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[P]
Amount of rape in American state and federal prisons 'alarmingly high'

By valeko in Op-Ed
Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 10:31:52 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

According to this UPI report, experts say that the rate of inmate rape in American prisons is so high as to pose "deadly consequences for the inmate population as well as the public at large."

Nevertheless, there are certain biases in all levels of society seemingly against the rehabilitative character of the prison system. They are illuminated well in the report.


According to the report, "Congress plans to take a closer look at the issue next week because prison rape has been associated with the spread of potentially fatal diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis." This appears to suggest that if prison rape was not associated with the spread of such potentially fatal diseases, or at least, not to society at large, then it would not even be an issue. And unless this shred of new and amazing evidence were preceeding a Congressional investigation, it's probably not worth writing about.

Prison rape is not a new problem, nor something with which we are unfamiliar. It exists in virtually all places to some extent, although it is preposterously hypocritical of American officials to pass the time orating about the poor humanitarian state of prisons in places like the former Soviet Union and Cuba, while seemingly neglecting this and other sinister, deeply-seated social problems within their own system.

The article appears to confirm in numerous places the thesis that prison rape is only a concern if it detrimentally affects the outside world in a statistically significant way. Consider, for example:

[...] 95 percent of people in prison will eventually be released back into society, so if they contract AIDS or other diseases while incarcerated they will be a tremendous burden to society due to healthcare costs and the threat they pose for spreading disease.
This would seem to imply that if not for the possibility of spreading the disease and the "burden to society" associated with "healthcare costs", this would simply be a marginal and unimportant issue because it only affects prisoners, who are implicitly reduced to subhuman status.

On a bit of a digression, this statistic, that 95% of prison inmates will eventually be released, can be misleading for numerous reasons. One is that "eventually be released" does not indicate a timeframe, thus making sentences that are many decades long and often not in proportion to the magnitude of the crime part of a statistic that looks benign. It would be instructive to break down this statistic into divisions of serious, violent crime, versus petty offenses or drug-related violations. This would be somewhat more enlightening way to convey the state of the American criminal justice system. In my opinion, this is an example of "targeted statistics" that are published to cater to a certain viewpoint, while having a psychological appeal that can make such a thing as the prison system seem to be more functional and effective than it really is.

At any rate, it is appalling that the very serious problem of prison rape is examined only in terms of the "burden to society" that it presents, reducing inmates (in perspective) to beings that are seemingly not entitled basic human rights. This is difficult to reconcile with pretty much any level of morality short of, "all prisoners deserve to be raped." The report mentions that most victims of rape tend to be nonviolent, first-time offenders, but it seems evident from the attitudes of influential elements of society that prisoners are all equally deserving of such treatment, and the only reason why they shouldn't be is that they can come out and spread their diseases.

UPI also engages in the time-honoured media practise of regurgitating agreeable facts and viewpoints as platitudes, while explicitly labeling less desirable viewpoints explicitly as viewpoints rather than facts. Consider, for example:

Lara Stemple, executive director of the non-profit human rights group Stop Prisoner Rape, told UPI, "Rape and HIV in prison is eight to 10 times as high as in the general population." Her group views AIDS as an unadjudicated death sentence because people who receive only a short sentence for their crime but contract AIDS while in prison have essentially had their sentence extended to death.
It boggles the mind how being infected with AIDS in prison can be viewed any other way. Is there an alternative viewpoint here? It doesn't seem possible, unless of course one questions the deadly implications of being infected with the HIV virus.

According to the statistics presented by advocacy groups, the rate of AIDS prevalence in prisons is 8 to 10 times higher than in the general population, and every fifth male prison inmate has been sexually assaulted, while every tenth raped. Rape among female inmates can be as high as 27 percent, and female inmates often become pregnant, which serves to indicate that they have been raped by male prison guards.

The report makes some allusions to this gloomy underworld of what is essentially state-sponsored prison rape, in which prison guards are either indifferent to rape or even condone it. In some cases, rape is even forced on inmates by the guards by putting them in circumstances where they are certain to be raped, such as placing them in a cell with an aggressive sexual offender notorious for such acts. Indeed, rape is widely viewed as a necessary "initiation" into the underworld of prison life, and used as a control mechanism (or worse, for sadism) by prison officials.

The occasion for this report in the first place is that next week, Congress will be considering some legislation to supposedly deal with this problem. The Rape Reduction Act, sponsored by two Democratic and Republican representatives from Virginia, would seek to establish a national commission that would investigate "unusually high" incidences of prison rape and require prison officials to explain it in such cases.

This does not appear to be any more than lip service to the cause for two obvious reasons. One, targeting only prisons with "unusually high" incidences of rape seem to establish the notion that there's a normal baseline rate over which deviation is not acceptable, and it marginalises the many such abominable things that occur but are somehow not statistically significant enough. Second, prison rape in general, but especially that which is sponsored by prison guards, is unlikely to be reported in official statistics. Also, the legislation includes language that allows individual states to opt their prisons out of federal scrutiny if their legislatures will it. This demonstrates the tendency to create bureaucracies, but an aversion to creating effective bureaucracies with actual authority to fight social problems. This is no way to address a very serious and frightening problem that conspires with many others to undermine the criminal justice system.

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Amount of rape in American state and federal prisons 'alarmingly high' | 225 comments (205 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
Quote (4.00 / 17) (#3)
by Betcour on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 01:56:50 PM EST

I forgot who said it, but it's pretty true :
You can judge the degree of civilization of a country by looking at how they treat their prisonners

On a side note the US is the country with the highest count of prisonner per inhabitant... repression, repression and more repression has limits.

Is this true? (4.80 / 5) (#13)
by Anatta on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 04:00:38 PM EST

I've often heard your claim repeated, but never sourced. I just came across this article on Iran, which states that 600,000 people are currently in Iranian prisons. According to the CIA World Factbook, there are 66 million people in Iran, resulting in about 0.9% of Iran currently in jail. According to CNN, the US has 1.8 million people in jail out of a population of 275 million. This gives us about 0.65% of the population in jail.

There is no question that the US has way too many people in jail right now, however the US doesn't seem to be the worst culprit for putting its people in jail. Still, the US promotes itself as a free country, and it is incredibly disheartening that we are so quick to lock people away. It is quite hypocritical of the US to lock so many up, but as far as I can tell the US does not have the most prisoners per capita in the world.
My Music
[ Parent ]

The National Review isn't a news agency (3.80 / 5) (#17)
by cb on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 05:14:49 PM EST

Fix that link.

[ Parent ]
WTF? (4.70 / 10) (#28)
by FunkMasterK on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 06:11:40 PM EST

How about choosing a first-world country to do your incarceration comparison?  Better yet, look at average incarceration rates worldwide:

The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners.  Our per-capita incarceration rate is five times that of the EU, and six times that of Canada.  Coincidentally, we have approximately the same violent crime rates as these other countries, so it's not that Americans are five times as likely to commit crimes.

If you want to compare the US's prisoner population to oppressive regimes, try China: the USA has more prisoners than China (that's prisoner population, not per-capita), although they have four times our population and are ruled by an oppressive Communist regime.

We may not have the highest per-capita incarceration rate, but we have the largest prisoner population in the world.  So, yes, we are #1.  Land of the free, eh?

[ Parent ]

Source? (3.00 / 1) (#52)
by Jack of Hearts on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:10:44 AM EST

Interesting numbers...where did they come from?

[ Parent ]
Take your pick (3.50 / 2) (#63)
by FunkMasterK on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 01:05:21 AM EST

See http://drugwarfacts.org/prison.htm.
Although the website could be considered anti-prohibition propaganda, at least this propaganda has numerous sources cited.  Amnesty International also has many of these statistics available on their website.

[ Parent ]
Sourcing the claim (4.57 / 7) (#51)
by Eloquence on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:09:29 AM EST

The best source for international incarceration rates seems to be the World Prison Population List. There appears to be no recent data for Iran; in 1993 there were 155 prisoners per 100K, which is much lower than the US' 690. The United States recently surpassed Russia as the world leader in incarceration. One primary reason for this are "three strikes" laws and minimum punishments. People are locked up for everything from having sex at the wrong age (19/15 etc.) to consuming the wrong psychoactive substance. Think of these policies whatever you want, but the fact is, according to all available statistics, the United States imprison more people than any other world nation.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
Only one of your two sources says that (4.00 / 2) (#67)
by Delirium on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 02:41:47 AM EST

The World Prison Population List you linked to says that the United States has the second-highest incarceration rate, with Russia having the highest. The sentencingproject.org document you linked to claims the opposite -- that the U.S. has surpassed Russia in incarceration rates. Since both documents are dated 2000, this seems odd.

[ Parent ]
Have you actually read the text? (4.00 / 2) (#80)
by Eloquence on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:21:56 AM EST

There was a major amnesty in Russia, which had not yet been accounted for in the WPL. See also the dates of the individual statistics in the WPL.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
Huh? (3.60 / 5) (#18)
by EriKZ on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 05:19:20 PM EST

Ok, so "You can judge the degree of civilization of a country by looking at how they treat their prisonners".

And then you say "The US has got the highest amount of prisoners."

And? Point?

[ Parent ]

That quote troubles me... (3.50 / 4) (#36)
by blankmind on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 07:51:40 PM EST

I came across that quote while reading Live from Death Row, and to this day, I still don't know what to think about it.

To me, the quote seems to point out that treating prisoners harshly is not humane, nor civilized. But what is the "right" method of treatment for prisoners? How can there be a "right" method of treatment when imprisonment itself is inhumane?

Also, I just don't see how anyone can judge the degree of civilization simply by observing the prison system. This quote implies that a "uber-society" would treat their prisoners with the greatest degree of humanity. I say bullshit. What if this uber-society was attained and it was discovered that cutting off the arms of prisoners was the perfect rehabilitation tool? Certainly that wouldn't be very humane. I think it all boils down to what is humane for the inhumanes?

Ack, this post was more like a random, incoherent thought spill. This quote just boggles my mind.
--------
I have been trolled.
[ Parent ]
so, why is imprisonment inhumane? (4.00 / 2) (#87)
by joshsisk on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 10:40:30 AM EST

How can there be a "right" method of treatment when imprisonment itself is inhumane? Personally, I don't see imprisonment in a relatively safe, relatively clean prison as being inhumane.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
I think you mean (4.75 / 8) (#44)
by manobes on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 09:08:55 PM EST

The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country.

That's Winston Churchill, in a July 1910 speech to the house of commons. Churchill presided over a dramitic reduction in Britian's prison population from 1910 to the early 20's (prision population was cut in half). He was a solid defender of the rights of prisoners.


No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


[ Parent ]
That was Oscar Wilde (n/t) (none / 0) (#50)
by libertine on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:06:33 AM EST




"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]
How Horrid! (3.11 / 18) (#10)
by delmoi on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 03:23:37 PM EST

Someone should put these rapists behind bars!
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Given Congress focus (3.10 / 10) (#14)
by nusuth on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 04:01:12 PM EST

The cheapest solution would be condom dispensers in every cell and guards enforcing their use.

Conjugal visits (3.64 / 17) (#16)
by glog on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 05:01:47 PM EST

Many things in America are exacerbated to a level where they become a problem. Same with rape in prisons. Those kinds of things can be found in every prison in every country but consider this: according to NPR radio this problem is non-existent in Mexico where prisoners are allowed conjugal visits in a special room with a bed, shower, etc. And yes that will sometimes involve the use of the services of the oldest female profession. Someone here was dumb enough to propose that condoms are distributed to the prisoners - this is a good thing (tm) but it's like giving a gun to someone who is plagued by mosquitoes. Totally useless in solving the problem.

cause and effect (2.40 / 5) (#19)
by turmeric on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 05:35:11 PM EST

sex with partners does not stop rapists from raping people

[ Parent ]
What? (4.00 / 7) (#30)
by cameldrv on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 06:45:13 PM EST

What evidence do you have to support this statement?

[ Parent ]
Fallacy (2.25 / 4) (#39)
by glog on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 08:27:30 PM EST

cameldrv said it well in a reply to you - have you done any research that supports that statement? In literature and philosophy statements such as yours are called fallacies. On the internet they are called trolls.

[ Parent ]
People that are deprived of a basic human right... (3.60 / 5) (#40)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 08:51:27 PM EST

... will resort to desperate measures.

If it is decided that that right must be supressed as part of criminal punishment, then it is reasonable to expect that this imposition will not create any "collateral damage" in the person of other innmates.
---
"Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

[ Parent ]

Since when has sex ben a basic human right? (2.57 / 7) (#60)
by br284 on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:52:30 AM EST

I don't get why you think that sex is a basic human right. I also don't think that the state should be sponsoring prostitutes for inmates. If a prisoner can get someone to come to the prison for sex, that's one thing -- though I think it is more of a privlidge than a right. But to have the state provide a partner?

-Chris

[ Parent ]

Reproduction is a human right. (none / 0) (#183)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 07:52:17 AM EST

Do your homework, find the UN human rights charter.
---
"Every duck should aspire to be crispy and aromatic." sleepyhel

[ Parent ]
Yes. (none / 0) (#186)
by valeko on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 10:16:22 AM EST

But I suspect the right to not be randomly penetrated by someone on the street is also a human right, of which the equivalent would logically also apply in jail.

Reproduction presumes certain prerequisites to, well, reproduction, such as, um, consent of the other party, perhaps family, hmmm....

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Prison sex has nothing to do with reproduction (none / 0) (#196)
by br284 on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:11:03 PM EST

How much sex in prison is about reproduction? I'm sure that's what we want, a prisoner knocking up someone (or getting knocked up) with a kid that will be born and state will have to support. Great...

Sorry, but even in the event that the prisoner has a significant other to "reproduce" with, I think that in this situation, reproduction is one of the last rights that should be given to a prisoner.

Think about it and quit blindly quoting the UN, which BTW has ZERO say in any of this.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

Someone speaks (4.50 / 2) (#86)
by nusuth on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 10:19:46 AM EST

I assume that someone is me, considering time of your post. Obviously I wasn't serious (hint: read subject line), the post was critcizing congress view of the matter presented in the article. I'd rather not be raped, with or without a condom, just like everyone else. Yet another example of how hard cross cultural sarcasm is. Someone else did (I think) seriously proposed something along that lines though.

[ Parent ]
Forced castration (1.65 / 20) (#27)
by roam on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 06:07:50 PM EST

for all violent offenders (or other offenders as necessary).  I think it would solve not only the rape problem, but would also make a dent in the overall crime problem.

___
Are they like hamsters?
Specifically, can I tape up a chinchilla, slather him in axle grease, and shove him up my ass? - Patrick Bateman


Forcing the point (4.50 / 6) (#49)
by SlickMickTrick on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:02:03 AM EST

It might also make a dent in the overall human rights problem.

Such outrageous audacity, people believing they have a right to their own body! Next they'll want to run websites where they can discuss issues freely without the guiding hand of our god-given country's thought police.

[ Parent ]

I think (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by roam on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:00:40 PM EST

in certain situations criminals give up rights to their body.  We have capital punishment, don't we?

___
Are they like hamsters?
Specifically, can I tape up a chinchilla, slather him in axle grease, and shove him up my ass? - Patrick Bateman


[ Parent ]
Castration has no effect. (5.00 / 5) (#53)
by libertine on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:14:43 AM EST

Castration is removal of the balls.  That has no effect on erectile ability.  Also doesn't stop the rape thing.

You might mean emasculation, removal of the whole male genitalia.  I believe that Denmark tried this with about a dozen lifetime rape offenders.  About 1/2 of those offenders went to using knives or some other lethal method to take their rage out on others.

Of course, mutilation could be viewed as a "deterrent" for crime.  This is presuming that the legal system in the country that you live in is *perfect*.  I live in the US, and here, several states have stopped using the death penalty because of the high amount of capital cases where the person convicted was NOT the perpetrator.  Unfortunately, the prevalent opinion of many of the masses here is that if you get arrested, you must be guilty of "something" (especially in Arizona).



"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]

Well (1.66 / 3) (#98)
by roam on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:02:51 PM EST

why even lock the guilty up?  By your thinking, we'll never know for sure, so why steal such a precious thing as time from the innocent? I say we just let them all run free!

___
Are they like hamsters?
Specifically, can I tape up a chinchilla, slather him in axle grease, and shove him up my ass? - Patrick Bateman


[ Parent ]
By the states' thinking, not mine. (none / 0) (#156)
by libertine on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:08:51 PM EST

I don't know why you are so hot about mutilating and otherwise torturing prisoners.  Regardless, I was relaying to you what several governors and state assemblies have decided.  Take that for what you may.


"Live for lust. Lust for life."
[ Parent ]
I'm not hot about it (none / 0) (#219)
by roam on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 02:48:23 PM EST

There is a problem, and I offered a solution.

___
Are they like hamsters?
Specifically, can I tape up a chinchilla, slather him in axle grease, and shove him up my ass? - Patrick Bateman


[ Parent ]
castration? (3.66 / 3) (#57)
by bowline on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:34:59 AM EST

How would castration prevent rape? How would it prevent crime? Would you castrate women too, or only male offenders?

Not only is your suggestion offensive, it seems worthless.

[ Parent ]

Good news (4.10 / 10) (#29)
by bobpence on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 06:35:25 PM EST

Congress is actually going to put prison rape on the national agenda. They are trying to create a federal body to investigate. In doing so, they are not derailing themselves by trying to impose a federal body wihtout allowing states to opt out, so that strict constructionists will not be impelled to oppose the bill.

A familiar mantra is "rape is not about sex." This is easy to believe in open society, especially when rapists are usually seen on TV shows being arrested in front of their wife or girlfriend. But what about closed societies, such as Afghanistan under the Taliban, where boys 12 to 16 were traditionally kept for sex by men who could not expect to marry, and therefore could not expect o even see a woman, until late in life? Or prison, where apart from any conjugal rules dealing with partners from the outside, strict gender segregation is enforced, and smaller men are typically victimized? Is it still solely about power (obviously that is a key element), or is it also about sex drive?

How many guards are needed, and how much control must they exert, to prevent this?
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

I have one solution (2.91 / 12) (#34)
by skim123 on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 07:35:59 PM EST

How many guards are needed, and how much control must they exert, to prevent this?

And my solution is a very, very simple one, that would be 100% effective. Dismember the rapists member. Cut it right off, along with his testicles. If he continues to abuse others sexually (perhaps by raping them with some object), cut off his hands. Yes, I know this is harsh sounding, but it would definitely work. Another option would be to simply execute them.

If someone commits a crime agaisnt society (i.e., rape or murder), yes, perhaps they can "pay their debt" to society and hope to one day be released. But, if while they're "paying the price" they continue to stick to their ways, I really fail to see how their continued existence improves anyone's life or makes the world a better place in any remotely possible way. Essentially all it does is make the world a worser place.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Go back to trolls-r-us. [n/t] (1.44 / 9) (#35)
by valeko on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 07:37:32 PM EST


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Weak (3.25 / 4) (#59)
by br284 on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:48:28 AM EST

Someone disagrees with you and you call them a troll. This is weak, valeko. Skim123 makes a valid point about addressing the problem that you brought up and all you can do is call him a troll? Chances are that his solution would be a lot more effective than a Congressional fact-finding community, but you refuse to even try to refute his solution or point out why it may be inferior to your proposal.

I'm curious why you think he is a troll. Stop acting like a high school teacher who smacks down a kid for beinging up something out of the "acceptable box" and tell us why he is wrong. I would have expected better from you.

