Re: LEGAL: Alternatives to imprisonment

Mike Linksvayer (
Wed, 03 Mar 1999 16:55:09 -0800 wrote:
> Premise: Imprisonment as a consequence of crime is a failed policy.
> I've been trying to come up with better alternatives for criminal penalties,
> but have not had much luck in developing a substantial improvement over the
> status quo. Seems to me that >H are a pretty smart bunch, so maybe a little
> brainstorming might dig up some good solutions.

Three popular alternatives to imprisonment are:

* community service
* home detention (see for example)
* fines/restitution

I think chemical castration is somewhat less popular, and only applies to sex offenders. A novel punishment for chronic abusers of the opposite sex: a sex change operation.

Popular in some parts:

* caning or other non-permanent physical punishment
* permanent physical punishment (e.g., chop of a hand)
* tattoo 'POOR IMPULSE CONTROL' and the like on offenders'
foreheads :)

Swift execution is also popular in some parts. The death penalty as used in some U.S. states involves much more imprisonment than death.

The most straightforward and effective reform would of course be to legalize drugs. People who buy, produce, sell, or use drugs shouldn't be penalized at all, let alone imprisoned.

If we accept that some people must be imprisoned... * To get the 'invisible hand' working on the problem, make payments to private prison operators partially contingent on recidivism rates for prisoners released from the facility in question. * We may want to look closely at claims that some make about meditation decreasing violence in prisons and improving rehabilitation. See for example and * Make prison more of a 'punishment' -- remove all televisions and radios and feed them a vegan diet (these would make prison more palatable for me, but probably not for most actual prisoners).

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