General Question

Paradox25's avatar

Is this craziness?

Asked by Paradox25 (10058 points ) February 17th, 2013

Lawmakers in Great Britian are actually considering proposing a new policy that would almost effectively close down women’s prisons. This proposed policy is discussed here, and the Women’s Justice Task Force explains the justification of this idea by assuming that women criminals are more likely to be victims themselves of some type of injustice, and less violent, so this policy would be justified in their minds. In fact judges in Great Britian are already encouraged to give women more lenient sentences over men for the same crimes.

Is this a sensible policy or not in your opinion?

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21 Answers

bookish1's avatar

This does sound ludicrous to me. At best, it’s paternalism.

“Fiona Cannon, chairwoman of the taskforce, said: ‘Instead of a punishment of last resort, women’s prisons are now seen as stop-gap providers of drug detox, social care, mental health assessment and treatment and temporary housing – a refuge for those who have slipped through the net of local services.’”

So men do not need drug rehab, social care, and mental health treatment?

CWOTUS's avatar

I’ve often wondered about the exact purpose of prisons in our modern age. Is it “to punish”, and somehow injure the offenders? Or is it just to sequester them so that they don’t hurt others by re-offending?

It seems to me that the sequestration could be (and often is) accomplished in less punitive ways, and the “punishment” aspect is, frankly, cruel and apparently more damaging to the rest of society.

I’d be inclined to give this plan a listen, and withhold judgment for now.

Unbroken's avatar

Really! That is the worst possible thing I could hear this morning.

All we need is a bunch of criminal female devients ruining women’s credibility.

If they have a social justice issue which no doubt they do it should be raised with both sexes.

And the lenience for women already in place… Well in Alaska court systems our judges seem to have a slant toward men. Against women. But this is mostly DV and divorce cases. Yes I went and watched in multiple hearings. Not having first hand knowledge of the judges training or natural inclinations in Britain I cannot accurately determine whether this was to counteract what was already happening.

So at face value I am embarrassed and incensed that this is in practice.

I wonder if the heads of these movements were men or women? I will have to go check now.

glacial's avatar

Sounds as crazy as some of the things I’ve seen proposed by US lawmakers. Proposing it doesn’t make it law. There’s no way they could shut down only women’s prisons. That’s not going to happen.

I’m not going to read all of the articles linked, but the fact that a “men’s rights” website is warning that this will happen raises red flags for me… I’d want to look at the proposal before I actually believe that anyone is advocating shutting down women’s prisons, or anything even close to that. I suspect that it is something far, far less extreme, but being used for fearmongering.

Paradox25's avatar

@glacial So a red flag wouldn’t appear if I posted a question about a topic coming from a feminist source? The other links are not involved with the Men’s Rights Movement, and the fact that judges are openly encouraged to give women more lenient sentences in that kingdom are a verified fact.

glacial's avatar

@Paradox25 Believe me, there are plenty of stories that I take with a grain of salt if found on websites advocating women’s rights. I would not see a red flag if it came from, say, a newspaper as opposed to a blog which is clearly taking sides. That’s all I was saying.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@CWOTUS has a sensible observation here.

In the 21st century, why are we using tactics that have not evolved in a 1000 years to punish wrong-doers? We lock them up and forget them. This practice hasn’t changed in an eon.

It seems there ought to be better ideas for both men and women.

Unbroken's avatar

So a little digging and @glacial is right.

I could there is also a ministry of justice and another branch also working for prison reform.

Why is there a women’s justice workforce because there is a women’s prison, there are also rising incarceration levels of women. Why isn’t there a men’s justice workforce, just a guess, but because it has always been a men’s justice world.

They are tackling this issue all around going back to 2011 and it is addressed seperately in newspaper articles because newspaper articles have one subject.

wildpotato's avatar

Love it. I agree with CW and Jake – it would be a step in the right direction. Locking up human beings as punishment – and looking away from or making mock of the horrific problem of rape in prison – is cruel and sadistic. If the proposal is successful, hopefully reforms for men’s facilities will follow.

Paradox25's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake This proposal concerns only not locking women up, and more lenient sentences are already supported for women committing the same crimes. Your talking about how more punishment does not make sense for both men and women, but this proposed legislation, if it would take effect, would punish men while coddling female criminals. I’m trying to address the latter point.

@rosehips How can you say that it has only been a ‘men’s justice world when men get more harsh sentences than women for the same crimes? So if a women is a drug addict we should treat her like a patient, but treat a male drug addict as a criminal? Better yet, a woman murders her boyfriend/husband and she should only get community service, but the guy murdering someone should be treated as a violent offender and get serious prison time?

CWOTUS's avatar

I think one aspect of this idea that merits study regarding different treatment of different genders (as a matter of course) has to do with the observed fact that women are generally less violent than men in the crimes they commit.

