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NeilC
16th February 2006, 05:55 AM
I was thinking the other day...would corporal punishment be a more humane treatment than prison?

Take a burglar for instance - he gets caught a few times and eventually sent down for 6 months. He's taken away from his friends and family. His wife is denied her husband, his children their father. He loses his job. He's stuck in a tiny cell for most of the day and is subjected to fear, intimidation, drugs abuse and possible sexual abuse. He also meets other lags who educate him on criminal best practice and joins a sub-culture of people who think crime is a good idea.

Would it not be more humane for him and more effective to devise some form of corporal punishment (torture) that didn't leave him physically scared? Say you had an injection which made you feel incredibly nauseas and anxious for 2 days. Do it on the weekend and he's back at work on Monday. It's so unpleasant he doesn't want it again but his whole life isn't ruined irreverably.

Is there an element of squeamishnes that draws an artificial line at physical punishment but allows us to mentally torture people for prolonged times so we can feel OK because we didn't actively hurt him?

brodski
16th February 2006, 06:14 AM
I was thinking the other day...would corporal punishment be a more humane treatment than prison?

Take a burglar for instance - he gets caught a few times and eventually sent down for 6 months. He's taken away from his friends and family. His wife is denied her husband, his children their father. He loses his job. He's stuck in a tiny cell for most of the day and is subjected to fear, intimidation, drugs abuse and possible sexual abuse. He also meets other lags who educate him on criminal best practice and joins a sub-culture of people who think crime is a good idea.

Would it not be more humane for him and more effective to devise some form of corporal punishment (torture) that didn't leave him physically scared? Say you had an injection which made you feel incredibly nauseas and anxious for 2 days. Do it on the weekend and he's back at work on Monday. It's so unpleasant he doesn't want it again but his whole life isn't ruined irreverably.

Is there an element of squeamishnes that draws an artificial line at physical punishment but allows us to mentally torture people for prolonged times so we can feel OK because we didn't actively hurt him?
Many career criminals see a few years inside as just one of their occupational risks, is there anything to suggest that a person who is prepared to give up years of freedom, in conditions that are somewhat less than pleasant, would be put off by facing eth risk of being sick for a couple of days?Also, prison (in theory at least) isn't just about punishment, it also separates (temporally) offenders from civilised society, so that they cannot inflict their criminal behaviour on that society, and also in theory, prison offers opportunities for rehabilitation that a quick kicking, or a "nausea drug" just doesn't offer.If you where to suggest the Ludoviko technique on the other hand… ;)

NeilC
16th February 2006, 06:28 AM
Obviously the punishment would need to be so bad that it had a deterrant effect. That goes without saying.

That prison takes people out of civilised society might well be considered one of the main arguments against it. Sure they are not robbing whilst they are in but they are not exactly learning the rules of the outside world nor mixing with decent people.

I'm also interested in why we are supposed to find one form of punishment abhorrent but another acceptabe just because there is no physical element to it.

Bodhi Dharma Zen
16th February 2006, 06:38 AM
I believe you are asking good questions Splossy. I also believe that the whole system is obsolete. Current "justice" is based in religion. Now, how can the members of this forum reject religions and not justice based on principles like "good" and "bad"??????

brodski
16th February 2006, 07:06 AM
Obviously the punishment would need to be so bad that it had a deterrant effect. That goes without saying.

That prison takes people out of civilised society might well be considered one of the main arguments against it. Sure they are not robbing whilst they are in but they are not exactly learning the rules of the outside world nor mixing with decent people.

I'm also interested in why we are supposed to find one form of punishment abhorrent but another acceptabe just because there is no physical element to it.
There is the question of what administering a terrible punishment (one so terrible that that it is deemed worse than years in prison) will do to those that administer it. I'm not sure myself the answer to this question.Secondly, prison could be an opportunity to teach people how to behave in civilised society, "lifers" released "on licence" are often given extensive training on how to re-integrate back into eth real world, I think more should be done on this, however many of the knee-jerk "hang 'em and flog 'em" brigade (I am NOT trying to include you in this group) feel that all "justice" should be about punishment and retribution, and that rehabilitation is a waste of taxpayers money. Unfortunately we tend to have much of our criminal justice policy dictated to us from the opinion pages of The Sun and the Daily Mail.

brodski
16th February 2006, 07:09 AM
I believe you are asking good questions Splossy. I also believe that the whole system is obsolete. Current "justice" is based in religion. Now, how can the members of this forum reject religions and not justice based on principles like "good" and "bad"??????
1) Which justice systems are based on religion?2) Point to a religious text which favours incarceration over more physical methods of punishment (as most western justcie systems do).3) can you demonstrate that just because something started with religion, it is necessarily wrong to continue it in a secular society. For instance Sunday was deemed to be a "day of rest", this has morphed into the modern concept of the weekend, Is it wrong that most people have two days of a week, just because the initial cause was a religious one?

