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Thread: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

  1. #21
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Quote Originally Posted by Zarchery View Post
    Ok I think the problem here is that you don't seem to view punishment as an acceptable purpose for prison.
    Hm... Do I? Don't I? I'll have to think about that. I guess, I just don't believe in a reward-punishment dualism. That's too black/white for me.

    When I was a pretty small kid, my grandparents used to have a old stove, heated with wood and coal, not with electrical power.
    And of course they told me: "Be careful to not put your head on the stove. It is hot and it'll hurt."
    I guess I don't have to tell you who did put her hand on there and of course felt how hot it was.
    That was getting the consequences. I assure you, I never put my hand onto that stove again.
    I have nothing against things having consequences.
    But you know, the stove just game me the consequence.
    It didn't tell me: "Oh, you're bad girl. You're foolish or evil or deserve getting your hand burned."
    Yeah, let there be consequences. Clear and logical consequences. I'm fine with that.
    But I cannot see the point in punishment (or reward, for that matter, that spiral works either way).
    True, the family who lost a loved one will never get their loved one back, even though the one who killed it doesn't get a life sentence, but one of, well 25 years or so.
    But honestly, they don't get their loved ones back when there's a life sentence or a death penalty sentence as well.
    For the point you claim (the dead one will never be coming back) it doesn't make any difference at all how long someone who killed that person is incarcerated.
    So, there must be another thing to it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zarchery View Post
    Still, I don't see how this is relevant.
    To me that is one of the most relevant points. Because if a 16 year old kills someone, I'll treat him/her differently than a 35 year old having done the same.
    Alicia's links (especially the 2nd one) answer that more clearly than I possibly could've done.
    But you know, I'm someone who tries to discover what anyone is able to do and be responsible for and what not.
    We all have our own limitations in that respect.
    I don't expect a firstgrader to be able to write a book.
    But I expect an 18 year old to not be illiterate and to be able to write a bit more than his/her name and to talk in full sentences to me.
    In other words: I'm not trying to mold people after an ideal. There are standards, true. But I want to know whether they're being able to live up to them or not.
    And when I "measure" this, I try to find out, what is in the range of that specific individual.
    I see no use in punishing an apple tree because it doesn't produce cherries, but apples. Or a dolphin because it cannot fly, but swims.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zarchery View Post
    Even if a 16 year old was acting immature when he shot and killed another person, that doesn't make the victim any less dead. It doesn't make the grief of the victim's loved ones less real.
    No, of course not. I since I've not been there, I cannot tell you for sure how I would react. Knowing my temper a bit, I get I'd also be furious and probably having some pretty heavy fantasies on what I'd like to do to that person or to tell it. But knowing my reasonable side as well, I suppose I'd not act out upon it. I probably would not, because I'd want this vicious circle to end and I assume I'd try to break it somehow.
    But these are just guesses.

    No, you're right, I guess, I don't believe in punishment being useful. In my opinion it doesn't help prevent crimes.
    A murderer used power over his/her victim. Punishment would be using power over the murderer. Now, what? Should I get into a power struggle with someone having already proven to be willing to misuse/abuse power - and by doing so allow the murderer to allow to choose the means?
    I see the prevention of further crimes as the purpose for prison. And for some, this indeed might mean lifelong sentences. But for heaven's sake, inmates do not mostly consist of psycho-or sociopaths.
    And I've seen profiles here with a life sentence, where "murder" was not listed in the "see the crime" section. Not many, but there are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zarchery View Post
    I think it's a little unfair to give the murderer, who committed a premeditated act in cold blood, 20 years when his victim and that victim's family lost much more than that.
    Well, I do not think that the pain for missing someone you love for the rest of your life, will be eased by knowing the murderer of that loved one gets a death or lifer's sentence. That won't bring the person you miss back to you. This pain won't stop. It may change over the years, (most grievances do, at least mine did, but I never lost s.o.through murder), but it won't stop.

