ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Social Issues & Current Events
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 18th May 2017, 08:28 PM   #1
Civet
Muse
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 617
Prison System Issues/Discussion

I'm starting this thread because I didn't want to derail the "RIP UK Justice" thread. One of the posts in that thread reads as follows:

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Yes, and that is certainly one of the problems of the US prison system. Essentially, anyone who is unpopular enough with the hardest elements of the prison will be punished by the other prisoners. This incentivizes gangs and the hardening of relatively inexperienced criminals. I think the US penal system is utterly atrocious.
This makes a lot of sense to me. Forcing people into tough, abusive environments seems like a good way to make those people tougher and more abusive. Of course, I don't actually know a lot about this issue (plenty of anecdotes, no personal experience or proper data) so I'm making a lot of assumptions. Is any prison system in the US currently trying a "softer" approach to the prison environment? What kind of results are they getting?
Civet is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 18th May 2017, 11:48 PM   #2
The Don
Penultimate Amazing
 
The Don's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cymru
Posts: 21,066
Anything other than a harsh prison regime tends to play very badly in the press with stories about prisoners enjoying luxury accommodation and victims and their families understandably being unhappy about that.

The issue is that, as you point out, custodial regimes like that tend to turn out hardened prisoners. Other countries take a different approach and Scandinavia in particular is noted for having "cushy" prisons (and comparatively low levels of recidivism).

That said, Scandinavia has a very different culture, in particular they seem to have a much greater willingness to consider the common, rather than individual, good so a system that works well there, may not translate well to the UK or US.
The Don is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 12:42 AM   #3
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 21,650
For me it is not a question of whether prison is too hard or too soft. I think that prison certainly shouldn't be a pleasant experience, but when people crow about how certain prisoners are going to be beaten and raped by other prisoners then it seems prisons are soft if you are hard and hard if you are soft and that it almost selects for the kind of criminal characteristics that we should want to discourage in prisoners.
__________________
"The thief and the murderer follow nature just as much as the philanthropist. Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before."

"Evolution and Ethics" T.H. Huxley (1893)
angrysoba is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 05:14 AM   #4
Giz
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 7,132
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
For me it is not a question of whether prison is too hard or too soft. I think that prison certainly shouldn't be a pleasant experience, but when people crow about how certain prisoners are going to be beaten and raped by other prisoners then it seems prisons are soft if you are hard and hard if you are soft and that it almost selects for the kind of criminal characteristics that we should want to discourage in prisoners.
The punishment endured by prisoners should be determined by judge and jury following due process. It shouldn't be down to the whim of some other inmate with a shank.

Doesn't mean that it should be nice, just that it is for society to set it.
Giz is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 05:21 AM   #5
Archie Gemmill Goal
Illuminator
 
Archie Gemmill Goal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 3,851
The problem is a fundamental disagreement about what prisons are for it seems.

If they are for correction then it seems that a softer approach is preferred. If they are for punishment then the harder the better up to and including criminal activities perpetrated upon each other while inside.

The US in particular tends to quite an aggressive approach it seems. I'm always quite shocked by how aggressive and confrontational US policing seems to be for example.
__________________
"I love sex and drugs and sausage rolls
But nothing compares to Archie Gemmill's goal"
Archie Gemmill Goal is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 05:29 AM   #6
Agatha
Winking at the Moon
Moderator
 
Agatha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 11,183
The majority of prisoners will be released at some point, so prison needs to be rehabilitative as well as retributive. A system where gangs are in charge, and some prisoners are at risk of violence from others is unlikely to rehabilitate people such that they can hold down jobs and not return to crime on their release.

Education, psychiatric treatment for those who need it, programmes to overcome addictions, programmes on recognising the impact of their offending and reducing the risk of further offending, and work that benefits the wider community are all a far better use of prisoners' time than pointless busywork. But all those cost money and require decision-makers and fundholders to take a long term view, which doesn't tend to match the short-termism of the election cycle.
__________________
London, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Rio, Hong Kong, Tokyo; L.A., New York, Amsterdam, Monte Carlo, Shard End and...