ImaginalDisc
16th February 2006, 07:09 AM
If a person is wrongly convicted of a crime, and is serving time in prison, they have the hope of being exonerated. If a person is violently and bruttally flogged however, there's no restitution the state can make if their conviction is later overturned.

Bodhi Dharma Zen
16th February 2006, 07:18 AM
1) Which justice systems are based on religion?2) Point to a religious text which favours incarceration over more physical methods of punishment (as most western justcie systems do).3) can you demonstrate that just because something started with religion, it is necessarily wrong to continue it in a secular society. For instance Sunday was deemed to be a "day of rest", this has morphed into the modern concept of the weekend, Is it wrong that most people have two days of a week, just because the initial cause was a religious one?

I will not argue, since Im not willing to do the appropiate research. That said, the whole structure: A judge (god is the final judge), a crime (a sin) and the trangressor (the sinner). Then the whole, yes THE WHOLE structure about that sins needs punishment, that sinners are "bad people" and etc. Thats about it. Im sure there is a lot behind this, because Im only going by guts feeling here.

Jon_in_london
16th February 2006, 08:36 AM
If a person is wrongly convicted of a crime, and is serving time in prison, they have the hope of being exonerated. If a person is violently and bruttally flogged however, there's no restitution the state can make if their conviction is later overturned.

This is horsesh!t. If I am wrongly sent to prison where I spend 10 years before I am exonerated, who is going to give me back my 10 years? It simply is not possible. Sure you can give a sum of money as compo but you can do that after a flogging too...

ImaginalDisc
16th February 2006, 08:40 AM
This is horsesh!t. If I am wrongly sent to prison where I spend 10 years before I am exonerated, who is going to give me back my 10 years? It simply is not possible. Sure you can give a sum of money as compo but you can do that after a flogging too...

Thanks for calling my opninion horse manure. I appreciate the manners and consideration you show towards others. As for your point, you're right that time cannot be granted back, but physical punishments carry the risk of death, and permemnant disifgurement. People vary in durability. A particularly frail person might suffer life long harm from a light flogging, while another robust person gets up and plays rugby the following day. In other words, it's impossible to make the punishment consistent and proportional.

Jon_in_london
16th February 2006, 08:41 AM
however many of the knee-jerk "hang 'em and flog 'em" brigade (I am NOT trying to include you in this group) feel that all "justice" should be about punishment and retribution, and that rehabilitation is a waste of taxpayers money. Unfortunately we tend to have much of our criminal justice policy dictated to us from the opinion pages of The Sun and the Daily Mail.

Nice poisoning the well here broders! I do think that justice is primarily about punishment. Rehabilitation is a secondary concern- simply an attempt to stop criminals re-offending.

"rehabilitation" of offenders in the form of education and training at taxpayers expense makes me sick. Criminals should pay back every last penny they owe the taxpayer for the bed and board and anything else they received while they were in prison.

Jon_in_london
16th February 2006, 08:44 AM
As for your point, you're right that time cannot be granted back, but physical punishments carry the risk of death, and permemnant disifgurement. People vary in durability. A particularly frail person might suffer life long harm from a light flogging, while another robust person gets up and plays rugby the following day. In other words, it's impossible to make the punishment consistent and proportional.

And what if someone dies in prison? Or dies as a result of events in prison (like bum-rape or suicide)? Does prison affect everyone equally or some more than others?

ImaginalDisc
16th February 2006, 08:45 AM
And what if someone dies in prison? Or dies as a result of events in prison (like bum-rape or suicide)? Does prison affect everyone equally or some more than others?

Imprisonment does not, directly, cause physical harm. A flogging does. This comparison is not valid.

Jon_in_london
16th February 2006, 09:08 AM
Imprisonment does not, directly, cause physical harm. A flogging does. This comparison is not valid.

