• It is the ultimate freedom.

    Freedom would be meaningless, without the privilege to receive consequences for ones voluntary actions, which result in them being in prison by their own choice. If an action has a prison sentence likely to follow, and you choose to commit said action, you are volunteering for the logical outcome.
    This of course applies to the average prisoner, not the rare possibility of someone framed.

  • If one believes in the concept of free will, .

    When contemplating this question one has to ask; Is anything voluntary? If the answer is yes, Than one must accept the fact that prison is, In fact, Voluntary. Exceptions of this would include those with mental disabilities who are unable to control their behavior and those who are not truly responsible for the crime they were found guilty of.

  • Nope Should Not be voluntary

    Prison should not be voluntary everybody deserves their justice. People got to know if they do something wrong there will be consequences. If it wasn't required to go to prison then there would be so much murder and drug abuse and everything bad. So it shouldn't be voluntary. Criminals are criminals and they deserve what they earned.

  • You are assuming that the prisoner is a rational actor.

    Breaking societal laws can be viewed as irrational, indeed a number of factors contribute to crime. Poverty combined with unemployment can force people into a life of crime through boredom, class resentment, peer pressure and a need to provide for themselves and their dependants. Indeed in many inner cities the only possible employment is crime, so to say that prison is a choice does not acknowledge the fact that many are coerced into committing crime.

    Without job opportunities or disposable income boredom can easily set in. The thrill of committing crimes – often minor “victimless crimes” at first can release people from this while also serving as an income or source for drugs.

    I put “victimless” in inverted commas because there is no such thing, even crimes such as vandalism have victims (for example the community now in fear of crime) – I say victimless because there is a failure from the criminal to empathise with victims due to poor morals.
    The moral breakdown of society has been caused by the advent of neoclassical economics - a focus on cost and not values prevents empathy. For example white collared criminals especially to empathise with victims, as they are encouraged by fiscal incentives to take large and illegal risks with client’s money and as the crime is remote. They failure of bankers in acknowledging a duty to the client to provide the best service is a result of this culture that holds profit over all else.

    The socioeconomic background of criminals may also affect their moral decision making, coming from a home where no parents work can lead to many feeling dejected from society. Without a feeling of communitarianism (belonging to the community) they are more likely to defy laws agreed by the community and less likely to be able to empathise with their victims and hence are more likely to be able to bring themselves to wrong these people. Criminals are victims of poor moral education, without sufficient education to understand that their crime is wrong, cannot be said to have “voluntary gone to prison”; they acting irrationality by ignoring their duty to society and the consequences of their crime.

    Prison represents a taking away of freedoms; no sane person wants to be unable to choose how to live their lives, people want to get a join society, in prison they cannot do this they are stereotyped as evil and have to live in poor conditions. The social stigma around prisons amplifies this effect the making many fear going to prison due to being murdered, or “dropping the soap”. Prison inhibits a person’s job opportunities in future as while in prison they will be stigmatised as untrustworthy and violent by society as they have a criminal record. No “rational actor” would ever choose this reduction of their freedoms so we can conclude that they must have been acting irrationally and motivated by a combination of poverty, class-resentment and boredom while having no moral value system to combat this.

  • Words NEED to have Meanings

    I get the rhetorical point the yes column is trying to make, but why not instead say that prisoners (the ones who are actually guilty) are responsible for being there? The word "voluntary" has a specific meaning, it means that you chose without force, coercion, or fraud. Prisoners are by definition coerced into being there. They are in a great many of cases deserving of this coercion and this coercion is necessary for a stable society BUT that doesn't make it voluntary.

    Use words the way they are meant to be used. Which words to use to signify what may be essentially socially constructed BUT there is an important reason for keeping words consistent and not being too loose with them. The Tower of Babel. And while the complete destruction of our language and our society as a result of the loose use of terms is unlikely one can if one cares to notice see the problems with loose word usage in everyday society. When everyone has their own personal definition people can't communicate. When communication is disrupted that's bad for everybody.

  • Another nonsense statement by a stoner, this time by a Republican stoner.

    The distorted ramblings of stoners should not get responses.

    By his definition, everything in life is voluntary. We all know that we will eventually die, so dying is voluntary.

    And, criminals do not think crime is wrong; and, they never think they are going to get caught. They think obeying laws is for morons and that laws do not apply to them, laws are just for saps that are not smart enough to beat the system.

    Most gang bangers dealing drugs know that if they get caught, they will go to jail; but, they view it as a cost of doing business; and, the money they make is worth more than their freedom if they get caught.

    So if you want to believe that going to prison is voluntary based on your convoluted reasoning, great; live your delusion.

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GWL-CPA says2013-04-24T01:58:47.823
Ragnar, your premise or question, “Is prison voluntary” is a play on words, I guess. But, as stated by MasturDbtor, you are misusing the word prison. And, you are misusing the word voluntary. You statement is the Tower of Babel.


1. a building for the confinement of persons held while awaiting trial, persons sentenced after conviction, etc.
2. any place of confinement or involuntary restraint.

You will note the word involuntary. Nowhere does it say that prison is voluntary.

Then you make an equally nonsensical statement:

“Freedom would be meaningless, without the privilege to receive consequences for one’s voluntary actions, which result in them being in prison by their own choice.

You start out with your own conclusion “Freedom is meaningless without the privilege to receive consequences” which does not follow. You are committing the fallacy of omission by ignoring the examples that disprove your point; you are stacking the deck.

Freedom is a concept that entails many things, many of which do not have “the privilege” to receive consequences.

I have never heard a judge, lawyer, Law Professor, Congressperson, etc. Ever use the words “the privilege to receive consequences.” What in the world are you talking about?

To help you with the proper use of the word privilege, here is the definition from Dictionary.Com:


1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most: the privileges of the very rich.

2. a special right, immunity, or exemption granted to persons in authority or office to free them from certain obligations or liabilities: the privilege of a senator to speak in Congress without danger of a libel suit.

3. a grant to an individual, corporation, etc., of a special right or immunity, under certain conditions.

4. the principle or condition of enjoying special rights or immunities.

5. any of the rights common to all citizens under a modern constitutional government: We enjoy the privileges of a free people.

Verb (used with object)

1. to grant a privilege to.

2. to exempt (usually followed by from ).

3. to authorize or license (something otherwise forbidden).

What people enjoy as freedom is not meaningless to them because they do not have the privilege to receive consequences.

For example, in America, people are free to choose whatever religion they want. Freedom of religion has no consequences; and it is still very meaningful to religious people.

But let’s wade through your fog and restate what you were trying to say.

People are free to choose to break the law. People know that breaking the law can result in punishment, which includes being put in prison, fines, community service, etc. Therefore, since people are voluntarily breaking the law (freedom to break or to obey), they are voluntarily being punished if they get caught.

There is only one problem with the above logic tautology; it is the word “voluntarily.” People are not voluntarily punished; a judge must impose a sentence, and the jail keepers will take you to jail and put you in a prison cell; there is nothing voluntary in the entire process.

For example,

Most people know that “Treason” is punishable by death. If I attempt to overthrow the government for what I believe are just causes, just like our founding fathers committed Treason against King George, and I am caught and put to death, I did not volunteer to die, but accepted the consequences of my actions for a greater cause, freedom from tyranny.

So, it is your use of the words "prison" and “voluntary” that are wrong. People who commit crimes accept the risk of prison. Going to prison is not voluntary.
Ragnar says2013-05-09T16:07:03.267
Thank you all for assisting me in refining this question into a debate resolution.