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New Poll - Purpose of Prisons
Our member jacob66 suggested that we do a poll on prisons. What is the purpose of a prison?

You can submit poll ideas here

Previous Poll Results:
Question: Should cheating / infidelity be considered a punishable criminal law?
No - votes: 2820 (68.9%)
Yes - votes: 1274 (31.1%)
There were 4094 total votes.
The poll ended: August 14th 2021

This poll got a lot of comments in its thread. Apparently there's a lot of confusion between criminal vs. civil law. Consider learning what the difference is.
Posted by lambchopsil on 
August 14th 11:37pm
Comments ( 23 )  
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Comments (limited to first 100 replies)

» Ceiye on August 15th, 2021, 12:57am

Well, what we wish the goal/purpose were or what it is? In general or in our specific country? What crime was committed? Cause depending on your views of the prison system, that could be completely different. Like, for the private prison system, it is "to make money." Rehabilitation, deterrence, incapacitation, or retribution is completely secondary to that, regardless of what they are originally in for. As for which crime, things like serial murder should definitely be incapacitation, but minor drug offenses like marijuana possession could be deterrence or rehabilitation (whether they should even be in prison to begin with for that is another can of worms. There's only one. It says No. I'm not responding to trolls about this. It's 2021.). Tax evasion? Probably rehabilitation and deterrence, but whether that ACTUALLY deters the people committing tax fraud is a separate issue. Continuing that line, don't think murderers, rapists, etc. think "well I could go to prison for this, so maybe I shouldn't" but eh I've seen some seriously unhinged people on the internet, and I doubt they'd be like that in real life, where there may be consequences

Oh but in an ideal world where it could actually be effective, rehabilitation where possible. Deterrence second, incapacitation for if the first two don't work. Retribution through prison feels more like a message that stems from the first three


» VawX on August 15th, 2021, 1:26am

In ideal world it should be rehabilitation, at least for those without lifetime sentence mmm...


» Transdude1996 on August 15th, 2021, 5:27am

A deterrent and a retribution. However, since I can only choose one, I went with the latter.


» alidan on August 15th, 2021, 5:38am

100% depends on the crime. we shouldn't put people in prison who treat it as criminal collage for when they come out, but some crimes you can't be rehabilitated from. Honestly those crimes I think we should have 'prision cities', things that don't give you a life sentence, but we cant let you go back among the general population. However I think distinctions need to be made for every crime in that case, and it would get messy.


» residentgrigo on August 15th, 2021, 7:00am

Rehabilitation. Where to Invade Next (2015) and 13th (2016) are good docs on how prisons should work and many countries have corrupt or unfair prison systems. The list is long but America, China, and Russia stand on top and multiple countries run straight out concentration camps to this day.


» kaeleer on August 15th, 2021, 8:21am

In the US? It's cheap/free labor. Prisoners can do anything from putting out wildfires, making hand sanitizer, call centers, etc. And by cheap I mean less than $1 per hour depending on the prison. All under the name of "rehabilitation". Some companies can only function because they rely on prison labor and the more prisoners the better.

I chose retribution though because going to jail is usually seen as a punishment for a crime. Not to rehabilitate those who really need it.


» hkanz on August 15th, 2021, 9:16am

I chose incapacitation since removing dangerous people from the community is the fundamental need fulfilled by a prison.


» naeddyr on August 15th, 2021, 9:27am

Your poll question is again poorly chosen. Is the question "The primary goal currently is", in which case the answer depends completely on where the person you're asking is from (in the US it's corruption in the prison system and prison slavery, which is still constitutional), in the Nordic countries it's rehabilitation, or is the question "The primary goal SHOULD BE".


» MangaGhost on August 17th, 2021, 11:36am

I agree and why I didn't vote.


» dreamer00013 on August 17th, 2021, 10:26pm

I agree and voted for current status, not how it should be.


» vigorousjammer on August 15th, 2021, 9:57am

When I hear the word "goal", to me that represents the ideal, not the reality.
And, Ideally, prison should be a place for rehabilitation... even though it doesn't seem like that's what it actually is.


