Friday, April 25, 2008
The Tyranny of the State, Part 2
In this second installment of Tyranny of the State, I want to discuss the issue of incarceration; it's failure to produce a significant drop in the crime rate (among other problems), and why the current system of criminal prosecution fails to address the victims of crime.
I want to begin by saying that I can understand many peoples' opinions regarding incarceration for crimes, such as murder, theft, etc. (I think it's more of an emotional issue; not an intellectual one, which I'll get to later). The problem though is with the current system as it is set up now, the criminal gets prosecuted, while the victim gets used by the system purely as its evidence of wrong doing. Instead of the actual victim being acknowledged, the state takes the victim's place as the one being victimized, because the criminal broke some law of the state's. The victim gets no restitution with this process, and if a murder is carried out, or property gets stolen, what kind of compensation does the victim get (in the case of murder I'm referring to the deceased's loved ones)? I must also add, though, that “up until the Norman Conquest, Angelo-Saxons disapproved of prisons as a constructive form of punishment. To them, it made the perpetrator lazy, left no incentive for restitution, and added to the public tax burden” (Source: Every Man and Woman An Island, by Robert Clapp, page 113).
Some might argue that a victim could sue someone, under the current system, who had harmed them or violated their rights in some way, but what if the criminal has nothing to sue for? What then? This highlights one of the Achilles' heels of our current legal system.
As an example of the latter form of criminal “justice,” let me tell you about a man named Ed Marshall; he had his own cabinet and woodworking business. On April of 1992, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Joseph Tate (age 28) broke into Marshall's store and stole tools, materials, and money, all totaling $18,000. Three months later, because of a tip, he was arrested. Because it was Tate's first offense the judge took it easy on him and only sentenced him to five years probation and community service. Then, less than a year later, Tate robbed Marshall again. This time Tate made off with $4,500 in goods.
The same judge as before gave Tate eight months in jail, and five more years of probation, and more community service. Once again, when Tate got out of jail, he and two accomplices robbed Marshall; they stole his company truck, and (as of about 2004-2005) have not been caught yet (Source: Every Man and Woman An Island, by Robert Clapp, page 115).
With the current system that we have, what kind of “justice” can it possibly provide for this poor business owner? None. He has lost a total of $22,500, not including whatever his truck was worth.
Let's look at another situation now. This time, we will see a different kind of “justice.” One which not only saved tax payers thousands of dollars, but also acknowledged the victim, who also got compensation, instead of having the criminal put through the “justice” system.
In Tucson, Arizona on February of 1990 Fred Stone (age 26) broke into the home of 76 year old Emma Treats and stole her color TV. Just as with the last case we looked at, this was Stone's first offense, and so with the approval of the prosecutor's office, Stone's 'punishment' was that he was to return Mrs. Treat's TV. But Stone also agreed to paint her house, mow her lawn, and drive her to the doctor for her weekly check up. Because of this, Stone avoided a jail sentence, and as I said before, saved thousands of dollars, and the victim was given some form of compensation. Also, the criminal was put to good use, instead of having him thrown in jail and wasting money on his incarceration (Source: Every Man and Woman An Island, by Robert Clapp, page 116).
Another good example of victims getting restitution for a crime committed against them is California's Crime Victims Fund, which is purely by donation only, and according to their website, over the last 25 years they have helped over 8,800 victims, with over 1.3 million dollars. The kind of crimes which this fund helps with include robbery, assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, drunk driving, sexual assault, molestation, murder, and other violent and non-violent crimes (Source: http://www.crimevictimsfund.org/about.html).
I was reading a synopsis of some of the victims that the fund has helped and one of the cases involved a man who was robbed when he was out of town, and the fund bought him a ticket home and a check to buy food for the trip home.
Another story involves a girl who's stepfather molested her. She told her mother and after the stepfather was prosecuted, the fund assisted the family in moving to smaller, less expensive housing.
One piece of political bullshit is told in another story where a man, who was currently on parole at the time, was shot to death after protecting an elderly woman from being beaten to death by her assailant. Later that day, the assailant drove past and shot the man who had protected her. Because he was on parole the state's policy says it is not to assist anyone on parole, and so the family did not get proper compensation for the expenses of burying him, but the fund did give the family $500 towards the burial expenses (Source: http://www.crimevictimsfund.org/victims.html).
