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Is punishing someone for a crime not dated and pointless ?

  • #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 1,414 Awkward Badger


    I see it time and time again when someone commits a crime, people want them locked up, advocate violence, call for heavy sentencing etc. All to punish an individual for a crime they committed.

    The judicial system seems to reflect this somewhat. With people sentenced based on the severity of the crime they committed (although here hugely mitigated to avoid a custodial sentence) simply to punish them for doing it.

    Is it not all a bit dated and pointless ? Surely the point of the entire judicial system should be to protect society and to lower the risk posed to people in society, not to punish individuals based on some outdated notion of like retributive justice ? I know custodial sentences are beneficial in some situations but where an individual should be removed but its not always the case.

    Take the case of the woman who stopped on a highway to pick up ducks resulting in the death of two people on a motorbike who crashed into her car. It was an accident, a tragic, stupid accident. Her threat to society lies in the fact she's a careless driver. Yet she's convicted on counts of criminal negligence which carry with it a heavy sentence with a max of life. I know this was in Canada but a lot of people on boards seem to agree she should serve a custodial sentence and even life for costing two people their lives. She needs to pay for what she did in a lot of peoples minds. But why ? Why does she need to pay ? It wont change what happened, it doesn't make society any safer by having this person locked up rather than just disqualified from driving.

    What's the benefit of it when the threat to society can be easily eliminated by other ways? Why the need to punish when it will achieve nothing but inflict some manner of suffering on someone else ? How could it possibly be of benefit to any human being to see another suffer for something that can never be changed and why is such a thing the bases for dealing with crimes ?

    To me it seems very primitive. To want and be pleased to see people suffer when they do wrong rather than simply wanting to remove whatever risk they pose to everyone else.


Comments



  • What about the deterrent bit? Not all 'criminals' are dozy ladies trying to help ducks.




  • Boskowski wrote: »
    What about the deterrent bit? Not all 'criminals' are dozy ladies trying to help ducks.

    Does it have much of an impact as a deterrent though ? I don't think so. I think most people who are the types to go and commit crimes are not put off by the prospect of a custodial sentence.

    Most others are like the dozy duck lady. They just mess up on occasion and no amount of deterrent will have any effect as its just one of those things that happens at a particular time. Its not a choice made with knowledge of the consequences.

    So in that regard simply punishing them for their crimes doesn't achieve anything in terms of protecting society for the time they are locked up. For the dozy duck lady and those like her that time is completely pointless as the risk they pose isn't very high and can be dealt with in better ways. For the career criminals they eventually get out and stand a good chance of re offending. The risk isn't dealt with, its just temporarily removed as a consequence of the person being punished.




  • I can follow your line up to a point. But if you remove punishment altogether what stops people with low thresholds to commit all sorts of crimes all the time? I'm low on cash sure jog down to the gas station and demand some cash at knife point. Nothings going to happen anyway.

    I actually would advocate the complete opposite of what you're saying. I think hardened criminals think the way you described it because we are already way too lenient, especially with younger criminals. Some of these people aren't even 18 and have double digits of offences on their crime register. And our message to them is 'ah its not so' bad so they will carry on.

    I think the US three strikes system seems to be working. Three crimes above a certain grade and you're gone for ten years. Now there's a deterrent. And if nothing else they won't bother us for those ten years.




  • Boskowski wrote: »
    I can follow your line up to a point. But if you remove punishment altogether what stops people with low thresholds to commit all sorts of crimes all the time? I'm low on cash sure jog down to the gas station and demand some cash at knife point. Nothings going to happen anyway.

    Firstly there you're assuming the punishment is an actual deterrent, which I don't think it is to any great degree. What stops you doing that now when all you will face is a conviction and a likely suspended sentence ? Would you do it in situations where you are sure you wouldn't be caught ? Its not fear of the law that stops you its the fact you're not a person who's capable or desperate enough to do that stuff.

