Death penalty or life imprisonment?
Death
46.5% (40)
46.5% (40)
Imprisonment
53.5% (46)
53.5% (46)
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Poll: Which is more merciful?

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i went with death..but its a personal thing
having to spend the rest of my days behind bars in one place, only being let out for an hour or two each day would be hell to me.

(course..depending on the crime....hell might be the fitting punishment..if not the mercifull one)

That depends on the person, and the prison.
I personally think I could deal with imprisonment, but I don't think I could handle being assraped on a daily basis.

This is split pretty evenly(31-33). I see that some of you are right in saying that it depends upon the person.

Heronblade:

Even with that aside, this is less about the action itself, and more that I want to be able to die knowing that I made a substantial difference for other people.

That's exactly the problem. It is life, and nothing but life. It isn't even a matter of it not being a happy or "good" life. If you found and cast some kind of spell that turned the prisoners in question into slugs, mind and body, they would have MORE purpose than before.

Simple survival is tolerable if it is only a temporary state of affairs. Simply survive for all of one's life however, and one might as well never have been born as anything more than the simplest of animals.

If by 'purpose' you mean 'usefulness to society' then sure - but I'm talking about existential purpose, or a profound sense of meaning in one's life, and unless you think you need to do some kind of great physical deed (and if you do, hey, a prison break is a good start to your legacy) for your life to have meaning, then I don't see how the life of a prisoner is automatically incapable of realizing that.

Even if you deny any notion of having a rich 'inner' life, there are still 'substantial' acts that can be done from prison. Writing, for example (philosophy, poetry, etc.), also developing or maintaining relationships with fellow inmates or those outside.

TWRule:

Heronblade:

Even with that aside, this is less about the action itself, and more that I want to be able to die knowing that I made a substantial difference for other people.

That's exactly the problem. It is life, and nothing but life. It isn't even a matter of it not being a happy or "good" life. If you found and cast some kind of spell that turned the prisoners in question into slugs, mind and body, they would have MORE purpose than before.

Simple survival is tolerable if it is only a temporary state of affairs. Simply survive for all of one's life however, and one might as well never have been born as anything more than the simplest of animals.

If by 'purpose' you mean 'usefulness to society' then sure - but I'm talking about existential purpose, or a profound sense of meaning in one's life, and unless you think you need to do some kind of great physical deed (and if you do, hey, a prison break is a good start to your legacy) for your life to have meaning, then I don't see how the life of a prisoner is automatically incapable of realizing that.

Even if you deny any notion of having a rich 'inner' life, there are still 'substantial' acts that can be done from prison. Writing, for example (philosophy, poetry, etc.), also developing or maintaining relationships with fellow inmates or those outside.

It appears that we are at an impasse here due to differing points of view.

Existential purpose is indeed important, but if that personal meaning fails to at least eventually take form in terms of corresponding action, in my POV, it just boils down to lying to oneself for the sake of self-esteem.

And no, I would not say that the action in question needs to include "great deeds" (although such would certainly qualify), but it does require taking control of one's life.

P.S. I find the desire to establish a legacy to be a rather weak purpose on its own, and orchestrating a jailbreak is pretty much the opposite of what I would consider a worthwhile action.

Heronblade:
It appears that we are at an impasse here due to differing points of view.

Existential purpose is indeed important, but if that personal meaning fails to at least eventually take form in terms of corresponding action, in my POV, it just boils down to lying to oneself for the sake of self-esteem.

If this is the case, then it was never truly existential purpose, in my view, it was always merely psychological self-absorption. Sure, purpose implies *some* action, but the form that action has to take is what we are disagreeing on - you seem to have some quite narrow definition of what sort of action counts (which I'm still having trouble pinning down), which seems strange to me considering that we are talking about a purpose that is supposed to encompass all aspects of our existence, not just the social or the physical ones.

And no, I would not say that the action in question needs to include "great deeds" (although such would certainly qualify), but it does require taking control of one's life.

And because of the above ambiguity, we aren't agreeing on what constitutes 'taking control' of one's life. To me, the only difference between the level of control (or lack thereof) a prisoner has versus the average modern man is that the prisoner has additional spatial restrictions and perhaps a few additional social restrictions (including monetary and leisure options). The average modern person is nearly as constantly yanked around by social/political/institutional demands as the prisoner, and the most substantive way that either can 'take control of their lives' is on the ethical/existential level, not on the social or physical levels (though the former type of control has consequences for the latter). If you disagree then I guess we'll end the discussion here.

P.S. I find the desire to establish a legacy to be a rather weak purpose on its own, and orchestrating a jailbreak is pretty much the opposite of what I would consider a worthwhile action.

I was speaking tongue-in-cheek with that comment haha.

Well solitary was deemed cruel torture by the UN.

Solitary is the worst thing that can happen to you in America. Even prisoners in California would starve to death than be stuck in a room for years on end.

So the death penalty is better than solitary. For prisoners and the public.

Solitary has driven people insane, so they can't lead normal lives when they get out. Prisons shouldn't be making anyone worse then they get out. Prison shouldn't break a prisoner's mental state to the point they can't leave the prison.

There are even arguments that solitary confinement like Tamms prison have huge costs compared to even the death penalty, if not extremely close.

