Until prisons can be guaranteed to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, we must abolish them

HUMAN 1
Yeah, fuck prisons how dare they lock up murderers and rapists. It’s not their fault that they commit crimes. Let them do what they want. Honestly it’s 2018 you should be HONORED if someone steals your wallet out of all the people in the world they chose you.

HUMAN 0
Are we attempting to rehabilitate criminals or punish them? Because punishing people doesn’t seem to be working.

HUMAN 1
Neither as I said just let them do whatever they want clearly they wouldn’t be murdering people if it wasn’t the right thing to do. Human nature is inherently good and therefore no one can do anything wrong. Why punish or rehabilitate people just trying to be themselves?

I’m not convinced we’re locking up many rapists right now, and only some of the murders.

HUMAN 1
Good. We shouldn’t be locking anyone up.

HUMAN 1: I’m much less likely to be robbed of my wallet by a stranger than I am of my pay by my employer. But we manage to not view that as a danger to society and not imprison those materially harming the most vulnerable.

Again, look at the number of people in your own life who have stories of sexual assault. How many of their abusers were ever punished for it?

In terms of homicide, the national clearance rate I believe is down around 60 percent now. But it’s not evenly distributed. If you’re poor and black, if you’re considered a “bad guy” and not a “citizen”, police aren’t going to spend resources on deaths they determine to be a net benefit. Certainly the more-than-one-thousand extrajudicial executions by law enforcement officers each year don’t result in imprisonment. But that’s because most often, the killers are excused and the victims are blamed for their own deaths.

So as it comes to theft, to sexual assault, and even murder, we aren’t using prisons to even try to punish those things. We just want to make sure that those who are valued in society can act with impunity and those who aren’t valued are only allowed to hurt each other.

HUMAN 1
What’s with the wall of text? I’m agreeing with you there should be no punishments for crime.

I think if your position were a better one, you wouldn’t have to hide it behind sub-mediocre facetiousness.

Irony is not sufficient substitute for cleverness or consideration.

HUMAN 1
The position of this post is literally “prison bad”, so I really don’t know what your alternative is. Bake them cookies?

Some people deserve to rot. They can’t be helped. The prison system, yes, is currently a joke, but if you think getting rid of prison is an actual solution then you are braindead.

When we look back across human history, “prison for life” is a relatively recent development, and it does not seem to have any correlation to making society safer, happier, or more productive. Prison, as it is, does not make people less likely to commit or re-commit crime, or even prevent them from escalating their criminality.

This isn’t surprising. Debtors’ prisons didn’t make people less likely to go into debt.

On the other hand, if the point of prison is the re-imposition of slavery by another name and the ability to create a permanent underclass of the poor but particularly poor black and brown people—remember how drug conviction rates differ from drug use rates—then it is doing accomplishing its job quite well. With the private prison industry, it also manages to funnel public funds into vastly enriching a handful of already wealthy people.

So what are our other options? Maybe coercively holding people for some amount of time is necessary. I don’t know. But rehabilitative and restorative justice certainly wouldn’t primarily involve that.

“Let’s return the prison population to levels similar to 1980” doesn’t sound too radical, but “release 75 percent of all prisoners” somehow does.

The status quo is radical, vile, dehumanizing, and destructive. Which ought to be enough, but if it isn’t, remember that it also doesn’t work to make anyone safer and is hugely expensive.

I understand the desire to view the abolition of criminal prisons as “braindead”, but in the broader context of history and society, I’d argue you’re really the one who hasn’t thought much about it.

HUMAN 1
I really don’t know what to tell you or say when you think murderers and rapists should be left alone to continue murdering and raping. Nothing I say at this point will convince you that a rapist will continue to rape if you don’t arrest them, castrate them, or kill them.

There are fucked up people in this world and a murderer isn’t going to stop killing people because you wave your finger at them and say, “No, that’s bad.”

I’m out this was pointless.

HUMAN 2
I can’t believe I just read this whole thing. Where this post complains about the System… To people to agree with this post then turn around and disagree to this post then agree with the post again…

I agree with HUMAN 1… If someone impeeds on another, they should be impeded on themselves. Hopefully by the individual they were impeding.

Like if someone tries to rob you, the thief shouldn’t go to jail. They should end up in the hospital. Or killed. No prison needed.

HUMAN 2: I understand why you feel that way, but you’re just stating a power fantasy.

If a police officer pulls you over and decides to rob you, are you going to beat them up?

I would argue almost no one would. We’re going to try to make an official complaint, ask for evidence, and so on. But if we’re ignored by their supervisors, have no pull in the government, or they claim their camera wasn’t working, we’re still not going to ambush a cop. They don’t even have to be physically intimidating for this to be the case because you know that if you do anything that could be called a provocation, you can be abused, kidnapped, or executed with impunity.

