Club PA 2.0 has arrived! If you'd like to access some extra PA content and help support the forums, check it out at patreon.com/ClubPA
The image size limit has been raised to 1mb! Anything larger than that should be linked to. This is a HARD limit, please do not abuse it.
Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!

The Morality of Punishment for Long Past Crimes

245

Posts

  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    I think that most of us here live in countries where the government and voters can make a reasoned decision about which crimes can be expunged and which should not, then leave to the judicial system some discretion as to sentencing based on the conduct of the individuals.

    Certainly in the recent Ukranian expat / alleged Nazi situation in the US, well, if the prosecuting authorities think there is evidence to press charges then so they should. Being elderly and infirm should be not be relevant to sentence or the decision to charge for war crimes.

    In other situations - say a serious assault 50 years ago, well, perhaps there is a reasonable line that can be drawn

    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • UltimanecatUltimanecat Registered User regular
    The fact that our justice system allows "points" to be "made" kind of defeats the argument that justice should be sought as an abstraction.

    As a practical matter, criminals can avoid "justice" in the abstract, by pleading out, assisting other investigations, presenting a mitigating defense, or simply committing their crime so as to avoid conviction.

    If justice were an abstraction worth pursuing, the above wouldn't nor shouldn't be possible - one crime would always receive one punishment, and the punishment would be always be the same.

    Put into context, Polanski fled "justice" in this case the second he was initially allowed to reduce the severity of his sentence by cooperating, and "justice" became capricious and arbitrary when the deal was pulled off the table to ostensibly "make a point".

    We can argue that sometimes points need to be made, and as an abstraction that needs to be sought out, but that's not justice to the perpetrators, nor justice to the victims, that's exactly what it sounds like: making examples out of people.

    SteamID : same as my PA forum name
  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    If the 'point' or 'example' being made is that just because you are rich and famous you can't drug and rape minors...well, I guess I'll have to accept that.

    Irrelevant of the plea deal or any of that, a crime was committed and a person was victimized.

    Even if it's not justice to the perpetrators or victims, it's still justice to all the other people who abide by the social contract, and don't commit crimes. Also, justice for the people who do convict crimes and serve their time. There's more than one piece to justice, and allowing people to skip out just because they can afford to run away and avoid serving their time until the victim decides they would rather it go away isn't justice for anyone.

    Besides, justice is an abstract ideal, and perfect shouldn't be the enemy of good. When someone escapes from prison, our justice system doesn't and shouldn't say 'ah well, good enough'. Prosecution should be pursued earnestly for all crimes, to the limit that resources and prosecutorl / judicial discretion allow.

    spacekungfumanGnome-Interruptus
  • UltimanecatUltimanecat Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    That's exactly why our justice system has moved toward earnest attempts to view each criminal act in it's own light. It's also why we have mitigating factors, discretion on the part of prosecutors, discretion on the part of sentencers, and the centuries old tradition of trial by one's peers (because when all else fails, your peers will be the ones to call bullshit on a prosecution that doesn't seem to fit the circumstances). Our justice system has actually been tailored toward having outcomes (and thus "justice") focused on the individual, and not what society needs to happen.

    We can discuss how points need to be made, but that is really not how our justice system is designed to operate, nor its "purpose" as a product of the Enlightenment if we're speaking in the realm of ideals.

    Ultimanecat on
    SteamID : same as my PA forum name
    Regina Fong
  • galdongaldon Registered User regular
    just because you managed to avoid being caught for a long time it doesn't mean the crime doesn't count.

    if its been 30 years I seriously doubt walmart is still on the hunt for the hypothetical pencil you shoplifted. if on the other hand you stabbed someone 30 years ago and just now got caught you should get some punishment. its just not right to let the purple shirted eye stabber off the hook because he stayed in hiding so long.

    Go in, get the girl, kill the dragon. What's so hard about that? ... Oh, so THAT'S what a dragon looks like.

    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UChq0-eLNiMaJlIjqerf0v2A? <-- Game related youtube stuff
    http://galdon.newgrounds.com/games/ <-- games I've made. (spoiler warning: They might suck!)
  • FarazFaraz Registered User regular
    This might be more of a Canadian view on this. But the three primary principles of sentencing up here are denunciation, deterrence and rehabilitation (the other three principles being separation of offender from society when necessary, reparation to victims, and promoting a sense of responsibility in an offender - though these three rarely come into the picture compared to the major principles). Keep in mind punishment is not a valid principle of sentencing here.

    In the case of someone who's committed an offense years ago and has since lived a normal life, obviously not only rehabilitation is not an issue (since he's obviously rehabilitated himself) but there's a huge danger of undoing that work by incarcerated the person or leaving them with a criminal record. As for the other two, depending on what the offense was, denunciation and deterrence may or may not come into play (for example if they broke a law that is no longer a law; or a law that is now rarely broken; or when it might not be in the public interest to prosecute this particular offense).

    Furthermore what a court should always keep in mind is if anyone (or society as a whole) actually benefits from prosecuting such an individual. If they've gone to live productive lives, there are more often than not methods of achieving all of these goals without running someone through the criminal justice system and throwing them in jail. The point is not to punish this person, but to insure that no one else (including the offender) does it again.

    JuliusSquidget0Australopitenico
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    I am pleasantly surprised to see the views people have in this thread. I had thought most people on this board thought Javert was a villain.

    I agree that punishment is not just about the good of society, and so even though we know detterence doesn't work that well, I think we are still justified in using harsh sanctions where the individual's crime warrants them. We don't always need to punish for society. We can punish because someone did something wrong and is deserving of punishment.

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
    zagdrob
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    I am pleasantly surprised to see the views people have in this thread. I had thought most people on this board thought Javert was a villain.

    I agree that punishment is not just about the good of society, and so even though we know detterence doesn't work that well, I think we are still justified in using harsh sanctions where the individual's crime warrants them. We don't always need to punish for society. We can punish because someone did something wrong and is deserving of punishment.

    Indeed, I tend to like the idea of approaching each crime as a unique and isolated set of circumstances rather than a broad, continuing discussion of what best serves society's interests. The questions of societal interest and policy were already adjudicated when the state legislature saw fit to criminalize a certain act in the penal codes of that political jurisdiction. The question that remains when it comes time for enforcement in individual cases is, "what decision here would result in the fairest application of justice?"

    In the case of someone who has done a lot of good subsequent to the commission of a felony for which he may still be exposed to prosecution under statute of limitations, I am not generally persuaded that letting him go is a fair application of justice compared with those people who had no opportunity to so redeem themselves after similar crimes because they were immediately caught, tried and sentenced.

