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Aw, poor widdle terrorist!

I know you’re all torn up to hear that Eric Rudolph is mis­er­able in prison.1

“Using soli­tary con­fine­ment, Super­max is designed to inflict as much mis­ery and pain as is con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly per­mis­si­ble,” he wrote in a let­ter.

No, real­ly? That’s part of that whole deter­rent fac­tor, ya know? Jail isn’t sup­posed to be a vaca­tion. Maybe you should have con­sid­ered the pos­si­bil­i­ty of los­ing a lit­tle time in the moun­tains before you took to being a bomber, Rudolph?

Of course, he still has his life to com­plain about, unlike some of his vic­tims.

My real ques­tion, I sup­pose, is why is this news? What is our atten­tion being redi­rect­ed away from?


3 comments to Aw, poor widdle terrorist!

  • This would be all well and good, it’s just that harsh­er pun­ish­ments demon­stra­bly have no effect what­so­ev­er on deter­rence rates. Improv­ing detec­tion rates do increase deter­rence, how­ev­er, and also have the added bonus of not tor­tur­ing or oth­er­wise mis­treat­ing peo­ple.

    Of course, for most crimes you sim­ply can’t deter peo­ple; crimes of pas­sion, crimes of com­pul­sion, crimes result­ing from a ratio­nal cost-ben­e­fit analy­sis (mur­der­ing some­one for their life insur­ance, for exam­ple).

    Either way, mis­treat­ing pris­on­ers solves noth­ing except sat­is­fy­ing those who crave to mis­treat oth­ers. We lock up peo­ple because they com­mit crimes against oth­er human beings; that does not give us the right to com­mit crimes against them. Crim­i­nals are human, and what sep­a­rates us from crim­i­nals is that we respect oth­er human beings. Throw­ing that out of the win­dow sim­ply low­ers us to their lev­el.

    I find it quite hor­ri­fy­ing that some­one liv­ing in the sup­posed land of the free—who pre­sum­ably oppos­es the tyran­nous gov­ern­ment of the world’s dictatorships—endorses the gov­ern­men­t’s mis­treat­ment of those it oppos­es.

  • cyn

    I don’t think he’s being mis­treat­ed at all. In fact, if you fol­low the link to the arti­cle, you’ll find he isn’t being tor­tured or any­thing — he’s sim­ply being held in a max­i­mum secu­ri­ty prison. He’s lost his free­dom.

    I absolute­ly believe he should have been giv­en the death penal­ty instead of being in that prison. He isn’t going to be “reha­bil­i­tat­ed” in any way. He’s going to be in that prison for the rest of his life, at a very high cost. It would be bet­ter for him and for every­one else if he were sim­ply put to death.

    Bet­ter detec­tion rates? I have no idea what you’re refer­ring to there, but it was­n’t too hard to notice the bomb­ings Rudolph com­mit­ted. Should his crim­i­nal ten­den­cies have been detect­ed ear­li­er? That would have been good, yes. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, as far as I know, the clos­est he came to any kind of trou­ble that would have got­ten him into treat­ment was the sup­posed mar­i­jua­na use that got him kicked out of the mil­i­tary.

  • There is absolute­ly no rea­son to keep him locked in a tiny cell for 23 hours a day; it’s just restric­tion for restric­tion’s sake. He would have also lost his free­dom if you’d have locked him up in a well-secured prison but still giv­en him ade­quate exer­cise time, space, con­tact with oth­er human beings, etc. He’d still be just as much of a dan­ger to soci­ety (i.e. none at all) and it would cost just as lit­tle to house him.

    As for the death penal­ty, it costs more than impris­on­ing some­one for life, FYI, and comes with a pletho­ra of addi­tion­al problems—the fal­li­bil­i­ty of pros­e­cu­tors being one major one, the hypocrisy of decry­ing mur­der while mur­der­ing crim­i­nals being anoth­er.

    Detec­tion rates are the pro­por­tion of crimes com­mit­ted that are actu­al­ly detect­ed and the per­pe­tra­tors pros­e­cut­ed. Harsh­er pun­ish­ments do not deter peo­ple (and this has been shown time and time again), since crim­i­nals know that—in the vast major­i­ty of cases—they sim­ply won’t be caught; they bal­ance risk and pun­ish­ment and no mat­ter how harsh the pun­ish­ment, low detec­tion rates bal­ance it out. You could have 100% detec­tion rates and absolute­ly no pun­ish­ment aspect to prison, and all crimes would be deterred; this does­n’t work the oth­er way.

    In this case the per­pe­tra­tor has been caught, but that the prospect of life in a super­max prison ipso fac­to did absolute­ly noth­ing to deter him.

    In con­clu­sion, I reit­er­ate what I said before: harsh pun­ish­ments solve absolute­ly noth­ing except sati­at­ing the gen­er­al pub­lic’s lust for revenge. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on whether you enjoy that revenge, I guess.