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 The Irish Penal System

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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 1:28 am

Excellent thread so far lads - well done all.

EvotingMachine0197 wrote:
I don't think blatant humiliation (as in johnfás post above) should be part of anyone's punishment. There would be more dignity in getting the electric chair. Humiliating people like that only makes them angry(angrier).
Might I enquire as to if/why people have any faith in the power of punishment?

My own experience extends no further than 23hours and 59 minutes of intimidatory incarceration in a copshop for reasons too comical to go into. I can say with authority that it was not a pleasant way to spend a day, but also that it did not have the desired effect.

What is this obsession with punishment? If, say, for example, Seán Fitzpatrick were to rob €10,000 off you and is caught (let's imagine Neary has a good day). Imagine you were presented with three options:

  1. State compels Mr. Fitzpatrick to give you back your €10,000 (restoration)
  2. State punishes Mr. Fitzpatrick on your behalf but charges you the €10,000 to pay for the punishment. (retribution)
  3. State compels Mr. Fitzpatrick to give you back your €10,000 and punishes Mr. Fitzpatrick on your behalf at no cost to yourself.
I'm hoping nobody goes for 2), but rather suspect a lot of people will plump for 3) over 1). But why? What difference could it possibly make to you if the only deposits Seánie Fitz. makes for 5 years is into a bucket?

Where is the evidence for the mythic deterrent effect of punishment? The deterrent effect of the death penalty doesn't appear to be doing much to bring down the murder rate in the States, does it? Punishment merely teaches people how to evade punishment. Restoration and rehabilitation are the way forward. Retribution is barbaric, particularly when exacted by a third party. Nobody should be locked up unless they are a danger to themselves or others. Locking someone in a shithole for not paying their TV licence is obsene and absurd.

In reality 3) is just 2) for slow learners anyway. No cost to yourself? Cop yerselves on lads! Who do you imagine is bearing the cost of maintaining the elaborate punishment infrastructure?
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 1:37 am

I must say that I'm a fan of restorative justice. And you've covered the obvious weakness by suggesting that folk who represent a danger to themselves and others are the only ones who should be considered for locking up. All in all, an excellent post. I wish I'd said it.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 1:38 am

What effect did the taste of a cell have on you coc as it worked for me.

Who on this site has a knowledge to whatever extent of the Brehan Laws.

John Fas, as part of your legal studies what percentage if any did the Brehan Laws get
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 1:56 am

youngdan wrote:
What effect did the taste of a cell have on you coc as it worked for me.
It reinforced for me my strongly held conviction* that the best response to a bully is to spit in their eye and laugh in their face.

*Conviction? The f***ers didn't even have the nerve to charge me!
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:14 am

You felt the state was the bully if I understand you correctly. That is a different situation than I because I was as guilty as sin.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:17 am

youngdan wrote:
You felt the state was the bully if I understand you correctly. That is a different situation than I because I was as guilty as sin.
Perhaps restoration to the injured party (a ten grand fine, maybe) might have taught you a similar lesson at no cost to the rest of us?
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:24 am

It worked out even better for me because I got off scot free. The confinement followed my arrest.

I did not cost me a rex and there were 2 days in court. Not very free enterprise I will admit but especially at Chrisrmas it is great to recall the happy ending
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:25 am

I was held in a police station in London once they were very nice though. Other than that my only run in with the authorities was a midnight walk along the Luas track which was the quickest way to walk from Clontarf to Sandyford... they didn't do much to us though.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:37 am

coc wrote:
youngdan wrote:
You felt the state was the bully if I understand you correctly. That is a different situation than I because I was as guilty as sin.
Perhaps restoration to the injured party (a ten grand fine, maybe) might have taught you a similar lesson at no cost to the rest of us?

What happens if the criminal in question refuses (or is unable) to pay back the 10 grand. I really don't see anything wrong with a term of improsionment per sea but the conditions described by the op in mountjoy are disgusting. What is worse is that a fairly large number of people don't seem to have a problem with this.

As for run-in's with the law, as a teenager i was arrested and held for a few hours. The cops ranged from the decent to the vindictive (threatening to knock the shit out of me in a cell etc.) Made me determined not to get caught again I tell you...
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 12:55 pm

What happens if the criminal in question refuses (or is unable) to pay back the 10 grand?

You dock it from his wages/dole, whatever. Does the State not already run compensation schemes for victims of crime? The purpose is not to punish the offender but to make restoration to the victim. After that we should have no problem forgiving and forgetting.

