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BS: The concept of 'punishment'

Uncle_DaveO 24 Jan 11 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,Blind DRunk in Blind River 24 Jan 11 - 10:49 AM
Uncle_DaveO 24 Jan 11 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Patsy 24 Jan 11 - 07:10 AM
Keith A of Hertford 24 Jan 11 - 04:51 AM
Keith A of Hertford 24 Jan 11 - 04:24 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Jan 11 - 04:09 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Jan 11 - 04:01 AM
Little Hawk 24 Jan 11 - 12:55 AM
MGM·Lion 23 Jan 11 - 11:56 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 23 Jan 11 - 06:56 PM
MGM·Lion 23 Jan 11 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Silas 23 Jan 11 - 03:49 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 11 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Eliza 23 Jan 11 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 23 Jan 11 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,Eliza 23 Jan 11 - 02:32 PM
Ebbie 23 Jan 11 - 02:17 PM
MGM·Lion 23 Jan 11 - 01:22 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 11 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Eliza 23 Jan 11 - 12:42 PM
InOBU 23 Jan 11 - 12:19 PM
Little Hawk 23 Jan 11 - 12:01 PM
Bobert 23 Jan 11 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,Silas 23 Jan 11 - 11:56 AM
Little Hawk 23 Jan 11 - 11:51 AM
Little Hawk 23 Jan 11 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Silas 23 Jan 11 - 11:41 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 11 - 11:39 AM
Little Hawk 23 Jan 11 - 11:30 AM
InOBU 23 Jan 11 - 11:15 AM
Silas 23 Jan 11 - 09:04 AM
GUEST,Eliza 23 Jan 11 - 08:05 AM
Silas 23 Jan 11 - 07:56 AM
MGM·Lion 23 Jan 11 - 07:42 AM
GUEST,Eliza 23 Jan 11 - 07:40 AM
mayomick 23 Jan 11 - 07:22 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 11 - 06:42 AM
mayomick 23 Jan 11 - 06:14 AM
Silas 23 Jan 11 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 23 Jan 11 - 05:10 AM
MGM·Lion 23 Jan 11 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 23 Jan 11 - 04:37 AM
Joe Offer 23 Jan 11 - 04:15 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 11 - 03:46 AM
Janie 22 Jan 11 - 11:44 PM
Dorothy Parshall 22 Jan 11 - 10:41 PM
Little Hawk 22 Jan 11 - 09:51 PM
Janie 22 Jan 11 - 09:38 PM
Little Hawk 22 Jan 11 - 06:53 PM
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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 11:29 AM

InOBU remarked

the conection is ( not to mention I guarentee you will enjoy the book... great story...) is that exicution and imprissonment are both expensive, however education and rehabilitation create income to society.

Let me repeat the main part of it, marked up and with some comments:

the conection *** is that exicution and imprissonment are both expensive,

Certainly true, especially in the case of imprisonment.

however education and rehabilitation create income to society.
That clause was stated as a fact.

That would be better expressed as "it is hoped that education and rehabilitation will create income to society." That's a pious and laudable hope. But education and rehabilitation (if rehabilitation is possible at all) are going to take up a lot of that expensive "imprissonment".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Blind DRunk in Blind River
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 10:49 AM

I'll tell ya what I am in faver of. MAJOR flippin' punishment, eh? Put the boots to 'em I say! Take away there dope and booze and feed 'em on nothin' but stale bread and water! If they get outta line then throw 'em in a pit of flippin' alligators and lissen to 'em yell fer mercy! Yessir mister that is what I would do if I got to rool this land. I would flippin' terrerize all them evil doers and forrin tererists and them types of people that don't talk or dress like me. I would drive 'em over cliffs like flippin' lemmings till they was all dead!

But if it was friends of mine or people from around my town or if it was me that got inta trubble, then I would be in faver of the forcse of justise bein' real leeniant, eh? Maybe let 'em off with a warning, eh? Or a little slap on the wrist. There is no sense bein' hard on people that you, like, know, and live around...becoz you might need there help some day, know'm sayin'? A dubble standerd is the only way to go, man. Ask Don Cherry. He knows.

- Shane


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 10:33 AM

MtheGM commented, inter alia:

all well-thinking people can see that punishment is generally a vain & disagreeable procedure which will solve little or nothing; but still no-one has ever managed to dispense with it or come up with a better idea.

