Looking for Love
July 16, 2004 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Write a Prisoner Offers a unique service. It connects you with your convicted-felon potential solemate. Fun for the whole family (NSFW)
posted by cjoh (24 comments total)
See also.
posted by the fire you left me at 3:37 PM on July 16, 2004

a convicted felon has my other shoe?
posted by quonsar at 3:48 PM on July 16, 2004

I once met someone wearing the same shoes as me at a party, and promptly said "you're my sole-mate!" They seemed unamused.
posted by reklaw at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2004

Hmm. That's some list of felonies for the poster-child. Let's see: 20 counts of forgery, 12 counts of Credit Card Fraud, 12 counts of Grand Theft, 4 counts of Grand Theft Auto... a real catch, ladies.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:48 PM on July 16, 2004

er....there will actually be a few lassies writing to these guys by the way.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:22 PM on July 16, 2004

[cue Simpsons reference]
posted by synecdoche at 5:24 PM on July 16, 2004

[please don't bother to cue Simpsons reference]
posted by interrobang at 7:21 PM on July 16, 2004

This site got some press a while back when Susan Smith post her profile.
posted by o2b at 10:07 PM on July 16, 2004

I just want to say that the last time this came up, I was a little put off by the snark. It may seem insane for someone wanting to be romantically involved with a convict, and, hell, it actually may be (sometimes) insane; but, firstly, the ways of the human heart are mysterious; and, secondly, if this isn't noble then it's probably pitiful and mocking is cruel.

Finally, you know, convicts are people, too. While I don't doubt that a lot of them are quite unlike most of us, I also don't doubt that a lot of them are far more like us than we'd like to think. Two groups of UT students encountered each other in a parking lot. One guy from one group got in the face of another guy, words were exchanged, and a punch was thrown. A friend of the guy that got punched grabbed a brick and hit the first guy in the head. He killed him. This guy is in jail. He cried at the trial. Or, say, people with repeated minor drug offenses. People embezzling to support their casino gambling addiction. There are people in prison who made a bad decision at the worst moment where we, for some reason, did not. So far. And of course there are innocent people in prison, too.

This mocking of convicts reveals part of the reason why we can live in a society where vast, unprecedented numbers of people are incarcerated in a system that brutalizes and dehumanizes rather than rehabilitates...and very few people seem alarmed at the social consequences of this.

But, hey, I'll stop preaching/lecturing now.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:08 PM on July 16, 2004

and prisonpenpals.com
posted by scarabic at 10:09 PM on July 16, 2004

Finally, you know, convicts are people, too

A good point, which I'd probably say opens them up for as much mocking as anyone. But that's just me showing them the same respect I show anyone.

But the mocking has to be funny. If they're to be mocked merely for existing, that is more than cruel and less than kind. It's too easy, is what it is, and empty, like schoolyard taunting. Just a way of finding someone more vulnerable than you, and walking on them to get some ground to walk on.
posted by scarabic at 10:14 PM on July 16, 2004

Incidentally, would anyone here hire an ex-con, presuming they were basically qualified?
posted by scarabic at 10:15 PM on July 16, 2004

I can't for the life of me figure out why this is considered NSFW.

Incidentally, would anyone here hire an ex-con, presuming they were basically qualified?

Sure, depending on the offense. Rape, molestation, arson, murder by torture or poisoning, serial embezzlement: probably not.
posted by quarantine at 10:20 PM on July 16, 2004

Why not?
posted by scarabic at 10:24 PM on July 16, 2004

I mean, why not certain offenses?
posted by scarabic at 10:24 PM on July 16, 2004

Rape and molestation: I consider these to be results of underlying tendencies that cannot be treated by jail time alone. Plus, I have a wife and child and have no desire to tempt fate.

Arson: Selfishness. I don't want my business to be burned down.

Murder by torture or poisoning: I don't think I could ever trust anyone who killed someone with the requisite level of premeditation this entails.

Serial embezzlement: Selfishness. The person has demonstrated untrustworthiness, and I'd rather not be ripped off.

But drug offenses, assault in a bar fight, grand theft auto as a teenager, that sort of thing: I wouldn't do these things myself, but I don't think having done so necessarily indicates the person would be a bad employee.

This may be naive in one direction or the other, I don't know (either too limiting or too permissive.) And I'm not willing to make a blanket statement, which is why I qualified my restrictions as "probably". I would sooner hire someone convicted of arson for hire while in financially dire straits than I would a pyromaniac, for instance.
posted by quarantine at 10:32 PM on July 16, 2004

Well, in a nutshell, you don't believe in paying one's debt, or rehabilitation. I'm not accusing you of anything nasty, just interpreting what you're saying. And I hardly know what I think on the subject anyway. I might agree with you. But don't you think that's a fair summarization of what you just said?
posted by scarabic at 11:34 PM on July 16, 2004

Have you ever made hiring decisions, scarabic? I'm an extremely principled person; but I found that when I actually had the responsibility to my employer for hiring, I included a lot of considerations that I really wasn't comfortable including. I'd think twice about hiring an ex-con. I'd think twice about hiring someone with a terminal illness...and that'd be illegal.

