Crime, Punishment, Justice

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So there is something I've been thinking about lately, and its not a terribly "comforting" topic. Though likely a uniquely American issue, perhaps other countries could relate.

Whenever I read or hear about a rapist or child molester or mass murderer simply getting something like jail time (especially laughable is the "Multiple Life Sentences" punishment), it gets under my skin and gets me mad. How can we give jail time for something like that?

Before I go any further, I should define what I consider "that" I suppose. "That" would include:

Rape
Child Molestation
Torture
Mass Murder
Serial Killing
Any other crimes that combinations of, or largely the same as the above crimes.

Now I know bleeding hearts are going bleed all over me for this, but seeing someone like a rapist just get jail time for crime that will cause his/her victim to suffer years (likely for the rest of their lives) even after the crime was committed is sickening. The perpetrator will likely never suffer 1/100th of the pain and suffering s/he caused their victim, yet this is supposed to be an acceptable punishment? This is "justice"?

Perhaps its just because I have a different concept of "crime prevention/deterring". To me, "Prevention/Deterrence" only occurs for things you're doing to stop/catch the crime before it goes too far - IE: better equipped police, more effective patrols and prevention programs. Once you enter the courtroom the only things that should matter are A: Innocent or Guilty and B: Punishment. If you want the possible punishment to be part of that "deterrence" then you have to ensure that the possible punishments are so horrifying and terrible that no one would ever want to receive them; they should be the kinds of things people contemplate suicide in order to avoid, not something they could live through or come out the other side intact.

People rail and complain that its inhumane and that we're "better than that". And they're right; we are - to actual humans. My has always been that we're aren't talking about people anymore when we talk about rapists, mass murders etc. We're talking about animals that broke the very basic tenets of our society, our culture and our very existence as a species, not a cut-purse. We should no be worried about reforming these "people" their punishment should be swift, painful and held up as an example.

Jail time is an unacceptable punishment. Hard labor with the intent to work the prisoner to death, branding and confiscation of all material belongings/wealth, test subjects and the death penalty all would be more acceptable than jail time. And not the "nice" death penalty most states use; the death needs to be painful causes abject terror in the criminal - something like what happened in Law Abiding Citizen is more along the lines of what the death penalty should be.

Because lets be honest - its ridiculous that in the US there are places where they will kill a dog that bit or killed someone attacking a member of their family before they will kill someone who raped a woman or abused a child.

I can sympathise with that, but it doesn't work in practice. You give harsher penalties, and people are more likely to find the person not guilty so they don't face them. It also means they've got nothing to lose, which means you may as well kill the victim (can't hurt), and go down shooting rather than surrender to police.

OTOH, if a nation puts those laws in place, I'm not going to condemn them too strongly for it. I hate when people complain about westerners facing the death penalty in a nation for a crime that locals face the death penalty for, and that's seen as a massively serious crime back home.

Paragon Fury:
People rail and complain that its inhumane and that we're "better than that". And they're right; we are - to actual humans. My has always been that we're aren't talking about people anymore when we talk about rapists, mass murders etc. We're talking about animals that broke the very basic tenets of our society, our culture and our very existence as a species, not a cut-purse. We should no be worried about reforming these "people" their punishment should be swift, painful and held up as an example.

Unfortunately, certain of those (rape, for example) aren't breaking the tenets of society, in that society will rally around them and say "this doesn't count this time", or "the poor criminal will have to live with being a criminal forever" or somesuch. As long as large numbers of people identify with the criminal, not the victim, the problem isn't going to go away.

Paragon Fury:

Now I know bleeding hearts are going bleed all over me for this, but seeing someone like a rapist just get jail time for crime that will cause his/her victim to suffer years (likely for the rest of their lives) even after the crime was committed is sickening. The perpetrator will likely never suffer 1/100th of the pain and suffering s/he caused their victim, yet this is supposed to be an acceptable punishment? This is "justice"?

There are concepts of justice that don't focus on how bad the punishment is for the offender. Personally I don't care if the offender suffers or not--so long as they can't continue hurting people I'm happy.

If you want the possible punishment to be part of that "deterrence" then you have to ensure that the possible punishments are so horrifying and terrible that no one would ever want to receive them

Punishments as deterrents don't work in many cases. Either the crimes are committed in the heat of the moment without regard for punishment, or the criminal honestly believes he'll never be caught.

People rail and complain that its inhumane and that we're "better than that". And they're right; we are - to actual humans. My has always been that we're aren't talking about people anymore when we talk about rapists, mass murders etc. We're talking about animals that broke the very basic tenets of our society, our culture and our very existence as a species, not a cut-purse. We should no be worried about reforming these "people" their punishment should be swift, painful and held up as an example.

It's telling that in order to justify the kinds of punishments you want to give to these people you first feel the need to dehumanize them.

Paragon Fury:
People rail and complain that its inhumane and that we're "better than that". And they're right; we are - to actual humans. My has always been that we're aren't talking about people anymore when we talk about rapists, mass murders etc. We're talking about animals that broke the very basic tenets of our society, our culture and our very existence as a species, not a cut-purse. We should no be worried about reforming these "people" their punishment should be swift, painful and held up as an example.

