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August 23, 2012

"Mass killer's Norwegian prison cell has treadmill, computer access"

Norway prisonThe title of this post is the headline of this notable Fox News report providing a remarkable perspective on how some other nations treat their most notorious criminals.  Here is how the lengthy story begins:

Accused mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik's Norwegian prison cell is more spacious than most New York City apartments.   The confessed killer, who will receive his sentence Friday for killing 77 people in a bombing and shooting rampage at a youth camp, was transported Wednesday to Norway's Ila Prison, just outside Oslo.

The high-security prison offers Breivik not one, but three 86-square-foot cells.  One cell functions as a bedroom, another as an exercise room, complete with treadmill, and the third is a study, where Breivik can use a laptop computer.

Officials at Oslo's Ila Prison say the goal is to eventually transfer Breivik to join other prisoners at section of the jail that offers access to a school that teaches from primary grades through university-level courses, a library, a gym, and allows inmates to work in the prison's various shops and participate in leisure activities.  It's all about a philosophy of humane prison treatment and rehabilitation that forms the bedrock of the Scandinavian penal system. "I like to put it this way: He's a human being.  He has human rights.  This is about creating a humane prison regime," said Ellen Bjercke, a spokeswoman for Ila Prison.

Since Breivik's guilt is not in question, the key decision for the Oslo district court Friday is whether to declare him insane after two psychiatric teams reached opposite conclusions on his mental health.  If found to be mentally fit, Breivik would face a sentence of "preventive detention." Unlike a regular prison sentence -- which can be no longer than 21 years in Norway -- that confinement option can be extended for as long as an inmate is considered dangerous to society.  It also offers more programs and therapy than an ordinary prison sentence.

If declared insane, the confessed killer will be the sole patient of a psychiatric ward that Norway built just for him at the prison, with 17 people on staff to treat him. It cost between 2 million and 3 million kroner ($340,000-$510,000), according to Norway's Health Ministry. The facility, featuring a 100-square-foot cell with a bathroom, would offer Breivik some recreational and educational options with therapists from a psychiatric hospital, but not the breadth of options available to prison inmates. Bjercke estimated the cost of keeping Breivik there at 7 million-10 million kroner a year ($1.2 million-1.7 million).

While in isolation, Breivik has access to TV and newspapers and a computer, but no Internet connection.  He has three cells instead of one in "compensation" for not having access to activities offered to other inmates, Bjercke said.  In addition, prison staff and a priest come see him more often than other inmates, so that he has someone to talk to. "Isolation is torture," Bjercke said.

August 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

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“Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.”~~W. Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

Posted by: Adamakis | Aug 23, 2012 10:26:18 AM

Adamakis --

I don't think this can be called mercy, exactly. It's more like being nuts. To treat this guy as a human being is a stretch, but required by the basic standards of civilized life. To go out of your way to make him comfortable, and spend more on him than on anyone else is the system, is a sign that he's far from the only one in that country with significant mental problems.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 23, 2012 10:48:01 AM

What's the rate of recidivism of prisoners coming out of Norway's humane...I mean criminal-coddling prison system?

what's the recidivism rate of our, as John K put it, Chuck Norris-approved system?

My goodness...could it be that, if you treat people like people the act like people and if you treat them like animals they act like animals? Perish the thought...

Posted by: Guy | Aug 23, 2012 11:37:50 AM

The recidivism rate in Western Europe is comparable to America's. It's the same hard-core 1/2% to 1% of the population that commits the vast majority of serious crimes again and again. I live in Italy where murderers, rapists and robbers usually get out of prison in less than ten years and the Catholic Church is fond of pushing general amnesties for convicts who, surprisingly, won't end up residing in the Vatican City. It doesn't take a genius to guess what so very often happens when violent convicts are released and are still relatively young.

Have a look at this Finnish criminal who committed a triple murder in Sweden. Does his punishment genuinely seem like justice to anyone here? By the way, the time he served was actually on the high end for western Europe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikita_Fouganthine

And never mind petty crimes--I know cops here in Italy who've told me they've literally arrested and released the same pickpocket six times the same day because the law doesn't allow such a person to be locked up at all. Plus, sentences here under four years are automatically suspended.

I think the real question in western Europe is whether the crime and redicivism rate could actually be even lower if they had much longer sentences and truth in sentencing. In my opinion, there are many things in western Europe that Americans would do well to emulate. However, I just cannot count among those things the western Europeans' utter lack of regard for victims of crime and, particularly, their lack of regard for the future victims of crime who will end up brutalized by violent criminals released after serving sentences that were far too short.

Posted by: alpino | Aug 23, 2012 3:50:45 PM

Guy --

"What's the rate of recidivism of prisoners coming out of Norway's humane...I mean criminal-coddling prison system?"

Do you seriously think the general rate of recidivism (which you don't give) tells us anything at all about the propriety of the sentence in a unique, indivdual case?

"...what's the recidivism rate of our, as John K put it, Chuck Norris-approved system?"

Better we should have an Al Sharpton-approved system? Maybe a Blago-approved system?

"My goodness...could it be that, if you treat people like people the act like people and if you treat them like animals they act like animals? Perish the thought..."

How 'bout DOCUMENTING the thought? For example, you might tell us who was treating Breivik "like an animal" BEFORE he decided to act worse than any animal I ever heard of, mowing down dozens of defenseless teenagers simply for the hateful sport of it.

Does it ever occur to you that how people behave is principally for them to control, rather than to be blamed on something -- anything -- else? But even if that does not occur to you, what is the reason that Breivik deserves better and considerably more costly treatment than less malevolent characters also with Norway's "enlightened" prison system?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 23, 2012 4:32:00 PM

I don't think being isolated in three, eight by nine foot cells, with no one to speak to, is coddling the prisoner. I ask any commenter who would want to be detained indefinitely in this manner?

Posted by: Jardinero1 | Aug 23, 2012 6:16:31 PM

I won't venture to say whether these conditions are humane or excessive, but 258 square feet is not bigger than a typical New York City apartment.

Posted by: Jonathan Edelstein | Aug 23, 2012 6:36:52 PM

Jardinero1 --

"I don't think being isolated in three, eight by nine foot cells, with no one to speak to, is coddling the prisoner. I ask any commenter who would want to be detained indefinitely in this manner?"

Since the question has only one answer, it doesn't move the ball much. The more sensible question is whether any commenter who had, with malice aforethought, shot to death dozens of defenseless teenagers for no reason beyond sheer malevolence, believe that he had earned anything better.

What would you say?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 23, 2012 7:07:23 PM

@ Bill:

Do you seriously think the general rate of recidivism (which you don't give) tells us anything at all about the propriety of the sentence in a unique, indivdual case?

Hoo boy. Well, I didn't say anything about the propriety or lack thereof of a sentence in any given case, so I don't really know where that's coming from. Also, the general rate of recidivism in the states is around 50-60% depending on where you're looking. In Norway, it's less! Fun times.