Vodka kills salmonella and all other enemies of freedom for sure - Nationalcosmopolitan
Agatha is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 06:31 AM   #7
ahhell
Thinker
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 166
Mostly posting because I want to follow the conversation but...

The goal of prisons should mostly be to reduce recidivism but in the US it seems to mostly be punishment. I understand the emotional appeal of that but its not very helpful for society. There is some research out there that this may be partially be a down side to diversity. In less diverse places, like the Nordics, people are more empathic towards their fellow citizens.

I think we need the following reforms.
a. End the drug war, this will improve society in many ways but relieving pressure on the justice system is high on that list.
b. Make it illegal to ask if folks have been convicted of a crime on Job applications. This will give ex-cons a chance at reform.
c. We should spend more on education in prison than we currently do technical, professional, and general education. But I really think the first 2 reforms are more important.
ahhell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 07:31 AM   #8
crescent
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,485
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
b. Make it illegal to ask if folks have been convicted of a crime on Job applications. This will give ex-cons a chance at reform.
I almost agree with this one, but not quite. I think it might be acceptable to ask if the person was convicted of a crime that relates to the job being applied for (ETA: Especially if the conviction was recent, or repeated). The catch being, that might be hard to define.

If an accountant has been convicted of fraud and embezzlement and applies for a job at a financial institution, they ought to be able to know about that. They don't need to know about the time he got a DUI, or beat up his ne'er-do-well brother-in-law, or the time he got caught streaking. But if he has been convicted of crimes that relate to the nature of the job he is applying for, it is different.

One can imagine other jobs that might screen for specific crimes. The dude with two convictions for assault should not get the job as a prison guard or with the police force, or at the nursing home. The guy with a recent history of drug abuse should not get the job at the pharmacy, perhaps not as a heavy equipment operator (screen for crimes associated with X drug (not just any drug) within the last X years[not forever]). Day care and other work with children, and other lines of work could also have specific crimes they screen for.
Your other two points are dead-on, though.

Last edited by crescent; 19th May 2017 at 07:36 AM.
crescent is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 08:02 AM   #9
Metullus
Forum -Wit Pro Tem
 
Metullus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 4,875
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
*snip*
b. Make it illegal to ask if folks have been convicted of a crime on Job applications. This will give ex-cons a chance at reform.
*snip*
Would you include people convicted of sex crimes against children when applying for school or child care positions? Or embezzlement when applying for banking jobs? Or perhaps assault convictions when applying for law enforcement positions?
__________________
I have met Tim at TAM. He is of sufficient height to piss on your leg. - Doubt 10/7/2005 - I'll miss Tim.

Aristotle taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons. - Will Cuppy
Metullus is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 08:07 AM   #10
baron
Illuminator
 
baron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,259
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
b. Make it illegal to ask if folks have been convicted of a crime on Job applications. This will give ex-cons a chance at reform.
Reforming doesn't involve erasing history. The employer should have the facts at their disposal in order to make a decision. It should be up to them whether a conviction reflects negatively on the applicant. If someone is sacked from their previous job for being lazy we don't suggest that it be made illegal for employers to ask about job history, on the grounds that this will give ex-lazy people a chance at reform.

In relation to prisons, in the UK at least, it seems too much a case of one size fits all. There needs to be much more granularity in the prison system. At the moment murders mix with people who haven't paid their TV licence, drug addicts with drug dealers. Sometimes rehabilitation is paramount and punishment need not be a factor. In other situations punishment and incarceration should take priority. These demand different environments and different approaches.
__________________
I'm sorry, the fish is awful.
baron is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 08:16 AM   #11
ahhell
Thinker
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 166
Originally Posted by Metullus View Post
Would you include people convicted of sex crimes against children when applying for school or child care positions? Or embezzlement when applying for banking jobs? Or perhaps assault convictions when applying for law enforcement positions?
I think crescents suggestion is appropriate. If the crime has a direct bearing on the job, ie, pedophiles and kindergarten teachers. Other than that, it just means an ex-con will have trouble getting a job at a gas station.
ahhell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 09:56 AM   #12
Metullus
Forum -Wit Pro Tem
 
