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On "deterrence" in prison, ex-convict life, and executions

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LimaUniformNovemberAlpha
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On "deterrence" in prison, ex-convict life, and executions

Postby LimaUniformNovemberAlpha » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:38 am

Spun off from this thread.

Our rationale as a society, both for executions and the presently brutal nature of American prisons, is that criminals need to be made examples of to scare everyone else out of committing crimes. One rebuttal to this argument is to say DP states have more crime than non-DP states; a notion that makes no distinction between cause and effect. A slightly better argument; used by opponents of the death penalty and proponents of making prisons harsher alike; is that many would-be criminals are already living in fear, and have little to lose from being executed and/or need more to lose from being incarcerated.

Firstly, this in my view should emphasize further the need to better address the root causes of crime. But that's a long-term goal, and still leaves behind the question of how to keep crime from getting out of control in the meantime.

That said, not all criminals are living in fear. Wealthy criminals; and/or white-collar criminals; have a cushy life on the outside; and often, rightly or wrongly; expect to continue to have one on the inside even if they get caught. Capone's cell is described by Cracked as "nicer than the average dorm room." Jordan Belfort had an easy time of prison after a lifetime spent doing nothing but scamming his own clients for a living, because he lived in a place where "everything is for sale." And then we wonder how stock fraud still keeps happening. How is prison supposed to make the wealthy fear the law, if enough wealthy people get off lightly that any wealthy criminal thinks getting caught is no big deal?

To cap it off, while the trend appears to be the cushiness of your prison sentence is proportional to your wealth, a number of would-be criminals, including middle class ones, seem to interpret the possibility of a cushy prison sentence as extending to them. Let one prisoner get a cushy sentence and they think they all will. Beyond Scared Straight shows a number of teenagers either shocked; or pretending to be shocked; by what they see in prison. Don't cops typically talk about prisons at middle school assemblies? Or was that scrapped in the name of modern hypersensitivity? If so, why don't they make the prisons themselves more humane for the same reason?

But prison vs. execution is not a difference of degree, but a difference of kind. So if one's likelihood to get executed depends on one's wealth, to what extent should it? Should it be a factor quantified along with the severity of the crime, with a threshold between prison-worthy crimes and execution-worthy ones? Or should it depend only on the crime itself, with an "all are equal in death" approach to making sure wealthy criminals are as deterred as everyone else; no more, no less?

Conversely, one way execution is more humane than prison is that if a prisoner WANTS to die, execution gives him plausible deniability on wanting to die, whereas suicide or death-seeking behaviours might humiliate him further by allowing his friends and family to find out he died on purpose.

Last but not least, what of the ex-convicts? No businessperson wants to hire someone with a criminal record; and since they're competing to meet consumer demand, this implies no customer will trust them. We could have the public sector keep them working in a halfway house anyway making reflectors for thermal-solar power, (it's a fairly simple process, with few ill effects to them or others for getting it wrong) which could keep them productive, rather than having to choose between coercing the private sector into hiring them and leaving them with a "steal or starve" choice of their own. The efficacy of solar collectors is 8th grade level science, so there's no reason to fear any supposed effects of sabotaging them.

All things considered, with all the things most people in prison go through; both during their sentence and after; it feels like hollow, empty virtue signaling to oppose their executions. But for the few whose prison sentences aren't hell on Earth, how exactly are we supposed to deter others from repeating their crimes?
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Postby Page » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:52 am

I entirely oppose the idea of prison inflicting suffering by design. I do not think anyone who isn't a present threat to other people's safety should be incarcerated, and I think those who are incarcerated should be treated humanely in the way that is seen in Norway. I think all people regardless of what they done should have access to reasonable comforts like wearing their own clothes, having books and television, being able to go outside, etc.
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Postby Riria » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:16 am

Page wrote:and I think those who are incarcerated should be treated humanely in the way that is seen in Norway.


Now, I'm not a proponent of torture or anything, but the way prisoners are treated in Norway is nowhere near good enough of a deterrent for future criminals. I believe the reason why the have less crime than most other countries lies mostly on other social and economic policies and contexts within Norway, and that therefore they have less crime in spite of how comfy their prisons are, not because of it. So trying to implement their system someplace else would not have the consequences you expect, IMHO.
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Postby Trollzyn the Infinite » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:34 pm

To reiterate what I said in a similar thread:

My idea of an ideal justice system is one in which there is rehabilitation for non-violent offenders, serious imprisonment terms for violent offenders, and the death penalty for dangerous psychopaths/sadists.
Last edited by Trollzyn the Infinite on Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Albrenia » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:41 pm

Trollzyn the Infinite wrote:To reiterate what I said in a similar thread:

My idea of an ideal justice system is one in which there is rehabilitation for non-violent offenders, serious imprisonment terms for violent offenders, and the death penalty for dangerous psychopaths/sadists.


