Monsters Doomed To Rot In a Hellish ‘Dungeon'
November 5, 2001 10:56 AM Subscribe
posted by aLienated at 11:12 AM on November 5, 2001
posted by sudama at 11:12 AM on November 5, 2001
and aacheson, there's probably nobody there who doesn't deserve it. you can feel fine about it.
posted by phalkin at 11:12 AM on November 5, 2001
posted by Voyageman at 11:18 AM on November 5, 2001
Some highlights on what happens to people when they are isolated for long periods of time:
Under prolonged solitary confinement, the mentally ill become sicker and the psychologically healthy show signs of acute mental illness. The psychological damage is akin to that suffered by torture victims, prisoners of war and Arctic explorers.
So basically, these prisons are a form of torture, since the end result is the same. Now where did that 8th amendment run off to?
posted by thewittyname at 11:30 AM on November 5, 2001
"Most prisoners spend no more than a few hours a week outside there cells."
posted by ColdChef at 11:39 AM on November 5, 2001
posted by owillis at 11:39 AM on November 5, 2001
I'm deeply ambivalent about the Supermax. Yes, I want to see bad people suffer. But it seems that the more we build tools to inflict suffering, the more likely it is that we will see them being turned against all of us.
posted by rks404 at 11:39 AM on November 5, 2001
I'm deeply ambivalent about the Supermax. Yes, I want to see bad people suffer. But it seems that the more we build tools to inflict suffering, the more likely it is that we will see them being turned against all of us.
posted by rks404 at 11:40 AM on November 5, 2001
We should just abolish the death penalty for people that Voyageman doesn't like.
posted by websavvy at 11:44 AM on November 5, 2001
ColdChef, maybe the journalist (is that the right term for the NY Post?) meant to say 'them there cells'.
Anybody here for improving society?
posted by mmarcos at 11:59 AM on November 5, 2001
bleh. What kind of society needs things like this created?
posted by atom128 at 12:01 PM on November 5, 2001
good deal. prison is supposed to be unpleasant, and this one is VERY unpleasant.
Fantastic idea. It's what prison should be, instead of the day spas we've got
How could you like this? It's completely disgusting. Why do you want to see bad people suffer? How does that help you in any way at all? How does making prison more unpleasant make your life better at all? If this is a "fantastic" idea, why not go to all-out torture? Would that be super-fantastic? Do you think there is a single criminal in prison who was about to commit the crime, and thought, "you know what? Prison, it tain't all that bad. If it was worse, I wouldn't be doing this."? Hey, why not just up the minimum sentences for every crime to like...40 years in one these things. Steal a pack of gum, forty years in the ADX. Makes sense, right? People probably wouldn't steal then.
Taking pleasure in this thing is one step from attending public executions or gladiator games.
Damn I hope I just got royally trolled.
posted by jeb at 12:22 PM on November 5, 2001
Because if we are claiming moral superiority to the terrorists, we can't do something as hypocritical as throwing out the definition of justice in favor of revenge.
Although if we want to have a consistent policy, we probably should dump the whole 'justice' thing. If we start acting rational now, people might get suspicious and call us weak-kneed liberal hippies.
posted by Hildago at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2001
Ours, apparently, whether you want to admit it or not.
posted by Danelope at 12:28 PM on November 5, 2001
Owillis, there are also a couple of country-club jails there, one you can see the tennis courts from the highway.
posted by m@ at 12:29 PM on November 5, 2001
Other inmates include: McVeigh's accomplice, Terry Nichols; actor Woody Harrelson's dad, Charles, who's in for murdering a federal judge; and Luis Felipe, leader of New York's Latin Kings street gang, who ordered the deaths of six gang members from his cell in another prison.
posted by Sinner at 12:35 PM on November 5, 2001
You forgot to divide by the population of the US (according to the 2000 census)
$14,125,500 / 273,643,269 people = $0.05
That's one nickel. I'd pay a nickel a year to keep our toughest criminals off the street. That is indeed one hell of a bargain.
posted by Phlops at 12:58 PM on November 5, 2001
posted by Doug at 1:01 PM on November 5, 2001
Is it? Is rehabilitation really the only reason that we have prisons?
What's your view of justice, skallas? Why do we have prisons? Is it solely to protect society? Or does justice enter into the equation as well?
posted by gd779 at 1:37 PM on November 5, 2001
posted by Voyageman at 1:37 PM on November 5, 2001
Yeah! Plus, they're great places for stuffing people suffering from severe mental illness, like this 17 year old in Wisconsin! Gotta torture those useless assholes!
