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Thread: justice

  1. #1
    The proposal from the Sentencing Guidelines Council that motorists who cause death by careless driving should escape jail, has prompted the inevitable protests. The resulting argument highlights our confusion about the role of punishment in our criminal justice system.

    The purpose of punishment may be deterrence, containment, rehabilitation or retribution. Up till now, we seem to have had in mind a vague muddle of all of these. That might be fine, if the four objectives didn't happen to conflict.

    Whether or not careless driving results in death is a matter of chance. The driver's culpability resides in the carelessness, not in its outcome. If we feel that careless driving is causing too many deaths and we therefore wish to deter it more severely, it would make most sense to increase the penalty for careless driving, not that for causing death. Drivers would then have reason to fear the consequences of any of the behaviour that might or might not cause death, rather than knowing it would merely expose them to a small risk of incurring a particularly heavy penalty. Prison seems an unlikely means of reforming the careless, nor does containing them for a relatively short while seem likely to achieve very much. In the light of these considerations, the council's thinking seems sensible enough.

    It hasn't, however, gone down well with Angela Smith, whose 16-year-old son was killed in a car crash three years ago. Smith doesn't just feel that a higher degree of deterrence is required. According to the Press Association, she also says: "People who cause death on the roads should never drive again. They should have to live with what they have done for the rest of their lives." Smith, then, seems to expect a greater level of retribution for the chance consequences of inattention than the council is prepared to countenance.

    The requirements of retribution, deterrence and containment may be different. They may all prove obstacles to rehabilitation. Yet those who work in our criminal justice system seem to consider rehabilitation their preferred goal. They aren't quite as keen on deterrence or containment, and find retribution distasteful. Passengers on the Clapham omnibus tend to favour the opposite priorities. Because of this, rehabilitation is often promoted as a means of protecting society, while calls for more deterrence and containment often cloak the desire for more retribution.

    Judges, probation officers and suchlike figures tend to concentrate on the needs of the offender. He is, after all, what they're actually dealing with, rather than his victim or society at large. The public, however, who don't meet the offender but may have seen him demonised by the media, are more likely to be concerned about their own protection from other such offenders. Victims may be overwhelmingly concerned with securing some kind of recompense for the harm that's been done. They often encounter sympathy from outsiders, who identify more readily with them than with the offender.

    As the public have come to demand more of a say in what's done in their name, those in charge of the system have been forced to pay at least more lip-service to the need for deterrence and containment. They're even beginning to acknowledge a role for the victim in the criminal justice process, a development that, unless it's mere window-dressing, can only enhance the scope for retribution.

    None of this seems to be admitted. Yet we can only create a consensus on matters such as the treatment of killer motorists if we come clean about what we're trying to achieve. Deterrence, containment, rehabilitation and retribution can all be seen as legitimate goals, but we need to establish and articulate our attitude to each of them.

    All of them require society to appropriate the offender's free agency or assets in the interests of others. The presumption is that those who've broken society's rules have lost a portion of their entitlements. Some people have never been comfortable with this, and as the idea of personal responsibility has wilted in the face of environmental and genetic determinism, their qualms have grown and become more widely shared.

    To protect society adequately, or to provide victims with the comfort of retribution, we may need to sacrifice the interests of offenders whose culpability is limited. Are we up for that, or not? Until we're ready to answer questions like this, our system of justice will fumble.
    Its a subject i've posted about before, but its a nice article imo and articulates the fundamental issue better than i could ever be bothered to attempt. However, it kind of stops short of actally providing any answers because theres only so far logic will take the issue and after this point you have to decide on either moral, statistical or emotional grounds which is the best way to approach 'justice'.
    Anyway just thought i'd share as i quite liked it.

  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    So many fresh views out there, and all authored by people who've devoted to their subjects much more time and thought than the rest of us have to give.

    In any case, it suffers as a "cut-and-paste", and has not the status of being your own intellectual product, Ian.

    How wonderful for you as an "other-than-conservative" to be forgiven this otherwise unfortunate circumstance.

    I know members who've been keel-hauled for daring to transplant the opinions of others to these hallowed pages...

    A good read, nonetheless.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    Busyman™'s Avatar Use Logic Or STFU!
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    Quote Originally Posted by j2k4 View Post
    So many fresh views out there, and all authored by people who've devoted to their subjects much more time and thought than the rest of us have to give.

    In any case, it suffers as a "cut-and-paste", and has not the status of being your own intellectual product, Ian.