    When I can't do anything anymore for the dead, why not doing sth. for the living? This includes to lend a grieving family my hand and my ear in any possible way, but in my opinion this also includes to help prevent fure crime and to help especially teenagers to learn to live a crime free life.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Quote Originally Posted by Zarchery View Post
    Isn't one of the defining traits of a sociopath their aptitude for fooling people into thinking they have changed, or are normal, or have emotions?
    Yes, look at Ed Kemper. He got wonderful reports from his psychiatrist despite committing murders at the same time as those glowing reports. He also later claimed he arrived for one appointment with a young girls body in the back of his car.
    This is why it's the quality of the psychiatrist or psychologist not their qualifications or claimed experience that counts.
    Sociopaths do generally mellow into old age, but this does not mean that any individual is safe at a certain age. However at 50 most are generally seen to have at least a diminishing drive.
    The real issue is, not the sociopath, but the number of psychiatrists & psychologists who have the arrogance to believe they are so great they can cure, or change dangerous individuals with their brilliance & then write parole reports that someone else does not get the chance to live to regret.
    Every person has their own story.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Quote Originally Posted by Daxi View Post
    The real issue is, not the sociopath, but the number of psychiatrists & psychologists who have the arrogance to believe they are so great they can cure, or change dangerous individuals with their brilliance & then write parole reports that someone else does not get the chance to live to regret.
    I can only speak for myself: I never claimed to be able to cure anyone or change anyone. Neither am I able to "fix" or "repair" people.
    I can only help people make the changes they wish to do. I can only help people to work through issues preventing positive change if they are willing to do so.
    There is no magic wand and there is no fairy sprinkling some healing dust and then everything will be ok. That's not how it works.
    But as said before: I have seen a few things that worked with many people. Not all and everyone, but with many people in different settings and situations.
    Besides, I just realized I didn't give the name of the American psychologist I referred to in one of my previous posts. It was Marshall Rosenberg.
    If anyone is interested in his work, just google and you'll find some information.
    If anyone is interested in a book or so, I'd personally recommend: A language of life. There are many examples and roleplay dialogue and enough to get the idea of his thoughts.
    And no, this is not a book written exclusively for anyone in the medical field. The book is also available in other languages, so for anyone interested it should neither be hard to get nor hard to grasp it.
    But allow myself a little word of "warning" also: It's simple, but not easy. I came across this work miore than a decade ago. By now I realized that (for me) it isn't simply a method or a technique, but a way of communication that did teach me a lot about my attitude and outlook on life and people and about my own patterns of thinking and talking. I'm still learning, practicing and discovering things. To me it has been an enriching book, regarding my personal life as well as my work.
    Greetings,
    Kirsten

  4. #24
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Kirsten your posts leave a lot to comprehend, but to this point:

    No, you're right, I guess, I don't believe in punishment being useful. In my opinion it doesn't help prevent crimes.
    A murderer used power over his/her victim. Punishment would be using power over the murderer. Now, what? Should I get into a power struggle with someone having already proven to be willing to misuse/abuse power - and by doing so allow the murderer to allow to choose the means?
    I see the prevention of further crimes as the purpose for prison. And for some, this indeed might mean lifelong sentences. But for heaven's sake, inmates do not mostly consist of psycho-or sociopaths.
    And I've seen profiles here with a life sentence, where "murder" was not listed in the "see the crime" section. Not many, but there are.
    I think it's incorrect to say that punishment doesn't prevent crimes. I think you are falling prey to the Nirvana fallacy. I think punishment DOES work because many people outside of prison restrain themselves from doing certain illegal things out of fear of the punishment of prison. I wouldn't kill anyone, but fear of punishment has certainly stopped me from walking into the bank on the bottom floor of this building and demanding all the money in the teller's drawer. Punishment reaches a point of diminishing returns, so the relationship between punishment level and crime level are not inversely proportional. That is, very high punishment has not led to very low crime.