Not only that, but prisons need to be specially built to be a purely solitary prison. That costs the state even more. Especially when the entire mentality is that its meant to keep people both in and out. Tamms is even said to have anti-air safeguards so no one can pull a daring air raid of the prison.

The prison is built against City of Villains style air raids. For those of you who didn't play COV, that's when attack-transport choppers attack a prison and have the prisoners get into the helicopters and fly away. That is something straight out of an episode of GI Joe. That alone is testament to how ridiculous the design for solitary confinement prisons are.

This is probably not relevant, but I saw Blackfish this weekend and was comparing it to human prison. If I take the doc's word, then orcas have more emotional capacity than humans. The orcas held by Seaworld are kept in a prison, and it seems all of the whales develop mental issues. They develop these issues within a ~25 year period and their lifespans are cut by 2/3.

I think it could be said that humans being highly emotional animals, would suffer similarly in a prison environment. And when I say this I mean in a North American style prison, because those are the ones I am familiar with.

This doc was really depressing though, geez.

Conceptually I would say prison, jail does not have to be the barely controlled shitholes we see in some Countries. Inmates do not have to be treated with kid gloves and have the institution turned into a holiday camp but with a bit of effort and money the authorities can build Jails where inmates get a relatively good quality of life, they can also be used productively and benefit society.

Let them earn privileges that improve their situation, a TV maybe a PS2 and some games. Better clothes and maybe curtains for their cell, have on site factories that manufacture goods for the wider Prison service reducing operating costs for the whole system. Give the inmates production quotas, targets and use other techniques that business and industry use to improve productivity. Instead of getting cash bonuses like the outside world has they can earn further privileges like extra visits or leisure time. Pay each inmate a small wage, lets say 20 for a full 40 hours of work so he can buy some personal items from the prisons store system. Some of the factory prisons in the UK manufacture items for the NHS, bedding and disposable paper items and plastic things. If a NHS patient comes into hospital with no outside support they are given a pouch with some personal hygiene items like toothbrushes for example, UK prisons manufacture these and assemble the packages. You could have "farm prisons" that grow some of the prison systems food instead of using machinery they do it the old way with tools, others could make textiles and other jail items. Having it completely self contained is impossible but it could reduce costs for the whole system.

Most inmates are not animals, give them some personal responsibility and some incentives they will behave much better. Gangs form because of the "poverty" we see in jails, the inmates have almost nothing so they form a social structure to protect what little they have.

There is a moral dilemma for some people that believe prison should be harsh, they think they should be housed in some sort of purgatory for their crimes. The denial of liberty should be the only punishment, ideally you want to reform them but thats a whole other topic.

Harsh prisons simply do not work, they cost more to run because you need excessive security to stop them fighting and attacking guards, they cause constant damage to the structure and fabric of the facility which costs epic amounts of cash. If an inmate smashes a toilet it costs five times the amount of money it would to replace one domestically, they have to to expensive "approved and tested" and the guy replacing it has to be vetted. For safety the whole wing is often locked down too, having a civilian with tools is a security risk so they have to disrupt the whole wings regime and time table just to replace a toilet.

If that inmate had something to lose, either his TV or game console or his job he might not have smashed it his toilet in the first place. When you have 3000 inmates with something to lose many of them will behave better, isn't that better than 3000 inmates that want to fight, destroy property and assault staff? Inmates that receive a certain quality of life in jail are much more open to rehabilitation, which is the ultimate goal because a reformed criminal can be become a productive every day citizen.

My other argument against harsh jails is the fact that some day some inmates will be released, letting loose a dehumanised inmate is a bad idea. Reoffending is pretty much guaranteed. Rehabilitation is another topic I wont touch here.

To get to the meat of the topic if a jail was humane it would be more merciful, if the inmate had a certain quality of life they can adapt and make the most of what the have left. The public is protected as they will never be released and the state has not turned justice into vengence.

The ultimate goal of a criminal justice system is to protect the public and the wider interests of society, vengeance based justice is obviously failing. "You broke into my house and stole my TV I hope you suffer!" from a member of public is understandable but the states position should be to contain the offender and hopefully rehabilitate them, the state saying "you broke into that house and stole a TV, you are sentenced to 5 years in a shithole where you might get killed so you can suffer for your crime" is simply dishing out revenge on the behalf of the victim and thats not justice.

Prison as advertised by some activists - basically a hotel you cant leave - id chose prison. prisons as reality here - id chose death. no such choice though, no death penalty here.
Death penalty with instant killing is more merciful than death penalty by slow degradation and old age.

Strazdas:
Prison as advertised by some activists - basically a hotel you cant leave - id chose prison. prisons as reality here - id chose death. no such choice though, no death penalty here.
Death penalty with instant killing is more merciful than death penalty by slow degradation and old age.

No need to make it a hotel, you can have a regime and controls in place so it most definitely is an institution not a hotel yet still leave inmates a certain quality of life. Jails actually benefit from a structured regime, research shows it helps settle inmates into a pattern of behaviour and breaking that structure actually distresses the inmates and causes unrest and can even provoke violence. If the regime is good it can focus them to be productive or focus their efforts into something positive.

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