Our server costs ~$56 per month to run. Please consider donating or becoming a Patron to help keep the site running. Help us gain new members by following us on Twitter and liking our page on Facebook!
Current time: August 10, 2022, 7:52 am

Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Prison as punishment
#1
Prison as punishment
This is a discussion I had with my wife recently, regarding something we heard in the news. A guy was using his phone at the wheel, and crashed into another car killing several people. He was given a jail sentence, around 10 years I think.

This got me thinking about the suitability of such a sentence. I think it's an interesting point to discuss. To me, the primary purpose of prison is to remove dangerous people from society. The secondary purpose, where possible, should be to rehabilitate them. This could sometimes be achieved simply by stopping them doing what they were doing, and giving them a new environment in which to reflect. The third and least important is punishment.

Why do we punish? If there is no other purpose to it, the only reasons we could come up with are "justice" and acting as a deterrent. The second I can understand the pragmatic value in, although it feels unsatisying to me when applied to adults.

In this particular case, it was an accident. The guy didn't mean to kill anyone. Of course, he is accountable. But what does anyone gain by him being in jail for 10 years? Is there a better alternative? As a rough suggestion, how about being banned from driving and being indebted to society in some way, being forced to "pay back" in a positive way, with prison time being reserved for refusal to adhere?

The immediate problem would be people suddenly not caring about running people over by accident. Would this really follow?

I'm not saying the current or alternate "punishments" are right or wrong, I'm very much unsure what would be best. I'm interested in peoples' thoughts!
Feel free to send me a private message.
Please visit my website here! It's got lots of information about atheism/theism and support for new atheists.

Index of useful threads and discussions
Index of my best videos
Quickstart guide to the forum
Reply
#2
RE: Prison as punishment
Hard to say, really.  Perhaps we punish because we desire to do so, it brings a sort of societal catharsis.  Or perhaps we punish because we feel that there might be a preventative effect to retribution, over and above incarceration or rehabilitation? Kill somebody, and we'll kill you right back. Maybe both.
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
Reply
#3
RE: Prison as punishment
One issue in this country is for-profit prison systems. Which incentivises locking people up. If someone accidentally kills another person, and feels terrible about it, they probably shouldn't be put in a cage for ten years. Get their liscence revoked. Have them pay out money. Make them go to classes to ensure this doesn't happen again.

It should really depend on the crime, and we should only put people in cages when they're deliberately and remorselessly hurting people.
Poe's Law: "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing."

10 Christ-like figures that predate Jesus. Link shortened to Chris ate Jesus for some reason...
http://listverse.com/2009/04/13/10-chris...ate-jesus/

Good video to watch, if you want to know how common the Jesus story really is.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88GTUXvp-50

A list of biblical contradictions from the infallible word of Yahweh.
http://infidels.org/library/modern/jim_m...tions.html

Reply
#4
RE: Prison as punishment
(November 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm)Chad32 Wrote: One issue in this country is for-profit prison systems. Which incentivises locking people up. If someone accidentally kills another person, and feels terrible about it, they probably shouldn't be put in a cage for ten years. Get their liscence revoked. Have them pay out money. Make them go to classes to ensure this doesn't happen again.

It should really depend on the crime, and we should only put people in cages when they're deliberately and remorselessly hurting people.

I agree. Morally, this feels wrong to me. It seems like revenge. This guy is most likely already in a guilty hell from which there may be no escape from a long time. I guess this is one thing to consider. If the person apparently doesn't care about what they did and would happily go do it again in five minutes, you have a case for locking them up just based on that.
Feel free to send me a private message.
Please visit my website here! It's got lots of information about atheism/theism and support for new atheists.

Index of useful threads and discussions
Index of my best videos
Quickstart guide to the forum
Reply
#5
RE: Prison as punishment
Questions of profit motivation aside...I think that some people fear that if we weren't "tough on crime" there would be a hell of alot more of it.  I don't know whether or not that's true but ti seems to be based in a grim view of humanity regardless.  

I would say that we probably don't have the means to determine a persons level of contriteness.  If we did cut em loose on that basis, I'm sure that everyone who got pinched for killing someone would be very, very sorry and all that, lol.
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
Reply
#6
RE: Prison as punishment
I agree that punishment for the sake of punishment is useless. I like your idea of taking away his licence and creating some kind of of payback system instead. Lots of community service, talks at high schools or other groups about the very real consequences of texting and driving.

But why does our current system work the way it does? I guess because basic eye for an eye type retribution is easier and more emotionally satisfying for many than the harder work (harder for the victims emotionally, harder for everyone really) of real rehabilitation and prevention.

If it was my family who had been killed through someone else's negligence, I'd probably feel the same anger and desire to just hurt that person. But from a distance, we can see how futile that really is.
“Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where's it going to end?” 
― Tom StoppardRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Reply
#7
RE: Prison as punishment
(November 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm)robvalue Wrote: In this particular case, it was an accident. The guy didn't mean to kill anyone. Of course, he is accountable. But what does anyone gain by him being in jail for 10 years? Is there a better alternative? As a rough suggestion, how about being banned from driving and being indebted to society in some way, being forced to "pay back" in a positive way, with prison time being reserved for refusal to adhere?

This happened in the UK?

I don't know if the law is the same but usually this is considered negligent homicide or manslaughter, depending on the level of negligence. DUI, using your phone such as this guy did, things like that. I also don't know the maximum stretch something like that can earn you, but according to news reports they always get about 8 to ten months, sometimes even probation.

