Tag Archives | punishment

Are we innate retributivists? Review of the Psychological Evidence

hanging

This post originally appeared on Philosophical Disquisitions. It has been republished under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Why do we punish others? There are many philosophical answers to that question. Some claim that we punish in order to incapacitate a potential wrongdoer; some claim that we do it in order to rehabilitate an offender; some claim that we do it in order to deter others; and some claim that we do it because wrongdoers simply deserve to be punished. Proponents of the last of these views are called retributivists. They believe that punishment is an intrinsic good, and that it ought to be imposed in order to ensure that justice is done. Proponents of the other views are consequentialists. They think that punishment is an instrumental good, and that its worth has to be assessed in terms of the ends it helps us to achieve.

The ethical debate about the merits of consequentialism vis-a-vis retributivism is long-running.… Read the rest

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16 Year-Old Given 15 Year Prison Sentence After Judge Changes Terms of Plea Agreement

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PIC: Cooper Van Huizen (C)

“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it further.”

A 16-year-old Utah boy was sentenced earlier this month to up to 15 years in a maximum security prison after a judge changed the terms of a plea agreement.

Cooper Van Huizen pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree felony robbery for his role in a home invasion late last year.

The teen, who had no prior criminal history, and his parents believed the plea deal would result in 180 days in jail.

But District Judge Ernie Jones told Van Huizen at the May 7 sentencing hearing he believed the terms recommended by prosecutors and the probation board were “too soft” and instead sent the boy to Utah State Prison for one to 15 years.

Van Huizen cried and begged for mercy as he was led from the courtroom handcuffed in front of sobbing family members.

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Hell On Earth: Should Life Extension Technology Be Used to Punish Criminals?

Prometheus having his liver eaten by an eagle....

Prometheus having his liver eaten by an eagle. Painting by Jacob Jordaens, c. 1640, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That which is giving can be used to take away. What if life extension is used to punish? Should we punish the most heinous of villains for 100… 200… 300 years? What say you disinfonauts?

via aeon

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Hitler got off easy, given the scope and viciousness of his crimes. We might have moved beyond the Code of Hammurabi and ‘an eye for an eye’, but most of us still feel that a killer of millions deserves something sterner than a quick and painless suicide. But does anyone ever deserve hell?

That used to be a question for theologians, but in the age of human enhancement, a new set of thinkers is taking it up. As biotech companies pour billions into life extension technologies, some have suggested that our cruelest criminals could be kept alive indefinitely, to serve sentences spanning millennia or longer.

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God Deserves to Burn in Hell

Pic: John Martin: 'Fallen Angels in Hell' (PD)

Pic: John Martin: ‘Fallen Angels in Hell’ (PD)

Shade writes at Contemplating:

Any maker of our universe could either completely not give a damn about it, in which case it is fully irrelevant, or have some vested interest in stuff that’s going on inside it. According to many people, the ‘interested’ higher power is exactly what there is. And insofar as it is interested (although it’s a bit difficult to conceive of the highest form of intelligence in the universe that would give a damn about what some amoebae that we are compared to it may be doing or saying…), people go out of their ways to try to second-guess what may please such a being and tickle its vanity…  Why all this is absurd in and of itself is covered in my other post “Nothing Personal“, so let’s move on to the current subject at hand, which is the following: even IF there had been a higher power, it is unworthy of regard, let alone obedience and praise.ANY ‘interested’ or capable of empathy higher power (magic or not) who would have made such a universe as ours is a psychopathic sadist.

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Affluenza Teen Again Given Probation For Drunk Driving Slaughter

Photo: WFAA

Photo: WFAA

Disinfonauts may recall with disgust an earlier post “Rich Kid Kills Four Pedestrians While Driving Drunk And Gets Probation Because of ‘Affluenza.’” Now that same rich kid, Ethan Couch, has again been given probation by the same Texas judge who sentenced him last time, instead of the 20 years of jail time called for by prosecutors. Report from AP via NY Daily News:

FORT WORTH, Texas — A judge on Wednesday ordered a Texas teenager who was sentenced to 10 years’ probation in a drunken-driving crash that killed four people to go to a rehabilitation facility paid for by his parents.