    Edit: to clarify what I mean by "not generally persuaded," one specific circumstance where I would have no qualms about taking subsequent good behavior into account would be if the defendant could not have reasonably known that he committed a crime. In the exceedingly rare circumstance where a defendant didn't know he had committed a crime and yet could still be prosecuted for something, I would probably factor subsequent good behavior into my considerations. If he should have reasonably known that he had committed a crime, then under no circumstances would I treat an individual who avoided prosecution for that crime for N years with more leniency than someone who surrendered immediately and peacefully to the police and pleaded guilty to a similar crime.

    SammyF on
    spacekungfumanzagdrob
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    The fact that our justice system allows "points" to be "made" kind of defeats the argument that justice should be sought as an abstraction.

    As a practical matter, criminals can avoid "justice" in the abstract, by pleading out, assisting other investigations, presenting a mitigating defense, or simply committing their crime so as to avoid conviction.

    If justice were an abstraction worth pursuing, the above wouldn't nor shouldn't be possible - one crime would always receive one punishment, and the punishment would be always be the same.

    Put into context, Polanski fled "justice" in this case the second he was initially allowed to reduce the severity of his sentence by cooperating, and "justice" became capricious and arbitrary when the deal was pulled off the table to ostensibly "make a point".

    We can argue that sometimes points need to be made, and as an abstraction that needs to be sought out, but that's not justice to the perpetrators, nor justice to the victims, that's exactly what it sounds like: making examples out of people.

    Hmmm....I find this argument interesting. I'm not a fan of plea deals to begin with, particularly plea deals involving sentences that are orders of magnitude shorter than what a conviction for what is admitted to would carry. I feel like plea bargaining is harmful to our justice system in many ways, with the Polanski case at one end and any number of cases of overcharging to obtain one at the other end. Note that I'm assuming that Polanski's case didn't involve overcharging, since he seems to have admitted guilt to the worst crimes leveled against him, IIRC.

    That a judge has the option to sentence according to the crime plead to, regardless of the recommendation of the prosecutor...well, I can't say this is a "bad thing." While it could arguably allow for judicial misconduct (if we allow that the judge wanted to "make a point" in Polanski's case) it can just as easily facilitate prosecutorial laziness...who's to say a prosecutor isn't taking a plea to maintain their conviction numbers, despite being likely to win the case at trial and secure a stronger sentence? Who's to say that Polanski wasn't being let off easy, and that other criminals aren't as well? It's just as possible that the misconduct is on the prosecutor's end, and the judge could be correcting for that. The recommendation for sentence in a plea deal is not sacrosanct, and in fact the deal itself makes clear that you are not guaranteed that sentence. You should never admit to anything you did not do in a plea deal in the hopes of a light sentence for this very reason.

    In the end, I don't think there should be (nor is there) any statute of limitations on evasion. You skip the country, and that follows you forever, and it should. You don't get to come back to the U.S., and you don't get to visit any country that U.S. can convince to extradite you. Enjoy France, or whatever other country you can find willing to grant you asylum.

    That said, in Polanski's case in particular, it's possible you could argue that advanced age and perhaps rehabilitation (that's iffy) would warrant offering him the chance to serve the original agreed upon sentence, plus some short sentence for the evasion (ninety days, six months, whatever), and call it good. At a certain point you have to look at the totality of the facts, and can justify pursuing the matter to less than the full extent of the law.



    As for ninety-year-old war criminals? Man, I don't know. I agree there's little deterrent effect, it's mostly about retribution, and I think it becomes hard to justify it for any but the higher-level officials and operatives in a government/military/etc.

    zagdrobArdol
  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    I feel little sympathy for polanski since prior to that. deal being pulled he got the velvet glove treatment from the justice system. Poor baby didn't walk away because he was rich and powerful cry me a river

  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    I am pleasantly surprised to see the views people have in this thread. I had thought most people on this board thought Javert was a villain.

    Crime and punishment of early 17th-century France isn't really applicable to this discussion.

    wpyz0Y5.png
    Gamertag: PrimusD | Rock Band DLC | GW:OttW - arrcd | WLD - Thortar
    SCREECH OF THE FARGFeralRhan9
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    I am pleasantly surprised to see the views people have in this thread. I had thought most people on this board thought Javert was a villain.

    Crime and punishment of early 17th-century France isn't really applicable to this discussion.

    What could be more relevant to this discussion than the story of a man who commits and is convicted of a crime and flees before his sentence is completed and is chased to the ends of the earth for it (becoming a good man in the process)?

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    The Polanski case is a done thing in mind. The victim is no longer interested in the matter, Polanski is not a position to re-offend, and frankly, I think there needs to be a small token of leeway granted for anyone who has their pregnant spouse murdered with a barbecue fork during a home invasion. Like, if that happens to anyone, I think maybe we offer a pass when they do something criminal, given how atrociously they've been failed.

    Do crimes have an expiry date? Well, not really. Is there a point in chasing down derelict war criminals or other fugitives 60-70 years past the day they committed their crime? I can't really see one. Cancer and heart disease will do more to tear a pound of flesh off than any pitiful cell, if that's what you're into.

    With Love and Courage
  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    You should be a fan of Valjean though. He became a wealthy factory owner and mayor in a span of six years.

    Actually he doesn't flee after a conviction. He gets paroled, and then steals a coin from a kid. A crime for which Javert wastes decades chasing him down.

    Fuck Firearm Fetishism
    86 45
  • ArdolArdol Registered User regular
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    I am pleasantly surprised to see the views people have in this thread. I had thought most people on this board thought Javert was a villain.

    Crime and punishment of early 17th-century France isn't really applicable to this discussion.

    What could be more relevant to this discussion than the story of a man who commits and is convicted of a crime and flees before his sentence is completed and is chased to the ends of the earth for it (becoming a good man in the process)?

    Are you trying to say that any sentence delivered within the confines of the law is inherently a just one? Do you believe it morally wrong to flee a sentence you view as too harsh?

    Sometimes Justice and The Law are not one and the same.
    James "Jimmy" E. Wilson, born in 1903 or 1904, was an illiterate African-American handyman who was convicted of the crime of "burglary at night" and sentenced to death by an all-white jury in a Marion, Alabama court in 1958 for stealing $1.95 from an 82 year old white widow, Estelle Barker.

    If someone was fleeing a sentence like that for a crime like that, I don't care that the person broke the law. Justice has to be about something more than just guilty or not guilty, the sentence is a significant part of it as well.

