Re: POL/PHIL: Crime and Punishment (was: Re: No Federal Parole)

From: Michael B. Hubbard (
Date: Mon Jan 29 2001 - 15:13:36 MST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Corwyn J. Alambar" <>
To: <>

> Actually, the question here is this: What is the purpose of prison,
> anyway? Most everyone who's been through a civis or government class
> encouners this question at least at some level. While I think we can
> all agree that prison is a deterrent to some level, the question comes
> to be what is the main purpose of prison in any modern society, not just
> that of the US: Is prison supposed to be punitive, or is it supposed
> to be rehabilitative? And can it possibly be both at the same time?

Prisons historically have been places of punishment, either for crimes
against other individuals (i.e. you stole my car, you're going to prison),
or just as often, for crimes against the ruling caste/king/mob (i.e. you
expressed a different opinion than the chairman, you're going to jail).

I would argue that this is a waste of resources. In those cases where reform
is possible, then rehabilitate and require the offender to pay the monetary
cost of both his rehabilitation, and the crime itself. In the case of serial
killers and rapists (where in most cases there is no rehabilitation
possible), I support the death penalty. In the case that a person truly is a
"danger to society", they should be removed from the society, permanently.
We would put down a rabid dog...

> Granted - the question of if prison should really exist at all or not
> is never seriously addressed. What is the nature of crime and punishment
> in a situation where the locus of power is geared more towards the
> individual than any social structure? On what foundation does the concept
> of "criminal justice" lay? Does any governmental instrument have either
> the right or the responsibility to attempt to rehabilitate or punish
> individuals, and how would this idea scale into a more libertarian/econo-
> anarchic model?

Criminal justice (just as with any other social structure) relies on one of
two principles: the ruling junta's ability to buy or manufacture weapons
with which to enforce their policies, or alternatively the agreement of the
majority of the public that this is how we're going to handle things. Make
no mistake, the final argument in either case is the same. The stronger
force is always the decider.


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