With the exception of no death penalty and instead just life behind bars for the worst of the worst, I agree with this.

I'd also add in no parole or early release for any violent or sexual crime.

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Postby Trollzyn the Infinite » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:42 pm

Albrenia wrote:
Trollzyn the Infinite wrote:To reiterate what I said in a similar thread:

My idea of an ideal justice system is one in which there is rehabilitation for non-violent offenders, serious imprisonment terms for violent offenders, and the death penalty for dangerous psychopaths/sadists.


With the exception of no death penalty and instead just life behind bars for the worst of the worst, I agree with this.

I'd also add in no parole or early release for any violent or sexual crime.


Sorry, I don't share your belief that scum like Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Osama Bin Laden, or Heinrich Himmler should get to live.
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Postby Albrenia » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:44 pm

Trollzyn the Infinite wrote:
Albrenia wrote:
With the exception of no death penalty and instead just life behind bars for the worst of the worst, I agree with this.

I'd also add in no parole or early release for any violent or sexual crime.


Sorry, I don't share your belief that scum like Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Osama Bin Laden, or Heinrich Himmler should get to live.


Understandable. Part of me agrees with you, to be entirely honest. Let's just say while I still oppose the death penalty entirely, I shed no tears when it is applied to scum such as those.

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LimaUniformNovemberAlpha
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Postby LimaUniformNovemberAlpha » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:22 pm

Page wrote:I entirely oppose the idea of prison inflicting suffering by design. I do not think anyone who isn't a present threat to other people's safety should be incarcerated, and I think those who are incarcerated should be treated humanely in the way that is seen in Norway. I think all people regardless of what they done should have access to reasonable comforts like wearing their own clothes, having books and television, being able to go outside, etc.

Right, but until the USA has Norwegian-style workplaces and a Norwegian-style social safety net to provide Norway-level alternatives to crime, is the current approach to prison justified in (supposedly) scaring many would-be criminals out of committing crimes?
Last edited by LimaUniformNovemberAlpha on Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Bromagia » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:25 pm

Trollzyn the Infinite wrote:To reiterate what I said in a similar thread:

My idea of an ideal justice system is one in which there is rehabilitation for non-violent offenders, serious imprisonment terms for violent offenders, and the death penalty for dangerous psychopaths/sadists.

Shit, you posted my view better than I would have. I would amend it, however, to say "rehabilitation for non-violent offenders who can be rehabillitated". Some can't be.

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Postby Diopolis » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:32 pm

Prison is a political compromise based on our society lacking the necessary ruthlessness to take deterrence measures and being unwilling to spend the money to rehabilitate.
I think prison should be abolished. Serious crime should get the death penalty or judicial enslavement; more minor crimes flogging, community service, or a fine.
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Postby Riria » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:37 pm

Trollzyn the Infinite wrote:To reiterate what I said in a similar thread:

My idea of an ideal justice system is one in which there is rehabilitation for non-violent offenders, serious imprisonment terms for violent offenders, and the death penalty for dangerous psychopaths/sadists.


Strongly disagree on the blanket rehabilitation for non-violent offenders. Here's why.

Imagine you are a businessman or company owner. You make decent money, had a decent education, have a lot of valuable skills and work experience (in the sense that you are not just currently employed, but you would be able to easily find a new mode of generating income were you to suddenly lose your current one), and are probably a well integrated member in your community.

You are in the process of making a deal with a new client. Looking at some of the clauses in the contract, you realize that you could find an angle through which you screw him over and make bank. You also believe yourself smart enough to get away with it. So you act opportunistically and commit fraud.

I posit that in such a scenario, we're dealing with a criminal that not only doesn't need rehabilitation, but that needed to be "habilitated" and be a well-adjusted member of society to commit the crime in the first place. So clearly, such a potential criminal would respond infinitely better to deterrence than to rehabilitation.
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Postby Shanghai industrial complex » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:02 pm

Let me talk about the prisons in our country. You can guess where I come from.
First of all, the death penalty is allowed.Intentional homicide, kidnapping, robbery, rape, drug trafficking and other crimes against the country may result in death penalty.These are especially serious violent crimes. If the nature is bad, the death penalty will be decided by the national supreme court.I quite agree.This actually protects the human rights of the victim and frightens anyone who has this idea.Lawyers usually fight for life imprisonment for them.There are many ways to reduce the sentence after life imprisonment. Usually they end up in jail for 30 to 40 years.I think it's a loophole. Because there are too many places to operate, which will breed corruption.(Selling more than 50 grams of heroin is bound to be death. And it will be publicized all over the country.We executed a foreign local councillor who came to our country for drug trafficking.We tend to deprive drug traffickers of all human rights.)

