Improving the Justice System

Lord Snot

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I see two uses for prison:

1) For permanently holding people who can't be trusted in society, psychopaths and the like.
2) As a deterrent. If you commit a crime you will lose your freedom and get a permanent stain on your record, making it harder to get a job and be successful.

Once it fails as a deterrent and people commit smaller-scale crimes like theft, that's where it falls down. Prison begins a cycle of re-offending in more than half of cases, or at least doesn't do anything to curb it. The justice system as a whole doesn't address the factors that cause people to commit crimes, which are mostly social problems. Most of the people in prison are not bad people who actively decided to go out and cause distress and harm to others, but are disadvantaged people who don't have the same opportunities as others to succeed legitimately. Our 'justice' system makes it even harder for them by making them less attractive to employers and to other members of society.

Some stats I've found, though I haven't checked the original sources:
Prisoners are thirteen times as likely to have been in care as a child, thirteen times as likely to be unemployed, ten times as likely to have been a regular truant (Reducing Re-offending by ex-prisoners, Social Exclusion Unit, July 2002, p8)
Many prisoners have poor skills and little experience of employment, few positive social networks, severe housing problems, and all of this is often severely complicated by drug, alcohol and mental health problems. (Reducing Re-offending by ex-prisoners, Social Exclusion Unit, July 2002, p8).
It is more difficult for ex-offenders to gain employment whilst they are still on licence or recently released. In a survey, only 14% of ex-offenders in employment were employed within two years of leaving prison (CIPD 2007)
Do you think the current system of imprisoning criminals is good?
Do you think imprisoning criminals is okay, but more should be done to help and rehabilitate them whilst inside?

If you don't like the current system, what alternative do you propose?
 
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Moll Flanders

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Do you think imprisoning criminals is okay, but more should be done to help and rehabilitate them whilst inside?


I think people who have carried out certain violent crimes should have a prison sentence, I get so annoyed when I read in the news about such stupidly short sentences especially when it's a sexual crime. I have no problem with people getting therapy, being taught skills or being educated whilst they are in prison as I would like people to come out of prison less likely to reoffend. I found out that there are a high number of prisoners with Personality Disorders and I think behavioural therapy would be a good idea for these prisoners.
 
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Lord Snot

Lord Snot

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I think people who have carried out certain violent crimes should have a prison sentence, I get so annoyed when I read in the news about such stupidly short sentences especially when it's a sexual crime. I have no problem with people getting therapy, being taught skills or being educated whilst they are in prison as I would like people to come out of prison less likely to reoffend. I found out that there are a high number of prisoners with Personality Disorders and I think behavioural therapy would be a good idea for these prisoners.

Sentences seem very arbitrary. It should be more like "as long as it takes for X Panel Of Experts to believe it's safe to allow Offender back into society". I completely agree if there is a mental health problem or an addition problem going on, prisoners should get as much help with that as can be offered.
 

Spang

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Do you think the current system of imprisoning criminals is good?
Absolutely not.

Do you think imprisoning criminals is okay, but more should be done to help and rehabilitate them whilst inside?
Yes. In the United States, rehabilitation is mostly nonexistent. Prison guards are referred to as 'Correctional Officers', but they don't correct ****. Any rehabilitation programs that do exist are likely started and run by inmates, many of whom are serving life sentences with no chance of parole.

If you don't like the current system, what alternative do you propose?
Short answer: Remove the corporations.
 
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Lord Snot

Lord Snot

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Yes. In the United States, rehabilitation is mostly nonexistent. Prison guards are referred to as 'Correctional Officers', but they don't correct ****. Any rehabilitation programs that do exist are likely started and run by inmates, many of whom are serving life sentences with no chance of parole.


Wow, really? That's kind of awe inspiring and terribly sad at the same time.


Short answer: Remove the corporations.

What do you think a justice system would look like in a corporation-less world?
 
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Moll Flanders

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I completely agree if there is a mental health problem or an addition problem going on, prisoners should get as much help with that as can be offered.

I knew a woman who said that prison was actually really helpful for her as it allowed her to have intensive therapy and she was diagnosed with a MH illness which meant that she could get ongoing support when she was released. I used to work with clients that had incredibly negative experiences of prison and had experienced little to none attempts at rehabiliation so it varies widely from prison to prison.
 

