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USA's Laws Are Too Soft On Crime

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by joe1776, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Generally, I lean way left on politics. You can call me a progressive or a liberal --- except on criminal justice. On this issue, the conservatives are right: our laws are too soft on crime.

    Do you agree with these goals?

    -- The goal of all decision-making systems should be to make the correct decision as consistently as humanly possible.

    -- The primary goal of a criminal justice system should be to protect innocent citizens from serious harm.


    If those goals seem right to you, then it might surprise you to learn that the USA's criminal justice system isn't designed to accomplish either goal. Its goal is based on the Blackstone Ratio.

    In criminal law, Blackstone's ratio (also known as the Blackstone's formulation) is the idea that: It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer. While the idea of convicting the innocent is revolting, avoiding it should not be the primary goal.

    The result of the Blackstone goal is a body of laws that go overboard in favor of the accused. At the same time, these laws make it difficult to convict the guilty thus undermining the goals of making the correct decisions as consistently as possible along with the goal of protecting innocent citizens from serious harm.

    Our justice system isn't very good at rendering justice but it's been a boon for the movie industry. The arrogant killer skating free on a technicality, the tough cop who goes outside the law to render justice, the prosecutor who cheats to get convictions, the relative of the victim hellbent on vengeance, these characters are staples in Hollywood dramas as art imitates American life.

    At the moment, the problem of racism's effect on our criminal justice system is on our mind -- and there's no doubt about it -- racism is a serious problem in criminal justice. But it's just one of the problems of a poorly designed system

    The conservatives are right on this issue. Because of the Blackstone Blunder, our laws are too soft on crime.

    Your thoughts?
     
    #1 joe1776, Jul 12, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  2. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    I always saw American laws as draconian, if I’m honest. Just punish and that’s it.
    Not to say I don’t agree with “criminals” being able to be able to take advantage of many loopholes and the “soft” stances of said laws.
    But I will always favour rehab over punishment, warts and all.
     
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  3. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Yeah, it's such a shame we don't convict and ruin the lives of many more innocent people than we already do. Such a shame.

    On a per capita basis, the US has more people rotting in prison than any other nation on earth -- and you're saying we have a problem convicting people?
     
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  4. Lyndon

    Lyndon "Peace is the answer" quote: GOD, 2014
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    America has the highest rate of incarceration in the free world, and that's something you want to make worse, crazy!!
     
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  5. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I suppose it wasn't enough that I referred to crimes that cause serious harm to innocent citizens. I should have specifically said that I'm in favor of decriminalizing drugs and prostitution.
     
  6. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    We should decriminalize drugs but that's not an issue related to the OP.
     
  7. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    There have been efforts to rehabilitate attempted in US prisons, but not with much success. Do you know of a program that has a proven high success rate?
     
  8. exchemist

    exchemist Well-Known Member

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    I think this is quite wrong.

    There is no "Blackstone Blunder". This is an epithet you seem to have invented. The standard of conviction in criminal cases, in most of the English-speaking world, is "beyond reasonable doubt". It is this principle, and not any ratio, that guides the justice system. Blackstone's formulation was a way of illustrating the importance of avoiding wrongful conviction. This is essential for any system of law to have the consent of the citizens. The citizen needs to feel able to trust that the law won't put him in jail for crimes he did not commit. To that end, it is also important to keep the onus on the law enforcement agencies to make a solid case for convicting someone.

    Governing by consent is a foundational principle of democracy.

    The USA already incarcerates a higher proportion of its population than any other democracy.List of countries by incarceration rate - Wikipedia

    The rate is over 4 times that for England and Wales, or Australia, which also use the same principle (conviction beyond reasonable doubt).

    There is, therefore, a strong case for saying the US justice system is not working well, but no case for saying the solution is to accept a higher proportion of wrongful convictions, which is what you are advocating, in effect.
     
    #8 exchemist, Jul 12, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  9. exchemist

    exchemist Well-Known Member

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    Look abroad.
     
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  10. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    I know we are supposed to be very scientific minded. But addicts are people with a myriad of specific and often myopic flaws. Am I supposed to judge someone not in their full capabilities?
    Also
    How Other Countries Deal with Addiction and Treatment
     
  11. oldbadger

    oldbadger Skanky Old Mongrel!

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    Here in the UK we hear that President Trump commutes the sentencrs of his convicted friends and colleagues.

    Justice starts at the top, I think.
     
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  12. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    The international data don't support your approach.
     
  13. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely.

    Before a jury gets to consider whether the accused is guilty beyond the vague term reasonable doubt, the evidence and testimony they are allowed to hear will be determined by an array of laws founded on Blackstone.

    But far more often than that, the trial might never happen because the district attorney's office will determine that the criminal's rights have been violated by a Blackstone-enabled law so they know in advance that the presiding judge won't allow the evidence to be presented.

    I'd think that this statistic might involve several other factors than whether serious offenders are fairly judged. Wouldn't you?

    No, that's not the effect I'd expect necessarily because there are many factors involved in that stat. I think there'd be a higher percentage of correct decisions on cases involved with serious offenses.
     
    #13 joe1776, Jul 12, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
  14. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    If you're referring to drug addiction. We agree. I don't think drug addicts should be made criminals as a rule.
     
  15. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    What data is that?
     
  16. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    The rate of recommitting a crime after being let out. Your plan works, if you accept that then you can't never let people out again. If you don't want to do that for all crimes, you have to do it differently than you propose.
     
  17. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    Any suggestions on where I might begin?
     
  18. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    The most absurd ones: The Nordic countries and start with Norway
     
  19. joe1776

    joe1776 Well-Known Member

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    I think my plan works when the sentence is a fair one given the offense and the offender's record..
     
  20. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

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    There is not fair in the end about this. You believe based on what you want a sentence to be. You then get another human out on the other end based on how you treated that human. Including how "harsh" you are.
     
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