Metullus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 4,875
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
I think crescents suggestion is appropriate. If the crime has a direct bearing on the job, ie, pedophiles and kindergarten teachers. Other than that, it just means an ex-con will have trouble getting a job at a gas station.
That's the rub, no? Who decides whether or not a crime has a direct bearing on employment? If I own a Stop-and-Go market the customer base of which is largely school children, would that qualify? Or if I am a contractor that does a lot of work on K-12 schools, should I be able to ask? A fair portion of my work requires security clearances of one kind or another,. should I be required to hire employees without first determining whether or not they are likely to get those clearances?
__________________
I have met Tim at TAM. He is of sufficient height to piss on your leg. - Doubt 10/7/2005 - I'll miss Tim.

Aristotle taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons. - Will Cuppy
Metullus is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 11:45 AM   #13
baron
Illuminator
 
baron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,259
Originally Posted by Metullus View Post
That's the rub, no? Who decides whether or not a crime has a direct bearing on employment?
Obviously the best person is the employer.
__________________
I'm sorry, the fish is awful.
baron is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 11:52 AM   #14
BobTheCoward
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 7,025
Originally Posted by baron View Post
Reforming doesn't involve erasing history. The employer should have the facts at their disposal in order to make a decision. It should be up to them whether a conviction reflects negatively on the applicant. If someone is sacked from their previous job for being lazy we don't suggest that it be made illegal for employers to ask about job history, on the grounds that this will give ex-lazy people a chance at reform.
But they were in prison to fix that problem. If they are coming out they should be "cured" so to speak.
BobTheCoward is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 11:59 AM   #15
baron
Illuminator
 
baron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,259
Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
But they were in prison to fix that problem. If they are coming out they should be "cured" so to speak.
Yet we all know that prison rarely has that effect, and even if did it should still be up to the employer to make the decision. Indeed, in a world where no prison inmate re-offended, a report of a previous conviction would be a positive recommendation, as the prospective employer would be guaranteed that the person would not commit another crime, unlike a person with no criminal record.
__________________
I'm sorry, the fish is awful.
baron is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 12:05 PM   #16
BobTheCoward
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 7,025
Originally Posted by baron View Post
Yet we all know that prison rarely has that effect, and even if did it should still be up to the employer to make the decision. Indeed, in a world where no prison inmate re-offended, a report of a previous conviction would be a positive recommendation, as the prospective employer would be guaranteed that the person would not commit another crime, unlike a person with no criminal record.
How about we make government financially responsible for recidivist crimes?
BobTheCoward is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 12:49 PM   #17
ahhell
Thinker
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 166
Originally Posted by Metullus View Post
That's the rub, no? Who decides whether or not a crime has a direct bearing on employment? If I own a Stop-and-Go market the customer base of which is largely school children, would that qualify? Or if I am a contractor that does a lot of work on K-12 schools, should I be able to ask? A fair portion of my work requires security clearances of one kind or another,. should I be required to hire employees without first determining whether or not they are likely to get those clearances?
It is the rub but as it is now we basically don't give ex-cons a chance at reform.

on a slightly different track. I thought that maybe we could try and find a method of incentivizing private prison operators based on recidivism rates. Give bonuses or penalties to operators based on how likely their former convicts are to re-commit after 5 or 10 years of freedom. That might encourage some experimentation aimed at actual reform.
ahhell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 12:54 PM   #18
TheGoldcountry
Illuminator
 
TheGoldcountry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 4,369
Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
How about we make government financially responsible for recidivist crimes?
Private prisons wouldn't like that. They like recidivism.
__________________
I have no idea what you're trying to say, but I'm still pretty sure that you're wrong. -Akhenaten
I sometimes think the Bible was inspired by Satan to make God look bad. And then it backfired on Him when He underestimated the stupidity of religious ideologues. -MontagK505
TheGoldcountry is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 02:50 PM   #19
luchog
Neo-Post-Retro-Revivalist
 
luchog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: The Emerald City
Posts: 13,493
Originally Posted by TheGoldcountry View Post
Private prisons wouldn't like that. They like recidivism.

And that is exactly the point.

The American prison system is working exactly as intended. It was originally designed to perpetuate the institution of de facto slavery, after de novo slavery had been explicitly outlawed. Which was also the reason that prisons have always had a disproportionately high rate of incarceration for minority populations.

