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I have had reason to take the San Francisco to Larkspur ferry three time recently. I have commented on that earlier. This ferry passes San Quentin prison. I lived in Marin county for 20 years during which I took the ferry home maybe 2-3 times a week. In all that time I can only remember once when I saw inmates outside.

There were a few years circa 1990 when there was a medium security section that was run as a boot camp with guards wearing drill sergeant hats marching the prisoners around or occasionally working on the grounds. Once one of the prisoners mooned the ferry.

With the exception of that time prisoners have been basically confined to their rooms from what I have seen. I do not believe this is humane. Nor do I believe that someone who is criminal would be improved by this sort of confinement.

I understand and accept that some must be removed from society permanently.

I also believe that societal problems can make people do things they should not. I do not think that continuous confinement will deter that. I think instead that education and concern could transform people. Locked up in their rooms did not work for my own children, locked up in cells seems not likely to work out for criminals.
This is the big issue, people lock people up because they commit crime, in some cases the crimes have harmed noone, but in most cases the crime exists because it has an adverse effect on the life of others.

Now, it would be wonderful if we could provide a community in which the criminally minded could live happy lives, and we probably could to some degree, however we have to consider those who are the victims of the crimes.

Is it fair to give a criminal (through state funding) a warm bed, lovely food, ready access to exercise and literature when we cannot do this for the victims of the crime?

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that the poor and vulnerable of the world are more often than not the victims of crime. Does it serve them mentally to say, suck it up and make something of your life while your attacker (or wronger) goes and lives a life of riley at the countries expense.

Would it not drive them to crime also?

Until society can provide for all citizens, it should not look to offer comfort to those who have demonstrated that they cannot cooperate with society.

In the cases that the death penalty is not an option (I am pro-killing, it is just hard to justify in which instances I would be happy to enforce it) we should provide the basics for them to live - food to maintain them, light exercise to keep their health (would not provide weights for them) and basic protection from the elements.
Lots of problems with that TE.

While the whole idea of punishment sounds good it actually does more harm. The fact is that people tend to justify their actions to themselves; punishment without addressing those rationalizations just results in the person that is being punished feeling oppressed and justifying further anti-social behavior. That results in high recidivism rates and even more costs.

Very few people are criminal just for the sake of being criminal. Most crimes are a result of circumstance and opportunity, with the criminal often unable to see a better alternative than committing the crime. Given the same circumstances they will most always commit the same crime unless you can give them better skills to realize better options.

I do agree that we should take better care of victims and that is something that could be done but as long as we cling to this unwillingness to contribute to our own societies (in other words as long as we refuse to pay the taxes that are needed to fund supporting victims) we'll never do it.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
It does get complicated. I agree with TE that in general even the developed countries do not protect all of their citizens as well as they should.

I also understand the need to punish. There are many people who I would be willing to kill for to protect.

But so many people in the US, in particular, are incarcerated for having been born poor or having a fondness for drugs.

Developed countries should have a responsibility to try to correct the internal flaws of those who are outside of societal norms not simply warehouse them.

I was truly astonished when taking a road trip to and from New Orleans this summer. In a typical day we passed 2-3 prisons. What as a country are we doing.
Edited by JohnH on 09/09/2011 18:40
I am no stranger to the problems with my opinions on prisons Seeker, they change so often I am not sure I could have a consistent conversation that had a 20minute interlude after the first 5 minutes of talking.

My problem with punishment in general is that it does not seem to benefit anyone beyond training in lying or hiding true intentions. From the threat (and actual encounters) of violence from parents (and others) I have experienced, they have instilled fear in some instance, but mainly drive me to be more devious when attempting to do anything.

Locking people up in surroundings that they do not enjoy is a form of torture. So locking people up who commit crimes, and making it uncomfortable for them, to me, is morally dubious. In other words, it would seem as though I have a problem with an eye for an eye.

However, as noted above, I am pro-killing. I have no problem with ending the life of someone who I know has raped, or abused/tortured a child - to me this is morally superior than locking that person up (which i regard in some respects as torture) or beating them (continuously for an extended time, or on finding out their crimes - brutal but fleeting) because morality applies where two interacting people can think after an interaction - the resultant emotions being that which settle whether the exchange was moral, immoral or amoral.

Now for a world inhabitted by two people alone, I think I am correct here - you kill the other person, and although before hand you would agree that it wasn't moral, after, you only have yourself to convince.

