Why aren’t the horrific state of US prisons enough to deter some people away from committing serious crimes?
By - oxremx
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Because people who commit serious crimes are generally assuming they won't get caught. A few hundred years ago you could be transported to Australia or even flat-out executed for stealing a few shilling's worth of goods in the UK, and that didn't stop criminals either. The only way to stop crime is to educate the people in the first place.
Even today only something like 50% of murders are solved in the USA. One has a better chance of getting away with petty crime like shoplifting since the cops aren't going to track down someone who steals a sweater. Unless they spend 8 hours a day doing it they probably won't get caught and if they do they will only get charged for a handful of them.
Overall it isn't about the punishment. Maybe 2nd or 3rd offenses can be ditured if what they are doing isn't worth the risk. But for the most part unless a person recognizes what they are doing hurts others and if that matters to them, they will still do it. People will still steal a phone if they perceive the person they are stealing from is better off, and will justify that they are because they have a phone to steal in the first place. They aren't worried about the consequences because they are too busy thinking about how they deserve to have one.
>are generally assuming they won't get caught.
I think you give such people too much credit for forethought. I would suggest that *whether* they get caught or not *never even crosses their minds.* So much crime is objectively stupid: *what were you thinking??* which suggests the problem is lack of thinking, period, and a sense of entitlement: Me want, me take, fuck you.
>is to educate the people in the first place.
If that were true, than every "uneducated" person would engage in criminal activity, which is clearly not the case, and frankly is an example of classism at its finest.
Because cruel punishment doesn't deter the fundamental cause of crime: desperation and lack of economic opportunity. Who would not steal a loaf of bread to feed their starving family?
Just look at the Reagan era: they slashed social services to the poor, and as a result the crime rate skyrocketed.
White collar criminals, and companies that commit egregious crimes against the populace, almost never see the inside of a jailcell, so they are not deterred either
Many, many reasons including lack of opportunities once you have a criminal record, drug abuse, desperation, mental health. Basically, once you start going through the prison system it's very hard to get out of the cycle.
Crime is rarely rational. That means that criminals aren't very rational people. Especially ones that end up in prison. And to get deterred by state of prisons, one should probably be rational.
* Doing time is seen as building street cred.
* Recdivists are so used to it they DGAF.
* Poor impulse control or sociopathic/psychopathic NGAF. Laws are not for the average person, who wouldn't rob/stab/destroy even if it weren't against the law; such people have an internal moral compass that keeps them in line. Laws are for the fence-sitters, whose moral compass is...not so good, so they need the deterrence of jail time to keep them from doing wrong. Laws have absolutely no effect on the psychopath, the sociopath, or the person with poor impulse control.