At a time when prisons were undergoing substantial reforms to reduce this effect, to enact education and job-skills training programs, eliminate the use of prison labour, and reduce overall recidivism, the Private Prison Industry was founded to bypass those reforms, and take over the role of slave master. It's not by coincidence that this happened concurrently with the biggest escalation of the War on Drugs in its entire history, and the largest mass incarceration of non-violent offenders since the Reconstruction days. It was shortly to benefit from the widespread adoption of "Three Strikes" laws, which though its lobbying efforts it helped to support.

This period also effectively cemented the school-to-prison pipeline for black and other minority communities.

Dropping crime rates, liberalization of drug laws and elimination of Three Strikes statutes, widespread abuses within the system, and the failure of reforms in many states to end prison labour in publicly-run institutions, kept private prisons from becoming a much bigger industry and taking the lion's share of inmates. As it stands, those that remain typically have contracts that mandate a minimum inmate population, and their lobbyists still work hard to push privatization. A lobbying effort which has seen some success, as the Trump administration has rolled back the Obama administration's push to eliminate federal use of for-profit prisons.
__________________
"All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others." -- Douglas Adams
"The absence of evidence might indeed not be evidence of absence, but it's a pretty good start." -- PhantomWolf
"Let's see the buggers figure that one out." - John Lennon
luchog is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 03:45 PM   #20
Agatha
Winking at the Moon
Moderator
 
Agatha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 11,183
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
b. Make it illegal to ask if folks have been convicted of a crime on Job applications. This will give ex-cons a chance at reform.
Here in the UK, any job or voluntary role that brings a person into contact with vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, those with mental health problems etc requires the applicant to have a DBS check. Having a criminal record does not exclude someone from taking up a post, as long as their conviction isn't related to the job/voluntary role for which they are applying.

I volunteer for the Samaritans, and there are fellow volunteers with criminal convictions, but not convictions related to offences against vulnerable groups.

I think it is necessary for some employers to ask about criminal convictions; employers will not want somebody who has been convicted of theft being in charge of the petty cash or the company bank account, even if that person has entirely reformed!
__________________
London, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Rio, Hong Kong, Tokyo; L.A., New York, Amsterdam, Monte Carlo, Shard End and...

Vodka kills salmonella and all other enemies of freedom for sure - Nationalcosmopolitan
Agatha is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 04:01 PM   #21
marplots
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 28,527
Originally Posted by luchog View Post
And that is exactly the point.

The American prison system is working exactly as intended. It was originally designed to perpetuate the institution of de facto slavery, after de novo slavery had been explicitly outlawed. Which was also the reason that prisons have always had a disproportionately high rate of incarceration for minority populations.

At a time when prisons were undergoing substantial reforms to reduce this effect, to enact education and job-skills training programs, eliminate the use of prison labour, and reduce overall recidivism, the Private Prison Industry was founded to bypass those reforms, and take over the role of slave master. It's not by coincidence that this happened concurrently with the biggest escalation of the War on Drugs in its entire history, and the largest mass incarceration of non-violent offenders since the Reconstruction days. It was shortly to benefit from the widespread adoption of "Three Strikes" laws, which though its lobbying efforts it helped to support.

This period also effectively cemented the school-to-prison pipeline for black and other minority communities.

Dropping crime rates, liberalization of drug laws and elimination of Three Strikes statutes, widespread abuses within the system, and the failure of reforms in many states to end prison labour in publicly-run institutions, kept private prisons from becoming a much bigger industry and taking the lion's share of inmates. As it stands, those that remain typically have contracts that mandate a minimum inmate population, and their lobbyists still work hard to push privatization. A lobbying effort which has seen some success, as the Trump administration has rolled back the Obama administration's push to eliminate federal use of for-profit prisons.
If I understand your narrative correctly, the description you give in the last paragraph undermines that given in the first few.

