Vine & Fig Tree
Q. What role would prisons play in an Christian anarcho-capitalist
Prisons do not bring justice. If Smith steals $1,000 from Jones, justice demands that Smith restore Jones to his pre-theft state. Smith must "make him whole." The modern "justice system" puts Smith the thief in prison and charges Jones the victim to feed Smith and provide him with cable TV and weight-lifting equipment. If Smith is a really bad fellow, he gets to hang around other bad fellows, compare notes, learn successful strategies, and nurture his envy and bitterness at the world that imprisoned him, making prison a college for criminals. If Smith is not a really bad fellow, but a misdirected soul caught on a bad day, he will likely be subject to homosexual rape and other forms of violence and abuse.
None of this has anything to do with Justice.
Nor does it have anything to do with the Bible.
R.J. Rushdoony, in his essay on "Prisons," in his Institutes of Biblical Law, points out that the Bible never prescribes imprisonment as a punishment, but rather commands restitution. He writes:
|According to Leviticus 18:24-30, every departure from God's law is a defilement of men and a defilement of the land: it is the basic pollution of all things. The modern prison system is an important aspect of the defilement of our times.|
A major part of today's problem is the absence of a postmillennial gospel. People are characterized by envy-based vengeance rather than by a desire to see conversion and restoration. People are willing to inflict pain on a thief even if that does not restore their stolen goods. The high-sounding term "punishment" is often used. It is an unGodly substitute for justice.