Punishment: A Failed Social Experiment

Punishment: A Failed Social Experiment

2011, Society  -   47 Comments
Ratings: 8.00/10 from 17 users.

Punishment: A Failed Social ExperimentPunishment: A Failed Social Experiment provides a detailed, critical analysis of the current legal and justice system generally in operation across the world whilst also providing potential solutions which work on preventing crime and creating a much more socially sustainable society.

The documentary film is currently in production, consisting of interviews with various academics, social activists and campaigners all of whom provide information on where we're going wrong when we treat offenders, and what we could head towards in regards to the solutions available.

It must be recognized that in order for change to occur in the system of punishment and justice, wider societal and cultural issues need to be addressed - as this documentary film recognizes that there are inherent flaws in our current social system.

Although most sources of information originate from the United Kingdom, it is reasonable to state that the topics examined will apply to many other nations.

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47 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Odd Sigve Tendenes Tengesdal

    I`m proud of what we have accomplished in Norway when it comes to our prison system. Only 20% of inmates re offend. That can`t be said about America witch has 50%

    1. robertallen1

      And what has your prison system done to effect such a figure?

    2. Odd Sigve Tendenes Tengesdal

      We see the individual as a human being and try to change the things that made h*r offend in the first place. Don`t get me wrong prison is no vacation resort like many critiques would call it. You`re still a prisoner, but we see the removal from society as punishment enough. this has positive results in that our prison system don't produce more hardened people with a degree in criminal activities at the rate as US prisons do. Instead you get people with the skills they need to integrate into society. Of course the solution is not perfect, but better then most other alternatives in use today.

    3. Hodd

      As you should be. It represents a huge step in the right direction when it comes to dealing with criminal behavior and sets an example to the world. Well done.

    4. Jimmy

      Sir. Is the research you got the %50 from current? If so how current?

  2. Jezmond John Farren

    Talking about prison policy from a detached standpoint overlooks the fact that the general public plays a massive part in proliferating the criminality they hate and fear. If we open our eyes we will soon realise that capitalism fuels a lack of resposibility for the future and past by allowing a free-market, negligent of greed, sexual promiscuity and violence.

    When we quit employing soldiors to prolong our false sense of security, band together beyond vested interest and criminalise weapons and violence all together; then it will become clear that the real criminals are those who prolong sepratism in order to capitalise on suffering. It may sound far affetched to envision a world where armies and weapons were merely relics of barbarism but consider this, if this initiative was taken, then criminal violence would be alot easier to tell apart from political violence because all violence would be criminal. The industrial military complex needs to die.

    The military and police services could then be used to passify and if need be contain violent offenders. If you still battle to envision a gun-free form of social security check out some of the scientific break throughs with millitary passification devices. You've seen this stuff in the movies and as with many sci-fi films like 2000 Leaugues Under the Sea (sub-marine pre-empt), fiction can easily become fact when enough people believe in an idea.

    Initially all the patriots and macho-hunters with sexual inadequicy complexs would feel a bit sad but hey you gotta evolve sometime right. There is one thing I can guarentee though and thats that many of the people running military and prison institutions today would be the first to be constrained as their addiction to power and violent control would finally be exposed. Exercising physical force doesn't make you strong, acknowledging the forces of human nature and balancing them from within, now thats strength.

    1. robertallen1

      Is English your first language?

    2. Jezmond John Farren

      Forgive me for failing to reproduce the Queen's English...

  3. Robert Fairhurst

    far too much talking head with that Scottish professor. Got bored of him pretty quickly

    1. ndb8

      You're impatience has meant that you have missed out on a lot of useful information.

  4. Zoidberg 1201

    I've always believed that you can't simultaneously punish and rehabilitate.
    positive reinforcement (incentives) has been shown to be a considerably more effective leash than punishments.

    Frankly what most recidivists seem to lack is a stake in society.

    Society emphasizes won't the can't do and have, not what they can.

    1. Jezmond John Farren

      Your still missing the point. Talking about criminals and prison policy from a detached angle negates the fact that the general public plays a massive part in proliferating a criminal climate.

  5. Jezmond John Farren

    I am a firm believer in communal psychology. If people are only ever treated as individuals with individual problems then the number of solutions will always be marginalised but when the community is studied, understood and treated as a whole, then violence and crime can be more sucessfully prevented.

