Re: "The problem with prisons" immediately below this post…posted by Bill Arnett @ 11:07 AM Permalink …it has been a lot of years since I last read A Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, undoubtedly one of my all time favorite books.
The subject matter of the book (fiction) was the discovery of one last human being found alive from an expedition previously sent to Mars. Young Michael Valentine, as the crew called him, was kept a virtual prisoner as no one could know how a human raised by large, amorphous, cloud-like Martians, so totally advanced beyond man that there was no need for prisons would react to the laws of man.
If, for some unlikely reason it was found that a Martian had done something offensive to the group, they would think about what to do with the guilty party and, since they lived on a totally different plane of time this thinking might go on for a thousand years or more. If they found that the individual had violated any of their precepts they would simply stop, as a group, and "think" the offender away never to be seen or heard of again.
As they got Michael to earth and confined him to a hospital a kind nurse, Jill, realized that all the authorities wanted was to be able to claim rights to Mars and that they would forever confine him or kill him. She smuggled him out of the hospital and whisked him off to the home of a dear friend, an attorney named Jubal who also recognized Michael's fate and took Michael under his protection.
Enough background, the upshot was a statement made by Jubal that always stuck with me (paraphrasing here).
Jubal told all assembled at his home that he understood this Martian justice, saying, "It may be necessary to kill a man who has grievously violated the law, but to incarcerate him offends the dignity of both the prisoner and the ones imprisoning him."
Somehow that statement has always resonated with me. Why have prisons that offend the dignity of all? If capital punishment is warranted for a proven offense, then by all means execute him/her and remove them from the gene pool.
Everyone else can be rehabilitated, not by imprisonment which offends all, but by persons and institutions to reshape and clarify the thinking of the individual to return him to society as a productive citizen.
America has 2.2-million prisoners, the majority of whom are being held for drug crimes and whose only influences in prison are fellow prisoners educating the individual in more risky and dangerous crimes, so when their time is up an animal is released back among the sheep.
If they hurt no one else while doing their drugs, and most are indeed working citizens who lose families, careers, and everything they ever knew, incarceration is simply the way society inculcates the flawed thinking of society into the person, again causing the release of animals forced to survive not only the brutality of their fellow prisoners, but the extreme brutality of those who would cage and treat him/her as an animal.
Just a thought. But I wholeheartedly endorse the Vidiot's thoughts on this matter.