Pharyngula

Because prisons ban Dungeons & Dragons.

Prison officials instigated the Dungeons & Dragons ban among concerns that playing the game promoted gang-related activity and was a threat to security.

Yeah, it might inspire them to carve a magic wand out of a bar of soap, and pew-pew prison guards with magic missiles.

Hey, can we get prisons to ban religion because it similarly promotes fantasy thinking and organizes people into groups, aka “gangs”? Bible study could be a gateway to organized crime, you know.

Comments

  1. #1 cehegarty
    January 26, 2010

    Simple: the American government is afraid that the D&D prisoners will cast Greater Malison and then spam them with Finger of Death.

    Why am I familiar with this?

  2. #2 mothra
    January 26, 2010

    Bible study probably does lead to recidivism in that religion builds up false hopes rather than rational hope (TM) based upon intellectual or material gains. Bible study may set you up for fall.

  3. #3 Abdul Alhazred
    January 26, 2010

    Oh no! Cruel and unusual punishment.

    Quick! Call the ACLU. :P

  4. #4 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 26, 2010

    Well, now I understand why moving prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland is so dangerous: they know too many powerful spells.

  5. #5 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    Oh no! Cruel and unusual punishment.

    Quick! Call the ACLU. :P

    Your strawman’s on fire….

  6. #6 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 26, 2010

    Oh no! Cruel and unusual punishment.

    Quick! Call the ACLU. :P

    ?

  7. #7 Gerin Oil
    January 26, 2010

    From the article, “…Singer was told by prison officials that he could not keep the materials because Dungeons & Dragons ”promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible gambling,” according to the ruling.”

    At least they’ve established a clear difference between religion and role playing games. Clearly they have nothing in common.

  8. #8 IanM
    January 26, 2010

    Could be?? Bible study is a gateway to organized crime. Need we cite everything from centuries of the Roman Catholic’s Church’s crimes against humanity, to the Discovery Institute’s fraudulent assault on science and reason?

  9. #9 Abdul Alhazred
    January 26, 2010

    Strawman? You ain’t seen nothin yet.

    Satan worshipper denied freedom of religion in prison

    Abdul Alhazred unsheathes the mighty Geekbane. It glows bright white.

  10. #10 arrakis
    January 26, 2010

    If they’re in prison, they probably failed their bluff check. Their role-playing probably didn’t improve much after that.

    Bards, on the other hand, have naturally high bluff checks. Bards in history have been known more for drug use, which often means sentencing in the form of fines and probation. If more hard sentences were mandated, we could possibly get more bards in prison. But, again, this would require failing an initial bluff check. It’s a vicious cycle.

  11. #11 alysonmiers
    January 26, 2010

    The post title amuses me. The answer suggests that you won’t go to prison if you can’t pursue your hobbies in there. As opposed to, you know, godless nerds are underrepresented in prison populations because they don’t commit as much crime as the general population? (Or at least that we’re better at not getting caught.)

  12. #12 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    January 26, 2010

    Your strawman’s on fire….

    Something of a speciality of his.

    Aside from the Political (and factual) correctness issues of tying religion to violence, I really don’t see anything that disconnects DnD from Religion on those counts.

    That said, Religion also has a first amendment pass, whereas DnD does not. I think it’s stupid to bar it, but it’s also probably not important unless those exact behaviors actually reduce recidivism.

  13. #13 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 26, 2010

    I do wonder how “promotes fantasy role playing” makes it onto the list of bad things that D&D does.

  14. #14 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    Strawman? You ain’t seen nothin yet.

    Satan worshipper denied freedom of religion in prison

    Abdul Alhazred unsheathes the mighty Geekbane. It glows bright white.

    There’s already a word for that: “troll”.

  15. #15 Abdul Alhazred
    January 26, 2010

    Some people don’t have a sense of humor. They need to play D&D more.

  16. #16 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 26, 2010

    Some people don’t have a sense of humor. They need to play D&D more.

    That was humor?

  17. #17 Kausik Datta
    January 26, 2010

    On a related note, several papers that I quickly looked at seemed to indicate that religious faith reduces recidivism. The problem is most such papers were written by people who provide pastoral care services to the prison populations. I doubt that such evaluations are at all objective. Here is an example from the State of Oregon.

