Treesong posted some comments on a few posts, putting on the written record what he has already expressed in words, to the rest of us. A link to that post can be found here. I will reiterate why some of our positions on punishment have been chosen, because I feel very strongly about this. Also, because not a lot else is going on at the moment, as our normal routine hasn't been interrupted, and our (hopefully) new arrivals have yet to...arrive. Yeah.
First, I ask this: what should be done to a person that rapes a woman, caught cold at it? A child? Under the laws that used to be enforced across this country, that person would go to prison. Possibly suffer chemical castration, but not actual castration. What should happen to a person that kills one of the few remaining people on earth in cold blood, not for self defense or defense of another? Again, the old idea was to stick them in a prison.
It was basically the same solution to every crime. Because people, somewhere along the way, got this idea that criminals had rights just like everyone else. So prisons became places where criminals went to work out, get three squares a day, and learn from other criminals how to be better at committing crimes. I'm not saying that incarceration was a walk in the park, at all. But I am saying that such a system did not work then, and cannot possibly work now. So I'm open to suggestion.
The system I have written about previously is one built on realistic needs, and from a strong desire to avoid many of the pitfalls of the old ways of doing business. Prisons were a huge drain on resources, and essentially allowed offenders to eat food provided by others while doing no work of value. We can't afford the manpower to run such a facility, and frankly, I am frightened of the mindset that thinks such an obviously broken system should be reinstated.
I am all for individual liberty. I think that anything anyone wants to do that doesn't hurt anyone else (and in our case) doesn't endanger the group is fine. So no nitpicking here. But I most certainly do expect people to go right one being people, making mistakes to varying degrees. Honest mistakes can often be forgiven, but outright choosing to do wrong cannot.
I am reminded of Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", a novel set in the future on the moon, during the Lunar revolution. Many of these same issues are at play. In that story, the citizens of Luna are both incredibly polite and willing to kill at the drop of a hat--both environmentally required to survive there, long term.
We are in a similar scenario. Few of us left, compared to the vast population we once had, and faced with tough choices. Tree said in his comment that these ideas might be necessary in the short term, but long term, we need to build a society that does not need to use these punishments. In part, I agree. But I think we can only live in a society that does not need to use them by living in one that uses them as a deterrent.
So, once more, I ask you; What to do to a man who rapes? Do you put him in a cell and feed him, locking him away from others, keeping him warm and safe, siphoning food from the mouths of those who did not commit an atrocious act? What do you do with him after his sentence is up? Can you release him back into the fold, thinking that his time alone has taught him the error of his ways? Please.
The reason this system didn't work is because that is what you do to children. You put them in a corner. You give them a time out. The reason society was already fraying at the seams is because far too many children grew up and realized that for most crimes, the punishment had not changed. Look at history if you doubt me--true crime was much less common back when people were killed publicly, flogged, and given punishments that fit the crime.
The difference is that we won't be accusing folks of crimes for political gain, or to control the populace, like so many governments and churches did before modern times. We want to combine the effectiveness of more brutal punishment that fits the crime with a modern view, that it should be used if for no other reason than to deter heinous acts.
A man commits premeditated murder, he dies, because who among us wants to let a man who kills for revenge or from rage to go on living, risking others? I believe in basic human rights very strongly, but I also believe that certain acts remove those rights. You might call me arrogant for thinking that I have the right to judge this, and that's fine. You have your own views. But I will do anything I must to ensure that the most basic needs are met for those around me, and safety is number one.
If needed, I will personally castrate a man who commits violent sexual acts against another. I will kill a man who does so to a child. What punishment seems right to you? Could you live with yourself knowing that you shut him away, hale and unharmed, for a period of years, only to let him out in the future, to do it all over again? Personally, I don't understand how juries, judges, and lawmakers could go on after making such a decision, knowing that they had only put a man's nose in the corner.
People have to know that there are consequences, real ones, that are based on our need to keep living in this world. Instead of creating a system that has no real deterring effect for harming others, instead I choose, WE choose, to create one that will instill a healthy fear of consequences. Because sane, rational people will make one of two choices: either choose to act in their own interests and do no harm, or to knowingly commit such an act, and accept the results.
I wouldn't want to live in a society where people think that there is a third option. If we harm none, no harm is brought upon us. If we harm others, we are harmed in equal turn. Living by any other code seems total madness to me.
I'll let you decide.