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Prisoners have rights too, you know...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dcc001, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. Dcc001

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    An article about a 300% increase in the HIV rate amongst Canadian prisoners in the last year:

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.thewhig.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2547238" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.thewhig.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2547238</a>

    I'm of two minds on the subject of prisoner's rights. On the one hand, I think you can judge a society by how it treats its weakest members. With government cutbacks in health care and facilities for the mentally ill, prisons tend to be the de facto place where these people go. They subsequently deserve treatment.

    On the other hand, if someone stole from me, assaulted me, injured someone in my family, etc., I wouldn't give a shit about their circumstances - I'd want them punished, and I'd consider their rights forfeit.

    Focus: A discussion on the article, and the rights of inmates in general. Should they have better treatment? Worse?
     
  2. Durbanite

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    4.5%? HAHAHAH

    Canada has NOTHING on HIV Infection Rates compared to S.A. jails, mostly because ass rape is used as a punishment here. And those figures are from 2003.

    FOCUS: As for S.A. jails, they're completely overcrowded. The ones who cannot be rehabilitated (the ones with 3+ rapes, 3+ murders or 3+ armed robberies - the hardened guys) should get the death penalty. There would soon be less overcrowding.

    It really does depend on the inmate, though.
     
  3. Guy Fawkes

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    Why not just separate the prisoners with AIDS, Hep C, etc and put them in their own little wing? Put lube dispensers inside every cell and let them rape each other silly.

    If a prisoner has a terminal transmittable disease and they're prone to raping other inmates then they should be in solitary confinement anyways.
     
  4. Rob4Broncos

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    Agreed. The funny part is, at some point, a death row inmate will get raped by someone with a said disease, and later on down the line when he's about to be executed, they'll swab him up good because God forbid he gets infected.
     
  5. MoreCowbell

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    This may seem like an odd question...but what SHOULD the HIV rate for prisoners be?

    I mean, yeah, 4.5% might be a little of the high side.

    On the other hand, these men and women use and sell drugs, commit sexual assault, etc. Wouldn't they be exactly the sort of people you would expect to get HIV?

    If this were a Venn diagram, wouldn't you expect quite a bit of overlap between "People who engage in unsafe sex and aren't careful with their needles" and "People who end up in jail for one reason or another"?
     
  6. Robbie Clark

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    I can't comment on Canada's prison system, but the whole thing in the USA should be undone for the vast majority of prisoners. Excepting the most violent and sadistic (murderers and torturers, child rapists) that would probably be executed in short order, the "prisoners" should be put to work to repay their debts to those they've injured and allowed to live as normal lives as a criminal that is shunned by society can.

    It's even legal! Put these bastards to work. Don't pay to cage and feed them and just make them even less productive members of society than they already are.
     
  7. effinshenanigans

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    (Moving away from the ass raping part of prisoner rights) I work for a foundation for the blind and I routinely get letters from blind inmates asking about ways to receive braille material for them to read and, in some cases, requests to act as an advocate on their behalf in their pursuit to be given legal documents in braille form.

    In most cases, I forward their information to organizations who handle these things. However, one particular inmate claimed he was blatantly denied any accessible material, whether it is of a legal nature or not, and that it was difficult to find someone to read to him. Most of the time he was blown off; the guards essentially told him it was too bad. He wanted the legal material so that he could hopefully build an appeals case, but aside from that (probably hopeless scenario), he just wanted shit to read, period. In cases like this, braille is the only realistic option, as I'm sure that whatever computers the inmates are allowed to use, if any at all, are not equiped with screen reading software for the blind.

    In his case, I copied his letter and sent it to the specific state's ACLU and State Attorney's Office. I figure if it's a rights issue and he's truly being denied access to any reading material he would benefit from, someone from one of those two organizations would handle it. If they brushed it aside, then whatever, but at least I tried something. I felt that even murderers can have access to a library (or books on a cart), so regardless of his crimes, he should be able to read something while he's in there, even if it is a few braille versions of National Geographic from 1987 that are donated and made available to him.

    If he asked for some of that new braille porn that was just released, it'd be different. But to deny a blind guy accessible reading material altogether didn't seem right.
     
  8. ghettoastronaut

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    Well, that's kind of it, isn't it. The judicial system would go to shit if we let the victims, or more specifically the emotions of the victims, decide the punishment. Because in so doing, the emotions of the victim would also decide the guilt.

    It's not that I clamour for the rights of the poor and oppressed child molesters of the world. It's the same way that a parent spanking a child as punishment is different from an alcoholic father beating his kids for shits and giggles: one is cold and rational, and the other is sadistic. Rejecting that sadistic tendency in punishing criminals is one of the things that separates us from the 15th century, and from parts of the world that are still in the 15th century. By all means, lock up a murderer or child molester for the rest of his life, in solitary confinement if need be, but I won't consent to my tax dollars being used to look the other way while he gets infected with HIV and hepatitis. Among other things, the HIV and hepatitis will cause more of my tax dollars to be spent on treating their problems, and if that guy gets released back into the public, well, you see how the problem propagates itself.