In Ruiz v. Johnson, Federal District Court Judge William Wayne Justice became the first judge in the country to declare supermax conditions unconstitutional.
posted by zeb vance at 1:46 PM on November 5, 2001
there is such a thing as becoming what you hate ...
posted by walrus at 2:10 PM on November 5, 2001
I have an answer, but you are definitely not going to like it.
posted by UncleFes at 3:10 PM on November 5, 2001
Is the answer to put them all on an island and let them fend for themselves against wild beasts, mother nature and each other? That would be SO cool!
Oh, it's not? Nevermind.
posted by Grum at 4:36 PM on November 5, 2001
or, well, execution.
and i'm guessing the latter is your answer that i'm definitely not going to like.
myself, i'd prefer not to have a hand in killing people -- and if it's going to cost me another nickel a year -- or hell, even a dollar -- i'll pay it.
posted by fishfucker at 4:38 PM on November 5, 2001
There are victims for these crimes, but too often the system forgets that in the pursuit of the rights of criminals.
posted by owillis at 4:43 PM on November 5, 2001
posted by Zool at 4:44 PM on November 5, 2001
That explains why the department that runs prisons is typically called the "department of
posted by kindall at 5:08 PM on November 5, 2001
posted by kliuless at 5:15 PM on November 5, 2001
It's not like any of them would ever re-offend.
I like sarcasm, but it's no way to defend you warped views on prison.
posted by Zool at 5:33 PM on November 5, 2001
These arguments are good for prison in general - I think there's usually a fourth aim cited in legal philosophy (vengeance?) - but they don't all apply to a SuperMax where most of the inmates (if not all) are serving life sentences w/o the possibility of parole. That pfretty much takes rehabilitation off the table.
posted by Sinner at 5:34 PM on November 5, 2001
Anyway, Oliver, you're nutty, man! "Why should an ex-con get a good job when he gets out? " If you believe that a person should be punished for the rest of his life for a crime, why even let him out of jail? Secondly, and more importantly, ex-cons DON'T get good jobs, by and large. They get shitty manual labor jobs, as Skallas said.
On weightrooms in prison: First, let me say, I too am concerned with all the ex-cons coming out of prison and using wrestling moves to commit their crimes. So many are caught armed with lethal biceps. Really a scary thing.
Anyway, prisons have tvs and weightrooms to CONTROL the prisoners. If prisoners don't have anything, you can't take anything away from them if they're bad. And thus, very little incentive for them not to be bad. Among the groups you will NOT see protesting television and workout rooms in prisons: Corrections Officers.
The idea that being stripped of all privacy, dignity and control of ones life is made a day spa because you can watch TV and lift weights is just insane, and, it seems ignorant to me. Or maybe that seems cool to you, I dunno. We're all into different stuff.
posted by Doug at 5:55 PM on November 5, 2001
posted by Voyageman at 6:19 PM on November 5, 2001
Where exactly in this process are you and everyone else convinced that he/she has been rehabilitated.
Oh, and Doug, for your information i do know what rehabilitate means, but i am not stupid or suffer from any other mental incapacity that blinds me into thinking that all prisoners actually get rehabilitated by the time they are released from prison.
Your whole argument is like communism, best damn way to run your country in theory, does not work in reallity.
posted by Zool at 6:20 PM on November 5, 2001
What is worse, this insane war on (certain) drugs waged chiefly by the US has resulted in longer sentences for substance-related offences than are given out for many violent felonies. Another interesting side-effect of this nonsensical war has been that someone dumb enough to mail narcotics through the postal service is almost certain to land in jail in a very short period of time, but apparently real evil-doers who mail diseases to unsuspecting victims can do so at little risk. Shouldn't the infrastructure of this country be used to prevent actions which actually cause harm to innocent people, or am I misunderstanding the basis of law enforcement here?
posted by clevershark at 6:26 PM on November 5, 2001
I don't want them to have anything. A room they sit in all day, with nothing to do. Just keep them out of our world.
And clevershark is right on about the inanity of drug crimes.
posted by owillis at 7:33 PM on November 5, 2001
Certainly discussing Supermax and minor drug offenses in the same sentence doesn't make much sense. Supermax is for the most violent criminals -- or prisoners. People don't get there arbitrarily. It's also an open question whether solitary confinement in a Supermax is actually worse than being mixed with the general prison population and its gangs, criminal mentoring, and corrupt prisoner-guard relationships. Prisons are somewhat inhumane any way you slice it.
