American justice is a crime

Discussions that deal with moral issues. Key questions in ethics include: How should one live? What is right (or wrong) to do? What is the best way for humans to live?

Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 19th, 2016, 10:11 am 

Serpent » October 18th, 2016, 8:43 pm wrote:
Athena » October 18th, 2016, 6:22 pm wrote:I don't think a sociopath is born that way, however, this could be possible. It is also possible childhood circumstances affect the problem.

It can't be circumstances, because then people like me would be tempted to feel sorry for them and waste valuable resources on a doomed attempt to rehabilitate them.
Supposing environment has some influence, then, is there an early indication that a child is significantly more likely than the average to become a sociopath? Are there any genetic markers to look for? Are there any symptoms that can be recognized before the person become a full-fledged violent criminal?
If so, something can surely done to prevent him or her doing all that evil? Surely, it's worth a try, since hardened criminals are so extremely expensive to keep sequestered from their potential victims.

I'm still bewildered, though, why the US produces more sociopaths than any other developed western industrial nation. I would have expected them to be at the forefront of scientific research to solve the sociopath problem.


Yes, yes and yes. We once would say, "There but for the grace of God go I". How did we go from wisdom to ignorance? How about another old saying, "As the twig is bent so the tree will grow". I could do this all day long, providing quotes from long before we had science, but perhaps more wisdom.

Of course, things can be done to prevent human evil. That is why we tax all the people and educate all the children. An institution for a better society that has been perverted and becomes part of the problem. How much time have men, in general, spent discussing child rearing and schooling, studying philosophy and psychology and sociology and anthropology? There always have been a handful of men who studied such matters, but our industrial age pretty much left children to the women. In general, men stopped being involved with the rearing and education of children, and they are not inclined to get involved with those discussions today.

The bible is a terrible trainer of men! Spare the rod, spoil the child, beat the hell out of the child, fear knowledge, humans are by nature evil, and so on. What can we expect of a jealous, revengeful, and fearsome God? True there are some good things said in the bible, but until people's bellies are full and they have security, they can not raise happy, self-confident people.

We know how to raise children who do well in life and we know what is likely to result in very bad behavior and failure. That is scientifically we know these things. And if the masses shared this information we would be as blessed as Norway. But don't listen to me, my posts are not up to scientific standards, and I talk of women things and children. I am not one you brilliant folks, who know what a high science standard is and don't hesitate to correct and ridicule those do not. Yes, I am digging at what I perceive to be a huge failure of well-informed people, and at this point, I am thinking Christianity has been a problem, and perhaps our college educations have also been part of the problem. You guys can build skyscrapers, and awesome bridges, send satellites far into the universe collecting totally awesome information, but when it comes to creating a society good for humans, you are failing.

Each society gets the crime it deserves.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 19th, 2016, 11:13 am 

Neri » October 17th, 2016, 8:14 pm wrote:Penology and Sentencing in US Courts

Although virtually all studies have shown that the rehabilitation of hardened, violent felons is seldom effective, enormous sums of money have been spent in the attempt to do so. This includes such things as individual and group therapy, vocational training, and educational programs directed at obtaining a high school diploma or even a college degree. Indeed, the so-called rehabilitation of violent felons has become a highly profitable business receiving millions of dollars of public funds with very little to show in the way of concrete results.


My daughter works in a correction facility. She knows why these facilities are failing, and the problem is the policy and staff, and a focus on punishment instead of healing. She has complained to me for years about how badly the staff treats the inmates. Recently science has led to an effort to change policy and staff behavior. It is obvious the desired change will not be complete until there is a change in personnel.

The old system was based on Christian ideas, not science. The word "human" means moist soil and all those living a culture that uses the word "human" are living a culture permeated by Christianity and they hold many Christian ideas of good and evil even if they don't attend church.

How we are treating those who are different because of organic brain differences, is barbaric, and a barbaric correction system will not get good results and should not be tolerated by civilized persons. Isolation is known to cause insanity and yet we still use this as punishment. The whole prison process is dehumanizing, starting with being given a number and isolated from family.

My son and his wife moved far away to be near one of his wife's sons who is in prison, so she can visit with him. These are good people and a correction system, would recognize when parents are good people and should be included in the correction process. A just correction would take into consideration everyone involved because treating someone's son or daughter inhumanely is also hurting everyone who cares about this person.

Jesus is to have said some good things, and it is the old testament that makes our correction system bad.

But can we back up to the failure in a school system to prevent the problem in the first place?
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby TheVat on October 19th, 2016, 11:54 am 

Unfortunately being an attorney does not equal being a psychiatrist nor does it assure wisdom. And this may be the problem with our system. People who do particular jobs become biased and the judgment can be warped. You know the prison experiment that had to be canceled because the participants were demonstrating severe character changes. I know I firmly decided against become a probation officer when I interviewed one. She spoke to me as though I were just released from prison and I thought her job had made her nuts. I also knew a police officer who stopped being a police officer when realized he was no longer having a normal emotional reaction when called to investigate child abuse cases. He noticed the character change in himself and got out before it got any worse. I think we need to be aware of how jobs can change people and their judgment, and stop thinking of them as "experts" we can rely on without question.
- Athena

I liked this passage so much, I just wanted to quote it. I'm really getting a lot from your posts here, Athena, and wish I had more concrete answers to some of the questions you raise. I once worked with people who had moderate to severe mental illnesses, so I'm aware that a lot of people now in prison are not sociopaths (maybe 15-20% are, as your citations suggested earlier) but are mentally ill (bipolar, schizophrenic) who have fallen through the cracks of care systems. Some get labeled as "violent felons" because they were accosted by the police or business owners harassing them on the street and they responded by lashing out defensively, in fear. And there are other violent felons who are not sociopaths, too, people who are pushed into a corner and react badly and impulsively, people with serious drug addictions who plunge into mental illness and desperate tactics to feed their habit, and so on. So Neri's simple picture of prisons filled with sociopaths, seems incorrect to me. People with drug problems, people experiencing psychotic breaks, people suffering from paranoid delusions, people in the manic phase of bipolar disorder....are not "scum," they are human beings who do benefit from a healing approach.

