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Prison.

Our taxes pay to feed prisoners and supply them with the basic necessities of survival.

We cannot have those prisoners on the streets, but they most certainly have not earned the food and treatment they receive while in jail for violating the rights of other individuals.

It is ridiculous to even consider giving someone the death penalty for stealing bubble gum - in fact, capital punishment is a very shaky decision, because you cannot take it back in the event that new information arises. There are many "minor crimes" which lead citizens behind bars.

They can't work to earn their own money while in captivity... and who the hell wants to voluntarily pay for these people? I know it may be in our interest because we would rather have them secured and away, but I also know that I for one would be more than a little irritated at donating to support the continuation of their lives.

Not everyone has a family which is willing to fund their expenses. Some culprits will spend their entire existence after being convicted in jail and will not have the opportunity to "pay back" what they have used up.

How would prisons work in a Capitalist society? Would you be willing to pay for them?

Edited by Summer
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I would be willing to pay for prisons.

I'd like to see prisons designed in a way that lets prisoners pay for their keep by doing some productive work. However, if that is not possible, I'd rather see the bad guys in prison than out of it.

(Of course, this assumes we're talking of real bad guys. Drug laws have created more prisoners than we ought to have.)

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Exilium.

There would be have to be jails, or some sort of control for as long as the trial lasts, so the system would end with the veredict. Once it's proven that the subject broke the club's (or country's) rules, he or she is chased out. From this point on the burden of proof of being a reliable person to regain membership (or citizenship) would fall on the criminal.

A basic of a Capitalist Society is competition, and so different nations, countries or clubs will have different entitlements with some ones expending more on trials than others.

In a fully contractual society nothing would prevent to voluntarily gain citizenship of a club or private nation where some crimes (even non conventional ones) would be punishable by death or slavery or organ compensation (a penniless man is still worth a lot in kidneys, isn't he?)

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I want to add that prisons, along with probably mental hospitals, are the gulags of the West; the concentration camps of the Welfare State.

Probably a good percentage of inmates are not there for violating contract or other's rights; and as some experiments have shown it is simply too early to determine what percentage if any is getting better at psychiatric hospitals. Yet these Welfare State institutions mantain people against their will in a living hell of lack of privacy costing more money that could feed homeless elders, or lower taxes.

In a Capitalist Society, there would be so manyu different governments competing that criminal activity would not be very useful. IF you don't pay at a restaurant or bar and end up in the black list, you'll end up banned from all bars in town except the shadiest one. And as such, there will probably exist one or more shady country offering services to outlaws who'd violate each other's rights and probably learn quick not to mess with the other nations / clubs.

The Solution to Crime is to have enough countries so that criminals can be expelled, not concentrated, and deal among themselves. If Civilization is defined as creating more privacy between individuals, freeing man from men, then the more separated yet controlled the zones are the better. Like a system of dykes, ships (commerce) flow, but the water (masses) are fully controlled.

Edited by volco
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For any newbies coming across this thread: nothing that Volco said above has anything to do with Objectivism; it is an anarchist/libertarian viewpoint.

Added: For volco's response to the Libertarian/Objectivism question see here. Please keep this thread about Prisons.

Edited by softwareNerd
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I am not sure if Volco is talking about competing governments within a specific area (anarchocapitalism, which I disagree with) or simply wants to have enough small states, each with one government, that people can "vote with their feet" against by moving somewhere else, which would work so long as immigration/emigration are unrestricted.

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“I'd like to see prisons designed in a way that lets prisoners pay for their keep by doing some productive work.”

I actually thought of this prospect after getting off of the computer on the night of my posting. The prisoners could be expected to work in some manner – otherwise, their food and supplies are being provided free of charge when those of us who refrain from slaughtering cities are struggling to earn these necessities by our own productive effort.

“Probably a good percentage of inmates are not there for violating contract or other's rights”.

You are correct on this count. I do not believe that drug users, for instance, should be arrested. However, in the event that they initiate force against other individuals, even while under the influence, they are to be held accountable for their actions. Even so, I am discussing prisons in a rational, (Objectivist)/ Capitalist society - not prisons in the present. As of right now, taxation is mandatory and the matter is not up for debate.