    What is disturbing is that the Department of Health and Human Services and the DOJ appear to endorse religion as a means to reduce recidivism. A PDF document from the HHS website – here, and one sponsored by the DOJ – here.

    Is this a waste of taxpayer dollar for religious programming, or is it beneficial? Does it work? What does the Pharynguhorde say?

  18. #18 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    January 26, 2010

    Some people don’t have a sense of humor. They need to play D&D more.

    You know how people use “Clown College” as a pejorative? You could use a few courses.

  19. #19 SteveM
    January 26, 2010

    …and possible gambling,…

    So no cards either then?

    …addictive escape behaviors…

    I think they are confusing “escapism”, with “escape manual”.

  20. #20 Abdul Alhazred
    January 26, 2010

    Thank you thank you thank you. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

  21. #21 https://me.yahoo.com/thomasjwebb#913d8
    January 26, 2010

    Given how prison gangs form not just around race, but also religion (Catholic Latin Kings, Odinist White supremacist gangs and the Nation of Islam Muslim Brotherhood..), I’m surprised they don’t take away their freedom of religion.

  22. #22 pjsouza
    January 26, 2010

    Well you all know how D&D spells are just the first step to learn real spells, Jack Chick to me so. Would you like 9d6 fireballs going off during prison gang fights?

  23. #23 Tulse
    January 26, 2010

    They should allow it, but only let prisoners play lawful good characters.

  24. #24 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    January 26, 2010

    What does the Pharynguhorde say?

    Personal Opinion: Not impossible, but I doubt it’s the religion itself. Instead, /if true/, it’s that religion can grant you a social network (In theory; Say you get released and the visiting pastor directly takes you to his parish, introduces you, you hob and nob. You find work opportunities, and to the layman (someone not involved in the law), you finding Jesus in college would be considered meaningful.

    In other words, it’s not that religious BELIEF keeps you from committing crimes, but religious networks keep you from /needing to/. That, however, is a very preliminary theory, and I’m about to go database dive because I consider that an incredibly interesting question. This country’s legal system is in various ways, fucked up, so anything that actually reduces recidivism and crime rate is something that needs to be examined.

  25. #25 Blind Squirrel FCD
    January 26, 2010

    Many other gang or group forming activities such as group martial arts exercises are currently banned in federal prisons. The thinking seems to be that productivity of prison officials is measured by the number of new rules produced, sort of like congress.

    BS

  26. #26 history punk
    January 26, 2010

    The reason they offered to justify banning it is dumb, there is a real chance of confusion makes banning the game less stupid than it sounds. Much of the game is clearly fictional- using magic missiles, dwarves, and quests. However, I’ve been in situations where I’ve “distracted the guard, while my friend stabbed and stole the keys or as I told my fellow player, I’ll distract him while you steal the keys.” I’ve “dug a tunnel over the prison wall to escape.”

    Also, D&D players frequently pass notes to the DM to tell him that they want to do something secretly. They might whisper to him. Now, 99% of the time, even in prison, this is harmless, but given the lethal and job relatied consquences if a note of a plot to shank a guard or another inmate is passed under cover of a D&D game some guards opt not to ban it.

    Now, I am not in favor of a total ban. But banning it is not as straight fowardly done as the media and internet comments make it.

  27. #27 Steven Mading
    January 26, 2010

    In seriousnes: The reason atheists are under-represented in pirson populations might have nothing to do with whether or not atheists are less likely to commit crimes. (or less likely to get caught). I would love that to be true, but I think the statistics themselves are suspect because of how those running the prisons tend to view religion. Because there is a strong tendency to believe the lie that religion is evidence of morality, parole boards tend to look more favorably on prisoners who profess religion. Therefore the prison population is under a very strong incentive to profess to be religious whether they really are or not. That destroys the credibility of any self-reporting of religion among the prison population.

  28. #28 Kome
    January 26, 2010

    I’m for banning D&D in prison because, you know, YOU’RE IN PRISON. Obviously, a court found you guilty of something worth taking away a significant portion of your freedom for some time. Having fun is one of those freedoms you get taken away. You know, you killed a person. Don’t expect to have much fun after that.