That's far, far too broad a statement, even though watered down as it is with "generally" and "little or nothing".

The word and concept of "punishment" is being confused (in most of the posts in this thread), with "penal punishment", to which the quote above might be said to apply.

The correction, guidance, discipline (what have you) of children and teenagers, just for example, by the aid of such punishments as time-outs, being sent to bed early, groundings, time-limited deprivation of favorite toys or clothing,temporary or even permanent banishment of certain friends, withdrawal of driving privileges or the use of the family car, are all punishments that may be appropriate and effective.   

Vain & disagreeable procedure. Disagreeable, quite possibly. Many, many necessary actions in this life are disagreeable, but that's not a meaningful argument. And "vain"? Not "all well-thinking people" can see anything of the sort. Unless you define "well-thinking" as agreeing with your judgment.

I will agree with you, however, that no-one has ever managed to dispense with it or come up with a better idea.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 07:10 AM

Perhaps it would be better to release and rehabilitate the minor offenders as quickly as possible rather than keeping them alongside the worse criminal element and to make sure that they benefit from useful work related training ready for when they get out.

The death penalty I'm still not sure about, there has been a number of mistakes made in the past, but for out and out evil criminals like Fred West or a Hindley type character I would be inclined to agree to execution. In the case of remorseless Fred West he should have been put to sleep for the suffering he caused, when he committed suicide he did us all a favour.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 04:51 AM

And he only just won then!


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 04:24 AM

Alan, Bobby Sands was elected only after other Nationalist candidates had been "persuaded" by IRA to stand down.
Nationalists had to vote for him or allow Unionists to win.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 04:09 AM

Little Hawk:
Meant to say, one of the best accounts of the events leading up to the rise of Nazism I've ever read is Richard M Watt's 'The Kings Depart'; still one of the most informative and readable books on that period of history.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 04:01 AM

Sorry Mike - I really don't know where your argument is going.
We have a form of democracy in Britain and Ireland; not perfect by any means, but certainly not comparable to Nazi Germany, but there have been those......
We have had (and still do) politicians who would manipulate and over-ride that democracy to pursue their own ends and philosophies - Thatcher being one of the best examples in recent history. She didn't believe in the welfare state ("there is no society") and didn't approve of Trades Unionism, so she did her best to destroy them both. Her friendship, and obvious admiration for Auguste Pinoche indicated that, had she thought she could get away with it, she would have been prepared to use the tactics he employed in Chile. That's about as close we have come to the jackboot in recent times.
May her soul writhe in agony (pity I don't believe in souls).
I find it bizarre that you appear to equate mob rule with democracy (if I have got you right - if I haven't, I apologise in advance).
Mob rule, for me, is power by pressure of numbers; no debate, no vote, no real consensus, (usually headed by charismatic and influential leaders not unsimilar to our own tabloid press); just an unstoppable movement aimed at dragging the prisoner out of the jailhouse and getting the rope over the nearest tree!
Is that really how you see democracy?
I can't think of a perfect democratic society; Ancient Greece, the so-called "Cradle of Democracy", was founded on a slave system which deprived a considerable percentage of the population a say in their own lives, let alone in affairs of state.
Democracy is an aim, more distant in some places than in others, but still well worth pursuing.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 12:55 AM

The reason Germany turned to Jackboots and the Nazis was that they had lost a huge war (WWI)...then been forced to take the entire blame for it (which was not fair in the least)...then been bankrupted by being made to pay reparations they could not afford...and had then suffered a complete economic collapse during the 20s.

That sort of thing can easily lead to Jackboots and a dictatorship in any country it happens in.

You can count yourselves very lucky in Britain that you have not yet experienced that chain of disastrous historical events, and if you ever do, you may be surprised at what extremism follows in its wake.

Without the gross punishment inflicted on Germany at the Treaty of Versailles...(and it happened because the French were determined to punish and crush Germany forever)...there would never have been a rise of Hitler and his Nazis. The French paid the price for it in 1940. They sowed the seeds of bitterness that Hitler soon turned to his advantage.

I'm not saying any of that to justify anything the Nazis did...they were an utter disaster for their own country and the world...but I'm saying you should look to the historical causes that brought them forth.

To punish a country that has just lost a great war is ridiculous! As if LOSING the war wasn't punishment enough, for God's sake. This is something the victors of wars should remember, and they should rejoice that it is over...that they won...and be generous to the vanquished. If they did, they might avoid repeating the same folly a generation later.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:56 PM

Sure, Al ~~ but you were still empowered at least to say so without fear of the noise of jackboots on the stairs or lynch·mobs in the alley...

