Tatelyn Crowley-McKay

This conversation is closed.

What is the point in jail and punishment? most the time you come out feeling more rebellious!

Especialy if you were sent for life. what would be the point for you wpuld never come out so you would never get another chance you might as well be dead really? I'm not trying to be offencive in anyway but i'm just interested to know how that's geting taught a lesson?

please comment your views on this argument

Closing Statement from Tatelyn Crowley-McKay

These are all really really good explanations, thanyou i now have a much better understanding :)

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    Feb 6 2012: Having worked in prisons and with young offenders for 20 years i hope to offer something of value to your important question Tate.
    Most of the people in prisons have mental health issues and have probably been abused during their childhood. They have grown up in low socio economic groups, been exposed to drug use from an early age, and often come from a family where the offending is intergenerational. Often they have dropped out of school early because they have learning difficulties like ADHD and poor impulse control (which means they have trouble inhibiting acting on ideas that come into their minds like "steal that car" Often these people are unable to think of the consequences like you and I might.
    So given these set of circumstances, we have a problem. Society wishes for protection from angry violent people and people who might steal there things. For millenia the idea of bannishment has been the answer - send them away from the group. Bannishment is prison. Good simple idea. Problem solved. But not really. Just swept under the carpet. For a little while. These people will return to society with lower prospects of finding work/income, often homeless and with increased mental health issues. Problem not solved - problem worse.
    I have experienced the prison culture and it is the prisoners culture/ mind set that dominaes the environment. Wardens watch on whilst toxic ideas, disrespect, and intimidation flourish. There is education available for those who are motivated but usually education is a low priority because of the dollars and teaching methods may not cater to those with learning difficulties.

    As you know i work with a program called U-Turn which looks to change thinking and anti social behaviours whilst teaching skills that could be used in the workforce. This is part of an idea called restorative justice and these principles are very good at repairing harm and changing thinking and actions. sorry run out of space
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      Feb 6 2012: If most of the prisoners have mental health issues, prisons should have psychologist to help this people by using conditioning and motivate them to become better people. psychological help should not be an option, it should be a requirement to get out of jail because there is NO punishment given to this people for what they did and if there is no punishment people hardly learn from their mistakes.
      "The majority of prisons and jails are fill with men and women that have behave very badly to begin with, and they are put into this places where they have the best resources around them to help them figure out how to be better predators." Sunny Schwartz author of the book: "Dreams From a Monster Factory"
      I'm a psychology student and i would love to work with this people because even if they did something bad, they are still humans that need to feel good with themselves and learn that bad behavior wont give them a good reward.
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    Feb 8 2012: If we rationalised our decisions wholly in economic terms each time, we would let the smokers die and not treat the obese. We would not care for those who have no one to care for them. Economically, it is not wise to preserve life at all given the current population and problems with sustainability. Morality is not, some vague subjective notion. It is fact, integral to our wellbeing and human flourishing. It is important. When you felt sympathy and empathy, that was real. It is there for a reason. Its puts the human in humanity. Dont deny it. What a lovely bloke you would be. what a different world this might be. if we kill, as in an eye for an eye, or indeed to exact appropriate punishment or indeed to protect society(at a lower cost than gaoling them) then peace and security will never be found. Perhaps population control will not be a problem, but i wont want to live here. I'm not sure i'm making a compelling argument here, i just feel it so strongly to be the right way forward. People usually act horribly because horrible things have happened to them. Victim becomes perpetrater. Killing them is not the solution. Not in my mind.
  • Feb 4 2012: Tatelyn...I agree with you..does throwing someone in a box for years help them or us? Wouldn't it be better as human beings to try and help these people and find out why they are like they are? Wouldn't we all benefit from this? Agree also with what lesson is being learned by throwing a person in a box for years? Are they going to get out a happy person? Fix the problem not just lock it away ...Thumbs up to You Tatelyn! :)
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    Feb 3 2012: There is little/no point in prison depending on the circumstance (besides for-profit prisons, for the owners of it).

    In most cases you actually make the situation worse by locking up victimless criminals (class-b occasional drug users) with murderers and rapists, inwhich they then must adapt to survive and then eventually leave with the new mentality with the added bonus of not being able to find work or treated equally by society.