I would be in favor of better diagnostic screening. There is a test for sociopathy/psychopathy (the terms are used interchangeably) that used to be called the Hare Checklist, which does a pretty good job of penetrating the "superficial charm" of a sociopath and determining their genuine condition. Those with high scores generally do not benefit from rehab/reform services and should be kept away from society until they are quite old and no longer a physical threat. As for the rest of prisoners, the nonviolent offenders really shouldn't be there at all and should be diverted into treatment programs, community service, ankle bracelet monitored home detention, etc. Putting such people in cages is generally not a good idea. JMO
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Serpent on October 19th, 2016, 5:31 pm 

What I'd like to see is a reliable screening method that would identify potential sociopaths at an early age, before they commit any crime at all. These children (judging by the prison population, predominantly boys) would then be sent to the best private boarding schools http://www.thebestschools.org/features/best-boarding-schools-in-us/, or perhaps at a slightly more advanced age, military schools.
At $20-60,000 a year for ten or so years, it's a bargain compared to $60-75,000 a year, for five times as long, in a maximum security prison. Most of them would grow to be generals, bank presidents and city mayors, instead of hardened felons.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Paul Anthony on October 19th, 2016, 6:00 pm 

Serpent » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:31 pm wrote:What I'd like to see is a reliable screening method that would identify potential sociopaths at an early age, before they commit any crime at all. These children (judging by the prison population, predominantly boys) would then be sent to the best private boarding schools http://www.thebestschools.org/features/best-boarding-schools-in-us/, or perhaps at a slightly more advanced age, military schools.
At $20-60,000 a year for ten or so years, it's a bargain compared to $60-75,000 a year, for five times as long, in a maximum security prison. Most of them would grow to be generals, bank presidents and city mayors, instead of hardened felons.


Even though your idea has merit, it runs counter to the precepts of our justice system. You are suggesting that we pre-judge people who have not yet committed a crime, which flies in the face of "Innocent until proven guilty".

Pre-crime makes a good Sci-Fi plot, but a bad public policy.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Serpent on October 19th, 2016, 7:08 pm 

Paul Anthony » October 19th, 2016, 5:00 pm wrote:Even though your idea has merit, it runs counter to the precepts of our justice system. You are suggesting that we pre-judge people who have not yet committed a crime, which flies in the face of "Innocent until proven guilty".

Pre-crime makes a good Sci-Fi plot, but a bad public policy.

I'm not punishing them; I'm offering them an excellent education. Like good nutrition, good hygiene and vaccinations to prevent illness.

I wasn't serious, of course. Rich-born sociopaths will continue to be governors, CEO's, real estate moguls and arms merchants, while poor-born sociopaths will be burglars, pimps, card-sharks and arms smugglers. Why mess with the proper order of things?
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 19th, 2016, 8:57 pm 

Braininvat » October 19th, 2016, 9:54 am wrote: Athena

I liked this passage so much, I just wanted to quote it. I'm really getting a lot from your posts here, Athena, and wish I had more concrete answers to some of the questions you raise. I once worked with people who had moderate to severe mental illnesses, so I'm aware that a lot of people now in prison are not sociopaths (maybe 15-20% are, as your citations suggested earlier) but are mentally ill (bipolar, schizophrenic) who have fallen through the cracks of care systems. Some get labeled as "violent felons" because they were accosted by the police or business owners harassing them on the street and they responded by lashing out defensively, in fear. And there are other violent felons who are not sociopaths, too, people who are pushed into a corner and react badly and impulsively, people with serious drug addictions who plunge into mental illness and desperate tactics to feed their habit, and so on. So Neri's simple picture of prisons filled with sociopaths, seems incorrect to me. People with drug problems, people experiencing psychotic breaks, people suffering from paranoid delusions, people in the manic phase of bipolar disorder....are not "scum," they are human beings who do benefit from a healing approach.

I would be in favor of better diagnostic screening. There is a test for sociopathy/psychopathy (the terms are used interchangeably) that used to be called the Hare Checklist, which does a pretty good job of penetrating the "superficial charm" of a sociopath and determining their genuine condition. Those with high scores generally do not benefit from rehab/reform services and should be kept away from society until they are quite old and no longer a physical threat. As for the rest of prisoners, the nonviolent offenders really shouldn't be there at all and should be diverted into treatment programs, community service, ankle bracelet monitored home detention, etc. Putting such people in cages is generally not a good idea. JMO


I do not know how it is in other countries, but the US it seems most people can avoid contact with people who have disabilities and/or cognitive disorders, and without realizing it, many of their judgments are based on ignorance. It would be nice if more people experienced those who are different, and came to understand their difference is not a choice, but an unfortunate fact of life. It is so good to hear from someone who also knows, it is an unfortunate fact of life, not a choice.

I think it is nuts to release some people. Someone who has a cognitive disorder will not be made better after 7 punishing years, and being socially isolated from mainstream society. What are people thinking? Some people need to remain in protective custody, not because they are criminals and need punishment, but because they have a mental order.

