Friday, February 08, 2019

Sane Asylum?

The purpose of this blog is to liberate some critical thinking at the Friday night dinner table. Please print and share. 
Happy Birthday shout-outs to Marc in SF, Lily in Marin!

happy prisonerThis week's questions for your table revolve around one overriding question: Would someone ever want to be a prisoner?

The story begins in Japan, where the prisons are notoriously harsh:

Rules absolutely define minute-to-minute existence in Japanese Prison. If you follow them to the letter, you can exist and even accumulate additional privileges. If you diverge from the long list of rules, you will be punished, often in an arbitrary and draconian fashion. Some of the rules include:
  • Where and how to place each item inside the cell.
  • Where to write anything; only in specified notebooks which are inspected. Not on scarp of paper or inside a magazine, or face punishment.
  • How to sit or stand during cell inspection, and during “leisure” time: No leaning, laying down or random walking around the cell.
  • How to sleep. On your back or side, never the stomach. Do not cover your face while sleeping. Do not read, talk or move around during sleep time.
  • How to march. Moving around the prison will be done by marching. Infractions result in punishments.
  • When and how to speak. Strict silence is observed the majority of the time. During leisure times, talking should be done in a low voice so as not to disturb others. Utmost respect must be used when addressing guards or punishments will follow.
  • Where to look. Looking at a guard can result in a punishment. Looking up during meal time is punishable.  Opening eyes during “reflection time” when eyes should be closed is punishable.
And the punishment for breaking the rules can be 1 month solitary confinement where the prisoner is required to sit motionless on the floor for 10 hours a day.

Now, let's re-ask the question: Would someone every want to be in such a prison?

This is the same Japan with the world's best longevity statistics.

The two never the twain should meet.

Never meet, that is, until your ageing population starts getting desparate. Many of them are alone, lonely and struggling, and falling through the cracks of social services.

This is going to sound like fake-news, but it is true: many Japanese seniors are committing petty crimes in order to go to prison.

In the past decade, the elderly population in prisons has risen from less than ten percent to nearly a quarter (which means that the prison age demographics now mirrors the overall society).

So now we have the answer to the first question, would someone want to go to prison.

The second question for your table is, Why?

And finally, Can you imagine poor, lonely Jewish seniors shopliftin en masse so they can go to prison?

Shabbat Shalom

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