Better we should have an Al Sharpton-approved system? Maybe a Blago-approved system?

One where we treat people like people would suffice pretty well, I think.

How 'bout DOCUMENTING the thought? For example, you might tell us who was treating Breivik "like an animal" BEFORE he decided to act worse than any animal I ever heard of, mowing down dozens of defenseless teenagers simply for the hateful sport of it.

Well, I'll break down the argument for you Bill: rate of recidivism in Norway is less than that of the US. The prison system in Norway seems to treat its prisoners with a modicum of dignity, as opposed to how things run stateside where we justify stripping dignity and humanity from inmates as punishment. Could it be that the lower rate of recidivism is due to the difference in treatment?

And I also don't know where your comment about Brevik is coming from -- maybe from the same place you pulled the comment about sentencing in particular cases. Brevik is a non-sequitur -- he's not a recidivist -- maybe you're just bringing it up so you can get in some hand-wringing about the victims? Awesome.

I'm also not saying anything about what caused Brevik's actions, but I could probably go on for a while listing all the things I'm not saying, so I'll just quit while I'm ahead.

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 23, 2012 10:58:34 PM

Guy --

-- Since your initial note is in a thread extensively discussing the conditions Breivik will face while serving his particular sentence, I don't know why I should take it as anything other than a comment about that sentence.

-- If you don't want an Al Sharpton-approved system, best not to get that ball rolling by sticking your tongue out at a "Chuck Norris-approved system." Once you start the snippy "Mr. X-approved system" ball rolling, I'm going to roll it too. More than one can play!

-- I still don't know, because you still don't say, how or why the rate of recidivism should dictate, or even influence, Breivik's sentence. Should it? If so, why? If not, what's the point of bringing up recidivism in general in discussing an article about Breivik's sentence in particular?

-- "Could it be that the lower rate of recidivism is due to the difference in treatment?"

Uh, could it be that the lower rate of recidivism is due to massive historical, demographic and cultural differences having little or nothing to do with the prison system?

-- "And I also don't know where your comment about Brevik is coming from -- maybe from the same place you pulled the comment about sentencing in particular cases."

I "pulled" my comment focusing on Breivik's sentence from my unremarkable desire to address the subject matter of Doug's entry, that being Breivik's sentence. Not that hard to understand.

-- "Brevik is a non-sequitur -- he's not a recidivist -- maybe you're just bringing it up so you can get in some hand-wringing about the victims? Awesome."

Is there any expression of concern about the victims -- the 77 corpses in this case or victims in general -- that in your view is not "hand-wringing?" Or is "hand-wringing" just the expression you use to toss off the victims as essentially worthless artifacts? Awesome.

-- "I'm also not saying anything about what caused Brevik's actions..."

Of course you're not, AND THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. If you were to say something about the cause of Breivik's behavior, you'd have to admit it had zip to do with his prior treatment by the state, PRECISELY BECAUSE, as you elsewhere acknowledge, Breivik is not a recidivist. This in turn would lead to the uncomfortable truth you insist on avoiding, to wit, that Breivik, not the state, is responsible for his own actions, before his incarceration and after.

Cheers.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 24, 2012 2:57:03 AM

Bill:

Since your initial note is in a thread extensively discussing the conditions Breivik will face while serving his particular sentence, I don't know why I should take it as anything other than a comment about that sentence.

What would have been more helpful than responding to my comment on the basis of the threat in which it was posted would have been, you know, actually reading my comment. FYI.

If you don't want an Al Sharpton-approved system, best not to get that ball rolling by sticking your tongue out at a "Chuck Norris-approved system." Once you start the snippy "Mr. X-approved system" ball rolling, I'm going to roll it too. More than one can play!

What is this I don't even.....

I still don't know, because you still don't say, how or why the rate of recidivism should dictate, or even influence, Breivik's sentence. Should it? If so, why? If not, what's the point of bringing up recidivism in general in discussing an article about Breivik's sentence in particular?

I never said the rates of recidivism should dictate or influence Brevik's sentence. The point about bringing it up...okay, Bill, I know you're not stupid. If you really don't get it, feel free to re-read my posts.

Uh, could it be that the lower rate of recidivism is due to massive historical, demographic and cultural differences having little or nothing to do with the prison system?

Could be. But I demand you present evidence!

I "pulled" my comment focusing on Breivik's sentence from my unremarkable desire to address the subject matter of Doug's entry, that being Breivik's sentence. Not that hard to understand.

Oh, so you didn't read what I wrote after all. Suddenly so many of our conversations make a lot more sense.

Is there any expression of concern about the victims -- the 77 corpses in this case or victims in general -- that in your view is not "hand-wringing?" Or is "hand-wringing" just the expression you use to toss off the victims as essentially worthless artifacts? Awesome.

It's kind of ridiculous to both (a) bring up the victims when what I was talking about had nothing to do with the victims and to (b) then accuse me for being insensitive when I call you out on the fact that what I was pointing out had nothing to do with the victims and that you appeared to be raising them from the dead to score rhetorical points (which is totally not at all using them as worthless artifacts, by the way).

Of course you're not, AND THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. If you were to say something about the cause of Breivik's behavior, you'd have to admit it had zip to do with his prior treatment by the state, PRECISELY BECAUSE, as you elsewhere acknowledge, Breivik is not a recidivist. This in turn would lead to the uncomfortable truth you insist on avoiding, to wit, that Breivik, not the state, is responsible for his own actions, before his incarceration and after.

Um. No. I have no idea if Brevik had any prior contact with the state or not. For the purposes of my comment (which, ostensibly, you didn't actually read) it didn't matter, because my commentary was more generally on the treatment of prisoners in Norway vs treatment of prisoners in the States along with respective rates of recidivism.

Oh, and please, please, pretty please with sugar on top, please point out where I allege that the state is responsible for his actions. Please also point out where I allege that the state is responsible for anyone's actions ever.

Hint: I didn't. Thanks for playing, though!

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 24, 2012 4:52:20 AM

And I'd add that I just saw that Breivik (and I've been misspelling his name, oops) got 21 years. Sure, I'm a liberal and all, but if ever there was a candidate for LWOP wouldn't he be it? I would certainly think so. 21 years seems like a pittance, with the only possible silver lining being that maybe his sentence gets extended.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 24, 2012 5:38:30 AM

Guy
Breivik is unlikely ever to be released. The 21 years is the formal maximum sentence, and at that time here will be a review of course, but the legal setup in Norway does not require release after 21 years if there is a clear danger to the public. I think that danger is well established and unlikely to change for many years beyond the 21. But it is right that a review be undertaken.
As for the conditions of his detention, I am with you. The aims of detention should never be mental and physical abuse. Treat someone well and they are likely to respond in kind. He will be less of a danger to prison staff, co-prisoners and others if he is incarcerated in a progressive regime that recognizes the dignity of man. Those charged with his supervision will also be able to work in an environment that respects their dignity and quality of life ... something that is often overlooked in the oppressive regimes in many US prisons, and is the reason for large turnover of staff and the often low quality of those employed.

