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The Real Problem With Justice ?

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Ph3L1z14n0
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#1

Posted 14 September 2009 - 01:36 AM

For a long time, while watching many movies, reading books, watching the news, talking with friends, as any other normal person does, i've wondered, why is the judicial system not as efficient as it's citizens would like?

Many would say that the problem lies on other matters, like education, profesional help, etc. Many say that the law and other institutions work fine, and that the real problem is focused in other areas in which the law has no reach.

Others say that the law is obsolete, that the people should be actively defending their community, eliminating those threats that they deem as a danger to their community.

I would like to know everyone's different opinions on the subject, it's deffinitely interesting how some people i've talked to bring the moral aspect of the matter, while others bring the utilitarian aspects of how justice should be.

Just as a starting point, and the reason why the topic description says "Ambiguity" it's because one of the problems of the judicial system, as i believe it to be, is that we can't get our sh*t together, basically.

What i mean is that in most "civilized countries", the prison system has the purpose of reforming the criminal, enabling him to re-enter society in a functional and productive way, yet many times, it would seem as if the real purpose was to punish the criminal.

I'm not defending the criminal in reality, but i ask myself if we, as people, are doing what really is necessary or if we are just giving up to our own resentment, i can't and i certainly won't judge a person who would want to see a criminal get the lethal injection because of what he did to somebody that was close to this person, i know i would be wanting the same and that my grief would certainly influence my judgement on the matter.

But it also seems that the lethal injection, or in this case, the death penalty, simply does not work, it apparently does not diminish the crime rates, as many other things, this isn't just about the death penalty, but also about vigilantism for example, regardless of what we feel, i believe that vigilantism simply doesn't cut it, it doesn't scare criminals away, and in reality is not focusing on the real problem.

Any kind of opinion about such a complex matter like this is welcome.

Killer783
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#2

Posted 14 September 2009 - 02:13 AM

I heard somewhere that a man strangled a 78 year old to death and only got about 4 months in jail.Nothing can bring back a human life but other places say otherwise.

John The Grudge
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#3

Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:52 AM Edited by John The Grudge, 14 September 2009 - 09:08 AM.

I think sentences are too short in the UK. It doesn't deter violent crime. There's really very little the police can do. People should fear the police.

I think the root of the problem is bad parents. I know it's said all the time but I really think that's the truth. How is a child supposed to grow into a good person if you don't teach them to be good? I think many parents are just to passive. Of course there are many parents who themselves are bad people. Those children have no hope.

The solution is to prevent people with criminal records from ever having children. Give them the snip if they commit crime. It could be something like three strikes then you get the snip.

major underscore
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#4

Posted 14 September 2009 - 07:17 PM

QUOTE (Ph3L1z14n0 @ Sep 14 2009, 01:36)
What i mean is that in most "civilized countries", the prison system has the purpose of reforming the criminal, enabling him to re-enter society in a functional and productive way, yet many times, it would seem as if the real purpose was to punish the criminal.

The prison system has several purposes.

One is certainly to punish the person who has committed a criminal act: if you commit crime A and get caught, then punishment B happens. If the potential criminal fears B enough, he will be less likely to commit crime A. That's straightforward. If there are no punishments for violations of other peoples' rights, you get more of it. We don't want more of it, so we punish to keep it (at least somewhat) in check.

A second purpose is separating the criminal from potential victims. If a wife beater is locked up in a prison cell, he won't go around beating his wife during the period he's locked up. This is based on the belief that a person who has already committed a particularly serious crime is (more) likely to commit crimes again if he is left out among the general public instead of being sent to prison.

These two purposes are very important aspects of a judicial system: to violate one person's rights (the person who has committed a crime) to protect the rights of others (the actual and potential victim(s)) from being violated.

A third purpose is indeed rehabilitation, but this seems like a rather recently added objective.

Ph3L1z14n0
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#5

Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:40 PM

QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 14 2009, 03:54)
One is certainly to punish the person who has committed a criminal act: if you commit crime A and get caught, then punishment B happens. If the potential criminal fears B enough, he will be less likely to commit crime A. That's straightforward. If there are no punishments for violations of other peoples' rights, you get more of it. We don't want more of it, so we punish to keep it (at least somewhat) in check.


But it doesn't stop them from going back to their criminal life, i do believe that many, several of them, deserve one or another form of punishment, but i think we as a society should've changed our methods of prosecution and incarceration a long time ago, simply because what we have now is not working.

QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 14 2009, 03:54)
A third purpose is indeed rehabilitation, but this seems like a rather recently added objective.


