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 Message Boards » » Prison: Punishment vs. Rehabilitation Page [1] 2, Next  
adultswim
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Prisons are meant to protect the general population from criminals. The number one priority should be to reduce recidivism rates and turn troubled individuals into functioning members of society. Punishment may give victims a sense of fulfilled justice, but it serves no purpose other than revenge. If you treat people like animals, they become animals.

The United States towers above other countries with regard to incarceration and recidivism rates. Clearly we are doing something wrong. First step? Stop prosecuting non-violent drug offenses. Since the war on drugs was declared by Nixon, incarceration rates have QUADRUPLED, and continue to rise.



Some pictures of overcrowding in California prisons. Putting prisoners in cages like dogs will definitely inspire them to become good people.





http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/05/california-prison-overcrowding-photos

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 10:45 AM. Reason : .]

5/27/2011 10:44:18 AM

LeonIsPro
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Also many of our prisons are run by private contractors that get paid according to having a certain quota.

5/27/2011 11:08:32 AM

A Tanzarian
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There's money in them there prisons!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrections_Corporation_of_America
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GEO_Group

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 11:10 AM. Reason : ]

5/27/2011 11:09:53 AM

adultswim
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^,^^ Yep. It's in their interest to have repeat customers. Anyone remember this case from a couple years ago?

Pa. judges accused of jailing kids for cash -Judges allegedly took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juveniles in lockups

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29142654/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/pa-judges-accused-jailing-kids-cash/

5/27/2011 11:12:03 AM

A Tanzarian
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Quote :
"Holding cells for prisoners awaiting a "mental-health crisis bed," Salinas Valley State Prison, July 2008. Writing for the majority in Brown v. Plata, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stated, "Because of a shortage of treatment beds, suicidal inmates may be held for prolonged periods in telephone-booth sized cages without toilets…A psychiatric expert reported observing an inmate who had been held in such a cage for nearly 24 hours, standing in a pool of his own urine, unresponsive and nearly catatonic. Prison officials explained they had 'no place to put him.'" This photograph was appended to his decision."


-----
^

Quote :
"Hillary Transue did not have an attorney, nor was she told of her right to one, when she appeared in Ciavarella’s courtroom in 2007 for building a MySpace page that lampooned her assistant principal.

Her mother, Laurene Transue, worked for 16 years in the child services department of another county and said she was certain Hillary would get a slap on the wrist. Instead, Ciavarella sentenced her to three months; she got out after a month, with help from a lawyer."


So, this girl got into trouble for basically doing what SNL does every weekend?

Found another article:

Quote :
"At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke."


[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 11:35 AM. Reason : ]

5/27/2011 11:14:00 AM

d357r0y3r
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Most people I've spoken to have a very draconian view of prisons/prisoners. They figure, "Hey, they got convicted of something, let 'em rot." It's one of those of examples of out of sight/out of mind conditioning.

Prison, as most people are aware, causes even minor offenders to occasionally become monsters. I think I've mentioned this before in an entirely different context, but my parents do something called prison ministry, which is basically where they host a bible study type thing at Wake County Correctional. Prisoner sponsorship is biased towards religious groups, which I don't agree with, but that's how it is currently.

Anyway, I've met a couple of the guys that they've sponsored. When you sponsor an inmate, you're allowed to take them out to eat/to a church service, and the schedule has to be very rigid and is coordinated with the prison staff. Typically, these activities are reserved for well behaved inmates. One of the guys got out about a year ago, and my parents continue to keep up with him. In fact, he just fixed my truck for way less than I could have gotten it fixed elsewhere. He seems like a good guy; I think he got time for some kind of fraud involving automobile sales.

The other guy, who is still in prison, got caught with some kind of benzos. He claims to have had no intent to distribute, but they got him with distribution somehow due to the amount of pills he had. He got a sentence of 7 years. When my parents explained this to me, I was outraged. This is supposed to be the freest country in the world...and we're throwing away 7 years of a man's life because they had pills? We should be treating this kind of thing like we treat alcoholism, not throwing them in jail with murderers and thieves.

Both of these inmates have shared some of their stories. At Wake County Correctional, men do get raped. This is not something that is happening in another town or country. This is here, a few miles away from where you live. For the people that say they deserve whatever they get, fuck you. It's time for people to wake up and have a little compassion. The long-term consequences for throwing people in prison (with no concern for how they'll behave once they get out) are much worse than the damage caused by the crimes themselves.

It's hard to overstate how far we need to come as a society on this issue, in addition to major changes to what counts as a criminal offense. Are we barbarians, or are we civilized people?