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 06:56 PM

Actually Mike there was quite a lot of stifling going on in the Thatcher years.

Everyone (me included) fell off their chairs in surprise in England when Bobby sands was elected. We had been reliably informed by the good old BBC, that the IRA/Sinn Fein was a tiny minority of opinion in NI.

Living in a mining area for the first time in the miners strike, I saw the censorship up close and personal.

The Falklands campaign is still represented as a glorious episode, that's how bloody good the stifling was.

As she got elected by the populace with the help of the dirty tricks dept of MI5 (remember Spycatcher and how much tax money was wasted trying to stifle that little gem); i can honestly say I felt disempowered at the time. More than I have at any time before or since.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 04:46 PM

There is tho, Jim, a difference between Thatcher & the Nazis. They, once elected, altered the system so that they could not be removed from office. She didn't: she was simply repeatedly re-elected under our democratic system, because she was what the majority wanted. You cannot denounce that as "mob rule", can you now? No-one has attempted to prevent your expressing reservations.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 03:49 PM

Well said Jim.
We don't have to agree on everything, but a good arguement never did much harm and we can all learn fromit.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 03:17 PM

Mike,
I believe Thatcher (she whose last political act was to keep a mass murderer and torturer from facing trial) to have been the worst Prime Minister Britain ever had, despite the fact that she was placed in position by a democratic system.
I think the National Socialist Party, elected into office by a majority of the German people, was one of the world's greatest disasters.
Likewise, I feel a decision arrived at by referendum, to prohibit abortion and contraception in Ireland based on the superstition generated by The Catholic Church, a continuing affront to the women of Ireland.
Because I believe in democracy does not mean I have to agree with all decisions taken in its name; under a true democracy I am allowed to express my reservations freely and equally - or does democracy = silent acquescence? I always thought it was the opposite.
I can't really believe that you equate democracy with mob rule - I suggest you open a seperate thread and put your theory to the test.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 03:06 PM

Alan, I never knew that, how fascinating. But there is a Young Offenders Prison unit next door, called Warren Hill. I wonder if Behan was there? How droll for a murderer to want someone to stop swearing! The poor Suffolk Punches often had parcels of drugs secreted in their stables at Hollesley Bay. It's a bleak, God-forsaken place, I disliked it the most of all the eight Prisons I got to know well. The best ones were Highpoint (called High Joint or Knifepoint by the inmates.) and Norwich. The Officers in Norwich Prison were the most patient, calm and humane I ever came across. Each prison had its own ambience. Wormwood Scrubs was intimidating, as was Blundeston. Parkhurst seemed to have a huge proportion of mentally ill men. I did learn such a lot during all those years, but never did decide what we ought to be doing with offenders.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 02:51 PM

Interestingly the Hollesley Bay camp is the one featured heavily in Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan. Apparently he met the young Neville Heath, the muderer there, who tried to get Brendan to stop swearing.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 02:32 PM

Ebbie, I think your sytem over there echoes our A,B,C categories (too risky too give them work) and the D cats who are either not dodgy or are coming up to release, and they can work, in Open Prisons. But just as in your country, they sometimes run off, hide drugs everywhere at their workplace, get drunk, etc. I liked your story about the cabinet. One prisoner I visited said that when the Officers arrived on a Wing to search all the cells, the inmates cried "Burglars!!" I must say, prison humour is very very funny.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 02:17 PM

Eliza, in the US the people who are employed in the prisons have earned the 'right' to work and often are eligible to be released within a foreseeable time. The incorrigible and violent have not earned the right.

Even then, a significant number of workers have walked off and been free for a period of time. When they are caught, they are no longer eligible to work.

A little story here that made me smile: At a house museum I managed, a curio cabinet was commissioned at the local prison. The day it was delivered, the inmate who actuallly built it and his 'supervisor' carried it in.

At one point the supervisor was talking with staff while I watched the inmate affix a small hasp to the front of the cabinet. When he was done, he said to me with a smile: Well, that'll keep the good guys out.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 01:22 PM

I "appear to be confusing democracy with mob rule" - sez Jim.

