a fundamental question that i don't have the background of knowledge necessary to legitimately opine on as it pertains to the justice system, but i'd guess the answer lies somewhere in a synthesis of maintaining public safety by keeping dangerous people off the streets and the ultimate goal of state corrections facilities as institutions meant to educate and rehabilitate extreme social deviants.
As the current system runs, the notion of rehab is all but a joke. A good number of people come out of thepenal system worse than when they went in.
And yes, I believe there're some people who cannot be rehabilitated. Those are the ones that need to remain locked up. Differentiating which people are which is obviously something that the current setup either just isn't well suited to do or just plain isn't very good at.
Interesting. Would not a major step towards addressing either of these issues be to establish a unified, cultural ideal about the purpose of the prison system. It seems to me that the system has evolved with no clear purpose other than to eliminate undesirables from public view. If we had a singular ideal about the purpose of encarceration it would be easier to establish a fair, reasonable and still deserving amount of time to imprison someone and those in prison would ( in a perfect world) grow up with a deep cultural and moral sense of what it means to be in prison and would potentially come out of it with a new sense of purpose as opposed to schizophrenia and low moral standards. The way a young man responds to discipline from an authority he respects.
It would be really hard to do in today's deeply divided political scene, however.