    In other cases people find prison life to be easier than actual reality (no bills, no pressure, no work) and some will actually go out of their way to cause even worse crimes the moment they're released to get back in.

    For the worst criminals --they're top of the prison food chain, have little/no issue with being incarcerated and have no foresight as to how their actions would land them in prison in the first place.
    (Its also important to note that the mentality of the prisoner doesn't always reflect th length of time they spend in prison, so even those in this category don't typically stay locked up for any longer than anyone else).

    So its clearly not rehabilitation or a deterrent from any angle.
    Infact it has been shown that not even the death penalty is a deterrent (because as stated, the people who commit relevant crimes don't even consider the idea of being caught and/or sentenced to death).

    Essentially, prison is one step above doing nothing. Just hiding the problem away for a period of time with no interest in actually fixing it.
    (Much like standing up is the next progressional step from being in a seated position).
  • Feb 2 2012: It is a money-making situation for some. It makes society think they are doing something about the social problems that they do not wish to take real action on, e.g., equalizing power between men and women.
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      Feb 3 2012: Rhona, why must you bring everything down to a male-female power issue? This question has nothing to do with gender. It is about whether prisons should be a place for punishment or rehabilitation.
      • Feb 3 2012: David, It's a free country. You are entitled to your point of view. I disagree with you. Equality between males and females pervades all of our societal systems. If women had participated in the design and management of the legal system, the prison system and other related systems, they would be designed and managed in significantly different ways and the issues of concern would be different. If you do not see the absence of female input into the prison and justice systems, okay. Perhaps there will be a simultaneous solution to all of the world's problems when all power is equally distributed between men and women. You may want to contemplate that concept. It is possible.
    • Feb 3 2012: "e.g., equalizing power between men and women."

      What does gender equality have to do with point of prisons?
  • Feb 4 2012: It's basic. The time a criminal spends behind bars is time he can't prey on the rest of us. Now, if you restrict your question to so-called victimless crimes, we can talk about alternatives.
  • Feb 3 2012: Um..since I have no idea how it feels like being in jail, I don't know whether the people who've been jail really feel rebellious after coming out or not.
    But for some reason, punishment is in itself could be effective control measures.
    Just because of the fear("if I do this terrible thing, I'm gonna go to jail and rot in the prison."), crime rate can be reduced.

    However, some experts say, even if there's severe punishment, it really isn't effective at all.
    And more importantly, I think whether punishment is effective or not, it's still inhumane.
    I cannot come up with any ideal ways to reduce the crime rate, and prevent crime without using physical punishment.

    Suppose I didn't make a point here.....not really have any good idea right now, sorry...
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    Feb 3 2012: Sometimes it would seem that jail is a way of protecting the public from dangerous people, other times it's used to set an example and create social standards and it is also used as a form of punishment.
    I think your question is a valid one.
    Jails should have a positive outcome for society and for the individual who has found themselves in a life of crime. Education, rehabilitation and social care should be compulsory for offenders and the jail system should be divided up into specialist groups for different types of offenders.
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    Feb 3 2012: Plato had an idea about it.
    He said the prisons should be like hospitals for mental illnesses not a place for punishment.
    But that`s so idealistic for modern social systems ..............
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    Feb 6 2012: I have a strange reaction, to this, that I'm sure many in the TED community would disagree with... but I'm intrigued to hear the response... Yes, life in prison makes no sense... Kill people who commit multiple murder, multiple rape, maybe even multiple aggravated assault.

    I think prisons are dramatically overcrowded with non violent criminals, and they should almost all be released immediately. For your first theft, or drug violation, a 6 month to two year stint in rehab, and some education, would do much more for both society, and the prisoner, than prison does... However... If you have been a free human being, at least twice, and on both occasions, you resorted to rape, murder, unprovoked assault, etc... I think it makes sense for society to take you out of the picture.

    I play probabillities. I think, if a man or woman commits a second violent crime after being rehabillitated... Society can't afford the risk of letting them out. I don't see it as "state sponsored murder" as many do, I see it as saving the life of the persons next victim. Forcing an entire community of people to pay to feed, cloth, and protect, a murderer, for his or her entire life, seems like a bad investment to me.