Prisons are under the direct control of the National Police.Non death penalty offenders are normally held.Work regularly every day.Violent and non violent offenders will be held separately.Prison violence increases prison terms.Juvenile offenders will not be sentenced to death. Will be educated in a closed school.Usually in prison, a prisoner is taught a job skill.

I don't think the prison, as a punishment facility, should impose violent punishment on prisoners.Imprisonment itself is a punishment.But it is clear that as criminals, they should not enjoy complete human rights.Our country has strict control over prison violence. If it is found that the warden will be removed, the relevant staff members may even be sentenced.The prisons in northern Europe are definitely problematic. It deviates from the purpose of setting up a prison.
Our country forbids bail.This ensures that the rich cannot escape the law.
Last edited by Shanghai industrial complex on Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Saiwania » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:52 pm

The data seems to indicate that people largely aren't deterred by what happens to other people. People who commit crime are opportunists who take a calculated risk that they'll get away with it, or if their morals just aren't strong to begin with. Its also possible to just have lower inhibitions or to do something on a whim or as a result of rage. In any case, at that moment they perceive the gain to be greater than whatever loss they might get, in taking on a risk- if they're going to break the law.
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Postby Wheatonleks » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:58 pm

There's no evidence at all that prisons actually reduce crime, but we know for a fact that they cause a lot of suffering, that a lot of innocent people get locked up, that a lot of "guilty" people didn't actually hurt anyone, prisons and police are nothing but a way for the state to increase it's power over us, to threaten us, if we got rid of them we'd actually see crime go down; because when innocents are locked up that makes it harder for them to find a job and support themselves which leads to them stealing and committing crimes to survive, the "criminal justice" system in the US doesn't prevent crime, doesn't deter crime, never has, the only thing it does is create crime and create suffering, and we'd be a lot better off without it, and without the government mandating morality and declaring what is right and wrong.

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Postby Albrenia » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:00 pm

Wheatonleks wrote:There's no evidence at all that prisons actually reduce crime, but we know for a fact that they cause a lot of suffering, that a lot of innocent people get locked up, that a lot of "guilty" people didn't actually hurt anyone, prisons and police are nothing but a way for the state to increase it's power over us, to threaten us, if we got rid of them we'd actually see crime go down; because when innocents are locked up that makes it harder for them to find a job and support themselves which leads to them stealing and committing crimes to survive, the "criminal justice" system in the US doesn't prevent crime, doesn't deter crime, never has, the only thing it does is create crime and create suffering, and we'd be a lot better off without it, and without the government mandating morality and declaring what is right and wrong.


So... uh... any alternatives to suggest?

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Postby Bromagia » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:40 pm

Wheatonleks wrote:There's no evidence at all that prisons actually reduce crime, but we know for a fact that they cause a lot of suffering, that a lot of innocent people get locked up, that a lot of "guilty" people didn't actually hurt anyone, prisons and police are nothing but a way for the state to increase it's power over us, to threaten us, if we got rid of them we'd actually see crime go down; because when innocents are locked up that makes it harder for them to find a job and support themselves which leads to them stealing and committing crimes to survive, the "criminal justice" system in the US doesn't prevent crime, doesn't deter crime, never has, the only thing it does is create crime and create suffering, and we'd be a lot better off without it, and without the government mandating morality and declaring what is right and wrong.

They do reduce crime in that the people inside would undoubtedly be continuing to commit crimes if they weren't in prison.

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Postby Shanghai industrial complex » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:55 pm

Wheatonleks wrote:There's no evidence at all that prisons actually reduce crime, but we know for a fact that they cause a lot of suffering, that a lot of innocent people get locked up, that a lot of "guilty" people didn't actually hurt anyone, prisons and police are nothing but a way for the state to increase it's power over us, to threaten us, if we got rid of them we'd actually see crime go down; because when innocents are locked up that makes it harder for them to find a job and support themselves which leads to them stealing and committing crimes to survive, the "criminal justice" system in the US doesn't prevent crime, doesn't deter crime, never has, the only thing it does is create crime and create suffering, and we'd be a lot better off without it, and without the government mandating morality and declaring what is right and wrong.