I really don't see anything wrong with a term of imprisonment per se

It costs a bloody fortune for starters. If conditions were improved up to say 19th Century standards, it would cost even more. It is absolutely insane.

There is no evidence of a deterrent value, apart from occasional anecdotal evidence here, which really, with all due respect to everyone, is no evidence at all.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 1:41 pm

In Portlaoise which is the most expensive in the country it costs €270,000 per annum.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:25 pm

coc wrote:
What happens if the criminal in question refuses (or is unable) to pay back the 10 grand?

You dock it from his wages/dole, whatever. Does the State not already run compensation schemes for victims of crime? The purpose is not to punish the offender but to make restoration to the victim. After that we should have no problem forgiving and forgetting.

I really don't see anything wrong with a term of imprisonment per se

It costs a bloody fortune for starters. If conditions were improved up to say 19th Century standards, it would cost even more. It is absolutely insane.

There is no evidence of a deterrent value, apart from occasional anecdotal evidence here, which really, with all due respect to everyone, is no evidence at all.

I've read that the deterance value for criminals is the prospect of getting caught rather than the punishment itself.

As for docking peoples wages, that sounds like a perfect way of leaving a conviction hanging over someone forever rather than the few months/years in prison. Someone gets done for theft would spend years/possibly the rest of their life making payments in return. It seems like a huge incentive to continue a life of crime onstay on welfare - ie whats the point in working if increased earnings means a greater repayment obligation. Also, from what I understand you'd have the state underwriting every stealable item in the country.

I don't see how any state can function without some form of prison - for violent criminals if nothing else. I think a modern prison system with an emphsis on rehabilitation seems more humane and ultimtely cheaper to me.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 3:41 pm

Most people in jail are poor people.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Tue Dec 23, 2008 5:12 pm

Not only are the vast majority of those in jail poor, the vast majority of them are very decent people, stuck in a loop that there's no getting out of. If all the money (probably in the billions) was redistributed, they'd not be in such a loop. It's very expensive to keep people poor and in a constant state of fear and punishment. All of this has to do with politics and for the most part, absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with justice. Tis like something out of a Dickens novel. Specifically: A Tale of Two Cities.

Someone who steals bread is not a criminal, he is hungry.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Wed Dec 24, 2008 2:07 am

Most people in jail are poor but I'd reckon that those most seriously affected by crime are also poor.

Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that irish society is failing a great many people by not having proper support networks (Brian Rossiter is a perfect example of this, as are any drug addicts currently in prison) and the conditions in the joy are a disgrace. A humane prison system built around principles of reform and rehabilitation is what ireland should have and its a disgrace that it seems to be beyond the government to provide.
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Wed Dec 24, 2008 8:34 am

shutuplaura wrote:
Most people in jail are poor but I'd reckon that those most seriously affected by crime are also poor.

Don't get me wrong, I fully believe that irish society is failing a great many people by not having proper support networks (Brian Rossiter is a perfect example of this, as are any drug addicts currently in prison) and the conditions in the joy are a disgrace. A humane prison system built around principles of reform and rehabilitation is what ireland should have and its a disgrace that it seems to be beyond the government to provide.
http://bocktherobber.com/2008/03/brian-rossiter-report-on-death-of-child-in-custody-due-shortly

shutuplaura - your post made me look up Brian Rossiter - there were no traces of drugs or alcohol in his system when he died.

It was illegal to hold a 14 year old in custody in that way. It sounds to me as though the fatal injury took place before he was arrested - poor child, he was dying and was locked in a cell. His father who complained was locked in the same cell.
He was too young to be blamed. Will we ever know the full story so we can learn from it?

edit - from reading this report, it appears more likely that he was assaulted in the police cell. http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2007/10/14/story27391.asp
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PostSubject: Re: The Irish Penal System   Mon Dec 29, 2008 7:40 am

Cactus, re Brian Rossiter, i'm from clonmel and from talking to people back home about it the feelings seems to be that the cops are possible scapegoats for a wider failing by the state - social services have very limited hours due to underfunding or whatever and there was no option but to leave him in custody when clearly it wasn't approproiate.

That being said, I really have a strong dislike for the gardai in my home town and wouldn't put anything past them. When I was arrested in Clonmel as a teenager at least one (admittedly older) cop wanted to take me into a cell and kick the shit out of me. It seems to me that its quite possible this happened.

But anyway, the Rossiter case, along with Mountjoy shows up the failings of the prison system. It also shows how general attitudes to the sort of people who end up in custody can be shocking - Some people think that the child had it coming becasue he was a trouble maker or that its good enough for prisoners having to shit in a bucket.
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