Posted by: peter | Aug 24, 2012 7:43:42 AM

Guy stated: "Could be. But I demand you present evidence!"

Wait a minute. You stated, or at least implied, that recidivism rates in Norway are less than in the US BECAUSE they treat their prisoners with "a modicum of dignity" without a SHRED of evidence to support your claim. Come to think of it, nor did you provide any evidence that the US prison system fails to provide a modicum of dignity, setting up your entire argument on false premise and shifting the burden of proof fallacies.

Yet you have the nerve to "demand" evidence from Bill when he provides possible alternative scenarios?

Let me get one of my college freshman critical thinking students to explain what is wrong with your "argument."

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 24, 2012 8:08:09 AM

Guy stated: "Oh, and please, please, pretty please with sugar on top, please point out where I allege that the state is responsible for his actions. Please also point out where I allege that the state is responsible for anyone's actions ever."

Guy,

You just spent the better part of this thread stating that the recidivism rate in Norway is less than the US BECAUSE they provide a "modicum of dignity" to their prisoners. The obvious corrolary is that because the US does not provide a "modicum of dignity" (in your unsubstantiated view), our recidivism rate is higher. To now claim that you are not blaming "the state" for higher recidivism rates (crime) is absurd.

The only one not reading your posts is you.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 24, 2012 8:19:21 AM

Peter stated: "As for the conditions of his detention, I am with you. The aims of detention should never be mental and physical abuse."

I guess the definitions of "mental and physical abuse" have evolved in the last 20 years. Every inmate before the invention of computers and treadmills was "abused."

Peter stated: "Treat someone well and they are likely to respond in kind."

A typical black and white statement made by someone whose knowledge of prison came from watching "Oz."

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 24, 2012 8:47:28 AM

Guy --

My, but you do get up early.

"Oh, and please, please, pretty please with sugar on top, please point out where I allege that the state is responsible for his actions. Please also point out where I allege that the state is responsible for anyone's actions ever."

Be happy to. It's in your immediately preceding sentence: "...my commentary was more generally on the treatment of prisoners in Norway vs treatment of prisoners in the States along with respective rates of recidivism."

What's up with the words, "along with?" As TarlsQtr notes, no reasonable person could read them (or your post as a whole) to mean anything other than that recidivism rates in Norway are less than those in the United States BECAUSE Norway treats its prisoners better.

Indeed, you make the point explicit in this passage: "[The] rate of recidivism in Norway is less than that of the US. The prison system in Norway seems to treat its prisoners with a modicum of dignity, as opposed to how things run stateside where we justify stripping dignity and humanity from inmates as punishment. Could it be that the lower rate of recidivism is due to the difference in treatment?"

It's simply impossible to read that as saying anything other than what you now deny you said, i.e., that the state, by creating poor prison conditions, is responsible for the repeat criminal behavior of the ex-inmates who were exposed to those conditions.

QED and cheers.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 24, 2012 8:58:08 AM

Recidivism Rate In Norway

07/27/2011

Here are some statistics that you might find interesting.

- Norway Has Some Of The Lowest Murder Rates In The World: In 2009, Norway had .6 intentional homicides per 100,000 people. In the same year, the United States had 5 murders per 100,000 people, meaning that the U.S. proportionally has 8 times as many homicides.

- Norway's Incarceration Rate Is A Fraction Of That Of The United States: 71 out of every 100,000 Norwegian citizens is incarcerated. In the United States, 743 out of every 100,000 citizens was incarcerated in 2009. The U.S. has the world's highest incarceration rate.

- Norway's Prisoner Recidivism Rate Is Much Lower Than The United States:The recidivism rate for prisoners in Norway is around 20 percent. Meanwhile, it's estimated that 67 percent of America's prisoners are re-arrested and 52 percent are re-incarcerated.

Treating drug addicts like medical patients rather than criminals is not only more humane, but more effective and cheaper. Maybe we should broaden that logic to include treating prisoners as humanely as possible as well. Beyond this, a lot of demographic and cultural realities will prevent America from probably ever being as safe as Norway.

Posted by: Tara Skorje | Aug 24, 2012 9:31:23 AM

Your last statement gives it away. The first part of your post does not provide evidence that Norway's lower recidivism rate is caused by their alleged more "humane" treatment. Correlation does not prove causation.

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Aug 24, 2012 9:59:41 AM

Peter said it well. Treating prisoners decently probably benefits prison staff as much as inmates.

Doug recently urged readers to tour a prison. It was good advice. I once spent an eight-hour day in the Joliet Correctional Center (visiting as one of a dozen Illinois newspaper editors). Two things I learned from that experience seem relevant here.

First, even hardened guards (one senior guard I spoke with resembled the stoic lawman with mirrored sunglasses in Cool Hand Luke) had developed friendly, compassionate relationships with inmates. A death-row supervising guard teared up recalling the day an inmate he'd had daily contact with for more than 20 years on the job was put to death.

Asked about noticeable amenities in the prison -- not treadmills or laptops, but surprising indications the administration cared about morale of inmates (and staff) -- the warden gave an answer that tracked closely to what Peter said. It makes the guards safer. It helps guards who (apparently unlike Tarls or Adamikis...I forget which one worked in a prison) actually care about the anguish and suffering of inmates feel better about what they do for a living.

Ultimately, though, nations or states or individual wardens who treat prisoners well don't do it because prisoners deserve coddling. They do it because of who/what they are.

Posted by: John K | Aug 24, 2012 10:02:00 AM

A couple of points. First, you obviously did not even bother to defend the obvious, that you were blaming the state for crime.

Second, as usual, you have nothing left but the ad hominem. On what evidence do you base your assertion that I, who spent more than 10 years of my life actually HELPING inmates, do not care about the "anguish and suffering" of inmates? I thought enough of you to quote you directly in my previous posts, so please give me the same respect and avoid nebulous descriptions of my comments that never occurred.

The most telling aspect of your story is that you are obviously surprised by the compassion of staff and the amenities provided to inmates. Not that 8 hours can give you even a rudimentary idea of the prison environment, but it says everything I need to know about you. It is what I saw every day for 10 years.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 24, 2012 10:26:19 AM

John K stated: "Ultimately, though, nations or states or individual wardens who treat prisoners well don't do it because prisoners deserve coddling. They do it because of who/what they are."

An exercise yard, therapy, education, library, etc. is not coddling nor have I argued against these things.

A personal computer and treadmill is coddling. You seem to believe that refusing to give such items to an inmate is somehow abusive and causes crime.

That is the real issue and is foolish on your part.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 24, 2012 10:31:03 AM

John K,

Please disregard my first sentence. I mistook you for Guy. Sorry for the mix up.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 24, 2012 10:38:16 AM

@ Tarls:

My my aren't we butthurt? Which of your many posts to take up first. I'll start with the one about responsibility. You see, the argument that Bill, and you in turn, were trying to pin on me is that the offender is absolved of criminal responsibility by virtue of state action -- that the state is responsible for any recidivist's crime. That's not actually what I said, but a convenient straw man trotted out by the both of you.

