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09-22-2011, 08:56 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by les3547 Quote


As callous as it seems to countries who don't kill, I'm not sure it is much worse than how we, and other non-executing countries, treat prisoners who are kept alive. A Google search of something like "prison conditions in developed countries" will show prisoner treatment is too often inhumane in developed countries around the world . . . so that isn't just a US problem, it is a worldwide issue.
Living conditions in prison can, potentially, be improved upon, and at some point, if it is found that a mistake was made, the person can be set free.
Once the State has murdered the person, there is no going back.

09-22-2011, 09:20 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by les3547 Quote
Yet America, according to this somewhat dated paper, puts both more total (including China!) and a higher percentage of people in prison than any country in the world:
A lot of that I am lead to believe is a by-product of your "Three Strikes" laws.... Examples of how it distorts your prison population:

Three strikes law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
QuoteQuote:
Some unusual scenarios have arisen, particularly in California — the state punishes shoplifting and similar crimes involving under $950 in property as felony petty theft if the person who committed the crime has three prior convictions for any form of theft, including robbery or burglary and have served time in jail or prison for that offense. As a result, some defendants have been given sentences of 25 years to life in prison for such crimes as shoplifting golf clubs (Gary Ewing, previous strikes for burglary and robbery with a knife), or, along with a violent assault, a slice of pepperoni pizza from a group of children (Jerry Dewayne Williams, previous convictions for robbery and attempted robbery, sentence later reduced to six years).[9] In Rummel v. Estelle (1980), the Supreme Court upheld life with possible parole for a third-strike fraud felony in Texas, which arose from a refusal to repay $120.75 paid for air conditioning repair that was subsequently considered unsatisfactory.[10] Rummel was released a few months later, after pleading guilty.[11]
Then - as also noted - there is an increasing push to Privatization of the Prison System. It is more profitable the more prisoners there are in a prison because of how the payment system works. That just makes it all a little murky doesn't it - as I recall seeing that in a state that was considering changing its three-strikes rule was heavily lobbied by a company that happens to run the Prisons in that state and the next one over... Of course under the guise of "Law and Order" and not "Profit and Loss" Add in to the mix a lovely little economy in "Prisoner Import/Export" that they started running between themselves... and it gets ugly...

Private prison - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
QuoteQuote:
CCA is and formerly The GEO Group have been major contributors to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington, D.C. based public policy organization that develops model legislation that advances tough-on-crime legislation and free-market principles such as privatization. Under their Criminal Justice Task Force, ALEC has developed and helped to successfully implement in many states “tough on crime” initiatives including “Truth in Sentencing” and “Three Strikes” laws. Corporations provide most of the funding for ALEC’s operating budget and influence its political agenda through participation in policy task forces. ALEC’s corporate funders include CCA and The GEO Group. In 1999, CCA made the President’s List for contributions to ALEC’s States and National Policy Summit; Wackenhut (predecessor to GEO Group) also sponsored the conference. Past cochairs of the Criminal Justice Task Force have included Brad Wiggins, then Director of Business Development at CCA and now a Senior Director of Site Acquisition, and John Rees, a former CCA vice president. On November 11th, 2010, GEO's outgoing COO Wayne Calabrese, told a large community gathering at a middle school in Bangor, Pennsylvania, that GEO had withdrawn from ALEC years earlier because of the obvious conflict of interest involved in creating legislation that insured an increased supply of prisoners. CCA and GEO have both engaged in state initiatives to increase sentences for offenders and to create new crimes, however, CCA helping to finance Proposition 6 in California in 2008 and GEO lobbying for Jessica's Law in Kansas in 2006.
By funding and participating in ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Forces, critics argue, private prison companies directly influence legislation for tougher, longer sentences.[27] The legal system may also be manipulated more directly: in the Kids for cash scandal, Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp, a private prison company was found guilty of paying two judges[28] $2.6m to send 2000 children to their prisons.[29][30]
Legislation passed with links to private prisons, reported in the media: Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law : NPR Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny : NPR Commentary: Was Arizona's immigration law prompted by private prisons? - National DC feed - bellinghamherald.com http://www.kpho.com/news/24834877/detail.html
Starts to look a bit like plain old racketeering really then doesn't it - If theres dollars to be made locking someone up - then Hell Yeah - lets lock some people up. Of course - if you dont lock them up - well then, Think of the Children!! Yup - Capitalism has its places... just not sure I believe the Justice System or its Mechanisms for Penalty is one of them.

As long as there is money to be made by a Private Equity firm in having someone imprisoned, regardless of their crimes.. well.. what would you do ? Rehabilitate and get those people out inside of 6 months? or let them languish for a few years to really milk that accommodation bill from the state ? So combine "Three Strikes" with "Profit for Prisoners" and unsurprisingly the answer ends up being "Huge Prison Populations with no regard to Rehabilitation"....