Jim, oblige me, if you would be so good, with an etymological, semantic, philosophical, ethical, and convincing summary of the difference. And explain to me, please, while about it, how it is possible, and how it is not an impertinence, for a self-proclaimed believer in democracy to express himself "disappointed" at the result of a properly administered referendum. (I would point out that your calling to aid a reference to the BNP, as you did last time, is likely to prove counter-productive ~~ their democratic electoral achievements have not been particularly spectacular, have they? Count their MPs ~ NONE; & their elected Councillors ~ 2, is it?!}

I merely crave enlightenment and information.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 01:15 PM

Not complaining that our laws are made by a priveleged few Little Hawk, I am happy that they are arrived at by those most qualified. I'm just pointing out that they are not "commonly agreed-upon" - the rest of us have no say whatever in their making.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 12:42 PM

I often wondered why work isn't made available much to people in prison. I imagined workshops or small manufacturing units etc. But apparently (I was told by different Prison Officers) it would be an absolute nightmare to monitor, Security would be threatened, trouble would break out etc etc. Here in the UK, prisoners of C Category or higher are not often allowed to be together in groups of more than about four or five. They collect their food from the trolley a 'Landing' at a time, never more, and eat alone locked in their cells. A workshop would provide endless opportunities for tool-stealing, drug buying, threatening the vulnerable etc. I often visited at an Open Prison at Hollesley Bay, and the D Category men there worked on farms and with Suffolk Punch horses. But they were forever getting up to mischief (the men, not the horses) and ran the Officers ragged at times. I just don't know what to do about any of it. But no-one will ever convince me to have people's lives snuffed out, either for punishment, deterrent, revenge, convenience, money-saving or anything else. No.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: InOBU
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 12:19 PM

Hi Silas, the conection is ( not to mention I guarentee you will enjoy the book... great story...) is that exicution and imprissonment are both expensive, however education and rehabilitation create income to society.

You may also study the effects of hanging large numbers of people as happened in the 18th century. It destablized the society and in the end did nothing to end crime. Again a good book for this is the fatal shore... must run more later


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 12:01 PM

Okay, Silas, I understand your position on that, and I guess you understand mine. I don't mind if we see it differently.

Bobert, you have some good ideas there.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Bobert
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:56 AM

Hmmmmmmm???

As someone who has worked in a large city jail, a drug rehab program where most folks were probated with time over their heads and a social worker dealing primarily with mentally ill people I have a different perspective...

Most punishment that we now have is counter-productive... We need more leeway for judges to use more creative ideas... We also need to use peer pressure... We also need to make obeying commons sense laws sexy and cool...

I mean, Ralph gets caught driving 38 miles an hour in a school zone, pays $100 fine and goes on with his business... What we be so wrong with putting a picture of Ralph in a page of the local newspaper???

(Horrors, Boberdz, that would embarass Ralph... Do you want that???)

Yeah, I do... That works on both the "peer pressure" level and the "creative sentencing" level... I mean, the fine lets too many folks off the hook... Especially those who can afford to pay the $100...

As for prison??? Prisons should/could partner up with industries that allow the prisoners to be both "employees" and "prisoners"... This would provide for a much smoother transition once a prisoner is released because he or she would move right into a job with the same company, perhaps even "clocking in" every day and working in the prison by day... This would go along way toward cutting down on the recidivist rates while also cutting down on the cost per year to incarcerate a prisoner...

I mean, what we have now is more revenge and then we wonder why we have so much crime???

B~


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:56 AM

Last figures I read was it costs about £35,000.00 per year per prisoner - so work it out yourself. Personally, one penny of my money is too much.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:51 AM

I wonder how much money it is, Silas? Let's say I pay $10 a year to keep some murderers in prison. Let's say I pay $100 a year to do it. At what point should I say, "No, I'd rather keep my money for that or see it go to maintaining roads...so go ahead and kill those guys..." ;-)

At no point will I say that. I'm not about to sanction the death of another human being over some amount of money. What the other human being did does not enter into my calculation, because I can't change what he did...it's what I do that concerns me directly. I don't wish to profit by someone else's death.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:45 AM

I think the reason that a "privileged few" make the laws is dead simple: it's their job to do that, that's what they are there to do, and the rest of the public is too damn busy doing the usual stuff they do to be bothered anyway! ;-) Thus the laws are made by a privileged few, and the rest of the governmental stuff is handled that way too. It's inevitable that it would happen that way, because most of the population has neither the time nor the training and experience to be making laws and running the apparatus of government.