-Chris

[ Parent ]

Slightly less weak. (4.50 / 8) (#65)
by Boing on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 01:40:58 AM EST

I happen to agree with you, no one's opinion should be thrown out just because it's sensational or unpopular.

But, in valeko's defense, the idea of involuntary dismemberment or mutilation in American society very well might have been a troll.  It's hard to tell from skim123's tone whether or not he/she was serious, but the idea is so fundamentally objectionable to many people that it might well have been a simple troll.

I mean, you might truly believe in the tenets of the nazi party, but if you posted something in the forums saying "Jews are poison to society, and should be exterminated", I would still call it a troll.

As for you, skim, I almost feel like this answer is too obvious, but we are constitutionally forbidden from inflicting "cruel or unusual punishment" on criminals.  If you believe that castration is not so categorized, I half-kiddingly suggest you get a strong kick in the jewels, then talk.  Regardless of the criminals' disrespect for the judicial system in the continuation of illegal acts from within correctional facilities, we have no right to knowingly cause them that level of harm.

[ Parent ]

Thank you. (3.00 / 2) (#69)
by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 03:24:38 AM EST

I wasn't even going to bother answering such a question, but my gratitude goes out to you for volunteering to state the much-needed obvious. ;-)

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

I know (3.00 / 1) (#112)
by skim123 on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 02:31:34 PM EST

As for you, skim, I almost feel like this answer is too obvious, but we are constitutionally forbidden from inflicting "cruel or unusual punishment" on criminals

This I know, and I support the Constitution and think it is a great work. I am glad there are not such physical mutilations to those who have committed a crime. But I think, if someone keeps committing a violent crime over and over and over there comes a point where society has to get together and say, "Shit, this person is literally unfixable." (You might say, well, just put him in solitary confinement 24-7, but others would call that cruel and unusual punishment.) I'm not saying castrate anyone who has committed rape - I am saying those who were convicted of rape, sent to jail, and have repeatedly raped other inmates, those people should be castrated.

In fact, if you failed to stop the prison rape, isn't that inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on the other members of the prison population?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Well (4.50 / 2) (#143)
by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 08:10:00 PM EST

In fact, if you failed to stop the prison rape, isn't that inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on the other members of the prison population?

Substituting one cruel and unusual punishment for another is contradictory to the spirit of the prison system, no matter how you view its ideal purpose (either as a penal or rehabilitative institution).

It seems to me to be a matter of common sense that making a prisoner physically isolated from the other prisoners in such a way that he cannot penetrate their ass is not nearly as cruel and unusual as forcing the others to endure it, and not only because of the number of people who benefit from the former.

Keeping prisoners separate from each other such that they cannot harm each other is a perogative that I feel ties directly into the purpose for the existence of the prison system. It's a place where you are punished for your crime through being isolated from the normal world and ideally are rehabilitated to being able to be a normal member of society again (I realise it doesn't live up to this ideal in any way). I don't see how getting raped can be reconciled with this motive. The argument you're making, I feel, is based on an underlying assumption that being prevented from raping people is somehow cruel and unusual and deprives you of some fundamental right (since when is raping random people up the ass a fundamental human right?). This seems implausable to me.

On the other hand, we have a justice system and a Constitution that guarantees humane treatment for all, regardless of whether they're in prison or walking down the street. I don't see how denying someone the right to rape others fits into this framework.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

But (3.50 / 2) (#149)
by skim123 on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:30:05 PM EST

On the other hand, we have a justice system and a Constitution that guarantees humane treatment for all, regardless of whether they're in prison or walking down the street

I think this should have a limit. Humane treatment for all unless they severely violate the rights of others many many many times over. Call me anti-Constitutionalist if you want, but there are certain people who I'd rather see executed than to have us taxpayers pay for their lives. The person who kills one person? Perhaps the crime was committed in passion, or they really were wrongfully accused and convicted. But someone who has murdered (or raped) time after time again? I just don't see the point in paying for their life.

Perhaps it would be best if we let the serial raper decide if he would rather have his penis dismembered or if he'd rather be executed.

Of course this "humane" treatment you say the Constitution guarantees really doesn't extend to those labeled insane. They can be locked up in a psychiatry ward in solitary confinement, shot up with drugs, experimented on, etc. Of course drugging them up is nothing compared to what we used to do (electrotherapy, labotomies, etc.). How should this be handled in an uncruel and ununusual way?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Congress and Rape...How Ironic... (2.70 / 10) (#33)
by thelizman on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 07:19:08 PM EST

"Congress" is a word often used to describe intercourse, including sexually. So, Congress - who is famous for fucking the American people, quite a few foreign people, and the occasionly found-dead intern - is now going to put aside the business of the nation to investigate the seedy world of prison sex.

Great, now "tossin' the salad" is going to be on our congressional record. Jefferson would be shooting people on the Whitehouse Lawn for this shit.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
don't you think (4.50 / 4) (#43)
by strlen on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 09:06:50 PM EST

jefferson would also be shooting poeople who've inventeded a myriad of news laws and crimes that has trapped countless of non-violent people in prisons and turned prisons into rape houses?

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Jefferson was a shootin fool... (none / 0) (#66)
by thelizman on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 01:42:35 AM EST

Yeah, he probably would, but what does that have to do with anything?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Well just think of it.. (4.00 / 3) (#70)
by strlen on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 03:52:36 AM EST

Well basically, they're trying not to get shot in case Jefferson happens to get out of his grave. Prison rape, at the level it is now (to the point of police using it as an intimidation technique), is a grave threat to rule of law (you're not sentenced to be sodomized; you're sentenced to whatever prison term you're given for instance), and basic civil liberties (protection from cruel and unusual punishment). If this is to remain a country that Jefferson and others wanted it to be (one that respects individual rights and rule of law), congress has at least to make a symbolic gesture.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Overplayed... (2.00 / 2) (#116)
by thelizman on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 03:25:26 PM EST

In spite of the alarmist tone of this and other studies, most people who go to jail are not sodomized. Short of getting back to good old ass-whoopings and having prison guards like Captain Byron Hadley, there's not alot you're going to do to stop this behavior. There's a reason people are in prison: They did'nt feel like living according to societys rules, so they got removed from society.

I hope you're not operating under the impression that prisons are for punishment or rehabilitation. That's a noble - and laughable illusion.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Prisons are (4.00 / 2) (#119)
by strlen on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:13:07 PM EST

Prisons are for storing away the criminal so that I wouldn't become the victim of the crime. Rehabilitation is, however, possible for some crime - and can be managed if there were available vocational training programs, for instance, or educational -- as there are in some prisons,and the the fact that you're cooked up for a good amount of time somewhere where you aren't very free, itself acts as a punishment.

My solution is electronic surveilance, even in the shower, so there's no soap being dropped. You have no expectation of privacy in a prison anyway. And medical checkups to ensure prison rape isn't occuring, and if does occur and reach a certain high level, then all the employees of the said prison should be fired and replaced, that will give them an incentive to keep an eye out on inmates.

You may be right that there's always going to be some level of it, as prison rape is as old as prisons itself. But there is quite a bit that can be done about it. I'm more of an idealist myself, rather than a pragmatic in any case, and I'd like to see any sort of measure taken against prison rape, even a symbolic one, to at least show that there's an effort being made to maintain the rule of law and avoid such 'cruel and unusual punishment' from becoming systematic and de-facto institutionalized.



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Here's The Problem... (4.00 / 1) (#137)
by thelizman on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:16:58 PM EST

Your proposal would violate the rights of homosexuals who may consentualy engage in sex. And in that vein, you also run into the problem of consentual rape (someone would consent to a sexual action to avoid betting the piss knocked out of them).
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
homosexuals in prison (4.50 / 2) (#138)
by strlen on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:33:31 PM EST

indeed it might. but prison isn't a place for sex. you dont just make out in a government institution, as you won't be making out in school, or in another all male government institution - a bootcamp. if you do want to have sex in prison, you may as well allow sex during prisoner visits, which will also eliminate the problem. but prison isn't a place for sex. eliminating consensual sex is a small price to pay for eliminating prison rape.

--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Abandon every hope, ye who enter here (4.06 / 15) (#37)
by demi on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 08:06:38 PM EST

The average incidence of rape in the US is about 32 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants per year (in some places "sexual assault" is also considered rape). In some cities, the average rape incidence is five times as high. What is the numerical rape incidence that the authors claim, and is it actually 8-10 times as high as the national average?

It exists in virtually all places to some extent, although it is preposterously hypocritical of American officials to pass the time orating about the poor humanitarian state of prisons in places like the former Soviet Union and Cuba, while seemingly neglecting this and other sinister, deeply-seated social problems within their own system.

Yes, because rape is higher than average in US (state, federal, or both?) prisons, and because Jose Padilla is being held in custody without being charged, (a) the US is no better than Cuba or China, and (b) should cease all criticism of "totalitarian" regimes.

... It boggles the mind how being infected with AIDS in prison can be viewed any other way. Is there an alternative viewpoint here?

Some might suggest that it is not a death sentence, any more than poor people living in a violent neighborhood with a high murder rate have been sentenced to death by the police, but that would not qualify as a reasonable alternative viewpoint, I suppose.

Quoting from the Stop Prisoner Rape website:

Prisoner rape is violation of international human rights law that meets the definition of torture: the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering for an illicit purpose and committed, consented, or acquiesced to by public officials. The rape of persons in detention has been classified as torture by several international bodies. In addition, the U.S. has ratified treaties that prohibit torture, slavery, and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, without exception.
Well, let's stop beating about the "Bush": the US knowingly tortures and executes its prisoners by rape and HIV infection, deploys death squads to execute labor organizers, intentionally violates international treaties that it has forced upon others, and excoriates its cold war rivals like the USSR for lesser offenses. I'm sure I could add more, but I fear I may be imprisoned for un-patriotism if I do.

What a straw man! (4.42 / 7) (#38)
by valeko on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 08:17:34 PM EST

Yes, because rape is higher than average in US (state, federal, or both?) prisons, and because Jose Padilla is being held in custody without being charged, (a) the US is no better than Cuba or China, and (b) should cease all criticism of "totalitarian" regimes.

It's incredibly hard to say what you mean by "better", but yes, in certain respects, I imagine Cuba and China are definitely better.

Did I say that "all" criticism of "totalitarian" regimes should be ceased? No, I did not say this. What I said was that it's American media and rhetoric is preoccupied with pointing out how awfully inhumane it is "over there", while giving people the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here. "Prison rape" here is just "news", but when it's in the context of China or Cuba, it's a "humanitarian tragedy". What is so hard to understand here?

Well, let's stop beating about the "Bush": the US knowingly tortures and executes its prisoners by rape and HIV infection, deploys death squads to execute labor organizers, intentionally violates international treaties that it has forced upon others, and excoriates its cold war rivals like the USSR for lesser offenses.

AT some point it's done all of these things, yes, to varying degrees.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Hold on... (3.50 / 2) (#45)
by manobes on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 09:27:28 PM EST

It's incredibly hard to say what you mean by "better", but yes, in certain respects, I imagine Cuba and China are definitely better.

Please state in what respects you think the Chinese justice/penal system is better than the American one.

What I said was that it's American media and rhetoric is preoccupied with pointing out how awfully inhumane it is "over there"

Heh. You must get a different CNN than me. As far as I can tell American media is preocuppied with vastly more trivial shit (Bill Clinton's sex life) or domestic events (child abductions these days). About the only time Chinese prisons get mentioned is when it's connected with Falun Gong.

while giving people the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here.

Please cite a media portrayal of prison life as "nice". The most obvious media portrayal of prison life I can think of is the TV show OZ. And I hardly think that makes prison look "nice". Likewise for any film I've seen about prison in the US (Shawshank Redemption and American History X for example both contain brutal depictions of prison rape, neither look "nice").

"Prison rape" here is just "news", but when it's in the context of China or Cuba, it's a "humanitarian tragedy".

Can you cite media reports of Chinese prison rape at all? Never mind how it's protrayed. I think the concerns about Chinese prisons are more focused on the systematic use of torture, relgious repression and forced hard labour. And these indeed are humanitarian tragedies on scales that simply are not present in the US.

Please note, I'm not saying that the US prison system is a good thing, I don't think that it is. It needs a vast overhaul. But comparing it to conditions in China and the former Soviet Union is a bit of a strech.


No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


[ Parent ]
Re: Hold on ... (4.66 / 3) (#46)
by valeko on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 09:37:32 PM EST

Please state in what respects you think the Chinese justice/penal system is better than the American one.

I did not say that either. I am talking about life and its aspects in general when saying that all things are different here and there, some better, some worse.

Heh. You must get a different CNN than me. As far as I can tell American media is preocuppied with vastly more trivial shit (Bill Clinton's sex life) or domestic events (child abductions these days). About the only time Chinese prisons get mentioned is when it's connected with Falun Gong.

Yes, but when there is a need to issue some propaganda, to remind people of a "humanitarian tragedy" somewhere, or to apply beneficial trade sanctions citing "humanitarian" issues, trust me, the lies are all there. I cannot explain this to you because we seem to have vastly different ideas of what the other person is talking about - we're not on the same page. I don't think it's possible to get there if you don't understand the context of what I am saying to begin with. I am not talking about day-to-day CNN coverage, or coverage in general, in the concrete sense.

Please cite a media portrayal of prison life as "nice".

It's implicit, when it is said, look how awful humanitarian conditions are "over there", that means it must be really nice here!

It's the same absurdity as looking back 100 years and going on about the abuses and defects of industry during the Progressive Era, but turning a blind eye to the fact that a lot of the essential elements of these things haven't changed, just taken on a different form. It's a misconception through omission.

If you don't believe me, ask an ordinary person to contract American and Chinese or Iranian prisons.

Can you cite media reports of Chinese prison rape at all?

Concrete ones? No, I'm not going to do that. But trust me, I'm not making up the "everyone is dying, being beaten, tortured, and raped everywhere else in the world" metamessage out of thin air. It's there.

But comparing it to conditions in China and the former Soviet Union is a bit of a strech.

Comparing the Chinese prison system with that in the former USSR (post-Stalin, of course) is an even bigger stretch, though. And a big logical fallacy.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Well I guess that sounds funny. (none / 0) (#47)
by valeko on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 09:39:36 PM EST

a lot of the essential elements of these things haven't changed, just taken on a different form.

What I meant was, a lot of the essentials haven't gone away, they've just morphed, receded, and gained, in various ways.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Umm... (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by manobes on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 10:31:07 PM EST

No offence but some of this is really weak.

Yes, but when there is a need to issue some propaganda, to remind people of a "humanitarian tragedy" somewhere, or to apply beneficial trade sanctions citing "humanitarian" issues, trust me, the lies are all there. I cannot explain this to you because we seem to have vastly different ideas of what the other person is talking about - we're not on the same page. I don't think it's possible to get there if you don't understand the context of what I am saying to begin with. I am not talking about day-to-day CNN coverage, or coverage in general, in the concrete sense.

I'm wrong, but not based on any specific peice of coverage, or indeed coverage in general. Right...

And yes, I know what you are talking about. It's just that not everybody who has read "Manufacturing Consent" agrees with all of it's arguements or conclusions.

It's implicit, when it is said, look how awful humanitarian conditions are "over there", that means it must be really nice here!

Umm, no. If I condem prison conditions in one country it is in no way implicit that I am praising conditions in another. You shouldn't be so quick to accuse others of logical fallacy...

Further, you did not adress the three actual media examples I provided which actually depicate American prison life as not "nice".

It's the same absurdity as looking back 100 years and going on about the abuses and defects of industry during the Progressive Era, but turning a blind eye to the fact that a lot of the essential elements of these things haven't changed, just taken on a different form. It's a misconception through omission.

"Misconception through ommision"? That's new. You analogy is false anyway, a historian could very well document the abuses of 100 years ago without discussing modern industry. This would provide no idication of how he feels about modern industrial practice.

Concrete ones? No, I'm not going to do that.

Right... okay no concrete ones then...

But trust me, I'm not making up the "everyone is dying, being beaten, tortured, and raped everywhere else in the world" metamessage out of thin air. It's there.

Umm, It's there in cases where it's true, sure. I've no doubt that it is true for Chinese prison. I'm pretty sure it applies in Cuba too. I would also think that most people in the US would say that their prison system is not a nice place either.

Comparing the Chinese prison system with that in the former USSR (post-Stalin, of course) is an even bigger stretch, though. And a big logical fallacy.

Well post-Stalin Soviet prisons were not nice places either. You're correct though, not like Chinese prisons.


No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


[ Parent ]
Response. (5.00 / 2) (#72)
by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:06:24 AM EST

That is, I don't know if we'll get anywhere with this discussion. But that's no reason not to try.

And yes, I know what you are talking about. It's just that not everybody who has read "Manufacturing Consent" agrees with all of it's arguements or conclusions.

I, for one, have not read Manufacturing Consent, if that's what you're intimating. It's definitely something I intend to read in the future, but as of right now I am only familiar with it in the most remote sense.

Umm, no. If I condem prison conditions in one country it is in no way implicit that I am praising conditions in another. You shouldn't be so quick to accuse others of logical fallacy...

It's difficult to call it "praise" because it's not really the right word. The image that is conveyed to Joe American does not solidify into "praise" of the American prison system, but clearly the idea is to make sure everyone walks away from their television with the idea that everywhere else in the world, people are dying like flies, perishing amongst the hail of falling shells, famine, and disease. The scope of this is far beyond the prison system; I am referring to the image of the rest of the world that is subtly conveyed through sources of mass-information, which intentionally discuss humanitarian catastrophes and show the most undeveloped parts of Third World countries intentionally. Little attention is given to the fact that despite all this, cities actually exist in these places, telephone lines, electricity, and even a middle class. I'm not saying that this is something that needs much emphasis, especially to those who have common sense, but believe me, if I were to make my determination about what the rest of the world looks like from my armchair, positioned in front of CNN, it looks like a barren wasteland. Except for maybe Australia, Western Europe, Britain, etc, sounds like the US is the towering land of civilisation.

Through this filter we also get image of prisons everywhere else, of course. People rotting in jail here, there, etc. It's very monotonous and narrow.

Further, you did not adress the three actual media examples I provided which actually depicate American prison life as not "nice".

I do not see a need. I can find you three actual media examples of almost anything. I can probably find you three actual media examples that 1 = 2.

That's not the point. What's important is the overall image that's piped into your subconsciousness, the reading between the lines. And no generalisation doesn't have exceptions - but the general rule is, everyone else in the world is rotting, and implicitly, how glad you should be that you live in the US, where this could never happen!

All the proof that I need is that I see regular people who watch too much TV regurgitate this crap, even though, as you yourself stated, nobody explicitly told them that the US prison system is paradise. No, somehow they manage to conjecture their way to that conclusion without thinking about it. That's the function of mass-media.

That said, you'll have to excuse me if I am unwilling to dig up an example of media propaganda that implies that everything's really bad "out there" and really good in the US. It's like trying to bring back a sample of our 21% Oxygen/78% Nitrogen atmosphere to someone who wants to know what it's like to live on Earth. Not much point. It's everywhere, and if it's not obvious, I think that debating a concrete example would just detract from the main point. The main point deals with the overall character of media brainwashing and injection of preconceived notions, not specific broadcasts, articles, etc. But if you want, help yourself. As I said, it's everywhere. I should not need to search for an example that best manifests the obvious, because what's important is the overall context. With your demand for concrete examples and real links, you're denying the existence of this context, this overall aura, and insisting that the issue lay only in the immediate facts.