Which I think to be the right kind of punishment. Since the have to make ammends in some form of shape. Usually by having to pay a tidy sum to the relatives or the injured. Which is hard to do once you're behind bars. Insurance won't cover behavior like that, after all.
[Image: Bumper+Sticker+-+Asheville+-+Praise+Dog3.JPG]
Reply
#8
RE: Prison as punishment
I like alternative punishments as a concept, but the really cool ones aren't technological feasible yet.

For example, the texter that killed all those people while driving, it would be interesting if for a period of 10 years his DESTRUCT-ALPHA-DESTRUCT implant would cause any car he is attempting to start to burst into flames and melt into a puddle of molten goo.

But we're not there yet.

Also, it would be neat if for a period of 10 years, any cell phone he touches would explode like a hand grenade. I see Samsung is making advances with this feature, but again, we aren't quite there yet.

If there was a way to preserve limbs for 10 years, easy enough then, severe a hand, and in 10 years, reattach it. But sadly, we're not there yet.
 The granting of a pardon is an imputation of guilt, and the acceptance a confession of it. 




Reply
#9
RE: Prison as punishment
I'd murder someone who hurt my daughters.  Just flat out murder them, and probably anyone else who happened to be there to witness it and didn't help her.  I'll leave that here as a confession to a crime I may one day commit just to make it easier on authorities.  If the kid who hurt one of my daughters goes missing or winds up dead, along with all of his douchebag friends.  I did it.  I totally did it, and I'm probably proud to have done it...so there goes my contrite nature.

Thing is, that means I need to be in a cell too.  So while I understand that urge, if that urge is at play, the desire for catharsis...for retribution, it's hard to validate it as okay whether I'm the one with the hammer or the state is swinging it for me. Still, we're talking about convicts here, prisoners, invisibles. It's easy not to notice or care...what we might be strongly against in some other human beings case...to some extent we have already dehumanized the invisibles, and so the normal rules we might comport ourselves to no longer apply.
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
Reply
#10
RE: Prison as punishment
(November 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm)robvalue Wrote: This is a discussion I had with my wife recently, regarding something we heard in the news. A guy was using his phone at the wheel, and crashed into another car killing several people. He was given a jail sentence, around 10 years I think.

This got me thinking about the suitability of such a sentence. I think it's an interesting point to discuss. To me, the primary purpose of prison is to remove dangerous people from society. The secondary purpose, where possible, should be to rehabilitate them. This could sometimes be achieved simply by stopping them doing what they were doing, and giving them a new environment in which to reflect. The third and least important is punishment.

Why do we punish? If there is no other purpose to it, the only reasons we could come up with are "justice" and acting as a deterrent. The second I can understand the pragmatic value in, although it feels unsatisying to me when applied to adults.

In this particular case, it was an accident. The guy didn't mean to kill anyone. Of course, he is accountable. But what does anyone gain by him being in jail for 10 years? Is there a better alternative? As a rough suggestion, how about being banned from driving and being indebted to society in some way, being forced to "pay back" in a positive way, with prison time being reserved for refusal to adhere?

The immediate problem would be people suddenly not caring about running people over by accident. Would this really follow?

I'm not saying the current or alternate "punishments" are right or wrong, I'm very much unsure what would be best. I'm interested in peoples' thoughts!

bold mine

Yes an accident, but an accident due to negligence. And I'll take it a step further, negligence with regard to human life. So, basically, he didn't care if he took a human life, using his phone while driving was more important. I'm sure he knew he was using a potentially lethal instrument (the vehicle). So, we ban him from driving, what will that do to change his negligent behavior/thinking? Nothing. That simply makes an inconvenience for him. If he's wealthy and money is no object (and don't get me wrong, he should have financial consequences) what will that do to change his negligent behavior? Nothing. And if you make him poor and he still has his negligent behavior/thought with regard to human life, what will he be capable of doing to survive?

There needs to be something that causes him cognitive restructuring when it comes to his concept of the value of human life and his actions. Maybe the accident was enough. But how do we know? What if there is no adherence, no restructuring? Should we let him off and then wait for the next time? Maybe prison is needed, it certainly give a person time to allow cognitive restructuring to develop. Hopefully it would be a prison that provides rehabilitation. How about a lobotomy, a society imposed restructuring? (joke, taking it to the absurd) 

I don't have an exact answer or position. There may be as many answers are there are offenders and offenses. In a perfect world maybe the retribution should be specifically tailored to the individual and their offense. An example for this case may be sentencing him to a subsistence life style while having to care for motor vehicle victims for the 10 years as his only job or means of support. If he does not agree or adhere, then he can do the time. 

Again, I don't like it either, but I'm not sure I have a better solution. Or a better solution that society would accept.
I don't have an anger problem, I have an idiot problem




Reply



Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Capital Punishment Agnostico 75 1344 June 23, 2020 at 1:34 am
Last Post: Agnostico
  Transgender and prison? ignoramus 4 174 March 31, 2019 at 11:46 am
Last Post: Brian37
  Marrying a Prison Inmate Elskidor 31 3065 July 28, 2014 at 10:11 am
Last Post: Clueless Morgan
  The Most Severe Punishment Walking Void 16 1688 October 3, 2013 at 8:14 pm
Last Post: Zazzy
  Prison for gays paulpablo 20 4908 July 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm
Last Post: Doubting Thomas



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)