I will not deny that the history of justice has been one of pure execution and incarceration, it's just the way it was, what i wouldn't say it's that rehabilitation is a "recently added" objective, it certainly belongs to the 20th century, and if anything, if it doesn't work, then i believe it is because it is a mutually exclusive objective in relation to the "punishment system".

major underscore
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#6

Posted 14 September 2009 - 11:11 PM Edited by major underscore, 14 September 2009 - 11:19 PM.

QUOTE (Ph3L1z14n0 @ Sep 14 2009, 20:40)
QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 14 2009, 03:54)
One is certainly to punish the person who has committed a criminal act: if you commit crime A and get caught, then punishment B happens. If the potential criminal fears B enough, he will be less likely to commit crime A. That's straightforward. If there are no punishments for violations of other peoples' rights, you get more of it. We don't want more of it, so we punish to keep it (at least somewhat) in check.

But it doesn't stop them from going back to their criminal life, i do believe that many, several of them, deserve one or another form of punishment, but i think we as a society should've changed our methods of prosecution and incarceration a long time ago, simply because what we have now is not working.

Why do you claim that such a system is not working? The very fact that you know that there is a punishment waiting for you if you get caught having committed a crime is a deterrent. Of course it doesn't deterr all crime (that would be utopian), but it certainly does help to limit the amount of crime in a society. Just take a look at situations where there people think that there is no way that they are going to be punished, in such situations you get a culture of crime, it becomes commonplace and law-abiding citizens lose out. Even if you were to execute every person who is convicted of a crime you would still have crimes committed. Crime does not go away. It can be reduced or allowed to become more common, but it does not go away.

QUOTE (Ph3L1z14n0 @ Sep 14 2009, 20:40)
QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 14 2009, 03:54)
A third purpose is indeed rehabilitation, but this seems like a rather recently added objective.

I will not deny that the history of justice has been one of pure execution and incarceration, it's just the way it was, what i wouldn't say it's that rehabilitation is a "recently added" objective, it certainly belongs to the 20th century, and if anything, if it doesn't work, then i believe it is because it is a mutually exclusive objective in relation to the "punishment system".

I don't agree that it's mutually exclusive. There are many reasons why people chose to commit crimes and sometimes it does work to offer them a program of rehabilitation. The very fact that they are being punished for their illegal acts is a major reason for them to rehabilitate themselves: they don't want to go back to prison because being in prison makes them (in most cases) worse off than had they been on the outside.

Ph3L1z14n0
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#7

Posted 15 September 2009 - 01:43 AM

QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 14 2009, 03:54)
Why do you claim that such a system is not working? The very fact that you know that there is a punishment waiting for you if you get caught having committed a crime is a deterrent.

Maybe i don't commit crimes because of other reasons rather than punishment? i live in Venezuela, and believe it or not, with a rate of 1 out of 10 homicide cases being solved, impunity is not the main reason for the amount of criminality.

And it becomes obvious that the system is not working when ex-cons stop being ex-cons and return to their life of crime, which happens much more than we'd like, that already indicates me that punishment, regardless of what we feel, is inneffective.

QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 14 2009, 03:54)
I don't agree that it's mutually exclusive. There are many reasons why people chose to commit crimes and sometimes it does work to offer them a program of rehabilitation. The very fact that they are being punished for their illegal acts is a major reason for them to rehabilitate themselves: they don't want to go back to prison because being in prison makes them (in most cases) worse off than had they been on the outside.

There is this great documentary about the "Mara Salvatrucha" or MS-13, the most violent street gang in history, in this documentary you can see people talk about this gang, many people, from LA district attorneys to FBI agents, to even the leader of the gang.

Yet, the one that really caught my attention was this guy who was working in community service, he was a former member of the gang, i can't remember his exact words, but he did say that the reason why gangs like MS-13 were still out there was because the government "gives a handshake with one hand, and with the other they are cutting the arm".

major underscore
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#8

Posted 15 September 2009 - 01:34 PM

QUOTE (Ph3L1z14n0 @ Sep 15 2009, 01:43)
Maybe i don't commit crimes because of other reasons rather than punishment? i live in Venezuela, and believe it or not, with a rate of 1 out of 10 homicide cases being solved, impunity is not the main reason for the amount of criminality.

Of course there are many reasons why crimes are committed and many reasons why they are not committed. That should go without saying.

QUOTE
And it becomes obvious that the system is not working when ex-cons stop being ex-cons and return to their life of crime, which happens much more than we'd like, that already indicates me that punishment, regardless of what we feel, is inneffective.

Some inmates will always return to a life of crime. That's what they know and how they live their lives, for one reason or another. Others leave that life after a period in prison or other punishment without any effort by others to rehabilitate them. Whether the degree of repeat offenders is too high is a subjective judgement.