    I'm also not suggesting there wouldn't be any repercussions in any way "punishing". There would. Just not punishment for punishments sake because you did wrong and need to suffer to learn your lesson regardless of whether or not there's any risk of you doing it again or regardless of whether or not the punishment will have any bearing on that. Its purely just retribution in those cases.
    I actually would advocate the complete opposite of what you're saying. I think hardened criminals think the way you described it because we are already way too lenient, especially with younger criminals. Some of these people aren't even 18 and have double digits of offences on their crime register. And our message to them is 'ah its not so' bad so they will carry on.

    The reason there are hardened criminals imo is because they are simply punished for individual crime after individual crime. Its not a matter of the punishment being lenient its a matter of the punishment being ineffective. Punishment does nothing to change the fact they are a threat to others in society so when the are released after however long they carry on being a threat and eventually re-offend.
    I think the US three strikes system seems to be working. Three crimes above a certain grade and you're gone for ten years. Now there's a deterrent. And if nothing else they won't bother us for those ten years.

    Is it a deterrent ? Is crime reduced in states that have the three strikes rule ?

    I'm not against custodial sentences or even life sentences btw. My issue is with people thinking if you do wrong you must pay or suffer for it and any attempts to deal with them without an actual punishment is seen as them getting off scot free.




  • Pugsly wrote: »
    Firstly there you're assuming the punishment is an actual deterrent, which I don't think it is to any great degree.
    You've said this a few times, so at this stage you probably should cite some evidence of how it is not a deterrent to any great degree.

    The criminal justice system has three purposes:
    • Deterrent. To dissuade those who may commit a crime from doing so.
    • Rehabilitation. To change those being punished so that they do not re-offend.
    • Control. To remove those who offend and are likely to re-offend from society.
    It's not a perfect system. It's probably very inefficient, expensive and in need of serious reform. However to consider it pointless, we need to see to what extent it achieves its goals and whether there exists an alternative that will do the job any better; an imperfect solution, at the end of the day, is better than no solution.

    Additionally, you could argue that it makes the problem worse (i.e that rather than rehabilitate it creates career criminals), but again you'd need to present evidence of this and compare it to the alternative of no such system.

    So, as this is your thesis, it's really up to you to make a more convincing argument on the basis of the above, otherwise we're just discussing opinions and other flights of fancy and we all have those.


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  • The criminal justice system has three purposes:
    • Deterrent. To dissuade those who may commit a crime from doing so.
    • Rehabilitation. To change those being punished so that they do not re-offend.
    • Control. To remove those who offend and are likely to re-offend from society.
    "Rehabilitation" is the act of restoring something to its original state, which at face value seems ironic. If their original state was dysfunctional, the last thing that should be done with convicted prisoners is to restore them to it. Of course, the CJ system defines rehabilitation differently, but the high recidivism rate in some nations suggests that many prisoners may be dysfunctional upon release, if not more so than their original state.




  • Black Swan wrote: »
    "Rehabilitation" is the act of restoring something to its original state, which at face value seems ironic.
    Well the word "rehabilitation" is typically used when discussing the process of changing their behaviour so that they no longer re-offend after they finish their sentence. If you want to use another term, feel free, otherwise I'm not sure what arguing over semantics will achieve here.
    Of course, the CJ system defines rehabilitation differently, but the high recidivism rate in some nations suggests that many prisoners may be dysfunctional upon release, if not more so than their original state.
    Of the three functions of the CJ system 'rehabilitation', or whatever we want to call it, is by far the weakest. Nonetheless, that neither negates the other two functions, nor magically replace this system with something that will work better.

    The point I've made, in my last two points (other than we're just shooting out unsubstantiated opinions so far) is that to conclude that the CJ system is pointless, we really have to show that it not only is pointless in what it is supposed to achieve, but that we would be at least no worse were we to replace it with an alternative (which no one has bothered to suggest yet).




  • Firstly I have to point out that you are arguing against something I have not said. Which is that the criminal justice system is pointless.

    When I say "punishment" I mean exactly that, the punishment aspect to sentencing. Not the justice system. But I'll address your points anyway.
    You've said this a few times, so at this stage you probably should cite some evidence of how it is not a deterrent to any great degree.

