August 3, 2006

The deterrent effect of terrible prison conditions

Ezra Klein has a post on the prevalence of prison rape which he describes as a horror that we are all complicit in. I wholeheartedly agree. Prison conditions are atrocious and rape is never something that should be condoned or encouraged. But, there is a flip side to this issue. Sadly, terrible prison conditions are one of the strongest deterrents of criminal behavior. While the death penalty has shown only mixed results in deterring crime, the deterrent effect for terrible prison conditions is astounding.All I am saying is that prison conditions are terrible, but the world outside of prison might become a whole lot worse if we made it free from the violence and rape that now defines it in many people’s minds.