We used to have institutions for the mentally ill and they were not all bad. Given the very high number of people who do have mental disorders, I think we should return to the institutionalize of these people. This does not have to mean locking them up and preventing them from engaging in mainstream society because less severe cases can do well with day passes and can even hold jobs, but they need support systems. Because I have dealt with schizophrenic homeless people, I would even be okay with a campground for some of them because they are harmless and want to be in the open and do manage well, but they still need a safe place to sleep. Pressuring everyone to conform to mainstream society, is not wise, and it is really sad when the stress of this pressure causes one them to snap and do something regrettable. This is no better than leaving a very young child on the streets to fend for him/her self. As human beings, we need to be more rational and more considerate of our differences.

However, today people who are dressing as clowns and intentionally doing harm, are another thing. I am not so sure this behavior is totally different from being a hippie, in that these group movements are cohort social phenomena. I don't mean we should not hold the individuals accountable, but that we most certainly need a better understanding of cohorts and the social phenomena associated with them. It is social factors that trigger these things, therefore, we need to understand the social factors and act on the social cause, rather than treating these crimes as individual cases of social deviation.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 19th, 2016, 9:18 pm 

Serpent » October 19th, 2016, 3:31 pm wrote:What I'd like to see is a reliable screening method that would identify potential sociopaths at an early age, before they commit any crime at all. These children (judging by the prison population, predominantly boys) would then be sent to the best private boarding schools http://www.thebestschools.org/features/best-boarding-schools-in-us/, or perhaps at a slightly more advanced age, military schools.
At $20-60,000 a year for ten or so years, it's a bargain compared to $60-75,000 a year, for five times as long, in a maximum security prison. Most of them would grow to be generals, bank presidents and city mayors, instead of hardened felons.


Yes, you are not the first to suggest private schools are an excellent alternative to prison sentences and I agree.

I also said a like the post you made after this one about the natural order of things. That was funny and there is truth in that statement.

I worked in a school for children and young adults with cognitive challenges, and there is a huge difference between the ones who came from good families and those who did not. What we are talking is not just an organic brain disorder or just an emotional/cognitive problem. Proper care at an early age can make all the difference. Delaying special care can doom the individual to a most unpleasant life.

We can know what care gets good results and what care gets bad results, and that is something we can control for, and we are getting a lot closer to that with all the organizations to help parents who need help, because either they have serious problems, or their children do.

We need to work on a society for humans, not just use our schools to produce products for industry.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Neri on October 20th, 2016, 2:26 pm 

BIV et al.,

You raise the following issues:

(1) The Extent to Which Inmates of Prisons for Habitually Violent Felons are Sociopaths.

(2) Whether Sociopaths are Evil or Just Sick.

(3) Whether Sociopaths Freely Choose to Commit Violent Crimes, and, If So, Why?

ISSUE (1)

Before we go further, we will need a working definition of the expression, “sociopath.” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 4th Edition (DSM- IV), used by psychiatrists, provides a definition of what is called antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). This is nicely summarized on the website of the Mayo Clinic as follows:

“Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes called sociopathy is a mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right or wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.”

“Individuals with antisocial personality disorder often violate the law, becoming criminals. They may lie, behave violently or impulsively and have problems with drug and alcohol abuse.”

The diagnosis of ASPD by a psychiatrist is, to a very large extent, based upon the actual behavioral history of the patient.

However, the liberal psychologists, Kent A. Kiehl and Morris B. Hoffman, in the paper, “The Criminal Psychopath: History, Neuroscience, Treatment and Economics,” [US National Library of Medicine and Health, published as Jurimetrics 2011 Summer; 51: 355-397] argue that the DSM IV does not capture the essence of the disorder referred to in it as antisocial personality disorder.

Kiehl and Hoffman point out that up to eighty-five percent of incarcerated populations fall within the DSM-IV definition of ASPD and therefore, they say, there is a need to lower that percentage [for reasons that are not at all clear] (Id p. 6)

The Canadian psychologist, Robert Hare, is said to have accomplished a reduction of this percentage by putting together a checklist that removes much of the behavioral criteria of the DSM-IV but adds “affective criteria” such as glibness and superficiality. Hare changed the name of this condition from “antisocial personality disorder” to “psychopathy.”

This scheme did achieve a reduction in the percentage of “psychopaths” in the prison population, but at the expense of ignoring the criminal history of many violent felons and branding as psychopaths a body of non-violent first-time offenders.

Because of the speculative nature of “affective criteria,” the medical profession has rejected Hare’s checklist. Further, if so-called affective criteria were used to supplement rather than to supplant the DSM-IV, the result would be an increase in the percentage of prison inmates with ASPD to well over ninety percent. (Id, See Figure 1, p.6)

It is also important to understand that the Kiehl/Hoffman statistical analysis of ASPD [as constituting up to 85 percent of prison populations] considers the totality of prison populations in the US and is not restricted to prisons housing only violent felons. Therefore, we are safe in saying that prisons of the latter sort are entirely populated by ASPD offenders, or very nearly so. I might add that my own professional experience has confirmed this assessment.

ISSUE (2)

In treating this issue, it should be noted that even Robert Hare gives us the following concession:

[Psychopaths] “are not disoriented or out of touch with reality, nor do they experience the delusions, hallucinations, or intense subjective distress that characterize most other mental disorders. Unlike psychotic individuals, psychopaths are rational and aware of what they are doing and why. THEIR BEHAVIOR IS THE RESULT OF CHOICE, FREELY EXERCISED.” [Hare, Robert D. (1999) “Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us.” New York: Guilford Press. P.22. ISBN 1-57230-451-0. Emphasis Added]

ISSUE (3)

One may well ask: Why would anyone freely choose to behave antisocially? Kent Kiehl, of all people, provides a “vignette” that suggests the answer. [See, “the Criminal Psychopath” supra, pp. 10 and 11]

Kiehl tells us that, when he was a graduate student working with “psychopathic” prisoners, he observed that one of them “constantly walked around with a car mechanics book under his arm and constantly talked about how he was planning to go to a car mechanics school in the interior of British Columbia when he was released.”
.
At a later time, “the scientist-author” (as Kiehl calls himself) observed the same sociopath walking to a bus stop on the morning of his release, still carrying the car repair manual under his arm.