This is a good example of a donation-only fund being used how it would be used similarly in an anarchist society, but once again, the state rears its ugly head and puts needless limitations on who can be helped.
Other than that horrible decision in policy making, I think this example of a fund for victims is a good, current example of how compensation for victims would work in an anarchist society.
Another example of an insurance company is Lloyd's of London, who insure just about anything, from "love insurance," one's golf opponent making a hole in one, or losing one's lover. If these oddball examples are insured (Source: http://www.trivia-library.com/a/weird-insurance-policy-lloyds-of-london-bank.htm), then many other kinds of policies against rape, the death of a loved one, assault, etc. , could be covered as well. In this way, the victim gets a monetary compensation for their pain and suffering. In fact, in Every Man and Woman An Island, by Robert Clapp, he mentions a woman taking out a policy against rape for, I believe it was, a million dollars with Lloyd's of London, so this kind of thing is taking place even now.
One example of this happened in June of 1992 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when the twenty-three year old Sue Clayton was raped on the New Mexico University campus while returning to her dorm room from an evening class. Sue's father was an insurance company executive, and one of the policies he had written up for his family was a rider on a life insurance policy for his wife and two daughters covering the chance of rape. Even though the rapist wasn't caught (as of the published date of my source), Sue received $150,000 in a settlement (Source: Every Man and Woman an Island, by Robert Clapp, page 116).
Another aspect to this system would be that the criminal can work to pay the retribution to the victim, but only if he agrees to do so. If not, the victim can be compensated through an insurance company.
In fact, this system was actually used within the Anglo-Saxon "laws of custom." "It was a classification of a society's customs used to determine restitution to victims. The state system of today was founded through the royal rules of monarchies. It became the main system following the Norman invasion. Its sole purpose was to design 'laws' that entrenched the power of kings, primarily for increasing royal revenue. This perverted system of power that goes back to the 'divine rights of kings' undermined a free system of privately enforced tort law to pay victims. The state's violent usurpation of power brought horrible consequences. The most disastrous was the destruction of restitution for the victim in favor of incarceration for the criminal" (Source: Every Man and Woman An Island, by Robert Clapp, page 112).
Up until that time restitution had established justice and law in three unique ways:
1. The victim's loss was paid back usually with additional reward.
2. The return of lost value most often placated the victim's cry for blood.
3.The payment of debt and fines by the criminal very often set up a system for the criminal to return to the community (Source: Every Man and Woman An Island, by Robert Clapp, pages 112-113).
Some might not agree with this form of retribution but from a poll that was conducted by the Advocates for Self Government, people were asked to indicate which system of justice they would prefer:
The traditional one where a suspect is indicted for a crime against the state and if found guilty goes to prison, but the victim receives nothing. Or, a free-market system where the victim receives direct restitution from the perpetrator and/or from an insurance company, regardless of what happens to the perpetrator – even if he went free.
An astonishing 78% chose the free-market system.
A large reason why so many people are in favor of the punishment of criminals is because with the system they are currently bound by, they get no compensation, and so they vent their anger and frustrations upon the criminal and hope he gets the worst punishment possible. Where as, if victims were actually acknowledged, people would feel less anger towards the criminal as long as they were compensated in some way that they were satisfied with. I think this poll does much to verify this.
Other than the current system's refusal to acknowledge the victims of crime, the act of putting criminals in jail doesn't do much to curb the overall amount of crime. Plus, even when inmates get out of prison, many of them commit crimes again, and if they are even caught in the first place, the whole cycle starts all over again, with the victims receiving nothing and the whole process costing money that could be used for more constructive purposes, such as money for youth programs, education, etc.
For example, in Texas, since the 1990's it has tripled the capacity of its prisons, increasing the number of prisoners faster than any other state. Texas' incarceration rate is 51% higher than the national average, however, despite the large increase in prisoner incarceration, the crime rate has not declined in Texas (Source: 2007 Texas' Criminal Justice Solutions: A Policy Guide, page 1).