    Of course, in order for a society to seriously consider this option, it would certainly have to have a much more fair judicial system than America currently has. It would have to actually try to rehabillitate, at the same time as it punishs violent criminals the first time, and it would have to dramatically reduce penalties for non violent crimes.
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      Feb 7 2012: The long cold hand of the law David? or something like that.
      I've met some psychopaths. The murdering kind and i must say, I'm glad they are kept away given there present state of mind. One of them will never be released . He killed his father some 19 years ago. He grew up in my town , i played football with him and a year ago i worked with his son. (19 years of age) and took him to visit his Dad. Dad is medicated and outside of jail he would not remember to take his meds and would most likely become violent again . In these cases we need to protect society, but always with hope that one day things might be different. I never want my kids to grow up in a state where it is OK to kill people. Nah. that will never do.
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        Feb 7 2012: You know... I was really curious to see how you responded to this... so I'm glad you did. I really respect the work you're doing, and I'm so left of center on most "punishment" issues, that even as I wrote what I wrote, I felt my sympathy, and empathy, trying to stop me.

        It is how I feel though, so I like talking about it. I understand your view and have sympathy for it, but still there is an economist in me, saying... We have to pay for psychopaths to have free clothes and food, while we don't even get that?

        It is cold, and calculating... I may just be wrong on this issue... and certainly, I am not for capital punishment under current predjudicial circumstances... but, I can't feed someone who killed people, twice... I just think they'll kill someone in prison. Maybe, I'd be more accepting of it, if the prison system for said criminals was funded voluntarily... or a solution you might sympathize more with... If they had to work, bad jobs, for the rest of their life?

        Would that be any better for you? I could live with making them work... I just can't pay for them, when they killed or raped 2 people, on seperate occasions, after 1 punishment.

        Can we kill someone who kills people, gets caught, gets punished, kills people again, and refuses to work for his own food?
  • Feb 5 2012: Jail isn't something we do for people who get sent to jail. It's something we do for the rest of us. I agree with Rick Fisher's comment below. I also agree with him that there's more to talk about regarding victimless crimes. It's also time for the "free world" to start talking about invented scam crimes; i.e. crimes that are entirely bureaucratic inventions in support of their own growth and power. People are being sent to jail regularly (both in the US and Australia for certain) because their circumstances are not deemed politically correct; even when the circumstance was created through no fault of their own and there's nothing they can do to change it. I'm particularly concerned about new economic crimes that have been created through arbitrary government demands - part of the new era of "compassionate" government that uses its power to "enforce personal responsibility."
  • Feb 4 2012: The United States is the worlds leading jailer, incarcerating more than 7 times as many people per 100,000 than Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan. 1 in 100 adults in the US are behind bars. 1 in 31 adults are on probation or parole. We have a punitive prison system that churns out citizens who are more violent when they come out, than when they went in.I recommend the book Dreams From The Monster Factory by Sunny Schwartz. It is an easy and enjoyable read that goes beyond statistics and sensational portrayals of U.S. prison life, focusing on its the troubling realities of increased violence, and offering a real world solution that is currently being implemented in a very limited manner in the U.S. with astounding results.. .
  • Feb 4 2012: Punishments are a form of revenge, getting revenge is a way to make yourself feel better. Jailing, fining and other similar punishments is a form of legal revenge by government.
  • Feb 3 2012: I think that is precisely the point, not to make you more rebellious but to take the rebellious out of you. Punishment should not be fun, should be harsh and meant to scare the individual not to repeat it. Even if you are sent out for life.

    Think about it.

    What is the probability that you would do it again? The expectation is precisely that you are not going to like going to jail. The expectation is that you will be uncomfortable, angry, depressed and sad. Period. And if you want to come out swinging? Be my guest, we'll put you back in for longer until we break you.


    Well, because it is the only way society as we know it can work, by ruthlessly enforcing the rules. Otherwise, we would all live in a much more difficult environment. If there is no way to enforce the rules of a society then people would start taking matters in their own hands, creating their own rules and extending their own punishment. Invariably this would lead to a darwinistic chaos and anarchy.
  • Feb 3 2012: Edward: From architectural design to goals......everything would be different, if women contributed to the concept, design, creation, goals, objectives and management of prisons.
    • Feb 3 2012: "From architectural design to goals......everything would be different, if women contributed to the concept, design, creation, goals, objectives and management of prisons."

