The prison system is built on a fundamental paradox of principles. On the one hand, its defenders make pragmatic, consequentialist arguments like “we need to send a clear message to criminals.” But all evidence points to the fact that harsher sentences, longer bids and worse conditions increase recidivism rather than decrease it. It should be obvious, being imprisoned doesn’t make you a better person. It makes you more hostile to the society that put you there and it makes the rest of society more hostile to you — making it more difficult to live a “normal life” once you’ve been released. When faced with these simple arguments, the “tough on crime” crowd sometimes show their true colors — their objective was never to rehabilitate or deter, but to exact vengeance.
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