One thing that you haven't addressed though is the fact that a prison sentence physically separates a criminal from his potential victims. That's a major aspect to be considered.

QUOTE
Yet, the one that really caught my attention was this guy who was working in community service, he was a former member of the gang, i can't remember his exact words, but he did say that the reason why gangs like MS-13 were still out there was because the government "gives a handshake with one hand, and with the other they are cutting the arm".

So his policy suggestion was what? That the government should either only "shake hands" (try to rehabilitate criminals) or only "cut the arms" (punish criminals)? If those are the choices I'd go with a government that punishes criminals and non-governmental organizations working to rehabilitate the ex-cons.

I don't buy his argument though. Why would a convict be more likely to return to a life of crime if he's gone through a program of rehabilitation while in prison than had he only spent time in prison without efforts to rehabilitate him? That makes no sense to me. But that's how such fuzzy analogies usually work: they may sound good but once they are examined they fall like a house of cards built by a polar bear in a snow storm.

shaboobala
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#9

Posted 15 September 2009 - 07:39 PM Edited by shaboobala, 15 September 2009 - 07:42 PM.

QUOTE (Ph3L1z14n0)
why is the judicial system not as efficient as it's citizens would like?

Because what citizens would like is unachievable, one failure is often too many. And this attitude can be good, it can encourage the improvement of the system. At the same time though, assuming there is a way to "fix it" may lead to stupid changes. The "problem" with the justice system, as it were, is that people put too much faith in it and expect too much from it. It will always be nothing but a shoddy security net. It will always fail sometimes(often) and there will always be crime. Crime will always outpace justice. Not all criminals can be caught because they have a natural edge over the law. And of those caught, the impersonality and beaurocracy of the judicial system ensures that justice will be slow, possibly ineffective and/or... unjust. Can it be improved? Yeah. Can it be "fixed"? Not really.

I think justice and especially prevention of crime to begin with, should be treated with more individual relevance. Everyone should appreciate that they are the first measure of security for themselves. Justice is just an afterthought. Especially were the government is concerned; don't have high hopes.

I've gone through the system before myself a few times, as have several of my close friends, and I've never seen anyone "reformed" by any state social initiative. Either you don't mind going back to jail, you want to go back to jail, or jail teaches you a lesson, that's about it. There are certain people who are intent on crime and assuming they are just as susceptible to "reformation" as everyone else only gets them out on the street that much faster, and with no respect for their punishment to boot. Recidivist crime is pretty rampant, and it's also recidivists that are responsible for most crime.

Ultimately, people reform themselves and that's all there is to it, in my mind. It's a personal thing. If you f*ck up, you pay your debt to society and maybe some others will get the message too. Whether it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing or whether you are hard-bent on career-crime really doesn't matter. If you f*cked up then you are accountable: equal rights means equal punishment. Because that is what adulthood is about: accountability, responsibility, consequences. I think more often than not rehabilitation amounts to diffusion of guilt. Lots of finger pointing: "daddy's fault", "society's fault", "alcohol's fault", "the knife's fault", "the gun's fault" etc. If you commit a crime, it's your fault, time to face the music.

It's not about punishment or rehabilitation anyway, practically speaking. There are certain people that just need to be off the public streets. The main beneficial purpose jail serves is to separate the menaces from the decent citizens. It's a matter of security.

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#10

Posted 15 September 2009 - 09:42 PM Edited by Ph3L1z14n0, 15 September 2009 - 09:47 PM.

QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 15 2009, 01:43)
Some inmates will always return to a life of crime. That's what they know and how they live their lives, for one reason or another. Others leave that life after a period in prison or other punishment without any effort by others to rehabilitate them. Whether the degree of repeat offenders is too high is a subjective judgement.


It's not so subjective if you process it statiscally, i will say howewer that my own perception is indeed subjective, perhaps there are more rehabilitated individuals than not rehabilitated ones, although i believe it to be unlikely, so i think that if anyone wants to further discuss this point, then we will need some processed data on the matter.

QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 15 2009, 01:43)
So his policy suggestion was what? That the government should either only "shake hands" (try to rehabilitate criminals) or only "cut the arms" (punish criminals)? If those are the choices I'd go with a government that punishes criminals and non-governmental organizations working to rehabilitate the ex-cons.

I don't buy his argument though. Why would a convict be more likely  to return to a life of crime if he's gone through a program of rehabilitation while in prison than had he only spent time in prison without efforts to rehabilitate him? That makes no sense to me. But that's how such fuzzy analogies usually work: they may sound good but once they are examined they fall like a house of cards built by a polar bear in a snow storm.


Try to see it from his point of view, he was trying to say that gang members won't give up their criminal efforts in favor of becoming productive members of society because the argument comes from a hypocritical entity.

And it is true, both in El Salvador and even in the US, many prison guards stage riots to let the police get in, and while trying to "pacify" the population they kill as many criminals as they can, no wonder that Manuel "El Killer" Gonzales (just as a random example) will think that the government's word can't be trusted.

In the documentary about MS-13, the one i told you, it mentions how former president of El Salvador, Francisco Flores, laid in a plan to attack criminality that was called "Plan Mano Dura" (Plan Hard Hand, if you must), this plan basically was able to give the police more rights and less red tape than in many other countries, want to know what happened? "it worked".

"It worked", many gang members were brought into prison, many were arrested and given proper sentence, what happened later was that they were punished, they were given little or very bad food, they were crowded in their cells, more than 10 men in one cell, among many other things.

Morally, i believe that they deserved such treatments, many of them sold drugs and killed people as initiation rituals, they don't deserve my sympathy.

But that's not important, what's important is if the plan is effective, and sadly it wasn't, "Plan Mano Dura" infringed many civilians' rights and it allowed for the police to act on their own criteria, apart from that, gang members from other districts met, and when they got out they expanded their business and magnified the drug trade.

I'm almost killing myself trying to find the name, barely the name of this documentary about MS-13, i fully recommend it.

Oh, and about prisons keeping criminals away from the victims, i'll agree there with your point, it is indeed a viable solution for domestic violence, nevertheless i am concerned indeed about the victim in say 10 years or so, an angry husband may come back with a bloodlust, if i'm not mistaken there are relocation programs in the US right ? with change of identity too ?

major underscore
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#11

Posted 15 September 2009 - 10:29 PM

QUOTE (Ph3L1z14n0 @ Sep 15 2009, 21:42)
It's not so subjective if you process it statiscally, i will say howewer that my own perception is indeed subjective, perhaps there are more rehabilitated individuals than not rehabilitated ones, although i believe it to be unlikely, so i think that if anyone wants to further discuss this point, then we will need some processed data on the matter.

The stats may be more or less accurate, but your view of those stats will always be subjective.

QUOTE
Try to see it from his point of view, he was trying to say that gang members won't give up their criminal efforts in favor of becoming productive members of society because the argument comes from a hypocritical entity.

There is nothing hypocritcal about it. The government wants people to obey the laws, be that because they fear the stick or because they want the carrot. There is no hypocrisy there to be criticized. There is plenty of hypocrisy in other areas of government, but this is not one.

It is also not a valid argument as to why a gang member would choose to continue with a life of violations of other peoples' rights. The argument may be used to justify a continued life of crime, but that doesn't make it valid.

QUOTE
Oh, and about prisons keeping criminals away from the victims, i'll agree there with your point, it is indeed a viable solution for domestic violence, nevertheless i am concerned indeed about the victim in say 10 years or so, an angry husband may come back with a bloodlust, if i'm not mistaken there are relocation programs in the US right ? with change of identity too ?

I don't know how it works in the U.S., but it sounds like a good idea to be able to legally change your identity in a way that doesn't allow the offender to track you down in cases like this. There will always be a risk of violent offenders trying to "get back at" people once they get out of prison, but that's really more of an argument for keeping them in prison, separating them from their potential victims.

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#12

Posted 16 September 2009 - 12:23 AM

QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 15 2009, 21:42)
There is nothing hypocritcal about it. The government wants people to obey the laws, be that because they fear the stick or because they want the carrot. There is no hypocrisy there to be criticized. There is plenty of hypocrisy in other areas of government, but this is not one.


There is hypocrisy when the government does not say the word "prison" and instead says "rehabilitation facility", there is hypocrisy when they say they fully have the intention and want to help the community, yet they punish the offenders and at the same time they are offering counselors and guidance.

And what about "Plan Mano Dura" ? what about the staged riots ? certainly there is a lot of punishment, yet it amounts to nothing.

QUOTE (major underscore @ Sep 15 2009, 21:42)
I don't know how it works in the U.S., but it sounds like a good idea to be able to legally change your identity in a way that doesn't allow the offender to track you down in cases like this. There will always be a risk of violent offenders trying to "get back at" people once they get out of prison, but that's really more of an argument for keeping them in prison, separating them from their potential victims.


Well, if a man still wants to disembowel his wife after 15 years in jail then he should stay in prison, that much we do agree, but even then you still can't lock him up and throw the key into the river, in the very least the man needs some psychological assesment after several years, some people can repent from their actions.




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