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 11:35 AM. Reason : ]

5/27/2011 11:35:01 AM

wlb420
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"Hey, they got convicted of something, let 'em rot.""


Yep, that's a huge problem imo...many people are just so predisposed to agreeing with authority that they don't think for themselves...imo, violent crimes and non violent crimes warrant two totally separate treatment methods.

5/27/2011 11:58:14 AM

rbrthwrd
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for north carolina, isn't the law that rehabilitation is supposed to be the purpose?

5/27/2011 12:10:10 PM

d357r0y3r
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I imagine that's the stated purpose in most places. There's a disconnect between the stated purpose and the process/conditions, though.

5/27/2011 12:12:01 PM

rbrthwrd
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no doubt

5/27/2011 12:48:59 PM

disco_stu
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Quote :
"It's hard to overstate how far we need to come as a society on this issue, in addition to major changes to what counts as a criminal offense. Are we barbarians, or are we civilized people?"


I'm sure it's your contention that the people convicted for drug offenses (the people you ostensibly believe should not be in prison in the first place) are not the ones creating the terrible environment for inmates.

With that in mind, not sending them to prison is going to do what exactly with preventing the terrible environment for inmates?

I'm hearing "we need to stop sending drug offenders to prison" which I generally agree with, but what I'm not hearing is how to stop violent offenders from continuing to be violent on the inside.

5/27/2011 12:52:41 PM

d357r0y3r
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I don't know of a solution for that. As wlb420 suggested, it might be a good idea to have separate processes for violent and non-violent offenders. Guys that were in gangs on the outside are going to form gangs on the inside, and they're going to have a lot of pent up aggression. You could limit situations where a lot of guys are free and out in the open at the same time. You could have private, closed-door bathing arrangements, or heavily monitored bathing arrangements, rather than a huge public showering area where the biggest guy gets his pick of the litter.

Part of the problem is that there is some corruption on the inside. Guards turning a blind eye because they think "the guy had it coming," etc.

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 1:07 PM. Reason : ]

5/27/2011 1:04:28 PM

adultswim
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Quote :
"I'm sure it's your contention that the people convicted for drug offenses (the people you ostensibly believe should not be in prison in the first place) are not the ones creating the terrible environment for inmates.

With that in mind, not sending them to prison is going to do what exactly with preventing the terrible environment for inmates?"


Drug offenders greatly contribute to overpopulation, which is a huge problem. California is in the process of releasing thousands of inmates because prisons are up to 95% over capacity.

5/27/2011 1:09:24 PM

disco_stu
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I agree that overpopulation is a problem, but will fixing overpopulation fix gangs and magically make prison not a terrible place to be? Prison rape is a much older meme than the drug war.

Which is why I continue to think this is a 'drug offenders are not violent offenders' thread masquerading as a prison conditions thread.

5/27/2011 1:23:38 PM

BridgetSPK
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The point is that we can't even begin to effectively address the needs of violent individuals if we continue to pack our prisons with non-violent offenders. Overcrowding and lack of oversight are two factors that create a lot of the crappy conditions. Furthermore, the legalization of drugs would change everything. Violent offenses related to drug money/trade would decline. Gangs might lose some of their ability to control communities.

I also think we incarcerate an inappropriate number of children and young people. We essentially train up our own bad guys and act all shocked that they aren't well-adjusted after spending five or six years behind bars before they even qualify to rent a new car.

I think most of the people in this thread are advocating, in their own ways, a complete and total overhaul of how we do business while you seem to be stuck on some important but limited questions.

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 1:37 PM. Reason : ]

5/27/2011 1:36:49 PM

adultswim
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Quote :
"I agree that overpopulation is a problem, but will fixing overpopulation fix gangs and magically make prison not a terrible place to be? Prison rape is a much older meme than the drug war."


It won't fix prisons, but it is a step in the right direction. Along with the issue of overpopulation, an effort should be made to treat prisoners with a reasonable level of dignity, and give them real opportunities for self-improvement. I don't know exactly how to do that, but we could learn from Norway, a country known for treating its prisoners well. Their recidivism rate is 20%, vs. our 70%.

5/27/2011 1:39:14 PM

disco_stu
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You don't have to convince me that we should legalize drugs and regulate the traffic. I'm on that train. (Prostitution too). I'm just not buying that prison will magically become a place where there is a 0% recidivism rate if it happened. (hyperbole I know no one is suggesting a 0% recidivism rate) I'm also not convinced that prison should not be a place where normal people want to avoid. That is another function of prisons that is unmentioned in the OP and thus far in the thread.

