Humane prison options.

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Spacedad
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Humane prison options.

Postby Spacedad » Sat Mar 16, 2013 7:50 am

(Reposted from another thread.)

In the future I want more options that let me run a model prison where inmates are treated like human beings and where they get the opportunity to rehabilitate into productive members of society. Running such prisons would and should be very challenging to accomplish (doing the right thing is never easy after all) but there are several countries in real life where they pull it off quite well. (Resulting in a larger reduction in crime and prisoner recidivism as well as lower inmate crime.)

Norway in particular has an excellent and highly humane prison system, which has resulted in a drastic reduction in crime across the board. Turns out that criminals want to stop being criminals if you treat them like human beings. (Ten times lower return rate for prisoners than the US!) Strangely while they do spend more to take care of individual inmates than the US, the high emphasis on rehabilitation results in a drastically reduced crime rate, and winds up being a lot cheaper than the US as a result. (Returning prisoners cost states a LOT of money.)

I want this plus the other options that let you run a prison that's more like the crummy sardine-packed hell-holes you see in the US, or like oppressive police state prisons in authoritarian countries. The game should be a sandbox that gives options to simulate different types of prisons, including both humane and inhumane ones. In doing so I feel the game could also be a tool that helps to educate people about better (and worse) ways to run prison systems. Everything from for-profit prisons to state-prisons to rehabilitation-focused progressive prisons to police state style prisons should be covered. The realities of prison can be exposed and explored with this game and teach people a good deal about the important issues with prisons, which many are not exposed to.

In general though, the subject of prison systems is an important one and I feel it's important that the developers do their utmost to get it right in an intelligent and somewhat sobering manner. It should be fun to ant-farm your prison and all (and I'm sure that people will get Sims-style pleasure out of torturing the little pixelated inmates) but an underlying message and knowledge about the realities of prisons can elevate this game into something very important.

Anyway, from the alpha I already feel the game is heading in the right direction - especially with the sobering tone set by the 'story' segment in the game's tutorial. Will be very interesting to see where it heads.
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Postby christopher1006 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:51 pm

You are correct in that IV wants to cover the spectrum. We will get the ability to run a hell-hole where prisoners are temporarily awarded with their lives and not as severe beatings daily all the way to a hotel where prisoners want to get arrested just to live there.
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Postby Spacedad » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:12 am

Speaking of people committing crimes to wind up in prison, that reminds me - there was a case recently in the US where a guy who had just been released from jail committed a small shoplifting crime to put himself purposefully in jail in order to get the life-saving operation he needed for a potentially fatal illness he had been suffering from. The judge knew what was going on and was okay with it. Our health care system in the US is a joke.

Edit: here it is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ezNSkSBHSc


Also, here's Stephen Fry with some sad facts about the American prison system.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPZed8af9RI
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Postby Gridian » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:33 pm

I fully agree that we should get the option to run our prisons the way we want. In one respect the game already fulfils ALL the points in the OP: Prisoners have needs. If those needs are satisfied they are peaceful. My latest prison is built around a 40 by 40 squares yard in which there are 2 shower/toilets, means to work out, TV sets, telephones - everything they need. I put the prisoners in there for 6 or 7 hours a day and it went up to almost 80 prisoners without incidents. Nada. Even the jumping and screaming part happens very rarely, and if so then with new-arrivals.
The cells are 2 by 3 and the prisoners are sent in there to sleep only.

Ah yes: To deal with the fact that this prison took some time to build I started with a holding cell with everything including beds for 48 people. That too works well with 24 prisoners inside for several hours a day. I started with almost 2 guards per prisoner and ended with 1 guard per 3 prisoners.

Now it is time to start over, for thats the most fun part: constructing a running prison :-)

Thanks, IV, for this great game. It's almost like SimCity, SimAnt and SimFarm compressed into 1 running game. And those were my favourite games. :-D
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Postby Dybing » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:59 pm

Being born and bred and still residing in Norway - a cold and wet place except for two, possibly three hours on the 15th of July - I'd contend that the low crime rate isn't necessarily a function of our judicial system. Prisons included. And as far as prisons go, they are very tiered based upon whatever the convicted criminal have been sentenced for doing.

Since most crimes are pretty petty here in Norway, most prisons are also very low security. Like a not that fancy motel with a single fence around it. And some workshops and educational facilities. These institutions also allow the inmate to work or go to school outside the prison. The convict merely spend their afternoon and sleep in the prison.

On the other end of the scale, we got the Ila prison. A high security facility housing some 120 of the more dangerous individuals unfortunate enough to do something so stupid as to land them there. Interestingly, this prison was just finished and open for business at the time the Germans took over Norway in 1940. The Germans having a keen eye for quality, immediatly set about using the facility as a concentration camp. So it's a pretty grim place and a far cry from the more lenient and furbished prisons that is more the norm here in Norway.

As for the low crime rate, it is better explained through Norway being a pretty egalitarian society with a mostly homogenic population. In addition we got a well developed social security system - cost an arm and part of ones leg in taxes - that make criminality more of a lifestyle choice than a necessity to get food on the table and a roof over ones head.

So apart from the few home-bred professional criminals we do got, most inmates are some form of addict whos' bad habits cost quite a bit more than the monthly grant our social security system doles out for those without other means to support themselves.

Me, I'm heavily addicted to coffee, but fortunatly that is pretty cheap and high doses of it daily do not make me unable to work. Quite the contrary. :)
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Postby Spacedad » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:17 pm

Thanks for further explaining things. I found your post interesting and enlightening. Do bear in mind that I already was aware of the other reasons for Norway's low crime rate - it isn't due to the prisons alone. (More due to a lot of things, humane prisons being one of many ways how society is structured there.) But yeah, Norway is a good example of a society that tries to take care of its people.

The prison and justice system is still a massive mess in the US though - it is sad too, because so many of the problems that lead people to prison time could be solved by better social programs to help people in need. We compound the problems and wind up costing the taxpayer (and the human cost of all the people jailed) way more in the long run for all the population that is in prison. People wouldn't be selling drugs as much if they could make ends meet, for example.
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Postby Spacedad » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:20 am

Incidentally, here's an interesting point of outrage about some of the for-profit prisons in the US:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCFo-j_25os

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