Is the state action the cause of the increased recidivism? Could be. Even if that's the case, does that make the state responsible for the actions of the offender? I don't think it does, so I don't know why you and Bill are hopping up and down about it.

And Tarls, my comment about demanding that Bill present evidence was mostly snark and in response to his claim that I didn't present recidivism stats when (my mistake) I thought they were common knowledge around these parts.

Thanks for joining the conversation!

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 24, 2012 3:35:48 PM

My, but you do get up early.

Meh. Insomnia.

Be happy to. It's in your immediately preceding sentence: "...my commentary was more generally on the treatment of prisoners in Norway vs treatment of prisoners in the States along with respective rates of recidivism."

What's up with the words, "along with?" As TarlsQtr notes, no reasonable person could read them (or your post as a whole) to mean anything other than that recidivism rates in Norway are less than those in the United States BECAUSE Norway treats its prisoners better.

Right. But as I take your straw man argument, you're asserting that I mean to state that the individual is absolved of their responsibility in the matter for any crime that they commit. That's not what I'm saying at all.

Indeed, you make the point explicit in this passage: "[The] rate of recidivism in Norway is less than that of the US. The prison system in Norway seems to treat its prisoners with a modicum of dignity, as opposed to how things run stateside where we justify stripping dignity and humanity from inmates as punishment. Could it be that the lower rate of recidivism is due to the difference in treatment?"

Right...

It's simply impossible to read that as saying anything other than what you now deny you said, i.e., that the state, by creating poor prison conditions, is responsible for the repeat criminal behavior of the ex-inmates who were exposed to those conditions.

QED and cheers.

Except for the fact that I get the sneaking suspicion that when you use the word "responsible" you don't mean it in the clinical, statistical sense, but that you're trying to hang around my neck the conclusion that the government is morally responsible -- which is not what I'm saying at all. I would say that individual action functions as an intervening cause to not foist moral responsibility onto the government. I never stated that treating prisoners like animals is the only cause for recidivism, just that in light of the differing treatment of prisoners between here and Norway, and the fact that we've got roughly three times the recidivism, that perhaps one of the reasons for that is that Norway doesn't inflict physical and mental abuse on its prisoners for years on end before expecting that they go on to be productive citizens.

I don't know why the concept is so upsetting for you and Tarls, but it's amusing watching the contortions!

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 24, 2012 3:46:38 PM

Oh, and Tarls:

A personal computer and treadmill is coddling. You seem to believe that refusing to give such items to an inmate is somehow abusive and causes crime.

That is the real issue and is foolish on your part.

I assume in light of your mix up post that this was intended for me? I'll address it as well.

Why is that coddling? Because you have declared it so from on high? That's a pretty neat trick.

I certainly haven't argued that "refusing to give such items" causes crime. It isn't the treadmill and the computer in and of themselves that translate into lower recidivism, but rather the prison system where giving such items wouldn't seem out of place. It's the penal attitude that matters, not the bells and whistles that get attached to it.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 24, 2012 3:57:56 PM

Guy stated: "You see, the argument that Bill, and you in turn, were trying to pin on me is that the offender is absolved of criminal responsibility by virtue of state action --"

Sure Guy. Your only mention of responsibility refers to the state's, yet you want to claim that you hold the perp responsible. I can virtually hear you bugeling the retreat. Too funny.

It is as silly as those suing McDonalds saying, "I am suing McDonalds for making me fat but I believe in personal responsibility."

Right. Go peddle your fish.

Guy stated: "And Tarls, my comment about demanding that Bill present evidence was mostly snark and in response to his claim that I didn't present recidivism stats when (my mistake) I thought they were common knowledge around these parts."

Irrelevant. You still made statements based solely on logical fallacies that deer in the headlight freshmen could pick out. You clearly made the argument that our higher recidivism rates were BECAUSE Norway treats their inmates with "a modicum of dignity" without showing evidence that we do not and that the correlation means causation.

You state: "Why is that coddling? Because you have declared it so from on high? That's a pretty neat trick."

As neat and from "on high" as you implying we do not treat our inmates with a "modicum of dignity?" There is a huge difference. I have actually SPENT TIME in several prisons and have even worked on accreditation teams. In other words, my statements are from actual experience, not "on high" proclamations.

You stated: "I certainly haven't argued that "refusing to give such items" causes crime."

Bull.

You state: "It isn't the treadmill and the computer in and of themselves that translate into lower recidivism, but rather the prison system where giving such items wouldn't seem out of place."

A distinction without a difference.

You state: "It's the penal attitude that matters, not the bells and whistles that get attached to it."

In other words, it is not that the Norwegian prison system gives them treadmills and PCs, it is that they will. Yeah, a huge difference...

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 24, 2012 11:40:39 PM

Sure Guy. Your only mention of responsibility refers to the state's, yet you want to claim that you hold the perp responsible. I can virtually hear you bugeling the retreat. Too funny.

It is as silly as those suing McDonalds saying, "I am suing McDonalds for making me fat but I believe in personal responsibility."

Right. Go peddle your fish.

There is a difference between these two statements:

(1) The difference between the recidivism rates between the United States and Norway is due to the differing treatment of their prisoners.

and

(2) All state governments are criminally responsible for whatever crime former inmates commit, and the offenders themselves are not.

Read both of those real slowly, and try to figure out which is the one I'm hitching my wagon to. I'll try to phrase it differently for you: your parents are responsible for you in the same way that I would argue state's are responsible for their inmates future behavior. Are crappy parents criminally responsible for the acts of their children? No. Is the abuse that crappy parents inflict on their children a factor that goes into their later behavior? Of course it is.

Irrelevant. You still made statements based solely on logical fallacies that deer in the headlight freshmen could pick out. You clearly made the argument that our higher recidivism rates were BECAUSE Norway treats their inmates with "a modicum of dignity" without showing evidence that we do not and that the correlation means causation.

Irrelevant? I don't think that word means what you think it means...

In any event, what would please you, Tarls? A double-blinded, clinically controlled experiment? In social sciences, correlation is generally all we get, and to be fair I'm not so naive as to think that there is only one factor that influences recidivism. I'm simply positing an argument, and one piece of evidence in favor of that argument is that Norway has much reduced recidivism.

One thing that strikes me though, is the oft repeated argument that if we coddle criminals they will want to go back to prison. If that were the case, one would expect to see higher recidivism rates in nations where criminals are treated well in prison. The data would seem to scuttle that position, as well.

As neat and from "on high" as you implying we do not treat our inmates with a "modicum of dignity?" There is a huge difference. I have actually SPENT TIME in several prisons and have even worked on accreditation teams. In other words, my statements are from actual experience, not "on high" proclamations.