      I seriously hope your entire thought process doesn't revolve around blanket generalizations such as this. I am male, and using your lack of logic, I should be happy with the current prison system. You'll note from my comment in this discussion I am far from happy with it.

      Beyond your overt gender bias, saying things would be different is a far cry from "beneficial". If my dog ran the prison system things would be "different".

      Seeing as America is a democracy, where the majority rules the minority..

      "According to Census 2000, 281.4 million people were counted in the United States — 143.4 million of whom were female and 138.1 million male.1 The former made up 50.9 percent of the population, compared with 51.3 percent in 1990."

      If women are so ignored, it seems they enjoy it, as they would have no issue taking control of the country. Given women have over 50% of the vote, it seems women are pretty happy with the status quo of the current prison system as well as any other topic, being in the voting majority and all.

      Any other claims you wish to make of which I can easily falsify with a 20 second google search? I'm always happy to disprove the majority claiming to be discriminated against in a democracy.
      • Feb 3 2012: Edward, I feel comfortable disagreeing with you. If women had 50% of the power in the design and control of our societal systems, we probably would not need prisons at all. Let's deal with reality as it is and not use the myths you've been brainwashed with as a substitute for honest observation and thinking. Are you aware that there is gender bias in our society that subordinates women to men or are you denying that? (By the way, I am confident that you knew I meant better, when I said different, so why did you make the remark about your dog? I assume we are seeking truth here.) If you want to believe you are more logical or smarter than I am, that's fine with me. I like people who have high self-esteem. Happy Today.
        • Feb 3 2012: "we probably would not need prisons at all"

          I would love to know how you come to this conclusion, seeing as there are plenty of women in prison themselves, and not all of them are there for victimless crimes. Are these the women who would make life peaceful and serene? To generalize an entire gender as better than another paints you in the same sexist light as the men you fault for the entire prison complex. I can't even type that without laughing in disbelief.

          "Let's deal with reality as it is"

          Sure thing. How about starting with "Not every person of a certain sex is the same" and restating your original comment?

          "corporations are people.. American electorate wanted George Bush .."

          Your copy/paste accusation chart is tired and unimpressive.

          "Are you aware that there is gender bias in our society that subordinates women to men"

          As far as I know, women and men have equal voting rights and women outnumber men. Where is the excuse? I see you putting your entire gender above all men, so it seems any claim of "poor us!" is filled with hypocrisy.

          EDIT: And to directly answer your question, there can't be too much gender bias, seeing as we recently had a woman running for president, I see plenty of government officials who are women (now that I think to care their gender) and, though I may roam in better circles than most, I don't see it at all (and I mean so little it never even crosses my mind anymore) in my personal life. In fact, the last time I had contact with someone who threw a flag as being sexist was a woman generalizing all men just as you are now.

          "If you want to believe you are more logical or smarter than I am"

          I don't know you enough to make that determination, but it sure appears I'm less sexist and generalizing and more aware good people, male or female, tend to not become politicians who then make these "tough on crime" bills.
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          Feb 5 2012: What a lovely thought......"Not needing prisons"
      • Feb 4 2012: Edward, I had a feeling you might conclude you were superior to me in one or more significant ways. You conclude you are "less sexist and generalizing and more aware good people, male or female, tend to not become politicians who........" Thank you for expressing your true thoughts and feelings. I acknowledge my equality to you. Happy Today.
        • Feb 4 2012: I've treated you as a rational person, in the spirit of this site, so far, but it appears you have taken every opportunity to prove that goodwill assumption to be fruitless.

          Best of luck in your crusade.
      • Feb 7 2012: Phillip McKay, Thank you for contemplating the possibility. Anything positive is possible I say repeatedly.

        Edward Webber, Thank you for wishing me well in one of my positive goals to equalize the power in all sectors of society between males and females, so that the complementarity and cooperation can lead all females and males to live healthfully, prosperously, co-creatively and happily ever after enjoying the infinite resources and humanity to which we all have access.