Quote :
"It won't fix prisons, but it is a step in the right direction. Along with the issue of overpopulation, an effort should be made to treat prisoners with a reasonable level of dignity, and give them real opportunities for self-improvement. I don't know exactly how to do that, but we could learn from Norway, a country known for treating its prisoners well. Their recidivism rate is 20%, vs. our 70%"


Ask d#'s if he thinks we can afford to overhaul our prison systems to match Norway's.

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 1:47 PM. Reason : .]

5/27/2011 1:45:29 PM

d357r0y3r
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Quote :
"The point is that we can't even begin to effectively address the needs of violent individuals if we continue to pack our prisons with non-violent offenders. Overcrowding and lack of oversight are two factors that create a lot of the crappy conditions. Furthermore, the legalization of drugs would change everything. Violent offenses related to drug money/trade would decline. Gangs might lose some of their ability to control communities.

I also think we incarcerate an inappropriate number of children and young people. We essentially train up our own bad guys and act all shocked that they aren't well-adjusted after spending five or six years behind bars before they even qualify to rent a new car."


This.

Quote :
"Ask d#'s if he thinks we can afford to overhaul our prison systems to match Norway's."


We can't currently, but we should have thought of that before we started invading other countries because they weren't free enough and passing out money to (what I consider) financial terrorists. We can't afford to keep the war on drugs going either, though. Ending prohibition solves a lot of problems, and doing so would be virtually free. The long-term costs of ignoring the prison situation in this country are greater than the costs of revamping it, in any case, and we save a lot of money by not incarcerating drug offenders.

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 1:56 PM. Reason : ]

5/27/2011 1:55:43 PM

rbrthwrd
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can we talk about the problems privatizing prisons creates, or is that just gonna cause loneshark to derail this thread?

5/27/2011 2:00:03 PM

disco_stu
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Not sure destroyer's the guy to whom you want to mention that privatizing something is a bad idea.

5/27/2011 2:25:34 PM

d357r0y3r
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Under a private, free market system where many or most prisoners were covered under a form of insurance, prisons would be held liable for any harm caused to prisoners while incarcerated. The business model for prisons, then, would be to minimize harm to prisoners while ensuring that they remained in prison.

The public model has no such constraints. Our justice system aims to enforce as many laws as possible and put as many people in prison as possible, and there's no incentive to treat the prisoners with any sort of decency, since the group responsible for creating prison standards is the same group responsible for enforcing them. The problem that pops in every other state-run bureaucracy is present within the justice system too: agents are concerned primarily with their own job security, rather than improving society as a whole, and since the prisons will receive whatever funding they need to keep things running, there's no incentive to reduce costs (rehabilitate).

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 2:48 PM. Reason : ]

5/27/2011 2:38:28 PM

Kurtis636
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Increased corporal punishment for minor crimes (public flogging, caning, etc.) such as shoplifting, vandalism and the like as a deterrent and as a punishment. Increased focus on isolation via incarceration and rehabilitation for legitimate major crimes such as robbery, assault, etc. Lifetime separation from society for serious crimes and people who likely cannot be rehabilitated... murderers, rapists, etc.

5/27/2011 3:36:41 PM

Wolfmarsh
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I recently read a short piece on this.

http://chronicle.com/article/In-Defense-of-Flogging/127208/?sid=at&h=5c37d

5/27/2011 3:41:24 PM

disco_stu
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I would love to hear BridgetSPK's response to the suggestion that we reinstate flogging as a punishment.

5/27/2011 3:51:09 PM

Kurtis636
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I would too. I'm being serious, I think corporal punishment should at least be on the table. Perhaps give the option of a large fine or a number of lashes. I don't think much rehabilitation is needed for shoplifting, but some kind of punishment is in order in addition to restitution. Public demonstration would serve as a deterrent to others and also punish those who commit minor crimes.

5/27/2011 4:16:06 PM

d357r0y3r
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That's exactly how China feels about it.

5/27/2011 4:16:40 PM

wdprice3
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Quote :
"Prisons are meant to protect the general population from criminals"


exactly; and much less for punishment/rehab. I don't care if prison life is shitty; there is no reason to waste more money than necessary on these POSs.

5/27/2011 4:51:49 PM

Kurtis636
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^^ Really, because you know... they don't have JCP.

5/27/2011 4:57:15 PM

mrfrog

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Quote :
"Under a private, free market system where many or most prisoners were covered under a form of insurance"


You know what this made me think of?

The argument for the individual health insurance mandate is that if you get sick and they drag your limp body to the ER and you never bought insurance then the hospital and society would be stuck with the bill. In what way does the same argument not apply for prison? We all have a probability of becoming incarcerated, which actuaries could figure out very well. Why not make the poor people pay for their own punishment when they break the law? And if you say there is no president for making an organization pay for a government service that is a net negative, then look at fee-based regulation.