But it shouldn't be too hard to check.
How many private prisons are in the US and what percentage of inmates do they hold?
How much money does prison labor produce (I think it was "slavery" wasn't it?) compared to how much prisons cost to run?
marplots is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th May 2017, 04:38 PM   #22
Arcade22
Illuminator
 
Arcade22's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Sweden
Posts: 3,703
Originally Posted by Metullus View Post
That's the rub, no? Who decides whether or not a crime has a direct bearing on employment? If I own a Stop-and-Go market the customer base of which is largely school children, would that qualify? Or if I am a contractor that does a lot of work on K-12 schools, should I be able to ask? A fair portion of my work requires security clearances of one kind or another,. should I be required to hire employees without first determining whether or not they are likely to get those clearances?
Of course exceptions can be made for sensitive professions and positions. In Sweden employers in certain sectors, including those involving schools and children but also insurance brokers, are obligated to demand that potential employees get an certificate of their criminal records and show it to them.

In Sweden everyone technically has a criminal record (it's called belastningsregister in Swedish, of which a literal translation would be "load/burden records") even-though for most people it's empty. Any convictions that one has are purged from ones records depending on the specific sentence. Any prison, probation or suspended sentence is purged ten years after the sentence is deemed to have been completed unless they have been convicted of another crime in the meantime so the criminal records of repeat offenders can continue to record their convictions for longer.

There's nothing legally preventing other employers from asking potential employees of any legal problems/convictions or requesting to see their criminal record. In many cases it's more about ascertaining how trustworthy and honest an potential employee is rather than excluding criminals from employment. If more and more employers start to exclude criminals only because their criminal convictions, even if they happen to be upfront and honest about it, then it would likely be problematic.
__________________
Freedom you all want, you want freedom. Why then do you haggle over a more or less? Freedom can only be the whole of freedom; a piece of freedom is not freedom. You despair of the possibility of obtaining the whole of freedom, freedom from everything - yes, you consider it insanity even to wish this? - Well, then leave off chasing after the phantom, and spend your pains on something better than the - unattainable. - Max Stirner
Arcade22 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 01:30 PM   #23
Metullus
Forum -Wit Pro Tem
 
Metullus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 4,875
Originally Posted by Arcade22 View Post
Of course exceptions can be made for sensitive professions and positions. In Sweden employers in certain sectors, including those involving schools and children but also insurance brokers, are obligated to demand that potential employees get an certificate of their criminal records and show it to them.

In Sweden everyone technically has a criminal record (it's called belastningsregister in Swedish, of which a literal translation would be "load/burden records") even-though for most people it's empty. Any convictions that one has are purged from ones records depending on the specific sentence. Any prison, probation or suspended sentence is purged ten years after the sentence is deemed to have been completed unless they have been convicted of another crime in the meantime so the criminal records of repeat offenders can continue to record their convictions for longer.

There's nothing legally preventing other employers from asking potential employees of any legal problems/convictions or requesting to see their criminal record. In many cases it's more about ascertaining how trustworthy and honest an potential employee is rather than excluding criminals from employment. If more and more employers start to exclude criminals only because their criminal convictions, even if they happen to be upfront and honest about it, then it would likely be problematic.
If we are to propose a law that prohibits an employer from querying a prospective employee regarding his criminal record, as was proposed in the OP, it seems to me that we will need to carve out certain exceptions. Some of these exceptions are fairly obvious; others, perhaps, not so much. How do we identify these exceptions? Do we survey every industry to identify exceptions? Will we hold harmless an employer if an employee, whose criminal past is unknown to the employer, reoffends whilst on the payroll?
__________________
I have met Tim at TAM. He is of sufficient height to piss on your leg. - Doubt 10/7/2005 - I'll miss Tim.

Aristotle taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons. - Will Cuppy
Metullus is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 01:35 PM   #24
Beelzebuddy
Philosopher
 
Beelzebuddy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 5,104
Originally Posted by marplots View Post
How much money does prison labor produce (I think it was "slavery" wasn't it?) compared to how much prisons cost to run?
Fun fact: it's literally slavery.

Here's the text of the 13th amendment:
Quote:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Beelzebuddy is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 01:58 PM   #25
marplots
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 28,527
Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
Fun fact: it's literally slavery.

