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Author Topic: The Jailing of America  (Read 454 times)


Re: The Jailing of America
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 06:46:pm »

Now, to clear things up, before I am accused of being anti-prison/justice, I'm not. I just think the way we (society) manage some inmates needs to change. Incarceration is not the solution to all crimes, as other places in the world, demonstrates. Conversely, there are those ex-cons (and current inmates) that state they belonged/belong locked up. I'm pro-rehabilitation, but if we rehabilitated, we wouldn't have cheap labor. Silly me.  :eyeroll:

What do you think of corporal punishment?  Have you ever read this book?

There are a lot of people who don't see jail/prison as "punishment".  One thing that opened my eyes to this was the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of Dylann Roof, the man who murdered nine black people in a Charleston, SC church.  Since he surrendered to the police, he wasn't killed in a shootout, as is often the case in these mass shooting situations.  And yet there was commentary from "man on the street" types who said he "got away with it".  Roof will be killed by the state (justly, in my opinion, but I guess that's a different thread).  Even so, because it is not an immediate punishment and even the commonest criminal knows it could be decades on death row before being put to death, he "got away with it".

I couldn't understand what this meant until I spoke to some people who want less imprisonment and more corporal punishment.  They said that criminals in particular are usually low-impulse control types.  They don't see very far into the future.  When they see that someone isn't immediately punished for their crimes (like when cops shoot and/or kill a resistant criminal) it appears as if that person "got away with it".  It seems like a quicker, painful but not mutilating, punishment system would be better, especially for lighter crimes which are characterized by low impulse control.
This was a hospital day so please excuse my half-baked reply to your thoughtful questions. Just a precaution but idiots like that Roof kid, sex offenders, etc are not my interest or area of study so my answers might not apply to them, at least in my mind.

Yes, I've read that book and I think about the arguments often.

The issue with corporal punishment, at least in developed countries, is how to reconcile human rights with bodily punishment. Just the notion of “immediate punishment” is subjective and flawed to begin with. How immediate can we make punishment if guilt is unclear? People are entitled to fair trials before they can be sentenced and receive punishment. Now, if there is no doubt concerning guilt (a suspect is caught red-handed or there is no other explanation) the judicial process can be expedited and a fair punishment can be handed down quicker. If this is the point where corporal punishment could be handed down, that’s understandable, and I see its merits. Newman advocates “short but intense” punishment for things like property crimes and I can understand that motive. For “certain kinds of people” and specific crimes, the thoughts of bodily harm are enough to dissuade them from criminal actions and leave a lasting impression. But then, there would be the issue of keeping the forms of punishment standardized across a jurisdiction. (We already have this issue with length of sentences though..) And there are always those that say some forms of corporal punishment are “not enough” and we (society) could see ourselves falling deeper into the hole.   

Conversely, there are those that deal with violence daily and forms of corporal punishment would not deter them or teach any kind of lesson. Street gangs are a prime example. Just a simple initiation requires a jump in that would cause a lot pain that the average person could not imagine. I think saying they went through electric shock punishment or flogging would be a badge of honor just like neck tattoos used to show how tough one was considered to be. Cases of immediate punishment here would see bangers back on the streets quickly and getting up to their old tricks. Sometimes these individuals need long sentences to age and cool down. That’s been my experience with some guys that were members of OMGs (outlaw motorcycle gangs.) Newman agrees here that these types belong in a prison system. Personally, I can attest to that. I have a dear and much loved friend incarcerated in the Russian prison system. He has a long term sentence, and really, he knows he deserves it. It is the thought of years, in such controlled conditions, that really worries him.

All of that said, I agree strongly that some inmates do not view prison as punishment. For some inmates, they just continue on with their prison gangs, hierarchy, sending kites, selling contraband and having those on the outside send them money. Do these guys learn anything and would they learn anything from corporal punishment? Nope. Is it really worth keeping them in ad/seg or the shu for years at a time? I don’t know. Not everyone can be rehabilitated.

