The Criminal Status 15 replies

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Flash525

The Carbon Comrade

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14th July 2004

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#1 6 years ago

Following the thought I had to post in the thread about the Prison Fire (here) it got me thinking about criminals in general, both those who are guilty, and those who are not (framed). In essence, it seems to be down to luck and who you know, more than such seems to be the case about actual justice.

It's no secret that I'm all for harsh punishments, such including both corporal and capital punishment. If all the people in the Honduras Prison were actually guilty of their crimes, then those that died in the fire would have had nothing more than what they deserved. If they hadn't committed the crime, then they wouldn't be doing the time, and thus, wouldn't have been around to burn in the first place.

That being said, it's probably a fair bet that there were a fair few people locked up in the Honduras Prison that were actually innocent. This leads me to question the general system of which our justice system works.

If you're wealthy, it's likely that you'd be able to pay your way out of jail time. Proof of this is shown with everyday celebrities. They drink and drive, do drugs and break the law, they're given a fine and (in some cases) serve a minimum jail sentence. Yet, when your everyday person commits a crime of equal (or less) value, they're treated far worse, and can't go buying themselves out of jail.

How is this right by any means? People speak of the law and justice system with respect, yet, it's a joke and, to be quite honest, wouldn't surprise me if it all came down to money. Who can afford to pay off judges and who can't. Who can afford good lawyers and who can't.

Doesn't quite seem justified to me.

Discuss...




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#2 6 years ago

As I recall most research shows that reoffence rates are much lower with a justice system focused on rehabilitation than with a justice system focused on punishment. My attitude towards criminals is very close to, 'There but for the grace of god go I.' Had I had their upbringing, their opportunities, I'd be them. It's just luck that makes one person more decent than another.

But then I'm more or less a determinist - within the constraints of how I'd frame the free will debate - so that obviously colors my world view somewhat. If you believe people actually make choices then your outlook may very well be different.

Some people, well they're like rabid dogs. You've got to put them down or lock them up forever. It's a pity but they just can't live around others. But I don't think that should be the main thrust of the justice system.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#3 6 years ago

I don't mind harsh punishment, but death sentences or physical violence as deterrence doesn't work so well, as Nem said. It is also questionable as the justice system is far from perfect. If you're going to convict innocents then it would be a nice gesture not to kill them.

In my opinion a good solution would be to expel repeat offenders. Publish all relevant details of their crimes on a website and send them packing to search for a new home in whatever country will take them after checking their records.




Crazy Wolf VIP Member

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#4 6 years ago

Hmm. Too many innocent people are convicted for me to be comfortable with a death penalty (innocent as determined by later re-examinings of cases). The data suggests that in my country, prison does more harm to prisoners than good. They come out of prison as better criminals, not better people. The harsh environment of prison certainly doesn't seem to be helping.




Asheekay

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#5 6 years ago

Important question is not "What the punishment should be". It is "How do we exactly find out who is innocent and who is not."

I have lost my faith with the judicial system after Athenian court sentenced death punishment to Socrates.




Commissar MercZ

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#6 6 years ago

I can't speak for other countries, or even other states, but I can say that Texas's legal system is with out a doubt very flawed. It's very much built on a negative perception of criminals (they made their choice, let them suffer the consequences) and punishment oriented. Compared to the total population, Texas has one of the highest incarceration rates among the states, and crime hasn't been 'solved' at all with one victory after another with politicians preaching 'tough on crime' and instituting 'Victims' Rights' legislation.

In recent years there's been the Innocence Project, the Texas branch in particular has been able to prove some men sitting on death row have been given those sentences unfairly. And in other states- John Grisham wrote "The Innocent Man" over the case of Ron Williamson, as well as coverage on other cases such as those of Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot, all of whom found themselves charged in murder trials based on their appearance and personality, rather than hard evidence. Sometimes just forced through by a desperate local sheriff to save face for their incompetence. More recently we've seen the story of the West Memphis 3 (I suggest watching Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, and the subsequent sequels) and Troy Davis.

Tying in with that is the role of the media and sensationalising the stories, often twisting the court of law by introducing the court of public opinion, and introducing the usual 'moral outrage' that is promptly picked up by politicians to use. Be it a brutal murder, some criminal 'getting off easy', or what ever. Here in Texas (and the rest of the country), again, it's all about the old 'Tough on Crime' deal. Not much gets solved this way, it only warps people's perception of the way the legal system works just because of some cases that get highlighted to advance this moral outrage- in the past, it was the OJ trial, in the present I'd say the Casey Anthony trial showed this case and point. Plenty before then. I don't think many people realise how inundated the justice system is, how overcrowded the prisons are getting, and how difficult it is to solve with being 'tough on crime', even if it involves a death sentence.

Where to start? Aerlion brought up some good points concerning people's social and economic status with respect to what they can expect from the legal sentence. Arguably those with money can afford better legal representation and consul who can limit the punishment if not get them out of the trial, then a guy who has to make due with a public defender or find himself accepting a plea bargain. I think it also matters on the other end of the legal process- at the terrain that might prompt crime to come around in the first place. The socioeconomic aspect is often ignored I think, and it needs to be taken into consideration. But that's difficult in the first place, because it'll force the country to face some ugly truths considering the very fabric of the economy and what prospects people have in life. Basically it'll involve tackling many things at once, and for legislators its simpler to just give police more power and throw more money into making prisons. This is obvious to see in third world countries like the bit about Honduras that has been brought up, or Mexico's own riot/escape recently, but developed countries do this too.

