May 3, 2007

Cruelty and Capital Punishment

As I was looking over our captial punishment materials for class, I thought back to a couple of articles a read a few years ago, I believe from a "Taking Sides" book. I found them very interesting. The two authers contradicted eachother on which form of punishment was more cruel: Capital Punishment or life imprisonement.
Arguments for the capital punishment side include:
- causes obvious death
-mental anguish of knowing the exact day you will die
-errors during the execution procedure
-incarcereation on death row (the most extreme solitary confinement in prison),

Arguments for the life imprisonment side include:
- causes a long. drawn out death (usually from sickness)
- spend what could be more than a half a century in a cell 23 hours a day
- mental instability caused by this isolation

I personally feel that the death penalty is far crueler than life imprisonment. The sheer thought of knowing the exact time I was going to die would make me loose my mind in a heartbeat. While it may be more cruel, I still feel that the death penalty should be kept on the table as it is today. I feel that because of its cruelty, it does have a high deterance rate. Also, a certain amount of cruelty should be allowed, given the prisoner on death row most likely also cruelly killed another human.

I decided I would extend this debate to the class, in hopes to start a debate itself.

Mitch Metty

May 1, 2007

Newjack Vs. Army Basic Training

As I was reading Newjack, I started to think back about how it was for me at basic training for the US Army. Ted Conover brought back memories for myself because the training was similar in ways, but also had its differences. Conover overall, thought it was difficult to get used to a strict routine and have the instructors yell at them constantly. With the numerous amount of inspections of their clothes, along with their rooms, it was a stressful time. The main reason for this is to break down the person as a normal civilian and to then rebuild them as a corrections officer who is alert and pays attention to detail. I dealt with the same things. We would get yelled at constantly, have inspections, and go through physical training. I had it worse though. Unlike the correction officers academy that tries to build a good corrections officer, I was trained to be a killer, a warrior. That may sound barbaric, but the bravery and courage of fighting wars demands a lot from a person. The atmosphere of breaking down the civilian that all of us know and to build a warrior was not easy. I had went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, one of the only two places with all men. Because of us all being men, the training we had was more intense and harsh. While I was going through basic training, there were times where I hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally. I cried on occasions. The good thing about the corrections academy is that at the end of the day and on weekends, they could go home and back into civilization. I on the otherhand stayed in the barracks for 10 weeks nonstop with phone calls home maybe once a week. Army basic trianing is a 24/7 operation. I could talk a lot more about my experiences, but that could take up many pages. In closing, even though Conover and the story he told about the academy being brutal or tough, it is nothing compared to what I went through. I would've traded places with Conover in a heartbeat.

April 5, 2007

Addition to Deteriminate vs. Indeterminate sentencing

For the most part, I would agree with Jon's critique on determinate vs Indeterminate sentencing.

Prisioners have to want to be reformed for any prison programs to work successfully. Therefore, that is why I agree with the basic idea behind "good time" sentencing. The criminal justice system should allow judges to issue a specific determinate sentence to a convicted person, say for example 10 years for armed robbery. In addition to that, the prisoner would have the ability to receive up to 10% of the convicted time erased if he or she participates in the prison sactioned programs. This way, if the prisoner does not want to be reformed, let him/her sit in their cell for the full 10 years. If they want the chance to get out early, they will have to work for it. "Working for it" could include vocational training and work that in turn would actually make each prison the money needed to operate, or at least alleviate some of the financial woes within the prison system.

The reason I would say 10% of time erased is because the criminal did do the crime, and therefore, should do the time. We don't want to see criminals released after serving only a few years on a decade sentence. Make them do the majority of the time and allow them the ability to make something of themselves before they are released. That way, from a functionalist viewpoint, the prison systems will serve as functioning "correctional" facilities that they have been deemed as in the past.

March 8, 2007

Comment on "Discovery of the Asylum

I definitely agree with Ellen's closing question about just how safe society is by placing new prisoners in with hardened offendors who have already learned how to survive in prison. One thing I can take from my intro to the American Criminal Justice class is the idea behind the Labeling Theory. If society labels someone "a hardened criminal" at a very young age, they are going to mould their lifestyle around that idea, creating them into the hardened criminal that society claimed they were. I would have to say that although the ultimate goal is to reform prisoners, the influence to do bad is overwhelming and by throwing these criminals back into society with maybe a couple hundred bucks if their lucky, will only influence them to use their newly developed criminal skills to get themselves back on their feet. Right now, the history of the penitientiary shows Durkheim's reasoning behind punishment: separating "us" from "them" and without funding, no true rehabilitation can occur.

March 7, 2007

The book

I have just finished reading the worse than slavery book and I am confused about some things. First, where was the North when all of these cruel punishments were being handed out? Where was the freedmens society? The civil war provided emancipation, but did we think that the South was just gonna go along with it? I know that we had a lot of troops stationed throughout the South, but obviously there were not a lot of troops stationed in Mississippi. Another thing that I really find interesting is the fact that the people where so ungodly sadistic. It reminded me a lot of France and the puritans.Did we really change our form of punishment like Foucault predicted? It appears as though we have not, at least in some parts of America.

March 4, 2007

Discovery of the Asylum

One of the things that caught my attention while reading the Rothman article "Discovery of the Asylum" was that a main goal of the penitentiary was to "separate the offender from all contact with corruption" (83). Prisoners were cut off from all outside (and inside) influences by being kept in solidarity. One must keep in mind that in addition to being cut off from negative influences, they are also cut off from positive influences.
How reasonable is the goal of separating offenders from corruption today? Prisoners are influenced by other prisoners while in jail and prison, which could make them more corrupt. Are prisons meant to rehabilitate offenders or to separate offenders from the rest of society? I think that today the majority of people would say the latter goal is more important. But how safe will society be if offenders reenter society more corrupt than when we excluded them from it in the first place?

March 3, 2007

Worse Than Slavery: Marxist View

I have begun reading "Worse Than Slavery," and find it very interesting about how the slaves, and the freedmen, put up with so much neglect and pain. I am at page 109 right now, and it is interesting to compare the black and white people with how Karl marx viewed society with the bougesoise and proliteriat. I know we haven't studied much about Karl Marx, but I remember some things from Social Theory. According to a Marxist view, the white people were the elitists and the bourgeoise who exploited the lower class which were the freedmen and proliteriats. Marx had thought that if the conditions were so bad, that the proloteriats would revolt and overthrow the government which in this case was run by white people. We know that over the years, the freedmen did rise up to claim equal rights, but why did it take so long? I look back at my experience while I was in Iraq, and compare the circumstances of the slaves and freedmen to the Iraqi's and the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Does anybody have feedback as to why an oppressed people would just do nothing about how they are treated? Can anybody see the comparison to the way Marx viewed society?

February 1, 2007


The Foucalt reading is a little difficult. Hopefully we can go over it in class, becuase I have a hard time understanding what he's saying most of the time.

January 27, 2007

Welcome and Optional Readings

Hello Everyone! This will be the blog for Sociology of Punishment. Please check back regularly for comments, files, interesting links, etc. I will be the primary contact for the care of the blog, but Josh will be checking it regularly as well. Please let me know if you have any questions or problems. In this message should be links for the readings Josh changed to optional. While they are optional to read, if you have some extra time check them out..they are some of the most interesting readings for the class and on the subject in general. Hopefully they all linked correctly - I am learning how to do this. Have a good semester! Mary

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