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View Diary: The Mass Imprisonment Failure (38 comments)

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  •  It does, however, have a logic to it . . . (2+ / 0-)
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    Bob Sloan, Calamity Jean

    while recidivism may be high after release it is not an issue while separation from society is maintained.  People generally perceive having burglars and robbers and rapists incarcerated as increasing their safety, and it's hard to argue with that.  Most offenders are multiple offenders, most people understand that, and it makes "catch and release" not particularly popular.

    While there is certainly some aspect of a desire for "punishment" in the popular mind most people are also motivated, and I would argue primarily motivated, by a desire not to themselves become victims . . . and they see no better way to accomplish that than to lock away the repeat offenders permanently . . . thus the popularity of "three strikes" laws.  Hard to argue against that . . . who doesn't want the guys shooting up their neighborhood gone.

    It's the drug laws that most significantly complicate things.  The connection between drug use (and drug dealing) and real crime is indirect, and one becomes a "victim" of a drug dealer only by choice (fraud and "accidents" during turf wars being, of course, exceptions).  But the public does see a connection . . . the heroin addict does steal to support the habit, the heroin dealer does end up with the money, and the burglary victim does see the dealer as the cause of his/her loss.  The obvious solution is to legalize the drugs . . . most people immediately grasp that there is no threat from someone nodding out in a doorway, and they would be better off giving the addict 50 cents a day worth of legal junk than maintaining an expensive system which, in the end, just results in the guy breaking into your house or car to steal whatever is there to pay for his next bag.

    You are not going to convince people that it's a good idea to turn offenders, especially violent offenders, loose to offend again.  You will have better luck convincing people that there are other ways to reduce criminal behavior (such as removing the incentives), and that's a twofer . . . it reduces the incarceration rate by reducing crime, which, in the end, is what most people want.

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 09:43:37 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  No it doesn't reduce crime (1+ / 0-)
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      It reduces crime in the short-run and it makes sense to most people because, frankly, Americans don't give two f---s about the future--in fact if there's anything that is unique about this period of society it is this insensitivity to future generations of human beings even one's descendants. When you incarcerate someone you are also creating hardship for spouses and children who will, as can easily be shown, tend to follow in the footsteps of the father so you are increasing crime not decreasing it.

      The idea that jailing shoplifters and drug users is sensible runs counter to all social science. Sure if you jail everyone of a certain demographic then you'll decrease crime in the short-term. But at what expense? You create millions of orphans, you create prison guards who tend to be either corrupted by the system or  by living in a culture of cruelty spread it to their own families and, as in the Abu Ghraib events which, in turn, causes a view of the U.S. abroad that has tangible a tangible effect on our foreign policy and security.

      Most prisoners have, I repeat, been subjects of sexual and physical abuse as children and suffer from PTSD in one form or another. Criminals are created not born. The are created by the cruel society they enter into--by the self-loathing that our society encourages, by the need to get relief from pain by taking illegal drugs--indeed, I maintain that drugs are not legalized (since there is no logical reason to keep them illegal) because it gives us the gratification of cruelty because we are, as a people, much crueler than we think)--any close examination of marijuana laws, for example, were specifically tailored to harass and imprion hispanics and African-Americans and had nothing to do with improving society.

      •  You will not gain popular support (0+ / 0-)

        if you argue that robbers, rapists and murderers should be turned loose to offend again.

        And that's a good thing . . .

        I also don't believe you're going to get very far with the argument that people much care about the race of a burglar.  Everyone I know hates them regardless.  They don't buy the argument that family heirlooms are "just stuff", either . . .

        You're completely wrong that people don't care about the future . . . it is preventing crimes in the future that they do care about . . . and they're pretty well convinced that someone in jail won't be committing any (against them, anyway).  And when you argue that rapists should be turned loose they'll look at their daughters (those descendents you claim they don't care about) and not hear another word that you say.

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 11:55:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are you serious? (1+ / 0-)
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          People care about the future? Not true and it is demonstrably not true. Climate change is a major problem we face yet public interest is declining why? Because they care about the long term future?

          By the logic you bring us then we should just euthanize those most likely to commit crimes then there would be very little crime. Also, you don't seem to believe that the prison system has long term effects across generations or that it brutalizes society. We are all connected or at least that's what I see--probably a result of banging my head when I was six.

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