I am not really a vengeful person. I don’t really see the point of punishing criminals. I am not saying we should hand out some “Get Out of Jail Free” cards:
Parole Officer: You’ve stabbed thirteen inmates, run the in-house drug smuggling, and raped 53 including the warden. What makes you think you’ll ever see the light of day?
Prisoner: I got this!
Pulls out a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
Parole Officer: Damn, lucky draw. You can leave.
Prisoner: Awesome! Peace, bitches!
Prisoner leaves then comes back.
Prisoner: Before I go. Can I get a “Get Out of a Murder Rap Free” card?
Parole Officer: No.
Prisoner: But Zimmerman got one!
I think people should go to prison if they commit a crime but I really don’t think the punishment based prison system works. The prison system is this system that takes a bunch of people with a predisposition to violence and puts them in situations were more violence is the only way to survive. When I think about the penal system, violence is really never a good solution to curb violent behavior. I will grant that there are some situations were violence is the only option. If aliens were to invade, than we would need a resistance group, preferably violent.
A group of people line up at a table that reads: Alien Killas Auditions Today! A man walks up to the table. A grizzled resistance fighter eyes him.
Fighter: Welcome to the tryouts. What makes you think that you can be a resistance fighter?
Man: I can kick ass and take names. Watch.
Man kicks the person behind him in the ass.
Man: What’s your name?
Man: Larry… the dude’s whose ass whom I kicked is named Larry.
But other than self defense, I really don’t see the point of using violence to solve more violence. Some people seem to take pleasure in the thought that child molesters are being butt raped for cigarettes in prison but I really don’t think revenge is the best way to deal with prisoners. Personally, I think child molesters should be put in therapy because there is obliviously something wrong with them. But then again, I’m not really a vengeful person. My middle school conflicts were solved with words (usually witty insults for a middle schooler-like proving those that smelled farts must obviously be the person who farted), and drafting the assistance of others (such as a brother with martial arts training-two grades higher than me). No wonder I became a writer-always ready with the verbal punch.
While I do think there is a need to keep prisoners away from society, I think it should be more therapy than a revenge based system. So rather than butt raping, why not force them to go through mental health sessions? Some countries such as Norway have reformed the prison system to be more mental health care facilities over prisons. They look like day spas compared to our prison. And contrary to popular belief, they have reduced the repeat offender rate of their criminal element leaps and bounds over our repeat offender rate in the States. The reason why the therapy approach works is rather than animalize and dehumanize the person, they try to fix them.
So punishment may make us feel good in America. But our prisons are like career colleges for criminals. They just learn to be better criminals. Punishment isn’t really a good deterrent for criminals. If prisons being a hellhole was a deterrent, than criminals would need planning for the future skills. Most criminals don’t really plan for the future, hence why they are criminals.
A criminal pulls a gun on a bank clerk.
Criminal: Give me all your money so I can pay tuition for my Associates Degree.
The clerk begins to fill a bag full of money.
Clerk: Man, those student loans are killer.
Criminal: Tell me about it. If you want to boost the economy, just forgive student loans!
Clerk: I know. I could buy a house with the money I use for student loan payments… What’s your degree in?
Criminal: Criminal Justice.
Criminal: I know.
Therapy in Prison should be deterrent enough. Imagine giant dudes, the kind with five hundred tattoos who have killed at least three people by stabbing them once for every tattoo, hugging and talking about their feelings.
Therapist: Today, we are going to draw the animal that represents you.
The inmates begin to draw. The therapist walks around.
Therapist: Tiger, good Tyrone! Bear, great job Rex! Shark, super job Ted…. A… um… That’s nice Dagger, that’s a… um…
Ted: It’s a rabbit with rabies or something?
Dagger: Don’t you ever say that! It’s Pikachu.
Rex: What’s a Pikachu? A Virus?
Dagger (upset): Pikachu does not have rabies.
Therapist: It’s ok. Calm down, Dagger.
Dagger: He’s better than all of you! I will cut you!
Therapist: Dagger, you know what we’ve said about cutting. Now tell me about this Pikachu.
Dagger: Fine. He’s a Pokémon and he fights for his friends.
Therapist: Do you fight for your friends, Dagger?
Dagger (cries): No, I rape them!
Tyrone: I know, man. My ass is still sore!
Therapist: Well, maybe you can think about how you can be more like Pikachu. What would Pikachu do?
Years later…. Dagger is on the outside. He is reformed. He ordering a hamburger at a fast food place dressed in full Pikachu costume.
Dagger: Pika! Pika!
Employee: I’m sorry sir but I don’t understand.
Dagger: Pika! Pika! Pikachu!
Employee: You’ll have to pick something off the menu.
Manager: Is there a problem here? What is that? Is it like a rabid rabbit or something?
Dagger: Don’t you say anything bad about Pikachu.
Dagger stabs the manager 500 times.
A punishment based prison system feels like institutionalized revenge. There may be a temporary release of tension when people get revenge but overall the victims still feel like shit the long-run because they’ve been victimized. Then to add insult to injury, in a punishment based penal system, the prisoners have a higher likelihood of victimizing again. I think Shakespeare really figured out that vengeance really only leads to the everyone dies and no one is satisfied ending. For example, I saw the play Hamlet on one of those scrambled television channels where if you squint really hard, you may see a boob but you can hear the sound. The characters were way too focused on revenge in Hamlet. Everyone had this orgy at the end and killed each other. Poor Horatio was left wacking himself until Fortinbras came in and showed Horatio why they call him “Fortune Bra”.