Triadic Philosophy sees freedom as sacred. In its most fundamental meaning freedom is the capacity to choose. If you take away freedom you disable, maim, even murder a person. This is why prisons do not work. You cannot have prisons that are essentially Punitive. Add punitive to taking freedom away and you have a homicidal mix that is sadly accepted by society. This article is the conclusion of a triadic consideration of the punitive approach to justice. I have already examined the ethical values of tolerance and helpfulness as they apply to the matter of punishment.

Now, we'll turn to democracy.

Democracy lost

Prisons in America are the reverse of democracy. They limit choice in ways that increase dangers and deny the chance of moving toward liberty. They are breeding grounds for the cultivation of a modern form of slavery. Democracy is not its American incarnation. It is something that exists as a universal idea that any nation, region, community or family can subscribe to. It is rooted in every living individual. It is the social expression of ethics. It is modified by the universal values of freedom, love, and justice.


If we say we wish to root out punitive responses from our public actions in relation to crime, we first say that every person on the planet including criminals has the same rights.

Committing a crime does not limit one's rights. They are the same as anyone else's. If this is so, indeed, if one follows triadic thinking, there can be no violence.

Violence and punitive action are among the worst evils. Where in the face of often unspeakable crimes does resolution lie? In the words freedom, love and justice.

Choice cannot be denied to anyone. This is freedom served. Love must be applied to even the vilest individual. If punitive hostility reigns, an evil fate is sealed.

How is justice done?

  • By limiting confinement to what is necessary to prevent violence
  • By involving the criminal in responding to the crime
  • By providing a complete range of choices aimed at education and enablement
  • By extending freedom of choice to include living without doing anything in particular

In other words, in a bad situation, make the situation a good deal better than could have been imagined.

Here is Angela Davis, one of the foremost authorities on prison issues and an advocate of the abolition of prisons. Ending the punitive attitude is essential to this objective. But can it be done? If we can radically reduce smoking, we can certainly show how harmful the punitive option is.

These articles are my own response to this thinking process. I Invite others to undergo a triadic examination of ethics and aesthetics as they apply to our prison system.