Unfortunately, that's not the process through which the masses are brainwashed. It's not so simple.

a historian could very well document the abuses of 100 years ago without discussing modern industry. This would provide no idication of how he feels about modern industrial practice.

A historian can, yes. That's a historian's job. But what about a high school teacher, whose stated goal is not only to teach you about what happened 100 years ago, but to correlate it with the happenings of today? Sure, this may not be part of the officially outlined curriculum, but at least part of the idea of public education is that you're introduced to the "real world", no? To this end, a discussion about whether the exploitative industrial practises of 100 years ago are still relevant today is quite appropriate, but it's foregone in the "educational process". The media, and virtually all sources of information about the "real world" today, are the exact same way. Either they have no memory of the past, or they disconnect the past so thoroughly with the present that there's no impetus to wonder about what's changed.

Well post-Stalin Soviet prisons were not nice places either. You're correct though, not like Chinese prisons

I think we can agree that virtually no prisons are, by definition, "nice places". However, depending on who you ask, incarceration during Khruschev and beyond and the criminal justice system in general was reasonably humane. It's a matter of perspective.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#115)
by manobes on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 03:00:14 PM EST

That is, I don't know if we'll get anywhere with this discussion. But that's no reason not to try.

Well I think we agree that prison rape is a major problem, and probably would agree on it's solution (less prisoners, guards who take the probablem seriously, enforcement of existing rape laws). So in the simple direct sense we don't really need to go anywhere.

I, for one, have not read Manufacturing Consent, if that's what you're intimating. It's definitely something I intend to read in the future, but as of right now I am only familiar with it in the most remote sense.

From your posts it sounds as though you probably don't need to read it. You've absorbed the main arguement.

It's difficult to call it "praise" because it's not really the right word.

Okay, how is it that you would have me interpret your statment

It's implicit, when it is said, look how awful humanitarian conditions are "over there", that means it must be really nice here!

I mean calling something "really nice" even implicitly is a kind of praise.

The image that is conveyed to Joe American does not solidify into "praise" of the American prison system, but clearly the idea is to make sure everyone walks away from their television with the idea that everywhere else in the world, people are dying like flies, perishing amongst the hail of falling shells, famine, and disease.

First, that is not the "idea" of the American media. The idea is to make money. And they do that, not through reporting on the rest of the world, but reporting on trival shit back home.

Second I don't think the image applies "everywhere" in the world.

The scope of this is far beyond the prison system; I am referring to the image of the rest of the world that is subtly conveyed through sources of mass-information, which intentionally discuss humanitarian catastrophes and show the most undeveloped parts of Third World countries intentionally.

Of course they do. They do that in the states too. That's where the interest is... Flooding in the Missippi, gang warfare in LA, massive famine in Somalia, etc. That's news. Middle class life in Ulaanbatar is not.

Except for maybe Australia, Western Europe, Britain, etc, sounds like the US is the towering land of civilisation.

And South Korea, and Japan, and Canada, and and and. Probably adds up to am 1/3 of the world.

I do not see a need.

Well they refute your point, which was

What I said was that it's American media and rhetoric is preoccupied with pointing out how awfully inhumane it is "over there", while giving people the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here.

Now I'm sorry if I'm a media brainwashed sheep, but I read that as claiming that the American media gives "people the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here". This claim is false. The most regular depiction of prison life in the media (the HBO show OZ) certainly does not give me "the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here". I doubt it gives others that impression.

No, somehow they manage to conjecture their way to that conclusion without thinking about it.

Who are these mystical people who think US prison life is paradise (your word not mine)? I suspect they don't exist.

As I said, it's everywhere. I should not need to search for an example that best manifests the obvious, because what's important is the overall context. With your demand for concrete examples and real links, you're denying the existence of this context, this overall aura, and insisting that the issue lay only in the immediate facts.

I'm insisting no such thing. I am asking you to back up the ludacris claim that the American media gives "people the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here", or that the America people are under "the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here". Claiming that your arguement is "obvious" and therefore doesn't need to be supported is a cheap retorical trick.

And I'm not denying the existence of context, but in order for there to be context there first has to be a body of portrayals that we can judge. And, as I said, the only protrayals of American prison life I can think of off the top of my head are negative ones.

You seem to be arguing something along these lines... "well okay, any specific portrayal of prison life is negative, but in the big picture, trust me on this, it's obvious, a positive impression is created."

But what about a high school teacher, whose stated goal is not only to teach you about what happened 100 years ago, but to correlate it with the happenings of today?

Well that's a more tricky issue. And veers substaintally from the logical fallacy. To repeat your words were

It's implicit, when it is said, look how awful humanitarian conditions are "over there", that means it must be really nice here!

If the high school teacher only teaches the students about what happend 100 years ago, and does not correlte it with what is happening today does that mean the said teacher implicitly condones modern industrial practice? The answer is obviously no. It might mean that the teacher recognizes that its a complex issue with more than one side to it and might be best left until the students are somewhat older. In any case it in no way implies that the teacher condones modern industrial practices.

I think we can agree that virtually no prisons are, by definition, "nice places".

Yes, we can agree to that. And I suspect that "the masses" that you claim are brainwashed would actually agree to this as well. That includes american prisons.

However, depending on who you ask, incarceration during Khruschev and beyond and the criminal justice system in general was reasonably humane. It's a matter of perspective.

Well the only perspective on Khruschev and beyond that I have is Solhenitzen, and he is certianly not favourably disposed.


No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


[ Parent ]
I think you're still missing my point. (5.00 / 1) (#122)
by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:10:57 PM EST

From your posts it sounds as though you probably don't need to read it [Manufacturing Consent]. You've absorbed the main arguement.

I prefer "arrived at" more than "absorbed".

First, that is not the "idea" of the American media. The idea is to make money. And they do that, not through reporting on the rest of the world, but reporting on trival shit back home.

But when they do report on the rest of the world, there's one theme, and they do not deviate from it. Propogating this theme, of course, is ultimately conducive to making money, and is willed by those who control mass-media. If slandering the rest of the world could not be reconciled with the goal of making money, I doubt that they would do it.

Of course they do. They do that in the states too. That's where the interest is... Flooding in the Missippi, gang warfare in LA, massive famine in Somalia, etc. That's news. Middle class life in Ulaanbatar is not.

Yes, of course. But media churns out more than news. Mainstream "bestselling books", documentaries, films, specials, "in-depth" investigations too. And the theme is always the same. "Russia: In depth" - everyone is dying except for the rich, needs more market economy, bzzt, the end.

I'm insisting no such thing. I am asking you to back up the ludacris claim that the American media gives "people the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here", or that the America people are under "the illusion that it's so nice to be in prison here". Claiming that your arguement is "obvious" and therefore doesn't need to be supported is a cheap retorical trick.

In this case it's not a cheap rhetorical trick, but a misunderstanding. I am not referring to the specific instances in which prison life is portrayed in the US, or even the specific examples of prison life being portrayed anywhere else. Using this as the basis for one's research is missing the point. My suggestion that "it's really nice to be in prison here" is obviously a half-sarcastic exaggeration, and should not be applied literally.

At issue is how all the sources of mass-information portray the rest of the world, categorically. The "overall image" that it creates is what matters, and this guides the thought process of most of the "brainwashed masses". If you have one picture of something, and it's incomplete, but all of the characteristics of the picture that you do have can be used to construct what is missing in terms of what is present, then people will tend to do that in their minds. Thus, when the rest of the world has heard about how bad the humanitarian situation, etc, is everywhere else outside of the US (and perhaps the other member states of the Civilised World), they tend to construct a picture. This picture without doubt entails the prison system, if that should come across the mind of the brainwashee. But the prison system is only a small part of this image, and dwelling on examples of where it has actually been said that they're "nice places" here and not "there" is missing the point. That is not what I am trying to say. There are probably no such actual media examples.

What matters is the overall perception that is given to Joe American, which is a perception grounded in disinformation. From what I have seen, most people are more than willing to tow the official line and extend this grand thesis toward prisons and criminal justice as well, i.e. criminal justice is only humane and democratic here in the US, and anywhere else if you go to prison, you die a horrible green death. If you don't believe me, ask some people on the street. Nobody explicitly told them that it's this way, but they are cultivated to extrapolate things like this from their worldview.

The spectrum in which examples of this exist is immensely broad, and prisons are peripheral rather than central to understanding it. I just happened to mention how public perception of the "rest of the world" fit into this.

And South Korea, and Japan, and Canada, and and and. Probably adds up to am 1/3 of the world.

I suppose.

If the high school teacher only teaches the students about what happend 100 years ago, and does not correlte it with what is happening today does that mean the said teacher implicitly condones modern industrial practice?

This is not the point. I am not attempting to assess the culpability of the teacher.

But what is the net result? The net result is that children walk away being more or less aware of the horrible industrial practises of 100 years ago (although perhaps not of the grand scheme of why this is so), but with the idea that everything's changed and is much better now. Where do they get this idea? First from their own lives, which are more often than not a comfortable middle-class existence. Second, everything around them such as mass-media informs them that they live in a wonderful, abuse-free world.

Does the teacher, mass-media, or life itself ever explicitly say, "children, look around you! you live in a wonderful, abuse-free world"? No, of course not. But everything else that they're taught makes this the only reasonable conclusion, because it exists within the spectrum of "acceptable opinion" and because all of the "discourse" that they have ever heard is inside this spectrum. This again correlates to prisons when kiddies tell you that you'll get beaten and tortured in "other country's prisons". How did they arrive at this conclusion? Who told them this? Nobody. But this is a logical extension of what they have been told.

Well the only perspective on Khruschev and beyond that I have is Solhenitzen, and he is certianly not favourably disposed.

Well, that's kind of like asking a black man on whom syphilis experiments were performed for a perspective on American government.

Of course, you may tempted to make a non-sequitur of this - that I am declaring such a person and Solzhenitsyn to be analogous. I am not, and am not even saying that they are in any way alike. But my point stands. Ask an ordinary person who actually lived during this time period there, and they may tell you otherwise.

There are persecuted people everywhere, and it is important to maintain a realistic perspective. You could find certain people in the US that would have more to say about their situation in the US than Solzhenitsyn about the USSR. This is important for balance.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

The point (none / 0) (#195)
by manobes on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 12:42:21 PM EST

I prefer "arrived at" more than "absorbed".

Whatever floats your boat...

But when they do report on the rest of the world, there's one theme, and they do not deviate from it

I don't think that's true at all. Granted there's an emphasis on negative news (war, famine, etc) but other stuff does get reported, and a varity of perspectives usually come through.

Mainstream "bestselling books", documentaries, films, specials, "in-depth" investigations too. And the theme is always the same. "Russia: In depth" - everyone is dying except for the rich, needs more market economy, bzzt, the end.

You need to broaden your reading then. Well, I don't know for sure on the particular subject of post-communist Russia, but the "theme" of mainstream media is certainly not the same in every case. Frankly I'm not sure what your point is here, since there are a lot of different views reprsented in mainstream publications.

In this case it's not a cheap rhetorical trick, but a misunderstanding. I am not referring to the specific instances in which prison life is portrayed in the US, or even the specific examples of prison life being portrayed anywhere else. Using this as the basis for one's research is missing the point. My suggestion that "it's really nice to be in prison here" is obviously a half-sarcastic exaggeration, and should not be applied literally.

Okay... so you weren't being entirely serious. Fine.

What matters is the overall perception that is given to Joe American, which is a perception grounded in disinformation. From what I have seen, most people are more than willing to tow the official line and extend this grand thesis toward prisons and criminal justice as well, i.e. criminal justice is only humane and democratic here in the US, and anywhere else if you go to prison, you die a horrible green death. If you don't believe me, ask some people on the street. Nobody explicitly told them that it's this way, but they are cultivated to extrapolate things like this from their worldview.

Well I don't know about "average American" opinion. But I suspect it wouldn't be quite as "disinformed". Probably if you asked, you'd get more "I don't really know" responses then "gee it's really awful over there". Certainly the American's I know are more likely to opt for the former.

Does the teacher, mass-media, or life itself ever explicitly say, "children, look around you! you live in a wonderful, abuse-free world"? No, of course not. But everything else that they're taught makes this the only reasonable conclusion, because it exists within the spectrum of "acceptable opinion" and because all of the "discourse" that they have ever heard is inside this spectrum. This again correlates to prisons when kiddies tell you that you'll get beaten and tortured in "other country's prisons". How did they arrive at this conclusion? Who told them this? Nobody. But this is a logical extension of what they have been told.

I find this a strech. First of all, it's not "the only reasonable conclusion". Look at all these kids who show up to these anti-globalization protests. Usually these are kids who lead comfortable middle class lives (the ones I know in Vancouver certainly are). They've arrived at a different conclusion (right or wrong is not the point). I think you don't give people enough credit.

Well, that's kind of like asking a black man on whom syphilis experiments were performed for a perspective on American government.

Well not quite. Since, though horrible, those experiments were not typical of the US government of the time.

Of course, you may tempted to make a non-sequitur of this - that I am declaring such a person and Solzhenitsyn to be analogous. I am not, and am not even saying that they are in any way alike. But my point stands. Ask an ordinary person who actually lived during this time period there, and they may tell you otherwise.

Well you've failed to convince me. Solzhenitsyn's experiences were typical for his time. Further he maintained broad contacts with those inside and just released from Soviet prisons right up until his exile. So I would regard him as a reasonably reliable source. The other point is of course the reasons why people were put into prison in the USSR (and to this day in Cuba, Iraq, North Korea). That is another part of the problem.

There are persecuted people everywhere, and it is important to maintain a realistic perspective. You could find certain people in the US that would have more to say about their situation in the US than Solzhenitsyn about the USSR. This is important for balance.

Balance of what? Solzhenitsyn is primarly concerned with Stalinist prisons, and I think it's fairly safe to say that those were worse then whatever was going on in the US.


No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


[ Parent ]
The point. (none / 0) (#197)
by valeko on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:52:31 PM EST

I don't think that's true at all. Granted there's an emphasis on negative news (war, famine, etc) but other stuff does get reported, and a varity of perspectives usually come through.

That's not my impression. Not sure what media you watch. If you are factoring in CBC's relatively reasonable coverage (you seem to be in Canada), this is an entirely different story than American mainstream media, especially that which is popular with ordinary American public.

You need to broaden your reading then. Well, I don't know for sure on the particular subject of post-communist Russia, but the "theme" of mainstream media is certainly not the same in every case.

Could've fooled me. Either that, or you're fooling yourself thinking that the different superficial information that is presented in order to give reports some "variety" do not all lead back to the same message.

Look at all these kids who show up to these anti-globalization protests. Usually these are kids who lead comfortable middle class lives (the ones I know in Vancouver certainly are). They've arrived at a different conclusion (right or wrong is not the point). I think you don't give people enough credit.

First of all, the environment in Vancouver is undoubtably more progressive and inclined to breed open-minded individuals. This is significantly disconnected from the American mainstream.

Second, the amount of "kids" that show up at these protests is absolutely nothing, anywhere. Sure, the occasional G8 show is impressive, but really it is all a tiny, tiny drop in the bucket that reflects a complacency and ignorance of nothing less than 99% of the people out there. You think these protests against American foreign policy now or demonstrations anywhere mean anything? They're touted by places like Indymedia, but in the real world, they mean absolutely diddly-squat. The small amount of conscious people out there in no way represents most of society, and for practical purposes, everyone is absolutely complacent and silent.

Except on "controversial" topics that they're "supposed" to "care" about - tax cuts, abortion, etc. This is all spoon-fed to them in order to distract them from larger issues and political consciousness. Between tax cuts, abortion, and a few other trivialities, the entire spectrum of acceptable opinion and political polemic is pretty much covered. Oh, sure, during "humanitarian missions" like the Kosovo expedition, you will occasionally see "debate" about whether America should be so goddamn altruistic in "risking the lives of American soldiers" to save some Albanians getting slaughtered somewhere, as if that were at all the case. But apart from that, this is pretty much it. And the small amount of progressive demonstrators as it is right now is not going to change anything. The most we can do is hope that it will increase, except that it's not.

Balance of what? Solzhenitsyn is primarly concerned with Stalinist prisons, and I think it's fairly safe to say that those were worse then whatever was going on in the US.

Yes, and I find it atrocious that people think Stalinism is representative of the Soviet system or its ideals. Stalin was a criminal and a totalitarian tyrant, not a Communist.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Well, (none / 0) (#200)
by manobes on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 02:30:19 PM EST

Could've fooled me. Either that, or you're fooling yourself thinking that the different superficial information that is presented in order to give reports some "variety" do not all lead back to the same message.

No. I was refering to your broading of the topic to include books, magazine reports, etc. If I take a walk through the bookstore (even a "big box" megastore) I see a wide range of opinions, from the far right (Patrick Buchanon say) to the far left (Chomsky). There's stuff prasing US actions, and those damning it (i.e. "The Trial of Henry Kissenger"). Surely you're not contending that all this lead's "back to the same message"?

My point is that, as a whole, there is a fairly wide specturm offered to the American public. The fact that they might or might not want to read it is a different issue.

First of all, the environment in Vancouver is undoubtably more progressive and inclined to breed open-minded individuals. This is significantly disconnected from the American mainstream.

Well, I don't know about that. Certainly West Coast US cities seem to be "Vancouver like" too me. I think the problem is that it's rather hard to define an "American mainstream". In a population of 300 million there's quite a lot of variation.

You think these protests against American foreign policy now or demonstrations anywhere mean anything? They're touted by places like Indymedia, but in the real world, they mean absolutely diddly-squat. The small amount of conscious people out there in no way represents most of society, and for practical purposes, everyone is absolutely complacent and silent.

Complacent and silent? Or in agreement? There are lots of reasonable arguements to support much of what goes on at these meetings. And there are arguements in support of American forgien policy. Not everybody who agrees with these arguements is "complacent and silent".

Except on "controversial" topics that they're "supposed" to "care" about - tax cuts, abortion, etc. This is all spoon-fed to them in order to distract them from larger issues and political consciousness.

There's your error. What to you are "larger issues" might not be to others. Just because you think you have achieved certainty on some issue, and it must be importent doesn't make it so.

Between tax cuts, abortion, and a few other trivialities, the entire spectrum of acceptable opinion and political polemic is pretty much covered.

See above about the bookstore.

Yes, and I find it atrocious that people think Stalinism is representative of the Soviet system or its ideals. Stalin was a criminal and a totalitarian tyrant, not a Communist.

Ahh yes. Pray tell, which of the enlightened Soviet leaders, apart from Gorbechev, wasn't a totalitarion tyrant? Because as I look down the list (Lenin included) they were all totalitarians. Some (Stalin then Lenin) to a much higher degree than others.

And what "ideals" of the Soviet system? From the start it was totalitarian, and tyrannical. Lenin and his gang overthrew the government of the first (and democratic) revolution and created a one party state. What about that isn't totalitarian?


No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


[ Parent ]
correction (none / 0) (#221)
by manobes on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 03:32:55 PM EST

Lenin and his gang overthrew the government of the first (and democratic) revolution and created a one party state.

I suppose to be fair that should read two party state. Since the left SR's were part of the revolution. It wasn't till later that they were forced out of power.

My question remains, how is overthrowing a democratic, multiparty, government not totalitarian?