    I agree with the policy to punish prisoners, but holy fracking crackers is the reasoning stupid. D&D does not, in itself, promote anything negative except a desire for Funyons and Mountain Dew.

    Having a decent policy for stupid reasons makes it a stupid policy.

  29. #29 Steven Mading
    January 26, 2010

    PZ said: Yeah, it might inspire them to carve a magic wand out of a bar of soap, and pew-pew prison guards with magic missiles.

    Well, actually, I think most of them would be taking levels of rouge and pouring ranks into Sneak, Disable Device, and Open Locks.

  30. #30 Legion
    January 26, 2010

    On a related note, several papers that I quickly looked at seemed to indicate that religious faith reduces recidivism.

    We rather doubt it. Some inmates “get religion” as a form of protective coloration that allows them to gain the protection of the group.

    Other’s do it as a way to demonstrate to the prison authorities that they’re rehabilitating and are remorseful for their crimes.

    For many inmates, it’s just a way to get along while they’re inside. Our guess is that education and friend/family connections on the outside provide more effective protection against recidivism.

    On a related note, we listened to an NPR story on the prison system a while back and were surprised to learn that, at least within some Hispanic gangs, Nietzsche was very popular.

    Finally, do you really need a lot of equipment to play a fantasy RPG? Given how much free time inmates have, we bet they could make up their own game with the materials they have at hand, because after all, RPG are mostly imagination anyway.

  31. #31 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    I’m for banning D&D in prison because, you know, YOU’RE IN PRISON. Obviously, a court found you guilty of something worth taking away a significant portion of your freedom for some time. Having fun is one of those freedoms you get taken away. You know, you killed a person. Don’t expect to have much fun after that.

    For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious and wrong.

  32. #32 Gregory Greenwood
    January 26, 2010

    The Prison Officials feel they have a genuine concern. I mean, it is bad enough to deal with a shiv, but a shiv +5? In the hands of a rogue with small weapon mastery? That’s a huge security risk right there…

    The sheer, undiluted ‘stoopid’ of this policy is causing severe dermal inflamation.

  33. #33 v.rosenzweig
    January 26, 2010

    It’s not because we’re godless, it’s because we’re nerds. We’re sitting at home on Friday nights while the cool kids are going out to clubs and bars. No clubs and bars, ergo no bar fights. Stay out of fights, you’re less likely to go to jail. Even if you don’t go to jail by fighting, what sort of job contacts will you make by impressing random people with your bar-fighting skills?

  34. #34 ThirdMonkey
    January 26, 2010

    Now I have to update my list of reasons not to go to prison:
    1) No D&D!!!!
    2) No Internet!!!
    3) No video games!!
    4) The possibility of being given a human booster shot by a guy named Molly!

    By the way, it was probably the Dimension Door and Teleport spells that worried the guards the most. Where the prisoners would get the spell components, I have no idea. Or maybe they were worried about them turning the dice into weapons? Four-sided dice can be a little pointy…

  35. #35 Michelle R
    January 26, 2010

    Well I’m all for suppressing the fun in prisons (It’s a prison. Murderers aren’t there on a teaparty.)… but that’s a STUPID reason.

  36. #36 Alverant
    January 26, 2010

    Well in D&D you do play characters who engage in B&E and mass murder (ie killing those troublesome trolls in their nearby caves).

    Does that mean other non-Fantasy RPGs are banned as well?

  37. #37 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    January 26, 2010

    Steven Mading @27 pretty much nailed why I doubt this can be studied with any ease (I apparently don’t remember my PIN for databases,

    Parole Boards are generally reasonably non-denominational in their ‘religion = goodness’ view. Everyone finds Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, whatever. You can’t just poll it, because, well, everyone will lie if they think it keeps them in the clear (and they think so, whether it does or doesn’t; I’m pretty sure it doesn’t, on parole officers). You’d have to monitor inmates’ personal lives to see what they’re doing in their spare time, and that monitoring may, by itself, alter the numbers.

  38. #38 alysonmiers
    January 26, 2010

    The problem is most such papers were written by people who provide pastoral care services to the prison populations. I doubt that such evaluations are at all objective.