In fact, there is evidence to prove the role of prison.The judicial system, not the prison system, should be responsible for the wrongs and wrongs.I think you're a typical anarchist.The law is drafted by members of Parliament, and you don't think the legislature can represent you. Are you against the current democratic system?If there is no police and prison, how to maintain the dignity of the law?So the whole country will be dominated by gangs and drug dealers.Look at Mexico.

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Postby Kowani » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:04 pm

LimaUniformNovemberAlpha wrote:
Page wrote:I entirely oppose the idea of prison inflicting suffering by design. I do not think anyone who isn't a present threat to other people's safety should be incarcerated, and I think those who are incarcerated should be treated humanely in the way that is seen in Norway. I think all people regardless of what they done should have access to reasonable comforts like wearing their own clothes, having books and television, being able to go outside, etc.

Right, but until the USA has Norwegian-style workplaces and a Norwegian-style social safety net to provide Norway-level alternatives to crime, is the current approach to prison justified in (supposedly) scaring many would-be criminals out of committing crimes?

Considering that deterrence policies don’t work, yes.
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Postby Ankenland » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:07 am

Riria wrote:So you act opportunistically and commit fraud.

I posit that in such a scenario, we're dealing with a criminal that not only doesn't need rehabilitation, but that needed to be "habilitated" and be a well-adjusted member of society to commit the crime in the first place. So clearly, such a potential criminal would respond infinitely better to deterrence than to rehabilitation.


This is genuinely insightful.

Some crimes are irrational, impulsive or desperate, and require no planning or reasoning. These would be good candidates for rehabilitation, for those who can rehabilitated.

Other crimes, such as a senator who uses government advanced notice about the coronavirus pandemic to do more than a million dollars worth of insider trading, are clearly the reasoned actions of habilitated individuals, and if convicted, these should be hung with rope on C-SPAN.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... bankruptcy

They had their chance.
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Postby Nanocyberia » Tue Mar 24, 2020 1:56 am

Albrenia wrote:With the exception of no death penalty and instead just life behind bars for the worst of the worst, I agree with this.

I'd also add in no parole or early release for any violent or sexual crime.


Many months ago I watched a rather eye-opening documentary on a prison intended for violent criminals, located in some long-lost location in Russia.

Life imprisonment is certainly not a humane way of dealing with people. Sure, some people might be able to cope with it...but not others.
In the case of that Russian prison, a few prisoners had had their sentence changed from 'death' to 'life in prison'--within days, they committed suicide.

Human behaviour is not binary, so neither should punishments. The death penalty should be an option. Even if you initially choose life behind bars, if/when you (start to) snap mentally, you should be given psychological support, just to see if that can get you over the hump; if that still doesn't work, if you're sure you'd rather die...then so be it.

Regarding sexual crime, one of the interviewed inmates viewed it like so: to redeem yourself of raping someone, get a rope and hang yourself.

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Riria
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Postby Riria » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:10 am

Saiwania wrote:The data seems to indicate that people largely aren't deterred by what happens to other people. People who commit crime are opportunists who take a calculated risk that they'll get away with it, or if their morals just aren't strong to begin with. Its also possible to just have lower inhibitions or to do something on a whim or as a result of rage. In any case, at that moment they perceive the gain to be greater than whatever loss they might get, in taking on a risk- if they're going to break the law.


No, people (level-headed opportunists especially) aren't deterred by what happens to other people, they're deterred by what might happen to themselves according to the word of the law. You said it yourself in the very next sentence, the people who commit crime because they're opportunists take a calculated risk. That risk doesn't *only* include the probability of getting away, but also the size of the punishment were they to be caught, so if the punishment is harsher, it WILL prefigure more prominently in the opportunist's decision whether to break the law or not (and while this only applies to people who break the law because they're opportunists, which is definitely *not* everyone who breaks the law, I did say that I don't think deterrence works on all classes of criminals).

As for people doing things on a whim or as a result of rage (which are treated differently from each other by law but for the sake of simplicity let's bundle them up) that is typically a mitigating factor that will significantly lessen your sentence in most courts in the West. Hell, in fact, the defendant's side will often be the one trying to convince the court that the defendant was in such a mindstate to begin with. (which is to say, we are *fundamentally* aware that deterrence is less effective against this group of people than against the level-headed opportunists I talked about previously, so we levy a lighter amount of deterrence at the latter group).

Ankenland wrote:This is genuinely insightful.