Where societies are involved, I would look for a general rule to be put in place - if you act in a barbaric immoral way, you void your membership to the committee that forms Moral Inc. and society can decide what happens to you. This would indicate that I am all for an eye for an eye, more exactly it would be a life for an eye.

The issues arise with at what point we would declare a not-so-nice-but-livable immoral act becomes a barabric one, and even if that was established how we can ever know for sure that the person we have aprehended was the instigator.

If I had a daughter, and I caught a guy raping her (without her consent) I would wish to kill him on the spot. Now I would know the truth of the event in that instance, and it may be possible to demonstrate through evidence in a court of law. However, could I trust the rest of those in the society to act in a similar way?

We know people lie about rape, we know police and others conspire to plant evidence, and frame innocent people. So even with the rules established, how could I be sure that the Board of Moral Inc. are not engaged in inside trading and unfair dismissal?

I have been known to say that the risk, for the obvious benefits, it's worth taking. We may occasionally kill an innocent person but we would rid the world of people than can't cope in our society leaving space and resources for the poor that would otherwise go un-helped.

So, ask me again in 20minutes, and I'll probably tell you a whole nother story.
I would agree with a lot of that TE. My worry whenever people start talking about death penalties is what happens when they get it wrong.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
Seeker, I ask you a simple question, as a moral man. If a person in front of you does something horrible to someone you love, will you ignore it or find the first weapon you can and harm that person. I know what I would do and it involves weapons and harm.

I do not accept state sanctioned killing, I accept and understand personal retribution.
Edited by JohnH on 09/12/2011 18:44
If I actually witnessed it and knew absolutely what happened I would agree with you John. The problem is that most times you don't have that kind of surety. What happens when someone lies or convinces himself he saw something he didn't actually see?
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
What happens when someone lies or convinces himself he saw something he didn't actually see?

Which is where my rampaging instant justice march develops a limp and must be shot by the stable master.
Theory_Execution. I must say that made me laugh.

As an aside one of the most troubling movies I have ever seen is The Ox-Bow Incident. An example of instant justice gone very wrong.
That is an old film, wander if it has fallen out of its copyright yet...

Merged on 09/14/2011 21:15:
Just watched the film. Very powerful.
Edited by Theory_Execution on 09/14/2011 16:15
I work very near a large prison......haven't seen a single prison bitch though. Sad
I used to play rugby with a prison guard, he had his teeth smashed out in an incident there, but he also said, the worst part was checking the cells in the morning, as he would be interrupting blowjobs and other activities.
[url=]Supernaut wrote:[/url]

I work very near a large prison......haven't seen a single prison bitch though. Sad

I used to play a lot of pick-up basketball in my younger days. One time I noticed this player who had an elaborate tattoo on his back of a naked woman. I was curious so I asked him about it and he told me it was a tattoo that he had gotten in prison. Hmmmmm...
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
Odd this particular thread got bumped now. About 3 weeks ago I noticed the exercise yard at San Quentin had been cleared of the weeds that had been allowed to grow up in it. Then about a week ago there were prisoners in the yard exercising. I could not tell at a distance but it appeared to be a segregated group as they all appeared african-american. Still at least they were outside.
I know this is ancient history but I have a new reason to bump this, an article I came across today.

I will also point out that in the intervening 19 months only once while taking the San Francisco to Larkspur ferry, about 6 months ago, did I see the exercise yard mentioned above in use, it is now, again overgrown with weeds.

Until about 10 years ago a close friend lived above the Smith River in northern California. To get there one passed through Crescent City just south of Pelican Bay state prison. The lights from the prison were quite intense when passed at night. Crescent City was nearly dead 40 years ago when I first passed through it. It is now relatively healthy thanks to the monies generated by the prison. One of the reasons several not successful communities in California have welcomed prisons.
We have this mentality that people who violate the law should be 'punished'. The problem is that the notion of 'punishment' really just suggests that you can solve all of your problems just by hitting them hard enough.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
Legally we can't kill people who rape even if it's a child, because of the precident it would set. Lets say Yo Blow Rapist rapes someone and upon ending realizes the crime and knows the punishment, what's to stop Yo from killing his victim? A majoroity of rapes even with young children don't end in killing, but if you set the punishment as death, how high would that statistic rise. I'm all for a parent killing a person in the act with their child but can't get behind the state doing that.
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