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Crime and punishment but alot shorter

  1. Aug 4, 2003 #1
    i've been thinking for a while about punnishment, prison and all, its role or purpose and whether it fulfils this role. it's a strange part of our society that we just take for granted, the idea that we have the right to this sort of thing. think about the reasons for punnishment;

    1- to deter criminals, fair enough it's nice to prevent instead of treat

    2- to keep dangerous people out of society so they can't cause harm, everyone has the right to live in a safe environment after all.

    3- but then it gets a bit unreal, the last reason is simply that 'bad' people should lead bad lives, like karma but official, not left up to fate.

    this third reason we just take for granted, but it's incredibly hard to define, where did we get this almost divine right to decide what kind of life people should lead. i know it's hard to get past the immediate paradigm of our culture, i'm having trouble getting my mind around it, but the more i think about it the stranger it seems that we have taken it upon ourselves to play god.

    what do you guys think? is this power justified, and i don't mean to argue against the first two reasons, they are good justifications, but lets face it they are not the first things on everyone's mind when it comes to encarcerating a criminal, it's this feeling that they deserve it, of vengeance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2003 #2

    I agree. To the extent a society
    puts people in jail for the ven-
    gence factor it is making the same
    mistake that got alot of those
    people in there to begin with.

    You hear stories.You see movies.
    Some things about some prisons
    seem to be designed for gratuitous
    hardship. People come out meaner
    than when they went in.

    The first two reasons you cited
    for prisons are the only good

  4. Aug 4, 2003 #3
    What is the difference between revenge and justice?

    I remember reading some newspaper article about some "criminals" being set free, and one of the victims of one of the "criminals"(i remember her loved one had been murdered) was crying and was saying something about her wanting justice and wanted him to remain in jail. So what did she really want? Justice or revenge?
  5. Aug 4, 2003 #4
    I can see it. When it's you or a
    loved one the temptation for
    revenge can be very strong. I
    think alot of people say "justice"
    when they mean "revenge".

    When you address the problems of
    the victims in specific the whole
    subject gets very sticky. Is it
    insensitive not to let them have
  6. Aug 6, 2003 #5
    ta for the food for thought,

    yeah i can imagine if someone wronged me the immediate response is 'i want justice!' but why? i'd like as much harm to be erased, say getting back something that was stolen, but how do i benefit from the perpetrator of the crime leading a bad life and being publicly recognised as a criminal?

    why do we believe more in Justice then other things, religion, morality...as a society we all live by the system, even if it is only by being punnished by it.

    noone can honestly 'turn the other cheek' i know i couldn't, if i was hurt or stolen from i'd be the first yelling 'you have the right to remain silent!' it disturbs me that i would so readily see punnishment as a solution but i don't know why, and i don't think many people do, it's not normal!
  7. Aug 6, 2003 #6

    Another God

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    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Great Thread

    This is a very good topic. Prisons don't make much sense to me at all actually. I mean, the first two reasons you mentioned for instance, I actually think that there are better ways to deter peopleand better ways to remove people from your society to keep people safe (though they are mostly frowned upon in our current society).

    I believe that there is another reason for prisons which you didn't mention which is only a recent thing, and I believe the only valid reasoning for prisons. Ironically, it is in direct contradiction to the 3rd reason you mention. The supposed aim of prison these days is reformation. That is: Prisons aren't trying to punish people, they are trying to make them see the error of their ways, they are trying to turn them into good, well behaved mindless social beings.

    Well, thats the theory anyway. It's not really happening because we can't let go of this revenge thing. I think anyone who put any real thought into it would ralise that reformation is easily the best way to deal with criminals, but if you were the victim of one of these criminals, its pretty hard to say "Oh, ok, you killed my whole family, and for that you get free accomodation, TV, 3 meals a day, lessons, free acces to books, internet access, leave on weekends, a free psychiatrist etc.. Meanwhile I am left paying for my accomodation on my own (family can't help out), I am buying my own food, paying for my psychiatrist since I can't cope with the loss of my family .." etc etc. It doesn't seem fair at all. And really, I must say that I don't think it is.

    But most of this unfairnes comes about because society doesn't like to instigate large change. So it does things half arsed.. Little toe in the cold water, one bit of the body at a time, so it feels really cold the whole time. If you just jump in, its a hell of a shock, but you can adjust to it at least.

    In other words, if it was thought about, and someone figured out how to handle all situations, then these issues could be resolved much better.

    One good thing that I have seen actually, is where the family victims of a crime and the criminal are put together in a room and they sit around discussing everything. In this way the family can get everything out of them that they are feeling, yell some, really get it out everything that they feel, and at the same time, the criminal can start to get a feeling for exactly what it is that he has done. Maybe he will realise that he is dealing with real people, with emotions...there are consequences etc.

    Another thought (to get around that unfair aspect) is to compensate the family with everything the criminal gets, plus a little more (ie: free psych, money or free housing and or free food etc.

    One more option: If someone seems beyond reformation, my suggestion is to either deport them (let some other country take them/let them fend for themselves somewhere where there isn't a government, or else kill them. This removed them from our population.
  8. Aug 8, 2003 #7
    ahh good points, lots of nice ideas!

    i decided to go and do some research, well, at least get another point of view, so i went to my fundamentalist christian friend and put to her the question of why punnish? the main idea she brought to my attention was that if someone impinges on the rights and life of one or more persons then they forfeit their freedom of destiny. i can agree with this i spose but still wonder what society gets out of it.

    one thing i found odd was that she had no problem with the idea of man playing god in the way he controls destiny and decides between life and death (in some countries). i would think, naively perhaps, that a religious person would see the criminals punnishment as being an eternal and infinitely awful one once they are judged in heaven.

    i have drunk to much to think more on this questinon, erggg...
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