    It’s also possible that these studies are picking up a legitimate correlation, just not for the reasons they think. Pastoral care services may have a positive effect, but it comes from the people, not the faith.

  39. #39 Walton
    January 26, 2010

    I’m for banning D&D in prison because, you know, YOU’RE IN PRISON. Obviously, a court found you guilty of something worth taking away a significant portion of your freedom for some time. Having fun is one of those freedoms you get taken away. You know, you killed a person. Don’t expect to have much fun after that.

    So… you think that the majority of people in prison “deserve” to be made to suffer? What planet do you live on?

    In the United States, the prison population is absolutely massive – around 700 per 100,000 people, IIRC – compared to every other developed country. A high proportion of these people are in prison for the “crime” of possessing or selling recreational drugs, or for other non-violent and non-dangerous offences. Not to mention that the criminal justice system disproportionately targets poor and marginalised groups, and displays a systemic bias against people from ethnic minorities.

    The majority of people in prison are not there for serious violent crimes. And even for those who are, there is often some explanation. A high proportion of people imprisoned for serious crime were abused in childhood, are mentally ill, are unemployed and/or lacking in education, and have problems with drug or alcohol abuse. I find it sad that the criminal justice system, as it exists today, simply seeks to pander to the ignorant public desire for vengeance, rather than to serve any kind of rational objective.

    OK, rant over.

  40. #40 David Marjanovi?
    January 26, 2010

    Ignoring the pressure on American inmates to make a show of religion, I was going to answer the title question by “because nerds don’t know how to get themselves into trouble”, along the lines of comment 33. Then I read on.

    Incidentally, what percentage of US inmates consists of murderers…?

    They should allow it, but only let prisoners play lawful good characters.

    Now that sounds like punishment!

  41. #41 Michelle R
    January 26, 2010

    @Walton: I dunno really, but when my parents punished me for some offence (As minor as it was) I wasn’t allowed to have fun for a certain amount of time… You know, some time out. Some “think about what you’ve done”. It’s not supposed to be entertaining.

    I know it’s kiddie level comparison and the government should NOT be seen as your mama but I think it still applies here.

  42. #42 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 26, 2010

    Hey I agree with Walton.

  43. #43 David Marjanovi?
    January 26, 2010

    Blockuqote fail.

  44. #44 llewelly
    January 26, 2010

    They should allow it, but only let prisoners play lawful good characters.

    Ever since I read “No one ever chooses to be a Paladin.”(0), I have wondered how people came to play Paladins. Now I know the answer.

    (0) (Player’s Handbook, Core Rulebook I, version 3.5, page 43, left column, 2nd paragraph.)

  45. #45 Stogoe
    January 26, 2010

    History punk, there’s a simple solution – don’t pass secret notes to the DM when playing D&D in prison.

  46. #46 Legion
    January 26, 2010

    Walton:

    In the United States, the prison population is absolutely massive – around 700 per 100,000 people, IIRC – compared to every other developed country. A high proportion of these people are in prison for the “crime” of possessing or selling recreational drugs, or for other non-violent and non-dangerous offences.

    Some people absolutely deserve to be locked up, and punished, but America’s Prison Industrial Complex is neither in the business of rehabilitation nor punishment, but rather, for-profit incarceration.

    There are organizations, comprised of prison guards and companies engaged in the prison business that lobbied for three-strikes and longer sentences, solely for maintaining a high prison population to fuel high demand for their services.

    The whole system needs to be rehabilitated.

  47. #47 Stogoe
    January 26, 2010

    Hey I agree with Walton.

    Weird, right?

  48. #48 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    @Walton: I dunno really, but when my parents punished me for some offence (As minor as it was) I wasn’t allowed to have fun for a certain amount of time… You know, some time out. Some “think about what you’ve done”. It’s not supposed to be entertaining.

    I know it’s kiddie level comparison and the government should NOT be seen as your mama but I think it still applies here.

    How often did your parents send you to your room for several years?

  49. #49 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    January 26, 2010

    *Dances with Walton on his soap box*

    Granted, he got a major plank in his platform wrong.