    I am not saying that crime is purely deterministic but just think for a moment what contributes to child abuse both mental and physical- pressure on the part of parents who cannot maintain their own lives, let alone children. What causes this pressure? -Belief in economic progress as the primary means to maintain social security. Endless dismissal and undermining of any one or anything exposing, this negligent abortion of justice.

    The employment industry is all about production and profit, never the enrichment or sustainability of society. Security forces essentially prioritise the safety of banks, corporations and not suprisingly goverment operations. The political system inadvertantly conceals this mechanism as part of its struggle to maintain the illusion of authority. This confusion ultimately serves to exploit the inherant cohesion, creativity and ingenuity that vitalises human nature.

    Frozen terror pollutes the hearts of 'civil-self-servants' just as much as the criminals they right off as evil. Murderers and rapists often begin with their own suffering of injustice during childhood, then if offered help they might choose to work towards change. Ironically cappitalist disciplinarians suffer from a criminal form of ignorance that is never considered long enough to be accounted for, let alone amended.

    'Proud Ambitious Fear'

    Wake up world we are all responsible for each other!

  6. Ch H

    An unfocused and in the end meandering treatment of a hugely important problem.

    The film's major insight was that when a criminal legal system emphasizes moral condemnation, then of course punishment sounds like the right response. But it's a response that doesn't help anybody.

    The film thus opens up the question of what the purpose of the criminal legal system should be, and what structures would achieve that outcome. But it doesn't offer any answers.

    The film does offer one staggering fact: In the United States, prison guards with twenty years' service have an average life expectancy of only 58 years. In Britain, prison guards die on average within two years of their retirement date.

    Such a stunning mortality rate among the guards seems to prove that a system of punishment punishes everybody---not just the punished, but also the punishers. Nor can a punishment mindset be good for the citizenry. It feeds a sense of self-satisfaction and vengeance that leeches into other areas of our lives & makes for bad policy.

  7. KsDevil

    People are basicly lazy. It's easier to make quick assessments and use solutions of convienience. There's just so much to know and understand so we shluf off the whole mess onto others and self-justfy our decision is correct. If mistakes are made, well, someone else made it, not you. We are jsut too tired to deal with society. Let the human race sleep it's way to extinction. All these annoying thinkers do is try to keep us awake with their realizations of truth. we know our world is a mess. Just roll over and let it all end.
    Then there are the rest of us who actually want us all to survive and work toward an improved world.

    1. extremepain

      From Kansas or not (and not is so much better), I think you are my common sense posting hero as of today.......An Hero! (its meant to be spelled that way...some will know this) Cheers, man!

    2. evo

      an hero is to commit suicide.

    3. Guest


  8. IR8PIR8

    @ geamala- I take it you have never been incarcerated for an infraction of the law...No DUI's or anything like that? If not then you are indeed lucky. I had the misfortune to be incarcerated after having a nervous breakdown and thought that the solution might be at the bottom of a bottle....I didn't find it there...Go figure. But during my incarceration I was attacked twice and put in the hospital once just for the mere fact that I wasn't as big as most of the population there and an easy target. The guy that put me in the hospital didn't know me as all he was doing was trying to fight extradition to another state and thought he could do so by getting another charge. It didn't work for him but left me in a state where I will kill rather than be incarcerated again. Not only do I fear closed spaces I feel uncomfortable in open spaces due to being locked up for 7 months. The system does not work and the only thing career inmates learn is new ways to terrorize society. Like Jimmy Buffet said " Don't talk about the Islands if you've never seen them"

    1. geamala

      Please don't assume that I don't think that the private (for profit) Corporate corrections industry doesn't encourage corruption in the justice system and actually profit from such things as mandatory minimum sentences for such things as narcotic possession and other minor non violent crimes. I understand that there is a clear financial incentive for the large corrections companies to have as many people incarcerated as possible in order to maximize their profits. That, to me is a totally different subject all together. I don't think that minor, non violent offenders ought be locked up. Nor do I expect that prisons fix people up and make better able to adjust to normal society. But to simply say that incarceration is merely state imposed revenge is bluntly stupid.

  9. geamala

    I'd like to see what these guys would think if they had their children abducted, raped and murdered. I can't believe that guy would try to assert that punishment is simply a revenge motive by a cruel and unjust government. I mean get ****** real!! I recently watched Louis Theroux's Weird Weekend in the US prison system. Some of the people in these prisons are utter animals who care not in the slightest for others and see anyone but themselves as potential prey. There is a reason they are locked up, It's because they are incapable of not harming innocent people. This "doco" was ******* garbage. I'd like to see these m***** spend a night in jail. see how they feel after seeing the kind of people who are thankfully locked up.

