View Poll Results: Should criminals be released(no prison)if rehabilitation came in the form of a pill?

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  • They should still serve out what ever punishment they were handed.

    27 51.92%
  • They should be released after taking the pill.

    21 40.38%
  • I do not know.

    4 7.69%
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Thread: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill...........................

  1. #41
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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    Of course. Why bother with prison if not to rehabilitate?
    As long as there is restitution of wrongs to the level necessary to satisfy the community majority. There still has to be justice along with that rehabilitation.
    Last edited by MC.no.spin; 08-27-08 at 05:06 AM.
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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    Lets say if it was possible to rehabilitate every criminal and make them feel remorse with a single pill and there were no chances of relapses,should criminals be given the pill and released immediately back into society/not have to serve out a punishment or should they still serve out what ever punishment the courts gave them
    This hypothetical question does not factor in the parole system.

    A rehabilitation pill should be no different from early release parole. In reality, while we might like to take a position that demonstrates how tough on crime we are, the reality is that overcrowded prisons and crime school (people learning more criminal skills while inside) are elements that affect the prison system now: even in countries where a death penalty still exists.

    So my position is that if someone takes a pill that brings about the moral and personal position in a former criminal that comes about through parole - why force the criminal to continue his or her sentence?

    I note later on in the debate the term emotive term - "scumbag sympathisers" is used extensively - do you believe in parole or not? Or are we all "scumbag sympathisers" because we have not voted politicians in who will get rid of parole?

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    deterrence of criminal activity is the second priority.
    I think most studies show that prison is not an effective deterrence, even in societies with death penalties. Very often people commit crimes for all sorts of reasons that cannot be deterred by traditional tactics or policies.

  3. #43
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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos View Post
    I think most studies show that prison is not an effective deterrence, even in societies with death penalties.
    I can't think of one study that dismisses prison as an effective deterrent. You do get analysis looking at extreme cases (e.g. the non-optimality of "3 strikes and you're out" approaches)

    Very often people commit crimes for all sorts of reasons that cannot be deterred by traditional tactics or policies.
    This is certainly true. The classic example is the addict that requires a target income to meet his/her addiction needs. Punishment, at best, becomes irrelevant. However, that only describes that there are limits to deterrence.

  4. #44
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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    Quote Originally Posted by Scucca View Post
    I can't think of one study that dismisses prison as an effective deterrent --- that only describes that there are limits to deterrence.
    I believe most criminologists recognise that there is a general deterrent but certainly harsher penalties or harsher sentences do not tend to reduce crime rates or fewer offences. Drink drivers for example seem to be deterred more by having their driving licence removed (but not all of them) than by a custodial sentence - although Canadas' conditional sentencing seems to have an effect on some drivers who aren't deterred by prison or licence removal alone.

    From what I've read, prison is again more about public revenge even though society once tried to look at it from a point of rehabilitation first. There may be better ways to deter many criminals but not all will be popular with some of the more extreme minded who simply look at any alternative to prison as "liberalism gone mad".

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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos View Post
    I believe most criminologists recognise that there is a general deterrent but certainly harsher penalties or harsher sentences do not tend to reduce crime rates or fewer offences.
    The important aspect is 'marginal deterrence', where severity is used as part of minimising overall crime rates. It certainly would be ridiculous to have a prison sentence for all crimes. The problem is that prison becomes an easy means for politicians to kid the easily led with "tough on crime" rhetoric. We therefore can get cycles of prison use, where there are periods of over-use of the prison system.

  6. #46
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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    Quote Originally Posted by Scucca View Post
    The important aspect is 'marginal deterrence', where severity is used as part of minimising overall crime rates.
    An interesting element of research for someone would be to find out how much this marginal deterrence actually costs (economically as well as real terms - rehabilitation and punishment). If the deterrent effect of prison is outweighed by the cost of housing, feeding and supervising then it is time to explore other means of treating offenders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scucca View Post
    The problem is that prison becomes an easy means for politicians to kid the easily led with "tough on crime" rhetoric.
    And that remains the major reason why prison doesn't really work on the whole. Politicians will always take the line that pleases the easily led before taking or making tough choices (in every arena really - not just prison) that may actually work better.

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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos View Post
    An interesting element of research for someone would be to find out how much this marginal deterrence actually costs (economically as well as real terms - rehabilitation and punishment). If the deterrent effect of prison is outweighed by the cost of housing, feeding and supervising then it is time to explore other means of treating offenders.
    There has certainly been research into the relative costs of punishment. Not surprisingly, fines provide the cheapest means to acquire deterrence effects. They also have the added advantage that they can be related to the wealth of the offender (maximising any deterrent effect). Of course fines, to be a credible threat, still require the threat of imprisonment. Moreover, marginal deterrence must refer to a distribution of punishments and fines becomes increasingly irrelevant as severity of crime increases. Non-pecuniary crimes will require non-pecuniary punishments.

    The costs from the criminal justice system are significant. However, the costs from crime are huge. Once we factor in pain and suffering (which of course are rather difficult to measure in any cost-benefit analysis), the deterrence effects will not have to be substantial for imprisonment to make economic sense.