Our “scientist-author” explains: “There were two buses waiting outside the prison—one headed east to his car mechanics school and the other headed west to Vancouver. He [the convict] looked at both buses, then casually dropped his car repair book in the trash and jumped on the bus to Vancouver.”

Two weeks later, Kiehl ran into the same convict in prison. When Kiehl asked him why he was back in prison so soon, he laughed and said: “Best two weeks of my life.”

It turned out that this sociopath robbed several banks on the very day of his release and used the proceeds to rent a penthouse in downtown Vancouver where he cavorted with prostitutes.

When Kiehl naïvely asked him why he did not go to mechanics school, the convict looked perplexed and responded, ”What fun would that be?”

Kent Kiehl apparently found these circumstances amusing, referring to the convict’s response as “comical.” Of course, one wonders if Kiehl would have found humor in the situation if, like the bank tellers, he had seen a loaded gun pointed at his head.

However, Kiehl did manage to stumble on the truth: Sociopaths freely choose the antisocial life style because they enjoy it. As I observed in an earlier post:

“Most violent felons are sociopaths. As such, they feel no empathy for their fellow man and act impulsively to gratify their loathsome desires.

“Thus, serial murderers kill because it gives them pleasure, for they attach value to no one but themselves. Forcible rapists do not commit their atrocities because they seek only sexual gratification. Rather, it gives them pleasure to brutalize and humiliate women. Gangsters and armed robbers commit violent acts, because they enjoy the criminal life style and believe that only “suckers” work for a living.”

Antisocial behavior gives the violent felon an intoxicating sense of power and dominance, leading to the feeling that he is superior to his victims. Once this sense of physical dominance over others is experienced in this way, there is no turning back, for the sociopath will have already surrendered his humanity. He will have become an empty soul.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 20th, 2016, 8:21 pm 

"THEIR BEHAVIOR IS THE RESULT OF CHOICE, FREELY EXERCISED."

This is an interesting argument. It is perhaps equal to being a heterosexual and sure that homosexuality is a choice? As we ask why are there sexual deviations, we might ask why is anyone moral? Our sexuality and moral decisions are not just about knowing what the date is and the time of day and other information that gives us a sense of our place in space and time, and a good judgment of our relationship with others and how to achieve our goals, but sexual and morality are also about feelings. Now as some people have a medical condition that prevents them feeling physical pain, we also know early childhood development experiences, or lack of them, can result in emotional deviations.

Darn, I will have to return to this later. Family duty calls. To clarify moral judgment has an emotional coponent that is biological, and it is not all a matter of rational choice, but also a lack of emotional information needed for good moral judgment.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Serpent on October 20th, 2016, 9:00 pm 

I'm still not seeing why there are so many more sociopaths and/or psychopaths in the USA than in Denmark, Japan and Switzerland. If the same percent of all populations is born with the sociopathic gene, and a person who carries has a choice about committing crimes or not, being violent or not, then there must be an environmental factor to account for the different rates of violent crime. Perhaps those other countries are doing something to dissuade their affected citizens from acting out. Or, conversely, the US is doing something to encourage acting out.
I'm pretty sure it's not sympathy. Or at least, not so as one could see it manifest in the justice system, other than counselling and occupational therapy much too late in life to have an effect.

Possibly, we should only compare countries with an ethnically diverse population. Say Canada.
http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Canada/United-States/Crime There is still a significant difference in the crime rates. Our justice system is also a very long way from ideal, and we are, if anything, more likely to think of violence as illness, rather than evil, than Americans are.

What accounts for these discrepancies?
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Neri on October 21st, 2016, 12:03 am 

Athena,

If homosexuality were a freely chosen lifestyle--which it is not--the decision to be a homosexual would not be a moral one. In other words, homosexual acts per se are morally indifferent as much as heterosexual acts are (in the sense that these acts do not necessarily violate the rights of others or disrupt the social order.)

Of course, there are particular circumstances where such acts can amount to a crime—as, for example, where one person by violence or threat of violence performs a heterosexual or homosexual act on another against his or her will.


Serpent,

Concerning Acts of the Will

Your view rests upon the erroneous assumption that all human action is causally closed within the meaning given by Laplace.

However, moral and immoral acts are the result of agent causation and, as such, are not fully determined in advance by immutable causal circumstances.

A person may act knowingly and deliberately even if he knows what he does is wrong. By “wrong” I mean violative of the rights of another and tending to disrupt the social order.

Clearly, a person may have a motive for his actions, but a motive is not an actual intent. For example, any man who takes out an insurance policy on the life of his wife a short time before her death has the motive to kill her. Yet, we know that men in this situation rarely form the actual intent to kill their wives.

An intent is a decision made. As such, it is an act of the will. A motive is not an act of the will. Thus, in the above situation, if the wife were actually killed, the murder would have been done in furtherance of the intent to kill, So that, both the intent to kill and the killing itself would be acts of the will, and, as such, freely made. This would not be the case if no specific intent to kill were ever formed.

Concerning the Number of Sociopaths in the U.S.

Sociopaths constitute less than one percent of the US population. Because the US has a total population of some 350 million, this percentage translates into an actual number sufficient to fill all US maximum-security prisons. The other countries you mentioned have very small populations compared to the US. Hence, the actual number of sociopaths in those countries is far less than the number found in the US.