I guess some people would argue that that individuals have control in whether they get incarcerated... and others would argue that they don't. How many innocent men do you think are in jail? Is conviction actually correlated with people committing crime, or is it just a way for our democracy to force its power on individuals? Anyway, the argument for jail insurance would hold either way. Thanks Obama for paving the way for that option.

5/27/2011 5:41:03 PM

adultswim
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Quote :
"exactly; and much less for punishment/rehab. I don't care if prison life is shitty; there is no reason to waste more money than necessary on these POSs."


This is short-sighted thinking. If that's your reasoning then we should never release anyone who goes to prison.

5/27/2011 6:04:16 PM

d357r0y3r
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Quote :
"exactly; and much less for punishment/rehab. I don't care if prison life is shitty; there is no reason to waste more money than necessary on these POSs."


That's exactly the kind of attitude I was addressing in my earlier post. Even if you hold this view, you should consider that the consequences of poor prison conditions are higher rates of recidivism. That means that there is a higher chance of these people being released from prison, and committing a crime towards another human being. So, there are actual human consequences to your barbaric opinions, at least when they are implemented.

[Edited on May 27, 2011 at 6:19 PM. Reason : ]

5/27/2011 6:13:34 PM

theDuke866
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Well, there are poor conditions, and then there are poor conditions. There's unpleasantly spartan, and then there's dangerous, inhumane, and barbaric.


^^



^^^

At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.

5/27/2011 7:33:58 PM

mrfrog

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Quote :
"exactly; and much less for punishment/rehab. I don't care if prison life is shitty; there is no reason to waste more money than necessary on these POSs."


Forget that, there are plenty of people who don't show ANY violent tendencies throughout their lives. In fact, we have plenty of people who don't have discipline problems of any kind. So really, if we just got rid of anyone who didn't follow the rules, well... we'd be left with a world that in inarguably better to live in, right?



Yeah, this idea has been done before.

The idea of Death Note is that someone just kills everyone who's in jail. Some of them are innocent, sure, but who cares? It doesn't affect the net result - which is a 100% peaceful world. No need to lock your doors, keep your children inside, or worry about just about anything. Transaction costs in the world, so to speak, hit the floor. How nice of a place to live! ...?

In the end, the idea is that it's only a temporary peace. Once the force that levied the death penalty with such efficiency was gone, then everyone went back to the way they were before the change. Crime is about human nature, and given certain circumstances people will stop committing crime altogether. The fact is that we're all criminals, we just weren't born into the environment that brought it out.

But drug crimes is an entirely different thing.

5/27/2011 8:40:11 PM

lazarus
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Quote :
"The fact is that we're all criminals, we just weren't born into the environment that brought it out.
"


How absurd.

5/27/2011 9:17:08 PM

adultswim
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^
How do people become criminals?

5/27/2011 11:05:39 PM

DaBird
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by committing crimes.

duh.

5/27/2011 11:15:11 PM

BridgetSPK
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Quote :
"disco_stu: I would love to hear BridgetSPK's response to the suggestion that we reinstate flogging as a punishment."


Kurtis636 is overlooking the fact that a majority of us do commit petty crimes like shoplifting and vandalism. And most of us commit them as a result of youth. If his system were in place, and offenders were actually caught, me and damn near everyone I know would have our backs covered in scars. Except we wouldn't...the punishment (flogging) would rightfully be considered so severe that shoplifting/vandalism would go unreported/unpunished.

I think a certain amount of petty crime should be expected in a free-ish country like the United States.

5/28/2011 12:08:45 AM

mrfrog

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""The fact is that we're all criminals, we just weren't born into the environment that brought it out."

How absurd."


Again, the argument is that as punishment for crimes reaches the death penalty for any offense, no matter how petty, then crime pretty much disappears.

DO YOU DISAGREE WITH THAT?

[Edited on May 28, 2011 at 10:02 AM. Reason : ]

5/28/2011 10:01:23 AM

A Tanzarian
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Quote :
"The fact is that we're all criminals, we just weren't born into the environment that brought it out. due to creeping criminalization"

5/28/2011 10:18:13 AM

lazarus
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Quote :
"How do people become criminals?"


By choosing to become criminals. The suggestion that behavior is merely the product of environmental factors is easily disproved by the great number of individuals who, despite having terrible surroundings, do not embrace criminality.

Of course there are people who may or may not become criminals depending on their environment. But this should not be confused as some kind of rule that applies to all people, and which can then be used absolve people of their ethical responsibilities.

