Saturday, June 10, 2017

Losing one's liberty is punishment enough

A common argument against prison and jail reform is that jail or prison is supposed to be a punishment and should therefore be as miserable and horrible as possible. I disagree with this argument because it is shortsighted for one, and for two, it tends to put both prisoners and officers at a higher risk of danger.

People get angry when they find out that correctional institutions have things like yoga classes, television, educational programming, baseball, or other "fun" activities. the idea is that because you are incarcerated, you should be miserable every minute of every day that you are there. it is not enough to simply lock you up, you must also be completely and utterly miserable. People that support this argument seem to believethat losing your freedomas an insufficient punishment. But is it? Is it really insufficient punishment for the government to take away your liberty?

Having your freedom taken away results in a multitude of deprivations . If you think about the things that you, as an average person who is not incarcerated , enjoy the freedom to do every day, you see how much a person who is incarcerated uses simply by the fact of their incarceration . Anything that cannot be done within the incarceration complex is lost to them . It Cimmerian of things that they lose .

Here's a list of something that incarcerated people are not able to access or to do :
Go to their child's high school or college graduation
See their child get married
Go to a sporting event
See a movie in a movie theater
Make dinner for their family
Go to the park
Ride a bike
Wear regular clothing
Wear makeup
Go shopping
Have privacy
Sleep in a room that doesn't also have a toilet in it
Eat what they want when they want
Have more than a specific number of pillows, blankets, uniforms, etc.
Sleep in the same bed as their partner
Wear clothing & underwear that hasn't been worn by someone else
Go on vacation
Use products & toiletries in the brands they prefer
Go for a run
Be there when their grandchild is born
Sleep on a real mattress
Have a barbecue
Watch fireworks
Go fishing
Attend their children's school conferences
Attend their children's school activities
Access the internet without restrictions, if at all
Use a cell phone
Have access to their regular medications
Eat in a restaurant
Attend their parents'/children's/loved ones' funeral
Go outside when they want
Go anywhere other than the prison/jail facility meaning they spend every hour of every day in one space
Tuck their kids in at night
Play video games
Call people without it costing an exorbitant amount of money
Wear makeup or nail polish
Wear decent looking glasses (in Minnesota the prison issued glasses are called "birth control" bc they are so awful looking)
Go to see a stand-up comedy show

The list goes on & on. There is no need to make incarceration any more miserable than it already is. Losing your liberty, your freedom, is punishment enough.

Moreover, letting inmated have some things that society may deem too nice for jail/prison keeps tensions down & makes the institution safer for everyone, including the correctional officers & other staff. Keeping the inmates active & productive & involved in classes & activities is a good thing. It doesn't need to be the gulag. They've already lost a lot simply by being in custody. That's the punishment.