But then they complain about the "privileged few" who do it on their behalf! ;-D Well, it's not easy keeping people happy, is it?


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:41 AM

Well guys, I have not read or seen the film to which you refer and fail to see the significance of it anyway.

Whilst you may be happy for millions of pounds of taxpayers money to be spent keeping there people alive, I am not. I would much rather the moneyt be spent on childhood cancer research or similar causes. It IS big monet, very, very big money.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:39 AM

"But this is, I fear, still anti-democratic"
No it isn't Mike - I listed the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four - all of whom would have been hung as high as Tom Dooley had capital punishment not been kicked ino touch a couple of decades earlier, yet all of them were judged innocent of the crimes they would have been executed for - what about their rights?
What about Asians and Blacks (particularly the ones born in Britain) - who are regarded with hatred by many - do they have no rights within a democratic system?
You appear to be confusing democracy with mob rule - I suggest you read some of Silas's posts; would you suggest his ideas were 'democratic' or 'civilised' or 'desirable'. It's a little more complicated than that, isn't it? Following your logic, the British National Party are the most democratic political organisation in Britain today.
"You recently denounced our present system because there are too few referenda"
Sorry Mike; I did nothing of the sort; I pointed out that the only way we might be all be given a say in lawmaking would be through referenda; I expressed no opinion of the process one way or the other.
We are quite likely to see yet another referendum on abortion here in Ireland in the not-to-distant future, and I have little doubt that, thanks to the strong if waning influence of the Catholic Church, I will once more be disappointed at the result.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:30 AM

Silas - I don't actually mind paying a pittance out of my yearly taxes in order to finance keeping murderers fed and housed in prison...as opposed to saving that pittance in my yearly taxes by having the state murder the murderers...

And it is a pittance. You say "millions are spent" housing those prisoners, and it sounds like big money...but it's not big money to you and me once the cost gets spread around through the entire tax base.

What I do mind, though, is spending a far larger slice of my yearly taxes on funding wars that I don't agree with! But that's another discussion... ;-)

The point about the slaughterhouses is well taken. The vast majority of the population are meat-eaters...yet almost none of them would be willing to work in a slaughterhouse and to take the lives of the animals whose meat they casually purchase at their local supermarket! Is that hypocrisy? Or is it just denial? I think it's more denial than anything else.

There were two Native American guys I knew who got jobs in one of the downtown slaughterhouses in the Toronto area. They found the conditions there so disgusting that they both gave up eating meat entirely and became vegetarians ever since! That tells you something. This society lives in massive denial when it comes to the way we have allowed industry to treat the animals we consider to be nothing more than "food" for our consumption.

I still eat meat, fully knowing the above, and I think about it often when I am sitting down to a meal. I've gone through periods when I switched to a vegetarian diet, and I enjoyed it too and was healthy on it, but I then get back into the meat eating simply because it's convenient...and it tastes good.

I have often said that the real motto of modern society isn't the old "Give me liberty or give me death!" (Patrick Henry)....no, it's the new motto: "Give me convenience or give me death!"

Are people nowadays hypocrites? Or are they just lazy and caught up in repetitious habits that they don't really give any thought to?


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: InOBU
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 11:15 AM

Silas, dear fellow...

Let me suggest a good book, fast read, enjoyable, and then we can take this up again...

You may have seen the film, Catch Me if you Can... about the young forger and imposter who passed himself off as a pilot while kitting millions of dollars in checks. (He also impersonated a doctor, lawyer - prosicutor believe it or not - and an FBI agent.)

The autobiography by Frank Abignale http://www.amazon.com/Catch-Me-If-You-Can/dp/0767905385 - has a lot left out of the film including his compairison between the US Frech and Sweedish criminal justice system from his first hand experience.

It costs around $10 USD... and I would be interested in your thoughts on punishment after reading it...