Anyway - Lets also all remember, Being IN Prison is meant to be the punishment - not Prison itself..
09-22-2011, 09:35 PM   #18
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Hey LooK!!!!!!

ALEC shows up again!
The go to guys for GOP legislation.
I'm not surprised.
09-22-2011, 10:08 PM   #19
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As a young man who lives in Georgia, Its pretty sad. There was a former warden of prisons here in Georgia who called the death penalty about as premeditated of a murder as you can get.

Sure, one man who was clearly guilty of a brutal crime was put to death in Texas.

One man in Georgia, reasonable questions were raised as to his guilt., yet he was still put to death. He at least deserved a new trial. I think the state of Georgia, in all likelihood, put an innocent man to death.

There is one way to solve this ... end the death penalty. There are some cases were you can be for sure 110% someone did it ... yet if you kill 100 guilty men to 1 innocent man, the system fails. You can never take it back.

09-23-2011, 05:49 AM   #20
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+1 on Adr1an's comment about our "3 strikes" laws.

The population of non-violent "3 strikes" inmates undoubtedly skews our numbers much higher than average. However, while a person who is caught shoplifting 3 times is indeed a habitual criminal, placing them in prison only turns them into more educated habitual criminals. Far better to sentence them to some community service which compensates society and their victims. Prison should be reserved for the violent criminal as well as those who's crimes impact large numbers of people first hand (giving us room for the Madoffs, Lays and Skillings of the world.
09-23-2011, 10:58 AM - 1 Like   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Living conditions in prison can, potentially, be improved upon, and at some point, if it is found that a mistake was made, the person can be set free. Once the State has murdered the person, there is no going back.
You are right of course.


QuoteOriginally posted by adr1an Quote
A lot of that I am lead to believe is a by-product of your "Three Strikes" laws.
Most people posting here seem more aware of the impact of specific policies than I am, and therefore are more qualified to analyze the effects of something like the three strikes law. I tend to focus on root causes over specifics, yet I think it is safe to say that even before the three strikes law the U.S. had more people in prison than just about any other developed country.

There are many formal philosophies of the world, America can claim sole authorship of just one: pragmatism. Though not exactly the principle of inquiry and account (applied principally to science) C.S. Peirce had in mind when he coined the term, some thinkers have generalized pramatist philosophy for broader application as “what works.”

It is a supremely relevant, and profound, question. Everything we do is meant to “work” in some way. You can see too that whatever we try, how we’ve imagined it will work is contrasted with what actually occurs; that with what actually occurs, there is what occurs in the short term and locally, and what occurs over time and broadly; also with what occurs there is what degree we honestly acknowledge how well what worked and didn’t work; finally, and maybe most importantly, there is how much we sincerely want what truly works broadly and over time over versus how much we want to do what we want to do whether it or not really works.

As I said, the thing that tends to capture my attention is root causes, including the most fundamental basis of what works. It seems clear that which works best is what is most in harmony with, or corresponds to, the way reality actually is. So the task for someone wanting to develop a long term, broadly beneficial course of action must also understand the foundations of reality. I say “foundations” because courses of action based on that are on the most solid ground, whereas (as law making and politics are today) courses of action that are based on (and often merely a reaction to) superficial conditions are far more likely to work in some limited way but cause as many or more other problems.

Many of the medicines drug companies provide come to mind. Beating your wife to relieve pent up anger works a little too, but is devastating in other ways. Shooting heroin “works” in that it does make one feel very, very good, but down the road it injures a person and others, and has broad consequences to happiness.

So does imprisoning people in barbaric conditions and/or executing them work? It does get them off the street, it does eliminate some evil-doers from society . . . but the overall consequences of our prison system does not indicate it works precisely because, as I claim, we are dealing with superficial conditions and haven’t grasped either root causes of crime or foundational solutions.

The most important part of the fix is to keep people from prison in the first place; that is where America can’t admit we have shamefully failed to grasp which of our courses of action do not correspond to reality’s roots. Understanding the steps that have led us to believe we are doing what works when really we are ruining our country is not easy to see.

Yes America stands for freedom, a great and wonderful thing that has made many think all America stands for is perfect. America is relatively rich with a powerful military, and that too has made many think all we do is right. But another very significant force in our society encourages and trains people to be competitive over being cooperative, and also to base one’s self worth on wealth and status (and sadly, race is still a factor). The long term and broad consequences of these beliefs are the issue.