The self-control theory of crime, or the idea that criminals “usually” are low-impulse control types is one where I have mixed feelings. There is no doubt that low-impulse control plays a heavy hand in their actions but then, there are those that are really quite calculated. (My husband is sane but his history would scare a lot of people, and he also ALMOST had his eyelids tattoo’d (low-impulse control!!, but he’s more of the calculated type.) So many other factors enter the discussion at this point too. We have to remind ourselves that low-impulse control is also a characteristic of many psychiatric disorders. This again opens the can of worms of are we really going to use corporal punishment on the mentally ill and will it have the same effect as on someone mentally healthy? And also, it raises the other can of worms of, if we better managed those with substance abuse issues and other mental health issues, would they be involved in the criminal justice system? There are so many layers to crime and really no silver bullet when it comes to punishment.

I think that corporal punishment could be included in an all-inclusive system of punishment. It is harsher than probation but limits the # and crimes of those being incarcerated. Other avenues have to be included as well though such as substance abuse or psychological help. Criminal justice/penal system reformers are often accused of dismissing the human rights of inmates as an impetus for changes and I could see this being a charge again if corporal punishment is applied. It’s usually a discussion of finding balance between the lesser of two evils.
Soaring with eagles at night to rise with the pigs in the morning...


Re: The Jailing of America
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2017, 02:12:pm »

That was not in any way a half-baked reply.  Thank you for taking the time to write it.  I have a hard time reconciling the "quick" corporal punishment idea to the right to a fair trial.  I also agree that not all criminals are low impulse control.  White collar criminals, in particular.  And in a way, these "soft" types of people might be fairer game for corporal punishment because they are not used to such a thing and can't find the "silver lining" that hardcore criminals can (as a rite of passage, as you alluded to).

I truly don't envy the people in this line of work.  There is so much to be written on this topic and you are clearly very educated about it.  You seem like the kind of person who needs to be consulted with on our own prison systems!  There is a member of my husband's family who's just been sent to prison for probably the next two decades.  His poor parents were able to save him from a lot of prior sentences even though he deserved punishment.  I don't see prison changing him for the better either.  It just seems like an impossible situation.


Re: The Jailing of America
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 02:42:pm »
I have to think the continued criminalization of the marijuana plant for the past four decades plus serves this purpose.

It's pretty common knowledge that alcohol abuse leads to more health problems and fatalities than marijuana, however, it should not be outlawed because of this.

The fact that the government pretends they must protect citizens safety for their own good by sending them to prison for possessing a plant of mild psychotropic potential that grows all over the world and has been used for thousands of years, while peddling dangerous pharmaceuticals which in contrast actually do kill people every day is very telling.

As an aside, cannabis is apparently a threat to the pharmaceutical industry if people can heal themselves with its use.

 "And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat" (Genesis 1:29)

The prohibition of cannabis has made it into an underground forbidden fruit and driven its use into the distributing hands of gangs and other malefactors. This has also contributed to developing a weird counter culture centered around and obsessed with it.

The hemp plant also is a competition threat to the cotton and plastic industries and this has also factored into its illegalization by lobbying from those industries.

I don't endorse this site but this is an interesting read

*Disclaimer: I do not support intoxication of any kind

The weed debate always comes down to alcohol = intoxication if abused, weed = intoxication no matter what (unless you build a tolerance from using it a lot). Either way, if people are going to abuse alcohol vs abuse weed, then weed is no more harmful and maybe even less so vs. long term alcohol abuse. I honestly have no issue with legalizing it for private recreational use (don't allow it in bars and other public places) even though I'd never use it and for a Catholic it's sinful to get high anyway. Long term use of weed will make you slow witted (probably) and ruins your lungs. People aren't dying from weed unless they drive high. Most people who are going to use it already do anyway... and employers who don't want their employees using it (e.g., police) will still prevent them from doing so anyway.

Yeah, I am no marijuana expert. Far from it.   I have never even used the stuff. 

Apparently different strains and different THC levels can have different effects-From instantaneous high to mild relaxation.  From what I understand some of the edibles can help with insomnia, which if so is probably better than taking Ambien and other harmful pharmaceuticals.  Needless to say smoking anything regularly is not healthy.

Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio (# 2), May 27, 1832:“Finally some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life."

Fr. William Jurgens: “If there were not a constant tradition in the Fathers that the Gospel message of ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ is to be taken absolutely, it would be easy to say that Our Savior simply did not see fit to mention the obvious exceptions of invincible ignorance and physical impossibility.  But the tradition in fact is there; and it is likely enough to be found so constant as to constitute revelation.” (Faith of the Early Fathers)

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