    Pretty much anyone in an institutionalized setting with a high population concentration and common living areas is at increased risk of any infectious disease. Old people in nursing homes, prisoners, soldiers in barracks, etc. IV drug use with infected needles is highly likely to wind up in someone getting an active HIV infection.
     
  9. MoreCowbell

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    Not quite what I meant. What I mean is a lot of them probably have HIV when they walk in the door, because that's the sort of demographics that prison draws from. Many of these people had HIV before they got there.

    My point is, I don't know what the "acceptable" level of prisoners with HIV should be, but it presumably would be MUCH higher than the rate in the general population.

    Saying that prisoners have an abnormally high rate of HIV is almost like saying that bears shit in the woods.
     
  10. scotchcrotch

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    They're not in prison to get it up the pooper with a nice case of HIV.

    If America decided that rape is an appropriate punishment, then the government would assign a rape administrator to each prison. This would be the best way to adminster equal rapes to all prisoners- equal length and girth, lube or no lube, reach around, you get the idea.

    I think the main reason rape isn't an official punishment is that some may like it.
     
  11. dubyu tee eff

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    This is generally how I feel as well. It is troubling because you can't really discuss appropriate treatment of prisoners without first visiting who should be in jail in the first place. While I support something like a mandatory volunteer work program for prisoners, the logistics of it are difficult. Preventing escape would be very difficult if they were allowed to run around in the open. At the same time, the majority of prisoners in the US are in there on drug charges which I don't think should be illegal in the first.

    I also can't stand how much prisoners cost(I think I heard somewhere an estimate of 20 grand per prisoner per year. anyone want to help me out here?). This is all taxpayer money going to some of our most worthless citizens. Some of the most sadistic should definitely be put to death. If they are going to be in prison for the rest of their lives, might as well kill them off.

    I think ideally I would prefer a system where drugs were legalized, the legal process was much quicker with fewer appeals and immediate administration of punishment, along with a prison system where criminals who commit smaller crimes or white collar crimes were put to work doing something productive like cleaning up the streets. Plus, a greater role for psychiatric treatment for mentally unstable people, and a quick route to lethal injection for the most dangerous and sadistic.

    Clearly, the system we have now falls far short of this ideal and I think the issue of prison and legal reform really doesn't get as much airtime as it should. I'd really like to see a politician bring this up as an issue.
     
  12. scotchcrotch

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    You point out the insane costs of housing a prisoner and then suggest capital punishment?

    You do know it costs more to execute someone than to house them for life?
     
  13. Danger Boy

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    Wait, what?

    Blind prisoners are a somewhat common thing? What the fuck are they in for? Trying to drive and running over a bunch of people? Joining a skeet shooting club and accidentally blasting a teammate?
    I could see a blind person going to jail for selling drugs or tax aversion or something like that, but I didn't think there was much more that they could get away with.
     
  14. Dcc001

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    When this discussion comes up, as I said, I'm torn. Whenever I see shows on television ('Lockdown,' etc) that outline the plight of prisoners all that I can think of is, "Yeah, but what did they do to get there?" I have zero sympathy for someone who harms anyone else, particularly children. I don't care how fucked up their own background is.

    However, this should not be an emotional question. The best way to approach it, I think, is by asking this: What solution produces the most benefit for society? From that perspective, it's easy to see that a huge population of infected people who have direct access to drugs, prostitution and health care service workers (when they OD, the corrections officers with medical training, etc.) is just about the worst option you could think of. Plus - in Canada at least - unless you murdered 24 kids with a sharpened spoon and ate their hearts you're eventually going to be released. Does subjecting a prisoner to deplorable abuse produce someone who is fit to be released to society?

    This question was addressed (sort of) by Malcolm Gladwell in this story. It's long, but if you have the time I strongly suggest you read it. In it, he argues that when it comes to complex problems - homelessness, severe addiction, chronic offenders, etc - the resources should be targeted at those who have the most extreme cases. I won't turn this into a thread discussing Gladwell's article, but suffice to say the method he discusses is all-around cheaper and more effective. The problem, as he puts it, is that when it comes to these kinds of questions you can either have your morals or your fix, but not both.
     
  15. MooseKnuckle

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    Oh boy, I could write a book on this. Suffice it to say, I think that 50 years from now we'll be looking back at the current prison system and wonder how the fuck we could have treated these people the way we do. The sad thing is that the public perception of prisons is that they are cushy places where inmates get their food and TV and all the amenities of a 3-5 year taxpayer funded vacation. In reality, an American prison is a truly horrible place. I have an uncle that worked at a bunch of different prisons and he constantly had new stories about murders, assaults, rapes, etc. The most recent story was of a kid who was brutally murdered by 6 or 7 gang members. They repeatedly stomped his head, shanked the shit out of him, and just generally fucked him up. The kid didn't do anything, they just picked a random person to attack because they wanted to send a message to a rival gang or some stupid shit. The kid was in prison for fucking burglary. While I agree that a burglar should be punished, I think that putting him into that shit hole of an institution is more than a little cruel.

