Author Topic: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely  (Read 12295 times)

TheCat

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Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« on: April 12, 2016, 11:37:01 PM »
The vast majority of people who go to prison will be released from prison. They will be released without any rehabilitation but only after they have lived in conditions that would encourage even the best of people to become the worst of people.

The recidivism rate is over 70 percent. We send people to prison and spend around $30k per year for their room and board. So, in three years, we spend nearly $100k to make someone "pay" for their crime. We're not creating the environment that reforms and rehabilitates prisoners.

It's society that pays for crime, and our insistence on making people "do the time" doesn't create a safer society.

Before the "get tough on crime" schemes, there were legit predictions that prisons would become a rarity and would likely disappear.

Is it time, again, for us to say get rid of prisons all together? I don't mean prison reform. I mean the total abolishment of prison.

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/3/6/angela_davis_on_prison_abolition_the
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 11:50:22 PM by TheCat »

TheCat

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2016, 11:53:42 PM »
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/03.13/09-davis.html

Angela Davis
Angela Davis: 'The prison is considered so natural and so normal that it is extremely hard to imagine life without them.' (Staff photos by Justin Ide)
HARVARD GAZETTE ARCHIVES

Abolish prisons, says Angela Davis:

Questions the efficacy, morality of incarceration

By Beth Potier
Gazette Staff

In a lecture at the Kennedy School of Government's ARCO Forum Friday (March 7), activist and intellectual Angela Davis advocated for the abolition of prisons, casting the issue in human rights terms and urging a broader vision of justice.
"My question is, Why are people so quick to assume that locking away an increasingly large proportion of the U.S. population would help those who live in the free world feel safer and more secure?" she said.

Davis, an icon of the radical political activism of the late 1960s and early '70s, spoke of prisons not as a tourist but as a former resident. She spent more than a year in prison before she was acquitted, in 1972, of charges of murder and kidnapping related to the failed escape of a group of African-American prisoners known as the Soledad Brothers in California.

Now a professor in the history of consciousness department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Davis may have tamed her trademark Afro but her ideas remain on the radical edge of the political spectrum. In this talk, the 2003 Maurine and Robert Rothschild Lecture co-sponsored by the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, and the Institute of Politics, she dismissed prison reform - the most prominent form of prison activism - as not going far enough.

"We have to go beyond the amelioration of prison practice," she said, acknowledging that prison reforms are also necessary and many strides have been made internationally in that arena.

Within the prison reform movement, prison abolitionists, she said, are often viewed with mystery and skepticism and considered utopian.

"This is a measure of how difficult it is to envision a social order that does not rely on the threat of sequestering people in dreadful places designed to separate them from their communities and their families," said Davis. "The prison is considered so natural and so normal that it is extremely hard to imagine life without them."

Drawing comparisons to other abolitionist movements throughout history, Davis said that her hope is that the abolition of prisons might attract the same vigorous international debate the death penalty has. But prison remains a far more pervasive and durable idea in our imaginations.

"Prison is considered an inevitable and permanent feature of our social lives," she said.


The prison industrial complex

Davis supported her argument with sobering facts about the proliferation of prisons and the disproportionate incarceration of minorities. In black, Latino, and Native-American communities, she said, people have a far greater chance of going to prison than of getting a decent education, and young people are choosing the military to avoid what they see as an inevitable trip to prison.

There may be twice as many people suffering from mental illness in jails than in mental hospitals.

And while the "tough on crime" initiatives of the 1980s did not produce safer communities or a significant drop in crime rates, she said, it led to a remarkable proliferation of prisons. Indeed, some have dubbed the economic sector that has arisen around prisons a "prison industrial complex."

Despite these facts - many of which are not unfamiliar - we take prisons for granted, Davis posed, because we are afraid of the realities they produce. What goes on within prison walls is a mystery to most of us, and our collective imagination has cast prisoners broadly as "evildoers" and, primarily, people of color. In addition, by perceiving all prisoners as murderers and rapists, we further distance ourselves from the more nuanced reality of prisons.