Thanks. As a lawyer, I've had cases and conversations with a large minority of people who were perfectly psychologically normal aside from their greed (and that's not a rehabilitatable trait). I'm just thankful that I specialized in civil offense law rather than penal, makes it easier not feeling bad building a defense for one of those guys.

Some crimes are irrational, impulsive or desperate, and require no planning or reasoning. These would be good candidates for rehabilitation, for those who can rehabilitated.

Other crimes, such as a senator who uses government advanced notice about the coronavirus pandemic to do more than a million dollars worth of insider trading, are clearly the reasoned actions of habilitated individuals, and if convicted, these should be hung with rope on C-SPAN.


Oh, absolutely. It's dangerous to assume *anything* is one-size-fits-all in law.
Last edited by Riria on Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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NS stats used, except population is 20 mil.
Freedom is the second greatest value. The first is whatever works best.

"All I know is that I know nothing." - beta Socratic mindset
"I will stay true to my beliefs to the bitter end." - beta Conservative mindset
"I WILL draw conclusions given the data available, but I am willing to update my beliefs when provided new information." - chad Bayesian mindset

The most prevalent cognitive bias of our times is the Golden Mean Fallacy.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can convince me that I deserved it.

Pro-environmentalism is perfectly and even necessarily compatible with libertarianism.

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Postby Albrenia » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:21 am

Nanocyberia wrote:
Albrenia wrote:With the exception of no death penalty and instead just life behind bars for the worst of the worst, I agree with this.

I'd also add in no parole or early release for any violent or sexual crime.


Many months ago I watched a rather eye-opening documentary on a prison intended for violent criminals, located in some long-lost location in Russia.

Life imprisonment is certainly not a humane way of dealing with people. Sure, some people might be able to cope with it...but not others.
In the case of that Russian prison, a few prisoners had had their sentence changed from 'death' to 'life in prison'--within days, they committed suicide.

Human behaviour is not binary, so neither should punishments. The death penalty should be an option. Even if you initially choose life behind bars, if/when you (start to) snap mentally, you should be given psychological support, just to see if that can get you over the hump; if that still doesn't work, if you're sure you'd rather die...then so be it.

Regarding sexual crime, one of the interviewed inmates viewed it like so: to redeem yourself of raping someone, get a rope and hang yourself.


My objection to the death penalty has less to do with it being more humane and more to do with its finality and the state's right to kill someone who is not posing an active and current threat to others. A lot of people have been cleared of crimes they did not commit years after being sent to prison, and you can't 'un-kill' someone once the deed is done.

I agree that mental health resources should be available to inmates in prison.

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Riria
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Postby Riria » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:27 am

Nanocyberia wrote:Regarding sexual crime, one of the interviewed inmates viewed it like so: to redeem yourself of raping someone, get a rope and hang yourself.


That is definitely not something that holds uniformly true across all cultures and all legal systems (the concept that rape is unforgivable or that rapists are monsters). Where I live, the punishment for rape is only 3 to 12 years, and you screwed up REAL bad if you actually managed to get yourself anything longer than 5 (as in, raping of minors, raping of people under your own guardianship, or gang raping levels of bad). However our recidivism rate is not higher than the European average. Is that magic? No, that's just an normal expectation to have. If 99% of society stops calling the rapist a monster, or telling the rapist they should kill themselves, then maybe, just *maybe*, that would make it easier for the rapist to believe that he can do better.
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NS stats used, except population is 20 mil.
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An Alan Smithee Nation
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New York Times Democracy

Postby An Alan Smithee Nation » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:41 am

Riria wrote: I believe the reason why the have less crime than most other countries lies mostly on other social and economic policies and contexts within Norway, and that therefore they have less crime in spite of how comfy their prisons are, not because of it.


Why do you believe that?
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Ankenland
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Authoritarian Democracy

Postby Ankenland » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:52 am

Riria wrote:(which is to say, we are *fundamentally* aware that deterrence is less effective against this group of people than against the level-headed opportunists I talked about previously, so we levy a lighter amount of deterrence at the latter group).


Do you think that there should be different facilities, or parts of facilities, for prisoners who would benefit from therapy (group therapy, religion, anger management, etc), for those who would benefit from skill training (thieves, dealers, prostitutes etc. motivated by reasonable need for income), and for those who cannot be economically or psychologically improved, and just need to be punished with forced labor as a warning to others?

I realize that there are programs within prisons to address these needs, though their availability varies. With specific regard to large urban areas with multiple prisons which could specialize and shuffle prisoners between themselves, should prisons speciate along those lines, instead of just along the lines of security level? Should criminals be sentenced to a given type of sentence?

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