For example, your chart shows that although the US has nearly five times the total number of crimes as compared with Canada, Canada has twice the US crime rate. That is, Canada has twice the number of crimes committed per 1000 residents as compared with the US.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 21st, 2016, 12:38 am 

Serpent » October 20th, 2016, 7:00 pm wrote:I'm still not seeing why there are so many more sociopaths and/or psychopaths in the USA than in Denmark, Japan and Switzerland. If the same percent of all populations is born with the sociopathic gene, and a person who carries has a choice about committing crimes or not, being violent or not, then there must be an environmental factor to account for the different rates of violent crime. Perhaps those other countries are doing something to dissuade their affected citizens from acting out. Or, conversely, the US is doing something to encourage acting out.
I'm pretty sure it's not sympathy. Or at least, not so as one could see it manifest in the justice system, other than counselling and occupational therapy much too late in life to have an effect.

Possibly, we should only compare countries with an ethnically diverse population. Say Canada.
http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Canada/United-States/Crime There is still a significant difference in the crime rates. Our justice system is also a very long way from ideal, and we are, if anything, more likely to think of violence as illness, rather than evil, than Americans are.

What accounts for these discrepancies?


Do we all agree with Neri about socio and psychopaths? I agree with him totally.

Now to your question Serpent, the deviation is not just about genes, but childhood experiences. I am not arguing with Neri when I explain the cause of the deviant behavior. I have a son in law who was very abusive and has spent most his life in prison. My grandson carries his genes, but he was raised differently, so the results are different. He is so much like his father, I had very strong concerns that things may not come out differently. And I hope you don't all take this as just a personal antidote. But rather as an example of why some people become abusive and others do not. The difference is childhood experiences.

This link says the problem can be prevented by early childhood intervention, but if this does not happen at the early development stage, it is too late. An adult psychopath can not be changed. And it is my opinion some of them should remain in custody for life of at least until advanced maturity. http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/16/health/bi ... sychopath/

Another factor is the environment and we can know this because there is so much variation between cities in the US. Only a few cities are above average in violent crimes. This link has an interesting graph of cities and homicide rates http://www.criminaljusticedegreehub.com ... us-abroad/ . In this link it is clear easy access to guns increases the homicide rate and a strong police force decreases the crime rate. And surely there are cultural factors but I am too tired to look them up.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 21st, 2016, 12:53 am 

Neri » October 20th, 2016, 10:03 pm wrote:Athena,

If homosexuality were a freely chosen lifestyle--which it is not--the decision to be a homosexual would not be a moral one. In other words, homosexual acts per se are morally indifferent as much as heterosexual acts are (in the sense that these acts do not necessarily violate the rights of others or disrupt the social order.)

Of course, there are particular circumstances where such acts can amount to a crime—as, for example, where one person by violence or threat of violence performs a heterosexual or homosexual act on another against his or her will.


Evidently, my point was not clear. For both the homosexual and the psychopath, the behavior is about feeling not rational thinking. For both the feeling has biological causes, and is not a choice.

The question we need to ask is why is anyone moral? What do feelings have to do with our judgment? The explanation of psychopaths is not about their rationale but their feelings or lack of them, and brain imaging makes the biological difference visible. So if you are not going to condemn the homosexual, neither should you condemn the psychopath. However, you might want to avoid being married to one, because you will not change this person's behavior, and trying to do so can be a very bad experience. Love does not fix everything. Thinking this person was only misunderstood and can be rescued is a very serious mistake.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Serpent on October 21st, 2016, 10:36 am 

Neri » October 20th, 2016, 11:03 pm wrote:
For example, your chart shows that although the US has nearly five times the total number of crimes as compared with Canada, Canada has twice the US crime rate. That is, Canada has twice the number of crimes committed per 1000 residents as compared with the US.

Yes, altogether. But look farther down. You were saying that most of the violent crimes are committed by sociopaths. Sociopathy, its development, expression and control is what I'm after right now.

Rate means that if there were only one million people in each country, 16 of the Canadians and 42 of the Americans would be murdered; 17 Canadians and 272 Americans would be raped. Multiply both figures by the appropriate number of millions.

This chart - not mine btw - says Canada has twice as much crime, overall, as the US, but less than half of the violence. So, either we have fewer sociopaths or they are more peaceful.

I assume the numbers come from arrest or conviction records, which would include all the shoplifting, fraud, embezzlement, prostitution and cannabis possession. That number must reflect either the level of dishonesty in the general population or the scrupulousness of the police and severity of judgment on petty larceny and lewd behaviour.

One may speculate that many of those non-violent crimes are committed by sociopaths who channel their antisocial activities into many lesser crimes, rather than a few spectacular ones. Again, then, one would have to ask why.
What accounts for the discrepancy?
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Neri on October 21st, 2016, 10:50 am 

What I am saying, Athena, is that homosexuality cannot be equated with sociopathy in the way you have done.

As Hare quite properly said of sociopaths: “Their behavior is the result of choice, freely made.” The same cannot properly be said of homosexuals.

Although homosexuality may not be “normal” in the statistical sense, it is not wrong per se. As I have already said, homosexuality, unlike sociopathy, is morally indifferent.

The fact that homosexuality has causes that may lie outside the will does not mean that all human acts have such causes; for, if that were the case, the whole human population would be psychotic.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Neri on October 21st, 2016, 10:57 am 

Serpent,

I am afraid that you are dissembling. Next time choose you citations more carefully.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 21st, 2016, 11:28 am 

Paul Anthony » October 19th, 2016, 4:00 pm wrote:
Serpent » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:31 pm wrote:What I'd like to see is a reliable screening method that would identify potential sociopaths at an early age, before they commit any crime at all. These children (judging by the prison population, predominantly boys) would then be sent to the best private boarding schools http://www.thebestschools.org/features/best-boarding-schools-in-us/, or perhaps at a slightly more advanced age, military schools.
At $20-60,000 a year for ten or so years, it's a bargain compared to $60-75,000 a year, for five times as long, in a maximum security prison. Most of them would grow to be generals, bank presidents and city mayors, instead of hardened felons.


