Monthly Archives: September 2004

Clarification and restatement re: criminal acts

I’m going to try again to state my positions in a way that hopefully will be clearer. My positions have not changed, so if you read this and get a different idea about my positions, you probably didn’t understand my first post.

Now, in reality, my position is not segmentable; each part of what I believe cannot be separated from the other parts and still be effective or, in some cases, reasonable. If you read my position, then break it up into pieces to be examined separately – that is, each piece examined as though the others did not exist – you will certainly find that several parts don’t seem reasonable. So please, please, try to envision the entire thing at once, working together.

I’ll try to begin at the beginning.

I said

“As I stated, I agree that there is a problem with the system, with the way that people are convicted and sentenced, and actually with the entire judicial branch. The issue of “rehabilitation” is a complex one without a clear or universal solution at this time – but it is one that I believe personally is the responsibility of the courts, not the prisons, to determine. In my opinion, if the court determines that someone may be rehabilitated and become a productive member of society, that court has no business sending that person to prison, but instead should put them forcibly if necessary into an appropriate rehabilitation program. Those sent to prisons should be those who have no clear chance for rehabilitation.”

I thought this was clear from this statement, especially regarding the last sentence that, according to my opinions and beliefs, the only people who should ever be sent to prisons are those who have NO clear chance for rehabilitation. None. People who, when evaluated by a competent system (ie: not the current one) in light of effective methods for turning criminals permanently into productive members of society, are determined to have no clear opportunity for reform.

These are the only people who belong in prisons, in my opinion. Again, I thought this was clear from what I said. And I will say it again another way:

Under the system I am describing, the only people in the prisons would be the people who could not reasonably be expected re-enter society without continuing their criminal activities. This is taking into account every reasonable (or forcible) system that could be attempted to be used to prevent their continued criminal activities. I would even expect the rehabilitation systems to be the primary, most-used options, but under the assumption that anyone who had exhausted every rehabilitation option and still presented a threat to society would be, in the end, moved into the prison system.

Is this part of it clear? That the people who are going to the prison system have been determined by society to have no real right to return to society?

Okay, let’s cover one of the more controvercial statements I made:

“Incarceration does imply mistreatment. In my opinion, convicted criminals do not deserve medical or mental health treatment except where non-treatment would risk the lives of the guards or outside citizens or otherwise disproportionately increase the long-term costs of imprisonment. In my opinion, from the day they are convicted until they day they are released, prisoners are neither “people” nor should they be considered to be “human”, and making it to the end of their sentence alive and in good health should not be considered a guarantee nor a right.”

Now, since the only people who are entering the prison system are the people for whom it is determined by a competent and effective rehabilitation system that it would be unreasonable for them to be allowed to re-enter society, it seems very reasonable to me that those people who should not be allowed to re-enter society do not need protections and assistance designed to get them healthfully through their sentence and back into society.

Is that not clear? Not reasonable?

If you’re worried about the “wrongly convicted”, remember when I said “… there are major problems with the entire judicial branch, and the process by which people become convicted and sentenced needs to be torn down and rethought from scratch.”?

Yeah. I don’t have a completed system in mind for an entirely new and effective judicial system, but the current system is not it. If lawyers were allowed to continue to exist, they would not be permitted to withold information or lie, and in the case of criminals found innocent lawyers should be held accountable for future crimes committed by those they have represented to that end.

The judicial system should not be about “winning” and “losing” by “any means necessary”, but about all parties working together to discover the truth and interpret it with regards to the laws that apply and the intentions of the parties involved and the possibility of preventing future violations, as well as (in cases involving clear victims) potentially making reasonable reparations to victims.

Is that clear? The judicial system should be used to determine the ACTUAL guilt or innocence of accused parties. Reparations for victims should be reasonable, and based on actual verifiable needs created by verifiable crimes and not otherwise already repaired/fulfilled by private entities/charities/et cetera.

I have to go for right now, but I think I’ve re-stated some key points clearly.

As far as voting for Arpaio goes, I don’t think I’ve covered that here, but I’ll try to make some time for that later.

On Libertarianism

Nothing new here, a simple re-posting of some comments I made in the comments section of another post – for easy finding, you can find what I said here:

…In the general election I’ll have a mail-in ballot, but I’ll just be voting for Democrats across the board… you know, so my vote “counts”. Because in prior years I’d vote for the Libertarian candidates…

…As far as libertarianism goes, I am much more in alignment with the textbook ideal of libertarianism than with the actuality of libertarians that exist in the world, and even less aligned with those libertarians who organise and run for office. Which is why I did not re-register as a Libertarian when I changed my official address this year; the party does not reflect what they should, or me.

