Justice

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Friday
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Re: Justice

Postby Friday » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:07 am

(rains from above)

And yeah, I've been poking at my friends for years now about what they think prisons are for. See, in my opinion, if the person is in prison and isn't a threat to others, why the fuck are they in prison? I had a very long discussion with a friend about whether or not parents who forget their babies in the car (who then die) even should to go to prison at all. Do you think they're a threat to others? Do you think punishing them will make them sorrier than they already are? But pretty much everyone really wants to send those parents to prison FOREVER for doing something so terrible.

I mean, I wouldn't be opposed to sending them in for a year or two to just make a statement maybe. I'm not even sure that's needed. I just don't get sending non-threats to prison. Make them do community service on the weekends for 10 years, or what the fuck ever.
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Mongrel
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Re: Justice

Postby Mongrel » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:12 am

Because people don't typically want actual justice; they want vengeance.
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Bal
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Re: Justice

Postby Bal » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:30 am

There's obviously a punitive element in prison sentencing. Otherwise hate crime laws mandating harsher sentences wouldn't exist, for instance. Or even judicial leeway in sentencing at all. Judges are clearly punishing some crimes (and some criminals) harsher than others.

How much we should be indulging in that element of law is an argument I don't have the answers to. Because, to Friday's question about babies in cars, yes, they should go to jail, that's felony neglect/negligent homicide and parents need to understand their responsibilities to their children and the weight of law that supports that, but putting a number on how much punishment a person deserves in addition to or concurrent with keeping criminal elements out of society is an enormous can of worms.

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zaratustra
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Re: Justice

Postby zaratustra » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:24 am


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Thad
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Re: Justice

Postby Thad » Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:19 am

Bal wrote:There's obviously a punitive element in prison sentencing. Otherwise hate crime laws mandating harsher sentences wouldn't exist, for instance.


That's at least nominally for purposes of deterrence, though. Whether or not it actually works is another question (and I'm against mandatory sentences on principle), but there's an argument to be made that it serves a purpose beyond punishment.

Whether or not hate crime laws actually function as deterrence is another question. I know that the threat of a harsh sentence is usually not a deterrent to crimes of passion, but hate crimes often involve some element of planning.

If anybody knows any studies on the subject I'd be interested in seeing them. Hate crimes do seem to be on the decline in general, but that could be due to broader social changes and have nothing to do with sentencing guidelines.

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Bal
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Re: Justice

Postby Bal » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:52 pm

I wasn't really making any point toward the effectiveness of such laws, just that prison sentencing is very obviously not just to keep offenders away from non-offenders, but also, and perhaps even mostly, punitive in nature

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Friday
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Re: Justice

Postby Friday » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:00 pm

Bal, you don't think making a dude who leaves his baby in the car to death work the weekends for 5 years is enough of a reminder? We have to send them to prison to make them "understand their responsibilities to their children and the weight of law that supports that"?

Nothing will make them understand except prison?

I mean, if your answer is "yes", then we're just gonna have to agree to disagree.
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Brentai
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Re: Justice

Postby Brentai » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:44 pm

It's not for that person, it's for everybody else.

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Friday
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Re: Justice

Postby Friday » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:46 pm

Can you expand on what you mean by that? I don't understand how sending a non-threat to prison benefits other people.
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Brentai
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Re: Justice

Postby Brentai » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:09 pm

Some parents do not seem to be fond of the idea of being saddled with their children, of keeping them safe and of not hurting them (inadvertently or otherwise) for their own selfish stupid reasons. Deep down I do believe that all but the most diseased human beings would be remorseful about losing their kids, but there are always those dark moments where a person might think "I just don't care" or "The brat deserves this" or "If the worst occurs, well, so be it..."

And then in those entirely self-centered little moments they're reminded of the very personal, uncomfortable consequences of "forgetting" their responsibilities. Yeah, I hate to say it, but everpresent threats like this have probably saved countless lives, countless times, not just from horribly abusive people but just from those who get visited by those demons that we all get attacked by from time to time.

When they're not being used to abuse and cajole people, rules and laws can provide an effective safeguard against temptation. But to work, you have to have a little bit of teeth on them. I don't think enough people would be concerned about the threat of community service enough to satisfactorily modify their behavior in this case.

For an example of when a toothless law fails to modify a behavior, see what happens when a corporation can just pay off the breaking of an environmental, workers' rights or other "soft" restriction.

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Friday
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Re: Justice

Postby Friday » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:16 pm

Alright, you're saying prison is being used as a deterrence and that alternate punishments are not enough of one. Basically, "nothing will make them understand except prison" in advance.

I can see where you're coming from, and it's not like you're being unreasonable. I still don't agree. Maybe in a world where prisons were not so god-awful terrible being run by god-awful terrible for profit corporations.