Rapists and mass-murderers may have committed immensely harmful acts but dehumanising them is dishonest, as defective as they are they are still as human as you or I. Inflicting pain on the offender won't reduce the suffering of the victim either, the punishment should be as harsh as needed to provide a suitable deterrent and no harsher, any more is causing needless suffering to a sentient being which I believe is immoral.

Don't get me wrong, I can understand the desire for retribution and would probably be screaming for it myself if my little sister or any of the kids I work with was the victim, but I would be wrong in that case. Justice is not the same as revenge.

Good a topic I have expertise in .Criminal Justice Major Here.

Unfortunately not everyone that is sentenced actually committed the crime. Its not like you see it in the crime TV shows most police departments do not have the technology to prove DNA or the experience to perform such tests. Even today many that are convicted can later be found to be innocent. Usually much later like decades.

Though if our justice system was completely perfect I would agree with you on giving harsh punishments.

Also punishment as deterrents can be more cost effective then people realize.

JoJo:

Paragon Fury:
People rail and complain that its inhumane and that we're "better than that". And they're right; we are - to actual humans. My has always been that we're aren't talking about people anymore when we talk about rapists, mass murders etc. We're talking about animals that broke the very basic tenets of our society, our culture and our very existence as a species, not a cut-purse. We should no be worried about reforming these "people" their punishment should be swift, painful and held up as an example.

Rapists and mass-murderers may have committed immensely harmful acts but dehumanising them is dishonest, as defective as they are they are still as human as you or I. Inflicting pain on the offender won't reduce the suffering of the victim either, the punishment should be as harsh as needed to provide a suitable deterrent and no harsher, any more is causing needless suffering to a sentient being which I believe is immoral.

Don't get me wrong, I can understand the desire for retribution and would probably be screaming for it myself if my little sister or any of the kids I work with was the victim, but I would be wrong in that case. Justice is not the same as revenge.

Its not entirely about ideals and revenge. It has more to do with safety and discouraging/preventing acts of crime. Reducing threats to the community.

I may be one of the bleeding hearts, I am quite unsure sometimes about my stance on the death penalty.

However I know, like I know my own name that if anyone committed such a crime against one of my children, I would murder the offender, in cold blood, premeditated, and in such a fashion that I would make them suffer before dying by my hand.

DP by state...well the evidence in aforementioned crimes would have to be as close to 100% as possible to be given that sentence.

I disagree completely, justice isn't about revenge. If someone is guilty of torture for example then torturing them back wouldn't solve anything, nor would it make you above the same horrible acts you're torturing them for in the first place. You'd just be as bad as each other.

Justice should be about removing them from society and reforming them until they can be a productive member of society, however long that takes.

Without writing a massive screed here: the general population are a good decade or two behind the advances in psychology and neural science as well as the philosophical work on justice. Certain accepted truths about human motivation, free-will, violence and justice are poised to over-turn a lot of our standard notions on criminal behavior; it's causes, how to prevent it, how to reduce it and how best to treat criminals.

I am predicting that, in 20 to 30 years, a lot of findings will have made their way into mainstream public and political discourse which, in turn, will have over-hauled a lot of the very assumptions made by the OP.

I've always found moaning crucifixion victims to be a fairly good deterrent against crime.

I mean, you commit a crime, you go to prison, buff up or harden up in other such ways, and get out and tell your friends about it and are very likely to relapse. Frankly the biggest thing the prison system does in America is turn criminals that might not other wise be so bad into hardened prisoners.

Alternatively, you commit a crime, they tie or nail you to a post with your arms above your head, and you sit their slowly dying in public for days on end with the crime you committed on a sign.

Oh, and anyone who tries to help you is also committing a crime. However police officers can shoot you if they feel you've suffered enough. They might even do it right away.

Then they leave you up their till you rot into a skeleton, since replacing you would just take another death.

Of course sanitation would be an issue, but with our modern techniques we could almost definitely manage to come up with something to prevent the spread of disease due to rotting meat, bile, crap, and other things.

But seriously, part of the whole problem is that the system no longer puts fear into people. Sad as it is, we are not and will never be a utopian society, but we will always be humans. Fear is as much a tool to stop crime as rehabilitation, and shouldn't we endeavor to prevent crimes as much as try to bring justice after the fact, or as rehabilitation has, 'fix' the people who have ALREADY committed some crime worthy of putting them in prison?

For example, what if rapist proven beyond a reasonable doubt were castrated? It would almost certainly put a message out to the general public that committing rape will cost them their balls. For an extended punishment, we could brand 'R' on their cheek or forehead after applying some anesthesia.

But we don't do this anymore for two reasons. It's considered 'inhumane', and it's permanent. I think it's largely the second that causes the first. Because we can't take it back, if a mistake is made they have to live with it the rest of their life. As human beings we're no longer willing to take the risk that we might be wrong with this sort of punishment.

