Date: Dec 26th, 2017
Motion: THB that prisons treat men right but harder and longer sentences were in order
Role: Chair (opp.)
Recently a mother to an incarcerated son told us about her plight. She claimed that her son would not have belonged in a prison as he had something off the spectrum of autism, and thus had benefited from treatment by the medical professionals instead. It’s a sad story but hardly unusual. Tens of thousands of men have gone to penitentiaries over the course of man-made history even if their underlying ”issue” was something other than a crime (think about gay men, for starters). Here I’m going to dissect what reasons land men in prisons, starting from the obvious one, crime. And don’t bring women up in this context, as we all know that it’s mostly men who do the sitting.
Criminality lands one in prison, but only if one is caught red-handed or at all. Violent crime that targets other people’s untouchability and integrity is the easiest way to get sentenced. However, sometimes sentences are very short compared with the severity of the crime. Another genre is crimes committed against fortune and property. This landed e.g. Bernie Madoff in jail, for about as long as Charles Manson. But now Manson has been ”released”.
When people self-medicate with drugs, they are hardly committing a crime against other people. I.e. they do not transgress against the recommendation in the Bible that says, ’do to others as you wish to be done upon you by others’. Some call drugs a ’victimless crime’, or, a vice crime. But the indisputable fact remains that especially in the U.S., a large population of people sleep behind bars due to everything that has with drugs to do. Selling them, protecting ”turf”, using them, distributing them, muling them, soliciting them; all of these reasons lead to courts and from them to hard time. Also, people may commit nasty things when they’re on drugs. Their normal judgment evaporates. But the substance is merely a gun. It’s the user who pulls the trigger in using the drug.
Problems of the mind land people behind bars. Neurotic people usually avoid sentencing, as their wariness prevents them from committing violent crime, but psychotic and autistic people may not be equally lucky. Then there are those who are borderline-type personalities, sociopaths, manic depressives or endowed with a low IQ. The developmentally disabled in a prison are a not so uncommon ploy in ”comedic” crime entertainment.
Other reasons may put people ”there”, too. A spirit of adventurousness in deeds and dealings, challenging and difficult artistry or congenital atypical sexuality may (have) put men behind bars. All of these reasons are a lesser triangle of reasons to do so, and we might call them, together as a category, deviant reasons, or deviancy. They have nonetheless kept men sequestered from society for months, years or decades on end. For instance, while being incarcerated for being a ”queer”, Oscar Wilde write a book-length letter in his cell, titled De Profundis (1897).
I’ve here only covered reasons that put people behind bars in democracies that have a justice system of the republican sort. Another question entirely is the treatment of folks under different kinds of totalitarian regimes and dictatorships. There you would hit the clanker the easiest by raising your voice with your face against the oppressions. But that’s another issue entirely, and a different taxonomy would cover the foibles of the justice systems in such nations.
The sad truth is that at this point of my speech we need to refigure what prisons are. They are not necessarily places where people get put as a punishment for a crime. They are neither necessarily places where the character receives character development, as some characters will not be so malleable in the first place. I’d like to claim, instead, that if you stray too far from what is acceptable from a constituent, you get hard time. Think of it as if it was a system of co-ordinates, where normalcy is point Zero. Left is criminality and Right is insanity on the X axis, while Up is deviancy and Down is addiction on the Y axis. If you travel too far in any of these directions, it’s Hard Time for you, my friend. The Establishment and its runners do not care if you do not fit the criterion of Strictly Crime. The reason is partly that it pardons its own members, if they’re high enough up. The system needs to control its marginal internal trouble in a wholesale way, and penitentiaries are the answer. They are a One-Size-Fits-All type of an answer. Think about it, and smile, 🤔 on purchasing your next pair of black leather gloves.
Arvio: Tämä sopii puheenjohtaja-puheeksi, koska siinä käydään läpi asioita hyvin yleisellä tasolla, hieman ”implisiittisesti”. Siinä ikään kuin tehdään selväksi hallitukselle, ettei oppositio ajattele aloitteesta samalla tavalla. Jää sihteerin ja edustajan tehtäväksi vastustaa aloitteen kirjaimellista sisältöä. Sihteeri voi esimerkiksi vastustaa aloite-virkkeen 1. lausetta ja edustaja sen 2. lausetta siihen kuuluvine eksplisiittisine sisältöineen.