Well, we treat our inmates much more poorly than they do in Norway, no? That's my point. Maybe we differ on what treating people with dignity means (I'm sure we do), but really that's just splitting hairs. It's a fact that a report about Breivik getting to serve out his term in relative comfort gets the usual suspects here all hot and bothered. Whereas, here, we have prison violence, chronic warehousing (esp. of the mentally ill), and conditions that lend themselves to mental and physical abuse (because after all, we wouldn't want to be coddling anyone, right?)

A distinction without a difference.

Maybe you're just not understanding me. I'll try to rephrase it for you. It is not the act of getting a treadmill and a computer that lends itself to reduced recidivism. You couldn't dump millions of treadmills and computers into our prisons and expect to see that turnaround, because it's not really about the treadmills and computers. The treadmills and computers are, you might say, a characteristic of a system that would lead to lower recidivism stats -- it is the system that's important, not the accidental qualities of it.

In other words, it is not that the Norwegian prison system gives them treadmills and PCs, it is that they will. Yeah, a huge difference...

Actually, no. It is, technically, the prison system that provides them with those things, but like I said above, it is not the things in and of themselves that are important but the attitude that goes with them.

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 25, 2012 2:25:48 AM

Guy stated: "There is a difference between these two statements:

(1) The difference between the recidivism rates between the United States and Norway is due to the differing treatment of their prisoners.

and

(2) All state governments are criminally responsible for whatever crime former inmates commit, and the offenders themselves are not.

Read both of those real slowly, and try to figure out which is the one I'm hitching my wagon to."

Ah, yes. You need another college freshman critical thinking lesson. You are using a rhetorical device called a "weaseler" to set up a straw man fallacy.

Read very slowly. Neither Bill nor I stated that you were claiming the government to be "CRIMINALLY" responsible. Please, try debating me instead of your inventions intended to make your most recent ridiculous statement sound better.

Are you an attorney? Is such a cheap rhetorical ploy what a $100,000 law school education gets you these days?

You stated: "I'm simply positing an argument, and one piece of evidence in favor of that argument is that Norway has much reduced recidivism."

A blatant fabrication. You did not present recidivism rate as a "piece of evidence" but as a statement of fact that Norway's lower recidivism rate was BECAUSE of the the way they treat their prisoners compared to the US. You even went further to scold Bill for bringing up other factors or "pieces of evidence" that could have an equal or greater impact on the recidivism rates as your claim.

You stated: "One thing that strikes me though, is the oft repeated argument that if we coddle criminals they will want to go back to prison. If that were the case, one would expect to see higher recidivism rates in nations where criminals are treated well in prison. The data would seem to scuttle that position, as well."

Is this another straw man or do you just bring up irrelevant points? Neither Bill nor I made that claim.

However, even if someone had made that claim, the data would far from "scuttle the position" even though I do not find it to be a major factor in US recidivism rates. Why be a lazy bum in prison when you can be a lazy bum on the outside and let the European welfare state take care of you?

You state: "Well, we treat our inmates much more poorly than they do in Norway, no? That's my point."

Define poorly. You seem to be of the mindset that giving more equates to "better." Personally, I believe we treat our children much more "poorly" by giving them scads more than my grandfather's depression generation ever received.

You state: "Whereas, here, we have prison violence, chronic warehousing (esp. of the mentally ill), and conditions that lend themselves to mental and physical abuse (because after all, we wouldn't want to be coddling anyone, right?)"

Your error is in assuming that the bad prisons are making people dangerous instead of the bad people going into prisons making them dangerous. And again you fabricate. I have already stated that I support vocational, therapeutic, academic programs, etc. For you to suggest that I consider humane treatment (being against mental and physical abuse)of prisoners to be coddling is a stain on your character.

You stated: "It is not the act of getting a treadmill and a computer that lends itself to reduced recidivism. You couldn't dump millions of treadmills and computers into our prisons and expect to see that turnaround, because it's not really about the treadmills and computers. The treadmills and computers are, you might say, a characteristic of a system that would lead to lower recidivism stats -- it is the system that's important, not the accidental qualities of it."

Which is exactly what I said and it is still a distinction without a difference.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 25, 2012 1:46:19 PM

PS

The Malaysian recidivism rate is 3.63% compared with Norway's 20%. Want to bet that Malaysian prison cells do not come with computers, flat screen televisions, and treadmills? Are you willing to make the same leap of "logic" that Norway's extremely high comparative recidivism rate is because of their criminal coddling and maybe Norway should emulate Malaysian caning for prison infractions?

I didn't think so. You only make such ridiculous assertions when you feel they support your argument.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 25, 2012 1:55:58 PM

Tarls:

Ah, yes. You need another college freshman critical thinking lesson. You are using a rhetorical device called a "weaseler" to set up a straw man fallacy.

Read very slowly. Neither Bill nor I stated that you were claiming the government to be "CRIMINALLY" responsible. Please, try debating me instead of your inventions intended to make your most recent ridiculous statement sound better.

Are you an attorney? Is such a cheap rhetorical ploy what a $100,000 law school education gets you these days?

Name-calling is fun! I am dumb and uneducated, apparently. So neither you nor Bill were insinuating that I was saying that the individual is not responsible for their actions? Awesome. Because that's not what you posted, but whatevs.

A blatant fabrication. You did not present recidivism rate as a "piece of evidence" but as a statement of fact that Norway's lower recidivism rate was BECAUSE of the the way they treat their prisoners compared to the US. You even went further to scold Bill for bringing up other factors or "pieces of evidence" that could have an equal or greater impact on the recidivism rates as your claim.

Now I'm not only dumb and uneducated, but a liar too! You know how to warm the cockles of my heart, Tarls.

That's actually exactly what I did -- I posted the argument on here and, in support thereof, cited the recidivism rates. If you need me to expressly state that it's a piece of evidence in support thereof, then are you so sure that it's me who needs the remedial logic course, friendo?

Is this another straw man or do you just bring up irrelevant points? Neither Bill nor I made that claim.

You use the term straw man an awful great big bunch, but I'm not terribly certain you know what it means. A straw man argument is a type of logical fallacy whereby you deliberately mischaracterize your opponent's argument in order to more easily dispense with it. I didn't say that either you or Bill made that claim, did I? Ergo, not a straw man.

I have heard the argument before, however, and I'm imagining that if I scratched the
surface on your thinking, it probably wouldn't be too far down the line. You use the term irrelevant again, also, and again, I'm not entirely sure you know what that means, either.

You also use the term irrelevant again, thought I'm still not convinced that you have a superb grasp on it, either. Are discussing inferences that may be drawn from the data on recidivism irrelevant in a discussion regarding recidivism and treatment of prisoners, especially when such statements are made in response to your accusation that the data are meaningless? Well, that hardly seems fair....

However, even if someone had made that claim, the data would far from "scuttle the position" even though I do not find it to be a major factor in US recidivism rates. Why be a lazy bum in prison when you can be a lazy bum on the outside and let the European welfare state take care of you?

