Monday, March 4, 2013

Crime escalator

Last night there was a documentary on TV2, Denmark, about the new high security prison in Orange County. It was built in 2006 and aims to be cost effective and secure for both inmates and staff.

The idea is to have 24/7 visual control and the prison is therefore built with a control center in the middle and with four glass cages surrounding the control center.

The entire prison is equipped with cameras everywhere and they claim there are no blind spots.

Another basic philosophy at this prison is that the guards are to have as little contact with the inmates as possible. Only when there is a specific reason, they will intervene. Those situations could be fighting among inmates, suspicion of weapons presence, riots or other rule breaking activities.

As yet another precaution, the most dangerous prisoners are kept in two men cells, where the light is always on, even during the night, when they are supposed to sleep.

In this documentary, the speaker says on more than one occasion:
"Despite all these precautions, the rate of violence, attacks on the guards, murders, rapes and the like seem to go only one way: up!"
As I was watching this documentary, I found myself puzzled... how can it be, that in a civilized society, prisoners are treated like this? It's not only immoral in my eyes, it's stupid! Plain and simple: stupid!

One of the most important things we have learned from the studies made by Maslow more than a century ago, is that if people are deprived of the most basic needs, the frontal laps of the brain ceases control to the spinal chord, thereby diminishing what makes us different from animals: sensing the difference between good and evil - and at the same time turning up the volume of our more basic patterns of behaviour: we become less human and release the animal inside.

So, really it shouldn't be "despite of" these security precautions, but rather because of them.

Now, I realize that some of my American readers may conclude that I wouldn't look at it this way, if it wasn't for the fact, that I'm from Europe. You may be right, but Maslow and his theories still stand and if you want numbers to support my claim, maybe these facts can persuade you:

In the US 1 percent of the population are incarcerated at any given time. In Denmark, where I live, that number is 0.08 percent. I seriously doubt the Dane is generally morally superior to an American...

Are these numbers enough to prove my point?

Probably not, but it should make you wonder if maybe, just maybe, there could be a better way...