No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


[ Parent ]
Terminology and logical fallacies (5.00 / 1) (#217)
by dachshund on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 09:21:10 AM EST

Umm, no. If I condem prison conditions in one country it is in no way implicit that I am praising conditions in another. You shouldn't be so quick to accuse others of logical fallacy...

The person who started this thread certainly seemed to be engaged in this fallacy. For instance, he/she implied that the author's criticism of the US penal system somehow implied that we should stop criticizing totalitarian regimes. From that original post:

Yes, because rape is higher than average in US (state, federal, or both?) prisons, and because Jose Padilla is being held in custody without being charged, (a) the US is no better than Cuba or China, and (b) should cease all criticism of "totalitarian" regimes.
Valeko addressed this fallacy in a fairly logical way, and somehow incurred your wrath for it. Maybe if you read the thread from the beginning, you'd have a little more context to understand what he or she is saying?

In any case, what you're really arguing about is terminology. As much as shows like Oz do to raise our awareness of life in prison, they alone don't inspire us to think of our prisons as a "humanitarian" nightmare, the way we think of Chinese prisons and Russian gulags.

To settle this, I suggest you do a news search in the major American newspapers for items referring to "humanitarian" or "human rights" wrt to American prisons. Then do the same for foreign prisons. I can't tell you what the result will be, but I wouldn't be surprised if those terms were significantly more common in reference to prison conditions in various foreign nations than to our own.

[ Parent ]

That's a fair point (none / 0) (#218)
by manobes on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 12:48:05 PM EST

Valeko addressed this fallacy in a fairly logical way, and somehow incurred your wrath for it.

Wrath? I think we're haveing a fairly civil disscussion. I disagree with Valeko on a number of points, but certainly am not wrathful or anger. My primary problem was his statement about the way american media depict prison life. We've cleared that up and the discussion has substaintally diverged from it.

In any case, what you're really arguing about is terminology. As much as shows like Oz do to raise our awareness of life in prison, they alone don't inspire us to think of our prisons as a "humanitarian" nightmare, the way we think of Chinese prisons and Russian gulags.

Now that's a point... Yes you're right, the terminology used to describe American prisons is not the same as that use to describe Chinese prisons. I suspect (though I'd wager others would disagree) that this reflects the precieved causes of incarceration.

In China, any prison will be regarded as bad, becyase they lock people up for reasons which we find abbhorent (i.e. for being a memeber of Falun Gong). So poor conditions in their prisons are added on top of that to make a "humanitarian nightmare".

Whereas in America if you go to prison, the general perception is that you've probably broken a reasonable law. So the starting point of public preception is different.


No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


[ Parent ]
AIDS in prison = death sentence (4.83 / 6) (#58)
by mikeliu on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:43:18 AM EST

... "It boggles the mind how being infected with AIDS in prison can be viewed any other way. Is there an alternative viewpoint here?"

Some might suggest that it is not a death sentence, any more than poor people living in a violent neighborhood with a high murder rate have been sentenced to death by the police, but that would not qualify as a reasonable alternative viewpoint, I suppose.


Alright, I'll bite on this one.  It is hard to defend that as a "reasonable alternative viewpoint" for the sole fact that nobody is actively forcing poor people to live in a violent neighborhood.  Theoretically, they have choices, even if in reality, they have close to none.  However, their deaths are not the direct result of our actions.

The prisoners, on the other hand, were forced to be in a place where rape is a fact of life, and we put them there against their will, making the blood on our hands.  If you believe the critics' allegations, it's made even worse by our tacit complicity in the rapes, through administrators and guards that do nothing to stop them.

Let's say with a gun on his back, I force a man to stand underneath a building that I have good cause to believe is about to collapse, a fact that is obvious to all involved.  The building collapses, and the man dies.  Is there any other interpretation here other than that I killed the man?
Now let's say that there is a building down the street from mine, which I have good cause to believe is about to collapse, a fact that is obvious to all involved.  Some squatters move in because they have nowhere else to go.  The building collapses, and they all die.  Die I kill them?  Maybe I did, maybe I didn't.  I'd say I didn't.  They knew full well what they were getting into, but they went ahead, even knowing the danger.  It wasn't my responsibility to take care of them, their lives are their lives.  Some would argue that I killed them through inaction, but that's exactly the point: there is an argument to be made here, there are differing interpretations.  Would anyone interpret the first case in any other way however?

[ Parent ]

On Prisoners Being "Forced" into Prison (2.40 / 5) (#64)
by J'raxis on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 01:10:59 AM EST

The prisoners are being forced to stay in prison, yes; but remember they are being forced to stay their because they chose to commit an act that they knew full well would result in their being forced into prison, along with all the dangers and unpleasantness that comes with prison. (If a prisoner is innocent, meaning they are being forced their against their will and for no legitimate reason, they should not be in prison in the first place: instead of trying to make their stay bearable one should be arguing to get them out.)

Now I think this rationale is quite convoluted, but I also think its convoluted in the first place to blame the prison system when one inmate rapes another, when no actual action was taken (to cause or prevent) by the people running the system.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Hmm (4.50 / 4) (#75)
by ariux on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:20:32 AM EST

But as justice is inherently fallible to some degree, isn't it a mistake to design prisons as if justice were instead infallible?

The greatest strength of many of our institutions is that they are designed to recognize and to make allowance for their own imperfection. Should the justice system depart from this tested principle?

[ Parent ]

I don't know about this. (5.00 / 4) (#76)
by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:41:56 AM EST

These are all very good points, and certainly inspire some thought on my part. Some of their underlying assumptions may not square very well with reality, though. Problem is, I don't have statistics or "inside information" on hand to substantiate it. But consider...

but remember they are being forced to stay their because they chose to commit an act that they knew full well would result in their being forced into prison, along with all the dangers and unpleasantness that comes with prison.

This is sloping toward one of the most elaborate and time-honoured questions of all time - the various degrees of willful "choice" in committing crimes, taking into account physiological and psychological instincts of inhibition and the necessary malfunction of them it may take to overcome them (such as to commit murder, for example).

This isn't really the point, though. However, I question your assertion that a substantial number of prisoners made the choice to commit their crime, made the choice to go to jail, and were fully aware of the implications of the latter. My impression is that the choice to commit most crimes, especially petty ones, usually rests on the assumption that one will not be caught. Sure, it is logical that the criminal justice system exists to oppose you in such endeavours, and there is anything from a calculated risk to a strong likelyhood that you will end up in jail, depending on the crime. I would be skeptical of the willingness of some people to commit crimes if that element of hope that they would be successful and would not be caught simply was not present in their psyche. If it was an irrefutable certainty that a purse thief might be imprisoned, and this was clear to the purse thief, then perhaps he may not carry out his deed.

I also wonder how many criminals realise the full extent to which prison life is bad. Despite the fact that prison rape, for example, is a well-known fact, I don't think that it figures by default in the mentality of most criminals that if I go to jail, then I will be raped/gangbanged/whatever.

but I also think its convoluted in the first place to blame the prison system when one inmate rapes another, when no actual action was taken (to cause or prevent) by the people running the system.

You're right that being guilty of a crime through failing to prevent it is not quite the same as perpetrating it, and I think most people recognise this as a legitimate distinction.

Someone in another thread (I think) was making an example using an analogy of a building that is liable to collapse. There is a difference between forcing a person to stand under a building that is likely to cave in on his head, and failing to evict squatters that have moved into the building of their own accord. But the difference with the prison system is that it is supposed to be, by definition, a penal institution (or a rehabilitative institution). According to a specification for the prison system, prisons are meant to keep inmates confined and away from society, and also by and large isolated. Even if it is not explicitly stated, the very spirit of the prison system does not lend itself to allowing prisoners to inflict harm upon one another. These two things are contradictory, because the goal of prison is to punish, rehabilitate, and restrict. Allowing prison rape and other physical harm to occur through inaction is contradicting this spirit, thus violating a responsibility that has been delegated to you, the prison guard/official, in a reasonably explicit manner.

Whether you have such an explicit responsibility to the squatters living in the unstable building is a more debatable question, that varies with notions of morality and obligation. But the responsibility of the keepers of the prisons to carry out the prison's stated goal is not in question, and somehow I don't think getting raped is part of that goal. I also feel that the philosophical spirit of the prison system also does not allow for "if it's not explicitly disallowed, that means it's allowed" type of thinking, because of the very nature of the institution.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

death sentence for everything? (5.00 / 4) (#79)
by mikeliu on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 06:44:53 AM EST

Given your personal history, I think I'm being trolled.  But maybe against my best judgement, I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt, since a surprisingly large number of people are forwarding this view.

Are you genuinely arguing that everyone who is in prison deserves a death sentence?  Because that's what it sounds like to me.  You aren't disagreeing with my collapsing house analogy that you were replying to, so if you agree with the thoughts from my previous post, then by forcing someone to go somewhere where I have reasonable expectation that it will lead to their death, you agree that's the same as me killing them right?

In that case, are you saying that you feel that anytime we send anyone to prison, even for non-violent crimes like drug use or writing bad checks, it's acceptable to be handing them a death sentence?  The "dangers and unpleasantness" as you put it, in the form of prison rape, that are found in prison are by no means a necessary part of the institution.  They are not the goal as a punishment for us jailing people, and if they are then this raises serious cruel and unusual punishment questions.  So taking it as a given that the rapes are not part of our goal, we should at least be looking for ways to try to prevent them (and if the stories are to be believed, prosecuting and jailing those guards and wardens who looked the other way).

The fundamental issue that creates viewpoints like the one you forward, and which I've seen quite a few times now, is that you are dehumanizing the criminals.  You have created such an artificial barrier in your mind between yourself and them, that you do not even think of them as fellow human beings anymore.  It's easy to turn murderers into monsters which you show no pity for, but would it be as easy for you to do so for every other criminal you've ever known in your life?  Everyone you've known who has ever smoked marijuana or urinated in a public place?  Do they deserve AIDS while in prison for choosing "to commit an act that they knew full well would result in their being forced into prison" too?

[ Parent ]

one point: (4.66 / 3) (#89)
by joshsisk on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 10:52:13 AM EST

We've all heard about prison officials putting troublesome individuals in with noted sex offenders to "break them in" to prison life (do a Google search for "Donny the Punk" if you haven't). This is definitely _not_ something they should expect when sentenced for a crime. If you are sentenced for a crime, you should expect to recieve the punishment you were alotted by the judge and jury; nothing more.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]
On Officials Intentionally Allowing a Rape (3.00 / 2) (#131)
by J'raxis on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 06:27:51 PM EST

If an official intentionally causes a rape or allows it to happen (something I didn’t cover in my comment), then that individual needs to be punished accordingly. If he was ordered or encouraged to do so by his bosses, so do they. If this is widespread, then the phenomenon of corrupt or sadistic prison officials needs to be addressed, not just the phenomenon of prison rape.

My comment was saying it was ridiculous to blame a system (or the officials therein) for unfortunate incidents that are not actually intentionally caused by the system.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

But really... (4.33 / 3) (#132)
by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 06:30:52 PM EST

My comment was saying it was ridiculous to blame a system (or the officials therein) for unfortunate incidents that are not actually intentionally caused by the system.

It all depends on how you define "intentionally caused." In some scenarios, it is true, you cannot blame someone for something they did not act to cause or not cause. But in this case, there is a reasonable expectation of the prison system to keep inmates from physical harm by other inmates, for reasons which are grounded in the entire principle of the prison system. Thus, failing to live up to those is more than "failing to prevent" a problem. You violate principles where upholding them is part of your job description, and this is not the same thing.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

what about... (4.00 / 1) (#185)
by joshsisk on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 10:05:47 AM EST

...cases in which the official is fairly positive putting a prisoner in population will result in him being raped?

I mean, if you put a slightly-built 18 year old into maximum security, odds are pretty good he's going to encounter trouble, the way the prison system is currently.

That seems like a problem to me.
--
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

"is equal to" (3.50 / 2) (#90)
by demi on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:07:56 AM EST

Alright, I'll bite on this one. It is hard to defend that as a "reasonable alternative viewpoint" for the sole fact that nobody is actively forcing poor people to live in a violent neighborhood. Theoretically, they have choices, even if in reality, they have close to none. However, their deaths are not the direct result of our actions.

Are you suggesting that the illegal in-prison rape of an inmate is the direct result of our actions? You don't recognize the large number of voluntary steps in the interim between a person committing a crime and becoming infected with HIV as a result of imprisonment?

Let's say with a gun on his back, I force a man to stand underneath a building that I have good cause to believe is about to collapse, a fact that is obvious to all involved. The building collapses, and the man dies. Is there any other interpretation here other than that I killed the man?

Whoa, pardner, careful with your use of the hypothetical. A prisoner in jail, even assuming the worst interpretation of their statistics, has less than 0.1% chance of being raped (much less being infected with HIV) over a 30-year sentence. That's hardly comparable to your scenario.

[ Parent ]

27% if you're a woman (5.00 / 1) (#163)
by hugues on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:13:02 AM EST

Read the article again. The statistics are much more frightening for women.

[ Parent ]
one bit of sense... (5.00 / 4) (#62)
by startled on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:59:19 AM EST

"the US knowingly tortures and executes its prisoners by rape and HIV infection"

I agree. It would be folly to contest that prosecutors, judges, and legislators are somehow unaware of the high incidence of rape in the prison system. So yes-- the US judicial system (to be more concrete: its prosecutors, judges, and juries) knowingly sentences people to be raped and beaten.

[ Parent ]
mom and dad and Uncle Sam sent me to school (4.60 / 5) (#88)
by demi on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 10:51:03 AM EST

where I was, at times, teased, humiliated, and beaten - a well-known fact of life at most public schools - and attendance was not optional. In the same vein, the US government sentenced me (and millions of other innocent children every year) to a 10-year term of psychological and physical torture, without the benefit of a public trial.

[ Parent ]
You are correct [nt] (1.00 / 1) (#93)
by Eloquence on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:46:34 AM EST


--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
yup. I support vouchers. [nt] (1.00 / 1) (#126)
by startled on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:24:16 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Bah. (4.00 / 2) (#141)
by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:56:05 PM EST

It's a well-known fact of life in any environment containing a sufficiently large group of children. Even a small group of children.

You're misrepresenting the issue by trying to chalk it up to "public" schools. Trust me, you'll get screwed going to a private school too, though it may be to a lesser or bigger level. It all depends on what kind of person you are and how you contrast with your environment. Some may find themselves at home and peaceful in a private school, while others won't have any better a time getting along there than in public schools.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

On sex in prisons.. (2.77 / 9) (#41)
by simonfish on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 08:53:40 PM EST

This may be an odd view, but lets face it, you are basicly asking the lowest of the low side of society(generaly speaking) to be abstinate. If all we put in prison were nuns, this would be fine, but I doubt many cold blooded murderes / rapists / burglers count as nuns. My solution: Prisons for both sexes. Put all of the women on birthcontrol, and provide condoms to the population. The women are already being raped, so clearly the current system doesn't work. I would of course suggest keaping those charged with sexual crimes out of said prison. This should stop the spread of disease, and lets face it, people are alot less dangerous when they are getting some.

I am abstinate . . . (4.60 / 5) (#55)
by refulgence on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:23:23 AM EST

. . . and not by choice, either. Me being a young man who isn't getting laid. I do not rape people. Very few in my position rape people.

I don't think that prison rape is the result of uncontrollable sexual urges. It is part of the power dynamic in our prisons, a dynamic that includes prison guards and officials.


______________________________________________
"Disgust is the appropriate response to most situations."  JennyHolzer
[ Parent ]

On Violence, Rape, Forced Abstinence (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by J'raxis on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:58:13 AM EST

But are you also violent? I think that was the point: forced abstinence + violent = rapist.

— The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

Violence (2.60 / 5) (#68)
by togtog on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 02:54:08 AM EST

I believe "violent" really stands on its own here. Give someone violent a weapon and they will more then likely use that weapon; be it a penis, a stick, a knife, a spoon, finger nails, teeth, pencils, guns, or what have you.

The only answer I see is either 24/7 video monitoring and locking offenders so deep they never see daylight again, or placing everyone in solitary confinement. I'm voting for the latter option, not only does it keep prisoners away from each other but it also should cut some of some forms of air and contact transmitted illnesses.

That is how I propose to fix the current problem of rape. It however leaves open the possibility of increased mental stress since solitary is usually used as a further punishment, not a reward.

Now on the issue of prisons in general, I don't support nor believe in them. I think they address the symptom not the cause of the offense. There is a very large problem in society of misunderstanding a person's ethic, value, and belief systems, and how those systems function. Think A.I. programming. If an A.I. system made the wrong choice would you turn it off, or leave it for years to work out its problem, or would you try to find out what went wrong, correct it, and try again? I won't get into a rant on the subject, better left for a diary entry.



[ Parent ]
Solitary confinement (4.50 / 2) (#81)
by greenrd on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:48:22 AM EST

The first American penitentiaries were all solitary confinement. This was abandoned when too many prisoners went insane.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Windowed cells? (4.00 / 2) (#83)
by togtog on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:14:07 AM EST

I suspected that may be a problem, humans are social creatures and do require human interaction.

I wonder however, today's prisons allow things like group sports (basket ball), gyms, and group meals. There is a chance that these things would counter the insanity. All of these do still present a risk of assault but IMO not nearly as high as being locked into a cell with a violent person.

Another thing that would probably solve the problem would be to place a window, or metal screened opening between every two cells. Then each prisoner has both safety and someone to talk to.

BTW I didn't know about first American penitentiaries, interesting tidbit.



[ Parent ]
Peer pressure (none / 0) (#210)
by nomoreh1b on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 09:26:03 PM EST

At least some folks get into prison because they are deeply associated with a criminal subculture. Putting them in prison only makes those associations deeper.

The original penitentury was designed to break criminal associations: a man would be left alone in a room with a bible and visits from a minister. It was a very stressful punishment for some prisoners. Today, we have the technical means to control communications even more finely. It would be technically possible to place a phone and/or computer in every cell and allow a prisoner communication only with carefully selected, trained volenteers--and monitor every other interaction that took place inside a prison.

[ Parent ]

High and Low (none / 0) (#206)
by slur on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 06:01:08 PM EST

I see you think you are superior to some and inferior to others. You think you deserve more and better than some and not as much or good as others. You are a high being and prisoners are low beings. What a pathetic soul you are.

|
| slur was here
|

[ Parent ]
You somehow read all that from my comment? (none / 0) (#211)
by simonfish on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 09:31:23 PM EST

You put far further thought into it then I. Well, if you don't generaly aggree that those who break laws(generaly, at least in the west) are from the less educated, and segmet of society less likely to act in a maner contrary to that of the rapist, please speak up now. As to thinking others are 'better' or 'worse' then myself, I think you have me quiet baddly misunderstood. I am more educated then some, true, but that doesn't make me 'better' or of more value. That my friend you made up in your mind, for it is not in mine.

[ Parent ]
A couple of thoughts (4.36 / 19) (#42)
by pyramid termite on Sat Jul 27, 2002 at 09:04:41 PM EST

First, I think it should be obvious that non-violent and violent prisoners should be segregated totally. A guy who's writing rubber checks is a fairly different kind of criminal than someone who robs people at gunpoint.

Second, it's obvious that part of the problem is a prison system that is overburdened and overcrowded. It ought to be obvious to anyone that a good way to take care of that problem is to reduce the number of prisoners, and what better way to do that than legalizing drugs?