So? Prison still does not affect everyone equally and I challenge any person to reasonably claim it does. Prison may seem like a cake walk to some but drives others to suicide.

ImaginalDisc
16th February 2006, 09:10 AM
So? Prison still does not affect everyone equally and I challenge any person to reasonably claim it does. Prison may seem like a cake walk to some but drives others to suicide.

That sounds like an arguement to make a better, more unifrom system of punishment/rehabilition, not a worse one.

Bodhi Dharma Zen
16th February 2006, 09:12 AM
So? Prison still does not affect everyone equally and I challenge any person to reasonably claim it does. Prison may seem like a cake walk to some but drives others to suicide.

Yes, because we are different. Current "justice" treats every individual af if they were equal. The fact is that some are taller, and some are more agressive (this is as biological as anything).

Prison is illogical from this biological point of view.

richardm
16th February 2006, 09:24 AM
Nice poisoning the well here broders! I do think that justice is primarily about punishment. Rehabilitation is a secondary concern- simply an attempt to stop criminals re-offending.

"rehabilitation" of offenders in the form of education and training at taxpayers expense makes me sick. Criminals should pay back every last penny they owe the taxpayer for the bed and board and anything else they received while they were in prison.

I do like the way you accuse Brodski of poisoning the well and then go on to confirm exactly what he said.

brodski
16th February 2006, 09:31 AM
Nice poisoning the well here broders! I do think that justice is primarily about punishment. Rehabilitation is a secondary concern- simply an attempt to stop criminals re-offending.

"rehabilitation" of offenders in the form of education and training at taxpayers expense makes me sick. Criminals should pay back every last penny they owe the taxpayer for the bed and board and anything else they received while they were in prison.
I absolutely agree that rehabilitation is about stopping a person re-offending, but at the moment that is not done to any great degree because of the kind of gut reaction (how else would you describe something that "makes you sick") which says that educating people out of re-offending patterns is a waste of money.
Unless you are willing to accept life imprisonment, or capital punishment for every crime which currently warrants a custodial sentence, you have to face the reality that these people are going to be back out on the street.
Surly any work that can be done in prison to reduce re-offending is worth it?
On the point about making prisoners pay, well we currently have a similar system, its just its only the innocent that get charged for their bed and board. ;)
Actually I agree with you on this to a certain extent, I see nothing wrong in principle of adding a "convicts tax" to income tax to pay back the cost of punishment, as long as the rate of repayment is not so high as to encourage the criminal never to find gainful employment.


And as this tread is about deterrence of criminal activity, it is also worth pointing out that as clear up rates for many crimes are so low, the punishment issue is less important than it could be, Criminals will only fear a punishment if it is likely to be applied to them.

NeilC
16th February 2006, 09:33 AM
Thanks for calling my opninion horse manure. I appreciate the manners and consideration you show towards others. As for your point, you're right that time cannot be granted back, but physical punishments carry the risk of death, and permemnant disifgurement. People vary in durability. A particularly frail person might suffer life long harm from a light flogging, while another robust person gets up and plays rugby the following day. In other words, it's impossible to make the punishment consistent and proportional.

This is why I quite deliberately didn't mention flogging etc but tried to come up with some chemical or electrical system.

NeilC
16th February 2006, 09:36 AM
I absolutely agree that rehabilitation is about stopping a person re-offending, but at the moment that is not done to any great degree because of the kind of gut reaction (how else would you describe something that "makes you sick") which says that educating people out of re-offending patterns is a waste of money.
Unless you are willing to accept life imprisonment, or capital punishment for every crime which currently warrants a custodial sentence, you have to face the reality that these people are going to be back out on the street.
Surly any work that can be done in prison to reduce re-offending is worth it?
On the point about making prisoners pay, well we currently have a similar system, its just its only the innocent that get charged for their bed and board. ;)
Actually I agree with you on this to a certain extent, I see nothing wrong in principle of adding a "convicts tax" to income tax to pay back the cost of punishment, as long as the rate of repayment is not so high as to encourage the criminal never to find gainful employment.

And as this tread is about deterrence of criminal activity, it is also worth pointing out that as clear up rates for many crimes are so low, the punishment issue is less important than it could be, Criminals will only fear a punishment if it is likely to be applied to them.

I wonder if a lot of the rehabilitation offered is to rehabilitate them from the damage done by prison itself?