Here's the text of the 13th amendment:
Is that what private prisons are doing?
marplots is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 02:02 PM   #26
ahhell
Thinker
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 166
Originally Posted by Agatha View Post
Here in the UK, any job or voluntary role that brings a person into contact with vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, those with mental health problems etc requires the applicant to have a DBS check. Having a criminal record does not exclude someone from taking up a post, as long as their conviction isn't related to the job/voluntary role for which they are applying.

I volunteer for the Samaritans, and there are fellow volunteers with criminal convictions, but not convictions related to offences against vulnerable groups.

I think it is necessary for some employers to ask about criminal convictions; employers will not want somebody who has been convicted of theft being in charge of the petty cash or the company bank account, even if that person has entirely reformed!
I don't think the issue is that employers are saying that they won't hire ex-cons, its more along the lines using it as a way to quickly reduce the applicant pool If you have 10 applicants for 2 jobs and 6 are felons, you use that box as a way reduce the effort of reading the applications or resumes to just the 4 that aren't.


Prison labor is more along the lines of involuntary servitude than slavery as a slave is property and prisoners aren't property their just incarcerated. Perhaps a distinction without difference though.

Originally Posted by Metullus View Post
Will we hold harmless an employer if an employee, whose criminal past is unknown to the employer, reoffends whilst on the payroll?
Don't we now? Except maybe if the offender is a pedophile hired by a school that didn't do a background check?

Last edited by ahhell; Yesterday at 02:04 PM.
ahhell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 02:12 PM   #27
bytewizard
Graduate Poster
 
bytewizard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: In the woods
Posts: 1,481
Originally Posted by marplots View Post
If I understand your narrative correctly, the description you give in the last paragraph undermines that given in the first few.

But it shouldn't be too hard to check.
How many private prisons are in the US and what percentage of inmates do they hold?
How much money does prison labor produce (I think it was "slavery" wasn't it?) compared to how much prisons cost to run?
Private prisons house around 7% of State prisoners and 18% of federal. Also house around 75% of undocumented immigrants.
bytewizard is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 02:21 PM   #28
Civet
Muse
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 617
Originally Posted by bytewizard View Post
Private prisons house around 7% of State prisoners and 18% of federal.
Interesting. I'd have guessed much higher given how much talk there is about private prisons as a problem. Any sense of how their recidivism rates compare to those of government-run prisons?
Civet is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 02:25 PM   #29
bytewizard
Graduate Poster
 
bytewizard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: In the woods
Posts: 1,481
Originally Posted by Civet View Post
Interesting. I'd have guessed much higher given how much talk there is about private prisons as a problem. Any sense of how their recidivism rates compare to those of government-run prisons?
Those numbers are difficult to find. Part of the reason is the different types of facilities; low, medium or high security or a combination of those.
bytewizard is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 02:59 PM   #30
ahhell
Thinker
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 166
The odd focus on private prisons in the discussion of reform is really a red herring. As noted, its a much smaller percentage of the prison population than most folks expect. The growth of private prisons has also been a trailing indicator. The rise of private prisons did not occur concurrently with the rise of incarceration rates and tough on crime laws, it followed after. Its also notworthy that public prison guard unions have lobbied for the same laws that private prison operators have but nobody talks about union busting as a reform.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Califo...rs_Association
Quote:
Lobbying efforts and campaign contributions by the CCPOA have helped secure passage of numerous legislative bills favorable to union members, including bills that increase prison terms, member pay, and enforce current drug laws. The CCPOA takes the position that correctional officers perform an essential public service that puts in great danger, and strives for a safer California

Last edited by ahhell; Yesterday at 03:01 PM.
ahhell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 03:21 PM   #31
crescent
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,485
Originally Posted by bytewizard View Post
Private prisons house around 7% of State prisoners and 18% of federal. Also house around 75% of undocumented immigrants.
Do you know how much of that is post-sentencing, and how much is people being held before or during trial?

I am under the impression that the private prisons hold more of long-term inmates.
crescent is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 04:10 PM   #32
bytewizard
Graduate Poster
 
bytewizard's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: In the woods
Posts: 1,481
Originally Posted by crescent View Post
Do you know how much of that is post-sentencing, and how much is people being held before or during trial?