    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/corrtyp.cfm

  50. #50 Pierce R. Butler
    January 26, 2010

    Prison official instigated the Dungeons & Dragons ban among [sic] concerns that playing the game promotes gang-related activity and was a threat to security.

    [Weird – Firefox won’t let me paste into the comment box any more. If I have to type in any more quotes, I?m gonna start farting stars.]

    Anyhow, that’s the officials’ official excuse. I suspect the truth is much more straightforward: a prisoner’s mother complained that it was unsuitable.

  51. #51 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    Hey I agree with Walton.

    Me too. Now I need a shower.

  52. #52 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    January 26, 2010

    Some people absolutely deserve to be locked up, and punished, but America’s Prison Industrial Complex is neither in the business of rehabilitation nor punishment, but rather, for-profit incarceration.

    In complete fairness, we did actually try rehab. For something like 20 years. It didn’t work.

  53. #53 Brownian, OM
    January 26, 2010

    From the article description of the guy who filed a lawsuit against the prison:

    Singer was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 after being found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of his sister’s boyfriend. The man was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer.

    So, he’s a cleric then?

    @Michelle R:

    @Walton: I dunno really, but when my parents punished me for some offence (As minor as it was) I wasn’t allowed to have fun for a certain amount of time… You know, some time out. Some “think about what you’ve done”. It’s not supposed to be entertaining.

    Uh, did they put you in “time out” for twenty fucking years and then expect you to somehow not be a complete sociopath unable to deal with other people when you got out? No?

    Fuck, why not just toss ‘em in an oubliette while you’re at it?

  54. #54 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    [Weird – Firefox won’t let me paste into the comment box any more. If I have to type in any more quotes, I?m gonna start farting stars.]

    That happens to me every once in a while. Try reloading the page. If that doesn’t work, close it out and restart it.

  55. #55 MadScientist
    January 26, 2010

    Just look at what the non-imprisoned geeks do to lame DMs or to idiots who want to join just to annoy everyone. D and D might not be such a good game for inmates after all …

  56. #56 Paul
    January 26, 2010

    So, he’s a cleric then?

    It’s dark, but full of win.

    Nice rant, Walton.

  57. #57 Michelle R
    January 26, 2010

    @Brownian: Maybe you need a timeout yourself. I was being careful about it for a reason. No need to snap at me.

  58. #58 ursa major
    January 26, 2010

    Though there are probably some fakers among inmates who claim to be religious a lot of it looked legit to me. Lots of well worn Bibles, notebooks filled up with bible study notes, inmates shouting theology back and forth, fair attendance at religious services. And not a Unitarian in the mix as best I could tell. Lots of holy rollers and other fundagelicals. Oh, and a whole timecube worth of under treated craziness. Sometimes I wonder if we would reduce the number of crime and criminals if the USA had a better mental health infrastructure.

  59. #59 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    @Brownian: Maybe you need a timeout yourself. I was being careful about it for a reason. No need to snap at me.

    He called you out on a blatant flaw in your analogy and you’re responding with a Tone Flame? Really?

  60. #60 Pierce R. Butler
    January 26, 2010

    tsg @ # 54: Try reloading the page. If that doesn’t work, close it out and restart it.

    It’s working now (prob’ly from the reload after posting). Just as well – I’m not sure I’m ready for stellar flatulence, even if I could start with just a brown dwarf…

    Oh, and a first-time high-five to Walton!

  61. #61 Michelle R
    January 26, 2010

    @tsg: I apologize, I just thought his reply was out of line. It seems mine was as well. I didn’t use that part as an addition to the argument or anything.

  62. #62 Brownian, OM
    January 26, 2010

    @tsg: I apologize, I just thought his reply was out of line. It seems mine was as well. I didn’t use that part as an addition to the argument or anything.

    Well, if you can be gracious, I’ll scale it back too. I do stand by my comment though, as I imagine you do too.

    I suspect there are few here or anywhere that think prison should be just like non-prison except for the lack of freedom. However, there is a line beyond which I think some deprivations are simply punitive for the sake of being punitive and serve neither justice nor rehabilitation. Obviously, where that line lay is where most of the disagreement stands.