    I think its pretty self evident tbh, its hard to cite evidence as such about the punishment aspect in isolation when there are so many factors involved in the rise and fall of crime numbers. But taking one particular punishment which has been scrutinised a good bit which is execution and in my mind its the harshest punishment so it stands to reason it should act as quite a good deterrent if punishment is indeed a deterrent. Yet its not believed to be a deterrent.
    The criminal justice system has three purposes:
    • Deterrent. To dissuade those who may commit a crime from doing so.
    • Rehabilitation. To change those being punished so that they do not re-offend.
    • Control. To remove those who offend and are likely to re-offend from society.
    It's not a perfect system. It's probably very inefficient, expensive and in need of serious reform. However to consider it pointless, we need to see to what extent it achieves its goals and whether there exists an alternative that will do the job any better; an imperfect solution, at the end of the day, is better than no solution.

    Again I'll state I'm not arguing the criminal justice system is pointless. Or that its not better than no solution at all. You say yourself its very inefficient, expensive and in need of serious reform. In my opinion the principle thing at the root of why its so ineffective is because its focussed on achieving its goals through punishment for individual crimes. Which in my opinion isn't a sufficient deterrent, doesn't rehabilitate and offers only limited "control" by temporarily removing people from the populace.
    Additionally, you could argue that it makes the problem worse (i.e that rather than rehabilitate it creates career criminals), but again you'd need to present evidence of this and compare it to the alternative of no such system.

    So, as this is your thesis, it's really up to you to make a more convincing argument on the basis of the above, otherwise we're just discussing opinions and other flights of fancy and we all have those.

    I think you've not only missed the point of the thread but you're also under the illusion I'm going to change the world with it and this is required to post in this forum. If I was capable of providing the death knell to the current judicial system and herald changes across the western world to bring on a new era of dealing with criminality I wouldn't be posting on boards. This is a discussion forum, that's all I'm trying to do here. Discuss something of interest.




  • Pugsly wrote: »
    Firstly I have to point out that you are arguing against something I have not said. Which is that the criminal justice system is pointless.
    You're right, I was referring to the criminal justice system only in so far as we're taking about custodial sentences (corporal and capital punishment being moot in the European context), so should have more correctly said that.
    I think its pretty self evident tbh, its hard to cite evidence as such about the punishment aspect in isolation when there are so many factors involved in the rise and fall of crime numbers.
    Well when people start talking about how things are 'self evident' then I do find myself raising an eyebrow. I've grown very cynical of even those things that I would consider 'self evident', as over the years I've discovered that it is not unusual that when examined I discovered they were false all along.
    But taking one particular punishment which has been scrutinised a good bit which is execution and in my mind its the harshest punishment so it stands to reason it should act as quite a good deterrent if punishment is indeed a deterrent. Yet its not believed to be a deterrent.
    Firstly, I am really discussing custodial sentences as capital punishment does not exist in our part of the World. However even if it did and I was, deterrent is not the only function of punishment, as I pointed out earlier, and capital punishment does fulfill at least one of those three functions.
    Again I'll state I'm not arguing the criminal justice system is pointless. Or that its not better than no solution at all.
    Well, the thread title you chose does say that such punishments are pointless and pointless by definition means that having nothing to replace it would make no difference.
    I think you've not only missed the point of the thread but you're also under the illusion I'm going to change the world with it and this is required to post in this forum.
    I don't think you're going to change anything, and I'm not sure where you got the impression I did, but if you want a discussion and express views, you can't expect them to go unchallenged either.

    What I've done is questioned the validity of your initial axiom and also given an alternative viewpoint whereby punishment is not narrowly defined as a deterrent alone.




  • You're right, I was referring to the criminal justice system only in so far as we're taking about custodial sentences (corporal and capital punishment being moot in the European context), so should have more correctly said that.

    My point is based around the notion of punishment itself not custodial sentences. Custodial sentences can be used as a means to deal with the problem of an individual. Its the view that people should be punished for crimes rather than just dealt with so the risk they pose is lessened is what I'm trying to discuss here. In the OP all I said about the judicial system is that it seems to reflect somewhat that view. That people should pay and suffer to some extent for their crimes rather than simply being dealt with in terms of the issues they are causing society.
    Well when people start talking about how things are 'self evident' then I do find myself raising an eyebrow. I've grown very cynical of even those things that I would consider 'self evident', as over the years I've discovered that it is not unusual that when examined I discovered they were false all along.

