Crime, Punishment, Justice

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Bentusi16:

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.

I don't know how many people who oppose the death penalty support the idea of prison being "a living hell."

That aside, if you wrongfully imprison someone you may realize your mistake and release them, giving them the chance to live out the rest of their lives. What do you do if you realize they were innocent after executing them? Send flowers to the next-of-kin?

You are willing, with the same amount of information, to damn them to this fate, but not to an execution or say, castration?

What do you do if you castrate someone and then find out they're innocent? Just shrug and say "our bad"? Again, you can release someone who is wrongfully imprisoned. I don't know if you can undo a 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?

Because they may not be guilty in the first place, and if they're not then we need to be able to release them as soon as we learn that fact so that they can start living their lives again.

Bentusi16:

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.

This is a terrible attitude. People are people. People always have been people and people always will be people. Culture will play a minor role, perhaps but not so major that it changes everything. I've seen this dismissal for all of the terrible American problems... That America's culture is so far down the tube that nobody else's ideas will work... Ridiculous.

Bentusi16:

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.

That's true and I might be a little optimistic.

Imperator_DK:

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.

Excuse me, Marxist 70s? In Europe? I'm sorry, you'll have to elaborate on that.

Besides. There's nothing to say the general public has to be forgiving towards criminals, except for the people that follow a faith that preaches forgiveness, in which case cherry picking who is to be forgiven and who isn't makes them hypocrites.

Which is a rather common cause of irony around the internet forums, I might add...

to be fair, rapists are given prison terms in institutions where rape is very common. millions of people are raped in prison every year, some people are killed for being rapist and/or pedophiles.

is it justifiable? maybe, depending on how you look at it? is that what they were sentenced to? no, but it's gonna happen anyway. their punishment isn't always just what the judge sentences them too, prison is a harsh environment where some people are raped and murdered, and some would say they deserve it. me not so much, no one deserves that. but i see what you're saying.

but then what alternative is there besides prison terms for dangerous offenders? besides death penalties which don't deter many people

Vegosiux:
...
Excuse me, Marxist 70s? In Europe? I'm sorry, you'll have to elaborate on that.
...

There was a rather strong (neo-)Marxist current in 70's Western European academia, with very influential figures such as Jürgen Habermaas. Arguably again in the 90's with post-modernism, but that's never really been the dominant academic methodology

Marxism isn't merely a normative political view, it's also a descriptive historical and societal theoretical model (...and even has some merit in the latter sense). Social sciences, including law, were quite dominated by "critical theory" in the 70's, which was strongly inspired by Marxism. It's an anti-individualist and anti-capitalist methodology, focusing on approaching problem such as "crime" from an angle of clashing group interests and power dynamics (between "class", "race" etc. etc.), and capitalist economic conditions. Often combined with criticism of them, though seldom any suggested solutions.

Factors such as individual choice doesn't play any role in it, a Marxist approach to history wouldn't focus on Hitler's skill as an orator or his extreme personal antisemitism as important factors, but rather the societal structures and German economic ruin which "created him", and allowed him to rise to power. There are no important individuals, they're just products of their society. This approach to criminology would downplay the guilt of the criminal, viewing him instead as a product/victim of society. And focus on what could be changed about society, rather than what could be changed in the criminal.

Which continues to be out of touch with how the vast majority of the population view the situation.

R.Nevermore:

Bentusi16:

thaluikhain:

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.

This is a terrible attitude. People are people. People always have been people and people always will be people. Culture will play a minor role, perhaps but not so major that it changes everything. I've seen this dismissal for all of the terrible American problems... That America's culture is so far down the tube that nobody else's ideas will work... Ridiculous.

It's not a matter of people, it's a matter of numbers. http://www.ssb.no/a/english/minifakta/en/main_03.html

Norway has a population of roughly 5,000,000 people, give or take a few hundred thousand. There are ~400,000 reported crimes in the last statistical analysis, and according to http://www.prisonpolicy.org/prisonindex/globalincarceration.html , the incarcerations per 100,000 is 60.

The U.S. is 700 per 100,000. That's ~11.5x the number of prisoners that Norway has to deal with. Norway's system is GREAT...for Norway. And other small European nations who boast a population that is less then our major metropolitan pop numbers of many American cities, and have a strong and centralized government.

You also have to understand the difference between a federal crime, and a state crime. In Norway, there is no distinction to my knowledge, because they have a very strong central government. In America, there is a massive distinction, including what kind of prison you are sent to and where it will be located.