    If the sentence isn't just, than there can be no justice.

  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    Ardol wrote: »
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    I am pleasantly surprised to see the views people have in this thread. I had thought most people on this board thought Javert was a villain.

    Crime and punishment of early 17th-century France isn't really applicable to this discussion.

    What could be more relevant to this discussion than the story of a man who commits and is convicted of a crime and flees before his sentence is completed and is chased to the ends of the earth for it (becoming a good man in the process)?

    Are you trying to say that any sentence delivered within the confines of the law is inherently a just one? Do you believe it morally wrong to flee a sentence you view as too harsh?

    Sometimes Justice and The Law are not one and the same.
    James "Jimmy" E. Wilson, born in 1903 or 1904, was an illiterate African-American handyman who was convicted of the crime of "burglary at night" and sentenced to death by an all-white jury in a Marion, Alabama court in 1958 for stealing $1.95 from an 82 year old white widow, Estelle Barker.

    If someone was fleeing a sentence like that for a crime like that, I don't care that the person broke the law. Justice has to be about something more than just guilty or not guilty, the sentence is a significant part of it as well.

    If the sentence isn't just, than there can be no justice.

    You don't want to start that conversation with SKFM. Long story short, he believes that LAW = JUSTICE, regardless of what the law states. And breaking the law is inherently wrong, once again, regardless of the law. Whether it's true for rich people as well, I don't know, but it's hardly relevant. It'll derail the thread.

    Feral
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    As I understand it, the 'he was sentenced to death because he stole $1.95' is mostly propaganda that was used by political opponents of the governor at the time. His actual crime was choking the victim, attempting to rape her and threatening to kill her - he was sentenced with burglarizing the home because it carried the harshest possible penalty of the crimes he was charged with.

    With Love and Courage
  • galdongaldon Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    As I understand it, the 'he was sentenced to death because he stole $1.95' is mostly propaganda that was used by political opponents of the governor at the time. His actual crime was choking the victim, attempting to rape her and threatening to kill her - he was sentenced with burglarizing the home because it carried the harshest possible penalty of the crimes he was charged with.

    I'd say its kind of wierd that petty theft is the most harshly punished of those charges... but then again these days pirating a 99 cent song can have a punishment harsher than manslaughter.

    Go in, get the girl, kill the dragon. What's so hard about that? ... Oh, so THAT'S what a dragon looks like.

    http://www.youtube.com/channel/UChq0-eLNiMaJlIjqerf0v2A? <-- Game related youtube stuff
    http://galdon.newgrounds.com/games/ <-- games I've made. (spoiler warning: They might suck!)
    Nitsua
  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    The Ender wrote: »
    The Polanski case is a done thing in mind. The victim is no longer interested in the matter, Polanski is not a position to re-offend, and frankly, I think there needs to be a small token of leeway granted for anyone who has their pregnant spouse murdered with a barbecue fork during a home invasion. Like, if that happens to anyone, I think maybe we offer a pass when they do something criminal, given how atrociously they've been failed.

    Do crimes have an expiry date? Well, not really. Is there a point in chasing down derelict war criminals or other fugitives 60-70 years past the day they committed their crime? I can't really see one. Cancer and heart disease will do more to tear a pound of flesh off than any pitiful cell, if that's what you're into.

    I'd say put it to the jury if Polanski had attacked the Manson family, 'A Time to Kill' style. If they let him walk, that's up to them, I definitely wouldn't fault them. But - this is very important - no amount of tragedy in your own life - even having your pregnant spouse murdered - 'earns' you a freebie 'drug and rape a teenager'. Fuck. That. Bullshit.

    The 'unrelated personal tragedy calculus' is definitely a consideration, but far from the only one and mostly for sentencing. I can guarantee you that there are thousands of people locked up in prisons across America who have experienced great personal tragedy and hardship comparable to Polanski. The primary difference is they weren't rich enough to buy a ticket to France and have an army of lawyers fight off extradition, then famous enough to get a bunch of celebrities advocating for them.

    I personally think that if Polanski were to turn himself in, he should be required to serve the original plea deal, plus a slap on the wrist (30 days or something) for fleeing and eluding capture. If he were to get extradited and brought to the US against his will, he should get the book thrown at him with maximum sentences in both cases.

    With respect to the victim, there is a very good and important reason that the US justice system is 'The State' vs. (whomever), not 'The Victim' vs. (whomever). Simply because someone can flee justice for so long the victim would prefer it just go away, and had to find closure outside of justice doesn't mean the state wasn't harmed by the crime and doesn't have an obligation to each and every one of their citizens to attempt to prosecute that crime.

    The only cases I could make for the state not prosecuting a crime would be if the state and individual were not aware a crime was committed until a much later date. I'm struggling to think of a case where this would be true outside of a statutory-type crime, like someone being in possession of an unregistered / illegal firearm that was in a box of random crap they inherited or something like that. I mostly agree with what Sammy wrote earlier...

    When it comes to ancient war criminals, I agree it's more a retribution thing...but I really have trouble generating any sympathy for them. They ran and knowingly hid - usually lied on their visa / nationalization / citizenship documents. If they get tracked down later and prosecuted for their crimes, tough shit. However long it takes. The guys who are getting run down 70 years later don't tend to be the guy who was just trying to feed his family and happened to be cleaning toilets at a concentration camp - those guys were active participants, administrators, leaders who knew exactly what they were doing or the notoriously brutal guys who went over and above making people suffer.

    I don't even care what the Millgram and Zimbardo told us, those guys are welcome to try the 'following orders' defense and see what traction that gets at their trial.

    I really think it's something that - humanity as a whole - owes as justice to the victims of anything horrible like the Holocaust. The people who were responsible and actively participated / enjoyed the suffering will be hunted like dogs to the end of the earth and the end of their days. I wish we were more consistent and did a better job hunting all those kinds of guys down, even if it does take decades.

    gjaustinFeralGnome-InterruptusSmrtnik
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    knitdan wrote: »
    You should be a fan of Valjean though. He became a wealthy factory owner and mayor in a span of six years.

    Actually he doesn't flee after a conviction. He gets paroled, and then steals a coin from a kid. A crime for which Javert wastes decades chasing him down.

    I never read the book, but in the musical his crime is not showing his "convict" papers when traveling, in violation of his parole. I don't think that ValJean is a bad man, but I think Javert is in the right. His diligence does not make him a villain.

    As for justice, please see the law and morality thread. My thoughts on the matter are laid our in some detail there, and it is a seperate issue from this thread.

