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A hypothesis: tougher prison drives crime

It seems like unless I pay for my own website that I don't have any good place to blog all the ideas I wish to blog. Like now, I have a thought that's not about atheism that I'd like to remember and maybe even share and neither does it fit any other site I visit. It seems like this is best place to express ideas, especially if they might be controversial, compared to any other site I can post at. Am I going to post a political thought to a video game forum? No that just doesn't make sense. Now if I could have sub-blogs here, or multiple blogs (if you can and I'm missing something please let me know), I'd set one up for non atheist thoughts. The best I can do otherwise is include an explanatory introduction and maybe an indicator in the title.

This post isn't about atheism. This is about society, and so is quasi-political, I guess. It's just a hypothesis. I've been thinking, and I think harsher prison sentences and harsher prison environments cause more crime, not less. Now this might be a "no duh" to many people, considering the lack of rehabilitation, the removal of opportunities, and the institutionalization of American prisons, but I'm saying it's worse than that.

Many people quite gleefully view society as either you walk the line, follow the rules, or you go to prison, in those boolean terms. I'm sure they'd also argue that the harsher we make prisons and prison sentences the greater deterrent effect it will have. It should also be obvious that no society's ever deterred or crueled its way out of crime, and in fact the point of diminishing returns seems to come quite quickly.

The problem comes when people realize that walking the line and following the rules won't get them adequate medical care even though there's plenty to go around, won't get you decent housing even though there's plenty to go around, won't allow you comfort in a world practically swimming in excesses of comfort. Then, if you start looking around for alternatives, for other options, and realize society is practically stacked against you at a certain point, that opportunities generally don't come unless you can already afford them, then desperation starts to become a factor. So here's where prison comes in. It's always the last option. It's the corner that triggers fight or flight if backed into. So my point here is that the worse, less caring, more cruel the prison system is, the greater that drives desperation when there's a lack of options. And it's the desperation that's the ultimate driver of the vast majority of crime, in my opinion.

So a prison system practically designed to cause desperation will drive crime, whereas one that relieves desperation will reduce crime. That's the point I wish to make.

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Comment was by Stephen Brodie on October 26, 2021 at 8:22am

Britain’s ‘Bloody Code’ made more than 200 crimes – many of them trivial – punishable by death. 

Comment was by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on October 25, 2021 at 8:48pm

I read that deterrence doesn't work for "visceral" crimes, driven by drives such as hunger, thirst, and sexual desire. For example, in Victorian England prisons were brutal but crime didn't abate because so many poor were literally starving and desperate.

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