As I said, the whole system is broken from the bottom up, and you would have to reform it massively to even consider the Norway style of crime and punishment. And speaking realistically, I do not think it can ever happen, not never that it 'should'. Believe me I would like to think all men can be reformed and turned into useful members of society, but I don't, and I don't think the American system can ever be changed to the point the norweigan system would work.

God only knows how much money it would cost to reform it, let alone fund, the norweigan style prison system in the U.S.. That's already struggling as it is.

BrassButtons:
[quote="Bentusi16" post="528.403314.16666355"]snip

Well that's what I'm asking. To some people (and this is, let us remember, an opinion), this is a zero sum game. If you can make a mistake then you can't ever cross the line because if you make a mistake, that's it. Which is reasonable, most people don't want to or couldn't live with the responsibility of fundamentally changing a human being against their will for what they believe to be guilt.

To me and I'm sure a few others, we have to have faith in our system being generally right and doing everything we can possibly do to be right, but also doing everything we can to prevent crimes from occurring or occurring again. I am frankly disgusted by our reliance on reactionary justice, because as I pointed out before, reactionary justice means the crime was committed; someone was raped, someone was killed, someone was kidnapped, etc. But we also can't, as I pointed out, arrest people for crimes they MIGHT commit, hence my belief in harsh punishment as a deterrent alongside other things like rehabilitation for less heinous crimes.

And believe me, I understand you cannot approach something like this with fear only. It can't work. You have to attack the problem all sorts of ways, sort of like your laying siege to a fortress. You have to batter the walls on all sides.

Some people are probably disgusted by my disgust. That's what opinions do. But to some people, yes including myself, the 1% mistake rate would be worth reducing crime through prevention, to stop it from happening in the first place.

And again, I think being unable or unwilling to accept that responsibility for those mistakes is a perfectly reasonable position to take, it's just not one I can agree with.

Imperator_DK:

Vegosiux:
...
Excuse me, Marxist 70s? In Europe? I'm sorry, you'll have to elaborate on that.
...

There was a rather strong (neo-)Marxist current in 70's Western European academia, with very influential figures such as Jürgen Habermaas. Arguably again in the 90's with post-modernism, but that's never really been the dominant academic methodology Marxism isn't merely a normative political view, it's also a descriptive historical and societal theoretical model (...and even has some merit in the latter sense). Social sciences, including law, were quite dominated by "critical theory" in the 70's, which was strongly inspired by Marxism. It's an anti-individualist and anti-capitalist methodology, focusing on approaching problem such as "crime" from an angle of clashing group interests and power dynamics (between "class", "race" etc. etc.), and capitalist economic conditions. Often combined with criticism of them, though seldom any suggested solutions.

Would have been nice to clarify that to begin with. You know, people are ignorant, and the first thing they think of when they hear "Marx" is "COMMUNISM! KILL IT WITH FIRE!".

Factors such as individual choice doesn't play any role in it, a Marxist approach to history wouldn't focus on Hitler's skill as an orator or his extreme personal antisemitism as important factors, but rather the societal structures and German economic ruin which "created him", and allowed him to rise to power. There are no important individuals, they're just products of their society.

I do not deny that Hitler was an important individual. Do you deny that he was also a product of his current society?

This approach to criminology would downplay the guilt of the criminal, viewing him instead as a product/victim of society. And focus on what could be changed about society, rather than what could be changed in the criminal.

Well, killing a criminal kind of discontinues the possibility of achieving any meaningful change in them.

In case you meant "a criminal" as a concept, and not a person, well I'll just say that "a criminal" isn't some uniform label you can stick on everybody who broke the law, because, ironically, because criminals are individuals you can't just enforce some blanket "changes" their way.

Which continues to be out of touch with how the vast majority of the population view the situation.

[citation needed]

Bentusi16:

To me and I'm sure a few others, we have to have faith in our system being generally right and doing everything we can possibly do to be right, but also doing everything we can to prevent crimes from occurring or occurring again. I am frankly disgusted by our reliance on reactionary justice, because as I pointed out before, reactionary justice means the crime was committed; someone was raped, someone was killed, someone was kidnapped, etc. But we also can't, as I pointed out, arrest people for crimes they MIGHT commit, hence my belief in harsh punishment as a deterrent alongside other things like rehabilitation for less heinous crimes.

What's your evidence that harsh punishment is a deterrent? Because if it doesn't work as a deterrent, and there's the risk of giving harsh punishments to people who are actually innocent, then there's no reason to use such punishments.

