[ExI] What is Grace?

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Mar 15 20:36:59 UTC 2009

Gordon wrote

>>> I think we incarcerate or execute criminals for one or more of the 
>>> following reasons:
>>> 1) retribution (we should make them suffer for what they did)
>>> 2) rehabilitation (we should heal them and make them productive 
>>>    citizens)
>>> 3) deterrence (we should prevent them from re-offending, and make 
>>>    them an example to others)

Actually there are *four* classic reasons (three begin with the
letter "R", which does help to remember them). As Stefano pointed
out, the fourth is

     4) removal

>> At least in western societies, criminal sentences serve somewhat
>> unofficially an additional purpose, namely the more or less temporary
>> elimination of people who are perceived as dangerous or asocial from
>> society.
>> This is of course hypocritical...

Not really any worse than sending children to their rooms
as punishment---unless you were referring to:

I do completely agree with Damien, who wrote

 > And as Dagon stressed in his excellent post, the
 > current system actually *increases* potential future
 > damages, through brutalization and creating an
 > environment that (very expensively) *teaches*
 > humans how best to be criminals.


Yet the best solution simply CANNOT be what Jeff suggests:

 > No need to kill anyone.  Send 'em all to some island somewhere.  Men
 > and women both [!].   No radio, no internet, no boats, no planes.
 > Let them disappear from our lawful (such as it is) society, never
 > to be heard from again.  Good-bye and good luck.  No hard feelings.

This is unacceptable on several counts. The first, obviously, is that
*perpetual* exile is clearly too harsh in many cases. Nothing further
needs be said about that.

But far more importantly---a point steadfastly and absurdly ignored
by our present system---is the hideous relative injustice inflicted
on the weaker of the prisoners by the stronger. The very most violent,
domineering, and brutal of the prisoners surely cannot find this sort
of incarceration too unpleasant, because they're right back in their
element, doing that which they so enjoy, lording it over others who
are weak or who are in any way refined or inhibited.

Is it right or just in any manner whatsoever that a mild-mannered
bookkeeper guilty of embezzlement is to be sodomized and regularly 
beaten by humans barely above the animal level? Or, how could it be
just to place small, and really quite harmless young women in such an
environment? Why is it that practically no one but me ever cries out
against the massive injustice that prisoners so routinely unleash
on each other? If our concern is justice, why does it stop---of all
places---at the prison wall?

Often I think that the best solution is solitary confinement. It
seemed to work out okay for Edmund Dantes, so far as I could tell
when I read the Dumas book. Severe, yes, but not inhuman. But alas,
even my suggestion fails because some people (unlike me) would
completely fall apart, go quite mad, and find it absolutely

Probably we should simply revert to Marshall Dillon's jail:
the prisoners can talk to each other, but are physically quite
separate each in his or her own cell, never *ever* leaving those
cells until the day of release.


P.S. Hi to Gordon and everyone---it's been a while.

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