Saturday, August 27, 2011

Our moral failure

You sometimes have to wonder what currently-accepted practice will be looked back on with horror by future generations.  I've read a lot of people who think it will be the way that we treat animals, but I think the more likely and obvious one is how we treat our prisoners.  We give their labor to giant corporations, keep them in unsafe conditions, and aren't selective enough about who ends up in the system.

  No one wants to extradite criminals to our courts because of our capital punishment habits.  Getting our criminals back after they flee is a lot harder than it needs to be, and I don't think our error-prone death penalty is worth that trouble.

It's almost impossible to envision the moral innovations of the future, and "how we treat our prisoners" may soon sound like, "how we treat our slaves."  To modern ears,  the "treatment" is trumped by the horror of "our slaves."  I'd like to believe that someone can come up with something more useful and less expensive, traumatic, or inhumane than prisons.  Imprisoning people for their crimes is hardly an ideal way of reacting to socially-maladaptive behavior.  But who knows, maybe there's no ideal way to deal with it.  
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