Even though your idea has merit, it runs counter to the precepts of our justice system. You are suggesting that we pre-judge people who have not yet committed a crime, which flies in the face of "Innocent until proven guilty".

Pre-crime makes a good Sci-Fi plot, but a bad public policy.


When I return to the thread I find myself rereading post as I look for where I left off and I have to respond to this post with information I came across yesterday. Actually, we can identify potential sociopaths and it is very important we do identify them at a very early age when they are still small children and developing their personalities. At an early age, steps can be taken to change the developmental path the child is on.

I was writing with knowledge of divorce putting children at risk. I think we need to change our divorce laws so marriage actually means a long term commitment. Marriage should not about our happiness, but the well-being of children and those too young to accept adult responsibility should not be allowed to get married, and having a child out of wedlock should come with harsh consequences, and also the protection of the child. Hopefully strong laws would result in more responsible behavior. Being careless about having children and then careless about raising them, does result in social problems and a whole lot of avoidable suffering. Thinking marriage is about happiness instead of duty is revolting. A society with irresponsible adults is not a desirable society.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 21st, 2016, 11:29 am 

Neri » October 21st, 2016, 8:50 am wrote:What I am saying, Athena, is that homosexuality cannot be equated with sociopathy in the way you have done.

As Hare quite properly said of sociopaths: “Their behavior is the result of choice, freely made.” The same cannot properly be said of homosexuals.

Although homosexuality may not be “normal” in the statistical sense, it is not wrong per se. As I have already said, homosexuality, unlike sociopathy, is morally indifferent.

The fact that homosexuality has causes that may lie outside the will does not mean that all human acts have such causes; for, if that were the case, the whole human population would be psychotic.


I am always amazed when someone does not grasp the logic of my arguments. The sociopath is no more choosing a behavior than the homosexual, and if you disagree with this, you will have to use your own words to explain why my reasoning is wrong. Hare is not here to argue with me, and obviously, I disagree with what he said.

Brain imaging gives us a visual look at the cause of sociopathy. We did not always have this science and our justice system was developed long before we had this science. Today it is time to turn to science and rethink what is just.

Smile, perhaps it is easier for some females to understanding behavior that is contrary to one's will. Those of us who have experienced depression after giving birth to a child, or severe PMS or post trauma syndrome, or hyperactivity and attention deficit, etc. know it is not exactly our will that is in control. Things can go on in our brains that are totally bazaar. I know this because many years ago I struggled to maintain my sanity. I have a much better understanding of the mind today because of it. Thanks to a college education and easily accessible information.

When I said Hare's understanding of sociopathy is as a good as a heterosexual's understanding of homosexuality, I was saying unless you are a homosexual or a sociopath or anything different from what you are, you can not understand the experience of being different. Thinking a textbook explanation of that difference gives you an understanding of that experience, is a very serious mistake. I look forward to being reincarnated into a different body, so I can have a different experience of life. This incarnation has been quite a struggle, but I am thankful for the wisdom I have gained, and the internet that gives me the opportunity to share that wisdom, and possibly make an important difference for others.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby TheVat on October 21st, 2016, 12:18 pm 

The links posted seem to show quite a range of estimates for ASPD in prisons, from 25% to 80% or higher. Which figure one picks (if one is wanting to pick one) certainly seems to affect what policy position you might have on the spending of rehab money. And there seems to be a school of thought that the majority of sociopaths are not violent and are more likely to be found in board rooms than prisons. (how many of them are nonviolently ruining lives, and should be locked up, is another thread I suppose) And given that ASPD is more a spectrum than a specific package of attributes, it all makes for a rather confusing topic.

I would suspect that the differential in rates of violent ASPD between U.S. and Europe has to do with the overall cultural attitudes and opportunities. Our society has romanticized lawlessness and violence to a degree that might make it seem more attractive to those on the edge. We are also quite materialistic and have a consumer culture that doesn't encourage seeking the rewards of delayed gratification. Someone asked the bank robber Willy Sutton why he robbed banks; his famous reply, "That's where the money is," suggests a basic MO for the American sociopath. Why wait for the American Dream - once you have the money, you have everything, prestige can be bought.

In Sweden, a sociopath would be more directed towards climbing the business ladder or seeking glory in high-danger careers where his/her fearlessness would be an asset. Simply having money is less of a carrot, and a thug with money gets far less respect in Europe generally. Look at Trump, your classic boardroom sociopath, exhibiting all the checklist items - impulsivity, fearlessness, lack of empathy, remarkable powers of manipulation, glib and superficial charm. He is loathed in Europe, and not just for his NATO remarks.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby TheVat on October 21st, 2016, 1:05 pm 

To sharpen the ethical discussion, on which forms of mental illness may or may not deprive a person of the capacity to make a moral choice, here are the most common forms of mental illness:


•Anxiety disorders
•Mood disorders
•Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
•Dementia
•Eating disorders