In another study that was conducted in January of 2007 it was estimated that, even with 5.6 million people in prisons, it only reduced the crime rate by 25%.
As far as if prisons reduce the crime rate, "using national-level data, researchers have found that a 10 % higher incarceration rate is associated with anywhere from a 9 % to a 22 % lower crime rate. In contrast, analysis using state-level data found a weaker association, concluding that a 10 % increase in incarceration is associated with a crime rate that is anywhere from 0.11 % to 4 % lower. Similar estimates have been generated from studies using country-level data, ranging from a 2 % to a 4 % crime-rate difference."
In fact, several studies have found no relationship between incarceration rates and crime rates at all.
There are varying results depending on the study, but all across the board, the studies generally conclude that building more prisons and incarcerating more people, doesn't have much of an impact on the crime rate.
In fifteen studies done on the impact of incarceration on crime rate, which are dated from 1988 to 2006, the most reduction of crime that was found to be due to incarceration was 28.4 %, which was from the study done by Devine, Sheley, and Smith, done in 1988. More recent studies done in 1996, by Levitt, showed a 3.8 % decrease in violent offenses, and a 2005 study done by Spelman shows a 4.4 decrease in violent offenses (Source: Reconsidering Incarceration: New Directions for Reducing Crime – Jan. 2007, by Don Stemen).
The Spelman and Levitt studies have concluded that with every 10 % increase in incarceration, a 4 % decrease in crime is seen. Looking at all this data, it's pretty clear that incarceration doesn't do much at all in affecting the crime rate. For a ten percent increase, you only get as much as a four percent drop in the crime rate. Anyone who thinks that shows progress clearly doesn't have their head on straight.
From the same study, Reconsidering Incarceration: New Directions for Reducing Crime, it was shown that in certain neighborhoods incarceration actually lead to increasing crime rates. The theory is, judging from several studies, that communities can reach an incarceration "tipping point," when incarceration rates get so high that it breaks down the "social and family bonds that guide individuals away from crime," and take away adults who would otherwise nurture their children. It tends to "deprive communities of income, reduce future income potential, and engender a deep resentment toward the legal system. As a result, communities become less capable of maintaining social order through families or social groups, crime rates go up."
Another study done in 2000 showed that "[b]etween 1991 and 1998, those states that increased incarceration at rates that were less than the national average experienced a larger decline in crime rates than those states that increased incarceration at rates higher than the national average" (Source: Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship, by The Sentencing Project, page 3).
According to the study, Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship, "[t]rends between 1998 and 2003 at the state level continue to demonstrate no significant impact of increased incarceration rates on reducing crime (page 4).
Other than the lack of effectiveness in reducing crime to any real degree, as of 2000, over half (56.9 %) of individuals in prison are drug offenders (Source: Incarceration and Crime: A Complex Relationship, by The Sentencing Project, page 5). What's the point of locking people up for these petty "crimes?" None whatsoever! They aren't even crimes! As Lysander Spooner said, "vices are not crimes." The government or the state does not need to regulate morality! Even more, what gives them the 'right' to do so in the first place? In Lost Rights James Bovard observes, "Most of the drugs outlawed are indeed harmful, but political grandstanding and endless crackdowns on users have failed to end widespread illicit drug use. Federal drug policy has been vastly more effective in punishing people - over one million americans are arrested for drug crimes each year - than in reforming their habits" (page 199). According to studies done in 2001, by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, it costs $20,674 to house an inmate. The Federal average cost is $23,542, and the State average is $20,261 (Source: www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/treatment/index.html). Even though the tax payer pays for these drug offenders to be in prison, only about 40% of drug and alcohol counseling was available in Federal, State, and local adult and juvenile correctional facilities. According to a study only about 173,000 adults and juveniles were in those substance abuse treatment programs (Source: www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/treatment/index.html). How in the hell is a meager number such as 173,000 going to help the several million people who are in prisons for drug crimes? Instead of locking these people up get them help if they so desire, but just doing nothing except putting them behind bars, and not offering any kind of detox program for all the people who need it isn't helping anything.
