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Punishment

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by spryllino, May 28, 2010.

  1. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    What is the point in punishment? Is it necessary or useful? If so, when? Is it right?

    Is it the main purpose of criminal justice, or does a criminal justice system have other more important purposes?

    Is it mainly necessary as a deterrent, or for its own sake?

    Is it merely institutionalised revenge?

    Who benefits from punishment? Who should benefit from punishment: the victim or their friends and family? the public? the state? the criminal themself?

    How should it be applied to children?

    I want to see what OT thinks, and how reactions to these questions relate one's nationality and culture and other political views.
     
  2. Glassfan

    Glassfan Mostly harmless

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    The world is usually more complicated than we think. Certainly dangerous criminals must be isolated to protect society, and we can call this incarceration "punishment". Certainly families and friends of victims would feel safer. Certainly law abiding citizens would feel that they are vindicated in their good citizenship when lawbreakers are punished. Certainly reeducation and rehabilitation of felons is desirable.

    Somewhat less extreme S&M joke implied. (Chuckle, snort)
     
  3. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    What S&M joke? Did I say something wrong? Need I edit the OP?
     
  4. CornPlanter

    CornPlanter Emperor

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    Punishment is necessary and useful. Mainly as a deterrent. Also, to enforce the justice. It' society that benefits from punishment. Also victim, friends and family, depending on the case. Dead victim obviously does not benefit from punishment.

    Thats how it should work, in my opinion. Reality is a bit more complicated than that...
     
  5. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    The reason why the victim and society in general seem to desire punishment (or revenge) is because we've evolved that way. The reason we've evolved that way is because punishment acts as a deterrant, first so that the person doesn't do it again, and second as an example to others. Mothers of all species discipline their children in much the same way; criminal justice is an extension of that.

    Of course, we've certainly found there are better ways to make society safer, and to prevent people from engaging in certain activities; punishment of a crime is merely one of a broad range of solutions we might employ for that purpose.
     
  6. civver_764

    civver_764 Deity

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    Punishment for the sake of punishment is stupid in that it accomplishes nothing. That's why no one should support the death penalty. Punishment should be a subset of the larger rehabilitation process.
     
  7. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    What about deterrence?
     
  8. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    It makes everyone feel better about the situation and makes us feel like justice has been done and stuff.

    Is it right? *shrug* What else are you gonna do to people who break the law? You can't just do nothing, cause then there would be no incentive for people not to break the law.

    Eh, the main purpose should be rehab. Punishment is just a side-effect.

    It works as a deterrent to a degree. Obviously, as I said above, if you don't punish the law breakers, people will have no incentive *not* to break the law.

    Having said that, past a certain point state-sanctioned punishment doesn't really work very well as a deterrent.

    It shouldn't be.

    Everyone.

    Carefully
     
  9. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Moderator Action: The OP seems fine to me. People, the "jokes" and puns have been deleted as spam. Any further ones posted will be deleted and infracted. Please discuss this topic sensibly and civilly.
     
  10. civver_764

    civver_764 Deity

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    The Death penalty has been shown to be an ineffective deterrent.
     
  11. Brighteye

    Brighteye intuitively Bayesian

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    Pleasure for the sake of pleasure is stupid because it achieves nothing. Reaching your goals for the sake of reaching your goals is stupid because it achieves nothing (else). Sometimes you need to define a goal and simply accept that it's a goal without asking for further goals that justify it.
     
  12. illram

    illram Deity

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    Punishment serves as a deterrent although it is usually deterring people who have a fairly good sense of morality, ethics, and duty anyway, so I question it's usefulness. A lot of people don't realize our criminal justice system's first priority is not placating or ensuring "justice" for victims of crimes, it is about maintaining an orderly society for the benefit of the general population. (Even though recent "victim's rights" laws in California have muddied this principle.) Hence punishment as retribution for the victim's sense of "justice" is in my opinion a perversion of what our justice system should be doing.

    In my opinion our correctional institutions and our courts should strive to rehabilitate people who commit crimes while also keeping people who demonstrate their inability to function in a civil society segregated from the general population. "Punishment" in the classic sense should be ancillary to those two goals, i.e. a violent offender locked in a cell for 20 years to keep him away from others should be punishment enough while also serving to deter others from a similar fate. Anything extra done to him solely for some archaic idea of "punishment" as retribution for his crime is outside the bounds of what, in my opinion, any civilized criminal justice system should be doing.
     
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    While some punishments have been shown not to be effective deterrents (for example, the death penalty), some obviously do deter. If there weren't any fines or penalties for parking in front of fire hydrants, nobody would think twice about doing it.
     
  14. illram

    illram Deity

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    Yeah I totally agree with that. Punishments such as parking tickets become more reasonable the lower you get on the scale of "illegal" acts. That kind of dovetails with my point though--the really serious things like assault, murder, burglary, etc. etc. are generally perpetrated by someone who doesn't really give a damn about the punishment anyway. At that point we have the perverse situation where punishment becomes less rational but unfortunately more likely for people to actually want to happen.

    The hard question is what to do about the stuff in between. In my experience it's the middle stuff, for instance petty theft when you're a juvenile, alcohol or drug related crimes , etc., where what we do to the offender has a real ripple effect on what kind of person that offender will be later in life and whether they will continue to get worse or whether they will get better. That's where we really need to reevaluate things in my opinion.
     
  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Agreed. There needs to be far more rehab and far less punishment in those middle cases, imo.
     
  16. BCLG100

    BCLG100 Music Master

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    I hope this thread stays on the front page for awhile so I can actually write a thought out response to it, say 3 weeks when all my exams are over?

    Maybe 4 weeks when all my exams are over and i'm awoken from my drink induced coma?
     
  17. Brighteye

    Brighteye intuitively Bayesian

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    A very basic principle in my conception of justice is that no crime should benefit the perpetrator. Punishment is the only way by which we can achieve this. As long as this principle remains satisfied then I have no arguments with rehab schemes.
    I do think that it's important that the benefits of rehab schemes (e.g training for jobs outside of prison) combined with the benefits of the crime be of less worth to the criminal than the cost of the punishment.
    Punishment is an essential way to balance the books, without which justice would not be just, and crime would simultaneously not be deterred.
     
  18. illram

    illram Deity

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    The principle behind rehab benefits the public by, ideally, turning a counter-productive member of society into a productive one. The criminal benefits only insofar as they have now turned from a life of crime into a life of law abiding citizenship. (Again, ideally). I think from a cost benefit perspective society at large gets a huge windfall on that deal.
     
  19. Brighteye

    Brighteye intuitively Bayesian

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    But justice isn't about societal good (quite apart from the deterrence effects of making crime beneficial). Justice is about individuals, which is why I was careful to mention costs to the criminal rather than abstract costs. The criminal must not benefit, even if on any individual case society and the criminal could benefit from forgoing the punishment and jumping straight into job training.
     
  20. illram

    illram Deity

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    Our criminal justice system isn't about individuals. That's why it's "The People" vs. the defendant, not the victim v. the defendant.

    Rehabilitation doesn't have to be job training, necessarily. I mean a good first step could be merely making prisons and juvenile halls not hellholes of violence & disease that breed criminality and anti-social behavior, as they currently are.
     

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