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
hm (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by demi on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:42:49 AM EST

A guy who's writing rubber checks is a fairly different kind of criminal than someone who robs people at gunpoint.

If you are convicted for bouncing checks, you'll most likely never see a day of prison out of a suspended sentence. The jails are simply too crowded.

It ought to be obvious to anyone that a good way to take care of that problem is to reduce the number of prisoners, and what better way to do that than legalizing drugs?

End rape and torture in our prisons: legalize pot now!

Legalization of drugs may have ancillary effects on crime that you are not able to predict. Certainly, since alcohol abuse is responsible for a large share of violent and senseless illegal activity, so what makes you think everyone will be responsible with $*DRUG once it is legalized? Even in the tolerant places that have recently deciminalized marijuana such as Amsterdam, there are questions about how many more police will be needed to contain the criminal activity in "Red Light Districts".

[ Parent ]

Drunken Barfight (none / 0) (#161)
by CokeBear on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 12:28:23 AM EST

Picture in your head a drunken barfight.

Now picture a bunch of stoners trying to fight in a bar.

I can't imagine that legalizing pot will in any way increase violent crime.
In fact it will decrease for at least two reasons:
1) People are less violent when stoned
2) When pot is legal, people won't need to be violent to get some.

[ Parent ]

actually (none / 0) (#166)
by demi on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:35:10 AM EST

I have indeed witnessed, and narrowly avoided, at least two fights that involved pot smokers. While I agree that most of the time it seems to have a pacifying effect on people, I've personally seen examples that contravene the conventional wisdom about marijuana. "Stoners" don't represent a full spectrum of marijuana users any more than beer homebrewers represent drunks. I'm pretty sure that if pot were as widely smoked as booze is drunk, the narrow "Cheech and Chong" stereotype would change significantly.

[ Parent ]
Dimensions of Prison Rape (3.50 / 4) (#54)
by nomoreh1b on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:17:27 AM EST

Prison rape has strong ethnic and racial factors. The men most likely to be raped are those with ancestry North and West of the Alps and rapists men with ancestry south and East of the Alps according to Donny Donaldson, of Stop Prisoner Rape.

The prison rape problem appears far worse in ethnically diverse states like California(were the suicide rate among inmates is more than 10 times the natioal average).

So much for (1.40 / 22) (#56)
by tpsl2 on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:31:31 AM EST

... turning the other "cheek".  

;-D

I think someone's already mentioned this before (none / 0) (#212)
by broken77 on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 10:25:40 PM EST

But... How about telling us a joke about a woman who got raped by a serial rapist? I'm sure we'd all like to hear that one too. What's that? A joke like that wouldn't be funny because the subject matter is too serious? Damn right. Schmuck.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Jesus (4.82 / 35) (#71)
by tokage on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:04:02 AM EST

Some of the comments to this story are insane. Forced castration, "who cares they're just prisoners", fucking stupidity at every turn. The fact of the matter is this: going to prison itself is the punishment. You shouldn't be punished further while in prison. People's indifference to what happens inside prisons is astonishing. It's one subject I find hard to laugh at, simply because it's given so little attention. It ties in with the legal system, the funding given to prisons. Apparently none of you people have any idea of how easy it is to end up in jail. Laugh it up when you come home a little drunk some night, get in an accident and kill someone. If you end up in prison, your life is turned around, now you have to worry about being raped? There are numerous everyday scenarios that could lead to you ending up in jail.

Before you laugh it off with "it could never happen to me, or people I know", think about Stephen Donaldson, scifi author. He died of AIDS which he contracted after being raped in prison. There are thousands of stories like that. People being gang raped several days in a row. Guards indifferent or even part of the problem.

This subject makes people uncomfortable to discuss, yet this happens on a daily basis. It is something that needs to stop, but instead people make moronic prison sex jokes like they're the Great Wit of the Century. If someone made a joke about a woman being gang raped, they'd offend people, but since it's about gang rapes in prison it's hilarious.

One of the leading organizations dedicated to stopping prisoner rape is spr.org. Donaldson himself was part of it until he died.

Disclaimer:

  • Yes, I have been to jail. No, I was never raped in jail, but I knew quite a few people who were.
  • Yes, I have a sense of humor, but no, your moronic jokes don't amuse me.

    I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red

  • Thank you. (4.25 / 4) (#73)
    by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:08:20 AM EST

    No, really. For bringing a much-needed dose of reality to the most substance-less discussion that has taken place so far.

    "Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
    [ Parent ]

    Different Donaldson (5.00 / 5) (#78)
    by disso on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:10:26 AM EST

    The name Donaldson in the article you link to is a pseudonym of Robert Martin, born in Norfolk. Stephen Donaldson the writer was born 1947 in Cleveland. He seems to have been entirely too busy writing many interminable novels to engage in the activism the other Donaldson practiced. None of the tiny biographies of the writer I've found at first glance mention he's dead.

    [ Parent ]
    yikes (4.00 / 2) (#82)
    by tokage on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:02:54 AM EST

    You're right. I got them mixed up somehow. I knew that they were both writers - all this time I thought the scifi writer Donaldson was dead. Thanks for pointing that out.

    *takes off his stupid hat and puts it away*

    I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
    [ Parent ]

    Another thing. (3.00 / 1) (#94)
    by sonovel on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:50:58 AM EST

    Not to downplay the rape thing at all, but the article says he was raped in prison in 1973, right?

    Given that the rate of HIV in 1973 was at worst very close to zero, how can he know that that event infected him?

    Maybe I'm missing a big chunk of the story, but I just don't get the conclusion.

    [ Parent ]

    more data, he was incarcerated after 1980 too (3.00 / 1) (#101)
    by sonovel on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:20:33 PM EST

    Donaldson was in prison several more times after 1973.

    He was jailed for 4 years after a 1980 incident where he fired a gun in a hospital emergency room.

    That time frame seems to be more reasonable. Most things about Donaldson don't meantion his later (post 1973) incarcerations.


    [ Parent ]

    Even more oddness. (3.00 / 1) (#102)
    by sonovel on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:41:14 PM EST

    Apparently SF and Fantasy author Piers Anthony thinks the SPR Donaldson and the SF&F Donaldson are the same guy.

    He also claims Donaldson's HIV infection occurred during the 1973 rape.

    Google sure is fun, especially when there is much conflicting data.

    [ Parent ]

    Still more ... (3.00 / 1) (#104)
    by sonovel on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:47:07 PM EST

    But Piers Anthony corrected himself later, and it turns out they are two different people.

    [ Parent ]
    This is quite a soliloquy isn't it? (3.00 / 1) (#105)
    by sonovel on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:48:32 PM EST

    Is everyone out today or something?

    [ Parent ]
    Out, yes, on the beach in fact. (none / 0) (#202)
    by disso on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 03:50:22 PM EST

    Also, I'm in a whole 'nother time-zone, y'see, and very much a newbie and not yet nimble in tracking relevant comments.

    [ Parent ]
    yea (3.00 / 1) (#148)
    by tokage on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:29:49 PM EST

    I think I read about that actually when I google-d after I was corrected earlier. At least my stupidity is in good company:) I like a lot of Anthony's stuff

    I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
    [ Parent ]

    Prisoners? (4.25 / 4) (#91)
    by Therac-25 on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:30:29 AM EST

    If someone made a joke about a woman being gang raped, they'd offend people, but since it's about gang rapes in prison it's hilarious.

    Why, in all the comments about rape in this story, has no one actually said that we're dealing with men who are getting raped? Everyone is calling them prisoners, as if actually calling them men would somehow be inappropriate...

    It's like, surreal.

    (I'm not really saying anything, it's just something that kind of stuck out in the comments...)
    --
    "If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man."
    [ Parent ]

    You're right (4.50 / 2) (#151)
    by tokage on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:39:26 PM EST

    Women prisoners get raped too, though.

    Taken from spr.org

    Rates for women, who are most likely to be abused by male staff members, vary greatly among institutions. In one facility, 27 percent of women reported a pressured or forced sex incident, while another had virtually no reported sexual abuse, illustrating the fact that such abuse is not inevitable. As with the abuse of men, the problem of sexual abuse of women in prison has not been adequately studied.

    I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
    [ Parent ]

    cry me a freaking river. (1.33 / 12) (#100)
    by chilote on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:17:20 PM EST

    Boo hoo hoo. Someone get me a microscope so I can see the worlds smallest violin playing the sad song of the prison bitch.

    Laugh it up when you come home a little drunk some night, get in an accident and kill someone. If you end up in prison, your life is turned around, now you have to worry about being raped?

    You've got to be kidding.
    This mentality is exactly what is wrong with this country. First off, killing someone because you are drinking and driving is serious stuff. Just for one moment imagine that it was your mom or dad or some other loved one crossing the street that gets mowed down by some idiot because he felt it was ok to drive after "partying".

    There are many much more intense forms of torture than gang rape that should be appropriate for use on murderers.

    Granted not everyone in prison is a murderer, and doing something like illegaly decoding a DVD shouldn't be grounds for anal rape, but your example was just stupid.

    [ Parent ]
    Donaldson. (4.75 / 8) (#103)
    by sonovel on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:43:20 PM EST

    Donaldsom was in jail for peacefully protesting the Vietnam War with the Quakers.

    He refused to pay a $10 fine, so off to jail he went.

    Is that horrific crime worth punishing by gang rape?

     

    [ Parent ]

    Of course not. (2.50 / 4) (#107)
    by chilote on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 01:01:12 PM EST

    Did you read my comment?

    Peacfully protesting does not warrant rape. Murdering someone with your car should be punished with something more severe than years of rape.

    [ Parent ]
    Does intent matter? (4.00 / 1) (#108)
    by sonovel on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 01:05:13 PM EST

    In general car homicides are  not judged to be worthy of the death penalty as there isn't intent to kill, right? Is the DP the "more severe than years of rape" you allude to?

    So does your particular scheme of justice ignore intent?

    Seem kind of "eye for an eye"-ish.

    I don't subscribe to that idea, but a case could be made for it, I'm sure.

    [ Parent ]

    intent is irrelevant for drinking and driving (3.33 / 6) (#110)
    by chilote on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 01:43:20 PM EST

    The end result is not an accident. It is the direct result of irresponsible behavior. That the driver didn't intend to kill someone doesn't change the fact that their disregard for others resulted in someone's death. Its not on the same level as pre-meditation, but it is far from accidental.

    One more thing this is not Eye-for-an-Eye justice(which I'm not totally against), gang rape is not mandated in our judicial system.Everyone is given an equal opportunity to fight off their rapists.
    It may sound like I'm a neanderthal in that repsect, but we are not exaclty sending these guys off to a sunday picnic at the beach.

    [ Parent ]
    Let me ask you something. (4.66 / 3) (#121)
    by war crimes on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:59:56 PM EST

    Have you never been irresponsible in such a way as might have caused someone's death, if circumstances outside of your control had been different? Have you ever driven a little too fast, when tired, or distracted? Most ever has. Sure, most people do not happen to kill anyone, but that is purely due to luck. We have all done things that we know were irresponsible, but luckily, no one was hurt. How are we any better than those who, through bad luck, did hurt someone? How are they really any more deserving of punishment than we?

    ----
    UID 33259 is trhurler's troll account.
    [ Parent ]

    you're right. we're all guilty (5.00 / 3) (#136)
    by SocratesGhost on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:10:50 PM EST

    but we still have a chance to rehabilitate ourselves and correct our behavior before someone does get hurt. That's why auto insurance premiums decline with age, because skill improves and people drive less foolishly.

    The flaw in your argument is that prisoners hadn't corrected their behavior before causing harm. As a result, the behavior between me and someone in jail is different. To reduce it merely to luck is to set aside the knowledge that every person knows they are taking a risk during the course of the action. I speed occasionally, and if I cause an accident, it will have been my fault, not the dumb luck roll of the dice as you seem to indicate, as though I were an innocent bystander. Actions have consequences. Consequences may have penalties.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    No, I think my point stands. (3.66 / 3) (#170)
    by war crimes on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:54:34 AM EST

    Suppose that a certain irresponsible behavior has a 5% chance of hurting someone. How long a given individual can engage in that behavior before hurting someone is largely a matter of luck. The simple fact that individuals A and B have both engaged in the behavior and A has hurt someone but B has not is not itself indicative that A has engaged in the behavior any more, or that B has been willing to reform.

    I think you are correct, though, to point at that in many cases consequences are punished, not actions. However, it is a person's actions that are actually under his control, not the consequences of his actions. Moreover, ultimately, a person's actions reflect well or poorly on his character, not the consequences of his actions. If you speed occasionally and have never hit someone, you are ever bit as bad of a person who speeds as often under the same circumstances yet has hit and killed someone. Perhaps you are not a very bad person at all; so I am inclined to think. However, you are not any better than the person guilty of manslaughter, just luckier.

    My point is not that people should not receive punishment for the consequences of their actions. I do not know if they should. My reflective answer is probably that they should not, but I do not see any other way to distribute punishment. Instead, I am merely urging sobriety and restraint in the meting out of punishment to those guilty of a crime that has a large component of luck. To treat such people as subhuman is hypocritical, since what separates us from them may very well be mostly luck, not significant differences in character.

    ----
    UID 33259 is trhurler's troll account.
    [ Parent ]

    but i'm not arguing my innocence (none / 0) (#176)
    by SocratesGhost on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 04:48:57 AM EST

    I'm already taking responsibility for my risky behavior. I knew the behavior was both illegal and potentially dangerous even before embarking on it. Ergo, my culpability already exists even before the accident occurs. You're right, it's just the odds at that point, but the odds are only on those who are already guilty, not those who are innocent.

    Overall, I don't think you're out of place to argue leniency. There's those who argue for stiff penalties, three strikes laws, and thorough enforcement. I can understand where these people are coming from, too. I side with you in the sense that I'd rather not have prison be a system which takes a good person and makes them bad, or a bad person and makes them worse. This is in no one's best interest.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    OT: (none / 0) (#177)
    by valeko on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 04:50:50 AM EST

    -Soc
    I drank what?

    I love the sig. ;)

    "Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
    [ Parent ]

    Real Genius quote (none / 0) (#179)
    by SocratesGhost on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 05:01:17 AM EST

    it combines my love of philosophy and nerdery succinctly.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    re: sig (none / 0) (#205)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 05:59:25 PM EST

    Yeah, Socrates definitely didn't see it coming.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    It's called the 'corrections' system... (4.50 / 4) (#172)
    by taiwanjohn on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 02:07:08 AM EST

    As a result, the behavior between me and someone in jail is different.

    So logically then, the solution is to correct the errant behaviors, no?

    The twin goals of the prison system are deterrence through the threat of punishment and correction of the harmful behavior. And, as the other guy points out, the punishment is either CONFINEMENT or DEATH. Period. Corporal punishments (caning, electric shock, etc.) have been deemed "cruel and inhumane" by the courts.

    The sad thing is, this problem is EASY to solve. According to SPR.org, all you have to do is implement a policy to separate the violent prisoners from the peaceable ones.

    It's not hard to tell who the really dangerous ones are, especially for an experienced corrections officer or cop. Prisons are already divided into separate blocks, and with all the new prisons being built, whole facilities could be used for different categories of prisoners.

    But the way it is now, with the prisons busting at the seems and the courts weighed down with harmless bullshit like drug possession cases, these niceties get swept under the rug too easily. And the chief reason why this happens is because we allow it to happen pure and simple. And we're shooting ourselves in the foot when we do.

    Take for example this proverbial college kid who gets caught with pot plants and shrooms growing in his closet. Let's say he also had a DUI in high school, and took out a phone booth in the process. Maybe, this kid needs a wake-up call to act more responsibly. Maybe the corrections system could help him... Let's see what happens...

    Because he just started growing pot, he has 30 2-inch seedlings, of which he intends to keep only the healthiest 2 or 3 females. But according to the law, 30 plants is 30 plants. He's a dealer. And with his past DUI record, he gets a 1-yr sentence in State or County prison (take your pick). Total cost to society: about $30,000 to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate him for one year.

    And when he gets out? Hmm... well, what sort of "survival skills" do you think he probably learned in there? How to cheat? How to lie? How to steal? How to fight? How to be cold blooded? How to strike first? How to be filled with smoldering hatred and anger after being raped a few-dozen times? How to carry a grudge against society for inflicting such torture over a few plants?

    (OTOH, we could take that same $30,000 and spend $3,000 on a rehab program, and keep the other $27,000... or better yet, use it to build more schools.)

    In a word, our current "corrections" system is really just a factory for creating violent criminals. And all because we let it happen.

    Compassion for prisoners is not just some warm-fuzzy feel-good notion. It is common sense. And it is important for our own well being, both as individuals, and as a society.

    --jrd

    [ Parent ]

    i don't fully disagree (none / 0) (#175)
    by SocratesGhost on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 04:37:05 AM EST

    there's a couple of things you've left out: fines/penalties and community service are also punishments. Also, there's no guarantee that the $3000 we would spend on rehab would even be useful and further I would question where you are getting this number from. 95% of all numbers and statistics are made up.

    That said, I don't disagree with much of what you said, but we're discussing two different things. The original poster was saying that we all engage in prisonable actions, and I was indicating there's a very real measurable difference between a criminal's action and my own, particularly in the results. Your argument for what happens when you get to jail does not address this.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    We're all in this together... (5.00 / 2) (#193)
    by taiwanjohn on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 12:33:40 PM EST

    I was indicating there's a very real measurable difference between a criminal's action and my own, particularly in the results. Your argument for what happens when you get to jail does not address this.
    And here I thought "my argument" was addressing a side of the issue that acutally matters. Silly moi... ;-)

    Okay then, to address the question of intent versus results... Both intent and results matter, obviously. That's why we differentiate between 1st- and 2nd-degree murder, manslaughter, etc., as well as between homicide (in general) versus theft, rape, assault, and other "lesser" crimes.

    But the problem here (ie: the topic we're discussing) is that no matter what your crime, once you get to jail, ALL criminals are subjected to punishments that would certainly be deemed unconstitutional if they were mandated by the state. But since rape "just happens" and is not specified by the judge as part of the sentence, we just let it go on... "It's just one more reason why you should be careful not to break the law! Awful things happen in there!"

    The point the original poster was trying to make is that it's just not that hard to find yourself in prison these days... OR WORSE.

    Let's say you're driving your car down the road, and get pulled over by a Trooper for a speed-trap or something. The Trooper asks if he can look around your car, and you figure "Why not? I'm totally clean!" So then the Trooper pulls out a little baggie with a few grams of weed. Oops! Where did that come from? Did he plant it? No...

    What happened was, you gave your buddy a ride a few weeks ago, and he had a little stash tucked away in his pocket. But it fell out of his pocket and got wedged into your seat cushion... only to be dug out by Mr. Trooper today. (You think you don't have any friends who smoke? Heh-heh... think again!;-)

    This is just one example. There are thousands of other scenarios. (Watch a few Hitchcock films if you need ideas...) Now, you may think, "That would never happen to me... the chances are just too slim."

    Well guess what... nearly 1% of our (USA) population are in prison right now! And those are just the ones IN PRISON... that's not counting the ones on parole. Most people think the same way about cancer, house fires, car accidents, tornados, AIDS, substance addiction, etc.. It'll never happen to me.

    The key difference here is that all these other things are environmental hazards. The risks associated with prison are UNDER OUR CONTROL.