[Edited on May 28, 2011 at 3:14 PM. Reason : ]

5/28/2011 3:10:01 PM

tmmercer
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^If you really think its that simple, then you are mistaken. Someone doesn't choose whether or not to become a criminal in a lot of cases. Its a product of your environment. Just like smoking, I can point out people who smoked and did not get lung cancer, but this doesnt mean that smoking does not contribute to lung cancer. Environment is a huge influence.

5/28/2011 4:08:44 PM

theDuke866
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Quote :
"Someone doesn't choose whether or not to become a criminal in a lot of cases. "


Jesus fuck.

5/28/2011 4:12:04 PM

d357r0y3r
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People make choices, but their decision making abilities are shaped by their environment. For instance, a child born into an environment that has been ravaged by drug laws is much more likely to end up committing the same crimes as their father that ended up in jail. It's pretty easy to say, "fuck those poor people, they're just stupid, why don't they stop committing crimes?" Obviously, it's a cycle, but those of us with the privilege of understanding some of the underlying causes of crime and poverty have an obligation to change the system.

On another point, though, you do not always choose to be a criminal. There are now laws on the book that criminalize inaction. Income tax laws are a good example.

[Edited on May 28, 2011 at 4:41 PM. Reason : ]

5/28/2011 4:37:32 PM

lazarus
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I did not deny that many people are susceptible to environmental factors when choosing whether or not to embrace criminality. Of course that is true, and of course any civilized society should work to address these issues. What I rejected was the fatuous assertion that "we're all criminals," given poor enough surroundings, as if people are just unthinking matter being batted around by the elements. We can indeed choose not to be murderers and thieves and dope dealers, even under terrible conditions, as evidenced by the millions of people who do just that.

5/28/2011 5:35:47 PM

TreeTwista10
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Quote :
"Someone doesn't choose whether or not to become a criminal in a lot of cases. Its a product of your environment."


That seems to make sense in the context of people from shitty areas with high crime

But how does it explain white collar crime, politicians, etc

5/29/2011 4:51:44 PM

screentest
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the culture of those institutions are fucked, too

5/29/2011 4:58:54 PM

merbig
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Quote :
"Putting prisoners in cages like dogs will definitely inspire them to become good people."


YUP! It's good motivation to make sure they return for another ass pounding.

5/29/2011 6:18:04 PM

mrfrog

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Quote :
"By choosing to become criminals. The suggestion that behavior is merely the product of environmental factors is easily disproved by the great number of individuals who, despite having terrible surroundings, do not embrace criminality."


This is about the level of thinking of a freshman English class.

The discussion isn't about what we know about how environment affects behavior - it is about how much environment affects behavior. It doesn't matter if we have an explanation or not. Regardless of if it's a poor or a rich environment, the existence of clusters of high crime and low crime prove the point that environment determines criminal behavior, aside from genetic arguments, which are most often used as a veil for plain racism.

I really don't care if you've managed to explain why someone was or wasn't a criminal. It's irrelevant and arrogant.

5/30/2011 10:25:04 AM

lazarus
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That was pretty incomprehensible. Perhaps you should have paid more attention in your freshman English class.

But if I understand what you were trying to say, you're still wrong, for the reason I've noted twice in this thread (and which you have now quoted). Unless you can nail down a definitive set of environmental factors that causes criminality in all persons subjected to those conditions, which you can't, then the most you can say is that certain environmental factors seem to cause some people to be more or less prone to criminal behavior.

In other words, all we can say is that environment is one factor that plays a role in determining criminality. A person's moral character is another. This is how we explain why it is that two people living under the exact same environmental conditions can lead lives distinct from one another. One may choose criminality, the other may not.

[Edited on May 30, 2011 at 11:00 AM. Reason : ]

5/30/2011 10:57:02 AM

mrfrog

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You think that the fact that people in bad circumstances never turn to crime disproves the idea that environment leads to crime. That is based on the idea that you have the ability to identify if someone's environment is a crime-prone one or not.

You do not know what environment will lead to crime. I, however, can clearly identify societies with huge crime rates and societies with low crime rates and conclude from this that environment is the prominent factor in propensity to crime. I do not know specifically which environments lead someone to crime.

Additionally, going back to what I said before - as the punishment for every crime, no matter how small, becomes the death penalty, what do you think will happen? No one will answer this because they will be wrong. Crime almost entirely disappears. This is what Death Note argues and not a single rational person opposes. That argument, in itself, completely demolishes the idea that there is some innate "badness" in people that leads them to crime, or that there is anyone who can not be turned around. Now, I think that it's entirely possible to have a virtually crime-less society without such punishments, which is the larger discussion pertaining to everything in the environment.

5/30/2011 1:09:02 PM

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