Of all the many different forms of punishment humans have thought of over our long time of existence, there is none so popularly supported – and none so perverse – as imprisonment. It might seem less cruel than inflicting pain on someone but in reality it’s so much worse that I wouldn’t hesitate to let all the imprisoned people in the world go free, even if I knew they were all guilty. No one deserves imprisonment. I don’t care if they’ve stolen something, I don’t care if they’ve assaulted someone, heck, I don’t care if they’ve murdered someone, this is never a good idea.

The reason? Because the will to freedom is a virtue. Therefore when you take someone’s freedom as a punishment you’re essentially punishing the good in them, encouraging them to become a worse person. If you want to punish someone for being bad, you should take something they want because they’re bad, not something they want because of the little good in them. Pleasure fits that description perfectly – since enduring suffering of all kinds is a virtue, pursuing pleasure is a vice (clarification: it is not immoral to eat a cookie. It would just be extra virtuous to abstain from it). This means if you beat someone up (punishment by pain), you’re punishing the bad in them instead of the good. Hence why physical pain is such a near-perfect form of punishment. People think torture is what badguys do and imprisonment is what goodguys do but really that’s backwards. Now there are times when pain isn’t a viable option for punishment, but when it is it’s nearly always the best one and imprisonment is always the worst one.

Now, one last question. Is it any coincidence that imprisonment is so strongly associated with government? I think not. After all, the more hedonistic the populace, the safer the government is (a hedonist would never start a revolution because that’d be putting themselves at risk for the good of the populace at large), and so they want to get you thinking that the absence of physical pain is a more inalienable right than freedom is. The government always gains from turning people into worse people, and so of course they love imprisonment.