“The Solution to Crime is to have enough countries so that criminals can be expelled, not concentrated, and deal among themselves.”

This is an interesting idea, but many of your views about multiple and competing police forces seem to stem from the anarchist philosophy, which I strongly disagree with.

Edited by Summer
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In my state, all of the school-related furniture (elementary school all the way up to the public Universities) is supplied by the prisoners. They have them making the desks, tables, and all of that.

The Solution to Crime is to have enough countries so that criminals can be expelled, not concentrated, and deal among themselves.

This is an Objectivist forum. Objectivists do not support anarcho-capitalism. Ayn Rand was not contradicting herself nor did she make any error when subscribing the role of government. The only error that has been made is by those who fail to understand her reasoning.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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“I'd like to see prisons designed in a way that lets prisoners pay for their keep by doing some productive work.”

I actually thought of this prospect after getting off of the computer on the night of my posting. The prisoners could be expected to work in some manner – otherwise, their food and supplies are being provided free of charge when those of us who refrain from slaughtering cities are struggling to earn these necessities by our own productive effort.

“Probably a good percentage of inmates are not there for violating contract or other's rights”.

You are correct on this count. I do not believe that drug users, for instance, should be arrested. However, in the event that they initiate force against other individuals, even while under the influence, they are to be held accountable for their actions. Even so, I am discussing prisons in a rational, (Objectivist)/ Capitalist society - not prisons in the present. As of right now, taxation is mandatory and the matter is not up for debate.

“The Solution to Crime is to have enough countries so that criminals can be expelled, not concentrated, and deal among themselves.”

This is an interesting idea, but many of your views about multiple and competing police forces seem to stem from the anarchist philosophy, which I strongly disagree with.

Hi Summer. It's an interesting question, prisons as they are epitomize the altruist concept of feeding your enemy - to the direct benefit of no one. Working has been tried in the past, but the simple truth APPEARS to be that brute labor doesn't produce enough to mantain a hi tec retention compound. (However this has not been tried in modern times as far as I know, and maybe if the prisoners were leased to a private company, then they could pay for their existence. But with the current laws that can land a man in prison this would be a de facto return to slavery).

If government is instituted with the individual consent of each citizen (which I consider something Ayn Rand would favor) then breaching that contract leaves you liable to the penalties you agreed to on the first place.

These can be, confiscation of assets, real estate, medical estate (organs), or why not? exile.

Since we are not living in a society where the culture is predominantly Obectivist or even Rational, I have no way to answer the question about prisons in an hypothetical country - be that a future America or any other of the 180?+ already existing sovereign territories.

I don't believe in Anarchy, as in I consider it a fancy name for a state of chaos only found in between enemy lines, or those sort of situations. Anarchy means No Government - of any kind - why do I have to in an Obectivist Forum explain that I talk literally?

I never suggested competing police forces. At all. I suggest that the already existing countries are already beginning to compete and I suggest that could further the establishment of Governments that know their place.

As for the question about prisons, I still believe dangerous guilty criminal inmates should be deprived of their nationality - not as retribution, not as reformation, but as the logical consequence of a broken deal.

Why is this contractual approach not the most compatible with a Capitalist Society, or an Objectivist Culture?

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“In a Capitalist Society, there would be so manyu different governments competing

I never suggested competing police forces”.

I apologize. I associate the government as a police force, so to speak, in that its purpose is to ensure that the rights of its populace are not violated, and to respond to the initiation of force.

When I think of competing governments, I imagine the typical anarchist perspective. Yes, you mentioned that in anarchy there is “no government”, by definition – however, in argument with every single anarchist I have ever met, they pose the idea of a world composed of various small communities, and cordially, miniature governments.

For some reason, they fail to understand how this contradicts the core of their ideology.

Real anarchy is not possible. Someone will always rise in authority.

On a more relevant note, there should not be competing governments. That would spawn chaos just as much as anarchy. There should be one, limited government, serving to protect at the consent of the governed.