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
    Rhan9
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    zagdrob wrote: »
    When it comes to ancient war criminals, I agree it's more a retribution thing...but I really have trouble generating any sympathy for them. They ran and knowingly hid - usually lied on their visa / nationalization / citizenship documents. If they get tracked down later and prosecuted for their crimes, tough shit. However long it takes. The guys who are getting run down 70 years later don't tend to be the guy who was just trying to feed his family and happened to be cleaning toilets at a concentration camp - those guys were active participants, administrators, leaders who knew exactly what they were doing or the notoriously brutal guys who went over and above making people suffer.

    My main problem with letting a 90 year old war criminal go on the basis of the crimes being so far removed from the present day is that I don't know how I'm going to look the next 30 year old war criminal in the eye when sentencing him. The length of time one has to spend in prison for committing a crime should not be inversely proportional to the amount of time it takes the police to get around to catching you or else we should start questioning the morality of prosecuting and sentencing a criminal who is caught immediately without adequate time to prove himself worthy of clemency on the basis of later age or lawful behavior. The crime should be prosecuted and penalized upon conviction in accordance with the circumstances surrounding the crime itself. Period, full stop.

    In the case of Hans Lipschis (because I think @Zagdrob might be interested, and I'm not sure of the extent to which he's familiar with this specific case), this guy was actually discovered in fucking 1983, when he was living in Chicago, IL. He was deported at that time because he had lied about his former Nazi involvement during immigration, and that is the extent to which the United States was able to punish a former Nazi who could not be linked directly to the commission of any specific crime. He was repatriated to Germany, where he has been living free for the last three decades as a self-acknowledged former member of the Death's Head Battalion of the SS.

    The impetus for his prosecution now was the successful prosecution in 2011 of John Demjanjuk, another former concentration camp guard who could not be tied to any specific crime. Germany eventually prosecuted and convicted him of more than 27,000 individual counts of acting as an accessory to murder on the basis that the sole purpose of the camps at which Demjanjuk worked was to kill. Demjanjuk died of natural causes while his appeals were still going through. This precedent is being applied now to Lipschis; the United States had definitive proof during the 1940s that Lipschis worked at Auschwitz as a member of the SS, and while we never found anything to tie him to any individual crime, if German courts will accept that the sole purpose of a concentration camp is to kill, then anything that facilitates the operation of that camp would serve to make a potential defendant an accessory.

    I'm not entirely sure that I feel comfortable with that definition of accessory (I'm glad it doesn't apply here in the U.S.!), especially if Lipschis was, as he now alleges, only a cook (though he concedes that he was aware of what was happening at the camp). I would happily allow Lipschis to challenge the state's right to prosecute him on the ground that this is kind of a marginal interpretation of "accessory." If he was indeed only a cook, I would consider that fact during sentencing. And since we're using Demjanjuk as a precedent, I would probably not be inclined to punish Lipschis more harshly in any case (if you haven't done the math yet, Demjanjuk was sentenced to somewhere around 90 minutes per count of accessory to murder). But I can't let him go on the basis that it's two years later than it was the last time we convicted someone of approximately the same age of exactly the same thing, that's crazy.

    He got to spend an extra 30 years of his life living out in the open as a former member of the Totenkopf Sturmbann who worked at Auschwitz compared with all of the other dickheads we hanged by the neck at Nuremburg within a year of Germany's surrender. If that does, indeed, make him a war criminal, then he's already had it plenty easy.

    SammyF on
    Gnome-Interruptusshryke
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    SammyF wrote: »
    I am pleasantly surprised to see the views people have in this thread. I had thought most people on this board thought Javert was a villain.

    I agree that punishment is not just about the good of society, and so even though we know detterence doesn't work that well, I think we are still justified in using harsh sanctions where the individual's crime warrants them. We don't always need to punish for society. We can punish because someone did something wrong and is deserving of punishment.

    Indeed, I tend to like the idea of approaching each crime as a unique and isolated set of circumstances rather than a broad, continuing discussion of what best serves society's interests. The questions of societal interest and policy were already adjudicated when the state legislature saw fit to criminalize a certain act in the penal codes of that political jurisdiction. The question that remains when it comes time for enforcement in individual cases is, "what decision here would result in the fairest application of justice?"

    In the case of someone who has done a lot of good subsequent to the commission of a felony for which he may still be exposed to prosecution under statute of limitations, I am not generally persuaded that letting him go is a fair application of justice compared with those people who had no opportunity to so redeem themselves after similar crimes because they were immediately caught, tried and sentenced.

    Edit: to clarify what I mean by "not generally persuaded," one specific circumstance where I would have no qualms about taking subsequent good behavior into account would be if the defendant could not have reasonably known that he committed a crime. In the exceedingly rare circumstance where a defendant didn't know he had committed a crime and yet could still be prosecuted for something, I would probably factor subsequent good behavior into my considerations. If he should have reasonably known that he had committed a crime, then under no circumstances would I treat an individual who avoided prosecution for that crime for N years with more leniency than someone who surrendered immediately and peacefully to the police and pleaded guilty to a similar crime.

    In evaluating any criminal case and application of sentencing, you have to ask two questions: A) What outcome will provide the most social benefit in this particular case? and B) What outcome will provide the most social benefit using this as a model for all such sentencing?

    Say you have someone who convicts a pretty serious crime. Say, armed robbery where the robber's partner killed the victim. Clearly a bad crime, the man, if caught, should be convicted and given a fairly long sentence. Why? Well, for various reasons pertaining to punishment, deterrent, rehabilitation, removing a dangerous element from society, and so on. So let's assume the robber was 18 when he committed his crime, and escaped the law. He is discovered at the age of 30, having turned his life around, attended college, graduated, and he now works as a loved and respected teacher of underprivileged children, and he's married and has a child. Should he be tried and thrown into prison?

    On the one hand, there will be very little benefit to society by throwing this particular man in prison. The 18 year old thug effectively doesn't exist anymore - the man you're imprisoning is a loving teacher and father. By imprisoning him, you're leaving the school system without a good teacher, the man's wife without a spouse, and his son without a father. You might also be throwing the man's wife and child into poverty. And if you publicize the man's past crime and put him in prison, there's a good chance you're also killing his career, and possibly increasing the likelihood of him committing crimes when he gets out of prison. So what benefit is there to society in this case? Very little.