My votes in previous elections for Libertarians were tied to my intention to vote “against” the two-party system. This time around I have something more important to vote “against”, and … depending on how the next 3 years go I may be forced to take action myself and organise the actual “against” party I have spoken of a few times before. More news as it develops.

Oh, and feel free to tell me why I’m wrong…

Now, Nanda had a response to this:

“As for Libertarians…I’ve always associated them with: thrift store camouflage, gun catalogs, teenage angst, and webpages with black backgrounds and red text. Oh yeah, and long-winded defenses of their “philosophy” that really says nothing at all, other than how much free time Libertarians must have. You are the only person with Libertarian inclinations that I know of who does not fit this stereotype. I guess my mentality is that it doesn’t matter what the “ideal” or “theory” behind it is, because it’ll never come to fruition. I think Communism sounds pretty good on paper, but that doesn’t mean anything more.

I personally don’t really have a problem with only 2 parties. It’s nice and basic, “yer either with us or against us.” Okay nevermind. I guess it is different for me, being very well-aligned with the Democratic party. I don’t really know what it is like to hold opinions that agree with and disagree with the views of multiple political parties. But I can understand why people would want more options if their beliefs don’t translate to such a cut-and-dry candidate like mine do.

I like to say I vote for people, not the party, and it just so happens that the people I find worth voting for are those that hold the most liberal ideals. And Republican, Libertarian, or Independent liberals are just not popping up on the ballots, for some reason.

Anyway, local politics is often one-party, not two-party. I’m switching to Independent to take advantage of the open primaries. And to vote for the lesser of two “evils” when there’s no Democratic candidate running.”

And in response to the conversation generally I did some reading, which resulted in the following response:

Okay, I started here and read what was on the pages of the main issue links there. I agree at least basically with every position they listed there, save one: They mention in one place (not under the Gun Laws link, but under the Crime and Violence link) that they want to repeal waiting periods for gun purchases. I believe that waiting periods are a good idea, and that basic background checks (is this person a convicted felon?) should be required, even for gun show purchases. Putting guns into the hands of people who have shown that they cannot be trusted to do what is right, or into the hands of people who may be hot-headed does not seem prudent. But I definitely think that the constitution protects the individual’s right to own guns. That seems clear.

Everything else there seems reasonable and appropriate, and if I believed it was possible to get more libertarians into office who followed those positions, I would vote for them this year. If we used an instant-runoff method for voting, I could simultaneously show my support for Libertarians without risking the election of those who would support Bush.

I like this quote, from this page: “The Libertarian way is a logically consistent approach to politics based on the moral principle of self-ownership. Each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speech, and property. Government’s only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud.” That is the ideal that I support. It is clarified here.

I have not read the entire platform yet. I may at some point, but I must sleep soon.

Still, there are two things about the Libertarians that, in the current state-of-things I support, but that I don’t exactly believe in. I do not believe that Privacy exists, so whether or not it is protected is moot. I do not believe that capitalism works in the long run (and here my longview is longer than most, I suppose), though there are lessons to be learned from it. But since I don’t believe it is the government’s job to control the economy, Libertarians are more in line with me than Democrats or Republicans.

As far as the two-party system goes, I believe it is a result not of human nature, but of our electoral process. (See Also) I hate that I have to be for one group and against another; I don’t agree with either one wholly. I like some ideas some Republicans have had, I like some ideas some Democrats have had, I like most of the ideas Libertarians have had, and I have my own unique views on many things (see my other post regarding prisons, for example) … I like the idea of Schwarzenegger, who is economically conservative and environmentally liberal, but I don’t agree with everything he’s been doing.

Sigh. The whole thing is a mess. I must sleep. Really. I’ll try to read more later.

On … Prisons

Nothing new here, a simple re-posting of some comments I made in the comments section of another post – for easy finding, you can find what I said here:

…In the general election I’ll have a mail-in ballot, but I’ll just be voting for Democrats across the board… you know, so my vote “counts”. Because in prior years I’d vote for the Libertarian candidates. And Arpaio. I always vote for Arpaio…

…As far as Arpaio goes, I think I vote for him because I have never heard of him doing anything I thought was wrong, and I don’t know what someone else will do better. I believe that convicted criminals should be punished. I believe that while they are incarcerated (sp?), forcing criminals to do hard labor is reasonable, and that giving them comfortable living conditions is not required.