There’s nothing magical about a police officer, of course. They just have on their side a preponderance of violent force. and you don’t.

So, “IMO we should just beat up or kill people who do crimes”—that just has no bearing on the real world unless you want to really lean in to a sort of clannish idea of mutual protection and defense. A lot of people who would do violent things have a greater access to violent power than you do, and it legitimizes violence as an acceptable response in general.

The ultimate message of violence as a remedy for antisocial behavior, which extends to inhumanely brutal conditions in prisons, is that “might makes right”. And if a person ever gets out, that’s how they’ll tend to view society and their place in it.

HUMAN 2
Yes. Thanks for stating the obvious. It would be nice if what I said is true.

I don’t know how you can just keep writing and say nothing at the same time. I mean I do like how you elaborate on your statement. But it leads to this confusing statement at the end like you just said something. In the end you again went to a full circle: Prison = Bad.

I must be missing something. Take away all the gibberish that elaborates on my statement talking about the monopoly of force the Police/Government holds and you talk negatively about the prison.

I end the end do not care. As I have stated I would wish there were no need for prisons.

An Eye for an Eye tooth for tooth. Like if you “Steal” something you are stealing from yourself. If you “Kill” Someone you kill yourself. Yes that is a fantasy that is not reality. But “wounds” would be reflected back onto the doer.

I don’t understand how “it would be nice” is any sort of basis for good policy. That seems much more fanciful than what I’m suggesting.

Even in societies where “eye for an eye, tooth for tooth” was the literal, set in stone law, like in ancient Mesopotamia, they seem not to have actually carried it out. It functions as clear rhetoric and an upper-limit to retributive disputes, but as a policy, it’s actively harmful to a society. If you burn my house down by accident, burning down yours makes us poorer and worse off overall. It’s the exact opposite of reparative justice, and it makes sense why it was usually ignored.

With all due respect, clearly, you do care a little bit. You just don’t seem to have continued thinking through your opinions, and I say that without insult intended.

If you want this under a purely Constitutional argument: until prisons can be guaranteed to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, we must abolish them. This is a straightforward and I don’t think confusing statement.

I’m further saying that when we’re imprisoning millions of people under such conditions, the question, “Well what do you want instead?” is really secondary.

I’m not naive. I know bad people exist. But I see no evidence that we’re actually restraining, punishing, and dissuading bad people in our society rather than just a certain class of them. See: Jeffrey Epstein, Paul Manafort, or Harvey Weinstein, or see asset forfeiture in law enforcement, theft by Walmart, FedEx, or Bank of America.

For those sorts of people and institutions, we either continue to behave or were able to behave for years as if their actions could continue without any restraint on their liberty whatsoever. The actual damage they were doing to society and individuals in it does not seem to factor in at any point.

So, until we can make jails and prisons something other than dens of violence, rape, and torture of the poor, black, and brown, they should not exist. That is the lowest standard to be met.

When you’re asking what prisons are replaced with, that’s not an irrelevant question, but if we’re looking at how to reduce crime and harm, I still say it’s not relevant yet. We first need to better invest that money we were already spending by putting it toward crime prevention.

I don’t mean hiring more police officers or increasing surveillance, either. I mean investing in the sorts of things we already that prevent antisocial, criminal behavior. You know, like not poisoning children with lead.

It’s sound flippant, but literally.

So first we guarantee that we’re not lead poisoning children, including Flint, Mich. Then we guarantee everyone has access to healthy food and shelter and medical care. We make sure everyone, regardless of their parents’ income, has access to a quality education and after-school activities. This is all not just a more moral and humane idea in theory but a better practical crime deterrent than mutilating people or brutalizing them otherwise after the fact.

“What do we do with the most vicious and unrepentant sociopaths that do exist though?”

In terms of harm reduction, I argue that’s the least relevant question. But once we’ve taken care of the other problems, we should ask how we can rehabilitate the worst-of-the-worst to be like Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr. instead of abusing them with increasing intensity till they become Carl Panzram.

And clearly, that’s something other than prison.

HUMAN 2
Its funny. I can write maybe one sentence and get a whole paragraph back.

Not going to read that. Since I will get nothing from it. I can tell you this because the conversations have gone that way since the beginning.

I can tell you this…
A. You’re not understanding what I am writing.
B. You like to hear yourself talk or in this case write.
C. All the above.

In case you have been missing since the beginning—which is very unlikely since you have repeated it throughout the conversation my fanciful way is just that—it is a wish that people would not be harmed by others cruel actions or lack of actions = Impossible result.

While you are clearly out for solutions, I just do not care. There is nothing you can do. People will continue to steal rob and kill. It is what we do.

K.

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