I recall a story recently about two men who were sentenced to vastly different fates. 54 year old Roy Brown, a homeless black man, robbed a bank for a $100 note, and later returned it out of remorse. He got sentenced to 15 years in jail by the judge presiding over his trial. Another man, investment tychoon Paul R. Allen, defrauded investors out of some $3 billion dollars. His sentence for this 'theft'? 40 months. Brown of course had a sentence handed down to him on account of his crime being 'violent' as well as past history, but again like it is in the rest of the States, a total disconnect from the terrain that led him down this path. Mr. Allen's crime was less 'violent', but still, a contrast between 'white-collar' crime and the street and 'violent' crime we are often fed in the media.

That reminded me of the mess from Les Miserables and Jean Valjean's crime of stealing bread to feed himself and his dependants- to think Victor Hugo wrote that book over a 100 years ago (in part) to draw plight to the underclasses in France and the way the state reacted to them- and we still have that going on now.

For more on Roy Brown and Paul R. Allen, check out this link. And a bit from Snopes.

Edit:

Saw this interesting article about crime rates on reservations here in the United States. Reservations are also plagued by severe socioeconomic factors- usually people are quite poor on there and face crime from many angles, be it domestic abuse or gang problems. Lack of resources in reservations means difficulty in tackling these problems, much less taking it to trial. The bit about how uninvolved the federal government is underscores the marginalisation of Native American reservations here.




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#7 6 years ago

Can I be held liable for a Facebook Friend's criminal status? Laser pointer




Andron Taps Forum Mod

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#8 6 years ago

Yes.


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



Asheekay

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#9 6 years ago

Spot on, Commissar MercZ. The socioeconomic conditions are indeed root of profitable crime all over the world. One's own choice of the path they take matters only when they have a real option in choosing their path at all. Judiciary and political systems focused entirely on punishing the criminals are like a gardener who tries killing outgrown shrubs by regularly clipping their leaves instead of cutting their roots.

And then there are movies depicting bribed judges, mafia-paid police officers and corrupt politicians. And then a violent trigger-happy hero makes his way shooting through all this mess and doing his justice himself. What do these movies portray on the mind of a nine-ten years old child? That the all the judicial system is evil, that honest policemen get shot by their colleagues and that you have to find your justice by the way of the weapon. And when that child grows up following the path of his childhood hero (the drop-dead, trigger-happy gunman of the Stallone/Arnold class) we find crime rates escalating.

With Freud's deep research into subconscious, and the studies of children's psychological impacts, still we don't ban such movies. Is the tax-money earned by large studio houses more important than the future of a whole generation?




Flash525

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#10 6 years ago

Nemmerle;5612915As I recall most research shows that reoffence rates are much lower with a justice system focused on rehabilitation than with a justice system focused on punishment.[/quote]They'd be lower still if people weren't around to re offend.

Nemmerle;5612915Had I had their upbringing, their opportunities, I'd be them. It's just luck that makes one person more decent than another.[/quote]Whilst I can appreciate this, at least to an extent, anyone within society that doesn't have a mental illness knows all too well the difference between right and wrong.

Theft and such, if you're poor or living on the streets I can... accept. Murder, Rape and Paedophilia however; there is no excuse for that.

Nemmerle;5612915If you believe people actually make choices then your outlook may very well be different.[/quote]I'm afraid I do.

MrFancypants;5612945In my opinion a good solution would be to expel repeat offenders. Publish all relevant details of their crimes on a website and send them packing to search for a new home in whatever country will take them after checking their records.

I don't think it'll be that simple. You can hardly cast off criminals to another country and it's society.

[QUOTE=Crazy Wolf;5612956]Too many innocent people are convicted for me to be comfortable with a death penalty (innocent as determined by later re-examinings of cases).[QUOTE=Asheekay;5613142]Important question is not "What the punishment should be". It is "How do we exactly find out who is innocent and who is not."

We need to step up on this game. We can go to the moon, we can grow organs in labs, we can turn fossils into fuel, but we can't tell a liar?

[QUOTE=Commissar MercZ;5613445]I recall a story recently about two men who were sentenced to vastly different fates. 54 year old Roy Brown, a homeless black man, robbed a bank for a $100 note, and later returned it out of remorse. He got sentenced to 15 years in jail by the judge presiding over his trial. Another man, investment tychoon Paul R. Allen, defrauded investors out of some $3 billion dollars. His sentence for this 'theft'? 40 months. Brown of course had a sentence handed down to him on account of his crime being 'violent' as well as past history, but again like it is in the rest of the States, a total disconnect from the terrain that led him down this path. Mr. Allen's crime was less 'violent', but still, a contrast between 'white-collar' crime and the street and 'violent' crime we are often fed in the media.

This is sickening, and further illustrates the point I made which you've picked up on. $100 was more a violent theft, but who actually hurt more people? Mr Brown or Mr Allen? I'd say the latter. 40 months? What a joke.




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