    1. ndb8

      @geamala - I agree that people who pose a threat to society need to be removed from society so that people are protected, however, prison doesn't actually work on preventing crime - the objective should be to prevent rather than simply wait for a crime to happen then lock the person up. An advanced society would analyze how these prisoners are made into 'animals', which is the study of the environment they were raised in and what influenced their behavior. When you say that this documentary is garbage you're throwing years and years of useful knowledge gained by criminologists/social scientists over a long space of time. Stop thinking emotionally - it jeopardizes critical thought about these important issues.

    2. Brandon Costa

      You're reply is a very resonable one, but it is emotional. Which is ok, but if the possibility is out there that this animal you talk about was made to be an animal, wouldnt you want to try to establish a system that would have prevented this person from being an animal in the first place?

    3. geamala

      Yes well I wish it were that simple, as in cause and effect. I know from my own personal experience that some people are born monsters, not made. This soft and fluffy attitude toward criminality isn't entirely invalid but can only go so far. Love bombing hardened violent criminals again can only go so far. I guesse perhaps you might want to visit a prison yourself and see how far gone and beyond rehabilitation some people are.

      I find that people have a habit of projecting their own value systems on to others and make the expectation that people think and feel and react like they do. I am just trying to tell you that some people are just born very very different to you or I. And would not give the slightest **** about killing someone to get anything they wanted.
      Are we not to section them from the rest of civilised society?
      Some people are born with low IQs and if you have seen "The Bell Curve" they explain the correlation between low IQ and a propensity toward criminal behavior. How are we to treat low IQ?

    4. Brandon Costa

      Well I need to look at some numbers but I believe that the percentage of "natural born killers" is very low compared to the actual numbers of killers in prison. Again I need to check the statistics but I know that most people on death row were physical/sexually abused as children. Even the maniac Charles Manson has a background of multiple homes and facilities as a child.

      As far as what you said regarding IQ "correlation between low IQ and a propensity toward criminal behavior", perhaps this is true, but the key word here is propensity. Meaning, yes they are more prone to violence, but that doesnt mean they cant be reared for non violence, if we nuture them in such a way that someone with a low IQ needs to be nurtured

      A pit bull has a propensity for violence but if raised correctly the dog wont act out this way.

    5. North

      I hope you have that same attitude toward the thousands of upper-income "respectable" thieves who are never prosecuted or who serve very little jail time because they are rich.
      By the way, there's also a link between low intelligence and a belief in so-called "conservative" values.
      The Bell Curve is a theory, portions of which are widely disputed. If you remember, everyone used to believe the earth was flat, PMS was all in women's heads, and the U.S. didn't overthrow governments either.

    6. geamala

      Why on earth would you assume that I would not have the same attitude toward white collar criminals? I completely don't get how anything in what I have said would at all prompt such a question.

      As per "The Bell Curve" it is actually a very well thought out and thoroughly scientific theory. To compare it against archaic ideas of a flat earth is stupid. Get real! And yes it is highly politically incorrect and thus controversial. I would not suggest that "The Bell Curve" is at all a conservative manifesto or a convenient justification for racists to claim superiority either in fact the book states clearly against such applications in the preface. When I came across it I found it to be well researched and thought out. I would not consider myself to particularly conservative but when I read it seemed to explain so much and I could not fault many of the conclusions that were put forth, regardless of whether it conflicted with what I would prefer to see in the world or my own sense of political correctness.

    7. KsDevil

      Even if someone was born a monster, the fact remains there is a need to find out how and institute methods of dealing with it that doesn't make matters worse.
      The number of prisons and the populations in those prisons is increasing. That is a clear sign the current way of thinking is not working.

    8. geamala

      Well if you are going to try to reduce the amounts of people winding up in prisons and then coming out worse then you'd need to look at the whole thing from a more wholistic nature. People from low socio economic backgrounds and impoverished/disadvantaged areas are more likely to lean toward crime. Having a healthy community and a healthy economy are vital to this along with equal opportunities across class and culture. Also mandatory sentences for minor non-violent "crimes" are not a good way to go, (although it works out quite well for the corporate corrections industry). But crime is like weeds in your garden it will never go away but would preferably be reduced. Healthy prosperous communities where opportunities and education are accessible is the best place to start.