    However, comparisons against the “time-outs” one experienced as a child are as meaningless as radio talk hosts talking about whether being waterboarded is torture or not because they spent three seconds in discomfort. Did your parents have another child and raise him or her to college age while you were in “time out”? Did the skill sets you acquired in school become obsolete because an entire new technology gained acceptance while you were in “time out”? Did your boyfriend leave you for another woman, ensuring your were homeless when you were let out of “time out”?

    Just how long did you need to “think about things” anyway?

  63. #63 toth
    January 26, 2010

    A chilling preview of what might go on in our prisons were D&D permitted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_ekugPKqFw

  64. #64 Michelle R
    January 26, 2010

    @Brownian: The parent comparison with knowledge that it was flawed to begin with. The time factor’s different. I’m sure there can be a way to be more moderate. Of course there’s always the “where’s the line” factor.

    But picture this in your head… How would you like to know that your nerd rapist is a level 9 neutral good half elf with 50 charisma and that he’s having a great time?

  65. #65 Moggie
    January 26, 2010

    #37:

    Steven Mading @27 pretty much nailed why I doubt this can be studied with any ease (I apparently don’t remember my PIN for databases,

    Parole Boards are generally reasonably non-denominational in their ‘religion = goodness’ view. Everyone finds Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, whatever. You can’t just poll it, because, well, everyone will lie if they think it keeps them in the clear (and they think so, whether it does or doesn’t; I’m pretty sure it doesn’t, on parole officers). You’d have to monitor inmates’ personal lives to see what they’re doing in their spare time, and that monitoring may, by itself, alter the numbers.

    In the US, sure. But there’s a whole other world out there. If I had the energy to research this, I’d look at countries such as Denmark, which could reasonably be described as apatheist and where there’s less tendency to assume that a religious person is automatically good.

    I seem to remember that around 70% of the US prison population is functionally illiterate. That’s probably not unconnected with the level of religion, but I find it a far more horrifying statistic.

  66. #66 Walton
    January 26, 2010

    Some people absolutely deserve to be locked up, and punished, but America’s Prison Industrial Complex is neither in the business of rehabilitation nor punishment, but rather, for-profit incarceration.

    Yes, true. As with any other large area of government spending, it develops its own inertia; private prison contractors, prison officers’ associations, and the like have a vested interest in increasing the amount of imprisonment. And, of course, it’s a vicious circle: the more successful they are, the more the prison industry grows, and the more money and political clout these organisations acquire.

    But I don’t think that’s the sole source of the problem. Rather, I think the root of the problem is human psychology: the irrational excessive fear of crime, and the thirst for revenge. Due to media sensationalism, most people believe that crime rates are much higher than they actually are; and there are certain sections of the media (in the UK, The Sun and The Daily Mail are particularly culpable) which go out of their way to encourage populist punitivism. Hence why there is still strong public support in the UK for “tougher sentences”, despite the mountains of evidence that imprisonment doesn’t work and increases rates of reoffending.

    This is why I believe that voters should have as little influence as possible over the workings of the criminal justice system, and why I strongly oppose the American practice of electing judges and prosecutors. Mob rule is not conducive to fairness or justice.

  67. #67 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    January 26, 2010

    But picture this in your head… How would you like to know that your nerd rapist is a level 9 neutral good half elf with 50 charisma and that he’s having a great time?

    I’m more concerned with, when he gets out, whether or not he will still be a rapist. How will I feel about my rapist? I don’t honestly know. But I know how I feel about the dude who killed the cousin I loved; I want him ton ot be a killer. I wanted visceral revenge for quite a while, but I eventually cooled off. And to be blunt, the criminal justice system would be insanely unfair if we put the victim’s feelings first, in deciding policy.

  68. #68 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    But picture this in your head… How would you like to know that your nerd rapist is a level 9 neutral good half elf with 50 charisma and that he’s having a great time?

    If you can find a rapist that is content to sit in a prison cell where he is told what to do every minute of every day as long as he can play D&D, then I will consider the scenario. Until then, it doesn’t really bother me.

  69. #69 aharleygyrl
    January 26, 2010

    The USA is confused. We say there is separation of church and state and we have In God We Trust on our currency. Just that alone tells you there is a huge problem.

    I keep telling everyone that most people in prison believe in God. No religious person wants to explain it.