More problems arise because only "[a]pproximately 73% of local jails provide drug treatment or programs, with 32.1% providing detoxification, 29.6% providing drug education, and 63.7% providing self-help programs. About 61% of convicted jail inmates who committed their offenses under the influence of drugs or alcohol had received treatment in the past (Same source as above).
But, I've gotten off topic here some, so I'll continue with the subject of incarceration.
Aside from the large amount of drug offenders in prisons, in 2002 a study came out from the Justice Department showing that in the year 2001 "the number of prisoners in America rose to 1.8 million last year, the highest level ever, and the second largest prison population in the world. Using the most recent Justice Department data, the Justice Policy Institute found that last year two-thirds of those 1.8 million were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, representing the first time in American history that more than one million (1,185,458) people were confined for crimes involving no violence."
Some of the findings were that "[c]ontrary to the public perception that the incarceration of violent offenders has driven America's prison growth, the Institute found that 77% of the growth in intake to America's state and federal prisons between 1978 and 1996 was accounted for by nonviolent offenders. According to data collected by the United States Justice Department, from 1978 to 1996, the number of violent offenders entering our nation's prisons doubled (from 43,733 to 98,672 inmates); the number of nonviolent offenders tripled (from 83,721 to 261,796 inmates) and the number of drug offenders increased seven-fold (from 14,241 to 114,071 inmates). Justice Department surveys show that 52.7% of state prison inmates, 73.7% of jail inmates, and 87.6% of federal inmates were imprisoned for offenses which involved neither harm, nor the threat of harm, to a victim. Based on this data, we estimate that by the end of 1998, there were 440,088 nonviolent jail inmates, 639,280 nonviolent state prison inmates, and 106,090 nonviolent federal prisoners locked up in America, for a total 1,185,458 nonviolent prisoners."
Besides that, there is more bad news. "Institute researchers found, in total, it cost America $24 billion to incarcerate its 1 .2 million nonviolent offenders last year. The $24 billion figure is almost 50% larger than the entire $16.6 billion the federal government currently spends on a welfare program that serves 8.5 million people. The costs of incarcerating 1.2 million non-violent offenders is 6 times more than the federal government spent on child care for 1.25 million children."
This study also mirrors previous studies I've mentioned. Other findings state that, "[i]t has been argued that this growth in imprisonment has reduced crime across the nation. Yet jurisdictions which have zealously increased their incarceration rates have not experienced higher crime drops than jurisdictions that have had made more modest use of incarceration.
Between 1992 and 1997, California's prison population grew by 30%, or about 270 inmates per week, compared to New York State's more modest growth of 30 inmates a week. While New York's violent crime rate 38.6 % and its murder rate fell by 54.5 % over the same period, California's violent crime rate fell by a more modest 23%, and its murder rate fell by 28%. Put another way, New York experienced a percentage drop in homicides which was half again as great as the percentage drop in California's homicide rate, despite the fact that California added 9 times as many inmates per week to its prisons as New York.
Canada, a country with about as many people as the state of California, has about one fourth as many people behind bars, and provides a good contrast for judging the crime control value of mass incarceration. With 4.3 times as many prisoners, California has 4.6 times the homicide rate of Canada. Between 1992 and 1996, Canada increased its prison population by a modest 2,370 inmates (7%), while California's prison population grew by 36,069 inmates (25% ). Surprisingly, during that same period, both the Canadian and California homicide rates declined at exactly the same rate of 24%" (Source: www.cjcj.org/pubs/one_million/onemillionexec.html)
Other than all of the studies just cited about incarceration and crime rates, there are specific studies dealing with deterrence itself. From a 2005 paper by Stephen Wu called The Effectiveness of Imprisonment as a Deterrence-based Criminal Justice Response, it says on page 4, "Although [Deterrence Theory is] simplistic, the theory faces diverse criticisms regarding its assumptions. First, deterrence requires knowledge of the offenses and the penalties attached. This creates a high expectation for everyone...to know the entire criminal code... Secondly, deterrence assumes all individuals' rationality is constant and stable. Stable rationality implies a person's ability to consider long-term consequences. Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1995) low self-control individual, characterized by impulsivity and shortsightedness, contests this assumption. Wright, Caspi, Moffitt, & Paternoster (2004) points out low -self control individuals may on average be more present-oriented. However, all individuals 'discount future consequences to some extent' (p.207). For example, people chain smoke cigarettes, binge drink alcohol, speed excessively, and not wash their hands despite knowing the harm. The theory also neglects the general impulsivity, and 'diminished capacity' of youths and the inability to appreciate acts and consequences by persons with mental disabilities."