    9. extremepain

      Yes its working. Most prisons are privatized, and profitable from govt cash and subsidies. It is working exactly as they want. A surface issue.....the 3 strikes law is childishly named after a game, and 3rd offenses tat get u put away for life are often low grade misdemeanors or unpaid traffic tics....not making it up to sound alarmist....Ive just come into all of this knowledge over the last 6 months. One in 10 adults are in prison in the US....The highest rate amongst industrialized nations. Its more like 4 in 10 African Americans, 3 in 10 Hispanics....but we all knew the number would be skewed that way.

      They get those driving while Black or Latino violations.

      Working morally? Good Lord, no. Working to their ends? Oh yes.

    10. KsDevil

      The point of the documentry was to ask the question "why are they like that and how can it be prevented from happening again?" It does no good to rant about past events or how criminals are and then end the conversation. That doesn't solve anything.

    11. extremepain

      If Ks stands for Kansas, I will fall out of my hospital bed from shock that there is another functioning brain in the state I reside in. It would be good to know there is at least one other :)

  10. robertallen1

    A very boring, poorly put together documentary, consisting of a series of "experts" caviling against the criminal justice system over a background of newsreels and harp music and offering no constructive solutions.

  11. Benjamin Clarkson

    I hate most docs on this site because they are all radical leftist sludge. This one is balanced and an excellent look into the issues. 10/10

    1. adilrye

      Well, I don't know about the rating you gave, but I do agree finding docs on here that isn't radical leftist propaganda is quite hard from time to time :P

  12. Judy Lehrman

    Incarceration isn't just for a punishment, it's to remove them from others, especially in cases of violence, but for many other reasons also. To remove them from opportunities to repeat the crime. Why some people think of it only as punishment is beyond me.

    1. Brandon Costa

      I think most people agree with that. I know I want anyone who would cause harm to my family off the street. But we could build as many prisons as we want, we could even execute the convicted for all crimes, but that wont solve the deeper issues in society on what is causing us to commit crime in the first place. And the reasons are numerous. But most people on death row have attributing factors that are external in nature. Abusive parents, absent parents, etc etc. Of course this in itself is extremely debatable. You could say its all about bad choices. Again, debatable.

      As far as incarceration, I know many CO's and there is no rehabilitation going on. Most have the worst impression of inmates and they just want to go to work and go home unscathed.

      But I have a solution for those already in prison. Mandatory Meditation!! The whole prison sitting in the yard meditating for an hour each day. Each prison has a shaved buddhist monk overseeing leading the mantras. LOL..Could work?

    2. Ch H

      "Could work?" Does work! (Mandatory part not necessary.) It's been tried in India with much success. For prisoners and COs both. Here's a stimulus package for President Obama to push through Congress: grants for yoga and meditation teachers to teach in prisons. Though we'd probably need a mandatory meditation program for federal lawmakers to make them see the light.

    3. princeton

      well because it simply ends at incarcerating them and not actually providing counseling or other services to help them change their behavior and prep them for a normal life.. lock em up and throw away the key is nothing but punishment

  13. Ray Stewart

    I loved this doc, Its in-depth look and analysis is very well put together. I am what you might call a History Buff but I am also in to docs that puts society under the microscope (to quote a famous man). 10/10

  14. dmxi

    i'm using a quote in my own words:
    '' you can judge a society by it's treatment of their incarcerated.''

    1. Brandon Costa

      Thats a great quote!

    2. Plonkette

      Does this mean we're suckers because we treat criminals better then the regular population?

    3. President_Emil

      If you refer to the banksters as ciminals, you´re right.

    4. dmxi

      if you are a citizen of the u.s.of a., then yes !as you wisely state your criminals are at large & are running your political (+economical) affairs!that was a slightly unfair statement as it applies to all american democratic subordinate nations ,so please excuse my 'french' .

  15. Brandon Costa

    I really wanted to like this doc, but what a yawner. I agree with it though. Id like to see more docs on the subject. I believe society really needs to wake up on the subject of crime and punishment. Not enough attention is given to the root causes of criminal behavior. It was very interesting to note the low life expectancy of CO's after retirement.

    1. Malchik

      It doesn't help that prisons are privatized and have their sticky fingers influencing law enforcers.

      Somehow, they made crime and terrorism a commodity.