    In short, we in the USA have the largest prison system in the world. Bar none. We have the highest prison population. Bar none. We have the highest incarceration rate. Bar none. But we DO NOT have the best prison system in the world. Nor do we have the best prison system possible. Not even close, in either case. (If we did, perhaps we wouldn't also have one of the highest crime rates in the world too.)

    Yes, it is irresponsible to drive drunk. And if you happen to kill someone in the process, you should be punished. But the punishment prescribed by law does not include being gang-raped! (And really, if your goal is to discourage drunk driving -- even in the case of DUI/manslaughter -- is a "prison education" really the best remedy for this problem?)

    NO MATTER WHAT YOUR CRIME WAS... NO MATTER WHAT YOUR INTENTIONS WERE... OUR CONSTITUTION AND OUR LAWS FORBID PRISON RAPE!

    Shit, just look at the statistics for capital punishment... the number of people who have been proved innocent, posthumousely. You don't think it could happen to you? More to the point: why does it matter? Is it somehow "okay" as long as it only happens to "other people" and not to you?!?!

    You are arguing a rather insignificant side-issue here. The issue is not how/why people get into prison, it's what happens there.

    --jrd

    [ Parent ]

    i still don't disagree (none / 0) (#213)
    by SocratesGhost on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 12:17:34 AM EST

    The user War Crimes was introducing the conviction process and I was only responding to that. I never did disagree with you on the point about prison rape, although you seem to think I did. For the record, convicts should be protected from all harm from fellow inmates whether they are actually guilty or wrongly convicted. You may have been arguing the high level topic, but then you should address it to someone talking about that, not to someone who wasn't. I'll repeat it so I'm clear: prison rape == bad.

    The topic we were discussing was the adequacy of punishment in relation to the conviction.

    In that regard, if we have great confidence in trials then the penalty can more perfectly map to the severity of the crime. If the system be not perfect, then the penalty should reflect our uncertainty. On this point, I would suggest that you and I come from two different perspectives. From my experiences, I have a strong faith in the legal system and am willing to accept harsh sentences for harsh crimes, even given the possibility of imperfect conviction. For me, the system isn't perfect enough to ensure a reasonable usage of the death penalty, but it is accurate enough for certain varieties of three strikes laws. Prison reform should occur insofar as it increases the safety of those convicted, but not to the degree of letting a convict released earlier.

    Where I have grounds for concern for the type of rhetoric that you present, is in making this personal: what if I were wrongly convicted. If I were to do a calculus, there's a percent of incorrect convictions that I must unknowingly permit based on my confidence of the system and my expectation that the penalties will deter a repeat of that action. You're right. It could happen to me. I could be convicted of a charge for which I'm not guilty. And although I'll fight to persuade everyone of my innocence, I have to allow for the possibility of my conviction so long as my incarceration makes it better for my family because we are all better off with this system than one that is too enthusiastic or one that is too docile. It's like war. I can support a just war even if I know there's a percent chance that I won't survive it, because the alternative is worse.

    That the system is imperfect doesn't mean we should have universal leniency for all. However, it should allow for compassion and rehabilitation. I think we both agree that it doesn't do that.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    "Reasonable" Responsibility... (none / 0) (#214)
    by taiwanjohn on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 04:46:16 AM EST

    From my experiences, I have a strong faith in the legal system and am willing to accept harsh sentences for harsh crimes, even given the possibility of imperfect conviction.

    The US legal system is far from perfect, but it's still quite well designed. The problem for me is not the courts, it's the overabundance of STOOPID LAWS which degrades not only the court system, but also society and government in general.

    When laws are passed which effectively criminalize 30% of the adult population (just to take cannabis use as an example) it really doesn't matter how good or bad the courts are... LOTS of harmless, productive, responsible members of society are going to end up in jail for no good reason, and and at huge expense to society. Not just incarceration costs, but also lost productivity of a taxpaying citizen who can't work in jail, and will have a hell of a time finding a job when they get out with "EX-CON" stamped on their CV.

    That the system is imperfect doesn't mean we should have universal leniency for all. However, it should allow for compassion and rehabilitation. I think we both agree that it doesn't do that.

    Yes, I think we agree on most of this stuff. And yes, I may have confused your posts with the previous exchanges between sonovel and chilote. (Sorry, my bad.) Where I think you and I disagree is where we draw the line between leniency and punishment with respect to bad-luck situations.

    In two posts, you said:

    The flaw in your argument is that prisoners hadn't corrected their behavior before causing harm. As a result, the behavior between me and someone in jail is different. To reduce it merely to luck is to set aside the knowledge that every person knows they are taking a risk during the course of the action. ... Actions have consequences. Consequences may have penalties.
    and...
    The original poster was saying that we all engage in prisonable actions, and I was indicating there's a very real measurable difference between a criminal's action and my own, particularly in the results. Your argument for what happens when you get to jail does not address this.
    So, if I'm driving along under the speed limit, and some guy jumps in front of my car and gets squished, I'm innocent. But if the same thing happens at 1mph over the speed limit, then I'm guilty? If I'm the guy getting squished, I also have a responsibility to look both ways before crossing the road. Perhaps my corpse should be sent to jail for a year before burial to atone for this "aggravated assault" on someone's vehicle.

    Life is full of risks, responsibilities, and opportunities, and it is up to each individual to manage these as best he/she can. I agree with you that most people go through life with far too little awareness of the potential consequences of mundane activities. And I think something should be done about this. (ie: better education) But I do not agree that doing "hard time" is an appropriate punishment for absent-mindedness.

    However, I think we DO agree on the solution: eliminate the "hard" from the time, so to speak. Or rather, treat prisoners compassionately, and isolate the truly violent ones from the people who just plain fucked up.

    And, though it's a tad off-topic to this thread, I think the key to making that happen is repealing some of those aforementioned stoopid laws, to take some of the burden off the corrections system.

    --jrd

    [ Parent ]

    heh (4.75 / 4) (#146)
    by tokage on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:27:49 PM EST

    I knew there was going to be a few people who would choose to totally ignore what I was saying and focus on that one specific example. I said nothing about condoning driving drunk, nor feeling much sympathy for some asshole who does & runs into minivan killing a family coming home from getting late night icecream ending up in jail.

    My point was that it is suprisingly easy to end up in jail, and that most times what you did to end up in prison doesn't deserve what can happen to you in there. Going to jail is the punishment, there shouldn't be further punishment in jail. This mentality of "they're violent criminals and deserve everything they get" is part of the problem. Prison was designed to segregate these people from society as a form of punishment, denying them various privileges. If someone is a repeat, cold blooded murderer, they should be put to death, or locked down tighter away from everyone.

    These people are not the people who will be getting raped, they are the people who will be raping some dumb college kid who screwed up and got busted with 6oz of pot and some shrooms. These violent criminals that everyone despises are elevated to a position of power within their gang, free to torment other people away from the eyes of whatever justice is left. They're free to rape, kill, torture - whatever strikes their fancy. If you're already serving a few life sentences, being forced to serve another one has no meaning whatsoever.

    You're little "cry me a river" attitude shows me the level of empathy you have towards this situation. If you'd read a little more carefully, you'd notice I quantified that example with "There are numerous everyday scenarios that could lead to you ending up in jail."

    There are many much more intense forms of torture than gang rape that should be appropriate for use on murderers.

    Llike what? State sponsored torture sessions where everyone gets a whack? I don't understand that thinking at all. Apparently you're condoning torture of inmates. The legal system has failed in dealing with violent offenders, yes. Resorting to some medival rack and chain system isn't exactly going to fix anything.

    I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
    [ Parent ]

    These people are hyprocrits (4.00 / 2) (#117)
    by DodgyGeezer on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 03:28:49 PM EST

    Some of the comments to this story are insane. Forced castration, "who cares they're just prisoners", fucking stupidity at every turn. The fact of the matter is this: going to prison itself is the punishment.
    Most of these comments make more of a very sad statement about those who have uttered them. One either believes in human rights, or one doesn't. Most of these people are obviously just pretending. The laws of the state apply just as equally in prison as they do outside, but by standing back and turning a blind eye to the issues, the state is just as guilty as the criminals. In fact more so as they are responsible for both the prisoner's well being and for putting them in to these situations.

    [ Parent ]
    Which brings an interesting issue (3.00 / 1) (#125)
    by Betcour on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:21:26 PM EST

    What if someone raped in prison sued the prison and the state for being involved in the crime ?

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah (3.66 / 3) (#150)
    by tokage on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:34:44 PM EST

    There are a number of reasons that never happens. First of all, it'd be hard to talk about being raped as a man, by other men. Second off, finding a way to prove it when prison guards are often part of the problem would be nigh onto impossible. People who know about it, who did it, and are still in prison are gonna be loath to talk about it. Snitches don't live long. That is part of the problem right there - how this is all kept hidden away. It's hard to speak about and just about as hard to prove.

    I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
    [ Parent ]

    Human Rights (4.00 / 3) (#165)
    by bugmaster on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:31:15 AM EST

    I guess I would be one of the stupid people, then.

    Human rights are really an abstraction, a comfortable illusion. They are based on a contract that you establish with the rest of the society. You promise to abide by certain guidelines (not killing people, paying income tax, praying only to Chthulhu, whatever), and in return, the society promises to protect you in certain cases (when you say something others don't like, when someone tries to kill you, when you run out of chickens to sacrifice, etc.). There is no inherent property you possess that can guarantee you free speech, right to bear arms, etc. In fact, some societies (Soviet Union, Islamic countries, et.) do not make these freedoms part of their implicit contract with the individual. Which is why smarter individuals eventually flee those countries, but I digress.

    So, as long as you uphold your part of the contract, the society upholds its part. However, when you break the contract, all bets are off. By breaking the contract, you have explicitly rejected any benefits that you may have derived from the society -- you have rejected your "basic rights". What happens next is not up to you.

    Of course, the above does not mean that you should blindly follow whatever rules Congress decides to lay down. Certain parts of the current contract between US and its citizens are much too restrictive (DMCA, Patriot act, homophobia, etc.). You may choose to try to change the contract (note that this action is, in itself, perfectly valid under the contract) or to disobey it -- but you should weigh the consequences carefully.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Uhhhh (1.66 / 6) (#189)
    by NDPTAL85 on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 11:47:30 AM EST

    Ummmm, if you laugh it up, get drunk and kill somebody why should anyone care about you getting buttraped for the rest of your life in prison?

    [ Parent ]
    Because rape is not a reasonable punishment. (none / 0) (#224)
    by acronos on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 12:38:01 PM EST

    It makes unhealthy people even more unhealthy.  How is that a deterrent to bad behavior?  It is quite easy to go to jail for small crimes and these are the people most likely to get raped.  The worst criminals get away with it.  

    American jails are stupid.  They create an environment where violence pays.  It is active training for future crimes when released.  Our system sucks bad.  I can't believe YOU ARE SO STUPID that you can't see this.

    [ Parent ]

    True (4.18 / 11) (#74)
    by ariux on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:13:52 AM EST

    it is preposterously hypocritical of American officials to pass the time orating about the poor humanitarian state of prisons in places like the former Soviet Union and Cuba, while seemingly neglecting this

    ...and, by contrast, it is the role of the honest observer to examine and accuse both, without fear, favor, or omission.

    Cruel and Unusual Punishment in US prisons (4.66 / 9) (#77)
    by nomoreh1b on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:00:18 AM EST

    The simple fact is that if many convicted criminals were offered the choice between:
    a punishment that has been ruled "cruel and unusual" in US courts(flogging, mutilation, torture)

    or time in a US prison

    They would choose the cruel and unusual punishment.

    Lots of prisoners aren't getting raped just once or twice-but daily until they die or become so gross they are unappealling. This is one of the fundamental differences between prison rape and other forms of rape.



    Interesting to note (3.00 / 4) (#84)
    by coillte on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:51:58 AM EST

    that a recent report in Ireland on the prison system, reported in the Irisnh Times (premium content section, no link to the article I'm afraid) paints a similar picture with regards to Hep C and HIV infection - 8 and 10 times the rate of the general population respectively. The newspaper report made no mention of prison rape, though the actual report may have.

    However I must take issue with several of your points. With regard to the death sentence accusation, in order to propose this you would have to impart both motivation, and concerted action on the part of the authorities.

    Further accusations and statements made in the article suffer, I feel, from a lack of quoted statistical and verifiable anectdotal evidence - many women prisoners become pregnant, in many cases this indicates guard rape, state sponsored prison rape, initiation rites etc...

    It reads as unsupported conjecture, with a degree of hyperbole and unwarranted extrapolation used to bulk out the accusations. Without quoted evidence, or links to supporting evidence, it may be necessary to consign the opinions presented as just that, opinion, rather than bona fide concerns. As it stands, it reads as conjecture. Give me the evidence, and I may change my mind.

    ______________
    "XVI The Blasted Tower. Here is purification through fire,lightning, flames, war...the eye is the eye of Shiva... the serpent on the right is the symbol of the active will to live,the dove on the left is passive resignation to death"

    A further thought.. (3.00 / 1) (#85)
    by coillte on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 10:04:43 AM EST

    to what degree is the infection rate determined by consensual sex and needle sharing. It is an important figure to know, as it would tell us to what degree - minimal, maximal or moderate - prison rape has a part to play in the infection rate.

     The report in Ireland suggests the dissemination of free condoms and clean needles in a pragmatic bid to tackle this. Presumably education has its place as well.

    ___________
    "XVI The Blasted Tower. Here is purification through fire,lightning, flames, war...the eye is the eye of Shiva... the serpent on the right is the symbol of the active will to live,the dove on the left is passive resignation to death"
    [ Parent ]

    Long held agreement here. (4.62 / 8) (#95)
    by andyglasser on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:53:35 AM EST

    The fact that this has gone on for so long, and that the state inaction implicates them is nothing short of cruel and unusual punishment.

    There IS no other way to view it.
    AndyGlasser

    Suggested policy (2.16 / 6) (#96)
    by YetAnotherDave on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:59:34 AM EST

    I think that one solution would be to investigate in-prison rape at least as thoroughly as out-of-prison rape.  Those guilty would be sentenced the same way whether in prison already or not.

    Further, I think that we should have rather simpler penalties for rape.  First offenses should be treated with the same level of penalties as first-degree murder.  Second offence is death. No exceptions.  

    That'd be nice (3.00 / 1) (#154)
    by tokage on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:56:51 PM EST

    The prison system doesn't really lend itself well to this though. First off, it's going to be hard to admit you were raped. Secondly, proving it would be near impossible. Prison guards are often indifferent or part of the problem. Reporting it while you're still in jail is a sure way to get yourself killed or severely beaten - snitches don't have a high life expectancy.

    Scroll down to the bottom of this - that explains some factors involved better than I could..

    I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
    [ Parent ]

    How do you get the death (none / 0) (#171)
    by Sesquipundalian on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 02:00:16 AM EST

    penalty for what amounts to a physical assault packaged with a little social stigma? I thought the death penalty was for people who torture babies to death and stuff like that. I don't think rape is anywhere close to being bad enough to require the death penalty, unless you could maybe show that the perp knew he had AIDS and that he also intended to kill the victim with his AIDS. Otherwise I can't see it.


    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]
    Re: How do you get the death (none / 0) (#180)
    by Drownedrat on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 06:03:22 AM EST

    penalty for what amounts to a physical assault packaged with a little social stigma?

    So from this I'm guessing you know no rape victims. I've been physically assaulted, as have quite a few people I know (one of the delightful aspect of the world we live in). It's fairly traumatic, but, having known a few rape victims, there is a world of diference.

    What I find more disturbing than prison rape is the fact that there are at least 2 reported rapes everyday in the city I live in (one of the UKs largest). That's reported, so total probably noteably higher. And what gets me is it isn't news, unless it's a granny or a kid. It's so common it's ignored by society as a whole.

    D.

    [ Parent ]

    I guess I'll wipe the egg off my face. (none / 0) (#225)
    by Sesquipundalian on Sat Nov 02, 2002 at 07:06:11 PM EST

    I'm sorry to hear that you were assaulted. It is unclear from you're post weather or not you were raped, but I guess that's none of my business.

    Anyways; That really sucks.

    I'd still be a little hesitant to murder someone over a rape though. I do know people who've been sexually assaulted (one rape and one "really close call") and it seems to me like most of the pain gets caused by the people around the victim (hence the stigma comment).

    I guess I was being insensitive when I called it a "little" social stigma. I have a lot of difficulty with some of the things that get stigmatized these days and rape is one of them. I mean after all, considering the amount of pain the experience causes, unless life is being directly threatened, I doubt most people submit willingly. That probably sounded insensitive on some level too, so sorry in advance (I'm just trying to communicate here, I don't want to hurt anyone with my memes).

    What I was trying to say was that the significance of the stigma seems a lot less that the significance of killing someone. English isn't really all that shit hot in these types of discussions, yes?

    I believe that the lights just go out when you die. That fact seems to me to be very relevant to this discussion.
    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]

    burden to society (4.33 / 6) (#99)
    by tgibbs on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:11:44 PM EST

    This would seem to imply that if not for the possibility of spreading the disease and the "burden to society" associated with "healthcare costs", this would simply be a marginal and unimportant issue because it only affects prisoners, who are implicitly reduced to subhuman status.
    Nevertheless, this is probably the most effective way--possibly the only effective way--to raise the issue. As is evident from other comments, you have a long, hard slog if you hope to raise consciousness to the point that the public is going to be sympathetic to people whose plight can be viewed at some level as being a consequence of their own antisocial actions. As ethically desirable as that might be, real change is far more likely to result from pointing out the "burden to society" arising from the failure to effectively address this problem.

    Eaisly sumed up: (1.15 / 19) (#106)
    by ShadeS on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 12:53:37 PM EST

    They shoulda thought about that before they commited that crime, or not have been stupid enough to get caught. It's just Darwinism in action. (Not really ment to be a troll)

    -ShadeS

    Are you sure you understand darwinisim? (5.00 / 1) (#181)
    by djeleveld on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 06:33:39 AM EST

    So you realize that darwinisim covers your comments too? So when people ignore you (or maybe even hate you) for applying a theory incompletely and treating people in an offhand manner and being insensitive that it's all just darwinisim too? I'm beginning to think that almost noone really understands dawinisism. They just use it to justify bad things that happen to other people. Just remember that you have to apply darwinisim to your own comments as well. So how does darwininian theory apply to insensitive people who call everything darwinisim? Think about it. Doug Eleveld

    [ Parent ]
    Never ceases to amaze me... (1.06 / 15) (#109)
    by SwampGas on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 01:40:16 PM EST

    Wake up people.  You don't go to prison for stealing a candy bar...

    Prisons need to be cement floor, no bed, no TV, go gym, no nothing.

    Furthermore, why would you treat convicted criminals with any respect?  They're a menance to society, they lose their citizenship...and what if the crime involved you or a family member?  When someone murders your kids, maybe you'll change your views.

    I've seen some comments comparing convicted criminals to prisoners of war.  That is a bunch of nonsense.  Most prisoners of war don't even want to be involved (WWII, Gulf War, "war on terrorism")...under different circumstances, you could have been best friends with the person.  Unlike someone who's committed a crime, they haven't.  Stop comparing them.  Treat them with respect.

    Congress this...congress that...bills about this...bills about that...I'll say it again...WAKE UP.  Politicians don't care about you, they don't care about prisoners, they don't care about anything other than being reelected.  Proof?  DMCA...TIPS...any other half-assed law passed for political gain so they can be a "hero."

