2002 November 15 Friday
Theodore Dalrymple: European Court Making Prisons Worse

Theodore Dalrymple calls this ruling "crude legal utopianism"

The European Court has found this system arbitrary and an infringement of human rights. It has ruled that henceforth the person deciding on the punishment of the prisoner must not work for the institution in which he is held. Furthermore, the prisoner must have legal representation at any hearing within the prison concerning his possible punishment. Thus the court has transformed at a stroke the withdrawal of a privilege—time off for good behavior—into the violation of a human right.

Of course such a ruling will rob a warden of disciplnary powers and hence of control:

It takes very little knowledge of prison conditions to know that it will be a disaster for prisoners, except for the most violently psychopathic among them. The worst kind of prison, as every prisoner will tell you, is the one run by the prisoners rather than by the prison officers: but that is precisely the kind of prison that this ruling will promote. By reducing the authority of the warden, the court has increased the authority of the gang leaders.

The utopian urge combined with a willful ignorance of human nature is a great threat to civilization. When you read a story like this picture another termite being let loose in the foundations.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 15 10:56 AM  Civilizations Decay


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