1,4, and 5 do not concern us, because persons with these forms of mental illness tend not to interact with the criminal justice system. Anxiety disorders usually mean fearing to leave the house and/or engage in activities. Dementia tends to highly restrict mobility and activities. Eating disorders, unless you rob a bakery and make off with the scones, tend to play out in the privacy of the home. So that leaves mood disorders - depression, and bipolar disorder - and schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Depression, again, tends to be about withdrawal and self-harm (except for rare, and often lurid, incidents where a depressive decides to depart the planet and take someone with them). So, in terms of public danger, that leaves bipolar, schizophrenia, and psychotic breaks. Violent public behavior, in these cases, usually arises from a delusional sense of threat from others (or, if the person is homeless and vulnerable, it may not necessarily be delusional, given that such persons are often preyed upon). The question for this thread is what percent of violent felonies are the result of defensive acts committed in a delusional state (and thus, outwardly, perceived as aggressive attacks)? What percentage of violent felonies are committed in response to hallucinated external voices or other source that appears external to the person and must be obeyed? It seems to me that such persons must be separated out from the career sociopaths (or people who just had one atypical and tragic loss of their temper) and shunted along a different, more therapeutic path, than the criminal justice system offers. When I have more time, I will try to find figures on the mentally ill in prison.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Paul Anthony on October 21st, 2016, 1:28 pm 

Braininvat » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:05 am wrote:To sharpen the ethical discussion, on which forms of mental illness may or may not deprive a person of the capacity to make a moral choice, here are the most common forms of mental illness:


•Anxiety disorders
•Mood disorders
•Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders
•Dementia
•Eating disorders

1,4, and 5 do not concern us, because persons with these forms of mental illness tend not to interact with the criminal justice system. Anxiety disorders usually mean fearing to leave the house and/or engage in activities. Dementia tends to highly restrict mobility and activities. Eating disorders, unless you rob a bakery and make off with the scones, tend to play out in the privacy of the home. So that leaves mood disorders - depression, and bipolar disorder - and schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Depression, again, tends to be about withdrawal and self-harm (except for rare, and often lurid, incidents where a depressive decides to depart the planet and take someone with them). So, in terms of public danger, that leaves bipolar, schizophrenia, and psychotic breaks. Violent public behavior, in these cases, usually arises from a delusional sense of threat from others (or, if the person is homeless and vulnerable, it may not necessarily be delusional, given that such persons are often preyed upon). The question for this thread is what percent of violent felonies are the result of defensive acts committed in a delusional state (and thus, outwardly, perceived as aggressive attacks)? What percentage of violent felonies are committed in response to hallucinated external voices or other source that appears external to the person and must be obeyed? It seems to me that such persons must be separated out from the career sociopaths (or people who just had one atypical and tragic loss of their temper) and shunted along a different, more therapeutic path, than the criminal justice system offers. When I have more time, I will try to find figures on the mentally ill in prison.


You left one category off your list, and it may be one that explains much of the violent crime in the US.
Mind-altering drugs. Both legal and illegal.

Drugs can elicit sociopathic behavior in people who, without the drugs, would not show any signs of such tendencies. Athena, we cannot intervene in childhood if the condition isn't created until adulthood.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 21st, 2016, 1:48 pm 

Paul Anthony said, "Athena, we cannot intervene in childhood if the condition isn't created until adulthood".


I can not understand why you believe that because given what I know it is so illogical? Marriage law in the past assured children had two parent families, except when a judge could be convinced there was good cause for divorce. We know children with divorced parents are at risk. That is a risk factor that can be reduced with law.

Another way to reduce the risk factor is making people who work with children, mandatory reporters. That means by law they must report suspected abuse, and action is taken to protect the child if abuse is proven.

There are many organizations that deal with children at risk and a lot of science that can be applied to identifying children who are at risk and steps to reducing the risk. Many, many times the mother is the one who asks for help. In the past, there wasn't much help for her and her the child, however, today in small and large cities and some rural communities there is help. School teachers can also help identify children who need special help and connect the student with that help.

I hope you rethink what you said. I suspect a big piece of the problem is failure to have these discussions, so the problems are not well understood, and the resources for help are not known.

PS, I think this shfit in social consciousness is the result of women's liberation, and I wonder where would be now if for the last 6000 years, women had the politically recognized voice and the professional opportunities they have today. Our warring evolution has resulted from the suppression of females for at least 6000 years. We might expect a change.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Serpent on October 21st, 2016, 3:07 pm 

Neri » October 21st, 2016, 9:57 am wrote:Serpent,

I am afraid that you are dissembling.

No, I'm asking questions.
I am afraid that you are deflecting.
Next time choose you citations more carefully.

All right, if you dispute that source (picked at random, for ease of use) then, what are the correct figures?
Does the US have a higher rate of violent crime than other western industrial nations or does it not?
If it does not, then why are are so many more Americans sentenced to long prison terms?
If it does, then why does it?

At what age were the tests to which you refer administered? Were the subjects all convicted of crimes, or were some still at large, for whatever reason? At what time of life does sociopathy become evident? Is it diagnosable at an earlier age, before it becomes evident?
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Neri on October 21st, 2016, 4:19 pm 

BIV, Athena et al.,

So far as free will is concerned, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Robert Hare, one of the most liberal psychologists that even trod the earth. But, as they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

You seemed to have ignored my response to Serpent concerning acts of the will. I will repeat it here:

“Your view rests upon the erroneous assumption that all human action is causally closed within the meaning given by Laplace.

“However, moral and immoral acts are the result of agent causation and, as such, are not fully determined in advance by immutable causal circumstances.

“A person may act knowingly and deliberately even if he knows what he does is wrong. By “wrong” I mean violative of the rights of another and tending to disrupt the social order.”

This is the crux of the matter. All the rest is aimless prattle.