    But what about the general case? What are you saying to society by letting this man go? Well, you're saying that if you commit a terrible crime, feel bad for it, turn your life around, and become a positively contributing member of society who makes countless lives better, then maybe you'll escape punishment. Is that really such a terrible message to send? Clearly we can't catch criminals and then just tell them we'll let them go if they promise to be super-good, because there's no way of knowing if they actually will. If there was a way to reliably insta-rehabilitate criminals in lieu of sending them to prison, I'd be all for it, but we can't rely on that. But in the case where we find someone who already managed to do that? Who has legitimately reformed? I don't think rewarding that is so bad, even in the general case.

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
    ArdolIncenjucarQuidCaptainNemoGnome-InterruptusHyphyKezzyAustralopitenicoNitsua
  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    I just find it hard to stomach that it could be considered justice where two people could commit the same crime, under the same circumstances. One person is caught / turns themselves in / is caught, is convicted, and serves their sentence. While the other eludes capture, goes on to live a happy and fulfilling life while the first person is in prison serving their time for their crime, and then when they are finally caught instead of being punished for their crime it's just 'waved off'.

    How could that possibly be just? I mean, there is an argument to be made against prison and our current prison-industrial complex in general, but there is no way in either a specific OR general case I could support letting one person off for the same crime just like that. Maybe we should just give the first guy twelve years to live right and wipe his slate clean if he hasn't committed a crime by the time he's thirty? What if circumstances beyond his control keep him from being a good and productive member of society?

    There are definitely practical considerations where crimes can be treated differently - after a decade, it gets harder to prove innocence...but the suffering the second guy's wife and family and students and community suffer are more victims of the crime he committed when he was eighteen, and his continued actions. It's not the fault of the state that it took that long to catch and convict him of his crimes.

    Now, were that guy at 30 to turn himself in because of the guilt he felt? Yeah, in that situation I think the jury SHOULD consider the life he's lived in that time and him turning himself in when it comes to sentencing. I think they should do the same thing if the 18 year old turns themselves into police the next day instead of eluding / evading the police. But it shouldn't be the only consideration.

    SammyFspacekungfumanGnome-InterruptusSmrtnik
  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    Statute of limitations is one of those things that I feel should either apply to all crimes of similar type, or to none. Arbitrarily choosing which crimes are subject to it just carries too much hypocrisy with it.

  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    SammyF wrote: »
    I am pleasantly surprised to see the views people have in this thread. I had thought most people on this board thought Javert was a villain.

    I agree that punishment is not just about the good of society, and so even though we know detterence doesn't work that well, I think we are still justified in using harsh sanctions where the individual's crime warrants them. We don't always need to punish for society. We can punish because someone did something wrong and is deserving of punishment.

    Indeed, I tend to like the idea of approaching each crime as a unique and isolated set of circumstances rather than a broad, continuing discussion of what best serves society's interests. The questions of societal interest and policy were already adjudicated when the state legislature saw fit to criminalize a certain act in the penal codes of that political jurisdiction. The question that remains when it comes time for enforcement in individual cases is, "what decision here would result in the fairest application of justice?"

    In the case of someone who has done a lot of good subsequent to the commission of a felony for which he may still be exposed to prosecution under statute of limitations, I am not generally persuaded that letting him go is a fair application of justice compared with those people who had no opportunity to so redeem themselves after similar crimes because they were immediately caught, tried and sentenced.

    Edit: to clarify what I mean by "not generally persuaded," one specific circumstance where I would have no qualms about taking subsequent good behavior into account would be if the defendant could not have reasonably known that he committed a crime. In the exceedingly rare circumstance where a defendant didn't know he had committed a crime and yet could still be prosecuted for something, I would probably factor subsequent good behavior into my considerations. If he should have reasonably known that he had committed a crime, then under no circumstances would I treat an individual who avoided prosecution for that crime for N years with more leniency than someone who surrendered immediately and peacefully to the police and pleaded guilty to a similar crime.

    In evaluating any criminal case and application of sentencing, you have to ask two questions: A) What outcome will provide the most social benefit in this particular case? and B) What outcome will provide the most social benefit using this as a model for all such sentencing?

    Say you have someone who convicts a pretty serious crime. Say, armed robbery where the robber's partner killed the victim. Clearly a bad crime, the man, if caught, should be convicted and given a fairly long sentence. Why? Well, for various reasons pertaining to punishment, deterrent, rehabilitation, removing a dangerous element from society, and so on. So let's assume the robber was 18 when he committed his crime, and escaped the law. He is discovered at the age of 30, having turned his life around, attended college, graduated, and he now works as a loved and respected teacher of underprivileged children, and he's married and has a child. Should he be tried and thrown into prison?

    On the one hand, there will be very little benefit to society by throwing this particular man in prison. The 18 year old thug effectively doesn't exist anymore - the man you're imprisoning is a loving teacher and father. By imprisoning him, you're leaving the school system without a good teacher, the man's wife without a spouse, and his son without a father. You might also be throwing the man's wife and child into poverty. And if you publicize the man's past crime and put him in prison, there's a good chance you're also killing his career, and possibly increasing the likelihood of him committing crimes when he gets out of prison. So what benefit is there to society in this case? Very little.

    But what about the general case? What are you saying to society by letting this man go? Well, you're saying that if you commit a terrible crime, feel bad for it, turn your life around, and become a positively contributing member of society who makes countless lives better, then maybe you'll escape punishment. Is that really such a terrible message to send? Clearly we can't catch criminals and then just tell them we'll let them go if they promise to be super-good, because there's no way of knowing if they actually will. If there was a way to reliably insta-rehabilitate criminals in lieu of sending them to prison, I'd be all for it, but we can't rely on that. But in the case where we find someone who already managed to do that? Who has legitimately reformed? I don't think rewarding that is so bad, even in the general case.

    I'm sorry, but that's horseshit, ElJeffe. For a few different reasons, as could be expected from a complicated hypothetical. In no particular order:

    1. The guy went to college. That's nice. I am not going to grant him clemency on the basis of having a bachelor's degree because the implication is that I am willfully punishing people who haven't completed college more harshly than I would otherwise.

    2. The guy is a public school teacher. That's nice. I am not going to grant him clemency on the basis of his being a teacher because the implication here is that I am willfully punishing people who aren't public sector employees more harshly than I would otherwise.