    How wonderful for you as an "other-than-conservative" to be forgiven this otherwise unfortunate circumstance.

    I know members who've been keel-hauled for daring to transplant the opinions of others to these hallowed pages...

    A good read, nonetheless.
    1. He has a paragraph beneath it. He also bothers point out some of his own thoughts.

    2. It's not liberal/conservative propaganda/spin. It's actually a refreshing view.

    3. He doesn't do it incessantly and consistently. One C&P doesn't make him annoying. Constant C&Ps with nary a jot of his own thoughts on the matter, would.

    Good try though to have someone in the same boat as you.

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    Quote Originally Posted by Busyman™ View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by j2k4 View Post
    So many fresh views out there, and all authored by people who've devoted to their subjects much more time and thought than the rest of us have to give.

    In any case, it suffers as a "cut-and-paste", and has not the status of being your own intellectual product, Ian.

    How wonderful for you as an "other-than-conservative" to be forgiven this otherwise unfortunate circumstance.

    I know members who've been keel-hauled for daring to transplant the opinions of others to these hallowed pages...

    A good read, nonetheless.
    1. He has a paragraph beneath it. He also bothers point out some of his own thoughts.

    2. It's not liberal/conservative propaganda/spin. It's actually a refreshing view.

    3. He doesn't do it incessantly and consistently. One C&P doesn't make him annoying. Constant C&Ps with nary a jot of his own thoughts on the matter, would.
    Gee, I thought I was just being prolific.

    Quote Originally Posted by Busyman™ View Post
    Good try though to have someone in the same boat as you.
    Thanks for that.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
    to be fair i do often cut and paste in an article to start threads and i don't think J2 was complaining about it per se, he's just wimpering about some imagined left wing conspiracy as usual.

    I don't personally agree that C&P is a bad thing so i generally ignore complaints & quid pro quo don't complain (at least i don't think i've complained) about people doing it.

    Bottom line is i'm too lazy to write a long starting piece for a thread so if someone doesn't like it they can just not read it.

  6. The Drawing Room   -   #6
    Busyman™'s Avatar Use Logic Or STFU!
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilw View Post
    to be fair i do often cut and paste in an article to start threads and i don't think J2 was complaining about it per se, he's just wimpering about some imagined left wing conspiracy as usual.

    I don't personally agree that C&P is a bad thing so i generally ignore complaints & quid pro quo don't complain (at least i don't think i've complained) about people doing it.

    Bottom line is i'm too lazy to write a long starting piece for a thread so if someone doesn't like it they can just not read it.
    Ehhh....take 1-3 together and that's my drift.

    I hardly put your C&P in the spin category.

    I guess seeing Faux News pop up with crap spin and then seeing it here annoys me.

    I hit the first paragraph and if it doesn't interest me, as you say, I don't have to continue. That's like any piece, however.

    Your C&P was definitely a good read, btw. Interesting views there.

  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
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    Back on topic...

    The situation before the offence of "Causing Death By Careless Driving" was introduced was that the offender would probably be charged with the fairly minor offence of "Careless Driving". The alternatives, "Causing Death By Dangerous Driving" or Manslaughter would probably be impossible to prove, since both have the requirement to show intent (not of causing death, but of the behaviour which led to someone's death). In addition, prosecution for those offences are still available if warranted.

    In cases of careless driving involving someone else, the other party is not always blameless. For example, take the drunk who staggers out in front of a car and is killed. In the situation where the driver could have avoided the collision had (s)he been more attentive, (s)he is guilty of causing death by careless driving. Rigid penalties would dictate that the driver in this situation gets the same sentence as the driver who's inattention causes him to swerve away from one accident and in doing so mows down an innocent bystander.

    The problem is that those pushing for universal retribution fail to recognise that not all cases are equal. Rationality goes out the window when grieving over the loss of a loved one, but the legal system has to look at things with a more balanced view. Indeed, if it does not then appeals are likely to result in the sentence being overturned, possibly with the offender receiving compensation. I'm pretty certain those pushing for higher penalties would not like that outcome.

