, the material operation of prisons is not necessarily linked to idealistic social goals such as retribution or what have you. Transgender women in low income areas are routinely (if not systematically) locked up on suspicion of solicitation (penitentiaries as enforcers of gender divisions- which is of course nothing new, laws on the books which made cross dressing or "non-natural" relations legally punishable has its own history).

I don't know if in making a point but if I am its that we can theorize all day about why prisons *should* exist or what kind of function they should serve or even what type of person deserves to live in its walls. But that discourse is of no use when divorced from the ways in which prisons were formed, operate now, or from the traces which connect the two.

You would say that.
"In case anyone hasn't noticed it, the West is in extremis. The undertaker is checking his watch at the foot of its bed, and there's a sinister kettle of croaking, money-feathered vultures on the roof."
socialpinko
Posts: 11,679
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6/8/2016 2:09:24 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/7/2016 5:49:16 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 6/7/2016 4:25:45 AM, socialpinko wrote:
The historical origin of prisons (in America and, to an extent, in Britain)lie almost exclusively in putting the poor to work. Legislation at the time listed idleness as a punishable offense and so work houses were set up and manned by those found guilty of it (I.e., the poor). An interpretation of the genesis of Anglo prisons could therefore be linked to our now entrenched (though not always) attitudes toward economic productivity and its accompanying legal mechanisms and institutions.

Of course there are other factors which could be applied to different regions and time periods (look at the laws erected in post-Civil War South which were not only arbitrary (being out of work reappears amongst others) but applied exclusively to newly freed slaves. Many prisons in this instance served as a means for keeping African Americans in continued subjection.

Even in our current time, the material operation of prisons is not necessarily linked to idealistic social goals such as retribution or what have you. Transgender women in low income areas are routinely (if not systematically) locked up on suspicion of solicitation (penitentiaries as enforcers of gender divisions- which is of course nothing new, laws on the books which made cross dressing or "non-natural" relations legally punishable has its own history).

I don't know if in making a point but if I am its that we can theorize all day about why prisons *should* exist or what kind of function they should serve or even what type of person deserves to live in its walls. But that discourse is of no use when divorced from the ways in which prisons were formed, operate now, or from the traces which connect the two.

You would say that.

Def would. Thoughts?
Diqiucun_Cunmin
Posts: 2,740
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6/8/2016 5:01:39 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/7/2016 4:25:45 AM, socialpinko wrote:
The historical origin of prisons (in America and, to an extent, in Britain)lie almost exclusively in putting the poor to work. Legislation at the time listed idleness as a punishable offense and so work houses were set up and manned by those found guilty of it (I.e., the poor). An interpretation of the genesis of Anglo prisons could therefore be linked to our now entrenched (though not always) attitudes toward economic productivity and its accompanying legal mechanisms and institutions.
I was immediately reminded of Charles Dickens XD
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socialpinko
Posts: 11,679
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6/9/2016 3:24:56 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/8/2016 5:01:39 PM, Diqiucun_Cunmin wrote:
At 6/7/2016 4:25:45 AM, socialpinko wrote:
The historical origin of prisons (in America and, to an extent, in Britain)lie almost exclusively in putting the poor to work. Legislation at the time listed idleness as a punishable offense and so work houses were set up and manned by those found guilty of it (I.e., the poor). An interpretation of the genesis of Anglo prisons could therefore be linked to our now entrenched (though not always) attitudes toward economic productivity and its accompanying legal mechanisms and institutions.
I was immediately reminded of Charles Dickens XD

Well this ain't new information lol. I also kinda wanted to put in a paragraph on the contemporaneous relationship between prisons and capital (even though that relationship has existed for a couple hundred years) but idk too much about it.