Do other countries dehumanize criminals like we do in the US?

In the US, it is common for people to believe that criminals are beneath dignity. They believe it is OK, or at least a very low priority problem, that people sent to prison are often sexually assaulted. It is a common joke, in fact. You will also often hear people justifying abuse or violence by reference to some criminal behavior, even if the violence is completely disproportionate to the alleged crime. A sheriff in Florida today announced that if you have a warrant for any reason, which in the US includes thing like traffic offenses or marijuana possession, that you better not show up to hurricane shelters.

I’m wondering if this dehumanization of criminals is common elsewhere in the world.

At a guess, I would expect it to be common. But then, the US is quite an outlier in matters of criminal justice, so it occurred to me to ask. Do other countries also treat prison rape as a joke? In other countries, is it common to excuse police or prison misconduct by observing that criminals deserve whatever comes to them?

Look at how Norway coddles mass murder Anders Breivik.

When I was in Dominica, I saw a small jail (cinder-block building with bars for windows). Turns out it was for truants. Education is so prized, that a kid who skips school is locked up for a few days to a week for a first offense.

In St Martin, the island newspaper discusses criminals in a way they couldn’t in the US. “Joe Blow, who lives over by the new supermarket in Cole Bay was arrested for grabbing a woman’s bottom. Joe has been a pervert since high-school. He needs to be behind bars for a few years. His brother Nate was once seen shoplifting. What a sorry family.”

Frank Abagnale, the con man who inspired the movie ***Catch Me If You Can ***, has served prison terms in three different countries. His take?

“A Swedish prison is like a Holiday Inn. A French prison is sheer Hell. An American prison is somewhere in between.”

Off the top of my head I can think of worse examples…China and the Philippines spring to mind with just a cursory thought, assuming that you think that executing criminals (so of which were arrested for crimes such as meditation) and using their spare parts as ‘organ donation’ is dehumanizing, or basically executing supposed drug dealers without trial is dehumanizing. Are they, IYHO?

I honestly don’t know of many countries that have a justice system just like the US, so not sure if you are looking for a one for one comparison here. Many systems I’ve read about or know first hand are a lot worse (Mexico, for instance), some are better. To the core question, I think to a greater or lesser degree criminal acts do tend to put people outside of society, and the US in general certainly has historically had a dimmer view of criminals than some countries.

I was going to post about this, I remember Abagnale’s story about his time in a French prison…IIRC they throw the prisoners in a hole in the ground, toss in some bread and water every now and then and if they’re lucky enough to still be alive after 6 months or a year or however long they get released. I was shocked that these conditions existed in the second half of the twentieth century.

On the other hand, Julian Assange preferred an Ecuadoran embassy to a Swedish prison.

Maybe, but in a different way than I’m talking about. It’s one thing for a society to believe that the appropriate legal sanction for drug-dealing is execution. It is another to, say, look the other way when drug dealers are abused by prisoners or guards in a way that exceeds that your society thinks is the just punishment for the crime. The former is evidence of an authoritarian approach to the violation of social norms. The latter is a reflection of whether the individual loses some element of dignity or humanity by virtue of the crime. Indeed, if the latter happens, it provides an exception to the authoritarian enforcement of rules (as to the abusers). So they are related but different, IMO.

In the US, very few people think that, say, shoplifting should be punishable by death. But lots of those same people would excuse the police killing of a shoplifter on that basis, or make jokes about the rape of that person. To me that reflects something different from merely an authoritarian approach to crime, which I agree is obviously very common.

And cutting people up for spare parts because they were meditating? How does that factor in? I guess from my perspective, shooting someone execution style because they are PRESUMED to be a drug dealer is more dehumanizing that what you describe, since on the one hand the drug dealer in question ceases to be a human when the bullet goes into their head and on the other, they are at least still alive. I’m not condoning torture or bad treatment, but we have laws against those things, and if caught the prison guards or administration can and would be charged with a crime…while the quasi-empowered mobs in the Philippines who do rough justice on a drug dealer won’t be. Nor will any communist official in charge of ensuring those evil guys from Falun Gong are arrested, tortured, executed and used for parts (or those who were arrested for a host of other things we would consider complete horseshit here in evil America). Russia is much the same.

Basically, while a case can be made that US prisons are worse than some European prisons (and maybe prisons in Japan), I think you need to jump through a lot of mental and logical hoops to try and write an OP such as yours asking the question you asked. Do other countries dehumanize criminals? Um…yeah. In much worse ways. Do they do it like we do here? Probably not exactly, but often the contrast is much more stomach churning than you seem to realize.

Not that I have any experience to contrast, but in the US we have prisons that are like hotels, all the way to prisons that are hell. I don’t know if I trust just one person’s account of the three, that is, if I am planning on making my travel and boarding plans.

I think it is because people think that it won’t happen to them. That the criminal made a decision, and they deserve anything that comes with that decision. Pretty much every time I’ve heard anyone dismiss or justify the way that those who get caught up in our justice system always starts with “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.”, not caring that the “time” may be entirely disproportionate from the “crime”. Not to mention the not so remote possibility that the one doing the time did no crime.

I’m not trying to say one is better or worse. I’m saying they are different cultural phenomenon, driven by different forces. You are free to disagree, of course, but you don’t seem to be disagreeing. Instead, you seem to want to argue which country is worse, etc. Not my interest.