Some people are probably disgusted by my disgust. That's what opinions do. But to some people, yes including myself, the 1% mistake rate would be worth reducing crime through prevention, to stop it from happening in the first place.

Would you hold that position if you were the innocent person on death row?

BrassButtons:

Bentusi16:

To me and I'm sure a few others, we have to have faith in our system being generally right and doing everything we can possibly do to be right, but also doing everything we can to prevent crimes from occurring or occurring again. I am frankly disgusted by our reliance on reactionary justice, because as I pointed out before, reactionary justice means the crime was committed; someone was raped, someone was killed, someone was kidnapped, etc. But we also can't, as I pointed out, arrest people for crimes they MIGHT commit, hence my belief in harsh punishment as a deterrent alongside other things like rehabilitation for less heinous crimes.

What's your evidence that harsh punishment is a deterrent? Because if it doesn't work as a deterrent, and there's the risk of giving harsh punishments to people who are actually innocent, then there's no reason to use such punishments.

Some people are probably disgusted by my disgust. That's what opinions do. But to some people, yes including myself, the 1% mistake rate would be worth reducing crime through prevention, to stop it from happening in the first place.

Would you hold that position if you were the innocent person on death row?

Well no but I'm not sure why that matters? I can guarantee you everyone on death row hopes for the removal of the death penalty, guilty or innocent.

Does a surgeon have to be stabbed to work on a stab injury? Does a judge have to be a criminal to understand what he's judging?

As a society we should hold responsibility for our mistakes, yes. I feel that as a society we are mature enough to own up with and understand that there are going to be mistakes no matter what the system is.

On the other hand the deterrent thing is up in the air in many studies.

Bentusi16:

Well no but I'm not sure why that matters?

Because it's easy to say that a 1% error rate is acceptable when you're not the one who has to suffer the consequences for those mistakes. If it really is acceptable to execute innocent people then it's acceptable even if you're the innocent person on death row.

And before you bring up imprisoning innocent people: no, that's not acceptable either. Which is why those who have been wrongfully imprisoned are released and then paid reparations.

As a society we should hold responsibility for our mistakes, yes. I feel that as a society we are mature enough to own up with and understand that there are going to be mistakes no matter what the system is.

So why not choose a system that gives the greatest chance for fixing those mistakes when they're caught?

On the other hand the deterrent thing is up in the air in many studies.

Are you willing to condemn innocent people to death because of an inconclusive chance that harsher penalties might reduce crime?

BrassButtons:

Bentusi16:

Well no but I'm not sure why that matters?

Because it's easy to say that a 1% error rate is acceptable when you're not the one who has to suffer the consequences for those mistakes. If it really is acceptable to execute innocent people then it's acceptable even if you're the innocent person on death row.

And before you bring up imprisoning innocent people: no, that's not acceptable either. Which is why those who have been wrongfully imprisoned are released and then paid reparations.

As a society we should hold responsibility for our mistakes, yes. I feel that as a society we are mature enough to own up with and understand that there are going to be mistakes no matter what the system is.

So why not choose a system that gives the greatest chance for fixing those mistakes when they're caught?

On the other hand the deterrent thing is up in the air in many studies.

Are you willing to condemn innocent people to death because of an inconclusive chance that harsher penalties might reduce crime?

What system are you suggesting we use? The current one is shit. Either way, death penalty or not, the current system is absolutely shit in pretty much every possible way. It takes in low level criminals and hardens them, it's overstuffed and underfunded. Did you know America contains 25% of the world incarcerated population? It also has a 44% recidivism rate in the first year, rising to 67% after three years.

For inclusive evidence? Probably not. But if I saw numbers that really concluded it, absolutely.

Bentusi16:

What system are you suggesting we use?

One without a death penalty. Beyond that, I think we should look at what the evidence says to determine what lowers crime and re-offender rates. Finding ways of dealing with nonviolent criminals other than sticking them in prison seem like a good idea. So does shifting the focus of prison from "punishment" to "rehabilitation".

The current one is shit.

Agreed. Fortunately our choices are not just "keep things as they are" or "use the death penalty".

For inclusive evidence? Probably not. But if I saw numbers that really concluded it, absolutely.

Then for now we can agree: the death penalty should not exist.

edit - nvm mispost sry can't be bothered

BrassButtons:

Bentusi16:

What system are you suggesting we use?

One without a death penalty. Beyond that, I think we should look at what the evidence says to determine what lowers crime and re-offender rates. Finding ways of dealing with nonviolent criminals other than sticking them in prison seem like a good idea. So does shifting the focus of prison from "punishment" to "rehabilitation".