Spang

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What do you think a justice system would look like in a corporation-less world?
There would likely be less inmates. The United States has a prison-industrial complex. Currently, there are more than 2 million inmates in the United States justice system. Most inmates are non-violent offenders. All of them are helping the private prisons to make a profit -- prison labor, etc.

Ending the 'War on Drugs' would also do well to reform the U.S. justice system, but any reform would hurt the bottom line of the corporations who profit from our justice system.
 

GhostLikeSwayze

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There would likely be less inmates. The United States has a prison-industrial complex. Currently, there are more than 2 million inmates in the United States justice system. Most inmates are non-violent offenders. All of them are helping the private prisons to make a profit -- prison labor, etc.

Ending the 'War on Drugs' would also do well to reform the U.S. justice system, but any reform would hurt the bottom line of the corporations who profit from our justice system.

Are you trying to say that all prisoners in the United States are in privately run prisons? If so, that is incorrect.
 
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mlp

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This is actually a topic that's been on my mind the last couple of days. My best friend and I were talking a few days ago and commenting that the system in some cultures where people repay blood debts by financially assisting their victim's families makes a lot more sense than imprisoning people, in many instances.

I think that imprisoning people makes sense for those who cause physical harm, if they are likely to do so again. For someone who kills out of negligence or a one off passion, it makes more sense that the perpetrator spend the rest of his life (or a considerable portion of it) supporting the victim's family, or if the victim didn't have a family, paying into a fund that would be used for a public purpose like aiding needy children.

Such a system won't and probably can't be put into place here, but it sure would make more sense IMO.
 

Spang

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Are you trying to say that all prisoners in the United States are in privately run prisons?
No, but the prison population has skyrocketed ever since the privatization of the prison system began in the late 70s/early 80s.

693px-US_incarceration_timeline-cle.png
 

GhostLikeSwayze

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Correlation does not equate to causation. While I agree there is likely a relationship, the issue is much more complex.

I also take issue with your statement that "rehabilitation is nonexistent". It may be ineffective, but it does exist in many different formats.
 
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Thirteen Days

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Sentences seem very arbitrary. It should be more like "as long as it takes for X Panel Of Experts to believe it's safe to allow Offender back into society".

Are you arguing for indefinite sentencing?

I agree with Spang in that the current for profit prison system in the U.S. doesn't work.
 

RascalsMom

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In theory, the justice system needs to be about rehabilitation and not revenge. In practice, it is anything but that at the current time.We do little-nothing to help shape inmates into becoming productive members of society while they are locked up. Throwing them all together for a predetermined amount of time and hoping it will change their ways would be almost sadly humorous if it wasn't real.
 
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Lord Snot

Lord Snot

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This is actually a topic that's been on my mind the last couple of days. My best friend and I were talking a few days ago and commenting that the system in some cultures where people repay blood debts by financially assisting their victim's families makes a lot more sense than imprisoning people, in many instances.

I think that imprisoning people makes sense for those who cause physical harm, if they are likely to do so again. For someone who kills out of negligence or a one off passion, it makes more sense that the perpetrator spend the rest of his life (or a considerable portion of it) supporting the victim's family, or if the victim didn't have a family, paying into a fund that would be used for a public purpose like aiding needy children.

Such a system won't and probably can't be put into place here, but it sure would make more sense IMO.

That does have merit. One thought I have is that criminals are often from poor backgrounds and/or unemployed, and being convicted of a crime wouldn't do anything to help them out of that. If they simply couldn't afford to support themselves and the victim's family, what would happen then?

Are you arguing for indefinite sentencing?

Yes. There are some people that should never be allowed out of prison, because they have proved they will hurt people if given the chance. There are others that may or may not be able to learn to control their urges like (controversially) paedophiles, or people with mental health problems that can sometimes drive them to violence. People like that shouldn't receive an arbitrary number of months in prison and then be allowed back out regardless of how likely they are to re-offend. They should be kept away from the public, in constructive programmes to help them if they want help, and then be allowed out when qualified experts are reasonably convinced they don't offer a threat to society any more.
 

Spang

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War on drugs and mandatory sentences.
The privatization of the United States prison system, I think, has a lot to do with that; anything to make it easier to lock people up and keep them locked up.
 

Forster

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The privatization of the United States prison system, I think, has a lot to do with that; anything to make it easier to lock people up and keep them locked up.

It certainly created the need for more prison space. My personal opinion about privatization is that due to the increased need and ever increasing cost of housing prisoners state governments drank the koolaid that privatizing prisons would save money.