First written 11/1/17, linked in previous item, worth a reprint.
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An article in Aeon starts with an excellent and evocative question:
Should life in jail be worse than outside, on principle?
Author Chris Barker is a prof at a small POST-Christian college (Methodist) in Winfield. You don’t see articles by Kansans in fancy websites very often, so I decided to read it.
Unfortunately the author fails to hit the main question. Instead he runs the usual post-Christian crap. He misdefines Populism as usual, and focuses on an odd concept of ‘Eligibility’ which is never fully defined.
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Barker cites two old principles that have supposedly shaped prisons.
1. In 1832, the economist Nassau William Senior described how the ‘first and most essential of all conditions’ in administering relief to the poor is that … the conditions in the workhouse should be awful: worse even than the poorest of the poor.
2. Jeremy Bentham argued … a more commonsense equality principle – offenders should have access to no more resources than they had while free.
Principle 1 is understandable but unevenly and inconsistently applied. Principle 2 is crazy. A Mafia boss should be allowed to continue running his empire, but not allowed to increase it? Shkreli should be allowed to continue killing sick people, but only at the current rate? Crazy.
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I’ll answer the question my way, based on actual experience in prison plus some REAL KANSAN and REAL POPULIST thinking from JM Graybill. (ie the usual Polistran crap.)
Instead of CONDITIONS AND RESOURCES, I’ll focus on PURPOSES AND SKILLS.
The basic PURPOSE of life, the GOD-ASSIGNED DUTY of life, is to make more life, more order, more value. Criminals, whether common thieves or bankers or government officials, are in the opposite business. Criminals destroy life, decrease order, ruin value.
In any discussion of handling criminals you have to start with the three sources of criminality, traditionally summarized as “the Sad, the Bad, and the Mad.”
How do we turn each of these categories from value-destroyers to value-creators, without adding more danger to the society of non-criminals?
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1. The Sad aren’t really criminals. They are young Deplorables who hope to gain status and COOLness by associating with the Bad. They start helping gangsters by stealing cars or small amounts of money, and the gangsters use them mercilessly because juvies typically don’t get jail time. [When you can hire employees who frequently take 90-day vacations at state expense, or employees who don’t take vacations, you’re bound to choose the latter.]
We can help them best by training them in a genuinely useful and marketable skill. We should force them to serve as an apprentice creator instead of an apprentice destroyer. In earlier times, before post-Christian idiots used the crazy concept of “rights” to ruin civilization, we actually did use forced apprenticeships, and they worked well.
The crucial point is that the GENUINELY USEFUL WORK must yield a VISIBLE COMPLETED RESULT AT THE END OF EACH DAY. [More often is better but daily is sufficient.] After a year or so, the intrinsic satisfaction of DOING YOUR GOD-ASSIGNED DUTY becomes ingrained, and the daily requirement can be loosened. When you have the taste of doing your DUTY and getting paid, the illicit thrill of criminality fades. Long-term pursuit of goals replaces short-term impulsiveness.
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2. The Bad are innately criminal. They are born with a tendency to accomplish goals by destruction instead of creation. This is often described as something for nothing which misses the point. The pro criminal is willing to work hard for a goal, provided the work involves more harm than good.
Ordinary apprenticeships outside the walls won’t help, because the pro criminal will find a way to use the work for criminal purposes. So we need to develop and use their creative purpose in a more restrictive environment.
Even now, actual prisons often manage to provide this setup. Again the Sorosian “rights” monsters are constantly trying to get rid of useful work in prison, because “rights” monsters want criminals to be maximally destructive when they transfer to the Sorosian army. The only permissible skill is a skill that enriches Soros.
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3. The Mad are outright psychopaths who have no redeeming value, no reformable remnant. In the current situation we use their evil skills beautifully as hedge fund managers, journalists and government officials. A few psychopaths are unfashionably delusional, ie paranoid about something other than Russia. These misguided madmen end up in prison or insane asylums. There’s no point in trying to retrain the Mad, whether fashionable or not. Just lock them up.
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The last two paragraphs have aged especially well. I might replace Soros with Bezos now, since Soros has more or less retired.