The paper continues, "Most contemporary criminological theory regards general deterrence as ineffective or irrelevant, and specific deterrence as counter-productive" (page 4).
On page 9-10 of Wu's paper, he cites a few studies. One is the following:
"Recent meta-analyses failed to support imprisonment as effective... Gendreau et al.'s (1999) meta-analysis of 50 studies with 336,052 offenders did not support deterrence. Longer sentences were associated with 3% in increase recidivism. Comparing incarceration to community-based corrections, incarceration had 7% more recidivism. Regarding high and low risk offenders, longer prison sentences did not deter either. Both high and lower risk offenders who spent more time in prison had increased recidivism of 3% and 4% respectively (p.16-17)...If incarceration and longer sentences are associated with recidivism, then they cannot be effective crime prevention initiative."
On page 12 Wu relates the story about the "Scared Straight" program, in which "at risk youth and young offenders were not officially incarcerated [but] they spent sessions in prison... While in prison, adult prisoners confronted the young offenders about the harsh realities of prison life as specific deterrence. The program hoped the vicarious experience teaches young offenders certainty, severity of punishment and deter youth from further crimes (Sherman et al. 1997; Bell, 2003:306). Although the program initially claimed 90% of the participants desisted from delinquency in a documentary (Bell, 2003:306), Finckenauer (1982) found that within 6 months of the sessions, 41.3% of the youth committed new offenses compared to 11.4% of the control group (p.135)."
Wu's paper concludes, "If superficial temporary imprisonment or vicarious experience of imprisonment, actual imprisonment, and longer sentences is associated with recidivism, it should be concluded that the use of imprisonment is criminogenic, rather than crime prevention" (page 13).
Another fact is that incarceration fails to deter violent crime because most violent crime is committed impulsively, in the heat of passion or under the influence of drugs.
Another problem is that incarceration doesn't do much to stop the recurrence of crime after a prisoner has been released. A recidivism study that was done in February of 2003 shows that the percentage of repeat offenders is going up. Data collected from a Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report on Recidivism indicates that within three years of being released, 67.5 % of released prisoners were re-arrested, 46.9 % were reconvicted for new crimes, 25.4 % were re-sentenced for a new crime, and 51.8 % returned to prison.
Another study that was done and reported in the Corrections Yearbook found that the recidivism rate was rising. In 1990, the recidivism rate was 31.7 %. By 2000, it increased to 33.8 % (Source: Data Spotlight: Recidivism, by the MTC Institute, February 2003).
Not only is incarceration ineffective in reducing the crime rate to a worthwhile amount, or rehabilitating inmates so as to prevent them from committing crimes once they are released, but prisons are not a safe environment.
According to the document, Confronting Confinement: A Report of The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons, by John J. Gibbons and Nicholas de B. Katzenbach, from June of 2006, it says on page six about the conditions within prison:
"...[T]here is still too much violence in America's prisons and jails, too many facilities that are crowded to the breaking point, too little medical and mental health care, unnecessary uses of solitary confinement and other forms of segregation..."
On page 21 some workers in prisons had this to say about some of their experiences:
"...former Mississippi warden Donald Cabana said, 'I've had to negotiate no fewer than eight hostage situations, deal with riots, et cetera."
Former New York superintendent Elaine Lord said, "I couldn't protect [the women] from being sexually preyed upon."
Former New Jersey prisoner Thomas Farrow described nighttime beatings where officers targeted certain prisoners.
Ron McAndrew, a former warden of the maximum security prison in Florida talked about "goon squads," which were small groups of violent officers that were beyond his control, and said that the abuse of prisoners was a problem throughout the Florida Department of Corrections.