The person that raped me was just that, a person. I will always have problems with the death penalty despite what others may have done to me. I am not the type to give up on people. Punishment should not be about revenge, it should be part of a system of prevention.

If the state kills somebody, then it has committed exactly the same offense as the murderer has. Justice is not about revenge, and it's certainly not about acting in precisely the same way as the offender did.

I find myself just as sickened by a lawmaker or an executioner as I do a murderer. A lawmaker has justified his/her actions in a different way, and convinced him/herself that those actions are morally acceptable, just as many murderers do. In my mind, the only thing that separates the murderer and the executioner is legal power.

Secondly is the issue of innocence, as others have mentioned above. "Beyond reasonable doubt" is acceptable when we're deciding who should languish behind bars, because that decision can be reversed (though the damage of prison time is often permanent, too). But, wherever the death penalty is in place, there are the innocent who are killed as collateral. This is never acceptable; even the possibility is not acceptable.

It also bears mentioning that many of the worst crimes are considered entirely justified by the perpetrators on the grounds that they are meting out appropriate punishments to those they victimize.

Genocide, mass killings, torture and murder are carried out by groups of people who are motivated by a strong sense of justice and punishment. This is literally the same same motivation the OP is talking about in his ideas about making them harsher. Heck in some societies (some even today) rape is used as a punishment against women: either as an unofficial way to enforce group norms or in actual prescribed punishment.

Not to mention that societies with cruel punishments tend to be more violent in general. Now don't take that to mean one causes the other - rather both ideas tend to exist in tandem; less violent societies also prefer lighter punishments and more violent ones also prefer crueler punishments.

I think this quote from Nietzsche is appropriate here:

"Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful...the hangman and the bloodhound look out of their faces. Mistrust all who talk much of their justice! Verily, their souls lack more than honey. And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had-power."

Bentusi16:
I've always found moaning crucifixion victims to be a fairly good deterrent against crime.

You have? Which society that has employed such measures had a much lower crime rate?

Nobody expects to be caught. Nobody stops and thinks before a crime "well, I'll only get 25 years if convicted, if they'd execute me I'd not do this".

thaluikhain:

Bentusi16:
I've always found moaning crucifixion victims to be a fairly good deterrent against crime.

You have? Which society that has employed such measures had a much lower crime rate?

Nobody expects to be caught. Nobody stops and thinks before a crime "well, I'll only get 25 years if convicted, if they'd execute me I'd not do this".

Very interesting, sauce please?
If that is the case, prevention lies in making it clear that they'll be caught, rather than having a more severe punishment.

ElectroJosh:
Without writing a massive screed here: the general population are a good decade or two behind the advances in psychology and neural science as well as the philosophical work on justice. Certain accepted truths about human motivation, free-will, violence and justice are poised to over-turn a lot of our standard notions on criminal behavior; it's causes, how to prevent it, how to reduce it and how best to treat criminals.

I am predicting that, in 20 to 30 years, a lot of findings will have made their way into mainstream public and political discourse which, in turn, will have over-hauled a lot of the very assumptions made by the OP.

Pretty much this. The OP, however, should really seek help right now, because having dark fantasies about criminals being tortured, beaten, branded, and worked to death isn't even close to normal when he has no personal stake in the crime.

thaluikhain:

Bentusi16:
I've always found moaning crucifixion victims to be a fairly good deterrent against crime.

You have? Which society that has employed such measures had a much lower crime rate?

Nobody expects to be caught. Nobody stops and thinks before a crime "well, I'll only get 25 years if convicted, if they'd execute me I'd not do this".

You were a child once, I assume.

When I was a child, I learned that if I performed certain actions, I would be punished. That by performing those actions I was risking the wrath of that punishment on myself.

In fact, many actions I could've performed were stopped because of my fear of the punishment. And in other cases, my behavior was channeled in a particular direction out of fear of punishment. If I didn't do X I would be punished, I mean.

Did you not experience this as a child? You never learned to fear the punishment for your actions, the consequences for what you'd done?

The roman empire ruled through fear. Not necessarily the actual punishment but the FEAR of the punishment. Piss off Rome, and they would drop legions on you until their was nothing left. When the gladiators rebelled against the empire they crucified them from the slopes of the final stand all the way to the gates of Rome, and it sent a message. We call it 'Pax Romana'. It started falling apart when they were no longer able to back that threat up.

Disobey your officers in certain armies and you could be hung. Or lashed.

Attila the Hun let his reputation act as fear. Agree to join his empire, pay your taxes, and you would be free to largely govern yourself and worship your gods. Refuse, and die.

Fear is a motivator. Fear is a POWERFUL motivator. So why is fear dismissed as a motivator to prevent crimes from taking place?

It's certainly not the ONLY motivator. I would never suggest it. Punishment, rehabilitation, projection of fear, focusing to much on any one and you completely fail. But a balance of motivators, including fear, can do the work that the police can't.