Totally agree about prosecution rates. Afterall people are willing to smuggle drugs into Thailand even though they know they will get shot if caught.

I'm not convinced how much of our decision to go down the prison route is practical rather than moral.

brodski
16th February 2006, 09:43 AM
I wonder if a lot of the rehabilitation offered is to rehabilitate them from the damage done by prison itself?
.
some perhaps, but most I know off is specifically focused on the type of crime committed. Although I admit I am getting most of my information on current policy from a friend who works as a Psychologist in the prison service, so my opinions will be filtered through their particular knowledge.


I'm not convinced how much of our decision to go down the prison route is practical rather than moral.

I think it is a combination of practicality (how else to separate those who have transgressed the rules of soceity from that society) moral ("there must be retribution!") and historical (fewer alternatives where amiable to us in the past, through both technological and social factors).

fishbob
16th February 2006, 10:22 AM
I was thinking the other day...would corporal punishment be a more humane treatment than prison?

Would it not be more humane for him and more effective to devise some form of corporal punishment (torture) that didn't leave him physically scared? Say you had an injection which made you feel incredibly nauseas and anxious for 2 days. Do it on the weekend and he's back at work on Monday. It's so unpleasant he doesn't want it again but his whole life isn't ruined irreverably.

Who is going to manage the squad of sadistic bastards that administer the punishment? Privatize the service and farm it out to India or China?

Jon_in_london
16th February 2006, 10:41 AM
Who is going to manage the squad of sadistic bastards that administer the punishment? Privatize the service and farm it out to India or China?

Sure- we just get a few people from the country/regime/ideology/people we are supposed to be hating at the moment, give them asylum let them do the dirty work - criminals get punished and we get to see how brutal those enemies are! Problem solved! :D

ImaginalDisc
16th February 2006, 10:47 AM
Sure- we just get a few people from the country/regime/ideology/people we are supposed to be hating at the moment, give them asylum let them do the dirty work - criminals get punished and we get to see how brutal those enemies are! Problem solved! :D

That's not funny. Do you have a serious answer to the question?

Jon_in_london
16th February 2006, 10:50 AM
Totally agree about prosecution rates. Afterall people are willing to smuggle drugs into Thailand even though they know they will get shot if caught.


On the other hand, in London the detection rate for murder is around 94%. Thats near as damnit as sure as you can be that if you commit the crime you will be caught.

Look, people commit crimes for two reasons:

1. Because they think they can get away with it
2. Because they dont fear the punishment if they do get caught

Put simply, people become criminals "because they can"

An ideal justice system is both good at catching offenders AND handing out hefty punishments for those it catches.

With a few exeptions, the criminal justice system in the UK does neither.

Jon_in_london
16th February 2006, 10:52 AM
That's not funny. Do you have a serious answer to the question?

No shortage of people willing to dish out corporal punishment in the armed forces in years gone by (and years going by, by the looks of it)- the armed forces recruit from the public as a whole and therefore the criminal justice system shouldnt have much trouble recruiting them either.

brodski
16th February 2006, 11:10 AM
1. Because they think they can get away with it
2. Because they dont fear the punishment if they do get caught

So any correlation between educational attainment, economic disparities in society and crime are entirely co-incidental?

Jon_in_london
16th February 2006, 11:53 AM
So any correlation between educational attainment, economic disparities in society and crime are entirely co-incidental?

Personally, I havent seen any correlative evidence between educational attainment and criminality. You are welcome to provide such.

As to economic disparity- I agree that there is a correlation but this is purely down to jealousy. If poverty caused crime then the entire populations of countries like Malawi would be criminal.

But this is not the case. What matters is relative poverty, for example in Malawi, being poor mean you have rags to wear, no shoes, are starving and live in a mud-hut with an open sewer running past your front door.

On the other hand, in the UK being poor means only have an iPOD and not and iPOD nano and that you dont have the latest camera/MP3players/mobile phone but just an ordinary mobile phone, live in a nice warm council house instead of a 3-bed semi, drive a Frod Focus not an Aston Martin, draw benefits and get paid 5.30 pounds a hour at tescos instead of earning 150,000 in the City.

So why do we have crime in the UK? Because people are jealous. They see others with things they want but dont have themselves - So they make a conscious descision to victimise their fellow citizens. Being less well off than someone else doesn not provide justification or excuse for victimizing your fellows.