        Happy Today.
      • Feb 7 2012: Edward, That is quite magnanimous of you to treat me as a "rational person." It might appear condescending to some. I wonder how you would like me to regard you. I wonder if you would prefer me looking up to you or looking across at you or looking down upon you. It's hard for me to believe that you cannot grasp the concept of men and women being equal and different. Oh, well. Maybe someday........ I shall remain optimistic.
  • Feb 3 2012: Question: if a person stole from you something that you'd been dying to have and finally had, what would you want done to that person? If a person deliberately killed someone you loved how would you feel and what would you want done to that person? Would you shake that person's hand and say, "It's ok"? or would you want that person punished? I'm guessing you'd want that person punished. That's what prisons are for. To (a) get dangerous people off the streets (b) rehabilitate (c) discourage people from committing further crimes against others.

    I personally think most people are "good" and will not commit a crime unless pushed to desperation such as those who steal for food or turn to prostitution or kill for fear of their life. I don't think that there are many people that would, say, kill for the thrill. But if there are, i would, personally, rather have that person off the street.

    also @ edward webber
    really? the bible says the earth was flat? give me ONE scripture that says so.
    • Feb 3 2012: Aero,

      "if a person stole from you something that you'd been dying to have and finally had, what would you want done to that person?"

      I would want restitution, not revenge.

      "If a person deliberately killed someone you loved how would you feel and what would you want done to that person?"

      I couldn't answer that unless it happened, nor could you. What would a second death provide?

      "would you want that person punished?"

      Punishment need not be imprisonment.

      "That's what prisons are for."

      Caning, stoning and water-boarding are also punishments. That doesn't make them beneficial.

      "unless pushed to desperation such as those who steal for food or turn to prostitution or kill for fear of their life"

      Where does prostitution fit into desperation? It pays very well, is easy to do and all parties get what they want. If only all business was so honest.

      "the bible says the earth was flat? give me ONE scripture that says so."

      A quick browsing of any copy of it will easily answer your question. Or you can google any number of sites which quote the many, many times the numerous authors of "The Bible" refer to a flat, circular earth which is stationed upon pillars. Where do you think the phrase "The ends of the Earth" came from? It is only meant as figurative today.
      • Feb 5 2012: "I would want restitution, not revenge."
        I never said anything about revenge. I do believe, however, that the natural response to such an act WOULD be to get back at that person. I think having a prison system prevents having vigilantes running around, willy-nilly, wanting to exact revenge on persons that may have wronged them or others. Also, A prison term could be a form of restitution. Don't they have rehabilitation programs in some prisons so that the perpetrators of these crimes can "better" themselves by getting diplomas and degrees and such?

        "I couldn't answer that unless it happened, nor could you. What would a second death provide?"
        I never said anything about "a second death" - by which, I assume, you mean capital punishment. But you are right, I probably could not answer it. However, without trying to diminish in any way how a person who has lost a loved one through a murder feels, I can safely say I'd be pretty tee'd off and want damage done to the perpetrator. It may not accomplish anything, but I'd be pretty angry and I'd want that person punished.

        "Punishment need not be imprisonment."
        What punishment would you suggest? I think prison would be better than what a person upon whom a crime has been perpetrated would REALLY want to do. In some places a thief would welcome being put in prison because were he caught thieving, it would mean mob justice and death.

        "Caning, stoning and water-boarding are also punishments. That doesn't make them beneficial."
        I thought we were talking about imprisonment here. However, If you talk about caning, I've never seen it done but the indignity of it seems to be a great deterrent to committing a crime. As for stoning, I don't approve. Also, isn't water-boarding a form torture not punishment?

        "Where does prostitution fit into desperation?"
        I don't know where you come from, but where I come from prostitution is perpetrated mostly by the very poor who are desperate - having no where to go and no other means of earning a living. 
      • Feb 5 2012: "It pays very well, is easy to do and all parties get what they want. If only all business was so honest."
        You are being idealistic. Unless you are a high class call-girl/boy not all prostitution pays well. Also, for you to say that "all parties get what they want" is being insensitive to the plight of those prostitutes that are abused, raped, beaten and threatened in the line of their work.

