There are only two kinds of people who should ever be incarcerated in prison ~ as we know them today.
… and for that matter, only as long as is necessary.
Those who pose a credible threat to the safety of an individual or the public at large
Those who misbehave at or attempt to escape from a Rehabilitation Detention Center
What is meant by “Rehabilitation Detention Center?”
A low-security fully self-contained campus designed with the core principle in mind of addressing the root causes of anti-social and criminal behavior, including tending to the mental, physical, educational, emotional and vocational needs of its “residents.”
Those who live on these campuses need not be viewed as ‘outside the bubble’ of society but merely fellow members of a larger community who have special needs or happen to be struggling through difficulties in getting to a workable position within society.
Meanwhile, there are very few sorts of people who should ever end up (by court order) confined to a Rehabilitation Detention center. Among them are those who fail to perform (to satisfaction) their assigned community service, make appropriate restitution for their wrongdoings and/or (in the case of ongoing criminal history) show discernible progress toward becoming productive members of society.
These might also form the basis for similar structural programs geared toward those struggling through homelessness and drug addiction, where slots are made available to those seeking assistance with re-integration and wishing to self-register.
The time has come to stop fixating on this notion of “Getting the Criminals off the Streets,” as if these persons were some kind of disease that needed to be eradicated. Enlightened self-interest suggests that we focus our energies instead on,
“Getting People off Crime”
(the real disease)
How? By allowing ourselves the dignity to believe that we have the ingenuity, innovative capacity and compassion to enable victims of crime see restitution for the wrongs against them, and criminal behavior directed toward productive behavior.
See Also: Crime, Punishment and Economics