The revolving door of the criminal justice system
Dalrymple says (from 0:45) that he disagrees with the idea that prison should be, as he puts it,
a kind of hospital for criminals. That means you are saying criminals are ill.
The purpose of prison should be
the reduction of crime in the population, and the protection of the rest of the population.
The humanitarian theory of punishment is
very cruel. It is compatible both with ridiculous leniency and with revolting cruelty. If your theory is that punishment should be effective, it places no limits on what you can do to people.
Dalrymple points to the error
in thinking that prisons are there to reform people. It’s very good if they do — I have no objection — but that is not their purpose.
Most criminals, Dalrymple explains,
- stop being criminal at the age of 35 to 39. In a sense they reform themselves
- have done between five and 20 times as much as they have ever been accused of doing
If you put these two things together, Dalrymple says,
it would be an argument for longer prison sentences rather than shorter ones. In the end this would reduce the number of prisoners rather than increase them, because often it’s a revolving door: they come out, they commit another crime. It’s a very good scheme of employment for lawyers.