I am under the impression that the private prisons hold more of long-term inmates.
I believe those numbers are for post-sentencing. Most private prisons house inmates that are contracted out by state, and are long term inmates. For instance, a private prison(medium security) in Arizona is contracted by the state of Hawaii and houses only men who were convicted and sentenced in Hawaii.
bytewizard is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Yesterday, 06:44 PM   #33
Mumbles
Illuminator
 
Mumbles's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 4,162
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
Mostly posting because I want to follow the conversation but...

The goal of prisons should mostly be to reduce recidivism but in the US it seems to mostly be punishment. I understand the emotional appeal of that but its not very helpful for society. There is some research out there that this may be partially be a down side to diversity. In less diverse places, like the Nordics, people are more empathic towards their fellow citizens.

I think we need the following reforms.
a. End the drug war, this will improve society in many ways but relieving pressure on the justice system is high on that list.
In the US, yes, absolutely - although I question whether or not this would immediately lead to some utopia.

Quote:
b. Make it illegal to ask if folks have been convicted of a crime on Job applications. This will give ex-cons a chance at reform.
Unfortunately, employers know the difference in conviction rates varies by race (but not why). Guess what many of them will do if you simply implement this?

Better to expunge the record based on the severity of the crime - this would also restore voting rights, permitting to go to universities, and various other things that felons are often blocked from.

(Police reform and actually making an effort to not house people in contaminated slums would help, too!)

Quote:
c. We should spend more on education in prison than we currently do technical, professional, and general education. But I really think the first 2 reforms are more important.
Agreed here - as well as allowing work at market rates rather than slave wages. This would allow, among other issues, keeping up on any child payments and the like.

(Note that I haven't really worked out the "What happens to the prison jobs?" section yet - some towns basically rely on prisons as an economic backbone, and they can be pretty influential legislatively.)
Mumbles is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Today, 05:38 AM   #34
Suddenly
No Punting
 
Suddenly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Montani Semper Liberi
Posts: 3,126
Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
I think crescents suggestion is appropriate. If the crime has a direct bearing on the job, ie, pedophiles and kindergarten teachers. Other than that, it just means an ex-con will have trouble getting a job at a gas station.
The U.S. EEOC guidelines operate along these general lines.

(I had the odd experience of teaching employment law as part of a business degree program in a maximum security prison. For some reason they were very interested in this subject...)

Prisons should be run more like summer camp for a whole ton of reasons. The best is that you want to put people in a position to be able to exist in society. A lot of these guys just need basic skills and the ability to live a structured life, especially if they had such chaotic upbringings that the idea of being a productive citizen is a totally foreign concept.

Education reduces recidivism. It makes punishment fetishists mad, but maybe the punishment fetishists need to realize that the worst sorts of criminals will find a summer camp environment far more excruciating than they do the violent drama prisons tend to present.
Suddenly is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Today, 07:01 AM   #35
Beelzebuddy
Philosopher
 
Beelzebuddy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 5,104
Originally Posted by Mumbles View Post
Guess what many of them will do if you simply implement this?
Tone down their discrimination to barely-legal passive aggression, eventually resulting in a more widespread social acceptance because it's no longer possible to have their prejudices publicly affirmed by their peers?
Beelzebuddy is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Today, 07:09 AM   #36
Argumemnon
World Maker
 
Argumemnon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the thick of things
Posts: 61,894
Originally Posted by Archie Gemmill Goal View Post
If they are for correction then it seems that a softer approach is preferred. If they are for punishment then the harder the better up to and including criminal activities perpetrated upon each other while inside.
The two aren't mutually-exclusive, though.
__________________
"So let it be written. So let it be done."
Argumemnon is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old Today, 07:33 AM   #37
Archie Gemmill Goal
Illuminator
 
Archie Gemmill Goal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 3,851
Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
The two aren't mutually-exclusive, though.
Not sure if they are mutually exclusive they may well be but they are definitely at odds with one another.
__________________
"I love sex and drugs and sausage rolls
But nothing compares to Archie Gemmill's goal"
Archie Gemmill Goal is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Social Issues & Current Events

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:34 AM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
2014, TribeTech AB. All Rights Reserved.
This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.