Foucault had some interesting thoughts about the evolution of prisons as society changed (paralleling comparable changes in mental institutions). Though Foucault went so far as to posit creation of conceits of "madness" and "crime" in order to fulfill societal desires to observe, confine, and control undesirable classes of persons, you don't have to got he full Marxist dialectic route here to see that the evolution of prisons goes hand in hand with societal beliefs in rehabilitation vs. punishment.
posted by dhartung at 10:07 PM on November 5, 2001
Hey, ya want yer supermax prisons? You think you need them? Well, you're welcome to them, and all they are as symptoms: they're the cough, fever and nausea before the full-on assault of a Four-Alarm Social Flu. If we've built these things, then we've already failed as a country to deal with crime- presumably, the ultimate goal of crime measures is to reduce & eliminate crime, no? Everything else- these "hurt the hurters" rantings in particular- are ultimately nothing more than a sociopathic revenge fantasy. Oddly, this mental pattern, this irrational ego-centric fight/flight wildly lashing out at "the other" response is eerily similar, dare I say identical, in form if not scale to those who are buried alive in these prisons.
Hey, welcome to the mirror, folks... enjoy the view.
posted by hincandenza at 12:01 AM on November 6, 2001
If owillis or Voyageman or others are still reading this thread, perhaps you could answer that question. Do you think the justice system should PRIMARILY aim to:
*minimize the amount of crime that gets done to people
*punish/get revenge on/"bring to justice" those who commit crimes
*simply separate the really destructive elements from society forever.
posted by jeb at 12:10 AM on November 6, 2001
The fourth that is usually cited as a reason for imprisoning someone is incarceration. It's more difficult (but not impossible) for a person convicted to commit a crime again when incarcerated.
Notice the emphasis in the article's quotes are on how secure the prison is, and how unlikely it is that any of these people will escape.
posted by bragadocchio at 12:20 AM on November 6, 2001
What purpose, exactly would that suffering serve? It's not a deterrent; they'll never get out again to be deterred. It's not going to make a long-term difference to them, they will die like everyone else eventually, and their suffering in life will be of no consequence. It won't even stop others from doing the same thing they did, because people willing to die would be willing to sit in a cell and go nuts. Do you know what they call the infliction of pain and suffering for no purpose? Revenge is one of the nicer words.
I'm anti-death penalty, almost adamantly, but I will tell you this. I think execution would be the more moral thing to do to these people, if the choices were that or these prisons. When you lock someone up in a small dark place, a place you describe as hellish, and never, ever let them out again, you are taking their life away, and worse, inflicting pain and insanity. Murder, execution, would not be better, but it would force people to look at the issue for what it is. If we are going to admit failure and resort to absolutist punishment, make it the more alarming kind, so everyone gets to see.
posted by Nothing at 3:08 AM on November 6, 2001
In addition, those convicted of extraordinary crimes deserve to face extraordinary circumstances to follow. Murder 168 people and maim hundreds more (Terry Nichols)? That's pretty extraordinary. Ignore the fact that you're already imprisoned for murder and order the deaths of at least half a dozen people from behind bars? That's extraordinary. Mastermind a complex criminal organisation which causes death and mayhem for years and years (John Gotti)? That's extraordinary. Should these kinds of people be a part of a light security incarceration or allowed to mingle with other inmates? Absolutely not.
The question was raised "What kind of society" needs supermax prisons? It's a society which incubates and harbours these human monsters, allowing them to wreck havoc on untold numbers before being able to bring them down. We no longer police ourselves, police our own, so we are, indeed, a society in need of extreme measures.
We aren't putting everyday drug dealers or check kiters or even child molesters into Supermax. These are the lowest of the low, the most dangerous, least remorseful, least humane people who live -- what conditions would better suited for them?
posted by Dreama at 4:21 AM on November 6, 2001
posted by jeb at 9:18 AM on November 6, 2001
posted by mmarcos at 10:44 AM on November 6, 2001
We have rules and accepted behavior in society. Do not break them. It seems simple to me. Those in jail are the ones who don't "get it", hence they go bye-bye.
posted by owillis at 12:08 PM on November 6, 2001
My friend has the ones with Angola, Sing Sing, Folsom, and a few others, but I don't ever remember seeing Supermax in there. Where was that special you saw, owillis?
posted by adampsyche at 12:29 PM on November 6, 2001
The vast majority of crimes are mistakes, and prison can be a place of redemption and rehabilitiation if done correctly.
I agree that committing certain crimes, or continuous law-breaking should lead to 'bye-bye,' but it seems that too many people want consign any criminal of any crime to a life away from society. Not only is that immoral (punishment should fit the crime) but it doesn't make sense, as one day most criminals will be released back into society. We need to make sure that a. prison was a place they never, ever, want to go back to but also b. prison helped 'correct' the behavior or mind-set of the criminal. We'll all be better off if we proceeded like this, and I can't help but think that the black-and-white 'bye bye' theory helps encourage recidivism
posted by cell divide at 12:38 PM on November 6, 2001
posted by thirteen at 12:47 PM on November 6, 2001
cell divide: Mistakes or not, people make an active decision to commit a crime. I prefer to err on the side of them being bad seeds, vs. saveable. Ideally I would want violent criminals locked away for good (or executed in the case of non-self defense murderers), with the others punished appropriately.
posted by owillis at 2:16 PM on November 6, 2001
So we end up trapping ourselves; on one side, we are queasy about implementing the death penalty, and at the same time we are queasy about imprisoning the special cases in a facility designed to hold them. At the same time as that, we have an obligation to society, once these people are identified, to ensure they do not victimize anyone else, especially since "victimize" pretty much means "murder."
