Robert H. Outman
Commodity Number P-79939
Criminals and miscreants of all sorts were once subjected to torture and execution, attended by the public, with all the grandeur of a ceremonial spectacle. In some cases, public attendance was mandatory.
In 1790, over two hundred years ago, punishment was modernized by establishing prison models that institutionalized the power to punish, moving it out of public view. Along with English and Flemish models, the new upstart country of the United States introduced Philadelphia's Quaker-run Walnut Street Prison. The new, improved eighteenth century cutting edge technology in punishment set the standard for prisons.*
Since that time, mankind has invented and evolved automobiles, discovered and evolved flight to interplanetary destinations, cured diseases, and discovered DNA, yet the twenty-first century still employs the 1790 standard for institutionalized punishment. Why?
French philosopher Michel Foucault, who studied penality extensively, described these prison models as more of a cause than a cure, saying "Although it is true that prison punishes delinquency, delinquency is for the most part produced in and by an incarceration which, ultimately, prison perpetuates in its turn. The delinquent is an institutional product."*
Foucault was spot-on with his observation. Almost all infamous criminals who committed horrible crimes were alumni of a prison system. Under the guise of rehabilitation and correction, secured behind high walls or lethal electric fences, totalitarian fascism reigns supreme. Corporal punishment is not as prevalent, yielding to more of a psychological torture. Prisoners marinate in an environment of concentrated hate, with excruciatingly long sentences, administered by mean spirited guards. Repeated denials of parole, like a cat playing with a mouse, enhance the torture. One does not have to be a learned French philosopher to recognize the product of such "rehabilitation". In the economy of punishment, it goes well beyond the point of diminishing returns. It bankrupts the purpose. Excessive punishment, be it corporal or psychological, causes the recipient to associate the punishment with the punisher, rather than the act.
Why does this system continue into the twenty-first century? The answer is simple. While ignoring the consequences of exploiting society's fears and thirst for revenge, the economy of punishment has become an economic engine. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, California's penal engine will pump $14 billion into the economy. Nationally, the numbers are in excess of $60 billion yearly. With this kind of money, why change it? A lot of people are fat and happy maintaining a judicial antique. Forty thousand employees of California's system, including the highest-paid guards in the world, will argue to their deaths that there couldn't be a better means of punishment. Lawyers, judges, prosecutors, vendors, suppliers, and unions will endorse the current prison system as the best that money can buy.
Prisons have become huge money makers. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is a private prison system listed on the stock exchange. The old Quaker system has become a lucrative member in the war against crime, which perpetuates itself by producing an ample supply of delinquents to recycle through the system. Once a person is caught in the system, he becomes a valuable commodity that isn't going to get away. In its own best interest, the fox will always deem chickens to be dangerous.
Finding a solution to the crime problem will require changes to the system for the greater good of society in general, not for the financial greater good of minorities, groups, or corporations. Punishment should not be for financial gain. It should be a sociological/psychological tool for true reform.
What are you doing to bring about change and reform into the twenty-first century?
Written on Saturday, January 2, 2016
A new year; here it is. I woke this morning in the same bed with the same view outside my window. The only thing different was my inner desire for change. I've had two weeks "vacation" from work, allowing me ample time to think about and prepare for a new chapter.
As of late, I have been reviewing my past legal cases and convictions in preparation to file for sentence reduction. The legal-beagle helping me has pointed out a multitude of flaws in my conviction which might have been avoided had the legal system not used my ignorance against me. I realize the public pretender is usually in bed with the DA, but the paid attorney I had in the end should have seen the cabal.
In my observance of my past, I have discovered just how much of a fuck-up I was, all stemming from one common denominator. My record is extensive and, being honest with myself, 95% of those crimes were committed while I was under the influence of some chemical or substance. If ever there was a reason for future sobriety, well....
What have I learned? Few places in this world are more grim than where I am now. I'm surrounded by guard towers and rows of razor wire. My cell is a cramped and decrepit, 7' x 7', with a steel door, and 8" thick concrete walls. It was originally designed for one occupant. My peers are violent, shrewd, and constantly suspicious. Most try to run game on one another, only thinking of themselves. The scabrous economy of prison runs on debts and obligations. I take pride in knowing I owe no one and always do what I say I'm going to do. The close and personal relationships I have formed in nine years can be counted on my fingers (with a couple to spare) and one of those people has since paroled.
For most inmates, it's the inner prison that is most damaging. Some carry profound pain from childhood, feeling worthless because of their crime(s), while holding onto grudges and hate. Many serve their terms and are released, but will forever remain behind bars until they deal with their inner pain. Not long ago, I came to this conclusion and it has changed my outward perception. Personally, my inner pain is not a product of childhood. It came about in my late teens and early 20's, but pain is pain.