    Cynical or not I'm not here to put forth a thesis or peddle a philosophy as you seem to think. I am (or rather was before you seemed to take it upon yourself to tell me I have no opinion worth hearing) to discuss the notion of punishment.
    Firstly, I am really discussing custodial sentences as capital punishment does not exist in our part of the World. However even if it did and I was, deterrent is not the only function of punishment, as I pointed out earlier, and capital punishment does fulfill at least one of those three functions.

    But the point isn't about custodial sentences its about punishment over problem solving. What you put to me was that I need to prove punishment is not a deterrent. I attempted to do that using capital punishment and now you're changing the goal posts and arguing punishment is not meant to solely be a deterrent. Yet you say it does fulfil one out of three of its prime functions. Meaning you agree its not a deterrent and that it doesn't do what it is suppose to do.
    Well, the thread title you chose does say that such punishments are pointless and pointless by definition means that having nothing to replace it would make no difference.

    The thread title asks if punishing someone for a crime is not dated and pointless. Dated as in primitive need to inflict suffering on those we feel have wronged us, pointless as in there is no need to do that the only need is to deal with the risk posed to society by the person who committed the crime. For example if the crime was an accident and there was no risk of re-offending then its pointless to punish them simply because they did wrong. I'm questioning the motives for dealing with crimes. Seeing someone punished as opposed to simply dealing with the risk they pose to society. That's all.
    I don't think you're going to change anything, and I'm not sure where you got the impression I did, but if you want a discussion and express views, you can't expect them to go unchallenged either.

    Again I'm not peddling a philosophy here. There is no me against the world, I'm simply asking some questions on a point I find interesting which is "is the notion of punishing someone a bit primitive?". You can challenge my views all you like but you're expecting me to have a pre thought out opinion analysed down to the finest detail backed up with supplementary evidence to simply ask a few questions and discuss a few points.
    What I've done is questioned the validity of your initial axiom and also given an alternative viewpoint whereby punishment is not narrowly defined as a deterrent alone.

    What you've done is misunderstand the point and my intent and render the discussion moot and my opinion worthless on the back of it.


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  • Pugsly wrote: »
    My point is based around the notion of punishment itself not custodial sentences. Custodial sentences can be used as a means to deal with the problem of an individual. Its the view that people should be punished for crimes rather than just dealt with so the risk they pose is lessened is what I'm trying to discuss here.
    Fair enough. If what you wish to discuss is the principle of retribution for crimes, then I can understand that.
    Cynical or not I'm not here to put forth a thesis or peddle a philosophy as you seem to think. I am (or rather was before you seemed to take it upon yourself to tell me I have no opinion worth hearing) to discuss the notion of punishment.
    Now, let's not start getting precious about this. If we are to start accepting claims of things that are self evident here, then should we accept when someone starts claiming that everyone is born heterosexual, or blacks are born with a lower IQ on average, or God exists / does not exist or whatever 'self evident' claim.

    I'm not suggesting that you should introduce irrefutable proof of your claim, but to demand that we accept it as an axiom in the discussion without any evidence is frankly exaggerated too.

    To cite some of your self evident claims, note what I've underlined in this exerpt from your opening post:
    Pugsly wrote: »
    What's the benefit of it when the threat to society can be easily eliminated by other ways? Why the need to punish when it will achieve nothing but inflict some manner of suffering on someone else ? How could it possibly be of benefit to any human being to see another suffer for something that can never be changed and why is such a thing the bases for dealing with crimes ?
    None of those are self evident and all are at least debatable, if not (IMHO) false.

    Maybe there are more efficient ways to deal with crime than punishment, but to suggest that punishment fails to do so is a false assertion. It is entirely possible that the answer to the point you're making is that regardless of whether punishment in itself makes sense, it still works better than every other available means.

    If that's the case, then the use of punishment is not pointless from at least a utilitarian perspective and your argument falls apart.