The current one is shit.

Agreed. Fortunately our choices are not just "keep things as they are" or "use the death penalty".

For inclusive evidence? Probably not. But if I saw numbers that really concluded it, absolutely.

Then for now we can agree: the death penalty should not exist.

No, we don't, because I'm also motivated by a personal feeling or need to see someone who has done something absolutely horrible removed absolutely from the society they robbed from, beyond simply being locked away.

But that's a philosophical thing and not a practical one. I'd be more in favor of the death penalty if it weren't so expensive. Hanging seems like it would be cheaper and still do the job while also being quick and private. A guillotine even more so.

Bentusi16:

No, we don't, because I'm also motivated by a personal feeling or need to see someone who has done something absolutely horrible removed absolutely from the society they robbed from, beyond simply being locked away.

This seems to be a direct contradiction of what you said before. If you're not willing to execute innocent people without conclusive evidence that the death penalty reduces crime, and we do not have such evidence, then you shouldn't be in support of the death penalty right now.

Edit

But that's a philosophical thing and not a practical one. I'd be more in favor of the death penalty if it weren't so expensive. Hanging seems like it would be cheaper and still do the job while also being quick and private. A guillotine even more so.

I'm pretty sure executions are expensive because of the appeals process, not because of the method of execution.

BrassButtons:

Bentusi16:

No, we don't, because I'm also motivated by a personal feeling or need to see someone who has done something absolutely horrible removed absolutely from the society they robbed from, beyond simply being locked away.

This seems to be a direct contradiction of what you said before. If you're not willing to execute innocent people without conclusive evidence that the death penalty reduces crime, and we do not have such evidence, then you shouldn't be in support of the death penalty right now.

From a practical and detached standpoint as to what is better for society, yes.

From an emotional and personal standpoint, no. I want them to die so they can never ever hurt another person. E

Even if I would personally like to see more executions in a quicker faction, from a logical and practical standpoint I'll admit this is probably not the best way to do it; that doesn't mean I can't also hold the first opinion.

I'm not willing from a logical standpoint to stand on shaky data, but from an emotional standpoint I damn well am.

Bentusi16:

I'm not willing from a logical standpoint to stand on shaky data, but from an emotional standpoint I damn well am.

In that case, I'll ask a question with regards to emotion: When the state has put to death an innocent man (as they invariably do, whenever and wherever the death penalty is legal), does this not sicken you as much as murder?

Silvanus:

Bentusi16:

I'm not willing from a logical standpoint to stand on shaky data, but from an emotional standpoint I damn well am.

In that case, I'll ask a question with regards to emotion: When the state has put to death an innocent man (as they invariably do, whenever and wherever the death penalty is legal), does this not sicken you as much as murder?

Sicken? No. Regret, definitely, but then I regret all death. However I will not pretend that I live in a utopia where death isn't a necessity, logically or emotionally or pragmatically. The whole justice system sickens me. The death of an innocent man fills me with regret and sadness. But no, I can honestly say I feel no sickening at the death. I suppose it's overshadowed by the sickness I feel at the justice system as a whole?

I'm willing to admit that the system isn't perfect and is going to make mistakes, and it occasionally takes the life of an innocent in the pursuit of justice. The difference between this and murder is intent. They are not setting out to murder an innocent for personal gain or revenge or blind rage at any institutional level. They are doing it because the person is question is believed to have and has been found guilty of a crime so heinous that their allowance for going back into society is nil. That's what the death penalty is for now, anyway, or should be, though obviously on a case by case basis it can shift into being revenge driven. The myth of the impartial jury and all that.

And again from a logical and pragmatic standpoint I can't support the death penalty unless I know it acts as a reliable deterrent for criminal activity. And there's data flowing both ways on that one so. But no, emotionally I have no moral qualms with putting a person to death for crimes committed against society that violate their basic human rights. Article 11 of the universal declaration of human rights guarantees a fair trial with presumption of innocence until proven guilty, however, to sort of balance that out.

For example, when Osama Bin Laden was killed, I was filled with regret, but at the same time a certain primal satisfaction and a more pragmatic relief. Regret for the fact that we live in a world where his death was a necessity to ensure the further safety of my culture. And they did it so artfully down to the last detail, I guess I can admit to feeling pride in how it was executed, even if I feel regret that it was necessary.

Bentusi16:

No, we don't, because I'm also motivated by a personal feeling or need to see someone who has done something absolutely horrible removed absolutely from the society they robbed from, beyond simply being locked away.

