Freedom must be fostered and extended, not only by protecting the individual’s rights against infringement by society, but also by creating an equitable social order as the social and economic condition for freedom.
—Richard Bauckman, God and the Crisis of Freedom (2001, page 31)
No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
The way we run prisons, and the values that underlie their management, communicate meaning about the nation’s attitude toward power, authority, legitimacy, normalcy, morality, and social relations. Prisons are not just about punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation and incapacitation. They hold a moral and symbolic role - they reflect in miniature the state of the world in which you and I live.
There is no relationship anywhere in the world between the imprisonment rate and the crime rate. The imprisonment rate is not a measure of crime. It is a measure of the consumption of punishment.
According to international experts, high prison populations are associated with high levels of inequality, low levels of social trust, low levels of welfare spending, and an electoral system that does not have proportional representation.
The wellbeing of a nation is measured not by the absence of disorder, but by the presence of justice.