Originally Posted by tank
THIS ^^^ is the more important issue, not what they do behind bars, it's making sure the right people are behind bars.
Yes, but Tank, you have to bear in mind that most of these people are eventually going to be released back into society. So it's a crucial question what happens inside, and what effect it has on them.
For example, one view might be that the prison environment doesn't do anything to violent offenders - they were violent when they went in there, and there going to be just as bad if they have horrible conditions when they come out. If you take this line, then harsh conditions would make more sense, because if prison is too pleasant then it's a viable alternative to living back in society.
On the other hand, if you take the view that a dehumanising environment just makes bad people even worse, then it would be more sensible to do your best to make prisons humane. That way you turn out people who at least aren't any worse then when they went in there.
It's not, imo, a simple debate by any means.