While studies have, shown that prison violence has decreased over the years, with 54 homicides per 100,000 prisoners in 1980 to 4 per 100,000 in 2002 (page 24), there are problems with this data because "in some states, a number of facilities are not reporting assault data; in some states, the number of assaults reported is improbably low (page 25)...."
"In 13 states, 10 percent or more of the prisons failed to report assaults by prisoners against prisoners or against staff in both 1995 and 2000. Moreover, some states had even higher levels of non-reporting: For example, none of North Dakota's facilities reported prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in 1995, and a quarter of Ohio's facilities did not report that data in 2000" (page 25).
Though, as this poll suggests, a large majority of people do fear that their loved ones will be harmed, or become ill, in prison. 84% said they would worry about the person's physical safety, and 76% said they would be concerned about that person's health (page 29 - The poll was conducted in March and April of 2006 by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for the National Center for State Courts and the Commission On Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons).
On pages 31 to 32, the Confronting Confinement report stated that, "Stories of corrections officers resorting to extreme and brutal violence to assert their control stand out among news headlines. Not long ago in Sacramento, California, a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by a mortgage broker being held in the county jail for public intoxication [I must say what the hell is wrong with being drunk in public? Did he harm anyone while drunk? Since I don't have the facts of the case, I won't make any rash judgments, but just being drunk in public doesn't seem like any kind of crime to me- Ken]. The key piece of evidence in the suit, which alleges the sanctioned and ongoing use of excessive force in the jail, is a surveillance tape of the prisoner, who had refused to sit down in the drunk tank, lying in a pool of his own blood after an officer allegedly pushed him to the floor, cracking open his skull (Korber and Jewett 2005).
In the worst of cases, people die. Former General Counsel of the Texas prison system Steve Martin told the Commission that within the last five to seven years, he has served as an expert in more than 20 in-custody death cases in which prisoner died from being placed in a restraint chair, a restraint board, or four-or five-point restraints. In most of those cases the prisoners were mentally ill, and most of them died of asphyxia [a good example of the poor medical treatment for the mentally ill that many prisons provide. Plus, they should be in a hospital in the first place! – Ken]. A federal judge described numerous prisoners being stripped to their underwear and strapped to a mattress at the wrists, ankles, and across the chest for roughly 48 hours with only brief interruptions of mobility. Speaking about one prisoner in particular, the judge recounted evidence that he was in immense pain and hallucinating, and also urinated and vomited on himself..."
On page 32, Steve Martin told the commission that "pepper spray, TASER guns, and other non-lethal weapons are often used as a 'first strike' response before other tactics are considered or attempted. He recounted a situation in which a prisoner had refused to relinquish his dinner tray. The man was unarmed, locked securely in his cell, and weighed only 130 pounds. Before even entering the cell, an 'extraction team' of five officers and a sergeant discharged two multiple baton rounds, hitting the prisoner in the groin, dispensed two bursts of mace, and fired two TASER cartridges. The team then entered the cell and forcefully removed the prisoner."
Obviously these things don't happen on a daily basis at all prisons, but these problems are important ones, and once again highlights a problem with incarceration for punishment. What did most people in jail do that deserves such horrible treatment? Because over half of the people in prisons seem to be in there for non-violent, drug related crimes (judging from the studies I quoted earlier) I don't see how being treated like the above examples demonstrate is anywhere close to humane, or necessary.
After looking at all the data, I think the situation is very clear: incarceration does not work as a deterrent for crime. One also cannot neglect the fact the the violence in prisons ,while a minor point to my thesis, is still a relevant point because the punishment does not fit the crime - especially if it was nothing more than a drug charge, which shouldn't be listed as a crime anyhow.
The question logically follows, then, what do we do to those who commit crimes against individuals? Well, I kind of answered that near the beginning of the paper: you reward the victims, and don't worry as much about the criminal. As I've shown, threats of punishment, and punishment itself don't do much to reduce the amount of crime, and if you eliminate the state, and religion, which has murdered possibly billions combined over the centuries, then which is the greater evil? A mere serial killer might kill twenty people, but if you weigh the pros and cons, which is worse? The murder of 83,002-90,550 ( in civilian casualties alone, since the war started in 2003) has been documented (Source: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ - As of 4-25-08) due to the war in Iraq brought on by the lunatic George W. Bush, or twenty or thirty people? Obviously no murder would be ideal, but I don't see that as a logical possibility. In this way we can at least eliminate the greater evils (theism and statism) and compensate those who are victimized, or have lost loved ones.
