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Old 04-12-2012, 12:27 PM   #1
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Default Another prison-related question

Rather than cluttering up the other thread with my nonsense, I've started another one. I hope Gaspers and Ryano will chip in on this with their views.

Bit of a lengthy set-up, so bear with me.

This is a question about rehabilitation and reform of violent offenders.

For the sake of argument, let's say that the only consideration in determining prison policy is a practical one: when violent criminals have served their time and been released, we want as few as possible to reoffend. So leave aside questions of justice and so on. The goal is only to have ex-cons commit fewer crimes.

So to contrast two extreme positions:

1. Make prisons as punitive as possible. Little opportunities for leisure, reading, learning skills, learning trades etc. The logic here would be that (a) prison needs to be a deterrent, so no one is going to dare commit a crime again, because they don't want to go back to that hell. (b) attempts to skill them up or change them would be wasted effort - they are either incapable of change, or they just don't want to.

2. Make prisons more humane. Allow and encourage education, learning skills, learning trades, keep prisoners occupied. The logic here would be (a) putting violent people into an inhumane and deprived environment just makes them worse and (b) doesn't afford them any possibility of change and (c) when they are released, means they are institutionalised, deskilled and therefore unequipped to cope on the outside (meaning they reoffend). Though critics would then argue that if life is too pleasant inside, it's no deterrent.

Which do you think is the more desirable policy? Both are caricatures, but if you leaned more towards one than the other, which would it be and why? Again, leave aside the rights and wrongs of punishment - just from the point of view of stopping reoffending.

Views?
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:36 PM   #2
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A tough one for sure, I don't think based upon what your asking that there is ever going to be an answer to the problem of recidivism.

A little of both seems to be what we use in the states and from what I can tell, isn't doing a whole lot of good.

As far as violent offenders the first I think, if they re offend let them do it in prison.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:44 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Goat View Post
recidivism.
There's a cool word.

In the UK, as I understand it, overcrowding means that a lot of prisoners are locked up for 22 hours a day. But this is going on hearsay rather than research. On the other hand, there's quite often complaints about prisoners having Playstation, TVss or whatever (I'm sure there's quite a lot of media s**t-stirring about this, and again I don't know the truth of it).

So in the UK, perhaps we have little deterrent, but little opportunity for re-equippping for life outside either.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:24 PM   #4
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Tann,
I think we struggle here in the US because we haven't decided if prison is punitive or if it is rehabilitative. I don't think we've even decided this dichotomy should be differentiated based on the crime.

There are opportunities for prisoners to gain education and skills while incarcerated here, but I don't know if that system is aligned with helping people successfully re-enter society. Many companies and institutions, by design and mission, aren't allowed to hire people with criminal records.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tannhauser View Post
Rather than cluttering up the other thread with my nonsense, I've started another one. I hope Gaspers and Ryano will chip in on this with their views.

Bit of a lengthy set-up, so bear with me.

This is a question about rehabilitation and reform of violent offenders.

For the sake of argument, let's say that the only consideration in determining prison policy is a practical one: when violent criminals have served their time and been released, we want as few as possible to reoffend. So leave aside questions of justice and so on. The goal is only to have ex-cons commit fewer crimes.

So to contrast two extreme positions:

1. Make prisons as punitive as possible. Little opportunities for leisure, reading, learning skills, learning trades etc. The logic here would be that (a) prison needs to be a deterrent, so no one is going to dare commit a crime again, because they don't want to go back to that hell. (b) attempts to skill them up or change them would be wasted effort - they are either incapable of change, or they just don't want to.

2. Make prisons more humane. Allow and encourage education, learning skills, learning trades, keep prisoners occupied. The logic here would be (a) putting violent people into an inhumane and deprived environment just makes them worse and (b) doesn't afford them any possibility of change and (c) when they are released, means they are institutionalised, deskilled and therefore unequipped to cope on the outside (meaning they reoffend). Though critics would then argue that if life is too pleasant inside, it's no deterrent.

