Last May The Supreme Court ruled that the conditions in which the inmates in California prisons were being held was unconstitutional. The result of this ruling meant that at least 30,000 prisoners had to be released within the next three years because their basic rights had been violated. One of the most outstanding statistics among many, that showed how bad the conditions were in some of the prisons was as one man reported that up to 40 inmates had to share one toilet. Unless you've been under a rock for the last few years, you know that the prison populations all over the country are way over maximum capacity. This court decision states that California has to reduce it's prison population to 137.5 percent of it's capacity. Reducing to 137.5 seems a little bit crazy to me. The prison population is so high that it is a positive reductiion to get back to 137.5 percent capacity. Another statistic that sticks out to me is that there are 146,000 inmates in a prison system that is meant for only 80,000 inmates. Before researching the topic I was 100 percent against this mandate that would eventually release 30,000 convicted criminals back into society. Those people committed a crime and should have to face the reprucussions of their crimes. However, after reading a few articles on the subject it is obvious that there is a very prominent case for the inmates and it really made me second guess myself. There are certain rights prisoners are granted and its obvious that they are not getting them in some of these prisons.
I have spoken to people just through casual conversation about the situation and it seems that there are alot of mixed feelings on the California prison system's problem. In my mind these men are criminals and deserve to be in prison however they are guarentted rights that are not being granted. In my mind it is hard to simply say "let them on loose on the streets", when they have been convicted of breaking the law. But I also can't see it being alright to let a human being put in inhumane living conditions. From people I spoke with one of the most prominent arguments was that the problem began with the penal system locking up people for minor offenses such as drug crimes that shouldnt neccesarily even be a crime. However, I believe that if you know that there is a law against something and you knowingly break that law you should be punished. It seems many people have it in there mind that marijuanna laws are to harsh and that people in prison for minor drug offenses should not be in prison. To me, those in favor of this argument don't realize that even though it is a minor offense and not something as so severe as murder it still is against the law.
Since we have been going over Kant's deontology in class I think it would be a good view point to add into this discussion. How would someone using this method feel about releasing these prisoners? Kant says to do things because they are the right thing to do. Well in this situation what is the right thing to do? Yes these prisoners have broken the law and the right thing to do is for them to be punished. However, The conditions they were under would be considered not right and inhumane by a reasonable person so how would a person studying Kant's deontology feel about this?