The Criminal Justice System in Michigan Is Broken Because of the High Prison Population.

Bedau states that everyone agrees that:

1.                  Crimes must be punished

2.                  The punishment should be in relation to the severity of the crime.[1]

People in Prison Are Isolated and Only Consume, Not Benefitting Any One Else. The number of prisoners in the Michigan (and the United States -over one million inmates) system is too high. People and labor are necessary for a country to have a healthy economy.

Bedau also states that:

1.                  Crimes can be prevented by taking the guns out of the hands of criminals and by making the public less careless.

2.                  Crimes can be deterred by making the criminals afraid of being arrested convicted and punished for crimes. The desires to commit crimes would be lessened..

We do not know who will commit crimes, or we would have prevented it. He is talking about murders in this case. He says that it is better to take risks rather than lose our freedom in the process.

Kant would argue that retributive justice is necessary and the utilitarian would say that  punishing a criminal is a retributive and a social defense.[2]


An argument against too many people in prisons is that only bad people who are bad go to jail. A response is the question “Is there such a thing as a bad person”, if all people count the same as one? Deprivation of liberty is an extreme measure. Bad people are only capable of self interest and would not produce anything that would benefit other members of the culture as described by psychological egoism.

The criminal justice system in the US. Is fair. The court system guarantees that only people that go to jail are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. People who go to jail do not live my a moral code. This is a nonconsequential aspect. They only are interested in themselves and are not able to think about the well being of others. Only negative benefits are derived from bad people, who only look out for their self interest. This example would be consequential where a negative right, such as those with property, would lose property non-voluntarily by those who steal for their own benefit. This action is not of value to a society, and this action must be prevented, by a threating police force, or by actually prosecuting the criminal as a deterrence for others to avoid such an act.

The Number of Non-white Prisoners Is Too High. The percentage of non-white inmates is higher in prisons than as a percentage of the general population. If this is true, then perhaps the punishment in these areas is of a higher concern to law enforcement than the risk of losing freedom. Putting an offender in prison would get him off the street and he would not commit another crime.

Cultural differences are relevant in considering the seriousness of the crimes. More criminals live in high crime areas. Black and other areas of a city are not as secure as other areas. The concern of self defense may be on more interest than is justified. More violence would be tolerated in this  culture, but not the whole state at large. An act seen as self defense in this culture would be punished by the state of Michigan, but would not be seen as something that would deter more acts of this nature.  

An argument against racial overtones is that the bad acts are the same, no matter what the culture. A person who has a mind is able to distinguish right from wrong. The consequences of his action are evident to him or her. Another person was harmed from his action, and he knew it. If he goes to jail as a retribution. Most people in jail are not incarcerated because they murdered someone. These prisoners will be freed after they served their time (murders may not be, but Michigan does not have capital punishment, and murders get life in prison).

Michigan spends $1.78 billion, more than 20% of the general fund budget, on corrections and houses about 50,000 offenders in state prisons. Although our incarceration rate is 40%, higher than other Great Lakes states, our crime rate is about the same. Although well over 90% of prisoners are released eventually, nearly half return to prison within two years. [3]

40% of the released prisoners will commit another crime and be back in jail. This fact shows that even though the person was in jail, he will not be deterred from committing another crime. Why will he not think that the price of retribution is too high? And if he went to jail, why does this not deter him from committing another crime? Is life in prison too comfortable with food and a place to stay? Will he harm someone else so he can go back? This would make retribution senseless. Another person would be harmed. There is no social deterrence. 

Time in jail does not provide an adequate solution to crime. Perhaps an electronic tether, like Martha Stewart, for house arrest is a better cheaper solution.

[1]Capital Punishment and Retributive Punishment p104

[2]Capital Punishment and Social defense p113.

[3] Jeff Padden former state rep