    I do agree that life sentences for nonviolent crimes is stupid. Generally, those come from repeat offenders, often in drug crimes. Some states have these habitual offender laws, which dictate that after a certain number of crimes, you have a mandatory minimum life sentence. It seems like a bad idea to me because someone who keeps screwing up that many times has proven himself to have exceptionally poor judgement, and scaring him with a mandatory life sentence is not going to have much impact. It's just gonna make prison overcrowding worse. I'd rather they just get like 10 years and if they screw it up again, give them another 10 years or whatever. Burglary or drug trafficking or armed robbery aren't THAT bad.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Quote Originally Posted by Zarchery View Post
    I think you are falling prey to the Nirvana fallacy.
    Maybe I do.

    But the important why we disagree point comes here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Zarchery View Post
    I think punishment DOES work because many people outside of prison restrain themselves from doing certain illegal things out of fear of the punishment of prison.
    That's the difference between the two of us: You're saying basically: Punishment is a good thing b/c people don't do crimes out of fear of punishment.

    I'm saying: This may be true, but things built on fear won't work in the long run. Doing or not doing things out of fear may work fine shortly.

    But a person who behaves like you (or I) want him or her to behave out of being afraid of the consequences won't be cooperative in the long run.
    It may stop you from robbing the bank, true.
    But the inmate HAS already robbed the bank or murdered a person.
    The thing is: The threshold may be higher at first.

    To make it clear with an example from today: I had kid bullying and beating another one in a very rough way.
    Of course I want that kid to stop and to not repeat that.
    But I don't want him to stop that because I'm the adult who can (and did) call up those who need to know about that (parents, police, etc).
    I want him to stop because he realizes what he's doing.
    Today I can stop him out of that authority position. But this won't help any more when he gets older, because then he can send me flying in a second.

    This isn't about: Who can intimidate whom better?
    Authority is not built upon: "Hey, I'm stronger than you." When it is, it isn't stable and will (and can) always feel/be threatened.
    To be fully honest: I cannot run away. If anyone ever decided to cut my throat, I wouldn't be able to run or play "strike first 'n strike harder". I got a thing similar to multiple sclerosis , so physical defendence is no option. Period.
    So, I have to use other ways to be absolutely clear and to secure situations that have the potential of becoming dangerous.
    And I have never been into real trouble, though I easily could've been sometimes.
    And this is not because I'm Arnold Schwarzenegger.
    I learned to analyze situations, I learned how to de-escalate and for some reason or another I get the feedback for having a calming effect on people who are just throwing things around. And I know what an inversely proportional function is about, thanks.

    In my experience fear almost always has unwanted side effects: You can make a person behave in a way you want by fear of the consequences, if he or she doesn't, yes.
    But usually this will come back to you later, one way or another.
    If you want it that way, do so.
    Again: This is no reproach.
    Do as you please, and if you think fear based actions produce sustainable and healthy solutions to problems, then go with it.
    I disagree and if you think this to be completely unrealistic - then we just agree to disagree on that matter.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Nobody can disagree with you on that post.

    It?s scientific facts that have to be acknowledged.
    It?s very true.
    I have so many opportunities to do sth wrong without getting punished. I could steal from my mum my friends I could mentally abuse my kids my boyfriend I could do so many things I don?t get punished ever even if it would be allowed to rob a bank I wouldn?t do it.

    I love the saying: Anyone who tries to put you down is already below you.

    That?s the nature of most crimes get power over no matter what no punishment in the world keeps someone with low self esteem from committing a crime to feel stronger.
    Let?s leave the psychopaths at side.
    Not every juvenile lifer is a psychopath but there are some as anywhere else, too.
    So I do think it?s possible install the self esteem in a young kid not to use crime or drugs.
    Theoretically.
    It?s more a logistic problem that no prison system or no society has the resources to reinstall or treat people to reintegrate instead of locking up for life.
    It?s a terrible fate if those necessary morals weren?t installed at an early age and it ends up with a life in prison.
    Aliciia