Edited by Summer
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“In a Capitalist Society, there would be so manyu different governments competing

I never suggested competing police forces”.

I apologize. I associate the government as a police force, so to speak, in that its purpose is to ensure that the rights of its populace are not violated, and to respond to the initiation of force.

When I think of competing governments, I imagine the typical anarchist perspective. Yes, you mentioned that in anarchy there is “no government”, by definition – however, in argument with every single anarchist I have ever met, they pose the idea of a world composed of various small communities, and cordially, miniature governments.

For some reason, they fail to understand how this contradicts the core of their ideology.

Real anarchy is not possible. Someone will always rise in authority.

On a more relevant note, there should not be competing governments. That would spawn chaos just as much as anarchy. There should be one, limited government, serving to protect at the consent of the governed.

In first place I'm not an Anarchist, I'm simply not an American, so for me it seems natural to see that there already ARE multiple governments, countries, and they already compete. In the past they competed in gruesome ways, using their population as an expendable resource. In a more - dare I say - Capitalist and even Objectivist Society and Culture, the governments could (and are already beginning to) compete to attract permanent tourists, residents or citizens (the way they began competing to attract financial investment in the past).

Portraying this as Anarchism is as far fetched as missunderstanding your phrase " There should be one, limited government" as you being a One-Worlder.

-----

Btw: I never suggested competing police forces, but competing legal systems (each applyable in a different country, otherwise it would be chaos). The police is just the enforcer. The Anarchist you have in mind, or A.R. did, and indeed existed, is the kind that wants the security forces to lay the law, and not the reverse.

And Objectivism has nothing against private security agencies - as far as I know.

Back to prison, I'd still like to suggest expulsion for breaching contract as the more neutral, typically Objectivist answer: neither vendetta nor reformation - just alienation. As Ayn Rand put it, once a human tramples over the right on another - and is proven - he or she is forgoing all his or her rights available in a civilized territory.

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And Objectivism has nothing against private security agencies - as far as I know.

Maybe you should stop making claims about it until you find out.

Back to prison, I'd still like to suggest expulsion for breaching contract as the more neutral, typically Objectivist answer: neither vendetta nor reformation - just alienation. As Ayn Rand put it, once a human tramples over the right on another - and is proven - he or she is forgoing all his or her rights available in a civilized territory.

It's not the more Objectivist answer, Ayn Rand never said what you just claimed she said there, and letting murderers go so that they can just sneak back in and murder some more (or murder some more in some other country), because prisons are "gulags", is stupid.

And no, people shopping for their country is not a growing phenomenon. Quite the opposite, restrictions on legal immigration are greater than ever even in western countries, and an oppressive regime usually restricts emigration for its citizens first. With new technology, that is becoming far easier for them to do too.

If you're willing to tolerate evil, by just running away from it to another country, or exporting your criminals to your neighbor, eventually it's gonna catch up with you, and as the World is becoming smaller, it's gonna catch up you faster and faster.

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Volco (and others, as appropriate): I'd like to suggest that people using the phrase "competing governments" to describe different countries, with freedom of movement from one to the other, should stop doing so, because unfortunately "competing governments" is the way that anarchocapitalists describe their system of governments competing within the same geographical area. (Which I know, Volco, you disagree with.) In the interests of clarity I suggest you describe it differently; I suspect many of the people dissing you are doing so because they think you are advocating anarchocapitalism. The result is an argument where A argues against a position that B doesn't even hold.

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Steve, we'll agree on that for the purpose of clarity but I'll need a term for what I do mean.

Now I'm beginning to think about the sheer imposibility of what the "Anarchists" I led myself to be confused with but that's another story. Even within a Brazilian prison during a riot a semi organized government arises with the partial "consent" of the governed. I believe that is what A.R. called Mob Rule (it is). I guess it's similar with the gangs in America. Bottomline, Anarchy doesn't seem to actually exist other than in the collective imaginarium; like the Garden of Eden where the Lion eats berries not Lamb.