Judge Jean Boyd again decided to give no jail time for Ethan Couch, defense attorney Reagan Wynn and prosecutors told reporters after the hearing, which was closed to the public. Prosecutors had asked Boyd to sentence him to 20 years in state custody on charges related to two people who were severely injured.

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Rich Kid Kills Four Pedestrians While Driving Drunk And Gets Probation Because of ‘Affluenza’

roflbot(4)If for some inexplicable reason you didn’t think that America had two justice systems – one for the rich and one for everyone else – then this should cure you of that delusion:

Via Time:

For most people, conviction for vehicular manslaughter due to drunk driving warrants a lengthy sentence, but not in the case of Ethan Couch, a wealthy young man from the state of Texas.

The Keller, Tex., 16-year-old has a rare condition that a judge believes is best remedied with anything but dealing with the consequences for causing a DWI wreck that killed four people, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Couch suffers from “affluenza,” according to his lawyers, a term which means that his wealthy parents pretty much let him get away with everything. The defense saved him from a 20-year sentence; State District Judge Jean Boyd bought it at his sentencing on Tuesday and gave Couch probation instead.

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Belief in an Angry, Punishing God Associated With Increase in Mental Illness

sinners hands angry god2A new study reveals that if your vision of God is that of a pissed-off monster then you may be more likely to have certain kinds of for mental health problems. And yes, I mean beyond just believing that there’s an ill-mannered invisible monster watching your every move:

Analyzing a Gallup survey conducted in 2010, the researchers sought to determine how one’s perception of God — as punitive, benevolent, or indifferent — was associated with five different psychiatric symptoms: general anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion.

Respondents’ characterizations of God were gleaned from their opinions of how six adjectives — absolute, critical, just, punishing, severe, or wrathful — applied to God. A numbering system was used to gauge the degree to which the subject viewed the adjective as an accurate descriptor of God (very well = 4; somewhat well = 3, not very well = 2, etc.). In a similar fashion, respondents answered queries designed to measure the five aforementioned psychiatric symptoms.

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Extenuating Circumstances? DC Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo Claims He Was Sexually Abused by Partner in crime

In an interview with Today's Matt Lauer, Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the two men convicted in a series of deadly DC sniper attacks, stated that he was sexually abused by co-defendant John Muhammad. Malvo told Lauer that the abuse began at age 15 and continue to the pair were arrested. Malvo was 17 at the time. He is now 27 and currently serving several life sentences without the possibility of parole. Malvo said that he had only recently become comfortable enough to admit the truth. Muhammad is not around to refute the claim, having been executed in 2009. Some might think that this is a cynical ploy for the attention and sympathy of the public, for whom the memories of those nine senseless deaths (and three woundings) may have become hazier over the last decade. Presuming that Malvo's claims are true, should they justify any kind of lenience? Malvo was a minor during the shooting spree, and under the sole supervision and guidance of a man - if we're to take Malvo's word for it - sexually abused him for years. Even without the sex abuse, their relationship was supremely dysfunctional by any definition, but does that mitigate to any degree Malvo's responsibility for his actions?

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Chinese Prisoners Forced To Play World Of Warcraft

china-prisonIronic — when I was a kid, being locked up in a Chinese prison and “forced” to stay up playing video games all night would have been my dream. The Telegraph reports:

A 54-year-old prisoner at the Jixi labor camp in the northern province of Heilongjiang said he was forced to play games on the internet in order to build up credit that was traded by his guards for real money, a practice known as “gold-farming”.

In an interview with the Guardian, the prisoner said online gaming was a far more lucrative activity for the managers of the labor camp than the physical labor the inmates were forced to do.  “Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labor,” he said. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb a day.

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