|We pretty much agree on what the government is morally empowered to do. We are looking at ways to keep the costs down.|
There seem to be only a few ways to deal with criminals... They can be fined, if they have money, or take away their possessions. They can be locked up. ... some form of physical punishment (cutting off of hands, whippings, etc.) My zeroeth point is that I do not propose answers. I have none; but I do see some suggestive lines of reason and experience that might prove beneficial.
I presume you don't believe that government doing NOTHING would be a workable solution - am I right on that?
To take the last point first, it is possible to do nothing. Storms destroy property and we largely do nothing about them. We certainly do not try to punish them. The anthropomorphic fallacy is assuming that all featherless bipeds are rational animals. In fact, the so-called "insanity" defense recognizes rationality as a precondition to justice.
That actually raises a different question: if an entity is not rational - like a rabid dog, or really, any canine, rabid or not - we just kill them when they become unmanageable. It might be acceptable to kill any child who harms an animal, as cruelty to animals correlates directly and strongly with later harms to humans.
That then opens up the "horse whisperer" approach. Maybe we just do not know how to communicate with such individuals. Clearly, the usual modes did not work.
We do know that violence begets violence. Punishing someone without more to it than that is just brutality. They plan revenge and usually find it in hurting still other victims.
Braithwaite's theory of "Reintegrative Shaming" seems to work. It has been operating at the Redhook Community Justice Center for over a decade, at least, maybe 20 years now. Recividism is low. But the process requires that the perpetrator confront their victim and apologize.
That said, though, I once found a book of photographs of perpetrators and victims who met. It was not always a tearful reconciliation. As I recall, in at least two cases, the perpetrator (one of them a rapist), laughed derisively at his victim.
"The" problem may be trying to address it as "a" problem. People are individuals. Thus, individual outcomes would seem to be required by individual cases. We must have some standard of judgment and action, of course, but an objective standard is not an absolute standard. Kantian deontology is absolute. We know that does not work well - and in fact Kant insisted that it be followed regardless of how well it actually worked.
As to the $100,000 per year per prisoner, I'd make arrangements to have Mexico, or some other third world country maintain our prisons for all longer sentences. But there would still be a cost and I don't see a way around that - not one that serves the goal of creating an environment that is as consistently free of force, fraud and theft as possible.We could just reduce the costs by paying guards ridiculously low wages, feeding prisoners next to nothing, and housing them hardly at all. We tried that for a hundred years. It did not work out well. Spending more is not the answer, either. My point was only that we throw money at a problem with no substantive understanding of its roots and remedies. Prisons are a failure mode. If you want a history of prisons, I can provide one, but the facts are out there, albeit often hidden in books.
You seem to think that "criminals" are a class of people who can somehow be differentiated from "ordinary" people, or "good folk." Indeed, some can. I think that much crime is genetic. I think also that much crime is learned. Much else is freely chosen. Some people who are "naturally violent" find socially acceptable outlets such as ice hockey and military service.
White collar crime is planfully competent, carried out by people with education, status, and privilege, with full intent and clear understanding. Bernie Madoff can never repay the money he stole. Should we just execute him?
Myself, given that his so-called "victims" were other people at his level who simply abandoned their obligations for due diligence, doing nothing is probably best. Why bother to house him and feed him? And he is being protected from his victims while in state custody. All in all, I fail to see the need for his arrest and conviction. Madoff is a clear case where doing nothing would be appropriate.
And, yet, on the other hand, I point out that the early joiners in his scheme profited immensely for as long as 30 years. Should they not be considered co-conspirators?
Like I said: I have no answers.
I do suggest that if government were run by objective standards, it would cost much less than 10% of GNP. The costs of government today are not merely the accidental consequences of poor implementation of otherwise sound policies.