    3. The guy's a spouse and a parent. That's nice. I'm not going to grant him clemency solely on the basis of his being a spouse and a parent because the implication here is that I would willfully punish someone who wasn't a spouse or a parent more harshly than I would otherwise. This is a particularly unfortunate problem when it comes to crime because a lot of people who commit crimes are parents -- and not hypothetical parents who went on to have children after the commission of crimes, they're parents at the moment that they commit their crimes. And incarcerating a parent undeniably has a deleterious effect on the life of his child. There is no getting around it: that sucks. But since we're talking about a hypothetical armed robber turned college graduate and public school teacher, let's say he's also infertile. Should I consider it more acceptable to incarcerate him on the basis that he can't have children? Maybe he's not infertile, he just hasn't met the right woman yet. Should I consider it more acceptable to incarcerate him on the basis that his OK Cupid profile hasn't been doing him any favors? Maybe it's not that he hasn't met the right woman at all. Maybe he is gay and lives in, say, Wisconsin. Should I consider it more acceptable to incarcerate him because he's not married, and can't be?

    Finally, let's briefly look at this:
    By imprisoning him, you're leaving the school system without a good teacher, the man's wife without a spouse, and his son without a father. You might also be throwing the man's wife and child into poverty. And if you publicize the man's past crime and put him in prison, there's a good chance you're also killing his career, and possibly increasing the likelihood of him committing crimes when he gets out of prison. So what benefit is there to society in this case? Very little.

    I see a lot of "you" in the paragraph where the prosecutor or judge is entirely responsible for what's happening to this hypothetical guy. What I don't see is any acknowledgement of the fact that what happens at any individual moment in this guy's life is informed by the decisions that he made in those moments leading up to this one. While it's true that the decisions he has made afterwards were lawful and productive, any defendant's potential societal good ought to be considered equally and without regard to how quickly the police managed to catch up to him. Otherwise, how will you look an 18 year old defendant in the eye and sentence him to 15 years for felony homicide when he might have gone to college, become a teacher, and raised a family if only the police hadn't tackled him to the ground when he exited the store he'd just robbed? The hypothetical partner certainly was never afforded the chance to go to college, find marital bliss or pursue a career in public service; that poor dumb fucker died as a consequence of the first guy's decision making.

    If you think it's immoral or deleterious to society to prosecute someone who has lived a lawful, productive life since the commission of his crime, you should also consider it immoral to prosecute someone who might live a moral and productive life if afforded the same amount of time to get his proverbial act together. Perhaps we should sentence all first offenders to ten years probation, regardless of the nature of their crimes, and then revisit the question of their incarceration after determining whether society at large would really have missed them anyway. Or maybe we could do as the Greeks say and never judge a man till we see how he dies. Those are interesting ideas. They'd make for some excellent science fiction. But they're not consistent with Western ideas of criminal justice.

    SammyF on
    spacekungfumanGnome-InterruptusSCREECH OF THE FARGSmrtnik
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    Consider two Powerball tickets. Both of them have one-in-a-hojillion chances of winning. It's silly to buy either of them for fifty dollars, because math.

    Now pretend someone misplaced one of them and finds it ten years later, and it turns out it was actually a winner and is worth $10 million. Is it still silly for you to buy it for fifty dollars?

    I don't think of it in terms of "justice," because justice is an abstract concept that is only valuable to the extent that it provides a social good. That's why I prefer to think of it in terms of actual, realized social good - which outcome makes the most people the happiest in the most tangible way?

    Now, if you consider intangible well-being, maybe the calculus is different. Perhaps letting the once-robber go keeps the family intact, makes a bunch of inner-city children better off, helps his child grow up to be a decent and happy man, and encourages many other escaped criminals to be better people - but, perhaps it also makes tens of thousands of random folks grumble on Facebook about not getting to see Justice Done. I guess that might be considered a net negative?

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Consider two Powerball tickets. Both of them have one-in-a-hojillion chances of winning. It's silly to buy either of them for fifty dollars, because math.

    Now pretend someone misplaced one of them and finds it ten years later, and it turns out it was actually a winner and is worth $10 million. Is it still silly for you to buy it for fifty dollars?

    Yes because Powerball tickets are only valid for 365 days after the drawing.

    wpyz0Y5.png
    Gamertag: PrimusD | Rock Band DLC | GW:OttW - arrcd | WLD - Thortar
    Andy JoeJuliusSmrtnik
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Consider two Powerball tickets. Both of them have one-in-a-hojillion chances of winning. It's silly to buy either of them for fifty dollars, because math.

    Now pretend someone misplaced one of them and finds it ten years later, and it turns out it was actually a winner and is worth $10 million. Is it still silly for you to buy it for fifty dollars?

    I don't think of it in terms of "justice," because justice is an abstract concept that is only valuable to the extent that it provides a social good. That's why I prefer to think of it in terms of actual, realized social good - which outcome makes the most people the happiest in the most tangible way?

    Now, if you consider intangible well-being, maybe the calculus is different. Perhaps letting the once-robber go keeps the family intact, makes a bunch of inner-city children better off, helps his child grow up to be a decent and happy man, and encourages many other escaped criminals to be better people - but, perhaps it also makes tens of thousands of random folks grumble on Facebook about not getting to see Justice Done. I guess that might be considered a net negative?

    ElJeffe, this idea of realized societal good sounds like a brilliant way to run a utopian society that flourishes only in the garden of your mind, I know. The practical application of appreciating the societal good any individual defendant poses starts to look a whole lot like poor black high school dropouts going to prison while white college graduates are given probation for the same crime. It's exactly the sort of thinking that lead a jury in Alabama to give an illiterate black handyman a death sentence for burglary -- one less illiterate [racial expletive] sounds like an awfully good idea when you represent the majority of society and have the power to unilaterally decide who is necessary to that society's good, and whom it can do without.

    I don't think you're an awesome dude, ElJeffe; I know it. The stuff you're writing here is something I find profoundly abhorrent when I consider the implications upon the legal system, and I am trying to tactfully point out what is frightening about those implications because I am not sure you have thought about them. Let's go back quickly to something in my penultimate post:

    1. The guy went to college. That's nice. I am not going to grant him clemency on the basis of having a bachelor's degree because the implication is that I am willfully punishing people who haven't completed college more harshly than I would otherwise.

    My draft of this was followed by the statement, "if I codified this into law as a sentencing guideline, it wouldn't survive strict scrutiny." There are several areas in higher education where we still today see an achievement gap between whites and non whites. Standardized test scores on average are higher for whites. More whites hold bachelor's degrees today than blacks or Hispanics. Blacks usually need to borrow more money to go to college, meaning it is generally less affordable for them compared to their white neighbors. So when you ask me to consider this hypothetical guy's education level, I can't help be think that this is a break I would probably cut for white defendants far more often than I would for black defendants.

    That's certainly not something you'd want, right?