  70. #70 Kausik Datta
    January 26, 2010

    Rutee, SHoD @24:

    Not impossible, but I doubt it’s the religion itself. Instead, /if true/, it’s that religion can grant you a social network…

    I agree. That seems to be the predominant conclusion of most of the papers that I went through following my post. Apparently, ex-cons who find religion get better support from the society at large which reduces their need to commit further crimes.

    Somehow, I, personally, am not convinced that these studies were done in an unbiased manner – if a corresponding secular ex-con group was used as a control. But it strikes me that perhaps it is not a matter of surprise if religious ex-cons get a better reception in a society that is steeped in religious overtones (in ‘society’, I include even specific localities that exhibit the hyper-religious phenotype).

    However, Steven Mading @27 rightly points out:

    Because there is a strong tendency to believe the lie that religion is evidence of morality, parole boards tend to look more favorably on prisoners who profess religion. Therefore the prison population is under a very strong incentive to profess to be religious whether they really are or not.

    Based on my conversation with someone who has seen the prison system in Maryland from up close, it appears to be quite true.

    Legion @30:

    We rather doubt it. Some inmates “get religion” as a form of protective coloration that allows them to gain the protection of the group.

    Yeah, Steven Mading already said that upthread. But rather than saying ‘We doubt it’, would you kindly provide some references for your assertion of doubt? Most studies I came across appear to be to the contrary of your (and mine, too) position of doubt.

  71. #71 cicely
    January 26, 2010

    I guess they could go to playing Amber Diceless. Then the prison staff need not fear the brightly-colored missiles or the shiny little caltrops.

  72. #72 Brownian, OM
    January 26, 2010

    Hoo boy. If you’re gonna continue to say stuff this dumb, then I’m not holding back.

    But picture this in your head… How would you like to know that your nerd rapist is a level 9 neutral good half elf with 50 charisma and that he’s having a great time?

    As opposed to what? Staring blankly at a wall for 50 years?

    If he were my rapist, I’d want him dead. But that’s why we invented society to administer justice on our behalf so we all don’t spend half our lives indulging revenge fantasies.

    Try to picture this in your head: sitting in a 8′ x 12′ cell with Bubba, your ‘mate’, rolling dice and trying to level up your wizard who can only use Audible Glamour once a day as a way to take your mind off the fact that you could get shivved any time.

    Yeah, sounds like a great fucking time. Why, those bastards are pretty well living like royalty, aren’t they?

  73. #73 echidna
    January 26, 2010

    When the pharyngulite hordes lay into idiots, that’s fair game.

    But I find it a bit nasty when Walton says something sensible, gets acknowledged for that – and still gets abuse (@51) “I need a shower”.

    Bloody idiots. Putting someone down to make yourself feel superior – and for no other reason – is bullying behaviour.

  74. #74 Nick
    January 26, 2010

    ‘Is this a waste of taxpayer dollar for religious programming, or is it beneficial? Does it work? What does the Pharynguhorde say?’

    I’ve read that one of the reasons why criminals commit crimes is that they do not have a sense that they are part of a larger community, and that they don’t feel that they want to fit-in with or maintain the standards of the larger community. Often criminals interact within communities where crime is seen as being justifiable and even desirable.
    Given that most religous communities have a stated belief that crime is morally wrong (even though, with little investiagtion, it is possible to find many religous organisations involved in some sort of morally questionable activity, if not outright deception), it could well be that criminals who become active in religous communities after release might well have lower recidivism rates.

  75. #75 SteveM
    January 26, 2010

    But picture this in your head… How would you like to know that your nerd rapist is a level 9 neutral good half elf with 50 charisma and that he’s having a great time?

    I don’t care how much one likes D&D, I doubt he is having a “great time” playing it in prison.

  76. #76 Carlie
    January 26, 2010

    I’m for banning D&D in prison because, you know, YOU’RE IN PRISON. Obviously, a court found you guilty of something worth taking away a significant portion of your freedom for some time. Having fun is one of those freedoms you get taken away. You know, you killed a person. Don’t expect to have much fun after that.

    According to a recent NPR series on prisons,about half a million people in prison are there simply because they can’t make bail.

