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Old September 8th, 2012, 10:00 AM   #1
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If punishment works better than rehabilitation...


I was thinking about wether or not punishment is better than rehabilitation (medical, psychological and other therapeutical means).

As with many other things I like to draw theories to their extremes to see if they are still fit, see if they are still working. My opinion with any theory is that for the theory to be 100 % true, it needs to be perfect under ANY conditions. I don't like half-true theories, I want all theories to be bulletproof (which no longer makes them theories, but knowledge).

For this purpose I'd like to draw the theory of punishment to its extremes:

A) If punishment works as a preventive measure for some crimes for some level of punishment

B) and the harsher the punishment the less crime there will be,

C) can we then think of a punishment so harsh and cruel that that the punishment will only be applicable in theory because there are nobody who dare to even think about committing the crime which carries this punishment?

D) If this is true, and if we really want to get rid of ANY crime in society, what is the rational and/or logical reason for not using this punishment as the only punishment for any crime? After all, nobody will be punished, because there will be no criminals (because there are nobody who dare to commit any crime)!

Surely I believe this is worth a discussion.

I don't have the answer to this question.
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Old September 8th, 2012, 10:13 AM   #2

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I don't think there could ever be a punishment so severe that nobody will committ the crime, because even when there are very harsh punishments there are still criminals. Punishment will deter some people, but there will always be some hard cases who won't be detered no matter what the punishment.
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Old December 9th, 2012, 10:31 PM   #3

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I think there has to be some form of punishment, but sole punishment does not help society. It can make people bitter to the point that they take it out on society. That's what's happened in El Salvador, where an attempt to deal with crime through tough laws has failed. People need to be taught better ways of dealing with problems. This, however, is easy to say and hard to do. Many criminals take advantage of the circumstances and system.

So, the key to dealing with this, in my opinion, is to first deal with a crime by punishing it, but allowing prisoners opportunities to be rehabilitated. Those who prove they want rehabilitation should be given it, but those who make no effort to be helped should not receive resources.

This goes along with the situations in schools. There are students who make efforts to learn, and they benefit from the education system. But, there are students who simply don't want to learn, and it doesn't matter what teachers do.

So, this boils down to rehabilitation being better, but it must be earned.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 07:10 AM   #4

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Punishment only works- if at all- where the criminal believes that he/she will get caught.

Since much of criminal behaviour is down to low intelligence, delusion, or the belief that one won't get caught because of "friends in high places" (Example: Jimmy Savile, Tony Blair, Murdoch), then it stands to reason that punishment is perhaps a deterrent to the more imaginative, lower status and saner members of society, most of whom aren't criminals.

Criminals who are motivated by desperation, e.g. drug addicts, the very hungry, are plainly willing to take the risk, since often the punishment is less onerous than the consequences of not committing the crime. And then we have the large number of petty crimes and violent crimes committed whilst the criminal is in an altered state of mind.

The problem, rehabilitation faces exactly the same problem as punishment: where the criminal faces all the above problems, rehab is not much more likely to work than punishment.

It is best, in my opinion, to try to remove the cause of criminality, and a high sense of morality always was the best way.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 08:28 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
Punishment only works- if at all- where the criminal believes that he/she will get caught.

Since much of criminal behaviour is down to low intelligence, delusion, or the belief that one won't get caught because of "friends in high places" (Example: Jimmy Savile, Tony Blair, Murdoch), then it stands to reason that punishment is perhaps a deterrent to the more imaginative, lower status and saner members of society, most of whom aren't criminals.

Criminals who are motivated by desperation, e.g. drug addicts, the very hungry, are plainly willing to take the risk, since often the punishment is less onerous than the consequences of not committing the crime. And then we have the large number of petty crimes and violent crimes committed whilst the criminal is in an altered state of mind.

The problem, rehabilitation faces exactly the same problem as punishment: where the criminal faces all the above problems, rehab is not much more likely to work than punishment.

It is best, in my opinion, to try to remove the cause of criminality, and a high sense of morality always was the best way.
I agree with 99 % of what you are saying. The only thing I don't agree with is to remove the cause of crime.

The cause of crime is down to the criminal's mind. Removing the cause will inevitably mean to take preventive measures by altering the mind of the people.

This will remove the cause of the crime, but also a lot of other things which we appreciate: Our very human dignity and diversity!
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Old December 10th, 2012, 08:48 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
It is best, in my opinion, to try to remove the cause of criminality, and a high sense of morality always was the best way.
I see it as those who want to operate outside the law, no matter
what they have in front of them, they will find something to steal or
a law to break. Much like a man who is dating a gorgeous woman, ala
Hugh Grant & Estella "Divine Brown" Thompson in 1995.
Click the image to open in full size.
He was with Elizabeth Hurley, who was at the time the face of Estée Lauder, and despite having her, he went out and sought a common street prostitute.
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old December 10th, 2012, 10:14 AM   #7

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It can't really be argued that real need is A cause of crime- a fairly major one, too. "Poverty is no excuse" is not a good excuse.

Note "Need". I have no sympathy for "Want". At the "want" end of the spectrum, the most damaging crimes are committed and these are also the type who would be incapable of rehabilitation.
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Old December 11th, 2012, 06:53 PM   #8
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"There's no requirements in the Texas State Constitution for bein' a sheriff. Not a one. There is no such thing as a county law. You think about a job where you have pretty much the same authority as God and there's no requirements put upon you and you are charged with preserving nonexistent laws and you tell me if that's peculiar or not. Because I say that it is. Does it work? Yes. Ninety percent of the time. It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people can't be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it."

From No Country for Old Men... This conversation reminded me of it.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 05:26 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by philosopher View Post
As with many other things I like to draw theories to their extremes to see if they are still fit, see if they are still working. My opinion with any theory is that for the theory to be 100 % true, it needs to be perfect under ANY conditions. I don't like half-true theories, I want all theories to be bulletproof (which no longer makes them theories, but knowledge).
Poor initial premise. A theory is mearly a clothesline to hang your facts on to dry. Like clotheslines, some theories are better than others.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 05:54 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by philosopher View Post
For this purpose I'd like to draw the theory of punishment to its extremes:
Let me do some more nitpicking, if you please. What theory of punishment are you referring to? Could we have some idea what the theory is before we carry it to logical extremes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by philosopher View Post

A) If punishment works as a preventive measure for some crimes for some level of punishment

B) and the harsher the punishment the less crime there will be,

C) can we then think of a punishment so harsh and cruel that that the punishment will only be applicable in theory because there are nobody who dare to even think about committing the crime which carries this punishment?

D) If this is true, and if we really want to get rid of ANY crime in society, what is the rational and/or logical reason for not using this punishment as the only punishment for any crime? After all, nobody will be punished, because there will be no criminals (because there are nobody who dare to commit any crime)!
A and B are big if's unless you have a theory that says that punishment is a deterrent and that the harsher it is the more effective it is. I question A as an initial assumption and I seriously doubt B.

C and D are a compound conclusion that don't seem to necessarily follow from A and B if I grant them.

I'll offer an alternate theory that I have often proposed in discussions of this topic and of American penology in particular.

Punishment is only justifiable if
a) It acts as a deterrent to committing a crime or
b) It acts to rehabilitate the criminal or
c) It acts to deter others from committing crimes and
d) It is a just punishment
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