Beanbag
16th February 2006, 11:55 AM
Oddly enough, I'm working on a screenplay that posits just such a situation. It's called The Agony Engineers, and is set in the next few years or so. Punishment is either civil (as in fines), corporal, or capital. Only a few people afre actually incarcerated for long times, mainly the criminally insane, sociopaths, etc.

The system works because science has a method that quantifies response to pain. By monitoring physiological responses, they can accurately assess a certain amount of pain in agony units, or agunits for short. Each crime has a specified sentence.

The logic for going to such a system was primarily financial. If you look at the figures today, California spends six times the budget for education on its prison system. Texas has four percent of its population behind bars -- that's one person in twenty-five. Average cost per prisoner per annum is about $24,000 USD, and the majority of prisoners are for non-violent offenses. Enormous drain of finances and manpower. http://www.prisonpolicy.org/articles.shtml
I spent a lot of time researching materials.

The difference is that in my world, pain can be induced without physical damage. You're also rendered physically unable to move through drugs, but you're completely aware of what's happening (like being aware during a medical operation). No screaming or writhing (at least until the drug wears off), but you have the full memory of what happened.

Punishment is administered by a select cadre of civil service draftees who are evaluated very carefully beforehand and monitored closely during their service. The psychological demands on the personnel are enormous, and many have breakdowns years after they leave the service. Other problems are caused by the social ostracization of the technicians, and the fact that they pretty much serve in secrecy.

Problems exist in the fact that administering pain becomes a little too easy. I make the point that society returned to the 18th century British Navy, where the punishment for everything was forty lashes. The potential for abuse and corruption becomes too great.

As it was mentioned before, some people can handle pain better than others. Exceptions would have to be made for physical infirmaties. Things work in the screenplay because the physical response of the recipient indicates the agony level. Those that can't stand pain will peak out earlier, while a stoic would have to run a longer period to complete sentence.
The concept is similar to means-based penalties, where what fine you pay is based on your income.

Of course, there is the problem of masochists, who would commit crimes just to get punished. There isn't enough time to delve into this aspect in the screenplay (120 page limit), but in the novel version, they get around that by inducing pain in specific areas of the body if you're a masochist, such as your tongue.

The problem in the real world is that pain = physical damage, and not all people respond the same. Until these two issues are resolved, the system would be remarkably uneven.

Beanbag

brodski
16th February 2006, 12:20 PM
Personally, I havent seen any correlative evidence between educational attainment and criminality. You are welcome to provide such.

As to economic disparity- I agree that there is a correlation but this is purely down to jealousy. If poverty caused crime then the entire populations of countries like Malawi would be criminal.

But this is not the case. What matters is relative poverty, for example in Malawi, being poor mean you have rags to wear, no shoes, are starving and live in a mud-hut with an open sewer running past your front door.

On the other hand, in the UK being poor means only have an iPOD and not and iPOD nano and that you dont have the latest camera/MP3players/mobile phone but just an ordinary mobile phone, live in a nice warm council house instead of a 3-bed semi, drive a Frod Focus not an Aston Martin, draw benefits and get paid 5.30 pounds a hour at tescos instead of earning 150,000 in the City.

So why do we have crime in the UK? Because people are jealous. They see others with things they want but dont have themselves - So they make a conscious descision to victimise their fellow citizens. Being less well off than someone else doesn not provide justification or excuse for victimizing your fellows.

There was a very good study a few years ago showing that those in the young offenders system in Scotland where significantly less likley to be literate than their piers in the same socio economic strata. I'll try and dig out a reference.

In my I talked about economic disparities, not absolute poverty. I am fully aware that it is differing levels of affluence which can lead to an increase in crime, not absolute poverty.

You said that criminals commit crime because
"1. Because they think they can get away with it
2. Because they dont fear the punishment if they do get caught"


I am arguing that people commit (property) crimes because it is seen as easier than the alternatives. If you can educate those that have committed (or may commit) crime out of this mindset, then there will be less cost to society as whole. Your passion for vengeance blinds you towards policies which are highly likley to lower overall offending.

Nothing that I have said here excuses criminal behavior, we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions, but it does help explain it, adn provide clues abbout how we can rpevent criminal behaviour, rather than just dealing with it when it occurs.

I would also question your view of how much poverty there is in the UK, both relative and absolute, but that is completely off topic.