    And that remains the major reason why prison doesn't really work on the whole. Politicians will always take the line that pleases the easily led before taking or making tough choices (in every arena really - not just prison) that may actually work better.
    Indeed. Such government failures impinge on any discretionary policy. Such problems can be minimised. For example, it is always a good idea to avoid first-past-the-post politics as we get general consensus but dramatic shifts in policy in areas such as criminal justice (as parties attempt to stand out)

  8. #48
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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    In various fantasy worlds there may be alternatives to prisons, but we don't live in a fantasy world. Well, a few of us do, but it is strictly an imaginary place that only they are aware of. The OP says "criminals", and IMHO a criminal is not someone who accidently or unintentionally does something wrong one time, but a repeat offender. Repeat offenders need a hard slap along the head to get their attention.
    There is a boy here in Utah in intensive care because some idiot adult neighbor made some homemade "fireworks". Fireworks my bloated butt, it was a damn bomb, and he set it off in the street in front of children. That kind of stupidity deserves some prison time, if for no other reason than to make the perpetrator do some serious thinking. Is he a criminal? No, but he does need the rude awakening that some people require before they get less stupid.
    As for career criminals, the ones who are repeat offenders, incarceration seems to be the only answer. We can make it cheaper by using Sheriff Joe's methods. Read up on him if you like, he is the sheriff of Maricopa county in Arizona. A real jerk to some, but the public keeps him around, because they like how he is tough on criminals.
    Until the wizards invent magic pills that truly work, prison is the only answer.
    I use to say that a better education for our kids will reduce the amount of criminals, but I know of some pretty smart crooks out there, so more schooling may not be the answer after all....
    Maybe better parenting?
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  9. #49
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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    The way the hypothetical was described it sounds like the magic pill works with 100% efficacy on a single dose. That is obviously very important in determining the answer to the question.


    I say "Yes, release them" for the following reasons.

    Based on the "hypothetical", the existence of the magic pill would be unequivocal proof that the criminalty was caused by a disease. Thus the criminal is not responsible for their behavior and vengence is unwarranted.

    First, you must consider disease-based criminality a mental illness, and since the only time treatment fro mental illness is madatory is when a person is a threat to themselves or others, the pill would become mandatory treatment for anyone with the criminality disease.

    This means that the pill would be required for all potential criminals (based only on the premises set forth by this hypothetical situation) so there actually is 0 chance of the "pill release" causing criminality in this hypothetical situation (since it is already proven that criminality is a "disease" and thus consequences would have no bearing on criminal behavior).

    If the criminality is 100% caused by a disease that was beyond the criminals control, there is no purpose to continued "punishment" because the person was definitively not responsible for their behavior (again, this would absolutely have to be true in this hypothetical situation for the situation to even be hypothetically possible, nor would they be capable of commiting the same behavior after treatment.

    The interesting aspect of this debate is that since the construct creates the situation that people are not truly responsible for their actions, the incarceration of people could never bring about rehabilitation anyway. So there should never have been a release date set to begin with as the person who is incarcerated is guaranteed to be biologically predisposed to recidivism.

    Whereas, in reality, the fact that incarceration and punishment can actuallly lead to rehabilitation proves that in reality, a magic pill can never exist because criminality is not a disease (except in very, very rare cases).


    Now as to why these ex-criminals should be released, we need to address the reasons for incarceration:

    There are two ONLY real (i.e. non-emotionally based) goals of incarceration and both as a detterant:

    1. As a detterent of current crime by removing criminals from a postion where they can commit crimes
    2. As a detterent for future crime (this can be recidivist crime, or potential crime form a person who fears incarceration/punishment)

    These two reasons are the only reasons for incarcerating people. All other punishments that do not include removal from the general population are focused on goal two only.

    Vengence for the victim/families is not a valid reason for punishment. If it were, the victim or their family would actually decide or bring about the actual punishment (direct vengence). If it were, there could be no punishment for crimes that are considered antisocial in nature without having a true, definable "victim" (prostitution, tax evasion, speeding, money laundering, etc).

    If "vengence" were the primary goal of punishment, these "crimes" would be unpunishable.

    The reason that the primary goal of punishment is that of a deterrant is far more important than that of vengence. It is the truly noble goal of preventing future victims.

    If the prevention of future victims is assured by the existence of this pill (as described by the construct), then continued incarceration is pointelss since it will only act as a waste of tax dollars in order to satisfy a need for vengence. Even further, in this hypothetical situation, none of the "criminals" is truly responsible for their actions and thus any vengence would be against an innocent "victim" of an illness. (Hey, I'm not the guy who created the screwed up hypothetical.)

    If reality were this easy, then we wouldn't need any vengence because ALL crime would be 100% preventable because all crime comes from a disease. In reality crime is not a disease, so the same logic does not apply.

    Even crimes that are caused by diseases like schizophrenia are not curable from a one-time dose of medicine. Often times the people with these diseases stop taking their meds and are therefore full-on threats to society again.

    So basically, creating this construct in order to wander off on a childish tirade against incorrectly perceived enemies is asanine.

  10. #50
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    Re: If it was possible to rehabilitate criminals with one pill.......................

    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Chaos View Post
    So my position is that if someone takes a pill that brings about the moral and personal position in a former criminal that comes about through parole - why force the criminal to continue his or her sentence?

    because they committed a crime that is why you force criminals to carry out their sentence.

    I note later on in the debate the term emotive term - "scumbag sympathisers" is used extensively - do you believe in parole or not?Or are we all "scumbag sympathisers" because we have not voted politicians in who will get rid of parole?
    Seeing how alot of posters seem to have absolutely no regard for the victims of these criminals the term scumbag sympathizers seems fitting.

    I think most studies show that prison is not an effective deterrence, even in societies with death penalties. Very often people commit crimes for all sorts of reasons that cannot be deterred by traditional tactics or policies.
    That study sounds like utter bull ****. Are you saying crime would not rise if we abolished prisons and other forms of punishment?
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

    Cicero Marcus Tullius

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