Did you ever read Terry Prachett? Read his book, Night Watch. It brings up some interesting points, the most relevant one is that a group of well armed and organized citizens could easily wipe out any police force, because police force rely on projection, not actual force. I'm not saying EVERYONE would immediately commit a crime if they knew they could get away with it, but wouldn't more people? To quote, 'they have to magic a little policeman into every ones head'.

Mind you in his society, the punishment for murder is a very swift death at the end of a rope, after a trial.

But to sum up: If you make a potential criminal so afraid of being caught, so afraid of the consequences of his actions, that he does not commit a crime he would have otherwise done, is that not a victory?

Reactionary justice leaves an innocent corpse, or a rape victim, or some other horrible thing. We can't punish people for crimes they haven't committed, but we CAN punish those who HAVE committed those crimes in such a way that it puts off other people from committing those crimes.

You're right. There are people who will still commit rape, and murder, even with this fear there, because some humans minds work differently. But if we can prevent even HALF of what happens through fear, isn't that worth it?

Or what makes it not worth it?

Oh, and as an aside, we still brand our rapist. But instead of using an R put on with hot steel, we put them in a national registry that you can look up and easily identify them with. Usually an ankle bracelet as well.

Coppernerves:
If that is the case, prevention lies in making it clear that they'll be caught, rather than having a more severe punishment.

I don't have a source of the top of my head, but certainly, yes.

Look at piracy. There've been excessive penalties for downloading a few songs, massive fines. This doesn't scare people into stopping because they know they won't actually get prosecuted unless they are massively unlucky.

Increasing the penalty is the usual kneejerk reaction when you can't caught enough criminals.

Bentusi16:
But to sum up: If you make a potential criminal so afraid of being caught, so afraid of the consequences of his actions, that he does not commit a crime he would have otherwise done, is that not a victory?

"If".

Harsher punishments do not necessarily do this. Now, if you can guarantee that using that method, fair enough. But it's been tried, and still is, in many places, with not much success.

Bentusi16:

thaluikhain:

Bentusi16:
I've always found moaning crucifixion victims to be a fairly good deterrent against crime.

You have? Which society that has employed such measures had a much lower crime rate?

Nobody expects to be caught. Nobody stops and thinks before a crime "well, I'll only get 25 years if convicted, if they'd execute me I'd not do this".

You were a child once, I assume.

When I was a child, I learned that if I performed certain actions, I would be punished. That by performing those actions I was risking the wrath of that punishment on myself.

In fact, many actions I could've performed were stopped because of my fear of the punishment. And in other cases, my behavior was channeled in a particular direction out of fear of punishment. If I didn't do X I would be punished, I mean.

Did you not experience this as a child? You never learned to fear the punishment for your actions, the consequences for what you'd done?

The roman empire ruled through fear. Not necessarily the actual punishment but the FEAR of the punishment. Piss off Rome, and they would drop legions on you until their was nothing left. When the gladiators rebelled against the empire they crucified them from the slopes of the final stand all the way to the gates of Rome, and it sent a message. We call it 'Pax Romana'. It started falling apart when they were no longer able to back that threat up.

Disobey your officers in certain armies and you could be hung. Or lashed.

Attila the Hun let his reputation act as fear. Agree to join his empire, pay your taxes, and you would be free to largely govern yourself and worship your gods. Refuse, and die.

Fear is a motivator. Fear is a POWERFUL motivator. So why is fear dismissed as a motivator to prevent crimes from taking place?

It's certainly not the ONLY motivator. I would never suggest it. Punishment, rehabilitation, projection of fear, focusing to much on any one and you completely fail. But a balance of motivators, including fear, can do the work that the police can't.

Did you ever read Terry Prachett? Read his book, Night Watch. It brings up some interesting points, the most relevant one is that a group of well armed and organized citizens could easily wipe out any police force, because police force rely on projection, not actual force. I'm not saying EVERYONE would immediately commit a crime if they knew they could get away with it, but wouldn't more people? To quote, 'they have to magic a little policeman into every ones head'.

Mind you in his society, the punishment for murder is a very swift death at the end of a rope, after a trial.

But to sum up: If you make a potential criminal so afraid of being caught, so afraid of the consequences of his actions, that he does not commit a crime he would have otherwise done, is that not a victory?

Reactionary justice leaves an innocent corpse, or a rape victim, or some other horrible thing. We can't punish people for crimes they haven't committed, but we CAN punish those who HAVE committed those crimes in such a way that it puts off other people from committing those crimes.

You're right. There are people who will still commit rape, and murder, even with this fear there, because some humans minds work differently. But if we can prevent even HALF of what happens through fear, isn't that worth it?

Or what makes it not worth it?

Couple things I disagree with there:

1. Fear works on children. Great. Now try managing a society of adults, mature people who have fully developed mentally and as humans often do, try things anyway for the hell of it. It's human nature to oppose fear to see how far we can get away with stuff, our ancestors didn't lay the foundation for all the technology and knowledge we have by being afraid of fire after getting burned a few dozen times, or cutting themselves on sharp rocks, they persisted and constantly prodded at what could and couldn't be done. My point is fear is not a permanent solution to maintaining any order, it requires constant resources to maintain and if not maintained is very VERY fragile because people WILL try to overcome it.

