Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rethinking Prison

This idea came from a discussion... Well, it would take too long to explain. It has more of a dystopian bent. Not my usual, but then again, the idea came from a not usual place...

What if they were overhaul the prison system and turn it into more of an indentured servitude kind of thing?


  1. SOLD. Yup. I think that's a better idea than we're ever going to get out of our politicians.

  2. Hmm....sounds reasonable. For no pay, of course...unless to pay off debt related to their crime. Or education? I think some have access to courses--just not sure how they pay for this. The goal should be to make them better citizens.

    1. Part of the reason the topic came up was due to an interesting statistic. It had to do with a correlation between reading scores of 3rd graders and prison populations 10 years later.

  3. Hm, obviously the prison system needs to be reformed, but I'm not sure if this would work. To be honest, it would depend on what kind of work it was. And I'm sure a lot of workers would not like being replaced by people who are being paid nothing.

  4. JE's point is one of the ones I was going to make. Already, prison industries displace other workers, which is only a bad thing if you don't like cheap consumer goods, but we clearly like those, so Chinese factories and prison labor aren't going anywhere, soon. Also, prisoners are a scarcer commodity than overseas workers, so I think the threat is diminished.

    On the other hand, the anti-slavery amendments would need to be dealt with, too, as we don't allow that kind of thing, anymore.

    Overall, I am against the concept of indentured servitude but more in favor of reforming prisons to make them more of a reformatory as opposed to a punishment. Recidivism is a big problem, and lack of education and lack of opportunities are big reasons why people turn to or continue in crime. One hunch I've always had, too, is that prison isn't much of a deterrent for people whose lives suck. You or I wouldn't want to go to prison because we have loving families and houses that are nice and can go get lunch at restaurants or own laptops or something.

    But if you have none of those things, right now, and can get some of them by say selling crack or something, you're not really losing anything if you end up in jail or prison. Have you seen inner city housing? I have. Prison is better, in many cases.

    So giving people a shot at a better life would be one way to reduce crime, at least a little.

    I will have to note that I am NOT talking about letting murderers and rapists and people like that out with college degrees. Every time someone like me says "Reform prisons" someone shouts "OH MY GOD YOU WANT CHILD RAPING MURDERERS TO BE BAGGING MY GROCERIES." So for the record, I think child-raping murderers ought NOT to be allowed to bag your groceries.


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I respond to comments* via email, unless your profile email is not enabled. Then, I'll reply in the comment thread. Eventually. Probably.

*Exception: I do not respond to "what if?" comments, but I do read them all. Those questions are open to your interpretation, and I don't wish to limit your imagination by what I thought the question was supposed to be.