Either we have to be honest about the nature of these people and do what is necessary to uphold our responsibility to the law-abiding members of society, or we need to redefine what the responsibilities of law enforcement and corrections are. If the latter is the case, then similar redefinition must necessarily be conducted allowing the citizenry, who have currently vested the responsibility for their protection in the police at the government's request, to take steps to better protect themselves.
posted by UncleFes at 2:30 PM on November 6, 2001
posted by walrus at 3:33 PM on November 6, 2001
Indeed, the supposed cheapness of these prisons also bothers me- in this, I say, let the market forces prevail. Keep prisons, all prisons, humane and decent. Even normal prisons aren't "day-spas", and one has to be woefully ignorant to believe this- although a 3-month stay in a "day spa" might change a few minds, eh? Now, if this makes prisons more expensive, it then gives us as a society a very strong incentive to seek out more creative and effective measures to combat crime and the roots of crime including social situations that may lead to statistical increases in criminal behavior. "Externalizing the costs of production" by keeping prisons supercheap and inhumane only keeps us from facing the ultimate causes and consequences of crime in our society (hence my analogy to the cough and fever before a flu). Indeed, it's not dissimilar to energy inefficiency and oil subsidization in this country preventing us from facing the economic and environmental costs directly- and making the corresponding intelligent choices now instead of later, when it will hurt more.
And frankly, I don't care if they're evil, awful people, the scum of the earth. Sure, our knee jerk reaction is to brutalize them (like they brutalized their victims), and all of us have that reaction when we hear about some of the crimes people do. But we need to be honest and recognize that murderous hateful childish element in all of us, and recognizing that should allow us to realize that we don't have the right to treat them cruelly just because we're pissed off. Our prison institutions should be dispassionate and efficient; they should be designed to be disconnected from the immediate emotional impulses we have, so that more sensible and humane solutions are envisioned. That's supposed to be the point of civilized society in general, that it gives us a form to channel our petty, childish reactions as a social group into more constructive methods, rather than running around with leg bones in our hand bashing each other's brains out by the watering hole.
posted by hincandenza at 4:05 PM on November 6, 2001
posted by thirteen at 4:17 PM on November 6, 2001
Yes, these prisoners are locked down in solitary for the majority of the time. However, they are provided with anything that they are allowed to have. The rooms are small with lots of overhead fluorescent light and a small window strip -- that's better than a lot of work cubicles. They have little interaction with others, but they can have all of the books and certain writing equipment that they wish. (I understand that Harrelson has limited access to a laptop, as well.)
They aren't thrown naked into a dark, stinking, vermin infested hole ala Kevin Bacon in Murder in the First. They are, however, completely isolated from society because they have repeatedly or extremely pointedly demonstrated their utter contempt for society through their criminal acts. It's only torture if you accept that it is irredeemably cruel to create a situation wherein beasts have plenty of time to ruminate over their own inhumanity instead of being free to impose it on all surrounding them.
posted by Dreama at 4:53 PM on November 6, 2001
posted by UncleFes at 8:46 PM on November 6, 2001
posted by Charmian at 10:33 PM on November 6, 2001
Anyway, I was reacting to the whoops of joy rather than the actual conditions, for which I only have that article to go on.
posted by walrus at 1:50 AM on November 7, 2001
For the record, I should point out that I fundamentally agree with the above statement. I just find this idea that we should deliberately hurt or mistreat people because of their crimes to be repugnant. We're supposed to be the decent, civilised ones after all ...
posted by walrus at 2:31 AM on November 7, 2001
No, escape is rare. But often criminals will be sent to supermax prisons after murdering fellow prisoners in regular prisons, or otherwise causing harm (running gangs, atacking guards, etc.)
I just find this idea that we should deliberately hurt or mistreat people because of their crimes to be repugnant.
I don't think these people are being deliberately harmed by the corrections system. At the least, a good portion of reponsibility for their confinement is their own, although I certainly don't think anyone "earns torture." But as Dreama pointed out, the "torture" they are suffering is a rather nontraditional one, and designed to keep them secure rather than deliberately inflict harm.
posted by UncleFes at 7:23 AM on November 7, 2001
I'm not sure they are either: it's the tone of the article and some of the reaction to it which got my goat. I should rely less on hyperbole and more on explanation of my position, probably.
posted by walrus at 7:30 AM on November 7, 2001
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posted by aacheson at 11:09 AM on November 5, 2001