2. While fear probably did play a part in subjugating the many peoples under Roman rule, the primary thing keeping the Roman empire together was a heavy sense of patriotism coupled with Rome's ability to assimilate conquered peoples. People LIKED being a part of Rome, it meant glory, roads and infrastructure, the protection of the legions and bragging rights to being part of one of the most powerful and sophisticated civilizations at the time. Rome started falling apart due to the decline of its economy, not because of a lack of 'fear' from people.

I find the idea that a stable society can be made through fear ridiculous. It involves keeping people in a constant state of wanting change(because people who are fearful will naturally wish to be able to become not fearful) in order to prevent change.

Friendly Lich:
Its not entirely about ideals and revenge. It has more to do with safety and discouraging/preventing acts of crime. Reducing threats to the community.

And how exactly does the death sentence do this while permanent segregation from the rest of society does not?

OT: Here's the thing in this entire screed that really makes me laugh:

Paragon Fury:
People rail and complain that its inhumane and that we're "better than that". And they're right; we are - to actual humans. My has always been that we're aren't talking about people anymore when we talk about rapists, mass murders etc. We're talking about animals that broke the very basic tenets of our society, our culture and our very existence as a species, not a cut-purse. We should no be worried about reforming these "people" their punishment should be swift, painful and held up as an example.

You remove them of the characterization as "human" and eliminate the one barrier you would find necessary to give them the basic dignities of humanity. But let me ask you one question:

What if they were doing exactly what humans naturally do? What if what they do is simply what most of us would do once we no longer need to consider the consequences of our actions?

If there's one thing we've discovered with the advent of the internet is how we behave once we believe there are no consequences to our actions. Once those barriers are dropped and you could simply do whatever you want, how many of you could say you wouldn't at least try to do some of those things? You think they're monsters when they are only acting out their desires and have decided to not lock it away under an artificial veneer of civility or decency. And if you think otherwise, look how easily you seem to feel putting them through torments once you feel like you can.

This is why civilized society has done away with these punishments. We restrain ourselves so that we may all share in a better society. For a slight sacrifice of the individual, we all benefit, but we also restrain the ability for the society to crush the individual for the benefit, substantial or cathartic, of the society.

The Gentleman:

Friendly Lich:
Its not entirely about ideals and revenge. It has more to do with safety and discouraging/preventing acts of crime. Reducing threats to the community.

And how exactly does the death sentence do this while permanent segregation from the rest of society does not?

But here's the thing in this entire screed that really makes me laugh:

Paragon Fury:
People rail and complain that its inhumane and that we're "better than that". And they're right; we are - to actual humans. My has always been that we're aren't talking about people anymore when we talk about rapists, mass murders etc. We're talking about animals that broke the very basic tenets of our society, our culture and our very existence as a species, not a cut-purse. We should no be worried about reforming these "people" their punishment should be swift, painful and held up as an example.

You remove them of the characterization as "human" and eliminate the one barrier you would find necessary to give them the basic dignities of humanity. But let me ask you one question:

What if they were doing exactly what humans naturally do? What if what they do is simply what most of us would do once we no longer need to consider the consequences of our actions?

If there's one thing we've discovered with the advent of the internet is how we behave once we believe there are no consequences to our actions. Once those barriers are dropped and you could simply do whatever you want, how many of you could say you wouldn't at least try to do some of those things? You think they're monsters when they are only acting out their desires and have decided to not lock it away under an artificial veneer of civility or decency. And if you think otherwise, look how easily you seem to feel putting them through torments once you feel like you can.

This is why civilized society has done away with these punishments. We restrain ourselves so that we may all share in a better society. For a slight sacrifice of the individual, we all benefit, but we also restrain the ability for the society to crush the individual for the benefit, substantial or cathartic, of the society.

All this is really irrelevant. If you are a law abiding citizen and somebody breaks into your house and tries to kill you, that person must be controlled. Without laws and punishment society would devolve into chaos and bloodshed, basically tribal warfare. Is that what you honestly want? Just for the sake of an ideal?

And no civilized society hasn't done away with this things, the criminal justice process is what keeps societies civil. Where do you live that doesn't have law enforcement?

Also you qouted someone that wasn't even me. That is pretty damn shoddy

thaluikhain:

Coppernerves:
If that is the case, prevention lies in making it clear that they'll be caught, rather than having a more severe punishment.

I don't have a source of the top of my head, but certainly, yes.

Look at piracy. There've been excessive penalties for downloading a few songs, massive fines. This doesn't scare people into stopping because they know they won't actually get prosecuted unless they are massively unlucky.

Increasing the penalty is the usual kneejerk reaction when you can't caught enough criminals.

Bentusi16:
But to sum up: If you make a potential criminal so afraid of being caught, so afraid of the consequences of his actions, that he does not commit a crime he would have otherwise done, is that not a victory?

"If".

Harsher punishments do not necessarily do this. Now, if you can guarantee that using that method, fair enough. But it's been tried, and still is, in many places, with not much success.