All the best
Lorcan


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Silas
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 09:04 AM

Well, by keeping him alive, we are punished twice. We have the awful crime itself to deal with, then we have the not inconsiderable cost of keeping him bed, fed and watered for the rest of his life a cost that could be counted in millions of pounds, and the risk that he may escape anyway and do it again. No, a quick, and, if thought necsassary, painless death is the obvious way forward.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 08:05 AM

Not releasing him after his first terrible crime is a better solution than snuffing out his life, Silas. I fully agree that criminals, especially dangerous ones, have to be separated from the rest of us for our protection. But is a man who does such dreadful things actually SANE? Is he not gravely mentally ill? And what can anyone say about the sufferings of bereaved parents of a murdered child? But I take your point about slaughterhouses and sewage farms. I do eat meat, and couldn't possibly do that type of work, so perhaps I'm hypocrite.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Silas
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 07:56 AM

Eliza. I don't honestly know if I could do this or not, but it does not really matter when there are people who would do it as a profession. Much the same as I would not work in a slaughterhouse yet I eat meat. I use a lavatory, but would not work down a sewer.
If we disregard the terrible miscarriges of justice (a big ask, I know), would you be prepared to explain to the parents of a tortured, raped and murdered child that the person who did this was known to the police and had already served a sentance for a similar offence but was released when his time was done?


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 07:42 AM

Very eloquent, Jim; & I do see what you mean. But this is, I fear, still anti-democratic. You recently denounced our present system because there are too few referenda {except, I think you said, in Ireland}: but now it appears that you hate & fear what the results of such referenda would probably be on this particular issue? I cannot escape the feeling that you are in something of a state of emotional confusion.

As am I ~~ as, indeed, I would urge, are we all: the point of my OP, I reiterate, is that all well-thinking people can see that punishment is generally a vain & disagreeable procedure which will solve little or nothing; but still no-one has ever managed to dispense with it or come up with a better idea.

~M~

A reminder: probably alone of all on this site, I actually knew Ruth Ellis & her victim; a fact I only mention again as of possible interest, as a sort of perverse name-drop perhaps, I admit, rather than as any sort of constructive contribution to the question at issue.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 07:40 AM

Silas, you say "You can hang, shoot, chop off their heads.....I don't care" But I wonder if you yourself would be prepared to actually carry out the sentence? Could you in fact bring yourself to end the life of a person, lift the axe, say, or release the 'drop' on the scaffold, coldly unmoved by the terror and despair of the person before you? The character of the Common Man in Robert Bolt's play A Man For All Seasons beheaded Thomas More, and felt he was only obeying orders and carried no responsibility for the execution. I know that I could not kill even a mass murderer. Therefore I don't feel comfortable with anyone doing it in my name so to speak. This is not to say I don't feel bitterly sorry for the victims and their families. But execution is a terrible terrible thing, to deliberately snuff out the last spark of life from a human being, no I cannot support that.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: mayomick
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 07:22 AM

"As far as the ritual taking of life that capital punishment was - I have never understood how Christians reconcile that with their 'Christian' principles - perhaps you could help me with that one."

The wiki entry on punishment suggests the word may actually derive from the Phoenician method of punishment -crucifixion -which was adopted by the Roman Empire and used to kill Jesus .

" Latin punire possibly was inspired by the Phoenician method of execution by means of crucifixion. Therefore the Carthaginian crosses were called signae poenae "signs of the Phoenicians"


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 06:42 AM

"out of genuine interest, how do you reconcile this undoubtedly accurate summary with your democratic principles?"
Because I was brought up to follow humanitarian instincts rather than political dictums.
Most people who I worked with in London hated "blacks and Asians" and would have been happy to "see them sent back to where they came from" - where should my democratic principles stand there? Surely humanity should override all our political principles.
As far as the ritual taking of life that capital punishment was - I have never understood how Christians reconcile that with their 'Christian' principles - perhaps you could help me with that one. Maybe it one of those inconveniences that get shelved along with taking your money and giving it to the poor!
If you want six good practical reasons why capital punishment is wrong, try these for size:
Paddy Joe Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlhenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power, Johnny Walker.
Or these;
Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong; Carole Richardson.
I suggest to anybody who has tender memories of the good old days of capital punishment, I highly recommend, (if it is still in print) John Deane Potter's 'The Fatal Gallows Tree - an account of the British habit of hanging'.
In it he describes how the last woman to hang, Ruth Ellis, went to the gallows wearing canvas drawers, because previous female victims' insides had a tendency to fall out during the process - a fact that sums up the whole barbaric practice for me. Ellis's ordeal leading up to her execution included a miscarriage, so the state got two for the price of one that time.
The book ends with a magnificent description of the last ditch attempt by the House of Lords to stop the proposed abolition.
"From the hills and forests of darkest Britain they came; the halt, the lame, the deaf, the obscure, the senile and the forgotten - the hereditary peers of England united in their determination to use their medieval powers to retain a medieval institution".
I'll drink to that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: mayomick
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 06:14 AM

"The 'mortar' that holds all the bricks of this institution together is the City of London Corporation whose leaders and officers have supported justice so well for centuries." ………..
The Old Bailey's Senior Judge, His Honour Judge Peter Beaumont QC, speaking in 2007 at the ceremony marking the hundredth anniversary of the Old Bailey courthouse .