    SammyF on
    spacekungfumanzagdrobSmrtnik
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited July 2013
    SammyF, couldn't the same be said of the general idea of allowing judges leeway in passing sentences? Like, isn't the entire point of that so that individual circumstances can be factored into the punishment? Seems the alternative is to just have mandatory sentences tabulated for all crimes and handed down by, effectively, a machine.

    Really, the entirety of the justice system is premised on the idea that human beings are going to getting their subjective mitts all over everything, from the decision of what crimes to pursue, through the decision to prosecute, down to the sentencing. Yes, it allows for institutionalized *-ism, but what's the realistic alternative? Are you arguing for mandatory minimum sentences for all/most/some subset of crimes?

    (@DarkPrimus - Don't make me cut you.)

    ElJeffe on
    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • BSoBBSoB Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    My guess is that most crimes with no statute of limitations, also have minimum sentences.

    BSoB on

  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    @Sammy
    Okay, I read your edited post. Am I correct in reading that your opposition is based wholly or mostly on the existence of prejudice, principally racial, and how such a system might be used to exacerbate existing problems? Basically, are you just opposed to the practical execution of such a system, or are you opposed to the philosophy of it, as well? Because I'm perfectly prepared to admit that it might be a horrible system in practice - I tend to be woefully optimistic about my species' ability to not fuck up everything it touches.

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • CaptainNemoCaptainNemo Registered User regular
    I think, once again, it comes down to whether or not the law is about rehabilitation or retribution. A lot of recent posters seem to desire the latter over the former. Am I saying the hypothetical robber shouldn't face some kind of punishment? No. But I fail to see what locking him up accomplices except to make another person into a life long criminal by denying him any other options.

    PSN:CaptainNemo1138
    Shitty Tumblr:lighthouse1138.tumblr.com
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    SammyF, couldn't the same be said of the general idea of allowing judges leeway in passing sentences? Like, isn't the entire point of that so that individual circumstances can be factored into the punishment? Seems the alternative is to just have mandatory sentences tabulated for all crimes and handed down by, effectively, a machine.

    Really, the entirety of the justice system is premised on the idea that human beings are going to getting their subjective mitts all over everything, from the decision of what crimes to pursue, through the decision to prosecute, down to the sentencing. Yes, it allows for institutionalized *-ism, but what's the realistic alternative? Are you arguing for mandatory minimum sentences for all/most/some subset of crimes?

    (@DarkPrimus - Don't make me cut you.)

    ElJeffe - for most serious felonies (those involving a death, generally) Federal judges literally do use a table of sentencing guidelines. The circumstances of the crime are the factor of one axis. Your prior criminal history is the factor on the other axis. The zone you arrive at determines the length of your sentence.

    Many states have sentencing guidelines, as well. I am from Virginia, which is marginally unique in that juries determine sentences. Juries always award harsher sentences than judges for all crimes (it's usually the first robbery-homicide those specific jurors have ever seen, so they have no basis for comparison), and they generally give especially harsh sentences to black defendants compared to white defendants. Which is a huge part of why I dislike the idea of practicing criminal law based on what society thinks is in its best interests regarding the defendant and instead prefer prosecuting the case based solely upon the circumstances surrounding the crime.

    I prefer prosecutorial discretion in terms of determining (for instance) whether to charge someone with misdemeanor larceny of felony larceny. Just letting someone go because I think he has a nice job and a cute family is not something I approve of at all.

    SammyF on
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    SammyF wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Consider two Powerball tickets. Both of them have one-in-a-hojillion chances of winning. It's silly to buy either of them for fifty dollars, because math.

    Now pretend someone misplaced one of them and finds it ten years later, and it turns out it was actually a winner and is worth $10 million. Is it still silly for you to buy it for fifty dollars?

    I don't think of it in terms of "justice," because justice is an abstract concept that is only valuable to the extent that it provides a social good. That's why I prefer to think of it in terms of actual, realized social good - which outcome makes the most people the happiest in the most tangible way?

    Now, if you consider intangible well-being, maybe the calculus is different. Perhaps letting the once-robber go keeps the family intact, makes a bunch of inner-city children better off, helps his child grow up to be a decent and happy man, and encourages many other escaped criminals to be better people - but, perhaps it also makes tens of thousands of random folks grumble on Facebook about not getting to see Justice Done. I guess that might be considered a net negative?

    ElJeffe, this idea of realized societal good sounds like a brilliant way to run a utopian society that flourishes only in the garden of your mind, I know. The practical application of appreciating the societal good any individual defendant poses starts to look a whole lot like poor black high school dropouts going to prison while white college graduates are given probation for the same crime. It's exactly the sort of thinking that lead a jury in Alabama to give an illiterate black handyman a death sentence for burglary -- one less illiterate [racial expletive] sounds like an awfully good idea when you represent the majority of society and have the power to unilaterally decide who is necessary to that society's good, and whom it can do without.
    Yeah a black handy man who assaulted the women living there, attempted to rape her and had served two prior terms for grand larceny...

    I mean it's easy to pull out the racism/subjective judgment card, but you still haven't stated why its wrong for a 25 year old grad with a job who does stupid thing X should be put away for the same amount of time as the 25 year old unemployed drop out. Everyone benefits more from person A being out of jail.

    And hell in your own fucking example the burglar had his sentence commuted by the Governor; then after 16 years was paroled by a parole board.
    He was only not executed, and eventually let out of jail because of 1 person/a small group of people making those exact judgement calls you are so against.

    You want to see what non-discretionary justice looks like: 3 strikes laws. That pair of jeans you just shop lifted just earned you life, enjoy!

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    @Sammy
    Okay, I read your edited post. Am I correct in reading that your opposition is based wholly or mostly on the existence of prejudice, principally racial, and how such a system might be used to exacerbate existing problems? Basically, are you just opposed to the practical execution of such a system, or are you opposed to the philosophy of it, as well? Because I'm perfectly prepared to admit that it might be a horrible system in practice - I tend to be woefully optimistic about my species' ability to not fuck up everything it touches.

    I think at some point you have to think of a person's right to fair trial over their usefulness to society.

    And that's still compatible to utilitarianism, because a society where educated people get lighter sentences than uneducated people is one where they tend to respect the law less and break it more. Which happens all the time now, actually.

    I think the problem is both philosophical and practical, because really they should be the same thing.

    poshniallo on
    I figure I could take a bear.
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    SammyF wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Consider two Powerball tickets. Both of them have one-in-a-hojillion chances of winning. It's silly to buy either of them for fifty dollars, because math.