You do not find it to be a major factor in US recidivism rates? Oh I'm just dying to know, what do you find to be major factors in recidivism rates? And, if your rhetorical "lazy bum" gambit is true, then why don't we see a larger prison population in Europe, and why aren't their recidivism rates sky-high?

Define poorly. You seem to be of the mindset that giving more equates to "better." Personally, I believe we treat our children much more "poorly" by giving them scads more than my grandfather's depression generation ever received.

When you speak of straw men, I'm getting the impression that it's simply a case of methinks thou doth protest too much. There is a key word in my post that you're either deliberately or unintentionally missing in order to shift the goal posts. Can you guess what it is?

Your error is in assuming that the bad prisons are making people dangerous instead of the bad people going into prisons making them dangerous. And again you fabricate. I have already stated that I support vocational, therapeutic, academic programs, etc. For you to suggest that I consider humane treatment (being against mental and physical abuse)of prisoners to be coddling is a stain on your character.

Pardon me while I try to type through the tears. I don't suggest that you consider humane treatment to be coddling, Tarls -- I outright state it. You consider prisons to be a place where the infliction of physical and mental suffering is a necessity to accomplish the state's penological goals, and that a prison where that doesn't take place is akin to coddling, where "lazy bums" can go and suck off the teat of the European "welfare state." If prisoners get to serve out their terms in relative comfort, being treated as human beings, well that's just quite unacceptable to you, isn't it? Even though there may very well be better outcomes for society? I'm sorry for inconveniently pointing that out you.

Which is exactly what I said and it is still a distinction without a difference.

If you give someone a treadmill, but still treat them like an animal 24/7, make them afraid for their physical security, deny them access to vocational and educational programs, deny them access to drug treatment programs, routinely force them to be dehumanized and humiliated -- the treadmill is hardly going to make a damn bit of difference.

You can say it's a distinction without a difference, but at this point I think that's going to be your problem.

The Malaysian recidivism rate is 3.63% compared with Norway's 20%. Want to bet that Malaysian prison cells do not come with computers, flat screen televisions, and treadmills? Are you willing to make the same leap of "logic" that Norway's extremely high comparative recidivism rate is because of their criminal coddling and maybe Norway should emulate Malaysian caning for prison infractions?

I didn't think so. You only make such ridiculous assertions when you feel they support your argument.

A 3.63 recidivism rate would be truly astounding, and I see I'm making you work! Good job! I guess that's pretty damning evidence against my argument...I do have a few questions though.

I did a little searching myself, and all that I could find was a press release from a government source stating that their parole recidivism rate was 3.63%. I couldn't find any other data. How does Malaysia define recidivism? Is it different from how other nations define it? How does parole work in Malaysia? Is it only that a select few are paroled? How are their numbers counted? What's the observational period? Are only foreigners granted parole, and then deported shortly thereafter?

These are just some of the questions that I have, because numbers that low are a little unrealistic, and make me wonder exactly how the data are compiled. Either that, or Malaysia truly has a glorious criminal justice system that should be the envy of the world. If the latter is true, ask yourself this -- if almost no criminal ever repeats their offense post-release, why isn't the Malaysian criminal justice system the envy of the world?

If you have answers to those questions, I'd be genuinely interested in hearing them -- much more so if you can refrain from the name-calling.

Cheers.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 25, 2012 2:39:30 PM

Guy stated: "Name-calling is fun! I am dumb and uneducated, apparently."

Yes, your heart is so wounded...Can you go on? Faux offense is difficult work, you know. Especially from somoene who had just said, "Read very slowly." It kinda implies the same thing, correct?

In fact, you cannot even take offense correctly. One can make the case that I was calling you dumb, but I mentioned you spending $100,000 on a law school education. Kind of hard to claim I am calling you "uneducated," right?

You stated: "So neither you nor Bill were insinuating that I was saying that the individual is not responsible for their actions?"

Funny how you now drop "criminally" again because it no longer helps your argument. I am insinuating nothing. Your own words are: "Also, the general rate of recidivism in the states is around 50-60% depending on where you're looking. In Norway, it's less! Fun times." If anyone is insinuating anything, it is you, except you go a step further and are stating it pretty flatly.

You stated: "Now I'm not only dumb and uneducated, but a liar too!"

Hey, I am always open for a reasonable alternative scenario, but you have yet to give one. The prison system was the SOLE reason you gave for differing recidivism rates and even chided Bill when he gave alternative possibilities.

You stated: "That's actually exactly what I did -- I posted the argument on here and, in support thereof, cited the recidivism rates. If you need me to expressly state that it's a piece of evidence in support thereof, then are you so sure that it's me who needs the remedial logic course, friendo?"

Wrong. See above.

You stated: "I don't suggest that you consider humane treatment to be coddling, Tarls -- I outright state it. You consider prisons to be a place where the infliction of physical and mental suffering is a necessity to accomplish the state's penological goals, and that a prison where that doesn't take place is akin to coddling,..."

Great. I have been here for the better part of a year and have posted countless times, mostly on prison issues. You should be able to come up with a treasure trove of quotes to support your assertion that I support physical and mental abuse of prisoners. I will be satisfied with JUST ONE QUOTE. If you come up with one, I will leave this blog and never return. If not or I come up with a quote that proves otherwise, you can leave. Deal? An honest man would take such a deal because they know they can support their claim. A dishonest man, not so much...

You state: "Even though there may very well be better outcomes for society? I'm sorry for inconveniently pointing that out you."

Very nice, but it is a significant backtrack from your previous position, which was complete assurance that "comfort" equals less recidivism despite lacking any evidence to support the assertion. At least you now use the word "may." Progress! We may make you an honest (for a defense attorney) man yet!

You state: "I did a little searching myself, and all that I could find was a press release from a government source stating that their parole recidivism rate was 3.63%. I couldn't find any other data. How does Malaysia define recidivism? Is it different from how other nations define it? How does parole work in Malaysia? Is it only that a select few are paroled? How are their numbers counted? What's the observational period? Are only foreigners granted parole, and then deported shortly thereafter?

These are just some of the questions that I have, because numbers that low are a little unrealistic, and make me wonder exactly how the data are compiled. Either that, or Malaysia truly has a glorious criminal justice system that should be the envy of the world. If the latter is true, ask yourself this -- if almost no criminal ever repeats their offense post-release, why isn't the Malaysian criminal justice system the envy of the world?"

Are you MY attorney? I am starting to believe so, because you make my point for me with great clarity. IN OTHER WORDS, there are a MILLION different reasons why Malaysia's recidivism rate is so low compared to Norway's that may have NOTHING to do with it being a better system. Now you have to get over the block not allowing you to see that the same factors interfering with a direct comparison of Norway/Malaysian recidivism rates based on a single criterion may be occurring when comparing US/Norway. That a man with three years of law school cannot see that directly comparing a country with a 4.5 million homogenous population to 300+ million heterogenous population as a fool's errand is stunning. Did Norway have a "Great Society" which ruined the family structure and put millions of feral teens on the streets? Perhaps their prisoners, although criminals, are a little more civilized than our Johnny Gangbanger when they enter and eventually leave prison?

