In the majority of cases, prison, as it exists today, is about the most moronic, least efficient, most counter-productive way society could possibly deal with actual criminals (the kind who have actual victims). However good or bad someone may be on the way in, subjecting them to humiliation and degradation, forced uselessness, and a dehumanizing, ultra-controlled environment, surrounded by strangers, many of whom exhibit varying degrees of hostility and malice–both guards and inmates–is not going to improve them.
Yes, there are times when forcible restraint, or even deadly force, is justified and necessary when dealing with aggressors. But there could hardly be a worse way to “rehabilitate” people who have done stupid and/or nasty things–but things not deserving of death–than to subject them to the profound stupidity and inhumanity that is “prison.”
P.S. I just watched “Shawshank Redemption” again, if you’re wondering about the reason for this post.
P.P.S. In case anyone was wondering, when I was in minimum security federal prison for a year, for not sending pieces of paper to the IRS, it wasn’t anything like the scary, violent prison movies. It was mostly just boring and stupid.