    Stories like this aren't uncommon. Jokes about sharing a jail cell with Bubba and dropping the soap in the shower are part of the national lexicon. Partly because prison rape and beatings are fairly common occurrences. Scotchcrotch touched on this, but all these ancillary forms of punishment (beatings, rapes, murders) are commonly accepted by the general public, but nobody is ever sentenced to any of these things explicitly. Would anyone allow judges to sentence someone to prison for 5 years with 4 rapes and 15 beatings scattered in there somewhere? Well, that's basically what is currently happening, but most people shrug it off with a "well he shouldn't have stolen that car then". And in the prison setting, it's usually the least violent criminals who are assaulted by the more violent ones, so these unofficial punishments aren't even fairly distributed. The whole thing is a big huge fucking mess and I hope public perception can change sometime soon.
     
  16. bewildered

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    I think the main goal of prison should be to remove a threat from society. Therefore, it is important to reform a criminal while he/she is in there, otherwise, you aren't doing anything long term for society. If the crime is heinous enough and it is decided by mental health experts/professionals that the criminal really has no hope of changing their ways (for instance, serial killers and serial pedophiles), then they should be executed.

    I find it perfectly acceptable to give prisoners jobs during the duration of their stay in federal/state facilities. This should be not punishment, but something to offset the costs of their upkeep.

    Housing a bunch of thugs and rapists together with nothing to do except cause harm to each other seems like such a pointless thing. They are only going to make each other worse and more damaged. They are not being influenced by positive things.

    It's easy to get emotional about horrible crimes involving innocents, but it's important to think of the solution and not the problem. Once the crime is committed, you've got to figure out what to do to keep it from happening again. If you aren't going to execute the offender, then what is to keep that person from doing it again, in the public or in prison?
     
  17. Robbie Clark

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    Furthering my previous point, and after some more thinking about it, we in the USA really need a system of restitution for criminal acts that aren't heinous like some of those people have listed. A system much more similar to civil courts and based on restitution to the victims not "society" whomever that is. If I rob your house, instead of being charged by the state and sent to its prison, I would pay you the debt or work my debt to you off, not be a burden on the taxpayers rotting in a jail.

    Edit: Those that tried to flee or refuse to pay could be placed into a prison or jail and involuntary servitude.

    This is not flawless, as it makes it pretty easy for super rich people to get away with crimes, but is that really so different than things now? That problem could be worked out. I think it would be a much better system for the average taxpayer and the average criminal.

    And I totally agree with dubyu tee eff about ending the drug war. That would reduce the prison population, not to mention violent crime, drastically.
     
  18. Kubla Kahn

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    I've always wondered how prisons are organized when it comes to placing inmates. I've heard that in some prisons there are whole units were non violent offenders are placed where there is a sort of honor code that they won't be involved in prison violence/illegal activities as long as they serve out their term peacefully. If they screw up they are placed in the general dog eat dog population. It seems reasonable that prisons should segment prisoners based on severity of their crime and likelyhood to commit more violence. What good does it do to throw everyone in the same shark tank?
     
  19. cdite

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    Not really on topic but I spent a day in county jail, in a solitary cell for a unpaid traffic ticket that was just about a year old that I could have sworn I paid. I got to wear the classy orange jump suit and the brown crocs, I about went insane in that 24hour period, I can't even begin to comprehend how the people with long term sentences do it.
     
  20. hawkeyenick

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    Restitution does exist as part of the justice system, but there are problems with it. Many of the criminals have next to no money. Know what happens when they can't pay their restitution? They get sent to jail. It's pretty hard not to compound the problems this way.
    In law school, my Crim Law professor was big on teaching the theories of punishment. The 2 main theories are retribution and rehabilitation. Depending on your view, then either theory can be the ideal. The moderates, like myself, tend to find a blend of the 2 to be ideal. I have no problem with removing criminals from society at large, I think its best. The problem is that prison, in its current form, is no place for most people to be rehabilitated. Some are successful in becoming productive members of society following their prison stay, but many prisoners are recidivists because their time in prison essentially reinforces their status as a criminal. For example, I toured the county jail in my hometown. It was ridiculously overcrowded, something like 2-3 times the number of prisoners compared to the capacity it was built for. But the most interesting/terrifying thing of it was that it was segregated. As in, the Latino prisoners in one block, black prisoners in another, and white prisoners in yet another. Even worse was the fact that the prison really had no choice but to segregate because they had far less violence with the segregated system than when they allowed the prisoners to be integrated within the cell blocks.
    Now, how are we, as a society, to expect a prisoner to be rehabilitated while in prison when they cannot even interact with people of other races? Surely they will need to be able to do this in society. And this prison was actually trying hard to do the right things. They offered substance abuse counseling, prison ministry (say what you will about religion, I do, but it is better than nothing), and even life skills classes (things like how to balance a checkbook or create a budget, skills which many of the prisoners desperately need). They were even trying to create working within the prison to be a privilege. Things like working in the kitchen or helping to clean, these were freedoms that became desired because it got the prisoners out of the cell block. The prison treated them as a reward that encouraged the prisoners to behave, and it did have some positive effect for the guys who got those opportunities. The problem is, these things exist in far to small of quantities to rehabilitate anything more than a small percentage of the prison population.