Such abstractions, said Davis, make prisoners vulnerable to human rights abuses and lets us turn a blind eye to the larger issues behind prisons and incarceration.

"It relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism," she said.

From punitive to restorative justice

Shifting strategies from punitive to restorative justice involves not only changing the way our system addresses crime but also getting at some of the roots of crime. We must work, Davis said, to transform "the social and economic conditions that track so many children from poor communities, especially communities of color, into bad schools that look more like juvenile detention centers than they look like schools."

A woman from Boston's urban Roxbury neighborhood - "I live in the belly of the beast," she said - challenged Davis' vision for prison abolition with respectful curiosity. Young boys sell crack on her street, she said, and she wants them gone. If not to prison, where?

"You can't think myopically," said Davis. "There is no place else [for the boys], so the default solution is prison. Why don't we have other institutions?"

She argued that better schools, recreation centers, and other youth resources - and community activism that matches education activists with prison abolitionists - were some possible solutions for Roxbury and beyond.

"Our most difficult and urgent challenge to date," she said, "is that of creatively exploring new terrains of justice where the prison no longer serves as our major anchor."

I-10east

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2016, 12:48:29 AM »
Don't commit heinous crimes then. No BS liberal sympathy here...Far as I'm concerned, the punishment isn't severe enough (concerning rapers, murderers, terrorists etc).

TheCat

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2016, 07:10:33 AM »
Don't commit heinous crimes then. No BS liberal sympathy here...Far as I'm concerned, the punishment isn't severe enough (concerning rapers, murderers, terrorists etc).

Can you try to look at it from the perspective of what is best for you and I (society)? If the "sympathetic" approach cost us less and was more effective at reducing crime would you still advocate for our current system?

There is an argument to be made about unjust sentences, which may force you to have some consideration of proportionality (does the punishment fit the crime). We can't give everyone a severe sentence. If we did, we end up making crimes equal. If a rapist gets a similar punishment to a murderer, that means those two crimes are equal. It also incentivizes murder. If the crimes are equal then there is more benefit for a rapist to kill the victim (less chance of getting caught), without the threat of a greater punishment.

But, let's not start with proportionally or what's best for the person who committed the crime.

Let's start with what's best for you and me, society.

Meaning, what is most effective at lowering crime and reducing expenses? I'm willing to take the side that prison is not the solution.

Maybe, that's how we can move away from an unnecessary liberal vs conservative debate?.

I-10east

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2016, 07:28:46 AM »
^^^Keeping murderers, rapists etc off of the street from law abiding citizens is priority, over some bullshit theory that every convict is rehabilitatable. One side keeps on catering to nearly every low life (ie criminal) in America; I don't see it much from the other side, so that's why I said what I said.   

I-10east

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2016, 07:40:48 AM »
What Hillary Clinton said about 'superpredators' in '96 was absolutely correct. She didn't say anything about pinpointing any particular race or anything like that, so save the racial crap. The only thing that she did wrong was apologize, to appease the black voting demo (who that speech was supposedly targeting).

I see on sites that alot of black people have woken up to the liberal establishment's (yes I said it) victimization campaign, which further drives the black community in a hole.

I-10east

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 10:05:59 AM »
^^^So predictable, and hopeless you are Stephen...'I hate blacks' man come up with something new... You are obviously a racist who has the bar set very low for black people. You are a racist because you are saying that 'I hate blacks' and that's unfounded; Other than me (a black person) having a differing political opinion than you. Anyone's who nose isn't wedged into the Huff Post know that I'm showing concern for the black community and I really care. You are deflecting with attacks, not maturely debating me, censoring, and your usual rhetoric.

You hate blacks taking responsibility for themselves; You hate blacks for being productive citizens(they are 'Toms' right Stephen? Ain't that what you called me basically a while back?) You hate blacks for not being slaves to the liberal establishment; You hate blacks for not being that negative stereotype. Quit acting like you care about blacks, because you clearly don't. 