    On the point of providing a deterrent, it has already been established that there is no intent otherwise one of the higher charges would have been applied. So how do you deter someone from doing something that they didn't intend to do in the first place. It's just nonsense.
    .
    Political correctness is based on the principle that it's possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

  8. The Drawing Room   -   #8
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx View Post
    Back on topic...

    The situation before the offence of "Causing Death By Careless Driving" was introduced was that the offender would probably be charged with the fairly minor offence of "Careless Driving". The alternatives, "Causing Death By Dangerous Driving" or Manslaughter would probably be impossible to prove, since both have the requirement to show intent (not of causing death, but of the behaviour which led to someone's death). In addition, prosecution for those offences are still available if warranted.

    In cases of careless driving involving someone else, the other party is not always blameless. For example, take the drunk who staggers out in front of a car and is killed. In the situation where the driver could have avoided the collision had (s)he been more attentive, (s)he is guilty of causing death by careless driving. Rigid penalties would dictate that the driver in this situation gets the same sentence as the driver who's inattention causes him to swerve away from one accident and in doing so mows down an innocent bystander.

    The problem is that those pushing for universal retribution fail to recognise that not all cases are equal. Rationality goes out the window when grieving over the loss of a loved one, but the legal system has to look at things with a more balanced view. Indeed, if it does not then appeals are likely to result in the sentence being overturned, possibly with the offender receiving compensation. I'm pretty certain those pushing for higher penalties would not like that outcome.

    On the point of providing a deterrent, it has already been established that there is no intent otherwise one of the higher charges would have been applied. So how do you deter someone from doing something that they didn't intend to do in the first place. It's just nonsense.
    Precisely.

    There are plenty of escalating clauses in existing law (aggravating factors, etc.) for tailoring penalties; this inane yen to put the legal "cart" before the justice "horse" is pandering to an emotional element which has no place in sentencing; think of the idiocy of hate crimes legislation...nothing but self-congratulatory feel-good bullshit.

    The facts should be sufficient.

    Ian's article does a nice job of pointing up the imperative of a logical process, and such clarifications should always be welcome.

    Busyman would do well, however, to devote more of his cranial candlepower to distinguishing between this logic and that which he is conditioned to refer to as "spin".

    He says he can't always take the time to read everything; perhaps he should mind as well his inclination to comment in those instances.

    Quote Originally Posted by ilw View Post
    to be fair i do often cut and paste in an article to start threads and i don't think J2 was complaining about it per se, he's just wimpering about some _________ left wing conspiracy as usual.
    Well spotted, and fixed, too.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  9. The Drawing Room   -   #9
    Busyman™'s Avatar Use Logic Or STFU!
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    Quote Originally Posted by j2k4 View Post
    Busyman would do well, however, to devote more of his cranial candlepower to distinguishing between this logic and that which he is conditioned to refer to as "spin".

    He says he can't always take the time to read everything; perhaps he should mind as well his inclination to comment in those instances.
    No I just ask someone else to paraphrase it since many times there is not much to go on as to what the C&P is about and it's usually quite lengthy. Many might feel obliged to read every C&P posted here. I do not since my time was burned on many occasions.

    "Here's an interesting article that one of my circle-jerks e-mailed me..." is not a great indication of it's subject matter (thread title usually is not much help) and it being scroll worthy warrants my yell for "help".

    Oh and I am very adept at separating the logic from the bullshit. You know there's always my admiration for Mrs. Clinton's fortitude in covering her ass (that you made reference).

    Either way, your "cut & paste" comment has helped throw the thread into something other than what the C&P was about.

    Nice baiting.
    Last edited by Busyman™; 01-24-2008 at 04:39 AM.

  10. The Drawing Room   -   #10
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    Quote Originally Posted by Busyman™ View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by j2k4 View Post
    Busyman would do well, however, to devote more of his cranial candlepower to distinguishing between this logic and that which he is conditioned to refer to as "spin".

    He says he can't always take the time to read everything; perhaps he should mind as well his inclination to comment in those instances.
    No I just ask someone else to paraphrase it since many times there is not much to go on as to what the C&P is about and it's usually quite lengthy. Many might feel obliged to read every C&P posted here. I do not since my time was burned on many occasions.

    "Here's an interesting article that one of my circle-jerks e-mailed me..." is not a great indication of it's subject matter (thread title usually is not much help) and it being scroll worthy warrants my yell for "help".

    Oh and I am very adept at separating the logic from the bullshit. You know there's always my admiration for Mrs. Clinton's fortitude in covering her ass (that you made reference).

    Either way, your "cut & paste" comment has helped throw the thread into something other than what the C&P was about.

    Nice baiting.
    Thank you.

    Please note how I included an "on-point" commentary along with the chum.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

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