I have been involved in several self-improvement groups in past years, most recently NA, and Anger Management and Criminal Thinking. In the beginning I thought the latter would be hokum but, in the last year, I have learned how flawed my thinking was.
Sitting here, this very moment, punching these keys, I'm amazed at how enormously my life has changed since that night, nine years ago. Until recently, the change was only on the outside. Forgiving self and others is a constant work in progress, but something I needed to accomplish for myself. To leave an old life behind one needs to open oneself to change and let go of past bitterness created by it.
Though I have several years to go, I feel this new year is a positive start in a new direction.
God Bless ALL.
Letters to the Editor
Re: Your "Principles of Liberty" article
Thank you, Sam, for this article. I've had similar thoughts on this issue, but never got around to writing them.
—Steve, of Wahiawa, Hawaii
Thank you for giving us something different to think about!
.... Life in Silicon Valley has devolved into a constant fight for money. However, you are continuing to fight for freedom in a way I appreciate.
—Sir Donald the Elusive
Sam Aurelius Milam III
•Any proper study of the martial arts will involve not just learning the combat skills, but also learning ways to avoid having to use them.
•Child abuse doesn't necessarily justify taking a child away from his parents. Indeed, taking a child away from his parents is a worse form of child abuse than most of the things that are used to justify taking a child away from his parents. Here's a case in point. I once heard a woman advocate that allowing a child to get fat is a form of child abuse and justifies taking the child away from his parents. The longer such nonsense continues, the worse it will get. See For the Children, on page 1 of the June 2002 issue.
•A legitimate jurisdiction is voluntary. If it isn't voluntary, then it isn't a legitimate jurisdiction. It's a form of slavery.
Preying, They Do Not Pray
Sam Aurelius Milam III
The Christian activists are still demanding prayer in the schools. Are they crazy? The schools can't prevent a student from praying, if that's what he wants to do.
Anybody can pray, any time, anywhere. He can pray as the Nazarene instructed, in his room. It's like a parable. I understand it to mean praying inside of himself, with the door shut, in secret, where only God will hear him. If God hears him, then who else matters?
The Christian activists don't even know what prayer is. They think that prayer is standing in a row and reciting a ritual, or listening to one. That isn't prayer. That's theatrics.
Apparently, the Christian activists don't even read their own holy book. If they did, then they'd heed the instructions of their teacher, noted above.
Here's another possibility. Maybe the Christian activists are among those "others" that the Nazarene mentioned, with regard to parables.
Maybe in seeing, the Christian activists do not see, in hearing they do not understand, and in reading the words of their own teacher, they do not have a clue.
Of course, I might be wrong. Maybe they're not clueless at all. Maybe they just have a plan. Maybe they're lying about their agenda. Maybe they're not trying to allow prayer in the schools. Maybe they're trying to impose prayer in the schools. Maybe they're trying to force all students, of whatever attitude or persuasion, to pray against their wills, to a God in whom they do not believe. Maybe they're trying to force the schools to impose formal, sanctioned, standardized prayers, as a matter of policy.
The imposition and enforcement of religious dogma has always been a routine practice of religious activists. The Massacre of Verden, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and many other such sorry situations, all committed in the name of God, come easily to mind. The only important difference, from time to time and from place to place, has been the kind and the level of brutality that the religious activists have used. Whatever the tactics, the consequences of evangelistic religious activism are unacceptable. It's important for a person to be able to choose his own religion. It's even more important for a person to be able to choose to not have any religion at all. If our much vaunted, allegedly enlightened notion of freedom of religion is to have any value beyond Christian propaganda, then it must necessarily include the idea of freedom FROM religion.
Two Blondes and Two Horses
As Retold by Sam Aurelius Milam III
Two blondes bought two horses, one for each blonde. When they got back to the homestead, they realized that they'd need some way to remember which blonde owned which horse. They thought about it for a while and decided to trim the hair off of the tail of one of the horses. Since one of the blondes wore her hair long and the other blonde wore her hair short, they'd be able to remember that the horse with the trimmed tail belonged to the blonde with the short hair.
That worked for a while but, one day, the blondes noticed that the hair was growing back on the horse's tail. Soon, they wouldn't be able to tell the difference. They thought about it and decided to trim the hair off of the mane of the horse that belonged to the blonde with the short hair. That way, it would be easy for them to remember that the blonde with the short hair owned the horse with the trimmed mane.
That worked for a while but, one day, they noticed that the hair was growing back on the horse's mane. They didn't know what to do so they asked their brunette friend. She suggested that maybe one horse was bigger than the other and that they should measure them. So they did and, sure enough, the black horse was taller than the white one.
My thanks to the following: SantaClara Bob; my mother; Betty; Eric, of Ione, California; Lady Jan the Voluptuous; Sir Donald the Elusive; and Robert, of Chowchilla, California.
Man Jokes, Not for Women
What's the Name of a Man Jokes
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor