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Old 2016-06-08, 08:11   #1
Brian-E
 
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Default Prison sentences: appropriate at all? how long? for which crimes?

From the "opus clutterbot" thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by kladner View Post
Disgusting, privileged little POS. It must be SO HARD to actually be called to account, just for a bit of "the old in-and-out." Can we suppose it would have been OK if the real victim in this case had, instead, have dragged him into some dark spot and c0rnh0led him with something nasty?
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Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Just to add my own highly biased and opinionated perspective:
The sentence passed by the judge would have been seen as a severe one here in W. Europe even though it is lenient in the USA. Shorter sentences and, where possible, alternatives to prison are how I would like to see criminal justice systems progress. I don't believe long prison sentences serve any useful purpose in all cases except where the criminal must be removed from society because there is no other way to protect society.
However, I certainly share your outrage, Kieren, at the apparent special treatment which this young man received, if his social background was indeed a factor. And any perception that the severity of his crime has not been taken seriously is extremely unfortunate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kladner View Post
I generally respect the European justice systems more than those in the States. However, the States is where this took place. It seems that this judge took great consideration of the perpetrator's swimming credentials, and little of his ethical deficiencies. Excusing behavior due to drunkenness, while the victim was dragged over the coals by the Defense for all manner of possible "misjudgements," is bitterly ironic.

I find it hard to sympathize with a rapist. While there may be better ways to improve such a creature, they are generally only available to the wealthy, such as the Affluenza guy who killed four and injured others while driving drunk. In that case, lenience made no difference in his behavior. It seems that this swimmer boy also benefited from high-dollar attorneys, as well as a judge who utterly befouled his position, and the system he is supposed to represent.

I suggest that "protecting society" might be a very good reason to lock this brat up for at least a couple of years, in hopes that the experience might make an impression on him. Of course, it would be better still if he were put through intensive therapy at the same time. Keep in mind, however, that he also probably benefited greatly from the color of his skin. As long as the system is set up the way it is, he should have done some real time. A few months in jail, and a few years of probation won't make any impression at all, especially with the attitude of his father.
As I said before, I share your outrage Kieren at special treatment for wealthy privileged white people - and in the "Affluenza" case which you mention this unequal treatment was particularly blatant and open.

If the criminal justice system is going to evolve in the direction of shorter prison sentences or alternatives to prison, as I believe it should in most parts of the world, then for goodness' sake don't start with the rich and privileged when sentencing them. A fair justice system is essential to any civilised society, and that is only achievable if the wealth and background of the accused are irrelevant.

But, leaving the huge problem of unequal treatment in law between different social groups aside for the moment, I take issue with the idea that a few months in prison followed by a few years probation, as is the sentence in the case which Mike linked, will not make any impression on someone.

A few questions for everyone here:

What are the aims which prison sentences seek to achieve?

What is the value of a lengthy prison sentence over a short one?

For what types of crime is a prison sentence appropriate?
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Old 2016-06-08, 08:23   #2
axn
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
What are the aims which prison sentences seek to achieve?
1. Punishment (aka retribution)
2. Protecting society from the criminal

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
What is the value of a lengthy prison sentence over a short one?
1. Greater punishment (for more severe crimes)
2. Greater length of protection

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
For what types of crime is a prison sentence appropriate?
Crimes where #1 & #2 are relevant.

(Deliberately keeping the points simplistic and brief)
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Old 2016-06-08, 09:58   #3
Nick
 
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Centuries ago, if you were the victim of a crime, then punishing the perpetrator was your responsibility. The inherent disadvantage was that victims had a tendency to hit back too hard (or even punish the wrong person), provoking a counterattack from the family or tribe of the original perpetrator and this could easily lead to blood feuds, lasting in some cases for several generations.

This was one of the reasons that the state took over. As a consequence, we should expect victims and their families to complain from time to time that punishments are not severe enough - that is one of the aims of the criminal justice system, to dampen down the oscillations.

Last fiddled with by Nick on 2016-06-08 at 10:01 Reason: Additional explanation
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Old 2016-06-08, 15:14   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axn View Post
1. Punishment (aka retribution)
2. Protecting society from the criminal

.......
Another purpose which is often put forward is deterrence. While there are indications that the death penalty has little deterrent effect, I wonder if a greater sentence in this case might have impacted other potential rapists, especially on the Stanford campus. Given that this took place in the US, the perception of lenience might encourage other subscribers to Rape Culture, even subconsciously.
Quote:
For what types of crime is a prison sentence appropriate?
I would always turn to crimes of violence as a primary justification for imprisonment. Here, too, the US system is horrifically flawed. Non-violent drug convictions, especially more than one, often carry much harsher penalties than grievous assaults and even murders. Again, these miscarriages of justice fall heavily, though not entirely, on certain ethnic groups. I greatly doubt that a black or brown defendant would have gotten such a break with a sexual assault conviction, unless, of course, he was a sports star. Even in this situation, a person of darker color is much more likely to be subjected to the street injustice of police brutality, including murder.

The criminal justice system in the US is broken. A great part of this comes from its multi-tiered nature. At the top, we find corporate criminals whose punishments amount to the cost of doing business. Then there are wealthy Caucasians, such as Mr Affluenza, or the DuPont heir who sexually abused his daughter for years. In the latter case, the judge opined that "he would not fare well in prison."

How will his daughter fare in life? There should be some connection between the suffering inflicted on the victim, and the sentence imposed on the convicted criminal.

Even if there were no prison time in the Stanford case, the perpetrator ought to, at least, being paying reparations to the victim for a long time, starting with her therapist's bills.Perhaps the Civil system can somewhat correct the failure of the Criminal system.

Finally, a damning element, for me, is the apparent lack of acceptance of culpability by the defendant. This suggests that he might, indeed, re-offend. This brings us back to the "protect society" aspect of imprisonment. In any case, his sentence will end at some time. When will the victim get the same sort of relief from the evil he imposed on her without apparent remorse?

Last fiddled with by kladner on 2016-06-08 at 15:16 Reason: link
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Old 2016-06-08, 15:53   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axn View Post
1. Punishment (aka retribution)
2. Protecting society from the criminal
(Deliberately keeping the points simplistic and brief)
Let me first start with a disclaimer: I am well aware of abuses of the system mentioned below which were particularly notorious in the Soviet Union.

I could make a case that hospitalization would be a more effective way of protecting society from the criminal in some (many?) situations. The mentally ill do not respond well to incarceration without therapy.

Another purported aim of imprisonment, in the UK at least, is re-education and rehabilitation into society. The success of the UK prison regimes in this respect is dismal but at least an attempt is made. Nonetheless, there have been quite a number of successes, some of them spectacular and newsworthy, many more less so.
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Old 2016-06-08, 17:09   #6
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I heartily endorse the treatment (hospital) option, though I still believe that confinement is appropriate in crimes of violence. It is certainly the case that the mentally ill in the States are very likely to end up in jail without treatment. This can be traced to the vast reduction, or abolition of mental hospitals for supposed economic reasons.

Decades back, it became fashionable to give institutionalized mental patients prescriptions and show them the door. There were also some supposed therapeutic benefits, but those were dependent on the availability of treatment. Here in Chicago, the mayor has found advantage in balancing the budget with drastic cuts to social services, including the closure of many of the city's mental health clinics. This means that police become the agents of "care", and jails become de facto mental institutions.

Too often, the care provided by police includes beating, tasing, and summary execution. In jail, those confined are frequently deprived of medication, even when they had proper prescriptions when arrested. The ensuing mental deterioration can frequently lead to being brutalized, or killed.
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Old 2016-06-08, 18:05   #7
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Default A response to a rapist's father's letter

Someone Edited That Letter From Brock Turnerโ€™s Dad

Quote:
The internet can be a powerful platform to speak out against sexism and rape culture. One Twitter user did just that, but went one step farther โ€” she corrected it.

Twitter user Ali Ozeri edited a letter sent by Stanford sex offender Brock Turnerโ€™s father to the judge asking for leniency on his sonโ€™s sentencing. The letter, which became public on Saturday, is a blatant example of rape culture and misogyny, with Turner referring to the sexual assault his son committed as โ€œ20 minutes of action.โ€

โ€œThese verdicts have broken and shattered [Brock] and our family in so many ways,โ€ Turnerโ€™s father wrote to the judge before sentencing. โ€œHis life will never be the one he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.โ€

Brock Turner, a now-former Stanford University student, was convicted last Thursday on three sexual assault felony charges for attacking an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in January 2015. The 22-year-old faced up to 14 years in prison, but only received a six month sentence in county jail and three years probation.
Excerpt of the edited version:
Quote:
As it stands now, Brockโ€™s life has been deeply altered forever by the events (raping an unconscious woman) of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile that was there the whole time he was raping a young woman thinking he wouldnโ€™t get caught. His every waking minute is consumed with not taking responsibility for the rape he committed.
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Old 2016-06-08, 18:34   #8
xilman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kladner View Post
I heartily endorse the treatment (hospital) option, though I still believe that confinement is appropriate in crimes of violence.
The UK appears to agree with you. The technical term is "secure hospital" for institutions which treat dangerous mentally ill people.
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Old 2016-06-08, 20:24   #9
Nick
 
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In the Netherlands, the duration of any punishment is always determined in advance, while preventative measures can be extended indefinitely. Defendants in criminal trials often refuse to co-operate with psychological evaluation, preferring to be held fully accountable and face a fixed prison sentence rather than be declared not responsible (or only partially so) due to mental illness and face an indefinite term in a forensic psychiatric clinic.
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Old 2016-06-09, 03:02   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
In the Netherlands, the duration of any punishment is always determined in advance, while preventative measures can be extended indefinitely. Defendants in criminal trials often refuse to co-operate with psychological evaluation, preferring to be held fully accountable and face a fixed prison sentence rather than be declared not responsible (or only partially so) due to mental illness and face an indefinite term in a forensic psychiatric clinic.
That sounds like a terrible loop hole. They should add a catch-22 stating that only those defendants who has been shown to be psychologically competent (via a psychological evaluation) can refuse a psychological evaluation!!
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Old 2016-06-09, 08:24   #11
LaurV
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That is difficult, where do you stop? I would also prefer to be declared guilty but mentally healthy than to be declared psychologically inapt, and I would for sure succeed in cheating their tests. "Mad people are sometimes quite intelligent" too, I still remember that movie with Humphrey Bogart... (quote is from the movie). How do you actually catch a mad guy? I am not saying that I am totally sane, haha, mind you...

I totally subscribe to kladner's post related to violence. If it would be up to me, I would hang the perpetrators by their testicles in a public place, naked, and let them there for a while. I would provide the mosquitoes bites ointment for free..

See also those posts on this forum, related to my "dream device". Still dreaming to have one.
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