  • Now, let's not start getting precious about this. If we are to start accepting claims of things that are self evident here, then should we accept when someone starts claiming that everyone is born heterosexual, or blacks are born with a lower IQ on average, or God exists / does not exist or whatever 'self evident' claim.

    I'm not getting precious. When asked for evidence I said I felt it was self evident (don't forget at that stage you mad misunderstood what I actually meant by "punishment") tried to explain it was hard to cite such evidence because of the nature of what we were talking about and the amount of factors that you have to take into account in relation to the rise and fall of crime in relation to anything. I put forth the capital punishment as one individual punishment that has been scrutinised and not found to be a deterrent. Yet you ignore that, changes the goal posts and now you're calling me precious and talking about racism, homophobia and god....
    I'm not suggesting that you should introduce irrefutable proof of your claim, but to demand that we accept it as an axiom in the discussion without any evidence is frankly exaggerated too.

    Well as I said the axiom that you were judging my argument on was incorrect. And I'm not demanding anything but to be allowed to discuss this reasonably. I don't think its beyond reason to state that the punishment aspect to locking someone up is pointless when locking them up without intent to punish them would result in the exact same thing. The issue which I have said since the beginning of this is the need to see people punished rather than the need to deal with the problem.
    To cite some of your self evident claims, note what I've underlined in this exerpt from your opening post:

    None of those are self evident and all are at least debatable, if not (IMHO) false.

    Those are cases where what I say falls true such as the case in the OP. Which makes punishment pointless. Yet the law is broken, crime was committed, someone must be punished. How are these claims btw ? Its from my first post and they are questions in relation to the issue I was trying to discuss.
    Maybe there are more efficient ways to deal with crime than punishment, but to suggest that punishment fails to do so is a false assertion. It is entirely possible that the answer to the point you're making is that regardless of whether punishment in itself makes sense, it still works better than every other available means.

    If that's the case, then the use of punishment is not pointless from at least a utilitarian perspective and your argument falls apart.

    Its also entirely possible there could be a discussion around such questions. You could have also us both a lot of time simply posting "No" to my OP given your interest lie in telling me I'm wrong more than discussing anything.




  • I would agree that a punishment in order to simply exact some kind of vengeance is not at all productive. One of the reasons we have a justice system in the first place is to get away from mob justice and lynchings, which are the purest forms of mindless retribution I can think of.

    Making someone suffer for their crimes may give you the nice fuzzy feeling of righteous revenge for a minute, but in the end that's all it does.




  • The criminal justice system has three purposes:
    • Deterrent. To dissuade those who may commit a crime from doing so.
    • Rehabilitation. To change those being punished so that they do not re-offend.
    • Control. To remove those who offend and are likely to re-offend from society.

    I reckon our system fails on all three of those counts.

    It seems to me that the Irish system is about crowd control and punishment/retribution.

    I saw a man being sentenced the other day. He wasn't even 30 years of age, but he had more than one hundred previous convictions.

    The judge was anxious to be somewhat lenient in view of this guy's recent efforts to deal with his drug abuse problems. He also had to take the huge number of previous convictions.

    Prison is no deterrent to people like this. There is no rehabilitation for these people in Irish prisons, as far as I can see. There is only control to the extent that the man will be imprisoned. When he gets out again, what will he do? Given his record, I imagine that he'll do what he always did.

    It can be argued that prison is a deterrent for many people. But for guys with more than one hundred previous convictions, that isn't really the case. These people simply do not care about themselves enough to try very hard to stay out of prison. Perhaps it is an issue of self-respect, as mentioned in the article from The Guardian, quoted below.

    I believe that we should be looking for an alternative to the system that we have. I saw something on telly about Bastoy prison in Norway:
    Bastoy, home to some of the most serious offenders in Norway, has received increasing global attention both for the humane conditions under which the prisoners live – in houses rather than cells in what resembles a cosy self-sustaining village, or what the sceptics have often described as a "holiday camp" – and for its remarkably low reoffending rate of just 16% compared with around 70% for prisons across the rest of Europe and the US.
    ...

    "I run this prison like a small society," he says as we sip tea in his cramped but tidy office. "I give respect to the prisoners who come here and they respond by respecting themselves, each other and this community." It is this core philosophy that Nilsen, 62, believes is responsible for the success of Bastoy.

