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Why I am a Republican

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  • mordenkainen
    replied
    crime of course existed for as long as humanity. Law and what foucault called "illegalisms" to distinguish them from the notion of the delinquent exist from time immemorial. but the delinquent as a category of human beings is in great part a creation of capitalism (if he's to be believed...) and conveys a massive use of imprisonment.
    In ancient societies, crime is primarily interpreted as defying authority (wordly or divine) and is dealt with according to this notion: criminals are physically punished as a reaffirmation of power. they can be killed, tortured, deprived of their possesions or status, excommunicated even... basically the message is if you fuck with the powers that be you'll end up losing more than what you'll get.

    prison and "the delinquent" correspond to new needs, esp. the need to deal with the excluded part of the population. there is nothing like social exclusion in ancient regimes. as miserable as your lot can be, you are born something and can (often must ) always be that. If you commit crimes, you're either eliminated or you go back to where you belong in the social organization. With capitalism appears a class of people who have no social role and are unable to get one. The idea of the Delinquent as a social group appears. It doesn't coincide exactly with the sum of people who commit illegal acts. when you think of the Delinquent what comes to your mind is not the tax cheater...

    increased control of the individual by the state becomes a need because of the system's exclusive nature, too. the obtention of a status increasingly depends on the state (instead of your father was that, he taught you that and that's what you are, proof being your ability to do that...erm, am i being clear???). increasing amounts of information are needed to determinate and justify the individual's status.

    and of course the newborn Delinquent class has to be dealt with. which is done in the way that caracterizes this new society, that is through heavy control.
    The consequence is massive imprisonment. Prison doesn't work as it neither amends the real Delinquent nor definitively eliminates him. but then are those the actual functions of prison? Foucault's idea is that prison is the ultimate tool to keep the Delinquent class under control.

    I'm not a great fan of Foucault's anymore, but much of what he wrote i think is brilliant. I thought as a psychiatrist and a curious, unquiet spirit you might have read him.

    Prison can create a lot of cooperative almost neighborly behavior and I think that it is exciting because of the surveillance factor. I would say that many of the guys in prison are more kind to each other than you are to your next door neighbor. So it can be like a micro ideal society.
    well...http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/prison/

    Leave a comment:


  • Doc
    replied
    Originally posted by TheAdlerian
    I read what a could of Foucault.

    So far it seems that he is saying that prisons are a form of power that mirrors the society as a whole. The prison is the factory, school, and so forth. All of these things are based on a surveillance based society that requires information gathering to label and categorize everything.

    Also, the invention of the delinquent was a method by which to label individuals as generally bad people of a certain bad class that needed controlling.

    Am I following it?
    Sorry to be gone for so long after I made my drive-by posting about Foucault.

    You're pretty close. Off the top of my head--

    In the first half of D and P, Foucault is describing the history of punishment. All institutions reflect and shape power arrangements in society. Many of our institutions imprison us, even those that aren't designed to do so. By formalizing the corrections system, societies create a specific segment of society to do what other segments of society were doing informally. The corrections system has allowed people to pick their prison, so to speak. In doing so, people have, ironically, become futher imprisoned than when we had a less formal system.

    Much of this is because of the public spectacle of early corrections-- a drawing and quartering is disturbing, but it always attracted an audience. When people understood punishment, they began to understand formal ideas about what leads to punishment-- for themselves and others. This is not only where labels became important, but also when social control became a tangible force for someone to manipulate.

    Prisons took punishment away from the public in many ways when it, literally, went behind closed doors. In some ways, the imagination of punishment becomes much worse than the observed spectacle of punishment.

    The second half of D and P is the more famous part of it. The carcerel with the panopticon, and the stress of contant observation speak volumes about societies that yearn to monitor all behaviors. For Foucault, this is equal parts observation about prisons and social commentary.

    Sorry to be so long. That's the way I remember it. I need to go back and re-read it. For what it's worth, there are similar themes in Madness and Civilization.

    Stick with Foucault, PWV. He has profound insights in nearly everything he writes. You're very likely to find brilliance when you get used to the way he writes.

    Leave a comment:


  • PsychicWarVeteran
    replied
    I'm a newbie to Foucault, as well, Adlerian. I did find a few helpful sources to start with, if you've the time. I'll be reading this stuff over the next couple days...

    Doc mentioned Foucault's book, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison; there is a nice summary of the book (ala Cliff's Notes) right here.