The error with this logic is that it offers no alternative. Of course not all criminals are caught. So you would rather not try at all? Can I come to your house and take all your stuff?

Friendly Lich:
All this is really irrelevant. If you are a law abiding citizen and somebody breaks into your house and tries to kill you, that person must be controlled. Without laws and punishment society would devolve into chaos and bloodshed, basically tribal warfare. Is that what you honestly want? Just for the sake of an ideal?

You misunderstand. I believe humans must be controlled so that they don't descend into the very tribal warfare you describe. My point was his inability to recognize that these people he seems so easily to dispose of are not inhuman, but human in the purest sense.

And no civilized society hasn't done away with this things, the criminal justice process is what keeps societies civil. Where do you live that doesn't have law enforcement?

Also you qouted someone that wasn't even me. That is pretty damn shoddy

Because I wasn't quoting you? I was responding to the OP, not you. I'll edit my post to make that abundantly clear.

The Gentleman:

Friendly Lich:
All this is really irrelevant. If you are a law abiding citizen and somebody breaks into your house and tries to kill you, that person must be controlled. Without laws and punishment society would devolve into chaos and bloodshed, basically tribal warfare. Is that what you honestly want? Just for the sake of an ideal?

You misunderstand. I believe humans must be controlled so that they don't descend into the very tribal warfare you describe. My point was his inability to recognize that these people he seems so easily to dispose of are not inhuman, but human in the purest sense.

And no civilized society hasn't done away with this things, the criminal justice process is what keeps societies civil. Where do you live that doesn't have law enforcement?

Also you qouted someone that wasn't even me. That is pretty damn shoddy

Because I wasn't quoting you? I was responding to the OP, not you. I'll edit my post to make that abundantly clear.

That would be for the best.

While I, like others here, can feel some empathy for the OP's sentiments, I must agree that controlling people through fear of punishment does not work as well on adults as it does on children. If anything, harsh punishments may even possibly cause criminals to resent society even more than before.

The Golden Rule never had any exceptions. Treating criminals like monsters won't help them become any better then that.

Also, Norway's philosophy to crime is the complete opposite of the OP's, yet it clearly works so much better than America's "tough on crime" policy. Some of Norway's prisons are probably nicer than the place you're living in right now, yet only 20% of criminals there, including murderers and rapists, will come back within two years, compared to the U.S.'s 50-60%. Here's some articles for further explanation:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1986002,00.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2000920,00.html

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/deterrence-states-without-death-penalty-have-had-consistently-lower-murder-rates#stateswithvwithout

Moral and philosophical arguments aside, the data shows that deterrence is an incomplete, if not ineffective solution to crime. If you think of crime as a disease, then to catch and punish criminals is to only attack the symptoms. While law enforcement is an important part of our justice system, we would accomplish even more by addressing the sources of the issue, like the economy and education.

Friendly Lich:
The error with this logic is that it offers no alternative. Of course not all criminals are caught. So you would rather not try at all? Can I come to your house and take all your stuff?

Of course. That's exactly what I meant when I said that harsher punishments don't solve crime problems, and that ensuring more criminals are caught is much more of a deterrent than greater punishment for the ones that are.

I'm glad you picked that up, I was worried some people might not have got that, those being two completely different things and all.

TheJazzyH:
While I, like others here, can feel some empathy for the OP's sentiments, I must agree that controlling people through fear of punishment does not work as well on adults as it does on children. If anything, harsh punishments may even possibly cause criminals to resent society even more than before.

The Golden Rule never had any exceptions. Treating criminals like monsters won't help them become any better then that.

Also, Norway's philosophy to crime is the complete opposite of the OP's, yet it clearly works so much better than America's "tough on crime" policy. Some of Norway's prisons are probably nicer than the place you're living in right now, yet only 20% of criminals there, including murderers and rapists, will come back within two years, compared to the U.S.'s 50-60%. Here's some articles for further explanation:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1986002,00.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2000920,00.html

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/deterrence-states-without-death-penalty-have-had-consistently-lower-murder-rates#stateswithvwithout

Moral and philosophical arguments aside, the data shows that deterrence is an incomplete, if not ineffective solution to crime. If you think of crime as a disease, then to catch and punish criminals is to only attack the symptoms. While law enforcement is an important part of our justice system, we would accomplish even more by addressing the sources of the issue, like the economy and education.

It becomes more difficult when you have a melting pot of people though. If people perceive someone as different then themselves they will likely treat them differently without even knowing it. Also in huge cities there are many more people than jobs available. Even some of the smaller states have more people than whole countries in Europe.

"We will teach that murder is bad, by murdering you. Thereby proving that murder is a good response to murder."

The state should not wield the power to kill its citizens.

Add to this that the death penalty is extremely costly if implemented with all the relevant legal guarantees and options for appeal, and it's not really the smart thing to do. I wouldn't have much of an ethical problem with the reciprocity part of killing those who've killed. But with no one in a position to wield the the authority to actively carry it out, it still can't reasonably be carried out.