    Maybe if we shifted the focus from retribution to rehabilitation, we might achieve better results.




  • I sometimes get a lot of flack for suggesting the use of dog training philosophy into the human sphere of things.
    I even ask others to apply said theories to me lol

    I see that dogs and people have quite a few similarities and the effects of being a leader/role model is underestimated.
    Also the use of positive reinforcement, instead of negative reinforcement.

    I suppose too, when you label someone a criminal and they experience the rest of their time as being percieved as a criminal or "bad" person, they will act like so.
    A self fullfilling prophecy, sustained for life in most cases. People wear their labels all the time.

    A good example of animals holding labels might be this anecdotel situation.
    One of the dogs I share the house with is a little bit insecure and aggresive. He had a rough early life and took a long time to become anyway placid or calm/trusting.
    So he still has this stuborn, aggressive, willfull, defensive streak.

    He is allowed in my room when I let him and if I don't I have earned enough respect to click my fingers or give a hand signal to make him stop at the doorway and wait. (I used positive reinforcement to train that)
    Also getting him to leave my room is easy. I just lead him out and then tell him he can't come in again. This is asking, as appose to pointing and using a low voice to order him out(where he would be aggressive).
    But a problem arises, when his owner makes noise downstairs which triggers the dog to think he is in trouble for being in that room(past experience before I moved in) and he immedately switches to agressive and starts growling at the incoming noise.
    This I see as his perception of the "labels" applied to him in this situation.
    In the past when his "label" of being in the wrong room or agressive comes into place,he knows he will be forced onto his back by the owner.

    I suppose thinking about it, the main difference in behaviour between myself and the owner, is that I take the lead dog role and he takes the punisher role.
    As in, if the dog gets aggressive, I will immediately own my space and stare the dog down to submission. Where the owner puts the dog on it's back and forces submission. Which turns out to look more like resentment than submission. The result is that he gets bitten and more growls and I only have the odd neurotic growl when I begin showing him who is in control, when he gets defensive.

    My point was to try to highlight some things in dogs that could apply to people.
    If you take a criminal and raise them to status of hero, they may become a hero eventually.
    If you put them on their back and hold them there, they will resent you and just recognize the negative reason for it happening and the resentment of the punishment.

    I think the reason is that, changes need to be wanted. Positive is wanted. Negative we avoid.
    If a career criminal wants to get money they will try to get it the way they know how.
    If you punish them negatively, they will just try to avoid the punishment itself and the person while feeling resentful.

    Going back to the dog example where I can ask him not to enter and it works due to respect.
    Consider if I represented society in the crinimals case.
    I would say that the same with career criminals could apply. They might not have any respect at all for society. However in the Norway case, this man seems to treat them like humans, or like what the label of human might mean to them(and probalby a good leader/role model, which is founded on respect), and so they begin to start seeing themselves as humans again and changing their philosophy.

    The moral of the story might be, if you don't accept someones behaviour, they can not change it.
    When I have accepted deepdown my own probelms, they have started to lose their power over me.
    I see it happen in others too.
    So the label of criminal seems a bit like a tattoo on the forehead.
    They see it inthe mirror everyday or on peoples faces and resent that judgement and rejection of them(since them = criminal).
    The reason why prison creates more criminals might be due tothe label of crinimal in their faces 24/7. They mayfully accept then that they are crinimals and it would take double the work to undo the damage.
    Now consider people taken away from society and put in a label for 10years.. What should we expect....
    Well the result. More reinforced labels and better thought out criminals.
    Which is actually really great for the prison owners, since they would love tohave a need for more prisons, due to our capatalist environment and ethos today in society.




  • Torakx wrote: »
    I think the reason is that, changes need to be wanted. Positive is wanted. Negative we avoid.
    If a career criminal wants to get money they will try to get it the way they know how.
    If you punish them negatively, they will just try to avoid the punishment itself and the person while feeling resentful.

