Friday, March 6, 2015

Alternatives to Prison (Part 3 of 3)

Laissez-faire Criminology is my assertion (on this blog) that you do not need to react to every wrong or harm, either against yourself or someone else.  Defining “human” as “rational animal” and given that violent offenders lack self-awareness, they cannot be considered human.  Self-righteous punishment of a criminal is no more meaningful than scolding a coyote or attempting to corral a tornado.  (Indeed, prisons are nothing if not corrals full of tornados.)  Sometimes the best thing you can do is to cut your losses and mind your own business.

Private treaties are one way that corporations deal with white collar crime.  Of all the harms that individuals visit on each other, white collar crime perfectly matches the theory of the rational actor.  White collar criminals are planfully competent.  They are privileged, educated, economically comfortable.  Therefore, the remediations are individualized and based on profit.
 “In responding to and resolving the criminal behavior of employees, organizations routinely choose options other than criminal prosecution, for example, suspension without pay, transfer, job reassignment, job redesign (eliminating some job duties), civil restitution, and dismissal...
“While on the surface, it appears that organizations opt for less severe sanctions than would be imposed by the criminal justice system, in reality, the organizational sanctions may have greater impact...  In addition, the private systems of criminal justice are not always subject to principles of exclusionary evidence, fairness, and defendant rights which characterize the public criminal justice systems. The level of position, the amount of power, and socio-economic standing of the employee in the company may greatly influence the formality and type of company sanctions.  In general, private justice systems are characterized by informal negotiations and outcomes, and nonuniform standards and procedures among organizations and crime types.”
(Hallcrest Report cited in Introduction to Private Security, Hess and Wrobleski, West Publishing, St.Paul, 1982, 1988. The Hallcrest Report I and II, by William C. Cunningham and Todd H. Taylor, et al., Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston, 1985 and 1990.)
When Nothing Works

Robert Martinson is famous for “What works? Questions and answers about prison reform” (The Public Interest 35.2; 1974: 22-54).  His research was immediately recast as “nothing works.”  Martinson found that every attempt at rehabilitation in prison had failures, often in greater proportion to their successes.  Successful treatments tended to work only for various minorities, often poorly identified or defined. 

Eventually, the claim that “nothing works” generated another response.  Among very many articles, consider:
·       “Beyond ‘What Works?’ A 25-year Jubilee Retrospective of Robert Martinsons Famous Article,” by Rick Sarre, in Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology 34: 38-46.
·       “Does Correctional Treatment Work? A Clinically Relevant and Psychologically Informed Meta-Analysis” by D.A. Andrews, Ivan Zinger, et al., Criminology, Volume 28, Issue 3, Pages 369–404, August 1990. 

Reduce your problem population as much as you want, eventually you will find individuals for whom nothing we know of will solve their problems.  What do you do with the unregenerate?

Perhaps we should just kill them.  We would save ourselves the trouble and expense.  Consider that we know that a child who is cruel to animals grows up to be a violent offender.  Would it be right to kill a child for abusing a family pet?  Ideally, the offender would be remediated and re-integrated with one of the other responses.

The therapies and remedies discussed above may not work in all cases.  Ultimately, we are left with an intractable problem. We build very many small spaces for internal exile.  In Russia, they have all of Siberia for internal exile.  That may remain the best solution for the worst cases.


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