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I think that this is a classic example of the problems with alternative punishments. Not that I wouldn't like to see vast improvements in how we handle prisoners, but this is a prize example of the arrogance of untested theory. With the vague half-vast planning that attends so many vast ideas, Menninger pompously assured us that "men of science" would solve all our problems. The statistics that I have read don't bear this out. Psychologist are USUALLY wrong in predicting whether or not a released prisoner will later become violent. It almost seemed a little cruel reading this book. Menninger praises indeterminate sentencing at our Patuxent Institute here in Maryland as the shining light beckoning to the future proper criminal justice. Crime was a social sickness, and should be handled by doctors, who would know when people could be released. In the mid-70s, the same people who had mouthed these sentiments were denouncing Patuxent as cruel, indeterminate sentences as monstrous. I may not have the figures for the prize case absolutely correct, but in the ballpark, a man had spent 19 years in Patuxent for an auto theft; he would have served about 18 months in prison. Apparently, the good doctors are competent to release someone, but not to hold them. The aforementioned man, after all, wasn't supposed to be undergoing punishment but treatment. Supposedly, he was suffering from a disease as real as any physical ailment and his anti-social behavior arose from a real inability to control his own behavior. Stealing the car was merely a symptom of this illness, not evidence of its severity. If we are supposed to believe that psychprofessionals can tell us that it is safe to release someone, they should be able to tell us when it is not, and we should therefore believe that the above-mentioned prisoner was not yet fit to be released and presumably would have committed more crimes and been re-arrested. But, indeterminant sentencing was modifed so that no-one could be held at Patuxent longer then they would have been held in prison, so the Institute began to specialize in particularly grim crimes, usually exceptionally ghastly murders. Concerns about the goal of returning these people to society caused an embattled administrator to complain because people wanted Patuxent to deal with people guilt of lesser crimes (like car theft?). She complained that such were often more difficult to treat than the extremely violent. So there we have it - if treating people as mentally ill has no better result than treating them as willfully irresponsible, shouldn't we simply go for the cheaper system? Or are we simply to accept criminal behavior as the just punishment of us as a society for failing to meet to social needs, effectively abolishing the idea of crime and take no coercive steps to control it? Are we really sure that we have only to choose to take better care of our citizens to ensure that no-one will be traumatized into antisocial behavior? In all situations, I believe that it is a given that we could do better, indeed standards of what constitute an adequate job are always changing, but will it really eliminate all our problems? The problem is that people cannot seem to make up their minds whether most people should be held accountable for their actions or not. The present system assumes that in most cases they can, and that punishment is intended to make them decide that the possibilities of the crime aren't worth the risk of prison. "Crime as a disease" assume that they cannot be held accountable, but most people still want to retain legal structures and protections intended for the former case - a real dog's dinner of a system. Maybe one day, crime can really be handled in a rational way, based upon meaningful research. For now, it seems to remain a clash of egos and insufficiently supported philosophies.
Review: The Crime of PunishmentUser Review - Danielle - Goodreads
this book blew my mind when i read it in high school. he's sort of a dumbass in general (book is very hotheadedly written) but you gots to hand it to the man for defending those who are not easily defensible. Read full review
Random House Websters Unabridged Dictionary on Cd-Rom: Version 3.0 for ...
No preview available - 1999
Who Is to Blame?
The Cold War between Lawyers and Psychiatrists
Right and Wrong Uses of Psychiatry
7 other sections not shown