Adam White

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2016, 10:08:06 AM »
I'll be honest - I can't say I'm comfortable with the notion of abolishing prisons entirely. But I must admit I am no expert on the subject.

I do think we need serious reform - of our prisons, laws and criminal justice system.
“If you're going to play it out of tune, then play it out of tune properly.”

Gunnar

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2016, 12:08:13 PM »
I'd support removing all user related drug prison/jail sentences for probation/treatment instead. The war on drugs is dumb and simply is not effective.
I don't care if white collar criminals serve time either. They should make their victims whole. Usually they can.

For the most part, in my opinion, prison should be mainly used to house the criminals that, if set free, would be dangerous in some way to the rest of us. What is dangerous is largely up for debate I suppose.

Abolition of all prisons isn't a feasible goal though, we all know that.


Totally agree, except perhaps on the white collar crime part (if they are big fish). But perhaps there are more fitting punishments / ways to atone than being in a minimum security prison for x time.
I want to live in a society where people can voice unpopular opinions because I know that as a result of that, a society grows and matures...” — Hugh Hefner

strider

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2016, 05:27:46 PM »
I was amazed at the sentencing guidelines I saw on various Scandinavian shows and so did a small bit of research to see if they were real.  They are.

Quote
http://mic.com/articles/109138/sweden-has-done-for-its-prisoners-what-the-u-s-won-t#.WsN2AHS6e

That's one quick example.

I do not believe we have the worst criminals just because there are bad people.  I think we make them. In a thousand different ways. 

"My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement." Patrica, Joe VS the Volcano.

I-10east

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2016, 07:12:02 PM »
It will but very interesting to see whatever Scandinavian country's 'successful jail recidivism rates' meets influx of immigrants coming head to head; Now they will be dealing with a more US like situation (still on a very smaller scale). To say that comparing the US to a Scandinavian country concerning housing inmates etc is apples and oranges is putting it mildly; In terms of population, multiculturalism, general codes to live by, etc etc etc. 
« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 07:16:30 PM by I-10east »

Gunnar

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2016, 01:41:56 PM »
Different attitudes towards prisons are also important. In the US, I am often under the impression that the attitude is more prisons = better (they create jobs,....) whereas in many European countries an increasing number of prisoners or prisons is seen as something negative. And yes, the purpose of prison is not to punish (as the article said, the loss of freedom is the punishment) but rather to reform / better the prisoners - at least that's the aim.

Next point is that Judges, and State Attorneys have nothing to gain from being "tough on crime" as they are not elected officials.

That is not too say that there are not people who feel that the justice system is being too lax, especially on repeat offenders, but that is another thing.
I want to live in a society where people can voice unpopular opinions because I know that as a result of that, a society grows and matures...” — Hugh Hefner

TheCat

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2016, 11:24:23 AM »
I'd support removing all user related drug prison/jail sentences for probation/treatment instead. The war on drugs is dumb and simply is not effective.
I don't care if white collar criminals serve time either. They should make their victims whole. Usually, they can.

For the most part, in my opinion, prison should be mainly used to house the criminals that, if set free, would be dangerous in some way to the rest of us. What is dangerous is largely up for debate I suppose.

Abolition of all prisons isn't a feasible goal, though, we all know that.

I'm curious as to what got you on this subject that, the links are old. Was there some recent news on the subject.

No recent news but I'll answer in a very round about way...

I've spent a considerable amount of time studying three-strike laws (a type of mandatory minimum), which was a strange populist political marketing gimmick, as laws like these were already on the books. In the 1990s, around 28 states repackaged their "habitual offender laws" added harsher penalties and rode the "get tough on crime" wave. Around 30 states instituted TSLs in the 1990s, all of which were passed between 1994 - 1996.