Thanks for making my point, even if you never intended to.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 25, 2012 6:54:01 PM

Oh, and because I am such a fair guy, I will even go first regarding our little bet (which I know you will decline to take for obvious reasons). Please show me where my comment below, made well before this thread, supports your assertion that I prefer mental and physical abuse for inmates:

"I am not so interested in the "gamification" aspect, but the wonderful use of a reward system. Without a doubt, our prison system relies far too much on punishing bad behavior rather than rewarding proper behavior. Even our most hardened criminals crave praise and reward.

I did the same thing (on a small scale) in my prison classroom. I had an empty classroom beside mine. Inmates that met a critieria for both quantity and quality of work Monday-Thursday were able to spend Friday in the adjacent room watching a movie of their choice (within reason). Those that did not, stayed with me working. By the third week, inmates I would usually have to fight tooth and nail with to get anything done were earning the reward.

Then, the officer on my floor bid another job in the facility and I was not allowed to do it anymore. The new officer did not like having the class split and did not feel like I could watch both."

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 15, 2012 12:34:53 PM
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e201774424c377970d

I anxiously await your response...

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 25, 2012 7:02:39 PM

'TarlsQtr'

'It is what I saw every day for 10 years.'

oh sure asswipe but you went home after doing your 8 hour stint every night and collected that paycheck ...chump

Posted by: reality bites | Aug 25, 2012 7:20:50 PM

Tarls:

Yes, your heart is so wounded...Can you go on? Faux offense is difficult work, you know. Especially from somoene who had just said, "Read very slowly." It kinda implies the same thing, correct?

In fact, you cannot even take offense correctly. One can make the case that I was calling you dumb, but I mentioned you spending $100,000 on a law school education. Kind of hard to claim I am calling you "uneducated," right?

You can take it for what you will, but I was being charitable and only assuming that you weren't carefully reading what I had written -- not that you lacked the capacity to understand it. The difference, in your response, is in your assertion that I lack the capacity. That's a distinction with a difference, IMO.

Funny how you now drop "criminally" again because it no longer helps your argument. I am insinuating nothing. Your own words are: "Also, the general rate of recidivism in the states is around 50-60% depending on where you're looking. In Norway, it's less! Fun times." If anyone is insinuating anything, it is you, except you go a step further and are stating it pretty flatly.

Is that what I did? I didn't mean to. You can read criminally right back into my statement if you want to, since that was the meaning behind it.

Wrong. See above.

Nope.

Great. I have been here for the better part of a year and have posted countless times, mostly on prison issues. You should be able to come up with a treasure trove of quotes to support your assertion that I support physical and mental abuse of prisoners. I will be satisfied with JUST ONE QUOTE. If you come up with one, I will leave this blog and never return. If not or I come up with a quote that proves otherwise, you can leave. Deal? An honest man would take such a deal because they know they can support their claim. A dishonest man, not so much...

Here we go again with the name calling. I'm dishonest and evil, I know Tarls. I don't need to look too far to find such a post. Try looking on this very page, friendo. Don't worry, I'm not going to insist that you live up to your own bargain. After all, who would be here to ridicule me if you went? Well, other than Bill?

Very nice, but it is a significant backtrack from your previous position, which was complete assurance that "comfort" equals less recidivism despite lacking any evidence to support the assertion. At least you now use the word "may." Progress! We may make you an honest (for a defense attorney) man yet!

No backtrack at all, actually. And I've never said that no other factors are at play (in fact, I admitted the opposite), and of course when I tried to bring out what could be reliably drawn from the data I was attacked as bringing up things that are irrelevant and using straw men.

You're wrong in stating that there is no evidence to support my assertion. There is. I've been stating it over and over and over and over. I'd go through the argument again, but I realize that this really isn't about the argument anymore.

Also, I'm not a defense attorney, Tarls. Not even an attorney. I've yet to be allowed to take the bar. But I will agree that my degree did cost around 100k.

My original comment was mostly hyperbole, intended to prove a point, and was in response to Bill's insinuation that the Norwegeian powers that be are mentally ill (also a statement that I would take to be hyperbole). You can take my statement and try to twist it into an aspersion on my character if you really really want to, to say that I'm a liar, that I'm dishonest, etc. I suppose I've been called worse by better. I never intended to seriously say that the only possible explanation for the difference in the two are the difference in treatment of prisoners, that there are no other variables, etc. As I posted previously, I'm sure there are many factors at work. The difference in rates is at least evidence in support of that hypothesis, and is also evidence that tends to disprove the notion that we don't want prisons to be places of relative comfort for the fear that criminals will be more likely to repeat their crimes. If anything, the opposite conclusion is what the data supports -- so far from being mentally ill, perhaps we can learn something from Norwegian justice.

That was my intended statement, and I fully expected and anticipated Bill (at least) to look through the hyperbole, and not turn this into a full-fledged three-ring circus of poo-throwing, which is what it has become.

Are you MY attorney? I am starting to believe so, because you make my point for me with great clarity. IN OTHER WORDS, there are a MILLION different reasons why Malaysia's recidivism rate is so low compared to Norway's that may have NOTHING to do with it being a better system. Now you have to get over the block not allowing you to see that the same factors interfering with a direct comparison of Norway/Malaysian recidivism rates based on a single criterion may be occurring when comparing US/Norway. That a man with three years of law school cannot see that directly comparing a country with a 4.5 million homogenous population to 300+ million heterogenous population as a fool's errand is stunning. Did Norway have a "Great Society" which ruined the family structure and put millions of feral teens on the streets? Perhaps their prisoners, although criminals, are a little more civilized than our Johnny Gangbanger when they enter and eventually leave prison?

Thanks for making my point, even if you never intended to.

Again with the insults, but I suppose that is your main stock-in-trade. As I've stated repeatedly, I don't believe that the only factor in the difference in recidivism between the two nations is treatment of prisoners. You continue to insist that I'm either lying or stupid. Lovely.

And so I take it you don't have any of the answers to the questions that I was posing? I am sincerely most interesting in knowing how Malaysia comes up with that number.

Oh, and because I am such a fair guy

Cute.

I will even go first regarding our little bet (which I know you will decline to take for obvious reasons). Please show me where my comment below, made well before this thread, supports your assertion that I prefer mental and physical abuse for inmates

Your words on this very page support the notion, Tarls. It outrages you that Breivik gets to serve out his sentence in relative physical and psychological comfort. The point of prison, the point of punishment, is not the infliction of physical and psychological suffering, but the removal of autonomy, of freedom. That another system seems to recognize that and act accordingly is unacceptable to you. There must be some measure of physical and psychological pain inflicted -- over and above the removal of autonomy -- in order for justice to be served.

I eagerly await your next response, insinuating or outright stating that I am lying, stupid, evil, or some combination thereof. It is truly a pleasure.

Cheers.

Actually, I'm done. Have a good night.

