Originally Posted by Mirinae
I think the condition of our prisons says less about the people detained in them than it says about the people who created the prisons and who maintain them. The purpose of prison is detainment and punishment by detainment; prison is not meant to be painful. It's a box where you place bad people so they're away from the rest of society. There are varying levels of security, of course, as some people warrant stricter conditions than others, but all in all a basic level of humanity is expected to be maintained. Prisoners do suffer abuse, humiliation and degradation in prison, but typically at the hands of fellow prisoners; they are not put in prison to be beaten, raped or degraded. While I don't think prison should be a fun place where everyone sits around having fun parties, I also don't think prisoners should suffer anything more than the effects of incarceration (boredom, withdrawal from society, etc.).
We often say "well, why should we treat them well? Why should we treat our prisoners humanely? They didn't treat their victims humanely." The thing is, though, we're not the ones in prison. We understand what it means to be humane; we ought to understand what it means to be compassionate -- regardless of what the prisoners did in the first place. Why should we stoop to their level, in other words? Aren't we supposed to be demonstrating that we're better than they are?
Now, for all I know this guy is just complaining because he can't receive his subscription to Forbes magazine or because they made him eat meatloaf two nights in a row, but if the conditions really are deplorable and inhumane, shouldn't we, as supposedly humane people, try to improve them? Not because we believe the prisoners deserve better treatment, but because we, as their caretakers, are supposed to be better than the people we incarcerate.
Oh yeah. THANK YOU for that post.
Prisoners should not have the same kinds of lives that we have - no way, not at all. But to make ourselves just as bad as they are is not excused by the fact that we have the law on our sides.
I challenge anyone who thinks that prisoners have it easy to spend half an hour in an actual prison. I think that you would leave with a very different perspective.
And, I hate to say this, but our justice system is not infallible. What about the people in prisons doing hard time, who are actually not guilty of the crime of which they were convicted? Do they deserve living hell for the rest of their lives?
No, in a civilised society, prison should be about incarceration and keeping the convicted out of society where they could do more harm. It is NOT about the violation of basic human rights. It is punishment enough to never be allowed out, to never be safe, to have no privacy, to have to live in prison IS about restricting rights, privileges and lowering the standard of living. Prisoners do NOT have a good time - it's not all roses and chocolates.
Prison, however, is not about keeping people in hellholes, abused, mistreated and in conditions unfit for any human. They create enough of that for themselves as inmates without us imposing it on them, too. Where is our compassion? Where is that quality that makes us different from them? It's too easy to say, `Well, they had no compassion toward their victims'. That is not relevant. That is saying `They did this, therefore so can I - and it's ok because I am on the right side of the fence'. Isn't our capacity for humanity, for forgiveness, what makes us better than them? That we can be compassionate even though our souls cry out for revenge?
I get tired and frustrated with the prevailing attitude that people who commit crimes should be locked up, forgotten about and the key thrown away. Not only that, but also should be tortured, abused and made to suffer as much as possible. Who are we to be so almighty and point the finger? Who are we to know the circumstances and situations that led to the crime in the first place? We're not, and until we spend time with these people and learn about them, we'll never know what their lives were like and what led them to commit crimes. Many people will protest at this - why should we learn? Who cares what led them to it? Well, we should care. For in understanding grows education, and if we can learn what to do as individuals and societies to help these people before it's too late, then we can have some hope of prevention in the future. People are not born evil, they are led to evil through bad decisions, bad circumstances, bad parenting, bad upbringings - a number of reasons and terrible situations most of us couldn't begin to imagine. To prevent crime, especially violent crime, we need to understand the reasons it happens.
I am not being the bleeding heart for criminals here. People who commit crimes deserve to be punished. But let's be honest. We need to show why we are better than the people who commit crimes against us. If we sentence men and women to lives of suffering and misery above and beyond what is expected and deserved in prisons - regardless of what they did in the first place - we have no right to call ourselves a civilised society.