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I believe she favoured Mercenary Armies in a time where wars were mostly international. Now violence makes wars mostly internal and urban. But please elight me as of the official Objectivist position on Security Agencies.

Maybe you should stop making claims about it until you find out.

1) It's not the more Objectivist answer, Ayn Rand never said what you just claimed she said there, and letting murderers go so that they can just sneak back in and murder some more (or murder some more in some other country), because prisons are "gulags", is stupid.

2)And no, people shopping for their country is not a growing phenomenon. Quite the opposite, restrictions on legal immigration are greater than ever even in western countries, and an oppressive regime usually restricts emigration for its citizens first. With new technology, that is becoming far easier for them to do too.

3)If you're willing to tolerate evil, by just running away from it to another country, or exporting your criminals to your neighbor, eventually it's gonna catch up with you, and as the World is becoming smaller, it's gonna catch up you faster and faster.

Before answering, should I take your insults personally or within the context of your usual patrolling? Despite your charm I respect your mind, Jake, and so:

1) If you read correctly you'll find that I mention prisons as gulags for poor people. Scrap the laws against technical crimes (in-trading, growing plants, performing medical procedures with the consent of the patient, setting up amateur laboratories to produce homeshift stimulants) and you'll have a much smaller prison population.

2)Check your data and remember that the USA is just a little % of the emerged landmass and an even smaller % of the world population. Never in the history of mankind have people had so much freedom of movement, and election of nationhood. In the past, no more than 60 or 70 years ago, not having a nationality was being like a pariah (don't know the word in English: apátrida -no fatherland). That was the technical term for Jews, like Ayn Rand, and Gypsies, like Charles Chaplin.

Now there are more opportunities for refugees than ever. Even in America! (If not particularly, thoiught he counbtries taking up the most refugees are Pakistan, Iran, and Germany, the Axis of Altruism). And never before could so many Americans trade their homeland for small Latin American, European and SoutheastAsian countries like the couple of million expats that exist this day. Never bfore either, have so many people considered just having a citizenship of convenience for tax purposes, and never before have there been so many Lebanese living in Lebanon but being legally Canadian "just in case". When WWII was fought, patriotism was in its height. Now it's approaching the base place it belongs to; the sides are turning. I don't care if America is having a small backlash of anti-immigration (not even! of anti ILEGAL immigration), the data, personal experience, and plain logic shows that people move and chose nationhood more now than EVER before.

3) That's the catch, if you exile someone, some other country has to take him in, or else he dies. If a malicious suicidal country tries to collect murderers, STILL the host nation has to release the exilee and chose who to give IT (as he has relinquished his Human Rights)to. My proposition is that not many countries will be taking dangerous criminals, while not many countries will be releasing them, thus making violent crime a very dangerous business. Now if you kill someone you have guaranteed food and water for life! A deal most Africans wouldn't refuse!

The situation I forsee in which a country takes the inmates as citizens from a second country is in a British Australian situation. One country mighty have crazy or strict laws as it might be either Fundamentalist or Excellent (ex 1, ban on drugs and alcohol included. ex 2, a 2 strikes OUT for petty theft). Many countries would take drug offenderds, and even some poorer ones will take petty thieves,

The idea behind all this is that citizens enter into a contractual agreement with the government they chose; thus it's not inmoral to expel him when and if he breaces contract. If we stopped fighting we could begin to figure out how to deal with babies ad infants in such a contractual society.

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On a more relevant note, there should not be competing governments. That would spawn chaos just as much as anarchy. There should be one, limited government, serving to protect at the consent of the governed.

Yes, there should be only one limited government... One in London, one in Birmingham, one in Manchester, one in Liverpool, and so forth. the UK should disappear as such.

The idea of the oneness of a government is not inonsistent with the idea of competing governments.

Differences between minarchists and anarchists would become irrelevant if States were just small enough to let people vote with their feet.

Burger King does not compete with Carl's Junior within either one's property.

They compete by living side by side in a way in which customerIs can easily make their choice.

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I don't care if America is having a small backlash of anti-immigration (not even! of anti ILEGAL immigration), the data, personal experience, and plain logic shows that people move and chose nationhood more now than EVER before.