    Also, what appears to be his official site is here.

    Leave a comment:


  • Doc
    replied
    I don't think anyone could think of prison the same way ofter reading Discipline and Punish. Foucault was really on to something big in his discussions of the history of punishment and the modern prison.

    Leave a comment:


  • mordenkainen
    replied
    Re: The Cost of Capital Punishment Compared to Life Imprison

    Originally posted by PsychicWarVeteran
    "A 1991 study of the Texas criminal justice system estimated the cost of appealing capital murder at $2,316,655. In contrast, the cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum security prison single cell for 40 years is estimated at $750,000."

    Wow. That's over three times the cost! :o

    "Florida calculated that each execution there costs some $3.18 million. If incarceration is estimated to cost $17,000/year, a comparable statistic for life in prison of 40 years would be $680,000."


    Damn! That's over four and a half times the cost! 8O
    erm....this may be a useful argument, from a practical point of view (e.g. to convince right-wingers...) but is not really satisfying, morally speaking. Imprisonment is cheap because prisons are hell. http://www.hrw.org/advocacy/prisons/u-s.htm
    That's just another place where much more state money is needed and nobody really cares...
    connecting psychiatrical and carceral institutions, Adlerian, are you familiar with the works of Michel Foucault ?

    Leave a comment:


  • Rymdolov
    replied
    Re: Why I am a Republican

    Originally posted by Patrick
    Someone asked in the other thread if I was a writer.
    That was me. Thanks for the link. Judging from the reviews, you seem to have come up with a good ending, which is pretty hard, I guess.

    Leave a comment:


  • devilchicken
    replied
    Well using that case as an example - I'm a little sceptical of a system in which a man can be condemned to death, after having already been tried and judged by a public media trial.

    I've no idea whether the guy did it or not - but my point is its not my job to decide that. Its why there's a judge and jury to sift the evidence and reach a conclusion.

    Regardless of what anyone thinks - that level of intrusive media coverage does influence people's opinions. If you demonise someone enough - people start to believe it. So rather than a fair trial in which both the accused and the victims relatives are protected from public scrutiny - instead you have a media event, which whips ordinary people up into a frenzy.

    I remember watching the coverage when Peterson got convicted and the sheer delight on the faces of the public who had thronged to the courthouse sickened me. Its this mob mentality I don't understand... its harmful to the judicial process - what happened to the idea of being innocent until proven guilty?

    Leave a comment:


  • devilchicken
    replied
    You know, I was surprised that the death penalty was given to Peterson. I'm pretty well convinced he's guilty, but the fact of the matter is all the evidence is circumstantial, so it was surprising (and disconcerting) to hear the punishment set at death. It's the unborn child part of it; that hits a sensitive place, making people want harsh justice.
    The problem I see as well is that a lot seems to hinge on whether the jury likes the defendant, that's certainly the impression I got from watching some of the Peterson trial coverage over the last few months. The fact that you could be found guilty based on little or no concrete evidence - and that the jury 'not liking your face' could tip the balance concerns me a great deal....

    These big trials often become a media circus - I'm amazed to see Peterson stories still adorning the covers of supermarket tabloids, demonising the man. The fact that this was going on during the trial (and that a TV movie was made in which I believe Scott Peterson is shown to have performed the deed - BEFORE the jury has even found him guilty) makes me wonder whether the guy really did get a fair trial...

    In the UK we have had cases such as this - but the media are obliged to respect legal guidelines put in place to ensure that coverage does not bias the trial. In many cases - a gag order is routine, which prevents the media from commenting on aspects the trial before the case has been decided.

    Leave a comment:


  • PsychicWarVeteran
    replied
    The Cost of Capital Punishment Compared to Life Imprisonment

    Regarding the cost of capital punishment issue, I have located the following information:

    "A 1991 study of the Texas criminal justice system estimated the cost of appealing capital murder at $2,316,655. In contrast, the cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum security prison single cell for 40 years is estimated at $750,000."

    SOURCE: Punishment and the Death Penalty, edited by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum, 1995, p.109

    Wow. That's over three times the cost! :o

    "Florida calculated that each execution there costs some $3.18 million. If incarceration is estimated to cost $17,000/year, a comparable statistic for life in prison of 40 years would be $680,000."

    SOURCE: The Geography of Execution, Keith Harries and Derral Cheatwood, 1997, p.6

    Damn! That's over four and a half times the cost! 8O

    Nevertheless, there will always be ignorant simpletons who deny the facts and figures. See for yourself!