ElectroJosh:
Without writing a massive screed here: the general population are a good decade or two behind the advances in psychology and neural science as well as the philosophical work on justice. Certain accepted truths about human motivation, free-will, violence and justice are poised to over-turn a lot of our standard notions on criminal behavior; it's causes, how to prevent it, how to reduce it and how best to treat criminals.

I am predicting that, in 20 to 30 years, a lot of findings will have made their way into mainstream public and political discourse which, in turn, will have over-hauled a lot of the very assumptions made by the OP.

The public doesn't necessarily favor an approach of "Explanations are not excuses" towards criminals, merely because they don't know the explanations.

Over the last 100 years in Europe, there's already been several waves of academia considering criminals as either mentally ill with criminal behavior (prevalent in the Psychoanalytical 30's), or as victims of individual social circumstances and societal structures beyond their own control (very prevalent in the Marxist 70's). Neither wave really lead to a long term effect of the general public becoming more forgiving towards criminals.

I would like to point out that I did make sure to espouse fear not as an end all but as a valid tactic alongside other forms of coercion. Because you're right, fear isn't capable by itself of holding together a society. But right now I think what the United States (at least) lacks is a sense of fear for the punishment.

Going to and surviving in prison is seen as a badge of honor in certain circles.

As I pointed out above, a huge issue is that we have fairly low level criminals getting a harsh punishment that go to prison and turn into hardened criminals. Prisons are fertile recruiting grounds for organized crime.

'The punishment for the first offense should be such that a second offense is unthinkable' I think the quote goes.

The whole system from top to bottom is messed up. We have people who commit very minor crimes being punished beyond a reasonable amount, and we have people who commit major crimes who go into prison, come out, and often relapse. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recidivism#United_States_Nationwide

You say because we can't always be 100% sure of a criminals guilt, we cannot possibly execute them. As it is, we can be sure of their guilt to the point we can lock them into a living hell for the rest of their lives.

This should be especially horrible to people who don't believe in an afterlife. At least if you have some belief in an afterlife you think the person may be redeemed or you believe in one of the religions without punishment after death. But if you don't believe in such a thing you are condemning a persons existence, brief as it is in a cosmic scale, to a terrible terrible place, where they will almost certainly suffer daily physical and emotional trauma.

You are willing, with the same amount of information, to damn them to this fate, but not to an execution or say, castration? Some other form of punishment that doesn't involve them suffering for the rest of their lives, is my point. If someone gets 'life in prison with no possibility of parole', you've essentially stated that they CANNOT be reformed, so why go the step further and subject them to a lifetime of torture?

Bentusi16:
As I pointed out above, a huge issue is that we have fairly low level criminals getting a harsh punishment that go to prison and turn into hardened criminals. Prisons are fertile recruiting grounds for organized crime.

Aren't the prisoners being hardened by the harsh punishments they face? As opposed to the Norwegian system, which is much less harsh, and with a much smaller recidivism rate.

I don't like the idea of stooping so low as to murder people back. I also don't like the idea of risking the murder of innocent people. The advent of modern DNA-evidence alone demonstrates how faulty our justice system is. Even confessions are often forged, coerced or created under surprising circumstances. Witness testimony is particularly awful when it comes to proving anything. And while life imprisonment will also ruin a person's life, at least there's the chance at redemption if they're later found out to be innocent, a chance at reimbursement, at rebuilding their lives. I'll be honest, I care less about the guilty person we might execute than I do about the innocent person we might murder. We suck at this, we make tons of mistakes. It's too risky. And I really don't want my government to have that kind of power. It's different in a life-or-death situation (where a cop may have to shoot an armed attacker in self-defense or defense of others), but we're talking about people here who've been apprehended, locked-up, who can't immediately harm anyone anymore, assuming the prison does its job. Prevent crime properly with education, vertical mobility and prevention of recidivism. And in rare cases, like Breivik, just keep them locked up forever. It's cheaper than executions, too, and it's much less risky.

thaluikhain:

Bentusi16:
As I pointed out above, a huge issue is that we have fairly low level criminals getting a harsh punishment that go to prison and turn into hardened criminals. Prisons are fertile recruiting grounds for organized crime.

Aren't the prisoners being hardened by the harsh punishments they face? As opposed to the Norwegian system, which is much less harsh, and with a much smaller recidivism rate.

America is NOT norway. Norway has a very different culture and a far lower criminality rate in the first place. If you tried to apply the norway system in the U.S. as it is now, it would fail utterly. Please stop using a foreign and frankly alien culture and saying 'look how great it works here in a place with completely different conditions and variables!'.

Secondly, yes, but the problem is that prisoners who should be getting harsher punishments aren't, and the ones who shouldn't be are. A pot possession charge lands a man in jail who is otherwise fairly good, and it hardens him into an actual criminal. The prison system is broken, but so is the justice system.

Pluvia:

Justice should be about removing them from society and reforming them until they can be a productive member of society, however long that takes.

JoJo:

Justice is not the same as revenge.