Absolutely true.

And now more than ever people can be granted citizenship for two or more countries simultaneously.

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So you're advocating the death penalty, not exile.

Maybe for repeat murderers .- not the subject in question.

I know that you can see the difference between killing an inmate and not rennovating hi citizenship.

Considering the Thread Opener suggested the burden of prisons on the taxpayer, I can only suggest two things as to what the Objectivist attitude would be, or how the system be under real Capitalism.

Under that circumstance 1) A Proper Government would repeal victimless crimes and prison population would reduce in a good percentage. 2) America would cease to be the only inhabitable country on Earth. Smaller countries will retain or make more "particular" laws, in the same way countie or even state could have the right to do it in the USA.

Thu, I can see that 1) The Objectivit attitude would not be to either spend on the enemy nor reform the enemy, but to shrug it off. That doesn't mean throwing him out to your wide open backdoor but whatever policy would make more sense in that hypothetical situation. and 2) Citizenship as an individual contract would allow for clauses for revokal should it be breached,.

Happy M's Day,

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I know that you can see the difference between killing an inmate and not rennovating hi citizenship.

I don't know what exile consists of exactly, so no I can't see the difference between it and killing someone. But, if we take your word for it that it means death unless someone else takes the exiled person in, there is no difference.

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I don't know what exile consists of exactly, so no I can't see the difference between it and killing someone. But, if we take your word for it that it means death unless someone else takes the exiled person in, there is no difference.

Exile was a very typical punishment from the time of Rome, with mentions to it recorded in most Latin and History text. It was a punishment designed for honor and social upstanding related offenses rather than dangerous criminals.

In today's world the possibilities for justice and taxpayer savings are endless: Convicted women in Iran could be exiled to any "normal" country instead of stoned. Convicted Cannabis Growers in the United States of America could be exiled to The Netherlands instead of tortured routinely for years. And so on. In a truly selfish world America wouldn't care if some Euro country takes her junkies, and, Allah-permitting, muslims could send all their scarfless whores to New Babylon.

In today's world this still exists when a subject with double citizenship (ex a Kazakh and Russian) offends either country and becomes persona non grata - including the possibility of revoking citizenship. That is the case of the leader of a Russian Nationalist Movement.

There seems to be some code in U.S. Law that deals with involuntary loss of citizenship.

Also, since we live in a non politically united World, extradiction laws are not pervasive. As an example, one of the authors of that Big British Train Heist, is still living comfortably in Rio de Janeiro, convicted in absentia.

There are possibilities I thought for the future that could apply today. A petty food thief in a second world country, say Turkey, would benefit himself, his first country and his second country, if he was exiled to Central Africa were that sort of crime is not even recognized.

Adjustment into context, some examples make more sense than others. I am not talking about violent or pathological criminals. A killer wont be accepted anywhere, and in that case it becomes a discussion on death penalty, not the subject of this thread.

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"Portraying this as Anarchism is as far fetched as missunderstanding your phrase " There should be one, limited government" as you being a One-Worlder".

Having to continually argue word choice with you when I am confident that you understand what I am intending to say is irritating. I do not mean one government over the span of the world, but one government in a given area.

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In today's world the possibilities for justice and taxpayer savings are endless: Convicted women in Iran could be exiled to any "normal" country instead of stoned. Convicted Cannabis Growers in the United States of America could be exiled to The Netherlands instead of tortured routinely for years. And so on. In a truly selfish world America wouldn't care if some Euro country takes her junkies, and, Allah-permitting, muslims could send all their scarfless whores to New Babylon.

Nonsense. In a truly selfish world exile wouldn't replace a more severe punishment for innocent people being oppressed by their governments. In a truly selfish world Iranian adulterers and American pot growers would be left alone, not exiled.

Besides, Iranian savages are stoning women because their religion demands it. If they could be convinced to let them go instead, it would've been done already.

None of what you wrote is an argument for exile, or consistent with Objectivism.

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  • 1 month later...