Posted by: Guy | Aug 25, 2012 8:02:43 PM

Bill Otis said: "How 'bout DOCUMENTING the thought? For example, you might tell us who was treating Breivik "like an animal" "

How 'bout you documenting this thought, since you were the original undocumented thinker on this thread, Bill Otis:

quote - " To go out of your way to make him comfortable, and spend more on him than on anyone else is the system, is a sign that he's far from the only one in that country with significant mental problems."

Please document that making this prisoner comfortable at the stated cost is a sign of a significant mental problem on the part of anyone in the Norwegian government.

Mental problems they may have, but Norway is apparently doing something right. Not only is the criminal recidivism rate lower there, their standard of living is higher, their unemployment rate is lower and they have a budget surplus.

That's the kind of crazy the U.S.A. should consider importing.

As for this statement from TarlsQtr, the former prison official: "Did Norway have a "Great Society" which ruined the family structure and put millions of feral teens on the streets?"

Aside from the fact that the phrase "millions of feral teens" is a tad over-dramatic, are you aware that Norway is a social democratic welfare state that gives every family in need a cash allowance in order to "redistribute" income through a social insurance scheme?

I'll concede that the outcomes in Norway could be different since one needn't be a single parent to receive a benefit.

But the single parent requirement in the US welfare system comes from that old puritan notion that many of you still subscribe to - that the "able bodied" don't deserve help & must work and that only widows and orphans and the elderly are the "deserving poor". Although, even that modicum of charity seems to be disappearing.

Blame yourselves for those "feral teens".

Posted by: An Observer | Aug 26, 2012 4:48:01 AM

Guy stated: "You can take it for what you will, but I was being charitable and only assuming that you weren't carefully reading what I had written -- not that you lacked the capacity to understand it. The difference, in your response, is in your assertion that I lack the capacity. That's a distinction with a difference, IMO."

What a joke. The phrase "read very slowly" has universally been accepted as an insult for my entire life and you want me to believe that for the first time in history it is being used in a manner that is "charitable." Expecting any of us to believe this nonsense is a far greater attack on the intellect of the readers here than anything I have said about you.

You state: "Here we go again with the name calling. I'm dishonest and evil, I know Tarls."

Where did I call you "evil?" Please quote. If you do not provide such a quote, it kind of validates the "dishonest" part, don't you think?

You state: "I don't need to look too far to find such a post. Try looking on this very page, friendo. Don't worry, I'm not going to insist that you live up to your own bargain. After all, who would be here to ridicule me if you went? Well, other than Bill?"

Humor me and provide what I ASKED for. Give me an EXACT QUOTE where I state that I am for the mental and physical abuse of prisoners. Once again, if you are honest, you should be able to provide it easily. It is also very telling that you do not even bother to comment on the post of mine from two weeks ago I provided that directly contradicts your claim. You would much rather shed crocodile tears about "tone" rather than "content." I mean, seriously? You accuse me of supporting physical and mental abuse without substantiation and expect me to feel bad for calling you a liar? Grow up. As my dad used to say about politicians, "If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS." Sorry if I am not baffled by your faux outrage BS but put up. Provide the quote(s) or admit you made it up.

You stated: "No backtrack at all, actually. And I've never said that no other factors are at play (in fact, I admitted the opposite), and of course when I tried to bring out what could be reliably drawn from the data I was attacked as bringing up things that are irrelevant and using straw men."

You only "admitted the opposite" once you determined your position was untenable. You began this thread acknowledging no such thing, even scolding Bill when he brought up other factors and demanded evidence from him even though your claim was entirely unsubstantiated.

And there you go with the "tone" garbage again. Sure, you were "ATTACKED." LOL If you do not like my tone I have two suggestions for you. Stop misrepresenting the positions of others and pull up your big boy pants. Get over it. The only difference between you and I on this issue is that I have the confidence to say what I mean, while you try to imply everything and leave yourself plausible deniability.

You stated: "Again with the insults, but I suppose that is your main stock-in-trade."

Sniff. Sniff. Send me the therapy bill.

You stated: "And so I take it you don't have any of the answers to the questions that I was posing? I am sincerely most interesting in knowing how Malaysia comes up with that number."

Read my previous post slowly (and yes, unlike you, I am man enough to admit that I DO intend it as an insult). I do not care. My point was merely that if your idea of "evidence" is to do a quick comparison of statistics without applying even a dollop of common sense or logic (which is what you did with the Norway/US comparison), then the Malaysian system must be "better." I do not endorse the Malaysian numbers or their system but provided the data just to show you how incredibly simplistic your stated position (well, your ORIGINAL position as it has since evolved) was.

You state: "Your words on this very page support the notion, Tarls."

OK, which words? Again, quote directly. By your own admission, they are on this "very page", so you should have NO PROBLEM quoting where I support physical and mental abuse correct? An honest man would take that 30 seconds to do so, right?

You state: "I eagerly await your next response, insinuating or outright stating that I am lying, stupid, evil, or some combination thereof. It is truly a pleasure."

The funny thing is that you seem to actually believe that your dripping condescension and passive-aggressiveness is actually superior to my bluntness.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 26, 2012 12:31:26 PM

An Observer stated: "Aside from the fact that the phrase "millions of feral teens" is a tad over-dramatic,..."

Really? Well, the FBI stated that in 2009 there were 1 million gang members in the US. Extrapolate that out over the last 20 years (gang membership is obviously not static) and "millions" is probably not dramatic enough. They also state that THEY ACCOUNT FOR 80% OF US CRIMES.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-01-29-ms13_N.htm

You state: "are you aware that Norway is a social democratic welfare state that gives every family in need a cash allowance in order to "redistribute" income through a social insurance scheme?"

So? You do realize we are talking about a country of what, 4.5 million? Our current Johnny Gangbangers ALONE make up >20% of Norway's entire population. You seem to be using the same simplistic "logic" as Guy, ignoring the enormous demographic differences between to two countries.

You state: "Blame yourselves for those "feral teens"."

I will do no such thing. My child is the most well-adjusted, polite, and intelligent 6 year old you will ever find who already reads CS Lewis ON HIS OWN. In addition to my previous job where, as reality bites notes, I was "paid", I have volunteered tons of both time and treasure helping inmates and children do what their crackpipe/pillbilly mothers and absent fathers would not. If you have done more for these feral children, God Bless. If not, stop displaying your ignorance for the world to see.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Aug 26, 2012 1:02:58 PM

An Observer --

"Please document that making this prisoner comfortable at the stated cost is a sign of a significant mental problem on the part of anyone in the Norwegian government."

Exactly what documentation do you need to figure out that going out of your way to provide comforts to a perfectly sane (as your beloved Norway found) mass thrill killer is not something a person of sound mind, and aware of resource scarcity, would support?

Your enthusiasm for attacking TarlsQtr and me might be better reserved for organizing your Free Breivik rallies. Once they get boring, you can do your Free Sandusky rallies, too.

Have a good one.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 26, 2012 2:23:59 PM

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