There is no such thing as a debt to society. If there were such a thing as a “debt to society” it wouldn’t be payable by sending time in prison. Society cannot be wronged, it cannot be taken from or be owed, it cannot give or owe anything to anyone, because society is not a being in and of itself. Society is simply a term used to describe the mutual cooperation of individual men, in interpersonal relationships, not some special being floating independently off in the noumenal realm which we can’t properly define or understand. Crimes are committed by persons against other persons and their property. As such, restitution for crimes should be paid by the criminal to the same person(s) they harm, and their property rightfully restored. To understand what a crime is, please consult the following chart:
If we actually understood and followed this formula, imagine all the resources we would save instead of dumping them into a useless prison system. Imagine how many people who have committed victimless “crimes” would have their freedom restored, and how many others would have their loved ones brought back to them. There is no need to prosecute “crimes against society” and no need for people who have not harmed another person or their property to ever “pay their debt to society”. Stop prosecuting those who have not committed crimes against another person, and you will have a more free, happy, and just system. For those who have actually committed a crime against a person or their property, they should repay the loss to those who they wronged, and they cannot do that by being locked in a cage, or having the additional weight of a “debt to society” added to their load.