Bryan Caplan provides today's prompt for discussion:
Why do we have separate men's and women's prisons? You don't have to envision the alternative for long to have your answer: Co-ed prisons would be a living hell of rape and brutality. Or perhaps I should say: Even more of a living hell of rape and brutality, because that already describes single-sex prisons today.
I'm not raising this issue to ruin Mothers' Day. It's a lead-in to a serious proposal for prison reform. Once you know how to make prisons even worse, you know how to make them better. Namely: Reduce the variance of strength and aggression within single-sex prisons by separating prisoners into something like "weight classes."
In boxing, heavyweights don't fight featherweights. It's not a fair fight. But in prison, heavyweights serve their time side-by-side with featherweights. A simple remedy for rape and brutality, then, is split up prisoners by size and strength. You could assign the various classes of prisoners to different wings. Or if that's too logistically difficult, you could assign each prison a weight class, then reallocate existing prisoners.
I cannot think of a compelling argument against trying this reform.
Can anyone else? Comment below, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org