    Originally posted by devilchicken
    ...more and more cases these days are being decided on purely circumstantial evidence (The recent Scott Peterson trial springs to mind)...
    You know, I was surprised that the death penalty was given to Peterson. I'm pretty well convinced he's guilty, but the fact of the matter is all the evidence is circumstantial, so it was surprising (and disconcerting) to hear the punishment set at death. It's the unborn child part of it; that hits a sensitive place, making people want harsh justice.

    Leave a comment:


  • devilchicken
    replied
    As a European now living in America - I'm a little sceptical of the US justice system. I've heard too many news stories about people jailed, and on death row whos convictions have a question mark over them, and were unsafe for one reason and another. Certainly that makes me a little apprehensive of ever getting on the wrong side of the law.

    Regardless of the cost issue - the fact that people can, and have been executed and later found innocent seems to me reason enough not to do it.

    This may be in part due to the fact that more and more cases these days are being decided on purely circumstantial evidence (The recent Scott Peterson trial springs to mind) - to me it suggests that it is more important that justice is shown to be done, rather than the authorities necessarily doing everything they can to find the right person. As long as someone is in the frame for the crime it seems that it doesn't matter if all the facts don't fit the case...

    The 'harshness' of the state in dealing out punishment is also disturbingly draconian. I read a recent story about a woman in Texas - who was (initially) jailed for murder for shooting her alcoholic, violent estranged husband, after he allegedly broke into her home and tried to kill her. Witness after witness testified that the guy was a drunk, who liked to use his fists to 'discipline' his woman. Ballistics even reconstructed the guys likely pose and posture when he was shot, confirming the wife's story that he broke through the bedroom door in a violent manner. All this and they still decide that its murder? I don't know - doesn't seem very fair to me... In the end this woman had her charges commuted to manslaughter - but still has to endure 8 years in prison...

    Leave a comment:


  • Patrick
    replied
    Regarding PWV's comment about the costs of the death penalty, I heard the same thing too, that it costs more to execute someone than keep that person in a cell. But I have no documentation on that.

    Leave a comment:


  • devilchicken
    replied
    It still amazes me that what would seem scandalous in the UK and Europe barely raises an eyebrow here....

    The Government wants everyone to exercise personal responsibility for themselves - but not for others. Its not a humane way to live - perhaps that's one reason why there's so much crime in the US. The $$$ is king - if you don't have it, you might as well go home and die (just so long as you don't inconvenience anyone while doing it).

    Leave a comment:


  • PsychicWarVeteran
    replied
    Originally posted by devilchicken
    I've always wondered how the US healthcare system works for the mentally ill. I mean, if the guy had schizophrenia - no job, no place to live etc. how does he pay for his medication? Furthermore - how does he even get diagnosed?
    That's just it, he doesn't. He lives life homeless, sleeping under cardboard and picking his meals from a dumpster. I'm totally serious. My wife sees crazy homeless people downtown everyday and it just kills her. There are lots of homeless people in Seattle, walking around arguing with lightposts and attacking fire hydrants.

    Originally posted by devilchicken
    I would suggest that perhaps the system at large could be accused of being complicit in this man's crime - in that it failed him, and he couldn't get help...
    I quite agree, devilchicken. But that's a bit too much logical thought for the American government.

    Leave a comment:


  • devilchicken
    replied
    I've always wondered how the US healthcare system works for the mentally ill. I mean, if the guy had schizophrenia - no job, no place to live etc. how does he pay for his medication? Furthermore - how does he even get diagnosed?

    Its a far cry - from knowing what you have, having medication for it and not taking it. Such a person would bear at least some personal responsibility for anything they do as a result. But in this case I would suggest that perhaps the system at large could be accused of being complicit in this man's crime - in that it failed him, and he couldn't get help...

    Leave a comment:


  • PsychicWarVeteran
    replied
    Originally posted by devilchicken
    What was interesting was that the state in question had a law that made it illegal to execute anyone with mental illness. So what the state governor wanted to do - was medicate the guy so that he would be well enough (from a legal perspective) to execute.

    Now is it morally right for the state to 'cure' someone just so they can execute them?
    Dude, that makes me ill. I can't tell you how utterly f*cked-up that story is! That's an example of someone who just wants to kill for the sake of killing, if you ask me.

    Leave a comment:

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