I also believe that there are major problems with the entire judicial branch, and the process by which people become convicted and sentenced needs to be torn down and rethought from scratch. But as long as the people say this is the system they want for convicting criminals (by not even attempting to replace it or reform it in any significant way), ways must be found of dealing with those convicted appropriately. And as far as I can see, Arpaio does what he can…

…Oh, and feel free to tell me why I’m wrong. Tell me Arpaio uses his position to … I don’t know … to rape schoolgirls or something, and perhaps I’ll have a reason to vote for someone else who presumably does not … rape schoolgirls…

Now, Nanda had a response to this:

“Here’s an ACLU article on a pending case against Arpaio. http://www.aclu.org/Prisons/Prisons.cfm?ID=14510&c=121 But perhaps the opinion of bleeding-heart commies holds no bearing. ;-)

One problem with Arpaio is that the punishment does not always fit the crime. Sure, bad people should be punished – but to the extent that their crime did harm. I see no reason to be petty and _vengeful_ about it. Still another problem is these punishments are being applied to a startling number of innocent, yet convicted, individuals. Joe might not be responsible for their convictions, but he is responsible for their welfare.

And I would argue that comfortable living conditions, to a reasonable extent, should certainly be expected of convicted non-violent criminals. Incarceration does imply mistreatment. I see no reason why someone serving a short day or two sentence should be subjected to nearly unlivable conditions. It’s unnecessary and inhumane. What of those awaiting trial, but cannot afford bail? Why should they be placed under the same conditions, especially if in the end they are found innocent? It’s just wrong.

I’m also not very fond of Sheriff Joe’s internet broadcasting of female prisoners, some who had not yet been charged, using the toilet. That’s disgusting and criminal in and of itself. Where’s the punishment for Joe? Just an “oops my bad” and we’re supposed to forget it ever happened?

And what of the blind inmate who died by – allegedly – falling off of his bunk? The beds were supposedly 4-5 feet off the ground, and he had a broken neck, broken toes, and *internal* injuries. Joe conducted a half-assed investigation and concluded he fell out of bed? Reports of prison guards beating the man, but he didn’t care a bit. Perhaps it’s a good thing to be tough towards crime, but this type of behavior is just filthy. It’s not tough, it’s cowardly.

Then there’s the woman who was a suicidal herion addict. She was refused medical treatment (I suppose the logic was that she didn’t deserve any, since she broke a law?) and ended up committing suicide in her jail cell – with sheets that shouldn’t have been in the cell, based on knowledge that she was suicidal. This kind of thing just shouldn’t happen. But maybe the justification is that it didn’t matter, anyway. She was a criminal, she was a junkie – why should they bother with anything other than punishing her? I don’t know, perhaps you can justify their actions. An “honest mistake”? Mistakes of this caliber should not happen when they mess with people’s lives. Those responsible should be held accountable and prosecuted.

The main beef I have with Arpaio is his attitude, because that’s what drives his atrocious behavior. He’s a nasty old power-tripping man who thinks he’s God. He abuses the position he is in. He’s there to maintain order but he’s all about punishment. There is, or should be, MORE to serving time than merely revenge or “teaching a lesson.” There’s also rehabilitation. I see no evidence that Arpaio gives a flying fuck about what happens to criminals once they leave his system, so long as he’s been “tough” on them while under his watch.

It’s all publicity and reputation for him, instead of focusing on what really matters – crime reduction, decreasing repeat offenders, etc. I believe he’s as criminal as those he throws into tent city – he lies, he wastes tax money [also with these preventable lawsuits http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/issues/1997-01-23/feature2.html/1/index.html], he neglects important public issues in favor of his own self-interests. Nothing new for politicians, but his radical decisions have very direct consequences. Nasty, nasty man.

Rats in the kitchens and rancid meat? That complaint I have less sympathy for, as you can find the same at your local Filiberto’s. Anyway it’s nothing new for the prison system. Wearing prison stripes? I don’t find that any more demeaning than shocking orange, which by NO means is the “new pink.” But it sickens me to hear him brag about his cost-cutting measures, serving rotten food and all, and to hear nothing of where that saved money was applied elsewhere. Why not remedy overcrowding, you know, so the inmates are less inclined take over the jail and gang rape female prison guards?