Silvanus:

Justice is not about revenge, and it's certainly not about acting in precisely the same way as the offender did.

What if it is? What if justice has nothing to do with reformation, and justice is just the criminal getting what they deserve. I mean, that is what justice means, right? Everyone gets what they deserve. Well, the way I see it, if everyone got what they deserved, we'd all be a little more screwed.

May I suggest that rather than redefine justice to better fit what we desire, we accept the truth- justice can be really evil. Actions being just does not make them good. It's part of society's needs to make the illusion that people get what they deserve, good and bad, to lead people towards doing good things, but the truth is that the world isn't just, and we shouldn't want it to be.

When someone goes around slaughtering innocents, the death penalty is certainly justice, but that does not make it good.

Paragon Fury:

Whenever I read or hear about a rapist or child molester or mass murderer simply getting something like jail time (especially laughable is the "Multiple Life Sentences" punishment), it gets under my skin and gets me mad. How can we give jail time for something like that?[Before I go any further, I should define what I consider "that" I suppose. "That" would include:

Rape
Child Molestation
Torture
Mass Murder
Serial Killing
Any other crimes that combinations of, or largely the same as the above crimes.

The criminal justice system has been designed and devised over centuries and over generations by a crowd of people many of which were greater and smarter than you and I. To think you alone could design a better one is arrogance beyond comprehension.

Now I know bleeding hearts are going bleed all over me for this, but seeing someone like a rapist just get jail time for crime that will cause his/her victim to suffer years (likely for the rest of their lives) even after the crime was committed is sickening. The perpetrator will likely never suffer 1/100th of the pain and suffering s/he caused their victim, yet this is supposed to be an acceptable punishment? This is "justice"?

"Bleeding hearts"? Way to go, insulting people who might hold a different opinion than you ahead of the time is a great start to a discussion.

Yeah, no, I'm sorry, but if you can't keep things civil and consider all inputs equally an without bias, what the hell makes you think you should have any say in how the criminal justice system works? Newsflash: that system isn't in place for your pleasure.

Perhaps its just because I have a different concept of "crime prevention/deterring".

An because you feel superior to and more important than those who think differently, otherwise you would not have started off with an insult.

To me, "Prevention/Deterrence" only occurs for things you're doing to stop/catch the crime before it goes too far - IE: better equipped police, more effective patrols and prevention programs. Once you enter the courtroom the only things that should matter are A: Innocent or Guilty and B: Punishment. If you want the possible punishment to be part of that "deterrence" then you have to ensure that the possible punishments are so horrifying and terrible that no one would ever want to receive them; they should be the kinds of things people contemplate suicide in order to avoid, not something they could live through or come out the other side intact.

The majority of people who commit crimes do not include punishment if caught in their risk-benefit analysis.

People rail and complain that its inhumane and that we're "better than that".

It is inhumane, and why anyone would revel in barbarism is beyond me. Sure, you're entitled to your opinion, but if you can't even hold on to it without starting to state it with an insult against others, my opinion is that your opinion isn't worth much.

And they're right; we are - to actual humans. My has always been that we're aren't talking about people anymore when we talk about rapists, mass murders etc.

Oh, but they are. Committing a crime does not make someone change species.

We're talking about animals that broke the very basic tenets of our society, our culture and our very existence as a species, not a cut-purse. We should no be worried about reforming these "people" their punishment should be swift, painful and held up as an example.

Call me again when you get named the sole authority on deciding who is and who isn't a human, then we'll talk this further.

By "swift" I hope you do not mean "without due process". Let me put it this way. If you think that someone who got accused of torturing someone should be executed after a mock trial...yeah, sorry, no, I don't want you designing my criminal justice system.

Jail time is an unacceptable punishment.

[citation needed]

Again, you are not the sole authority on deciding what's acceptable or not, so why don't you quit acting as if you're preaching some kind of a gospel here and own up to the fact that this is a discussion in which you're supposed to disuses points, and not outright state you're going to dismiss all opposing points without consideration; either by insulting people who might hold them, or by going "It's like I said, and that's final." like you just did here.

Hard labor with the intent to work the prisoner to death, branding and confiscation of all material belongings/wealth, test subjects and the death penalty all would be more acceptable than jail time. And not the "nice" death penalty most states use; the death needs to be painful causes abject terror in the criminal - something like what happened in Law Abiding Citizen is more along the lines of what the death penalty should be.

No, you're again talking about how you want the things to be, not how they should be. You're still trying to push your selfish agenda onto the society, no matter what the society wants.

Because lets be honest - its ridiculous that in the US there are places where they will kill a dog that bit or killed someone attacking a member of their family before they will kill someone who raped a woman or abused a child.

Okay, I'll be honest. I think it's disgraceful to actively call for suffering of other human beings, I think it's cowardly to rationalize "oh, but they're not really people", and I think it's disgusting to even think it's a position of a moral high ground.

There, honest enough for you, or did you, when you say "Let's be honest" actually mean "I'm going to insinuate anyone who doesn't think like I do is a terrible person and shouldn't be heard out"?

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