    Just Remember... (3.50 / 4) (#111)
    by Korimyr the Rat on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 02:21:02 PM EST

    That if 95% of those prisoners are eventually re-released, several of them are going to be re-released into society with a fatal, contagious disease. Considering that AIDS is also more common in prisons, due to higher risk factors amoung would-be prisoners in outside life, and you've got a breeding ground for an epidemic.

    --
    "Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
    Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'
    [ Parent ]
    Get a clue (4.66 / 6) (#114)
    by nomoreh1b on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 02:57:12 PM EST

    Wake up people. You don't go to prison for stealing a candy bar...

    I know someone that wound up in prison for a combination of:
    stealing a bottle of liquor from a bar(a felony in that state).
    telling a judge he was an asshole(an assessment I would agree with)

    Prisons need to be cement floor, no bed, no TV, go gym, no nothing.

    IMHO the real question is what conditions are most likely reduce the crime rate/repeat crime rate. One problem here is that conditions in US prisons are so bad for young, white prisoners of small stature that judges are hesitant to sentence these guys to prison. Personally, I think some other punishments(i.e. like flogging as used in Singapore) need to be considered. Flogging is a serious deterrent--an at the same time lets the offender get on with their life with little long term damage.

    Furthermore, why would you treat convicted criminals with any respect?

    Why would I treat the decisions of judges that have violated their oath to defend the US constitution with any respect? All that a criminal conviction means is that some hypocrite has passed judgement.

    They're a menance to society, they lose their citizenship...and what if the crime involved you or a family member? When someone murders your kids, maybe you'll change your views.

    Most folks are in prison for non-violent offenses these days-mostly its drugs/dui/prostitution/non-payment of child support.

    Politicians don't care about you, they don't care about prisoners, they don't care about anything other than being reelected. Proof? DMCA...TIPS...any other half-assed law passed for political gain so they can be a "hero."

    I would tend to agree with this. There is a serious problem in the US political system here.

    [ Parent ]

    Respect? (4.60 / 5) (#144)
    by kaemaril on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:11:19 PM EST

    Furthermore, why would you treat convicted criminals with any respect?

    1) Simple human courtesy?
    2) The "Golden Rule"?


    Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


    [ Parent ]
    Bah (none / 0) (#188)
    by NDPTAL85 on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 11:44:10 AM EST

    What about good old Simple Human Savagery? Isn't that worth practicing too?

    [ Parent ]
    Well... (none / 0) (#215)
    by kaemaril on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 05:06:40 AM EST

    No, not really. We've more or less perfected that.


    Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


    [ Parent ]
    Typical (4.20 / 5) (#123)
    by Betcour on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:14:46 PM EST

    You have the typical "it only happens to bad peoples" reaction. Well nowadays people get to jail for all sort of crimes that hurt nobody. Actually in some states you can get to jail for having homosexual and/or anal sex (between two consenting adults), or for growing marijuana for your own use or having some *cough* MP3 or warez on your hard drive. That and the "three strike" laws (steal a candybar three times, you are in the big house for years, all for 2 $ worth of stolen goods). Prisons are full of law abiding citizens.

    Remember that quote :
    Under any conditions, anywhere, whatever you are doing, there is some ordinance under which you can be booked.

    [ Parent ]
    not to mention (4.00 / 5) (#124)
    by strlen on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:19:23 PM EST

    there's people in prison who are innocent.no justice system is infallible.

    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]
    True (3.66 / 3) (#127)
    by Betcour on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:25:37 PM EST

    Actually there are lawyers specialised into getting child custody for the mother during divorce by claiming that the husband molested the children.

    [ Parent ]
    since when? (3.00 / 3) (#130)
    by SocratesGhost on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 06:26:22 PM EST

    since when did disagreement with a law mean that a person is law abiding? Everything you listed is illegal in fact. A person committing those actions may not have been bad, but they still broke the law, just as I do every time I speed.

    I understand the sentiment of what you are saying, but you're responding to hyperbole with hyperbole.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    There are many cases of innocent convicts (4.00 / 2) (#169)
    by rantweasel on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:53:02 AM EST

    The first that comes to my mind is that of Sam Sheppard, who was convicted of killing his wife and spent 10 years in prison before a new trial (obtained via appeal) got him justice & freedom.  Alternatively, there have been any number of celebrated cases lately where people have been freed from prison after DNA analysis that was unavailable at the time of their conviction has shown that they were in fact innocent.  These are people who are going to prison not because they stole a candy bar, but because they looked like someone else, or they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because prosecutorial zeal took the case further than the evidence supported.

    mathias

    [ Parent ]

    not my point (5.00 / 1) (#178)
    by SocratesGhost on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 04:55:38 AM EST

    but the original poster was saying that people who use drugs, were warezing, or were engaging in homosexuality were all law abiding. Unfortunately, that's not true. Where those actions are illegal, those actions are illegal and those people consequently were not so law abiding. Whether it deserves imprisonment or whether those actions should be against the law are debatable. I was correcting his use of the term "law abiding". His case would have been more defensible if he had elected to say "non-violent" but that would have changed the tone of what he was saying.

    If he was talking about those who were wrongly convicted, then he should have said that, and not indicated actions where people were doing actions that were in point of fact against the law.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    Sorry, my bad (none / 0) (#194)
    by rantweasel on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 12:38:40 PM EST

    That's what I get for reading while sleepy...

    mathias

    [ Parent ]

    Now you're reading too much into his comment (5.00 / 2) (#184)
    by fizbin on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 09:58:07 AM EST

    Note that the comment didn't say "you can go to jail for being law-abiding".  It said "you can go to jail for doing things that don't hurt anyone".  He never claimed that these acts were legal, only that they were not as incredibly immoral as the illegal acts the top-level poster seemed to be thinking of.  (murder, rape, armed robery, etc.)

    Whether or not those crimes listed are in fact as victimless as the poster claims is a different issue.

    And even further, the quote at the end states that in effect the system is set up so that it is impossible for any living person to be completely law-abiding.

    The issue of the top-level post was initially "why care about people who have broken the law?"  This poster was pointing out that there are several categories of law-breakers which we should care about, even if we were to adopt the morally dubious position that we should stop caring about anyone who commits a sufficiently immoral act.

    [ Parent ]

    not to mention (none / 0) (#204)
    by adequate nathan on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 05:55:09 PM EST

    Peaceful political protest can also lead to punkery, viz. the well-known "Donny the Punk" case.

    Nathan
    "For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
    -Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

    Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
    [ Parent ]

    Thoughts (4.08 / 12) (#113)
    by Korimyr the Rat on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 02:43:39 PM EST

     What I see here is a fundamental misuse of our prison system, and, on the part of many posters, a fundamental misunderstanding of it's ideal (if not originally intended) purpose.

     While prisoners are, in most cases, criminals, they are those criminals whom we expect to return to everyday life at some point. They are the criminals we think we can fix.

     With our current system, however, we place unredeemable criminals, whom we have no expectation-- indeed, their sentence forbids-- of their eventual return to society, into prisons, and even cells, with criminals whom we expect to release in short order. This means that we are placing people we consider to still be members of society in with people we consider too dangerous to be allowed into contact with society.

     See the conflict?

     In my mind, the solution to this problem is fairly simple. Crime needs to be reclassified into two general categories, with minor offenses and non-violent property crimes in one category, and violent crime in the other. Offenders of the first category would be kept in halfway houses, and all best efforts would be expended to rehabilitate them. Offenders of the second category would be held in smaller, maximum security "mini-prisons" while they concluded their legal appeals, concluded their worldly affairs, and saw to their spiritual needs-- before their swift, clean execution.

     In this way, criminals who we find redeemable, people we want to rejoin civil society, will not be exposed to violent, dangerous criminals. They will not be gang-raped, they will not be educated in other crimes, and they will not leave their "punishment" more dangerous than they went in.

    --
    "Specialization is for insects." Robert Heinlein
    Founding Member of 'Retarded Monkeys Against the Restriction of Weapons Privileges'

    How prisons work--and could work better (3.77 / 9) (#118)
    by nomoreh1b on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 03:57:34 PM EST

    The basic problem with prisons is that prisoners have to do most of the day to day work(to keep costs down) and having a bunch of offenders in one place makes prisons a university of crime.

    The original "penitenuries" were in the quaker colony Pennsylvania. The idea was to isolate an offender with a bible an visits from a minister. Quite a few prisoners were gregarious sorts and this meant that the isolation was extremely stressful for them. At the same time, this isolation did break the link of criminal associations.

    Technology may have solutions to these problems. We could isolate prisoners from contact with other prisoners and allow them to communicate electronically with carefully screened, trained, volunteers (I'd expect quite a few shut-ins would be willing to help here). When prisoners are allowed work or other contact with other prisoners, this contact could be carefully monitored electronically so that minor acts of agression could be reason for isolation. In such a situation, rape or assault would be impossible to engage in undetectably.

    Now, as a society, I think we also need to as ourselves why has the prison population exploded? Much of the issue centers around drug use--and the unwillingness of many non-drug users to live around a drug culture. This might be handled by allowing some states to legalized drugs(Oregon was attempting to legalize pot until the feds threatened to yank highway funds)-and encouraging drug users to move to states where that behavior was allowed.

    At the same time, I think we need to ask to what extent has the explosion in prison population been related to economic stress that has made normal family patterns difficult to maintain.

    now i can represent to all the thug wannabees (3.16 / 6) (#120)
    by orcbert on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 04:46:46 PM EST

    I can't stand it when people brag about their incarcerations. If you don't think you do, then you don't hang out with that kind. (Don't ask me why I have.)

    Imaginging =>
    THUG: I done got locked up twice for shooting people! I'm a thug. Just don't get on my bad side. Everyone knows. I'm a thug.
    THUG starts dancing.
    ME: So I read that 1 out of 5 prisoners gets buttraped. Is that right?
    THUG stops dancing.


    Oh, yeah ... (5.00 / 1) (#160)
    by pyramid termite on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 12:02:50 AM EST

    ... one guy I knew who'd done a little time was asked why he was walking funny when he got out and he proceeded to kick the questioner's ass. At least that's what he said. He also explained that I could never understand why he hated black people so much unless I'd done time; which oddly enough, didn't prevent him from buying watches and gold chains from several black friends on a daily basis ... something to suppliment the small income he made (with me) as a convenience store clerk. He didn't last long at that job, but don't worry; he was a uniquely resourceful person ...

    And then there's that walk. You know, the one where they're boogieing right along with their hands like hooks at their sides. The hooked-hand walk ... an ex-con pointed it out to me. Useful information to have, I guess ...

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    this would never be allowed to happen to women (2.88 / 9) (#128)
    by techphilerasta on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:30:25 PM EST

    If woemn were beign raped like this in prison everyone would say it is a horrible things and try to prevent it.

    I say this 'cos whenever women commit crimes judges & the public are more lieninet with them. For example whenever a woman commits murder people find an excuse for her especially if they kill their own children. If a man killed his children everyone woul dconsider him lower than an animal.

    Also remember Carla Fay Tucker the first woman executed in texas in a very long time. Not to mention that women get lower sentances than men for the same offense or iif they were partners i crime.

    Hwoever society does not see men as being fully human (men are routinely taught to dehumanize themselves and women encourage them too( while women who are seen as being human are protected, coddled and given as many opportunities as they want.

    I could say more but I think talking about this would distract people from my poit thatsince men are not seen as being fully human by both men and women this can be allowed to happen.

    I think that it is unfortunate since if society can allow such an evil thing to happen to prisoners on top of their legal punishment then it is leading to what I consider a moral evil. I just hope that one day people will start to see that prisoners do desrve some rights and good treatment along with their punishment. p. this is the only way for them to care about other people and not want to destroy.

    Women prisoners get raped too (4.50 / 4) (#133)
    by nomoreh1b on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 06:43:58 PM EST

    The UPI article quoted a figure of 27% of all female inmates vs. 20% of all male inmates. Now, one big difference is that there are a lot fewer female inmates in the US prison system. I suspect one reason that the public is so indifferent to abuse of female inmates is that many of these women are in prison on prostitution related charges and a segment of the US public hates prostitutes.



    [ Parent ]

    20% for males? (4.00 / 4) (#139)
    by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:52:58 PM EST

    The article mentioned that every 5th male gets "sexually assaulted" and every 10th male gets "raped". I don't know if sexual assault is considered part of that figure, or what the difference is, frankly. It's not like it's really that important whether you had your ass penetrated versus something else done to you of a sexual nature that cannot be called "rape". This is a technicality that shouldn't matter.

    Still, thought I'd clarify that.

    "Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
    [ Parent ]

    I believe it was mentioned in the article... (4.66 / 6) (#134)
    by randinah on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 06:45:34 PM EST

    That rape occurences in prisons for women is sometimes as high as 27 percent. Also, the article mentions that these women often get pregnant, and that serves as evidence that the prison guards are the perpetrators.

    Before I'd read this article I had never heard of that sort of abuse happening in female prisons. Yet, it's common knowledge that rape happens all the time in male prisons. So this sort of thing does happen to women, and I don't see congress discussing ways of preventing it.

    A question a little off topic: Why are there even male prison guards in female prisons in the first place?


    "Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous?"
    [ Parent ]
    the women oerall aret treated better (1.00 / 1) (#162)
    by techphilerasta on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 12:54:45 AM EST

    well I know that women get raped in prison too but as some one else said there are much much less women in rison than men.

    Also from a book that i read I learned that overall women prisoners have an esier time with the justice sytem than men(for example many offenses that a man would get jailed for a woman is never jailed for)

    On the stats I bet you that the incidence of prison rape is much higher than will be reported (just like gub'mint unemployemtn figures are always lower tha the reality)

    About having men in women's prisons there are women guards in men's prisons too so either that should be an issue for bth genders or not

    -------------- intj for ever

    [ Parent ]

    sorry about the typos (1.66 / 3) (#129)
    by techphilerasta on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 05:32:25 PM EST

    I wrote my last post in ahurry please ignore the typos and focus on what I am saying

    I think that prison rape... (1.50 / 8) (#135)
    by undermyne on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 06:52:01 PM EST

    should be limited to wife beaters, rapists, and child molesters. I think they should all be assraped 100 times for each infraction then released to the victims family for proper retribution.

    But thats just me...

    "You're an asshole. You are the greatest troll on this site." Some nullo

    Why? (3.00 / 1) (#140)
    by valeko on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:53:18 PM EST

    Why do you think that?

    "Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
    [ Parent ]

    Using criminals to punish criminals is cowardly (4.71 / 7) (#142)
    by nomoreh1b on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 07:58:24 PM EST

    and unreliable. The simple fact is that a prison rapist is most likely to be a middle class, first offender of slight build in prison on a drug or child support related issue. The idea that a criminal should be the one to punish another criminal is cowardly. If it is decided that someone warrents a severe penalty like flogging or death, agents of the state should have the guts to carry that sentence out and to make that the up front sentence for the crime in question.

    The problem with the present system includes the fact that the judges/legislators aren't taking real responsibility for their action. "Ooops, we didn't mean to condemn you to torture plus a slow painful death, it just happened". Well, that wasn't good enough when tens of thousands died of disease at Auschwitz--and it sure isn't good enough now, in an America that could easily stop prison rape completely.

    Letting a large, felonious bully carry out a state's punishment gives him authority he doesn't deserve. It is an abrogation of authority by cowards/liars. Now, part of the problem I suspect is that men like Clinton and Bush have stayed out of prison largely by social position/money--and are just too much of hypocrites to admit this event to themselves.



    [ Parent ]

    I agree (4.66 / 3) (#153)
    by tokage on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:48:27 PM EST

    100%. Everyone seems to conveniently ignore the fact that these benefactors who further punish these criminals are in fact criminals themselves. These guys are going to be looking for small, easy targets, not a fellow violent offender who is likely to just join up with a gang and participate in sexually abusing other inmates. It's totally unreliable, and not how the prison system was designed to operate. The mentality of "send this violent murderer to prison where he'll get raped#@! that'll show him!" is immature and not very intelligent. I agree that there should be stouter punishments for certain crimes, but that is not even close to being an answer. The people who commit these violent crimes end up with a free hand to continue committing them inside prison, often with indifference or even consent of prison guards.

    I've been demonizing prison guards in my comments in this story, but I imagine the vast majority are just trying to get by in a dangerous, badly managed positions. It's not excuse, really - but I imagine any prison guard who tries to shed some light on what's going on will not be well received & would probably be in a significant amount of danger if he stayed at his job for any length of time.

    I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red
    [ Parent ]

    To bad if they're innocent eh? (none / 0) (#190)
    by Vicegrip on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 11:51:10 AM EST

    Lord knows our infallible justice system has never wrongly convicted anybody. Everything is cool until it's you that gets shafted.

    [ Parent ]
    You should do it (4.00 / 1) (#203)
    by slur on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 05:49:44 PM EST

    Yeah, you go ahead and ass-rape those guys. Since it's what you want you should be willing to be the one to do it. Don't worry about your humanity, I'm sure you won't miss it.

    |
    | slur was here
    |

    [ Parent ]
    If you want a shocker (4.50 / 8) (#145)
    by RickySilk on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:18:30 PM EST

    Read this report from human rights watch

    RickySilk
    kung foo let us waste your time
    Rape as a disciplinary tactic (4.66 / 9) (#147)
    by meehawl on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:28:43 PM EST

    It's an old story, it's one of the reasons the US sided with the Axis of Evil to attempt to ban prison inspections for torture, and it's here, or try HRW's Male Rape In US Prisons.

    The Soviet gulags often used rape as a way to control the large population of inmates, and The Gulaging of America draws an obvious parallel with methods popular in the Soviet gulags and the astonishingly high percentage of the US population now incarcerated and subject to the same normative techniques.

    Mike Rogers www.meehawl.com
    Prisons are a deterrent (1.44 / 9) (#152)
    by bigelephant on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 09:47:15 PM EST

    I think a lot of people here seem to miss the point. Prisons are designed to act as a deterrent to crime, and prisoners should not have _any_ rights. Prisoner rape is just a part of that, and I don't see why we should do anything about it. It just makes prison a better deterrent for drug users and other criminals. And yes, using drugs IS a violent crime, because it encourages crime (drug dealers) and/or destroys society.

    Rape is a poor deterrent (5.00 / 2) (#157)
    by nomoreh1b on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:23:11 PM EST

    Why do you advocate use of rape as a deterrent instead of flogging(ala Singapore) or the death penalty? Don't you think there is something of a problem when prison is a slap on the wrist for ethnic gang members and death preceded by torture for middle class white men of small stature?

    I think a lot of people here seem to miss the point. Prisons are designed to act as a deterrent to crime, and prisoners should not have _any_ rights.

    Why do you take judicial decisions so seriously? I don't see many serious criminals in prison-folks like Enron's Fastrow for example.

    Prisoner rape is just a part of that, and I don't see why we should do anything about it.

    Well, if nothing else, there is a serious problem in having a cesspool of disease in our midst. US prisons are a serious public health hazard. If they were private institutions they'd be shut down for the same reaons gay bath houses were shut down in San Francisco.

    It just makes prison a better deterrent for drug users and other criminals. And yes, using drugs IS a violent crime, because it encourages crime (drug dealers) and/or destroys society.