I am currently reading The Logical Leap by David Harriman, a book much discussed. I recommend it highly, not so much for the things people argue about, but for what is not up for discussion: objectivism is rational empiricism. (Note the lowercase letters.) Whether your mathematics suggests an empirical test or your experience suggests a rational explanation, the two must come together for your assertions to be valid -- and that cannot contradict anything else already proved to be true. (Unless we go back and refute the earlier proof.) My point is that so far, almost everything that has been offered are rationalist claims without empirical context.

One post -- from Iowa -- mentioned school furniture made at prisons.

Here in Michigan, we used to do that, also, have the prisons make the office furniture for the state government. But Grand Rapids has a lot of companies making furniture and they always objected, eventually successfully. Prisons making furniture for public school presupposes public schools, of course, a different problem entirely. For a while, they had prisoners making workboots for the state police, but when the workers found out where the product of their effort was going, the result was like something out of Atlas Shrugged.

Rather than argue this or that detail without context, you have to start with empirically valid generalizations. My bachelor's is in criminology with a concentration in administration. My master's is in social science with a criminology concentration in global crime. In criminology we speak of the "mass mediated hyper-reality of crime" a bit of post-modernist jargon sorry to say but nonetheless properly identifying the fact that most people get their ideas about crime from television, newspapers, movies, and the Internet. You do not sit in courts all day long. You do not patrol the streets. You do not work with offenders on probation or parole. You do not counsel victims.

Basically, you have no idea what crime is, so you have no idea what prisons are.

It is absolutely true that the purpose of prison is pain. Reform of the offender was one minority experiment in Philadelphia in the 18th century. The method for that was solitary confinement to allow the offender to come to terms with God. Letting prisoners work in shops just lets them make weapons, but at least they are occupied and therefore easier to control. Most people -- even offenders -- are social animals. Solitary confinement is so severe that it is torture by definition. So, we have populations of prisoners in prison societies, working in the laundry, playing baseball, and otherwise not going crazier than they must seeing as how they are isolated from family, friends, and society at large -- the first level of pain we inflict.

Generally, people who harm others were harmed themselves. Remediate their damage and you prevent future crimes. It is also true that some perpetrators have chemical imbalances that can be corrected. Some predators are predisposed by genetics and sometimes they can find socially-acceptable outlets, for instance in the military. (In Alduous Huxley's utopian novel, Island, the burly guys were sent into the forests to chop trees.) Finally, some predators are so genetically defined that they will never be changed by externalities. What do you with them?

Prison is exile. It is a matter of topology. Instead of sending them outside the city walls, you wall them up away from the city: same result. The historical example of Australia (and the USA, in fact, also), suggests that a larger dumping ground with fewer internal controls is one way to solve the problem: just have someplace the size of Wyoming with deadly walls around and put all your problems there: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. But watch out...

Sociologist Robert King Merton analyzed anomie, first identified by Emile Durkheim. Merton's typology of deviance is explained at the bottom of the Wikipedia biography here. Deviants (so-called) may be innovators and rebels. If you only reward people who sit down, shut up, and do as they are told, you will not make much material progress. (Merton's full essay is here.) Like all mid-range social theories, it has limitations of explanation for phenomena beyond its scope, spousal abuse, for example.

We idealize the 19th century and in that, we blank out on inconvenient truths: on the unsettled frontier, in the boom towns, gold rushes, and landgrabs, life was more brutal. We are kinder and gentler. (In Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee, Hank Morgan is sent on his fantastic journey after being hit on the head with a wrench. We don't allow violence in the workplace. Back then, it was normal. Prisons and the retributionist theories that created and maintain them are a zombie from that more primitive time, forced-fed our lifeblood by political conservatives.

It costs about $60,000 per year to incarcerate someone. How much would you pay not to imprison someone? How much would you pay for community corrections, reintegrative shaming, reconciliation tribunals, negotiation, arbitration, and adjudication, alternative sentencing, and restorative justice -- just some of the many alternatives to prison. In the final analysis, would you be willing just to write off a loss rather than to throw good money after bad trying to change the past?

Edited by Hermes
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