Should a civilized society lock them up?
#37 | POSTED BY MADBOMBER
Excellent question. There are four basic reasons for sentencing following conviction of a crime. Retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence, and incapacitation.
Retribution is akin to revenge, i.e. we're 'getting back' at the criminal for what he did. My opinion, that's not a moral justification in a civilized society.
Rehabilitation can work, and there are many success stories. Sort of like a dependency program though, the person has to want to participate and apply himself. Prison rehabilitation programs have become better, but still don't have a high success rate. Most successful rehab programs are the transitional style, where the inmates work and learn during the day, but still return to a supervised facility at night.
Deterrence is not largely effective. Your example in #38 illustrates this perfectly. Committed criminals are not deterred by incarceration. For many it's a badge of honor, a place to learn from other criminals and hone their knowledge and skills. You are not truly deterred by the prospect of prison, because as horrible as incarceration seems to you, you don't steal, assault, rape, etc. because of fear of prison, but because you're a decent person who would not do those things to another.
Finally, incapacitation. Meaning removing the criminal from society to prevent further criminal activity. This only works for the time the criminal is incarcerated or otherwise removed, i.e. executed. I do believe this is justification for incarcerating people who will not refrain from criminal activity otherwise.
So to wrap up my long winded answer to your question, yes, we should lock people up with the goal of rehabilitating them or, failing that, to incapacitate them.