As for the 'criminals' themselves, instead of locking them away in jails, attempt to help them, and rehabilitate them, and get them back into society. Try to get them off the drugs they are on, like cocaine; give them enough money for the things they need, a stable enviornment, and assign someone who helps them, looks out for them, and assists them through the rehabilitation process. All this progresses through the willingness of each individual, and through education; teaching them that many drugs can harm them, and going around harming people won't help his situation any, and help those individuals who want help to change their lives for the better.
Of course, logically, there will no doubt be many who don't want help, and I don't see any point in forcing help upon someone who doesn't want it. The whole point, though, is to raise the productivity and overall health of a society, and that way people will be less likely to feel they must steal, or harm others, to get ahead in this world. But rest assured, with more people feeling satisfied in their lives, the amount of needless crime will be reduced.
A big mistake people make in their thinking is that somehow police and government stop crime from happening. This is highly fallacious reasoning because law enforcement does nothing to stop crime; it simply punishes those who do commit a crime after it's been committed. And, as I've shown with this post, the policy of incarceration does not reduce the crime rate to a worthwhile amount, doesn't stop people from committing crimes once they have been released from being incarcerated, and it doesn't benefit the 'criminal' or the victim.
Why do people tolerate so much needless massacre, when it's possible to stop it? Why do people tolerate, and even defend, such an immoral and backward system? It just doesn't make any sense to me, and for anyone who's got their head on straight, it shouldn't make sense to anyone else either.
UPDATE! 5-19-08 - A Sea of Ignorance...
I'm just astounded at the level of ignorance that I've seen lately since I've posted this about incarceration. I show people the data during discussions on this issue - and even seemingly intelligent people - are blinded by their patriotism. It's the best way I can think of to explain it. They don't want to believe that their governments can't protect them, and their hellish prisons don't reduce the crime rate as they're so often made to believe, despite the mountains of evidence otherwise! Continuously they cherry pick the data showing that the crime rate drops by about 30% at the most according to many studies, and yet they completely ignore the other studies which not only show no change in the crime rate at all despite a higher incarceration rate, but sometimes, the crime rate actually goes higher with an increase of incarceration!!! Then they call me silly, or stupid for claiming that a 30% drop in the crime rate isn't doing anything! You didn't listen to anything else I said! There is a spectrum of percentages from absolutely no change, to some (but not even half), to it being the cause of a higher crime rate! So, there is a change being made in the crime rate...I've never denied that, but anyone who thinks that a mere 30% decrease in crime with all the millions we have locked away is showing progress has some serious mental issues. I'd say even the atheists I've discussed this with are no better than many theists when I show them data proving their beliefs false (You know who you are)!
It's just an amazing phenomenon to see. With me being a part of the atheist community for quite some time, and seeing how intelligent the majority of atheists are, and how they always go by the evidence, well, that is not entirely true. I tell them about the spectrum and all they see is the 30%. The data is across that broad spectrum, so to say that it's working as well as they'd like to believe, is plain false. If incarceration was truly effective we'd see more consistent findings, not this broad range of no change to low percentages.
At this point I feel I am living within a sea of ignorance and it's frightening.
Something that upsets me, also, is the fact that I decided to go and reply to these people once more to show how foolish they're being, and behold, the forum thread had been locked so no more comments could be posted. Then I go to another topic on the forum to express my displeasure, and that comment does not get posted either! Talk about censorship!!! Not to mention fear! Fear of the truth.
At first I figured I wouldn't name the group that censored me out of respect for fellow atheists, but because it is a well known atheist website, I figured what the hell. I have no loyalty to anyone. All I care about is truth. They were wrong in censoring me, and I'm not here to make friends, so who cares. I know I'm right; my data speaks for itself, as well as their inability to come up with a logical answer to my research. The site was daylightatheism.org.
I finally get my say in another post...
Censorship is Bullshit