For that reason, really, I think that people that have paid their debt should not be forced to divulge this info for hiring purposes.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:45 PM on July 16, 2004

You have stumbled onto a very rich topic in Philosophy of Law, scarabic. In general, there are five ways that imprisonment is justified:

1. Retribution: The idea that certain acts are deserving of punishment, and (implicitly) that the state is authorized to carry out such punishment.

2. Restitution: That imprisonment in some way compensates the victims of crime.

3. Deterrence: That the threat of prison decreases the likelihood of people committing crimes

4. Prevention: That by keeping an offender off the streets, you are ensuring that he or she does not commit crimes during the period of imprisonment.

5. Rehabilitation: That imprisonment improves the convict in some way.

You write "you don't believe in paying one's debt, or rehabilitation" -- I'd point out that it's wholly possible to believe in one and disbelieve in the other.

I listed the above reasons in what I consider to be increasing validity. Retribution is far too moralist (and full of philosophical land mines) for my taste; as for Restitution, I only care about how victims of crime feel insofar as a general sense of justice in society would tend to stabilize a society (reducing vigilanteism, for instance), and I hardly think housing someone in a two meter square cell compensates anybody. The other three I think are better reasons, even though the doctrine of Prevention is strewn with difficulties (in terms of moral authority.)

"Debt to society" is fundamentally a Restitutional idea, that imprisonment is a transaction of sorts, after which the person is absolved of responsibility. "Rehabilitation" is, of course, a Rehabilitative idea.

Ideally -- if I were in charge of the way things work -- the punishment for most crime would be proper rehabilitation: education, therapy, medical treatment, etc. It sounds painfully naive, I know -- our resident hardline conservatives are hereby cordially invited to call me a scum-of-the-earth liberal -- but it seems the best solution to me. It's at least worth a shot. Medical treatment, especially, should be the absolute norm if society insists on criminalizing drug use, for instance.

The problem, as I see it, is that the criminal justice system these days does nothing like proper rehabilitation. In 1976, for instance, the California Legislature (I'm in California) endorsed a Philosophy of Law emphasizing retribution, rather than rehabilitation. That's official, historical fact: California legislators said the purpose of imprisonment is to punish rather than rehabilitate. That's mind-boggling to me. So as long as we are simply caging people who systematically molest children, or stalk women to sexually assault them, or torture someone to death, we haven't provided a solution.

So we release people to the streets who still have urges to commit these acts. I'm not a psychologist -- I have no idea whether it's possible in principle to "cure" someone who is a serial rapist or not -- but I'm almost 100% sure that we're not curing them now. So taking prior convictions as evidence of what the person is disposed to do, I'll keep convicted rapists, molesters, and torturers out of any business I might run.

The others -- the arson and embezzlement -- just seem more trouble than they are worth. That's why I listed the reason as "selfishness". It might be ideal for me to constantly give someone chances, but I'm not inclined to hire someone who has stolen from his three last employers.

More on Philosophy of Law here.
posted by quarantine at 12:26 AM on July 17, 2004 [1 favorite]

scarabic, it's not a crime to not hire someone based on previous imprisonment. It is a crime for one to conceal ones own imprisonment for the sake of gaining employment. I certainly believe that rehabilitation is a loftier goal than punnishment (and, in the long run, a more practical one). But I don't see how employers are under a moral imperative to hire excons.

Thanks to quarantine for the nice philosophy of law overview and link...
posted by wheat at 7:59 AM on July 17, 2004

the ways of the human heart are mysterious

the way of co-dependency is not.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:51 AM on July 17, 2004

I'm just talking it out from the standpoint of curiosity. It is definitely a tough question. I'm not saying there's a moral imperative to hire these folks. I have had to make hiring decisions, and I've worked with excons, but I've never been faced with hiring/not hiring an excon.

It sounds like you're saying that the justice system does nothing to remedy the criminal drive, it merely identifies it in the criminal, so you know it's there. Since they do nothing to treat it, one must assume it's still there. That's sound enough logic, I guess.

But I think that in order for someone to really rehabillitate (some at least must feel an internal drive to get their lives back on track) and reintegrate into society, eventually they have to get another chance somewhere. Depending on the specific risk factors in the workplace, the nature of the work, the experience of the applicant, and a personal interview, I could totally see myself hiring an ex-con at some point. But yes, I guess I would want to know about their crime and punishment in some detail.

Good discussion, thanks.
posted by scarabic at 12:03 PM on July 17, 2004

Incidentally, would anyone here hire an ex-con, presuming they were basically qualified?

Yes. And I have, and been rewarded with good employee performance as a result of it. In my case, I hired someone who'd done time for an auto theft at age 19. He'd had two jobs since leaving prison in his mid-20's, both of them longish term and was only applying for a new job because he was moving to the area to be closer to his ex-wife, who had custody of his kids. I hired him to be a packaging and shipping coordinator and when I left the company three years later, he was still there, and doing a fine job. Anectdotal and incidental? Yup. Would I do it again? Probably, but I guess it would really depend on the individual and the details of the open position, other than that I'd see no reason to exclude someone based solely on that...
posted by JollyWanker at 12:28 PM on July 17, 2004

Perhaps more pertinently to the link, would you be more likely to contact some of the convicts if you knew what they were doing time for? And if you like, how would this vary from employment choices?
posted by biffa at 12:48 PM on July 18, 2004

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