        "A quick browsing of any copy of it will easily answer your question. Or you can google any number of sites which quote the many, many times the numerous authors of "The Bible" refer to a flat, circular earth which is stationed upon pillars. Where do you think the phrase "The ends of the Earth" came from?
        I am not a bible scholar and i do not have the highest of educations, but I have read the bible cover to cover on at least two occasions and I have not seen a single scripture that explicitly says that the earth was flat. Reading those scriptures IN CONTEXT reveals that a lot of them are written in figurative, poetic and metaphorical language. The men that killed the people who said the earth was spherical were obviously buffoons whose only aim was to get power and keep it by any means necessary. Back in those times,  the common man would believe anything told them by these men in power and they were not allowed to read, let alone own, a copy of the bible. The men that perpetrated these crimes were, in my humble opinion, quite stupid.

        "It is only meant as figurative today."
        Why is it only meant as figurative today? As far as I know, apart from the modernisation and making the bible more accessible to the common man, the bible has basically stayed the same since it was first published. Are we more intelligent now and thus see the figurative language in the scriptures? Also, now that we see that the language used in those passages is figurative, why do we continue to perpetuate the lie that the bible says that the earth is flat?
  • Feb 3 2012: Punishing crime acts as a deterrent to other people who might think about committing the same crime. As Leonard White already said, sometimes it's about taking a very dangerous person out of society. And in some prison systems, it's also seen as an opportunity to rehabilitate someone, which is why prisons often have education programs and allow prisoners to use some of their time in prison to learn a job skill. Not everyone who commits a crime is actually a bad person.
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      Feb 3 2012: I would go as far to say that it is very rare that someone who commits a crime is a "bad person"
      Have any of you ever copied a music CD for a friend ?
      If yes you have commited a crime.
      Crimes of passion, crimes from addiction, poverty, fear, survival. People commit crimes because they are trapped in a cycle of abuse. Crimes are commited to save lives. There are accidental crimes.
  • Feb 3 2012: The point of prison to be bluntly honest has to do with taking a certain man or woman who was unable to function in society and seperate him or her from the mass, because the other option would be to eliminate him or her on the spot. You're not meant to learn something in jail, if you do, it is entirely up to the individuals perspective of if the punsihment was just or not. In a way, in a much simpler way, it is like when a mother grounds her child because the child has behaved badly, the child is told to think about the actions that led to the punishment, if the child thinks about it it's because the child ends up agreeing that the punishment was just, if not, the child rebels, the same with the prison system. I hope I helped answer your question.
  • Feb 3 2012: I like your question. I am not an expert in that area, I have not looked for statistics yet. However, I feel you are right. I have kids. Punishing and rewarding them works on the short term, sometimes, but is not good on a long term ( see Thomas Gordon for example), that I know from experience and from my readings.
    I would say that of course, some people need to be separated from society to protect society.
    I just bought a book: the idea of justice, by Amartya Sen, penguin books 2010. I haven t read it yet, but i hope i will give me new perspectives on the subject. A research on him and his work might help you.
  • Feb 3 2012: "most the time you come out feeling more rebellious!"

    Do you have statistics for this assertion? Have you been imprisoned multiple times to know this is true?

    This also assumes a person goes in because they were "feeling rebellious", which is certainly not always the case. Some people, for instance, steal to feed themselves or are drug addicts or are imprisoned for prostitution, which is a "social crime", not a victim crime. There is a history of laws which make everyday things crimes, such as wearing red on Tuesday, tapping your feet to music or saying there no such thing as god. People have been imprisoned for saying the Earth is a sphere, as it went against what was written in the book "The Bible". In a nutshell, so long as you have a gun and the person next to you does not, you can make whatever laws you choose and imprison someone for however long you wish.

    "What is the point in jail and punishment?"

    The prison and punishment system as a whole has been used throughout history as a coercion method for all manner of reasons. Just as today, "justice" has been a term used to begin the practice, yet is rarely the end goal. It ends up revolving around money, power and dictating the lives of others. For instance, a full 50% of all people in US prisons are there for having or using a drug not made by a pharmaceutical company.

    Now, there is an ideal. In Sweden, for example, prison is treated as a "time out" where people are given the chance to improve themselves in order to become less likely to commit crimes against others. There are successful systems, they are simply the exception vs. the rule.