[b:4b3e435587]Its been almost 80 years since this was written. and yet our criminal system has only gotton worse and more aimed at the poor and at racial minorities. I would submit a humanist would begin his/her arguement something like this:[/b:4b3e435587]
"The prison does not prevent anti-social acts from taking place. It increases their numbers. It does not improve those who enter its walls. However it is reformed it will always remain a place of restraint, an artificial environment, like a monastery, which will make the prisoner less and less fit for life in the community. It does not achieve its end. It degrades society. It must disappear. It is a survival of barbarism mixed with Jesuitical philanthropy.
"The first duty of the revolution will be to abolish prisons - those monuments of human hypocrisy and cowardice. Anti-social acts need not be feared in a society of equals, in the midst of a free people, all of whom have acquired a healthy education and the habit of mutually aiding one another. The greater number of these acts will no longer have any raison d’Õtre. The others will be nipped in the bud.
"As for those individuals with evil tendencies whom existing society will pass on to us after the revolution, it will be our task to prevent their exercising these tendencies. This is already accomplished quite efficiently by the solidarity of all the members of the community against such aggressors. If we do not succeed in all cases, the only practical corrective still will be fraternal treatment and moral support.
"This is not Utopia. It is already done by isolated individuals and it will become the general practice. And such means will be far more powerful to protect society from anti-social acts than the existing system of punishment which is an ever-fertile source of new crimes." - [i:4b3e435587]Peter Kropotkin (from Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets; 1927)[/i:4b3e435587]
[b:4b3e435587]Interesting essays on similar concerns:[/b:4b3e435587]
www.naturalism.org/criminal.htm#Young - "In the light of science, we can see that there is no ultimately blameworthy agent, independent of the conditions that shape a person, that merits either execution or degradation by punitive imprisonment. In the light of our best ethical instincts, we can see that retribution is unworthy of us as creatures who seek our better natures. We can and must deny its legitimacy if we are to make moral progress and build a more enlightened society." - Tom Clark
www.naturalism.org/maximizing_liberty.htm - "In a deterministic universe, we understand that a criminalÌs career is not a matter of an unconditioned personal choice, but fully a function of a complex set of conditions, genetic and environmental, that interact to produce the offender and his proclivities. Had we been in his shoes in all respects, we too would have followed the same path, since there is no freely willing self that could have done otherwise as causality unfolds."
Two by Ted Honderich: