It's not an incentive and neither is the death penalty. They're major punishments, but they're too far removed for people to consider in deciding to commit a crime.
Than life without parole isn't an incentive either.

But is it really fair to punish someone for actions that were essentially involuntary due to psychosis? Is it fair to punish good people for suffering from illness? And the people who respond well to medication -- imagine the moment when they realize what they've done!

No, but I don't think it's fair to expose someone with a history of an extreme psychotic break to the public either. Especially since when they are released (once they are considered to not be a threat to themselves or others) there is nothing forcing them to take their medication. It's not so easy to commit them without their consent anymore either. It is ultimately up to them. I don't think it's rational to expect an irrational person to consistently take medication. What happens when they feel they no longer need medication and are "better"? They will stop taking it, and the cycle continues. I'm not stereotyping the mentally ill as violent, but I think in cases such as Virginia Tech, the more recent school shootings etc, many times in these cases these people were NOT unfamiliar with the inside of a mental hospital. I'm sure they received treatment, but for whatever reason did not receive further treatment and committed terrible crimes due to the illness.

I don't feel like it's punishment at all, and I don't think they should be in a prison environment. I think they should be in an environment where they receive consistent care for their illness. These people are prisoners of their own mind. Most of them are homeless, self medicate with drugs or alcohol, and in some cases become a danger to themselves and other people. In extreme cases where these people have committed horrible crimes, they should be treated in a mental institution in a community of their peers. If someone is medicated and realizes the crime they committed and is then released from the hospital. Now what? They are on their own. It doesn't erase the crime nor the mental illness. What do we tell the victims of these people? "Oh well they are getting treatment at a mental hospital and should be out shortly once they get better.". Then they go right back out into the street. This isn't the way to protect the public or protect the mentally ill. It's not to "punish" them but to give them the treatment they need. When the mental institutions shut down, it did a great disservice to people suffering from these illnesses....which is why many are homeless and are left to their own devices.

Also, it's no secret that the "insanity" defense is often time abused. Yes, maybe that person, after receiving treatment, could be horrified by his crime....or he could not. Insanity in these cases is too often used as a blanket term for every crime. Being mentally ill is not always relevant to a criminals actions. So for people who see "pleading insanity" as an easy way out of hard time, no....they can serve the same amount of time in a mental hospital. To the TRULY mentally ill people this will be a way for them to finally receive proper care and treatment, for someone who is simply abusing the system...they would end of serving the same amount of time as they would in prison. So no, I don't think them being in a mental hospital ( a well staffed facility that is properly trained) is punishment....but that's getting off into an entirely different discussion...

If it's fair to let some people be raped, that means rape can be fair and have a legitimate purpose. Do we really want to say rape is sometimes justified? Is that where we want to go?

I dont understand this response. I was saying that "torture" is subjective. To some people (myself included) putting a pedophile in an environment where he could be raped and abused...is torture. It's also problematic because the pedophile is more inclined to get out of prison than the murderer who raped him. I believe pedophiles who have committed a crime against a child should be put in solitary confinement period. They are in danger and also dangerous (again because they have short sentences and are hated in prison). As for those who are found to have possessed child pornography and things of that nature, I believe they should be put in a mental hospital (but this is also due to the fact that I believe pedophilia is a mental illness).

Huh??? How in the world does giving prisoners food conflict with protecting the public?! Life imprisonment is sufficient to separate dangerous prisoners from the public so they can't cause more harm, and life imprisonment necessarily involves not starving prisoners to death.

I don't think anyone was referencing food, clothing, and shelter. I should have put quotes around "basic necessities" as I was being sarcastic. As stated previously prisoners are assured those necessities moreso than law abiding citizens. But recreational activities for "fun" are not necessary. That is a privilege. It's not sufficient because once again to many people being on the street is worse than serving a life sentence. Within a couple of years, those people are institutionalized and prison life becomes who they are. It's not a "threat" or a punishment anymore...it just...is. I have a relative who was released from prison after committing a crime and couldn't "deal" with the real world, and committed another crime so he could go back. There was a man who made the news about a year ago. He intentionally committed a crime so that he could receive health care, guaranteed food and shelter. This isn't right. When prison life becomes "better than life on the street" how can it be a punishment?