AltInst: On Crime and Punishment: a new social philosophy? (II)

From: dennis morgan <>
Date: Sun May 13 2001 - 11:52:52 PDT

The proposal has a two-prong approach to
prison reform. One approach is to work within the
current penal framework to treat short-term criminals
as victims of crimes themselves while, at the same
time, administering punishment and penalties according
to current proceedures for reforming these individuals
so that they can return to society as productive
citizens. Thus, it seeks to change the current prison
system only in that it no longer uses oppression in a
way that could continue to perpetuate the cycle of
crime. Hence, the second approach mentioned, permanent
exile in a wilderness area of free containment, does
not apply to a person arrested for drug abuuse,
misdemeanors or even minor felonies. (A detailed
distinction between the two "prongs" is something
which much be carefully worked out.)

Thus, the prisoners in question represent a minority
of felons. Finding a location for an area of
containment should not be too difficult or costly
since this area would not have to be too large and
should not be valueable real estate, but in a
non-populated, mountaineous or semi-arid area. Small
islands are also a possibility as long as the
impossibility of escape has been established. Ideally,
this new concept in penal philosophy would, in the
long run, save taxpayers money since housing and
personnel costs would be eliminated.

What follows is my response to the questions raised by
Mr. Lewis.
--- "Robert E. Lewis" <>
> * If it is truly isolated from the "civilized"
> world, are
> you going to make certain they are fed? Without the
> "authoritarian figures, guards and systems," how are
> you
> going to make certain that any food you do send in
> is
> "fairly" distributed? How are you going to monitor
> the
> internal population numbers, to know whether you are
> sending
> in too little food, or wasting too much? Do you
> expect
> people who have proven incapable of successfully
> fitting in
> to current society to make successful farmers on the
> other
> side, especially if they do not receive aid,
> training,
> materials, weather news, etc. from the outside
> world? Is it
> more humane to dump people in a place where they may
> starve
> to death?

Initially and from time to time, it will be necessary
to droplift food, survival manuels and some very basic
tools for survival. This will be the only cost
incurred to society and even these might be
discontinued after some time.(These are details which
can be worked out in a draft for such a project.) Of
course, "fair" distribution would be a concept of
justice imposed by our society and, as such, does not
apply in this situation. This is not about being fair.
It's an alternative to death or confinement for life
in a maximum security facility. The reason for giving
some initial support is to justify the position that
this IS an alternative to the death penalty. Hence,
they must be given the opportunity to survive. If they
starve to death as a result of their own actions, it
is not our concern since that would be the natural
result of anarchic conditions. It is "humane" to give
them the chance - that's about as humane as we can
possibly be under the circumstances. Some would argue
the opposite - that it's being TOO humane considering
their crimes.

As far as monitoring is concerned, it would be to our
advantage to monitor their progress (or lack of
progress) since since this could prove to be a
beneficial sociological opportunity for insight to our
own society.

> * Again, if it is truly isolated from the
> "civilized" side,
> you simply don't know to what fate you are sending
> the
> condemned. Society might feel better, pretending
> its hands
> weren't stained with blood, but if you shove a
> prisoner
> through the gates and into (very likely) the hands
> of an
> organized and unsupervised gang of the most violent
> and
> incorrigable sociopaths, what is likely to become of
> him? I
> think it is naive to say that this penal colony will
> be
> "without the authoritarian figures." The
> authoritarian
> figures will be there, and they will be the most
> sadistic
> and violent of those dispatched there. Likely
> outcomes for
> a new prisoner, it seems to me, are (absent
> starvation):
> slavery, torture, food for the strong? Is that
> really a
> more humane way to treat these people?

Again, these are questions concerning the natural
results of anarchic conditions. In reality, they're
speculative quesions since we really don't know what
would happen under such circumstances. It may very
well turn out to be, as suggested, a cruel and
inhumane world. On the other hand, they might develop
an alternative society of enlightenment over a period
of time. In that case, our society would benefit.
Also, from a study of criminals in anarchic
conditions, we might finally learn the mystery of the
origin of crime and be able to eliminate it once and
for all.
> * And whether or not that is the *actual* fate of
> the
> prisoner, allowing his mind to speculate over what
> horrors
> may await him across the line is arguably cruel and
> oppressive treatment.

Knowing of "such horrors," should that be the outcome,
might also be a more powerful deterrent to crime than
the death penalty. If this should be the case,
monitoring and broadcasting these "natural results of
crime" could be a powerful education for the young.

> * Some of the people you send over might actually
> like it,
> and do well there. The particularly ruthless are
> likely to
> prosper in Conventry. Is that "fair" to anyone? Is
> it just
> for the criminal whose behavior in one society is
> rewarded
> with the chance to claw his way up to the position
> of a
> chieftan or warlord in another society? Is it fair
> to
> lesser, weaker incorrigables who fall under his
> power,
> without the mitigating effects of the civilized
> world? Is
> it fair to the victims (or survivors of the
> victims), if
> word does get back that the fiends that inflicted
> such pain
> are now living it up in some sort of Dark Ages
> tribal
> fantasy?

Again, imposing our concept of "fairness." It doesn't
apply to anarchic conditions.

> Finally, the idea of using condemned prisoners for
> scientific (in this case, sociology) experiments
> smacks of
> the experimentation done by the Nazis (albeit there
> often
> done with prisoners who had not committed any
> criminal act
> other than being the wrong race), and I think most
> scientists would (rightly, I think) find it
> unethical.

This isn't strictly an experiment and it isn't done
"to" people. This is the natural result of those who
no longer abide by the social contract. It is a choice
that they themselves have made through their habitual
actions that offend and destroy others. Under these
circumstances, to study them and try to learn
something from them that could be beneficial to our
own society is not unethical. It could be the key to
understanding anti-social behaviour in the form of
crime which might eliminate crime in the future. In
that case, in the future, the program would be
discontinued and it may even be that the alternative
society might be integrated again.

Another strong objection to this proposal that I see
has to do mixing women and children. That may be the
stickiest point of this proposal - if they have
children. In my opinion, children should not be born
under such circumstances since it would not be fair to
innocent children who should be given the chance to
live under the social contract. Thus, if men and women
are mixed, they should undergo medical proceedures
(vasectomy?) so that they will not be able to conceive
children. It might be possible to have mixed
populations and separate sex populations. Then, if
prisoners choose to go into a mixed population, they
will have to undergo medical proceedures to prevent

Dennis Morgan

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Received on Sun May 13 12:07:51 2001

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