Political Theory

Imagining a Nation: Geoland Part V: Crime and Punishment

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” – Old Testament

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – New Testament

Parts I, II, III, and IV

The Geoland justice system will largely be based on the US model: presumption of innocence, right to remain silent, right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers, right to a lawyer, guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, appeals process, protection against unreasonable seizures of assets, no cruel or unusual punishment (though I am curious how a non-cruel but unusual punishment would look).

The main difference is that the death penalty is constitutionally banned in our nation, though a life sentence without parole would be allowed in its place.

Enforcement

We’ll use a Sheriff type system, where all citizens can vote directly for the chief of law enforcement in Geoland. Like the other elections, it’ll be every five years, with a maximum of two terms. Since many things in Geoland will be legal that aren’t legal elsewhere, the main focus will be on preventing or punishing violent crime, fraud, and littering/illegal dumping (which will be enforced vigorously).

Private Prisons

Everything you read or hear about private prisons in the US sounds awful. But they’re financially incentivised to be awful: the more prisoners they get, and the less they spend per prisoner, the more money they make.

Our private system will be different. We will reward prisons with a big bonus for reducing recidivism. So every year that a released prisoner stays out of trouble, the prison they came from receives 20% of their bonus (staying out of trouble means no arrests or convictions (arrests freeze the bonus process until it’s sorted out, and a conviction means no more bonus for the prison)), for up to five years. They can make a small margin from housing the prisoners during their terms, but the big money should be earned by helping them reintegrate into society upon their return to our civilisation.

Lifers and non-citizen prisoners need to be treated a little differently, I’m less sure about how to go about this, I don’t want to just abandon them to abuse, but I fail to see how to blend them in when private prisons know they won’t make any bonus money from them. Maybe just forcing them to intermingle with the others will force the private prisons to treat them decently, just for the sake of keeping their big earners in good health.

Citizen’s Dividend

Prisoners still receive their Citizen’s Dividend while in prison. However, prisons can charge them a reasonable rent, since part of the purpose of the dividend is to cover rent. Nevertheless, the dividend itself remains sacred in Geoland, not bankruptcy or prison entitles one to take anything out from it before a citizen receives it. Non-citizen prisoners do not have to pay rent, since they won’t be receiving a dividend, and will likely be exiled after their sentence (or instead of, if the victim prefers).

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