For an example of when a toothless law fails to modify a behavior, see what happens when a corporation can just pay off the breaking of an environmental, workers' rights or other "soft" restriction.


See, I consider corporations who do the kind of shit corporations tend to do threats to other people, so I don't mind sending them to prison for dumping ten tons of cancer into the river or whatever.
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Re: Justice

Postby Mongrel » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:22 pm

So basically the forgetful parents must suffer to keep the really awful ones halfway in line (yeah, that's a charged statement I'm making)? I mean, maybe you're right and that really is valid math, but I'm not actually sure.

I'm not saying I disagree or misunderstand, but I'm not sure of the efficacy of the deterrent. I mean, there may well be a deterrent effect on bad parents, but I don't actually think we can say that for certain because a lot of supposed deterrent effect is frankly overblown. It's something I would prefer to have more concrete data about rather than just gut feelings.
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Brentai
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Re: Justice

Postby Brentai » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:35 pm

Just tell me how many bad things you haven't done in your life because you didn't want to be arrested. It's probably a lot! That threat may not be keeping you in line per se, but it's modifying behavior just enough that we're not going all West Oakland each other, except of course in places like West Oakland where the law can't be enforced.

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Re: Justice

Postby Mongrel » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:40 pm

I think we want to be very careful about over-extrapolating personal experience across an entire population.
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Bal
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Re: Justice

Postby Bal » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:43 pm

There's also a statement to be made here beyond mere deterrence about what we as a society will let go unpunished, and I think most people would agree that Negligent Homicide, or even just severe child abuse/neglect, is well beyond that line. It's a statement by the government, at least ostensibly representing their constituents, that certain behaviors will not stand without some kind of severe punitive measure.

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Brentai
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Re: Justice

Postby Brentai » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:59 pm

Mongrel wrote:I think we want to be very careful about over-extrapolating personal experience across an entire population.


I am. I feel very comfortable with the assertion that most people have had their behavior modified somewhat by the threat of incarceration.

And if you don't think fear is an effective form of behavior modification, sitting here right next to the other active thread right now... hoo hoo hoo, oh man.

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Friday
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Re: Justice

Postby Friday » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:01 pm

There's also a statement to be made here beyond mere deterrence about what we as a society will let go unpunished, and I think most people would agree that Negligent Homicide, or even just severe child abuse/neglect, is well beyond that line.


Well, you're not wrong. Pretty much everyone disagrees with me.

It's a statement by the government, at least ostensibly representing their constituents, that certain behaviors will not stand without some kind of severe punitive measure.


And I tend to agree with this, except that can we find some other "severe punitive measure" for people who are not threats? People fuck up really badly sometimes. A person who drives and looks down at their cell phone and runs someone over isn't a threat to other people, unless you consider every single person who has a cell phone and a car a threat. Prison is fucking horrible and is run horribly and it's okay to make jokes about rape as long as it's also taking place in prison!!! :D

Negligence is a horrible thing to do and I get angry at literally every person I see fucking with their phone while driving. But I don't want to send them to prison, I want to fine the shit out of them. I want to suspend their license. I want to hit them in their stupid, thoughtless faces. Make them work. Give them a fucking tattoo that says "I left my child in car and it died", what the fuck ever. Prisons as they exist now are a complete shitshow and we should only be sending people we absolutely have to because they are actively dangerous to them.
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Friday
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Re: Justice

Postby Friday » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:03 pm

I mean, we could also make Prisons not fucking insane. I would be fine with that and it would probably change my stance on this matter rather dramatically.
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Bal
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Re: Justice

Postby Bal » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:08 pm

The problem, if you count it as a problem, is that we have also disallowed almost every single form of punishment that would otherwise be available to us because no punishment can be deemed cruel or unusual. Would a public flogging have a similar effect of many non-violent offenders? I have little doubt, but that is at least cruel and definitely unusual right now, and so we're not allowed to do it.

Now, there is an argument to be made that a punishment should be cruel and unusual to some degree for it to have lasting impact on an individual level, but unfortunately this is countered by the need to divorce vengeance, or even the appearance of such, from justice insofar as that is possible at all. So we get everyone receiving the same punishment in differing severity for almost every single felony crime.

I'm not claiming that prisons are a good idea, but like so many other things, it's what we've got.

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Friday
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Re: Justice

Postby Friday » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:14 pm

Also I'm pretty sure deterrence just doesn't fucking work in the cases I'm talking about. Imagine a society where every crime results in death. Now imagine Wesley Crusher falling into a bush.

That's not a joke. You can't apply deterrence to "people fucking up." Deterrence works against premeditated crimes. Leaving your baby, texting while driving, that kind of shit is literally empty brain behavior. There's no thought involved at all. I won't say it's entirely ineffective, but I seriously doubt a sudden influx of dead babies in cars if we lightened the prison term for it.
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