    I think there may be something to that on a basic level. Career criminals are not people who just decide to commit crimes. They are people that behave and live a certain way where its acceptable to commit crimes. If you punish someone who doesn't understand or know how to change the behaviours that lead to them to committing those crimes they are likely not going to understand that its them that's the problem. They will still be the same person capable and willing to do what they previously did but with an added resentment of the law and in the case of serial offenders they accept imprisonment as part of their life because they can't change.

    There has been a huge shift in the west away from threat and intimidation used to force certain behaviour in some aspects of society. Instead they are taught and encouraged to behave a certain way. As you point out its even accepted that its not the best way to train animals.

    I feel with people guilty of a crime though emotion plays too big a part. You mention encouraging a criminal to not break the law rather than punishing them for it until they stop and you will meet a lot of resistance. Its seems hard for people to accept that retribution for the sake of retribution is pointless. Its only used to try solve a problem but it may not the best solution. But its hard for people to see it as anything other than someone "getting away with it" if they are not punished for their crime.




  • Imprisonment as methods of deterrence, control, and rehabilitation are dated, the first two as generally applied today centuries old. In this age of advancing technologies, there must be better ways.

    Resolution needs to begin at the start of the process, and not focus so much at the end (prison reform, etc.). As to the costs of maintaining a safe community, you can either pay now for community interventions before crime occurs, or pay later for more locks, walls, dogs, electronic security, guards, and build/maintain more law enforcement stations, courts, jails, and prisons along with employees to staff them (and their pensions when they retire).

    Start early in the process, not late. As pertains to juvenile offenders, especially those organised into longstanding gangs, Del Kelly of CSULA notes that a completely different perspective is needed if such behaviour is to be mitigated. Simply treating their criminal behaviour the same as the criminal behaviour of non-gang members may not be the most effective and efficient way towards reducing it. According to Kelly:

    First of all, juvenile gang behavior is normal behavior in gang-infested neighborhoods, not abnormal. Gang affiliation provides security for juveniles in dangerous gang-dominated communities. If you are not a member of a gang, you are classed as a victim.

    Secondly, gangs act towards the police as if they were a more powerful gang, not as the duly appointed agency of law enforcement. Both gang members and police show their colours, have territories, challenge other gangs for dominance, and obtain resources from their respective communities to operate.

    Thirdly, when you imprison gang members, they are welcomed by their fellows in confinement, sporting incarceration as a merit badge increasing rank and status. The hometown community is now exchanged for the prison community. The powerful "gang" of police officers is now replaced by the powerful "gang" of prison officers. Jails and prisons may temporarily control criminal behaviour, but deterrence and rehabilitation may be problematic, and may in some ways act as rewards rather than punishments for gang members.

    Kelly concludes that there are no simple answers to solve the juvenile gang problem, but suggests that a more community-based approach is needed. The Community Policing Model, as well as addressing the root causes of community and gang-related behavior are places to start. Parents, citizens, schools, businesses, and community recreational organisations must become actively involved with police, and cannot delegate the total responsibility to law enforcement agencies. Building castles (gated communities with guards) ignores the festering problems, and in some ways resembles the Mansions and Shanties of Brasil.

    Once again a very complex problem, this only scratching the surface of concerns.




  • I think if we try to trace it back further, it might point to the system of governing and economic systems.
    If we were truly free as a society, I don't think this would happen.
    So many issues appear to be results of various types of enslavement. Willing, in ignorance or under duress/threat.




  • When dealing with the criminal justice system as far as I can see it always boils down to economics (social factors).


    Here in Ireland anyway we tend to use the likes of Mountjoy as a sort of dustbin for individuals who commit crimes from the petty to the horrific.


    Society produces criminals due to inherent inequalities built into society itself. If we want to 'fix' criminality we need to 'fix' society. Not going to happen though as far as I can see.


    That's where the economics come in. It's cheaper to toss individuals into prison than deal with the social factors that coerced that individual into breaking the law in the first place. It becomes a badge of honour in some circles to do time. A rite of passage. Reinforcing the 'them and us' mentality.