What I find particularly nasty and inhumane about the notion of punishment is the commercial aspect to it. A law-dispensing social elite's concept of individual (rather than social) responsibility for crime gets translated into the language of fair trade: the theft of a certain amount of money carefully calibrated as equivalent to X amount of flogging, time spent in prison or whatever . The earliest Roman coins depicted Justitia sword in one hand and scales in the other.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Silas
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 05:56 AM

I make no apologies for considering the death penalty for some crimes to be perfectly appropriate. It is nothing to do with revenge or out of any spirit of vindictiveness, just common practicality. I don't care how the sentance is carried out, you can hang, shoot, chop off their bleedin' heads for all I care, just remove them permenantly from our society.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 05:10 AM

I think that Western societies are deeply confused about crime and punishment.

On balance it's probably a good thing that the death penalty has been abolished - but mainly because, when it existed, there were far too many miscarriages of justice, and far too many innocent people went to the gallows; and poor people were more likely to be hung than rich people.

It also appears to me that appeasement of wrong-doers is endemic to our societies - we care far too much about the 'rights' of criminals and far too little about the rights of the victims of crime. On the international stage this is mainly to do with the machinations and self-interest of power elites but more parochially appears to be related to something that I call 'competitive piety'. Many people, who claim to be moralists (as a result of religious and secular ideologies) have latched on to the theory that criminal behaviour is more to do with nurture than nature and compete with each other to see who cares the most about the 'rights' of criminals (from 'broken homes'): "I care more than you do!". "No! I care more!". This isn't helpful.

I think that the rights of the victims of crime should be central to any truly 'just' justice system. Victims should be given the chance to confront the person who has wronged them (under controlled conditions, of course) and should have some say in how the wrong-doer is punished.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 04:49 AM

"most people I know would happily take their cue from the scabloids and revert to the neanderthal practice of capital punishment, given the choice (evidence enough of that here) - god save us all from returning to those dark days.
Jim Carroll" ===
···
Jim: Not meaning simply to score facile debating points, nor to take up a position on either side of the capital punishment question, on which I admit to some ambivalence [the disadvantage, as I never tire of saying, of being able to see both sides] ~~~

but, out of genuine interest, how do you reconcile this undoubtedly accurate summary with your democratic principles?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 04:37 AM

'If you kill or rape or rob, you ought to be punished.'

That's a very one dimensional view, Joe. Look at the contributions made in history by killers,rapists and robbers. The vikings for example. Places like York and dublin would still be backwaters without the input of killers rapists and robbers.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 04:15 AM

This isn't a question that has easy answers. I'm glad to see posts here that show so much insight.

I have to disagree with Jim Carroll and side with Little Hawk. Sure, there are some laws in western society that are oppressive, but most criminal laws are based on common sense. Whether they are made by the "privileged few" or not, doens't make a lot of difference as long as they're lawss that people generally agree with. I don't agree with the current push for ever-increasing penalties for crime - but generally I agree with what the law defines as criminal. If you kill or rape or rob, you ought to be punished.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 11 - 03:46 AM

Little Hawk;
I find most of your contributions here straightforward common sense with the exception of "commonly agreed-upon laws".
Laws are made by a priveleged few on our behalf and they stay on the statute book until they are removed, again, on our behalf.
We have no say whatever in their making or repealing, apart from by referendum (far more common in Ireland than in the UK) - or have I missed something?
Not that I am advocating democratic lawmaking; most people I know would happily take their cue from the scabloids and revert to the neanderthal practice of capital punishment, given the choice (evidence enough of that here) - god save us all from returning to those dark days.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Janie
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 11:44 PM

We are so complex as individuals and as societies. There are no easy answers, much less "right" answers. There are places that logic and reason could lead us, but that is not likely to happen in the near future.