    Now pretend someone misplaced one of them and finds it ten years later, and it turns out it was actually a winner and is worth $10 million. Is it still silly for you to buy it for fifty dollars?

    I don't think of it in terms of "justice," because justice is an abstract concept that is only valuable to the extent that it provides a social good. That's why I prefer to think of it in terms of actual, realized social good - which outcome makes the most people the happiest in the most tangible way?

    Now, if you consider intangible well-being, maybe the calculus is different. Perhaps letting the once-robber go keeps the family intact, makes a bunch of inner-city children better off, helps his child grow up to be a decent and happy man, and encourages many other escaped criminals to be better people - but, perhaps it also makes tens of thousands of random folks grumble on Facebook about not getting to see Justice Done. I guess that might be considered a net negative?

    ElJeffe, this idea of realized societal good sounds like a brilliant way to run a utopian society that flourishes only in the garden of your mind, I know. The practical application of appreciating the societal good any individual defendant poses starts to look a whole lot like poor black high school dropouts going to prison while white college graduates are given probation for the same crime. It's exactly the sort of thinking that lead a jury in Alabama to give an illiterate black handyman a death sentence for burglary -- one less illiterate [racial expletive] sounds like an awfully good idea when you represent the majority of society and have the power to unilaterally decide who is necessary to that society's good, and whom it can do without.

    I don't think you're an awesome dude, ElJeffe; I know it. The stuff you're writing here is something I find profoundly abhorrent when I consider the implications upon the legal system, and I am trying to tactfully point out what is frightening about those implications because I am not sure you have thought about them. Let's go back quickly to something in my penultimate post:

    1. The guy went to college. That's nice. I am not going to grant him clemency on the basis of having a bachelor's degree because the implication is that I am willfully punishing people who haven't completed college more harshly than I would otherwise.

    My draft of this was followed by the statement, "if I codified this into law as a sentencing guideline, it wouldn't survive strict scrutiny." There are several areas in higher education where we still today see an achievement gap between whites and non whites. Standardized test scores on average are higher for whites. More whites hold bachelor's degrees today than blacks or Hispanics. Blacks usually need to borrow more money to go to college, meaning it is generally less affordable for them compared to their white neighbors. So when you ask me to consider this hypothetical guy's education level, I can't help be think that this is a break I would probably cut for white defendants far more often than I would for black defendants.

    That's certainly not something you'd want, right?

    I don't think 'realized social good' is a pie-in-the-sky utopian way to run things. I think it's the only way to run things, actually.

    I just think achieving social good is very tricky and complicated, and is chaotically derived from concepts such as the rights of the individual to a fair trial.

    I have a pretty conventional attitude to statutes of limitation - they seem practical and useful to society.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    @Sammy
    Okay, I read your edited post. Am I correct in reading that your opposition is based wholly or mostly on the existence of prejudice, principally racial, and how such a system might be used to exacerbate existing problems? Basically, are you just opposed to the practical execution of such a system, or are you opposed to the philosophy of it, as well? Because I'm perfectly prepared to admit that it might be a horrible system in practice - I tend to be woefully optimistic about my species' ability to not fuck up everything it touches.

    It's the legal analogue of eugenics to my mind. I think it is philosophically laudable but impossible to implement in a world inhabited by living, breathing human beings in a way that wouldn't be substantially worse than what we have already and that would directly contradict the idea of "Equal Protection Under Law." Which is, itself, a very difficult ideal to approach, but we get a whole hell of a lot closer without nearly so much mess.

    Even in an abstracted presentation, the flaws are apparent after only a little consideration. Let's go back to your hypothetical. Let's say there were three partners. One was killed during the robbery. One went on to become the teacher you describe. On went to college but received an academic suspension because he partied too much as a freshman, and he ended up as a fry cook at Wendy's.

    Both men are caught on the same day 10 years later.

    How would you prosecute each partner? To what extent are you willing to base your prosecutorial discretion on the question of whether Defendant B did knowingly and willfully party just a little bit too hard when he was 19 years old, a year after the crime but nine years before his arrest?

    Even when you leave out the question of race, it is a terrible way to run a legal system.

    SammyF on
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    SammyF wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Consider two Powerball tickets. Both of them have one-in-a-hojillion chances of winning. It's silly to buy either of them for fifty dollars, because math.

    Now pretend someone misplaced one of them and finds it ten years later, and it turns out it was actually a winner and is worth $10 million. Is it still silly for you to buy it for fifty dollars?

    I don't think of it in terms of "justice," because justice is an abstract concept that is only valuable to the extent that it provides a social good. That's why I prefer to think of it in terms of actual, realized social good - which outcome makes the most people the happiest in the most tangible way?

    Now, if you consider intangible well-being, maybe the calculus is different. Perhaps letting the once-robber go keeps the family intact, makes a bunch of inner-city children better off, helps his child grow up to be a decent and happy man, and encourages many other escaped criminals to be better people - but, perhaps it also makes tens of thousands of random folks grumble on Facebook about not getting to see Justice Done. I guess that might be considered a net negative?

    ElJeffe, this idea of realized societal good sounds like a brilliant way to run a utopian society that flourishes only in the garden of your mind, I know. The practical application of appreciating the societal good any individual defendant poses starts to look a whole lot like poor black high school dropouts going to prison while white college graduates are given probation for the same crime. It's exactly the sort of thinking that lead a jury in Alabama to give an illiterate black handyman a death sentence for burglary -- one less illiterate [racial expletive] sounds like an awfully good idea when you represent the majority of society and have the power to unilaterally decide who is necessary to that society's good, and whom it can do without.
    Yeah a black handy man who assaulted the women living there, attempted to rape her and had served two prior terms for grand larceny...

    I mean it's easy to pull out the racism/subjective judgment card, but you still haven't stated why its wrong for a 25 year old grad with a job who does stupid thing X should be put away for the same amount of time as the 25 year old unemployed drop out. Everyone benefits more from person A being out of jail.

    And hell in your own fucking example the burglar had his sentence commuted by the Governor; then after 16 years was paroled by a parole board.
    He was only not executed, and eventually let out of jail because of 1 person/a small group of people making those exact judgement calls you are so against.

    You want to see what non-discretionary justice looks like: 3 strikes laws. That pair of jeans you just shop lifted just earned you life, enjoy!

    Don't shop lift jeans?

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Jesus. Really?

    QuidSurikodurandal4532ArdolCaptainNemoFeralIncenjucarSCREECH OF THE FARG
Sign In or Register to comment.