A TV series here on a news channel (CNBC I think) called “American Greed” profiles cases that epitomize the American selfish-interest value which is causing us so much harm in broader ways. Some actually say greed and selfish (i.e., versus enlightened) self-interest is good, that it is practical, and have become expert sophists at cherry picking facts while obscuring the broader/long term consequences. They preach to a poorly educated citizenry (growing evermore ignorant as education declines in the US) who understand little about root conditions or what history has shown works or what the rest of the world is proving works socially. These Americans who live in this little bubble of delusion reject or ignore any fact that gets in the way of their exalted view of the “American Way” also get to vote, and that is a HUGE problem for the more enlightened minority.



So what would work to keep people out of prison in the first place? Americans who believe in greed and competition above service to and cooperation with fellow humans have to admit it does not pragmatically work for a society. We have to recognize the plight of the poor cannot be solved without an education program that teaches students to believe in themselves, and teaches them how to learn (because many poor doubt themselves and have not been exposed to good learning habits before they get to school age). We need a very, very powerful program that sets up in inner city and other poverty areas which works with kids from grades perschool through 8 . . . full attention, full protection, the very highest standards of education, massive funds and education materials, the very best teachers, after school programs, tutoring, meals, medical care . . . i.e., teach them before and more powerfully than the neighborhood (and sometimes home life) influences which are competing for their minds and souls.

This investment is proven to work (such as demonstrated by the Freedom Writers Foundation, and there the repairs started relatively late at the high school level). It “works” to instill good learning skills and self confidence, it graduates educated students more likely to go on to higher education. That in turn means rather than selling drugs or joining gangs or taking frustration out on society, we have productive, contributing citizens; we produce creators, builders, and caregivers instead of non-productive, destructive, self-absorbed or apathetic citizens who do nothing but cost us a fortune to police, institutionalize, and insure against.

Will the selfish greedy me-first Americans wake up to see, before our culture comes crashing down, that we must, through good efficient government investment/private donations, set up that which lifts all citizens up to productivity? I still have hopes, yet . . .

Last edited by les3547; 09-24-2011 at 12:56 PM.
09-24-2011, 03:13 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
I agree with the penal colony idea. Sine GB already did that with Australia, why don't we try it on Antarctica?
Yes, Jim, all of us convicts down here.

Having said that though, these days it is quite the "in" thing and notable to find by research that you are the descendant of an original convict.
09-24-2011, 11:32 PM   #23
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Some years ago a Finnsh prison warden was interviewed on the local TV. I recall him telling about first-time inmates falling into two catergories. Most (~60%) get the message and he does not see them again. The rest (~40%) however, show up again very soon after release and they end up spending most of their time inside until they die from violence, alcohol/drugs, self-neglect, ... (most common) or get the message (rare, but if they make it to the age of ~40 this usually happens). I'd belive that those who get the message take advantage of the rehabilitation opportunities (drug rehab, mental health care, training/education, support after release , ...), which there should probably be more: Norway has managed to push the recidivist rate to around 20% with extensive rehabilitation.


Last edited by jolepp; 09-24-2011 at 11:49 PM.
09-25-2011, 05:32 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by jolepp Quote
Some years ago a Finnsh prison warden was interviewed on the local TV. I recall him telling about first-time inmates falling into two catergories. Most (~60%) get the message and he does not see them again. The rest (~40%) however, show up again very soon after release and they end up spending most of their time inside until they die from violence, alcohol/drugs, self-neglect, ... (most common) or get the message (rare, but if they make it to the age of ~40 this usually happens). I'd belive that those who get the message take advantage of the rehabilitation opportunities (drug rehab, mental health care, training/education, support after release , ...), which there should probably be more: Norway has managed to push the recidivist rate to around 20% with extensive rehabilitation.
The problem in the American system is that there is no rehabilitation. Their jail system is designed to warehouse and punish criminals, not to try to make upstanding citizens out of them.
09-25-2011, 08:43 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
The problem in the American system is that there is no rehabilitation. Their jail system is designed to warehouse and punish criminals, not to try to make upstanding citizens out of them.
It varies from state to state. We've gone back and forth from emphasizing rehabilitation and punishment, but I'm not sure there has been a great deal of difference in the result.

On huge contributor to recidivism is the attitude once the prisoner is out. Everyone has easy access to criminal records online, and no one with a record can rent an apartment or get a job in many locales. It makes the harsh sentences for drug offenders even more out of line.
09-25-2011, 10:03 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
The problem in the American system is that there is no rehabilitation. Their jail system is designed to warehouse and punish criminals, not to try to make upstanding citizens out of them.
Prison reform would be awesome, but I donít see how it is a solution to crime. Itís like how we want a cure for colon cancer rather than learning to live without so much red meat, pesticides, etc. in our diet. Isnít it what children donít and do learn that leads to criminality?