I


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 10:41 PM

Everybody knows that our prisons are, generally, training schools to make better criminals. There is far too little offered that might help the released prisoner find a job, a better life. In most cases of young, first time offenders, victim/offender mediation/reconciliation would do a great deal more toward a better, and far less expensive, way of resolving the concept of punishment. In most instances the offender helps the victim in some way and the mediation process gives them a better understanding of how their crime impacted on the life of the victim. This has been found very effective in those areas which have used it.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 09:51 PM

Right, Janie. The idea of punishment is based on value judgement, while the idea of consequences is value neutral. Courts are not here to judge how "good" or "evil" someone is (nor can they make such a judgement), they are here to enforce the law in an unbaised fashion, with the purpose of maintaining a peaceful and harmonious society.

No human being is really equipped to decide how "good" or how "evil" someone else is...but they ARE equipped to decide whether someone else has violated commonly agreed-upon laws and rules of behaviour, and how to enforce existing laws. That's what we need to focus on. We can write novels about "good" and "evil", but we can't run a legal system based on those kind of value judgements.

I think that loss of freedom is usually the most devastating consequence of violating the law. Anyone who has lost his or her freedom feels the loss keenly in every waking moment, and that is the biggest deterrent to lawbreakers...the loss of their freedom.

Penal institutions should not be set up in a way that increases the chances of a first-time offender coming out worse than he was when he went in, but I think that's what is presently happening in a lot of our penal institutions. If so, it's a very big mistake.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Janie
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 09:38 PM

Thinking of the posts made by LH and Bill D -

I agree that punishment and consequences are closely intertwined, but separate concepts. In application, however, they often are not separate at all.

Punishment involves value judgement. It is about another person or a society deciding some one deserves to suffer for what they have done.

Consequence is value neutral. Consequences may be positive or negative, intentional or unintentional.

When one knows that the consequence of getting caught breaking a law is punishment, then punishment is also a negative consequence.

At the societal level, imposed punishment, consequences, or both for serious crimes are also intended as social deterrents

Loss of freedom is a consequence. The conditions of life in an institution where one is placed to experience that consequence vary, depending on on many factors. When those conditions are dangerous and brutal, they may be punishment as well as consequence, though this is not inherently so., and perhaps not fully consciously intended by a particular society.   

In the USA, changes in the penal code, the ability to hold employers legally liable in civil court for monetary damages for the actions of employees, and technologies and data bases that make it very easy and inexpensive to do criminal background checks on prospective employees have resulted in the consequences of going astray being so long term and so difficult to overcome once out of prison or off of probation for a youthful felony offense, that the end result is both punishment and consequence beyond what our society actually intended, and which operates to the detriment of our society.


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Subject: RE: BS: The concept of 'punishment'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Jan 11 - 06:53 PM

Everyone understands cause and effect, Tangledwood...it is a cinch to understand it. Even small children understand it.    But....there are just a lot of people out there who think they can avoid it somehow by their own cleverness or good luck....or who are simply unable to control their momentary impulses (in the case of crimes of passion or crimes of opportunity).

A wrap over the knuckles would be handy on a cold day, but I think it was a "rap" that you were referring to. ;-)

Much of our present difficulty in controlling crime arises from our loss of traditional community. In a heavily urbanized society where people can easily travel great distances the increasing anonymity of people has rendered concepts like "shunning" null and void. What worked very well in tribal communities and isolated small towns of the past can no longer work, because people in a modern community don't know even most of the other community members.

Silas - I think what the other poster was referring to was that the act of rape often has less to do with sex than it does to do with exerting power. It obviously has something to do with sex, but it may have more to do with exerting power and control in the case of most rapists. After all, we all have powerful sexual desires...but how many of us have the sort of dark emotional issues that would cause us to resort to raping someone? Not too many. It's an act of hatred and anger. Rapes go up tremendously in wartime, and that is encouraged by the macho competition among soldiers to prove themselves to their comrades...which involves being cruel to "the enemy"...and to punish "the enemy". The most vulnerable "enemy" targets in this case are the unarmed civilians, specially the women. I don't call that a sexual issue. I call it a power issue.

By the way, many castrated eunuchs in ancient Rome and Egypt managed to have quite a bit of sex with women in the households they were in...apparently their sexual desires remained strong. Also, castrating a rapist doesn't do a thing to reduce that person's desire to "get back" at other people, it would increase it...and perhaps they would resort to doing worse things than raping people. All this business about castrating rapists is, is it's a sick revenge fantasy that someone is having about "getting even" with rapists. He likes the thought of it, just like the rapist likes the thought of terrorizing and dominating his victims.


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