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March 24, 2009

Daily roundup

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Jason Taylor

Mr. Louries point goes only so far. The State IS at least partly there to bring vengeance. It is for that people are willing to abstain from blood-feud. It is also obviously to keep criminals away-that is one of the few things prison succeeds at at least for awhile. And for the state to overemphasize rehabilitation would be to credit it wih the vocation of priests. And it would imply that an institution which is in the power of people whose chief qualification is skill in political campaigning would be good at instilling moral values. Not to mention the absurd idea that people can be rehabilitated by being sealed away with large numbers of people like them. The only sane expectations from prison, are retribution and quarantine.
As for alledged "discrimination" what does he expect? An arrest quota system?

Jason Taylor

For Mr Lourie to demand that the State abstain from vengeance is, aside from demanding that it abstain from one of the few tasks it can do reasonably well, demanding that the state force other people to turn their cheaks. Turning the other cheak was a command given by God to individuals.
To carry out this policy would be as absurd as for the State to refrain from hearing lawsuits because in fact it is more Christian to make up one's quarrel before hand. In both cases the same applies. Justice is the right of one who has been wronged and turning the other cheak is an injunction to graciously renounce ones rights not to deny that of others.
Furthermore and equally important, the concept of rehabilitation implies that the State has the competance to say when people are rehabilitated. Which is extending the States power over people's minds, and taking away any logical reason for limit to sentances. As retribution is not the question under Mr Lauries account there is no reason why the state cannot shut away people indefinitely until they are "cured". Or indeed to shut away anyone who is inimical to the public good. Like say, pundits with absurd ideas.


The modern prison system is the degraded result of a reform movement issuing from the Wesleyan revivals in Britain in the 19th century. It was indeed intended to perform the work of moral reform. There is a reason why the cells are called 'cells'. That is intentional. They were supposed to be places for the prisoners to read the Bible and contemplate their sins, God's goodness, holiness and wrath, leading to genuine repentance.

As Jason points out, there may be a root flaw in this conception. PM has some suggested reforms of the prison system that we ought to consider.

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