Except California, very few prisoners are directly sentenced under TSLs. However, the laws give prosecutors a huge upper hand when negotiating plea deals. Something like, "you can either plead guilty and get five years in prison or you can fight this charge and face 20 years." As you can imagine, not many people decide to go to court.

The role of the prosecutor playing the role of judge and jury is a whole other conversation that is worth having. I'm piggybacking on people way smarter than me when they say prosecutors have too much power, which directly relates to the get tough on crime decade. People were outraged that judges were so inconsistent and biased in sentencing. So, we the people demanded policies that created consistent sentencing laws, not just for the sake of severe punishment but also to hopefully alleviate some of the racial disparities that occurred during sentencing. We ended up replacing judicial discretion with prosecutorial discretion.

Okay, I'm knowledge dumping now. This is more for my benefit but thanks for reading.

California's prison issues are directly related to their three strike laws. They're infamous for sending people to prison for decades for petty crimes. An example, Curtis Wilkerson was sentenced to 25 years in 1995 for stealing $2.50 white tube socks. Wilkerson has spent around 20 years in prison, costing California taxpayers $846,000+. Another example, Leandro Andrade was sentenced to 50 years in 1995 for stealing $153.00 worth of children’s videotapes from K-mart. He had taken the tapes from two different K-marts, he was prosecuted for two third-strike offenses (25 years in prison per third-strike conviction).

Before Curtis was arrested in 1995, I think he was arrested for two other petty crimes about six years prior. In 1995, he was working a $15 p/hour full-time job. In a moment of "I'm bored" while he was waiting for his wife or girlfriend he stole a pair of socks. For that crime, California has spent nearly a million dollars to prove a point. Society often discusses the per capita cost of incarceration, but we rarely consider the opportunity loss of imprisoning one person. Curtis had a job; he was a part of our economy.

After reading numerous examples of asinine prison sentences and also reading about the continual strong-arming of charged persons by prosecutors, not to mention the never ending and disgusting systemic racism of our system you're left wondering who is this benefiting?

There's more. When you look at states with harsher policies, their crime rates don't fall at a faster rate. The ebbs and flows of crime are remarkably consistent throughout the nation; regardless of tough crime laws. If Florida's crime is dropping, it's a pretty safe bet to assume crime is dropping in the other 49 states as well.

Then, you have to consider that almost everyone that goes to prison will be released from prison. This is important. From car thief to child rapist, everyone will be released. We don't send everyone to jail for life. And, of those people that are released more than 70 percent are back in prison within 3 to 5 years. I'm left wondering, what is the point? Why is it that we are spending an exorbitant amount of money to not stop crime?

All of this (and then learning about how Scandinavian nations' prisons),  I don't think prison reform is possible, and I don't think our society becomes safer by sending people to prison. It has become a catch all of our countries failures.

And, my consideration isn't even for the criminal. I'm not requesting sympathy for people who have done evil things. I'm requesting empathy for our society. If something isn't working, it has to be put to rest. Ultimately, we want people who have committed crimes to become trustworthy members of our society. Prison not only fails to accomplish creating a safe society, it aggravates it.








TheCat

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2016, 11:38:02 AM »
It will but very interesting to see whatever Scandinavian country's 'successful jail recidivism rates' meets influx of immigrants coming head to head; Now they will be dealing with a more US like situation (still on a very smaller scale). To say that comparing the US to a Scandinavian country concerning housing inmates etc is apples and oranges is putting it mildly; in terms of population, multiculturalism, general codes to live by, etc etc etc.

I- 10, what are you talking about? Are you under the impression that immigrants in United States commit more crimes than actual citizens, or that they have a higher recidivism rate? You are incorrect if that is what you are saying.

I-10east

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Re: Abolish Prisons - Totally & Absolutely
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2016, 12:53:53 AM »
Give them only a lil time in jail but most importantly, have a rehab program in place for them to reintegrate back into society; Then they will be guaranteed to become productive members of society, amirite??  ::) ::) ::) 

http://www.news4jax.com/news/crime/jso-releases-information-about-murder-suspects