I would never, ever, in good conscience vote for Arpaio. I don’t want to be in any way responsible for what I see as massive violations of our fundamental rights as humans – nor do I want to support a dirty old man’s power trip. I don’t like Saban, but he’s nowhere near the criminal that Arpaio is. I’ve been watching Joe for a long time and dislike him more and more.

But if you don’t think anything Arpaio has done is wrong per se, okay. I suppose a lot of his “wrongdoing” is his inaction, his failure to take responsibility. Anyway, I would be interested to know why what I perceive as abuses of power are okay in your book. Not trying to pick a fight, just wondering. Maybe you can convince me to not feel so absolutely disgusted every time I hear his name.”

And here is my response to that, and really my clarified position on prisons and prisoners:

Here we go…

I read that ACLU article regarding the pending case. But I will say something else first.

I do not believe that it is the job of the person running the prison to treat prisoners differently depending upon what they did to get there or how long they are expected to stay. If the population as a whole wants different sets of conditions for prisoners with different crimes and different terms of imprisonment, they should pass laws and pay taxes to have a system created that does that. Since I live in a “democracy” where that has not yet happened, I tend to assume that it is because the majority of the people do not want it to happen. SO: Every convicted criminal imprisoned should be expected to be treated the same.

Now, the ACLU case is with regard to those imprisoned who have not yet been convicted of a crime. Since they have not yet been found to be criminals, it is my opinion that they should not be jailed with criminals or treated in the same way as criminals. I hope the court comes to the same conclusion in this case, but I don’t think that means I have a “bleeding heart”.

As I stated, I agree that there is a problem with the system, with the way that people are convicted and sentenced, and actually with the entire judicial branch. (I recognise that I mis-stated earlier. Sorry – I assume you understood.) The issue of “rehabilitation” is a complex one without a clear or universal solution at this time – but it is one that I believe personally is the responsibility of the courts, not the prisons, to determine. In my opinion, if the court determines that someone may be rehabilitated and become a productive member of society, that court has no business sending that person to prison, but instead should put them forcibly if necessary into an appropriate rehabilitation program. Those sent to prisons should be those who have no clear chance for rehabilitation.

Incarceration does imply mistreatment. In my opinion, convicted criminals do not deserve medical or mental health treatment except where non-treatment would risk the lives of the guards or outside citizens or otherwise disproportionately increase the long-term costs of imprisonment. In my opinion, from the day they are convicted until they day they are released, prisoners are neither “people” nor should they be considered to be “human”, and making it to the end of their sentence alive and in good health should not be considered a guarantee nor a right. Degradation (unflattering color/style of clothing, being broadcast to the world in various states of undress, et cetera) should be expected, and more serious punishment should be accepted.

Overcrowding is not really an issue of the prison, it is an issue of the criminal justice system and of society as a whole. If it is related to the prisons themselves in any way, it is really in that the citizens who “democratically” created the prison system did not create it to accommodate large enough numbers of prisoners to coincide with the judicial system they created. But again, that’s not a management problem from within the prisons, but from without.

Inasmuch as I do not have the option to vote for new laws changing the size/scale of the prison system, and do not have the option to vote for laws that overhaul the criminal justice system to do such things as keep those capable of rehabilitation out of prisons entirely, and inasmuch as those things really don’t have much to do with Arpaio’s job, I’ve got to vote for Arpaio. His actions are most in line with my understainding of the core purpose of the prison system, which is to imprison and punish convicted criminals.

Only one sample ballot has been mailed

Work today.

Getting ready now. Eating, dressing, a lot of combing.

Gotta make lunch.

Work today, have to take tomorrow off. Then make it up later in the week.

Because where I work, in order to have a holiday off you have to use part of your allotted PTO for the year, which I don’t have any of yet. But since most everyone else in the company is taking the day off I can’t come in and work, either. It’s pretty stupid, actually, considering the amount of supervision I personally actually need.

Okay, lunch half made.

Supposed to go vote Tuesday. Registered as independant, so I get my choice of party in the primary. Except I’m pretty sure I don’t know enough about the candidates to care. And I tried reading through the 100+ page guide to the candidates, but it wasn’t telling me anything usefull about them, either. In the general election I’ll have a mail-in ballot, but I’ll just be voting for Democrats across the board… you know, so my vote “counts”. Because in prior years I’d vote for the Libertarian candidates. And Arpaio. I always vote for Arpaio. But for me, I don’t think the primaries matter this time around.

Anyway, gotta get going. I’ll try to have more to say later.

But I’ll probably be ironing instead.