    “Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson declined NPR’s request to talk about bail. But Marty Horn, then-commissioner of New York City’s jails, says he sees this scenario play out every day as he walks the hallways of Rikers Island.
    ‘Individuals who insist on their innocence and refuse to plead guilty get held,’ according to Horn. ‘But the people who choose to plead guilty get out faster. So this guy is in this predicament, right? So, if he insists on his innocence, he sits here.’
    Does that seem fair?
    ‘I think our system unfortunately forces them to make a difficult choice,’ Horn says. ”

    We’ve apparently brought back debtor’s prisons, and nobody noticed.

  77. #77 tsg
    January 26, 2010

    But I find it a bit nasty when Walton says something sensible, gets acknowledged for that – and still gets abuse (@51) “I need a shower”.

    It was a joke, idiot.

    Bloody idiots. Putting someone down to make yourself feel superior – and for no other reason – is bullying behaviour.

    *yawn* Your concern is noted.

  78. #78 Twin-Skies
    January 26, 2010

    Bible study could be a gateway to organized crime, you know.

    PZ, wasn’t the Tiller shooter a religious nut who committed his crime under the notion he was doing God’s work?

  79. #79 Brownian, OM
    January 26, 2010

    We’ve apparently brought back debtor’s prisons, and nobody noticed.

    As someone who at 17 avoided a jail term for a crime he didn’t commit because his family had sufficient money and connections to score a decent lawyer after an initial legal aid lawyer claimed he’d never even see a courtroom with the lack of evidence on the crown’s side, it’s not hard for me to imagine all the possible ways it nearly went down and feel I’m more the exception than the rule.

    Thanks for pointing that series out, Carlie.

  80. #80 WowbaggerOM
    January 26, 2010

    Brownian wrote:

    As someone who at 17 avoided a jail term for a crime he didn’t commit…

    “I am presently incarcerated, imprisoned for a crime I did not even commit. Attempted murder, now honestly, did they ever give anyone a Nobel prize for “attempted chemistry?”

  81. #81 Brownian, OM
    January 26, 2010

    for a crime he didn’t commit…

    I have to find a different way of writing that. Every time I read it I hear the intro to The A-Team in my head.

  82. #82 ShadowWalkyr
    January 26, 2010

    promotes fantasy role playing, competitive hostility, violence, addictive escape behaviors, and possible[sic] gambling

    Fantasy role playing? “Bro, I’m more Shaq than you are!”

    Competitive hostility? “That was not out of bounds! Blow it up your ass!”

    Violence? “Come over here and say that! That’s what I thought. I’ll go for a dunk ‘n’ land on your face!”

    Addictive escape behaviors? “C’mon, c’mon . . . open the damn cell! I got hoops to play!”

    Possibly gambling? “I bet you ten cigs I can make this basket from here!”

    I guess basketball is going to be banned next?

  83. #83 otrame
    January 26, 2010

    #58 said:

    Sometimes I wonder if we would reduce the number of crime and criminals if the USA had a better mental health infrastructure.

    Is there a stronger word than yes?

  84. #84 John Morales
    January 27, 2010

    otrame,

    Is there a stronger word than yes?

    Indubitably.

  85. #85 MolBio
    January 27, 2010

    “Why are you in?”

    “My roll was too low, back-stab failed, just wasn’t meant to be a rogue.”

    Seriously though, US has too many prisoners who are incarcerated for crimes seen as minor in most other societies and would be punished with a lesser sentence.

    As someone who was in a conservative party, they think if punishment is greater than X, crime rate Y will reduce.

    Most crime is opportunistic, there’s a need, there’s a gap, someone is stupid enough to do it and get caught, illiteracy could be a root (lower paying job, if a job at all, needs = crime).

    It has been shown that when in prison, some learn skills for harder crimes. Hard sentence without a rehab bent, criminals develop revenge motivations, and become harder criminals. All must be proportional, and people must be rehabilitated, otherwise it’s all a waste, creating worse criminals.

  86. #86 God
    January 28, 2010

    Eternal punishment is best: no need to rehabilitate.

  87. #87 OnePumpChump
    January 29, 2010

    Next they will ban Monopoly because it promotes white collar crime. Then chess because it promotes regicide.

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