RE: Didn't need no welfare state (Was: Re: news...)

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Wed Apr 19 2000 - 15:20:01 MDT wrote:
> In a message dated 4/19/2000 12:21:40 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> writes:
> > 2) Make the punishment for "stealing-a-living" crimes like burglary
> > significantly less pleasant than working a menial job. Personally I
> > replacing our current prison sentences with much shorter terms served
> > strict solitary confinement
> Solitary makes crazy people. They go apeshit and beat people up and become
> more irrational than before they went in. We don't want that.

It all depends on the details. If you lock a man in an unlit closet and
shove food through a slot in the door for six months he's going to be nutty
as a fruitcake when you let him out. If you give him lights, plumbing and an
eight-foot square cell with a tiny little barred window, he'll just be
severely chastened.

That was the normal setup for prisons up until the late 19th century, and
most of the people who got put away for moderate lengths of time seemed to
come out OK. Since we aren't going to be starving them, and we aren't going
to have the problems with rats and disease that primitive prisons faced, I
doubt that anyone who wasn't severely unstable to begin with would be in

But if the effects are actually more severe than I believe, that just means
we can shorten the sentence a bit more. Make it a few weeks in solitary,
instead of several months. The point is simply to make the prisoner's stay
as unpleasant as possible without doing him lasting harm.

> One comedian had the best idea I have ever heard. Make inmates peddle
> all day and night to provide electricity for the whole nation. No one will
> ever want to go back after ten years of that.

Heh. I like it.

Actually, hard labor is not a bad alternative for this purpose. If the
choice is between stocking shelves at the grocery store or breaking rocks in
prison, the guy who doesn't want to bother working has a clear incentive not
to become a criminal. I think you'd still want shorter sentences that we
have now - maybe 4-6 months of labor instead of a year of current-style

Billy Brown

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