Which do you think is the more desirable policy? Both are caricatures, but if you leaned more towards one than the other, which would it be and why? Again, leave aside the rights and wrongs of punishment - just from the point of view of stopping reoffending.

Views?


My .02 from 16 years as a police officer......... it depends upon the crime. It also depends upon the sentence. You can't compare serial murderers, child rapists, etc to ponzi scheme grand masters or tax evasion offenders.

I lean toward rehabilitation -- however, it has to be spent on someone who will actually benefit from it. Child molesters for example? There is no amount of rehab that will "cure" them. They are better taken care of with a quick round to the skull. Sadly, we have to be more civilized than that.

If you are in prison for life, for a horrific crime, then by all means, lets make it uncomfortable. I'm really ok with that. But then begins the slippery slope of defining "horrific", etc.

I honestly can't give an answer. For me, it absolutely depends upon the specific crime committed.
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tannhauser View Post
This is a question about rehabilitation and reform of violent offenders.
Sorry, but in my opinion, this doesn't happen. The really violent offender does not rehabilitate. These are the people that Gasp deals with daily in a maximum security prison. They do not value human life. They have very few morals, if any. For these people the only real deterrent is the death penalty. I dealt with many in my career. People who had commited multiple murders, aggravated battery/robbery or sex offenses with absolutely no remorse. They simply don't see life the way the rest of us do.

The others, violators of property crimes, ie. theft, burglary.., can be rehabilitated but only if the punishment is severe enough to make them want to not go back. The way it is in most U.S. prisons, it's just an occupational hazard for them to get caught. The do minimal time and have decent living conditions until they get out and go back to their old ways immediately.

If I had my way, anyone convicted and sentenced to life in prison would immediately be put on a "involuntary organ donor list". As soon as matches came up for them, their organs would be harvested and distributed to the society they violated. Why should society continue to pay for the housing with no hope of rehab.?

I cannot speak for Gasper, but anyone who has experience dealing with these type of people will probably agree. After 25+ years in law enforcement, the last 19 as Detective, I've seen the worst society can offer and they walk the streets amoung us because of the flaws in the system.
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:21 PM   #7
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I like option #1. Prison should be miserable.
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:30 PM   #8
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I think that prisoners should have the oportunity to get educated and rehabilitated if they really want to, but it should be on their own determinism and it should be sort of a reward for good behavior. Making the prison a terrifying environment wont make criminals think twice before comitting crimes again, ratger the opposite from the anger that breeds.

In sweden, prisons are very soft and by some standards even luxuos. People from russia and the baltic states dont fear to get cought trafficing guns or drugs here because even in prison, the standard is high - most places you get your own room with satelite tv mounted above the bed and you can bring your playstation.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:11 PM   #9
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Interesting views guys, keep 'em coming.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryano View Post
Sorry, but in my opinion, this doesn't happen. The really violent offender does not rehabilitate. These are the people that Gasp deals with daily in a maximum security prison. They do not value human life. They have very few morals, if any. For these people the only real deterrent is the death penalty. I dealt with many in my career. People who had commited multiple murders, aggravated battery/robbery or sex offenses with absolutely no remorse. They simply don't see life the way the rest of us do.

The others, violators of property crimes, ie. theft, burglary.., can be rehabilitated but only if the punishment is severe enough to make them want to not go back. The way it is in most U.S. prisons, it's just an occupational hazard for them to get caught. The do minimal time and have decent living conditions until they get out and go back to their old ways immediately.

If I had my way, anyone convicted and sentenced to life in prison would immediately be put on a "involuntary organ donor list". As soon as matches came up for them, their organs would be harvested and distributed to the society they violated. Why should society continue to pay for the housing with no hope of rehab.?I cannot speak for Gasper, but anyone who has experience dealing with these type of people will probably agree. After 25+ years in law enforcement, the last 19 as Detective, I've seen the worst society can offer and they walk the streets amoung us because of the flaws in the system.

Now *that* is an awesome idea.
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