» mevan883 on August 15th, 2021, 9:58am

Cheap labor should be an option.


» zarlan on August 15th, 2021, 1:47pm

Quote from mevan883
Cheap labor should be an option.

Ah, so you like slavery, I see.


» zarlan on August 15th, 2021, 1:44pm

Anyone who votes "Retribution", is mainly just concerned with revenge.
Not justice or reducing crime.
Just revenge.
Revenge is never justice. (though justice can be revenge)

Any actual studies, show that laws, policies, and sentencing that are more focused on retribution don't actually reduce or deter crime …and only some that focus on deterrence, in the case of some crimes, work. (so deterrence is valid, but only if it's done properly, and only for some crimes)

Rehabilitation/reformation, however, (which the prisons of practically no countries, actually focus much on) is quite effective.


» Transdude1996 on August 15th, 2021, 2:13pm

Quote from zarlan
Rehabilitation/reformation, however, (which the prisons of practically no countries, actually focus much on) is quite effective.

Would you mind if I posted an article that directly contradicts this?


» HikaruYami on August 15th, 2021, 4:31pm

I'm actually not voting in this poll.

What prison should be isn't the same thing as what it is.

What it should be is rehabilitation first, deterrence second, incapacitation third, and retribution never. Retribution should pretty much be limited to civil law, I think. Sometimes permanent incapacitation is necessary, though (actual psychopaths).

What it is, in practice, varies by country. I think there a very very small number of countries that at least approximate the above list (though even then retribution is usually third or fourth, not "never" ). But I'm in the US, and our list is approximately "retribution and incapacitation in equal measure, then deterrence, then rehabilitation". Private prisons in particular have absolutely no rehabilitation programs, but at least some of the remaining public prisons attempt to do that to some extent.


» MangaGhost on August 17th, 2021, 11:43am

Same here, didn't vote because its poorly worded. I also think it should be rehabilitation first, and deterrence second, incapacitation third. However, in rare cases I believe that there are some crimes that may be too heinous that retribution is warranted.


» HikaruYami on August 21st, 2021, 4:17pm

However, in rare cases I believe that there are some crimes that may be too heinous that retribution is warranted.

Sorry, maybe I should clarify slightly. I believe sometimes people deserve to face retribution--if someone tortures and murders your entire family, I would like cops to look the other way when you torture the perpetrator to death in return.

I don't believe courts should ever be a tool to dish out such retribution. That just leads to innumerable slippery slope arguments.


» Sandric on August 15th, 2021, 4:49pm

I have a problem with this poll as it is unclear. Is it "what should prisons be used to accomplish" or is it "what does the prison system try and do". If it is the first one, we should try for rehabilitation. If it is the second, it (the system) tries for retribution, wealth extraction and class stratification.


» UpToFourPlayers on August 16th, 2021, 8:27am

I voted with the understanding of what it is actually IS vs. what it SHOULD be. But I assume people will have differing takes based on the use of the word "goal/purpose" interpretations. Perhaps there should be a followup about what the goal should be or goal currently is, depending on how the majority are interpreting the question (i.e. do the opposite next time).


» Jooles on August 19th, 2021, 2:59am

Rehabilition, ideally. If they're rehabilitated, come outside and join the rest of us,.

If they aren't, then I hope the goal (hope what will eventually happen) of their time in jail is to keep them from the rest of us until the day they die. Whether that's out of old age, getting shanked, or bleeding out from an anal rape, I really couldn't care less (I just don't believe in the death-penalty)

Rehab or die.


» Sugarshark on August 20th, 2021, 5:15pm

I never really understood the widespread acceptance of prison rape
Clyde Barrow famously went into jail on a small time offence and was raped a bunch of times there and came out and wasted no time before killing a dozen people.
and that was a hundred years ago

not much rehab when that's happening


» psirit on August 21st, 2021, 11:54am

"is" or "should be"?