In my experience in China, including some time spent with law enforcement, there is a very strong authoritarian attitude (obviously). But for non-political crimes, there was not the same kind of attitude of the type I describe in the OP. But China is a big country, and my limited experience was over a decade ago in a small part.

I mean, that’s what they say in China too. They’d tell you that if you look at the laws on the books, the stuff you’re describing–extrajudicial killing of Falun Gong members just for being Falun Gong members–is illegal. But just as that’s not really true there, it’s also not really true here.

I want to say this is wrong, but I have no basis to do so. My gut tells me that people wouldn’t in general excuse police killing a shoplifter sans other circumstances. Prison rape jokes I think have been more recently recognized as not cool, just IME. I’m sure there are lots of counterexamples.

Not really responsive, but on the road the other day, I was surprised to see a sign for “correctional facilities.” Made me wonder at the exact manner of correction implied.

My underline.

Yes, but it is those circumstances that make one quite happy to justify it. Say someone shoplifted from the store, was confronted by the police, and then in some way, resisted that arrest.

Suddenly, there are quite a number of people who feel that it was justified.

Driving to visit my brother in Dexter, Michigan there is signage warning people not to pick up hitchikers (there is a prison nearby). I always point out that if they keep their prisoners imprisoned, then I don’t have to be part of their plan.

Except they would be wrong. Put another way, the executions in China aren’t ‘extrajudicial’, since they were approved and authorized by the CCP (well, a faction in the CCP I guess) and at the behest of a state secretary of the party. So, horseshit to anyone saying it’s the same thing. Now, you seem to want to parse things so that killing and cutting up someone for parts because they were meditating or said something against the government and were killed by the state at the behest of state officials at the highest level of government is equivalent to some guards or a warden killing or torturing prisoners without higher authority to do so, and I guess if you see it that way then we have a clear disconnect. Same goes for what’s been happening in the Philippines, same with what goes on in Russia and any number of other places around the world. You asked your question, I answered it the best I could…other countries ‘dehumanize criminals’ by my definition of ‘dehumanize’ (killing them, cutting them up for parts, radical torture, etc etc). The only thing I can see that’s a ‘debate’ here is whether it’s ‘like’ what we do in the US (by which I presume you mean like what happens in some prisons or detention centers, not across the board…but hell, maybe you DO think this stuff happens everywhere in the US).

I’m not arguing what’s worse, but if you aren’t willing to accept there are different ways to ‘dehumanize’ someone then we probably don’t have much to talk about. I don’t know if other countries ‘dehumanize’ criminals exactly ‘like’ in the US. Honestly, if that’s what you are asking that’s not a very interesting question so I’ll bow out and let the echo chamber have at it. You guys can circle about, hashing out how bad the US is without context since you aren’t interested in any of that.

They torture, rape and murder non-political prisoners too…and have done so for, oh, the last 60 odd years. If you didn’t notice that before you weren’t paying attention. Granted, AFAIK the non-political prisoners aren’t generally used for spare parts, but that’s because criminals in China aren’t usually as healthy as folks who’s crime is meditating or wanting to wish the Dali Lama a happy birthday or talk about the TSM…heinous shit like that. Russia is not very nice with either it’s political or non-political prisoners either, in case you were concerned I was picking too much on China. And, as noted, there is what’s happening in the Philippines. But Mexico goes a bit beyond the pale wrt ‘dehumanizing criminals’ too. So do many other Central and South American countries. I haven’t read a lot about it, but my understanding is that some of the eastern European jails arent’ too fun either. Then there is the Middle East…

Really, what you should ask is something more like ‘let’s cherry pick the most advanced countries in the world…don’t those evil Americans ‘dehumanize criminals’ a lot more than these others? Yeah? Well, let’s discuss that to underscore how barbaric the US is!!’.

I’m not sure what you mean. In the US culture people view people as good and bad people thus evil and need to be punished. You do crime you do the time.

There less rehabilitation when comes to criminals. In the US eye criminals are evil and are dehumanization because they are evil by soul or spirit. And should be in jail or get whipping by belt type attitudes.

This why cops in US look at criminals as garbage and more aggressive because attitudes are they evil people.

It not like some countries in the EU that look at criminology, sociology and psychology as cause of crime and support rehabilitation. There view cause of crime is evil by soul or spirit.

The US was very religious rooted and look through less of world of evil people and good people. And evil people thus jail, death penalty or beating type attitudes.

So this is where the dehumanization comes from.

To be fair, Japan’s recidivism rate (39.5%) is higher than Norway’s (20%) but that’s still significantly better than the US (75%) and a bit better than the UK (45%), and Japanese prison conditions include - by all accounts - something bordering on regular torture.

There are probably more variables involved than just how nice/awful the prison sentence itself is. Though, I’ll grant that the Norwegian number does look promising.

I’m a strong proponent of education, but I think that backfires if they’re not bringing teachers to the jail to teach the children.

I’m one of those people who believes in “don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time”, actually, at least for violent crimes. The sometimes long prison sentences are almost never served, either.

Yes, lots of countries dehumanize criminals, and worse than the US. Some countries treat criminals more humanely. We’re pretty bad relative to other Western democratic nations, but we’re probably better than a lot of others.

There are many countries where people don’t call the police in a traffic accidents – they don’t want the police involved. It’s just understood in such places (by both parties) that this is something that can be worked out if nobody’s seriously injured. It’s not that bad here - not yet at least.