    Look, it is very unlikely that the people now in the US will ever agree on drug policy. I'd suggest growing up a bit on this point and think in terms of having some parts of the country with even stricter laws than now exist(say accompanied by mass testing) and other parts of the country with legalization and regulation. Singapore is an example of a country that did contain a serious opium problem. The penalties there are pretty dang draconian-but their leaders understood that the a practical solution to the existing population of addicts was quarentine--which is what they did.

    I'm not especially anxious to live in an environment like Amsterdam-but the fact that such a place exists means people that want that kind of environment can do so there and not in my midst.

    [ Parent ]

    Arse-backwards... Discipline and Punish? (5.00 / 1) (#159)
    by meehawl on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:59:12 PM EST

    Prisons are designed to act as a deterrent to crime, and prisoners should not have _any_ rights.

    You've got it so arse-backwards you probably have trouble walking a straight line.

    Punishments as you describe, and as some countries practice in terms of floggings, beatings, mutiliation, and so on, are designed as a deterrance to crime. The fact that they do not, in fact, deter crime is evident to any impartial observer. If transportation had served as an effective deterrent then there'd be no Australia as we understand it and no Crocodile Hunter.

    The prospect of prison acts as a deterrant, yes, but the primary goal of the modern treatment of social deviancy is generally assumed to be the reform and re-presentation of a useful person to society.

    Now, the fact that recidivism rates are so amazingly high for many crimes, especially non-violent ones such as drug possession, obviously shows that the task of reforming people is proving impossible. This bespeaks either a failure of the penal system, or an impossible standard set by society at large. Or possibly a mixture of the two. The exact proportions of the blame for the high recidivism rates is left as an exercise for the reader.

    You could point your arse in something of the right direction by reading something like Foucault's Discipline and Punish : The Birth of the Prison. This is not the ineffable architectural waffling of a laissez-faire superstitious humanist such as Bentham. Instead, it describes the "real" evolution of prisons in the West as a long-drawn-out duel between the violence of the individual and the violence of the State. Of course, his particular brand of social constructionism posits that the modern fascination with "rehabilitation" is a culturally productive mechanism designed to breed more complex, and hence interesting, criminals.

    Some extracts:

    [consider} the disappearance of torture as a public spectacle. Today we are rather inclined to ignore it; perhaps, in its time, it gave rise to too much inflated rhetoric; perhaps it has been attributed too readily and too emphatically to a process of "humanization", thus dispensing with the need for further analysis. And, in any case, how important is such a change, when compared with the great institutional transformations, the formulation of explicit, general codes and unified rules of procedure; with the almost universal adoption of the jury system, the definition of the essentially corrective character of the penalty and the tendency, which has become increasingly marked since the nineteenth century, to adapt punishment to the individual offender? Punishment of a less immediately physical kind, a certain discretion in the art of inflicting pain, a combination of more subtle, more subdued sufferings, deprived of their visible display, should not all this be treated as a special case, an incidental effect of deeper changes? And yet the fact remains that a few decades saw the disappearance of the tortured, dismembered, amputated body, symbolically branded on face or shoulder, exposed alive or dead to public view. The body as the major target of penal repression disappeared.



    Mike Rogers www.meehawl.com
    [ Parent ]
    I offer 100$ dollars (none / 0) (#182)
    by Shren on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 06:46:10 AM EST

    I offer 100 dollars towards a private investigator to look into BigElephant's life, to see if he does anything jailworthy. Any other takers? If we get enough people together we can get a PI, then if the PI digs up anything then we can do our citizen's duty and turn him in.

    [ Parent ]

    The fact that you could find something (1.00 / 1) (#220)
    by roam on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 03:18:41 PM EST

    only proves the point that prisons need to be tougher, to deter crime.

    ___
    Are they like hamsters?
    Specifically, can I tape up a chinchilla, slather him in axle grease, and shove him up my ass? - Patrick Bateman


    [ Parent ]
    Prison and The 'Other' Way (4.00 / 8) (#155)
    by elzubeir on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 10:14:02 PM EST

    Rape in prisons is something that is expected. It is hard to control, and can get personal (guards intentionally allowing it to happen for whatever reasons, etc).

    The solution was presented in the Shari'a laws that everyone sees as taboo. As an atheist, I think I can objectively view those so-called Islamic laws. To oversimplify things, the whole concept of doing time is non-existent. You are arrested for long enough to be tried. Then, you are punished right then and there. You either get flogged (drinking, pre-marital sex if single, etc), hand ampuated (for theft, like the Enron guys? that would be the ideal punishment), or executed (for murder, etc).

    It makes life very simple. Yes, it is harsh, and some may consider it inhumane.. but that is of course your opinion. This solves two immediate problems:

    1. The long-term problems associated with prisons (rape is an example). It also is rarely a deterrant to hard criminals.
    2. The costs associated with maintaining a prison system. You end up with jails, and no prisons. Temporary holding cells, which are much easier to maintain.

    Of course this is not likely to work in a country like the US (given the cultural values associated with human rights and how such punishments are viewed).. but it is certainly a great way to deal with such issues in a simple but straight-forward manner.

    Good point (3.66 / 3) (#158)
    by nomoreh1b on Sun Jul 28, 2002 at 11:50:31 PM EST

    I find the use of physical mutilation(chopping of of hands) to be a bit of a problem. Still, I find Islamic justice to be less inhumane that torture via prison rape of selected ethnic groups.

    I wonder how the US might change if DUI, credit card fraud, perjury, vandalism, bribing public officials, false accusation were dealt with via flogging. The system would be cheap. I suspect that celebrity floggings could pay for the entire system via television rights. Personally, I think that publicly televised flogging would be completely appropriate for Bill Clinton's perjury offense-or a good first step for the crimes of folks like Enron's Fastrow

    One big difference between Islamic society and the US is the existance of organized criminal gangs in the US. In Islamic society, it seems like it assumed that offenders have some kind of clan/tribal identity that will persist after any punishment. In the US, a lot of serious crime involves offenders becoming part of criminal sub-cultures. Any kind of lasting rehabilitation involves replacing criminal associations with something else(which is something I tried to address in a previous post to this thread-how prisons work and can work better).



    [ Parent ]

    no sorry (2.80 / 5) (#164)
    by strlen on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:19:43 AM EST

    1. such punishments are worse then crimes itself.
    2. they're blatantly unconstitutional, as systematic torture/beating will actually be institutionalized, while prison rape can be curtailed (through video surveilance, random inspections, firing of entire prison staff in case prison rape occurs)
    3. i suggest a much easier way to deal with crimes: fines and restitution for property damage crime, suspension of license and impoundment of vehicle for DUI, liquidation of all drug laws. i would much rather deal with a higher crime rate outside of prison when it comes to white collar and petty crime, than with either prison rape or such barbaric punishment (which have no place anywhere in the world, much less the US). essential human  rights can't be traded for security.


    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]
    not really (3.33 / 3) (#167)
    by elzubeir on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:40:38 AM EST

    such punishments are worse then crimes itself.
    I beg to differ. Flogging someone for drinking alcohol (say, an equivalent of getting caught smoking a marijuana joint), is certainly better than serving time for it (nevermind my personal opinion that neither cases should result in any kind of interaction with the law). Of course cutting someone's hand off for stealing may be a little extreme (even though I may think it's a great idea, I do hurt at the thought of it).
    they're blatantly unconstitutional, as systematic torture/beating will actually be institutionalized...
    Constitutional? Who said anything about what's constitutional (to the US). I did mention that I do not think this would work in the US anyway. Flogging is not torture, I don't know where you get off saying that it is. Do you think slapping your kid is torture?

    And, no, you don't want more 'white-collar' crime. This would eventually -- and very quickly -- increase poverty and bring about a great gap between classes, with the middle completely eliminated. That, in the long-run, can cause much more damage.

    [ Parent ]

    re: (2.66 / 3) (#168)
    by strlen on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 01:46:24 AM EST

    I beg to differ. Flogging someone for drinking alcohol (say, an equivalent of getting caught smoking a marijuana joint), is certainly better than serving time for it (nevermind my personal opinion that neither cases should result in any kind of interaction with the law). Of course cutting someone's hand off for stealing may be a little extreme (even though I may think it's a great idea, I do hurt at the thought of it).

    I think all flogging is barbaric, for the simple fact, it's torture, and the victim may be innocent. The goal of imprisonment is to remove the offender from society for a while, and not to hurt him. Plus I think a better idea to legalize both alcoohol and marijuana as a whole, anyone who argues towards them being illegal is a moron.. I'm not even going to argue that.

    Constitutional? Who said anything about what's constitutional (to the US). I did mention that I do not think this would work in the US anyway. Flogging is not torture, I don't know where you get off saying that it is. Do you think slapping your kid is torture?

    Flogging is torture, by all means. It involves causing physical pain, by intention. That fits my definition of torture. What type of slapping? A simple slap, which doesn't hurt isn't. But beating your kid with a belt, or slapping multiple times, definately fits my definition of torture. Plus if it wouldn't work in the US, why should it work anywhere else. I equate moral/cultural relativism to racism: the fact that you're born somewhere else shouldn't change the fact that you have basic human rights.

    And, no, you don't want more 'white-collar' crime. This would eventually -- and very quickly -- increase poverty and bring about a great gap between classes, with the middle completely eliminated. That, in the long-run, can cause much more damage

    Actually I disagree. Not all problems in society are caused by poverty. There's poor and free countries. There's way more to society than richness and poverty. As for middle class, it's the government taxation that seeks to destroy it, at least in the US and Western Europe. A much better idea for preventing white collar crime is to simply have less laws and less government crime, as well as more qualifications for public service / government.



    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]
    Torture? (4.00 / 4) (#173)
    by faecal on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 03:17:44 AM EST

    "the victim may be innocent"
    Damn, I know if I was wrongly convicted and, say, brutally gangraped daily, I'd sure feel good about that. I mean, being confined against my will in unpleasant conditions (even ignoring the buttfucking), that's hardly going to bother me at all, right? Someone can be wrongly convicted - so we shouldn't have punishments?

    You do have a slightly misplaced definition of torture. If I smack you in the face outside of a bar, have I tortured you? I looked up the word, and your use is technically correct. However, so is my tongue-in-cheek example. If it's unconstitutional to willfully inflict pain, you'd better take the cops' guns away, those fuckers hurt! Do I even need to mention the electric chair? Can you say "broiled flesh"?

    [ Parent ]

    re: (4.00 / 3) (#174)
    by strlen on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 03:23:57 AM EST

    You do have a slightly misplaced definition of torture. If I smack you in the face outside of a bar, have I tortured you? I looked up the word, and your use is technically correct. However, so is my tongue-in-cheek example. If it's unconstitutional to willfully inflict pain, you'd better take the cops' guns away, those fuckers hurt! Do I even need to mention the electric chair? Can you say "broiled flesh"?

    I should have added outside immediate self-defense. There's no reason for cops to shoot someone who isn't threatening them. And yes, I consider you beating me for no apparent reason torture, and I consider electric chair torture. And I still consider prison rape torture, and want to get rid of that too. Also, it's completely different to be confined, then to be tortured -- there's no bodily damage, there's no direct physical pain. I'd much rather spend a year in jail (provided there's no prison rape), then be flogged also. If I'm also wrongly convicted, I may even be able to sue the state for time lost in prison, and have it repaid in form of salary lost. But you can't repay physical pain.



    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    [ Parent ]
    One way to stop Prison Rape (3.66 / 3) (#187)
    by duffbeer703 on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 11:35:38 AM EST

    The only people in prison worse then the prisoners are the guards.

    Any guard who rapes a inmate or allows a rape or other crime to take place should be immediately terminated. State pension credits and senority, bye, bye.

    Once they bust one or two of these scumbags with 6 months until retirement & pension, you'll see a dramatic drop in all sorts of prison crime.

    re: One way to stop prison rape (4.83 / 6) (#191)
    by daemones on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 11:56:46 AM EST

    Termination is completely insufficient. Prosecuted and placed on the other side of the bars themselves, more likely.

    [ Parent ]
    In reality (5.00 / 2) (#216)
    by duffbeer703 on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 08:21:31 AM EST

    The Correction's officers unions are usually too strong to allow a prosecution to take place. In some states, like New York, you have over 120,000 guards who are the primary breadwinners for their communities, since prisons are usually placed in depressed rural areas.

    This position puts corrections officers unions in positions of real power. State assemblymen and senators will lose their cushy jobs, which is why the terrible abuses which take place happen in the first place.

    There are few prison guards who enjoy their jobs -- they themselves are prisoners to their benefits and pension plan. Threaten to take that away and they'll fall in line. This is also alot easier to get by the unions.

    [ Parent ]

    Way too lax (none / 0) (#199)
    by nomoreh1b on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 02:25:59 PM EST

    Using position as a guard to rape a prisoner is still rape. Rape is a crime in the US. Doing so as a guard carries additional penalties.

    Now, in many cases, evidence of guards raping prisoners could be easily detected(i.e. paternity tests of children born to women that got pregnant while in prison). Frankly, the folks in charge of prisons that haven't prosecuted in those cases ought to be punished also.



    [ Parent ]

    Additional Dimensions of Institutional Rape (4.00 / 3) (#192)
    by nomoreh1b on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 12:18:39 PM EST

    Rape is not just a problem for prisoners. Another category of people extremely vulnerable to rape are people instituionalized--particularly those with mental disabilities that make it impossible to report their rape or identify the assailent.

    I've never seen good figures on this topic-but I've heard quite a few horror stories in this area. Overall, institutional rape(prison rape and other forms of rape in institutions) is a serious problem upon which Americans need to do some real soul-searching.



    Unalienable Rights (4.75 / 8) (#198)
    by squidface on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 02:00:49 PM EST

    There are certains rights that people, by virtue of their being people, have and hold; rights that should not be taken away without just cause. These rights are always had, otherwise they lose their meaning. They should only be denied to a person for reasons proper.

    The freedom of movement is one such right that people have, and it is taken from prisoners for a good reason: having once committed grevious sin against society, we restrict a prisoner's movement so they cannot go right out and create more victims in the process of committing more crime. However, we do not deny to prisoners their freedom of speech. If we did, we might never have had Martin Luther King's "Letter From A Birmingham Jail." Every right denied to prisoners should be tested to ensure it is denied for good reason.

    That being said, there can be no good reason to deny to a person, for any reason, a person's freedom to be safe in their person from assault, sexual or otherwise. Whether in prison or out, whether a person was "asking for it" or not, everybody should be allowed to feel safe against such crime. By denying to prisoners such a fundamental human right, prisons create an atmosphere of disrespect for the rights of others. Is it any wonder that so many prisoners come out of prisons angry at society, ready to strike back in cruel ways against the world that has abused them so? How can we teach prisoners that they must respect the rules of society in an environment in which such rules are routinely, institutionaly, violated?

    If rape is meant to be the price paid for any crime of such seriousness as to involve imprisonment, then let judges and juries try and sentence people to such a fate. They would find their sentences quickly overturned for being "cruel and unusual punishment." This would be correct and just.

    Prison rapes, prison assaults, prison abuse; all must be investigated, and the offenders brought to trial and convicted. Crime is crime, regardless of place, regardless of victim. This would create an atmosphere of respect for the law within the prison system, which would translate into respect for the law outside of prison. As it is, prisoners learn that life is an anarchic power struggle where the strong rule on the pain of the weak. Any person who considers themself moral, ethical, or virtuous must see how this is wrong. How can rape be justified without denying a person of humanity? How can denying a person of humanity be right?

    The laws are already on the books, the only lack is will. It is hard to achieve political success by commiting kindly acts towards prisoners, but if the issue is brought before enough people that will change. For life is beautiful and complex, and people make mistakes. And nobody, nobody, nobody should ever be raped.



    Excellent Argument... (none / 0) (#222)
    by superdiva on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 07:22:51 PM EST

    I wish said it in the first prison rape debate.
    _____________________________________________
    [ Parent ]
    Unjust laws (4.85 / 7) (#201)
    by DavisImp on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 02:30:22 PM EST

    To those who believe that society has a responsibility to violently damage the psyches of criminals:

    Do you encourage uniform punishment for all law violations? As a society, we recognize that speeding (which everyone, without exception, does) is a less severe crime than drunk driving (which many people do), which in turn is less severe than torturing and maiming babies; this is why we have gradients of punishment. To say that everyone who ends up in jail deserves to be raped is to completely destroy this distinction.

    On a related note, what about laws that society decides are unjust? Until fairly recently, sodomy was unlawful in many parts of America. It looks like pot possession may very well be legalized while I'm still young. You may say that people who violate our social contracts deserve to be raped; fine, but bear in mind that that makes it impossible to take the punishment back. If someone is imprisoned for pot possession, and it becomes legal, they can be released and their record cleared without too much permanent damage. If they've been gang-raped, absolutely nothing can restore their previous state of mind, and a "we're sorry, but our rules were screwed up" won't suffice as restitution.

    Definately (none / 0) (#223)
    by cutter on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 10:26:41 PM EST

    I agree...being raped leaves a sick, festering emotional scar that never goes away.

    [ Parent ]
    It's ironic (2.50 / 2) (#207)
    by Sesquipundalian on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 06:28:59 PM EST

    that you accuse me of being insensitive with your whiny little crack about knowing rape victims personally, and yet you are the one who sees the world in terms of

    STRUCT of Squarehead
    my_big_fat_head{
    CONST BLACK==BAD || WHITE==GOOD;
    contents :='';
    }

    What is it?, Is your worldview just really limmited?

    Do you just think that there are only capital offenses or misdemeanors? no shades of gray?

    You know, just because someone made someone else uncomfortable, even really really uncomfortable...

    ...Even reallyx10^(most uncomfortablest you can imagine)...uncomfortable

    ..., it still doesn't justify killing the person.

    If you or I were raped, we would eventually get over it. I doubt we'd fare so well against the death penalty.

    So..., shades of gray?... colors?... any of this ringing a bell for you?


    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    OOPS!, REALLY WRONG THREAD. (5.00 / 1) (#208)
    by Sesquipundalian on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 07:38:39 PM EST

    Geez that's embarassing. Sorry folks.

    Okay... nobody look at that, okay?


    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]
    Dismember them! (3.00 / 1) (#209)
    by Sesquipundalian on Mon Jul 29, 2002 at 07:59:10 PM EST

    You know, after some thought and some comment reading, good old FULLY ANESTHETIZED SURGICAL DISMEMBERMENT seems to be a nice fit for this whole business of the large and strong, and what some of them like to do to the small and the weak.

    So, I say apply the dismemberment penalty for conviction of a specific category of rape {only rapes that are performed in front of at least one corroborating witness, this witness must give first hand testimony corroborating this}.

    Set the default to "BOTH HANDS", and allow 48 hours, after sentancing for the perpetrator to think it over, in custody, and optionally select "PENIS and BOTH TESTICLES", or "BOTH FEET", instead.

    I suppose we should also include a second offense option of "BOTH ARMS, BOTH LEGS, PENIS and BOTH TESTICLES, and I guese we might as well denude them, while we're at it...", for those stubborn Monty Python BLACK KNIGHT types

    And then there would be the rather dubious process of "VULVEOTOMY(ectomy?) and BREAST REMOVAL" for those all too common cases of van full of nubile teen sorority gang vixen picks up innocent and dumb but kind of hunky guy (usually played by Ron Jeremey) and leads him astray...

    Insert KaZaA joke to taste.
    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    Amount of rape in American state and federal prisons 'alarmingly high' | 225 comments (205 topical, 20 editorial, 0 hidden)
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