    SD




  • Pugsly wrote: »
    I'm not getting precious. When asked for evidence I said I felt it was self evident (don't forget at that stage you mad misunderstood what I actually meant by "punishment") tried to explain it was hard to cite such evidence because of the nature of what we were talking about and the amount of factors that you have to take into account in relation to the rise and fall of crime in relation to anything. I put forth the capital punishment as one individual punishment that has been scrutinised and not found to be a deterrent. Yet you ignore that, changes the goal posts and now you're calling me precious and talking about racism, homophobia and god....
    You made a sweaping statement about punishment, without mentioning capital punishment, is what you originally did. You defined the benefits of punishment to the CJ system narrowly to suit you and then you expected us to accept your opinion without question.

    Even now, using your example of capital punishment, I would challenge that it has no effect on crime, given that it permanently removes potential re-offenders from society; something that you don't want to measure in your narrow definitions of benefit.

    So, no I do not accept your claims and unless you want that we all start demanding that we should have our generalizations accepted without question, you really need to back up what you say.
    Well as I said the axiom that you were judging my argument on was incorrect. And I'm not demanding anything but to be allowed to discuss this reasonably.
    Except it wasn't as the axiom I introduced applies to capital or any other kind of punishment - after all, I was responding to a generalization by you. So there's nothing reasonable about your position.
    The issue which I have said since the beginning of this is the need to see people punished rather than the need to deal with the problem.
    And the response which I have repeated since the beginning of this is that it is an attempt to deal with the problem and possibly the best available one, regardless of the moral logic behind it - also because you have failed to demonstrate that it fails completely to do so.
    Those are cases where what I say falls true such as the case in the OP. Which makes punishment pointless.
    So in one example it is (allegedly) pointless, ergo punishment is always pointless. Classic.
    Its also entirely possible there could be a discussion around such questions. You could have also us both a lot of time simply posting "No" to my OP given your interest lie in telling me I'm wrong more than discussing anything.
    I'm posting that your logic is flawed; you're taking a narrow and debatable definition of the benefits of punishment, treating all punishments as the same and using limited examples that agree with your thesis - using them to apply a generalized conclusion. And on top of it all, you're getting upset when we just don't accept what you're saying.

    A discussion is thus pointless as your initial argument is fundamentally broken.
    I reckon our system fails on all three of those counts.
    I never said that it was a good system or worked in all cases or, importantly, that an alternative would not be better, but to suggest it is an abject failure across the board, in all cases, is questionable. Not everyone re-offends, after all. Not everyone ignores the fear of punishment. When criminals are taken out of society they are removed also from the possibility of re-offending.

    It might not be the best system, as I said, but neither can one say it does not work, especially if we cherry pick our examples and apply them across the board.
    I believe that we should be looking for an alternative to the system that we have.
    I agree, which in many respect is why I find such discussions almost moot unless alternatives are offered.


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  • I never said that it was a good system or worked in all cases or, importantly, that an alternative would not be better, but to suggest it is an abject failure across the board, in all cases, is questionable. Not everyone re-offends, after all. Not everyone ignores the fear of punishment. When criminals are taken out of society they are removed also from the possibility of re-offending.
    Correct, you never asserted that it was a good system. I wasn't attempting to challenge your position in that way.

    I'm not trying to suggest that the system is a total or abject failure. It succeeds to an extent. The deterrent aspect can and does work to a degree.

    My point was that the system does not deal with recidivism adequately, and that recidivists make up a sizeable proportion of offenders. A trip to any local District Court will show many people with more than ten previous convictions.

    See this excerpt from a report on recidivism:
    The overall recidivism rate of offenders within three years was 62.3%.
    Two thirds of re-offences occurred within six months of release.
    The highest rate of recidivism was among those who had served a sentence for burglary and related offences (79.5%). Of these, most were re-convicted for burglary (57), public order (34) or theft (32) offences.
    Full report here.
    It might not be the best system, as I said, but neither can one say it does not work, especially if we cherry pick our examples and apply them across the board.
    I think that this is a matter of perspective. I say that it fails because it does not have better results with regard to recidivism. Although Ireland's figures (62.3%) compare positively to other countries mentioned in the study, it does not compare well to the 30% rate in Norway.
    I agree, which in many respect is why I find such discussions almost moot unless alternatives are offered.
    Agreed.


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