If that holds true as a rule, then it makes sense “in general” to try less-secure methods of correcting adult women’s behavior than “locking them up”. It’s worth listening to. If you have female offenders who we expect to be little or no danger to those around them during the term of the “alternative correction”, then that would be the group to experiment with. Hopefully, if the results are positive, the same treatment could be extended to non-violent male offenders, too.

It would be a real pity if “we can’t even consider trying this new method of addressing the criminal judgment and penal system because it doesn’t treat women exactly as badly as it treats men.” How awful would that be?

Google “crabs in a bucket” for the analogy.

Coloma's avatar

Crazy has no gender demarcation lines. Truly an insane proposal IMO.
Mental illness, substance abuse and criminal behaviors are evenly divided amongst the sexes. While males may be more prone to violent acting out there are plenty of violent woman as well. Sure, maybe make some allowances for females that are the victims of domestic abuse or become violent in matters of self defense, but otherwise no. All is fair in crime and females should not be exempt from paying the piper based on gender.

Kropotkin's avatar

If this was focused equally on reforming men’s prisons and looked at the inequality in sentencing between the genders (women are sentenced far more lightly) then I would be inclined to support the proposals. It seems to me that there’s only a focus on these “problems” when it affects women, while men can just be ignored because they’re just not as worthy of attention.

CWOTUS's avatar

What’s crazy is continuing to do what we’ve always done, and expecting better results.

That’s the colloquial definition of insanity, for those who didn’t recognize the paraphrase.

Unbroken's avatar

@Paradox25 from some brief reading this has all been taken out of context. I could stand to do some more before I dig myself in a hole though.

I am currently busy and on my phone when I have time I will link some less biased more reliable links.

burntbonez's avatar

I believe the purpose of the justice system should be to rehabilitate prisoners and prevent future crimes. I believe than punishment encourages future crime. So prisons are useless for my purposes. Unfortunately, most Americans think punishment is a good thing, and they don’t seem to care that criminals get out to commit more crimes.

I think prison should be ended for all people, but if we want to start with women, better that than nothing at all. Of course, this is in Europe and it will never make its way over here, so it’s a moot point.

Paradox25's avatar

@CWOTUS You have a right to your opinion, but what I consider insanity is giving a woman community service for murdering someone in cold blood while giving a guy convicted of the same crime the maximum prison sentence. I could also say that it’s insanity to throw a male drug addict in prison while coddling the female addict.

Why not determine who is less of a threat to society or not by an individual case by case basis rather than just assuming and discriminating because of that person having the audacity to be born the wrong sex?

@burntbonez I hope that it never does attempt to make it to this country, because I and others like me (including many women) would and will do everything in our power to fight such ridiculous legislation that’s so outright sexist. Also the question isn’t a moot point because there are many nonamericans on this site as well.

@Coloma Good response, and I agree with you (like usual). What I really find so pardoxal and outright immoral is the fact that more evidence has shown that the supposedly more aggressive nature of males is actually more the result of societal gender constructs rather than biological reasons. I’ve read a few good books about this topic, and one of them has clearly shown that females have the same capacity (though not physically as strong as males) to be aggressive and commit violence. The behaviors of each sex are usually determined very early on, usually by age two.

In other words we are condemning men for being more violent than their female counterparts when we as society shape and mold gender related behaviors in each sex. We are rewarding women for being less violent because we mold these behavior characteristics into them. We condemn men for being aggressive pigs whose feelings and problems are not considered to be as important as women’s, though as a society we mold this behavior into them.

I used to think that the feminist movement was on my side, and that they stood for gender equality, but now I’m convinced that I was wrong. I also used to think that MRA’s were just made up of disgruntled men, but now I’m a member of one, and it’s not just the topic on this thread that has convinced me that my old way of thinking was wrong. Unfortunately the ‘white knight’ males who support this legislation consist of both progressives and conservatives, so I can’t divide stances on this issue based upon political ideology, but the pure conscience of any decent human being. How is our society going to progress for the better by discriminating against people based upon their race, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexuality, etc?

Coloma's avatar

@Paradox25 Totally agree,and don’t forget that assertive women are often bitches while assertive men are seen as driven go getters. Bah!

glacial's avatar

@Paradox25 I think you are missing the point. The purpose of the “women’s justice” aspect of the proposed changes to the justice system is to address an increase in jail sentences that is not equal between the sexes. From this story, “There has been about a 90% rise in the number of women being sent there over the past 10 years, compared with a 16% rise for the male prisoner population.” The studies are showing that there is an increase in the proportion of women being jailed, even though the rate of crimes committed by women is remaining stable. This means that there is something wrong with sentencing – and that is what they are trying to fix.

No one is “condemning men for being more violent”. I don’t know where you’re getting that from.

Paradox25's avatar

@glacial So they should respond by discriminating against males? I could imagine the outcry (especially on fluther) if race, sexual preference or ethnicity was the determining factors in sentencing someone.

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