Then you could just limit the death penalty to people who have admitted guilt. Or if they caught it on tape. That will fulfill people's bloodlust while removing the 1% error.

Shadowstar38:
Then you could just limit the death penalty to people who have admitted guilt. Or if they caught it on tape. That will fulfill people's bloodlust while removing the 1% error.

As I said earlier, confessions - yes, even confessions to murder - are not a secure method of confirming guilt. There is no complete "removing the 1% error" (although, yes, extremely strict regulations might help to reduce it further; if it's even that low to begin with, which is extremely doubtful).

Shadowstar38:

Bentusi16:

No, we don't, because I'm also motivated by a personal feeling or need to see someone who has done something absolutely horrible removed absolutely from the society they robbed from, beyond simply being locked away.

Then you could just limit the death penalty to people who have admitted guilt. Or if they caught it on tape. That will fulfill people's bloodlust while removing the 1% error.

Yeah please don't take the 1% mistake rate as an actual number, I just invented one off the top of my head. My guess is it probably actually hovers much higher at about a 10% rate.

However, we already have the concept of 'beyond all reasonable doubt' when it comes to guilt. And I believe for a death penalty to be applicable it has to be a unanimous decision by a jury.

Bentusi16:

Yeah please don't take the 1% mistake rate as an actual number, I just invented one off the top of my head. My guess is it probably actually hovers much higher at about a 10% rate.

However, we already have the concept of 'beyond all reasonable doubt' when it comes to guilt. And I believe for a death penalty to be applicable it has to be a unanimous decision by a jury.

But, that jury can make a unanimous decision on an innocent guy and still fuck up. When you have people's lives in your hands, its better to spare everyone than to kill the one who didn't deserve it.

Shadowstar38:

Then you could just limit the death penalty to people who have admitted guilt.

No, we can't do that. At the very least, 28 people have admitted guilt to things they were innocent of, in the USA, over quite a short period.

There will be countless others elsewhere, countless others in different periods in the USA, and countless others during the same period who were simply not picked up on.

The death penalty, however it is put into practice, will kill innocent people. And then, it loses every shred of moral superiority it had over the murderer. Its motivation is irrelevant.

R.Nevermore:

This is a terrible attitude. People are people. People always have been people and people always will be people. Culture will play a minor role, perhaps but not so major that it changes everything. I've seen this dismissal for all of the terrible American problems... That America's culture is so far down the tube that nobody else's ideas will work... Ridiculous.

I would suggest actually culture plays a huge role: that the general societal values in the USA are perhaps predisposed to a high level of incarceration, which may reflect criminal attitudes of the population and/or the state's belief in incarceration as a means of crime control. People are people, but how people turn out is heavily influenced by existing culture and society. We might consider, for instance, that if there were any total freedom of individual beliefs, we would expect the number of adherents of all religions in all countries with freedom of religion to be to the same. And yet to pick two countries with centuries-long freedom of religion, the UK is still largely Protestant and France largely Catholic.

This does not mean, however, that the USA's culture is "down the tubes". America is and will be, in many respects, a better place to live in than Norway - depending on what you want. Crime and subsequent imprisonment may be a "trade-off" or "side-effect" of some of the USA's cultural strengths.

Thus perhaps really Norway's justice system really cannot be installed in the USA, because it is badly suited to dealing with the USA's societal system. One would first need to convert the USA's culture to be like Norway - needless to say, this would be an effectively impossible task.

Ugh. The self righteousness of all of this.

Those who view the world in black and white always think they're the white. What you want isn't justice. It's to fulfill some sick feeling of revenge and a need for entertainment.

Ah, I do enjoy lynch mob mentality.

The most interesting part is when those that cry death for every rape case in the media get completely worked up against things like the Indonesian death penalty to drug traffickers.

Shadowstar38:

Bentusi16:

Yeah please don't take the 1% mistake rate as an actual number, I just invented one off the top of my head. My guess is it probably actually hovers much higher at about a 10% rate.

However, we already have the concept of 'beyond all reasonable doubt' when it comes to guilt. And I believe for a death penalty to be applicable it has to be a unanimous decision by a jury.

But, that jury can make a unanimous decision on an innocent guy and still fuck up. When you have people's lives in your hands, its better to spare everyone than to kill the one who didn't deserve it.

That's pretty much where it boils down to an opinion. TO some people it's worth taking that responsibility to remove a problem, to most people on this particular forum it is absolutely not.

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