Saturday, November 14, 2009

Prison or Jail

Jail and Prison. How did jail go from being a reform of the old "hanging for everything" system to a place full of drugs, fights, murder and rape. William Penn and Jeremy Bentham (not the Lost character) had no idea where their ideas of 'jail' would progress towards through the centuries. Part of the problem might be that in days of yore, execution was still used for murder, so murderers were constantly being removed from the prison population. That idea would remove the most violent of offenders from prison populations. The other change is that Penn's idea of prisons had inmates in complete isolation. They would be lead in and out of their cell in hoods so not to contact anyone else. This actually makes sense. You are completely isolated from the world and must do time and be punished through this isolation from human contact. Cuts down on prison rape, too.

With automation of food delivery to prevent the need for a dining community area, how come we do not stick to this isolation/solitary idea? Let's do this at the state and federal level, not short term county jail. Probably too expensive. It would make prison way less violent. It would also cut down on gang problems inside the jail system. Oh, that's right, because people think of solitary as such a horrible punishment, we would not do that to all prisoners. "You're alone all the time with your thoughts", oooooooooh. If I ever went to jail, I would pray for solitary confinement. Cons: no human contact, isolation. Pros: no human contact (jails are full of violent criminals), no rape, no fights, sleeping soundly since no one can rape you. I don't know about you, but no chance for being shanked or raped sounds like a fair trade off for no sparkling conversations with rapists and murderers. Prisons are not full of the Andy Dufresne's and Red's of the prison world. It's much more like Oz.

We can't return to the old English model of transportation, which took advantage of the colonies to dump off undesirables, unless we did an internal model. No one would support that out fo fear a fence would be breached. Maybe this is why the USA tried to buy Greenland from Denmark in 1946 for $100 mil. That was all about military bases & radar sites, but still, sending prisoners to Greenland would have been a great punishment & idea. It would be like No Escape only colder. The American criminal justice system, while flawed, is a system I am glad to be subject to if I ever go the criminal route. Like many things in the world, nothing will be done of substance until there is no alternative & it absolutely has to be done. As Chruchill said, "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities."

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