  7. #27
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Interesting discussion here. Germany has "one of the lowest crime rates in the world". Hhmmm, never heard about that. Anyway to count on the hard punishment, only, doesn?t convince me, either. Why not making a survey (poll) on WAP or whereever about the best idea concerning an alternative for the hard punishment. Or a way even to prevent any necessity of punishment. But hereafter someone should make a petition out of it, - at least in these US-states, where it might be possible. In addition I am not surprised about the crime rate considering the lax american gun laws, even when there are some differences among the US states.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Quote Originally Posted by Springer View Post
    Interesting discussion here. Germany has "one of the lowest crime rates in the world". Hhmmm, never heard about that. Anyway to count on the hard punishment, only, doesn?t convince me, either. Why not making a survey (poll) on WAP or whereever about the best idea concerning an alternative for the hard punishment. Or a way even to prevent any necessity of punishment. But hereafter someone should make a petition out of it, - at least in these US-states, where it might be possible. In addition I am not surprised about the crime rate considering the lax american gun laws, even when there are some differences among the US states.
    if you disregard drug trafficking and burglary i mean These are crimes as well but neither the US nor Germany sentences someone to life in prison because of drug conspirancy. I meant the homicide rate.

    i couldn't find a very reliable source right, Wikipedia just gives a hint https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._homicide_rate

    we are anything but place in the middle or even in the top

  9. #29
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    No one has mentioned Alfred Adler, yet his views are very relevant here.
    Adler said, people avoid the punishment, not the crime & that criminals, (as opposed to those who break a law & end up within the criminal justice system) Criminals enjoy the thrill of offending, as for them, it is the self centred approach that gives them the greatest pleasure.
    Adler believed that criminals deliberately self trained themselves in non cooperative ways of thinking & behaving & that they have no social interests or involvements & that they chose to live outside of our societies norms, as a lifestyle choice.
    For Adler, punishment was not a solution to criminal behaviour & thought patterns. But rather a method of reinforcing the thought patterns of the criminal. As for the criminal, non cooperation in societies norms is their method of dealing with their own inferiority. So the solution is not to reinforce that inferiority, but to offer experiences which will allow them to self challenge this block to normality.
    Every person has their own story.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: a question about the Us legal system regarding "Lifers"

    Hi Daxi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Daxi View Post
    No one has mentioned Alfred Adler, yet his views are very relevant here.
    I'm not familiar with Adler and his work and the little that I know is not dealing with criminals. Therefore, thanks for the input.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daxi View Post
    Adler said, people avoid the punishment, not the crime & that criminals, (as opposed to those who break a law & end up within the criminal justice system) Criminals enjoy the thrill of offending, as for them, it is the self centred approach that gives them the greatest pleasure.
    The thing about "avoiding the punishment" fits nicely with what Zarchery said above about punishment as a deterrent.
    Regarding the self-centeredness, there comes a bit of developmental psychology into my mind.
    Very small children (infants) are truly self-centered. They know nothing about the world or others at first. What they know is themselves and their immediate needs.
    Getting older, a toddler, a child, a teenager and eventually a grown-up learn to integrate into groups and to balance their wants and needs with those of others. So maybe it's just for some criminals to have stayed emotionally at a younger age than the one in their ID card. (Happens with other too, trhat's no feature left up alone for criminals).

    Quote Originally Posted by Daxi View Post
    Adler believed that criminals deliberately self trained themselves in non cooperative ways of thinking & behaving & that they have no social interests or involvements & that they chose to live outside of our societies norms, as a lifestyle choice.
    This may also be true for some. But when I look at those having been with gangs and the like, perhaps it is just their "social involvements" in these structures that get them into trouble?
    Staying with the gang example, for some this might be a chosen lifestyle (quick money and so on), but still...
    I imagine (and it's just my imagination here, I'm not saying it is true) that someone repeatedly making experiences of discrimination, of rejection, of discouragement, of "you don't belong to us" may get to an attitude of: "Well, if you don't let me in, I don't want to be in. I don't need anybody anyway." Then it might appear like chosen, when it actually is not in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daxi View Post
    For Adler, punishment was not a solution to criminal behaviour & thought patterns. But rather a method of reinforcing the thought patterns of the criminal. As for the criminal, non cooperation in societies norms is their method of dealing with their own inferiority. So the solution is not to reinforce that inferiority, but to offer experiences which will allow them to self challenge this block to normality.
    Sounds plausible to me. Let's think how it might be done? Seems like sth. worth to give a second thought...

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