Children are where its at, they are humanityís future, that is where you find human beings most good, most ready and wanting to learn, most pure. All children, no matter how evil, stupid or deluded their parents, are (IMHO) a reflection of the nature of God. And even if you donít like the God idea, it isnít hard to see children as where the greatest potential for social change lies.

For the last year or so, when Iíve out and about, I have been studying how parents treat their children. For some reason I run into some very cool parent-child interactions at Whole Foods (I do most of my food shopping there); and Iíve seen some of the worst while searching for some discount item at a big discount store.

The good parent is fully engaged with the child, looks at the child in the eyes while either parent or child talks, letís the child make some decisions (with guidance), is firm but loving in teaching discipline, etc. It is a joy to see (Iíve been trying get my courage up to ask some I see let me photograph that interaction). The other extreme is the parent yelling at her kid, barking orders, smacking him sometimes, or letting him run wild until some mess forces the parent to pay attention.

Now, imagine if that continues which child is going to function better as an adult, or raise their own children successfully. If the parents had switched kids at birth, each parentís style would still have similar positive and negative impact. You can see thereís general principles in a program like Supernanny (a woman comes into homes and teaches parenting skills, very often achieving dramatic improvement in a few weeks or months). If it made no difference how children were treated, Supernannyís methods could not be so successful.

One more thing to imagine. Imagine the child born in the inner city, parents are poor, possibly working several jobs to survive and so no time for attention to kids, or into crime or drugs themselves. The child lives in gang-infested neighborhoods, may not have enough to eat or have proper medical care, sees older kids admiring the gang life or being hard and willing to kill, where simply getting to school is a risk to life, where not nearly enough money is spent on making the schools excellent, where violence, drugs, despair, poverty are the norm and the general populationís self esteem is very low . . . What are the children being taught?

Thatís where criminals are being trained, and if we donít intervene right there, no amount of prison reform is going to stop the creation of new criminals.

In terms of politics, I see the conservative approach like an extreme version of the yelling mom above -- they want to punish, make criminals suffer, kill them; and when it comes to helping those most at risk for criminality to do better, they want to take whatever help there is away! Consider this story in todayís news where some young Republicans in California are trying to make a point with a bake sale:



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During the sale, scheduled for Tuesday, baked goods will be sold to white men for $2.00, Asian men for $1.50, Latino men for $1.00, black men for $0.75 and Native American men for $0.25. All women will get $0.25 off those prices. "The pricing structure is there to bring attention, to cause people to get a little upset," Campus Republican President Shawn Lewis, who planned the event, told CNN-affiliate KGO. "But it's really there to cause people to think more critically about what this kind of policy would do in university admissions." Lewis says it's a way to make a statement about pending legislation that would let the California universities consider race or national origin during the admission process.


Progressive philosophy: help everyone learn to take care of themselves and become productive members of society because it is practical and will make everyone richer and safer.

Conservative philosophy: help me and mine, right now right here and screw the rest.
09-25-2011, 11:24 AM   #27
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09-25-2011, 07:37 PM   #28
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In Canada the government is concerned about the large increase in crime here. The statistics do not show that , in fact they show a drop in the crime rate as does the USA however Harper's govt says they are not interested in statistics (facts) they just know what they know. One of their arguments is there has been a large increase in unreported crimes hence now with cut backs to all government departments including the military there is an expansion of prisons apparently to house those who committed unreported crimes. Might not need trials if there is not accusation (better not say that too loud).

It seems to me that the whole law and order bit is to scare older people who are more likely to vote than younger folks, and if you believe the stats it is young males who are not only the most likely to commit crimes but also the most likely to be victims. Some studies have showed that a great portion of crime is one of opportunity and if for some reason an opportunity is lost to the potential law breaker they most likely would go do something else like watch TV. Also studies in Canada have shown that both youth and adults over a period of the last 50 or so years that 80 percent of those who face the judicial system never return, 10 % commit 80% of the crimes and the last 10% are the violent ones and the only difference in the stats over that period of year was the severity of the violence.
09-25-2011, 08:09 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by redrockcoulee Quote
Also studies in Canada have shown that both youth and adults over a period of the last 50 or so years that 80 percent of those who face the judicial system never return, 10 % commit 80% of the crimes and the last 10% are the violent ones and the only difference in the stats over that period of year was the severity of the violence.
Without getting bogged down in the veracity of the numbers themselves... I think you'll find those stats are pretty uniform throughout the world (excluding Political Prisoners)....
09-25-2011, 09:52 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by adr1an Quote
Without getting bogged down in the veracity of the numbers themselves... I think you'll find those stats are pretty uniform throughout the world (excluding Political Prisoners)....
Yes I believe you are probably right. Just that I had heard the numbers for Canada and for only Ontario and due to our close proximity to the States the commentators mentioned the story there.
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