If you believe that all humans with normally functioning brains do not, to any extent, have free will, you must explain exactly how such a thing is possible—in light of the fact that we all have direct experience of the freedom of the will.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 21st, 2016, 5:58 pm 

Braininvat » October 21st, 2016, 10:18 am wrote:The links posted seem to show quite a range of estimates for ASPD in prisons, from 25% to 80% or higher. Which figure one picks (if one is wanting to pick one) certainly seems to affect what policy position you might have on the spending of rehab money. And there seems to be a school of thought that the majority of sociopaths are not violent and are more likely to be found in board rooms than prisons. (how many of them are nonviolently ruining lives, and should be locked up, is another thread I suppose) And given that ASPD is more a spectrum than a specific package of attributes, it all makes for a rather confusing topic.

I would suspect that the differential in rates of violent ASPD between U.S. and Europe has to do with the overall cultural attitudes and opportunities. Our society has romanticized lawlessness and violence to a degree that might make it seem more attractive to those on the edge. We are also quite materialistic and have a consumer culture that doesn't encourage seeking the rewards of delayed gratification. Someone asked the bank robber Willy Sutton why he robbed banks; his famous reply, "That's where the money is," suggests a basic MO for the American sociopath. Why wait for the American Dream - once you have the money, you have everything, prestige can be bought.

In Sweden, a sociopath would be more directed towards climbing the business ladder or seeking glory in high-danger careers where his/her fearlessness would be an asset. Simply having money is less of a carrot, and a thug with money gets far less respect in Europe generally. Look at Trump, your classic boardroom sociopath, exhibiting all the checklist items - impulsivity, fearlessness, lack of empathy, remarkable powers of manipulation, glib and superficial charm. He is loathed in Europe, and not just for his NATO remarks.


Thank you Brainvat. With such variance in the estimate of ASPD people in the prison system, I just ignored the claim. However, I think with all the money we are spending on exploring space and the sexuality of the fruit fly, we might spend some on a more accurate assessment of our prison population. For sure offenders are most young males, and it is has something to do with hormones and a failure to assimilate them into mainstream society, making the suggestion that we put those at risk boys in private schools instead of prisons a more sane that what we are doing.

Also, it appears most of the younger male offenses are sexual offenses! Sex is a very touchy topic, but perhaps we can reduce this population of young offenders with better sex education at a fraction of the cost. Like start the sexual education class with the laws, and be sure those laws are known before passing the student. Next, be sure all students understand the cost of raising a child, and that no parent will walk away from this responsibility without every effort to deduct child support payments from paychecks, and also losing the right to drive and possible jail time if those payments are not made.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Paul Anthony on October 21st, 2016, 6:14 pm 

Athena » Fri Oct 21, 2016 10:48 am wrote:
Paul Anthony said, "Athena, we cannot intervene in childhood if the condition isn't created until adulthood".


I can not understand why you believe that because given what I know it is so illogical? Marriage law in the past assured children had two parent families, except when a judge could be convinced there was good cause for divorce. We know children with divorced parents are at risk. That is a risk factor that can be reduced with law.

Another way to reduce the risk factor is making people who work with children, mandatory reporters. That means by law they must report suspected abuse, and action is taken to protect the child if abuse is proven.

There are many organizations that deal with children at risk and a lot of science that can be applied to identifying children who are at risk and steps to reducing the risk. Many, many times the mother is the one who asks for help. In the past, there wasn't much help for her and her the child, however, today in small and large cities and some rural communities there is help. School teachers can also help identify children who need special help and connect the student with that help.

I hope you rethink what you said. I suspect a big piece of the problem is failure to have these discussions, so the problems are not well understood, and the resources for help are not known.

PS, I think this shfit in social consciousness is the result of women's liberation, and I wonder where would be now if for the last 6000 years, women had the politically recognized voice and the professional opportunities they have today. Our warring evolution has resulted from the suppression of females for at least 6000 years. We might expect a change.


You have responded to the last line of my post. Consider it in context with the next to last line:

Drugs can elicit sociopathic behavior in people who, without the drugs, would not show any signs of such tendencies.


Putting illegal drugs aside for the moment, prescription drugs are over-prescribed and abused at an alarming rate. The side effects can create sociopathic and psychotic behavior in people who did not display such tendencies before starting the drug regimen. Add the rampant use of illegal drugs, and you have a possible explanation for the statistically high percentage of sociopaths in the US.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 21st, 2016, 6:22 pm 

Neri » October 21st, 2016, 2:19 pm wrote:BIV, Athena et al.,

So far as free will is concerned, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Robert Hare, one of the most liberal psychologists that even trod the earth. But, as they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

You seemed to have ignored my response to Serpent concerning acts of the will. I will repeat it here:

“Your view rests upon the erroneous assumption that all human action is causally closed within the meaning given by Laplace.

“However, moral and immoral acts are the result of agent causation and, as such, are not fully determined in advance by immutable causal circumstances.

“A person may act knowingly and deliberately even if he knows what he does is wrong. By “wrong” I mean violative of the rights of another and tending to disrupt the social order.”

This is the crux of the matter. All the rest is aimless prattle.

If you believe that all humans with normally functioning brains do not, to any extent, have free will, you must explain exactly how such a thing is possible—in light of the fact that we all have direct experience of the freedom of the will.


I think the subject of free will is something to debate in another thread. I am not so sure of anyone's free will. I know if someone were arguing we do not have free will, I would argue my very best that we do have free will. However, there is also reason to believe our sense of free will is an illusion.

I think we can change ourselves is some ways over time, but this does require effort and the will to be different. This is more so as we get older than say for a 3-year-old.

And what I believe most is my own experience, and for sure if someone has not had an experience, there will not be meaningful understanding the experience. Textbook explanations are well intended but lack direct knowledge of experience. One can not experience growing up Black in a bad neighborhood unless that is what one experiences. And if a wife is abused for many years and finally snaps and kills her abuser, or the son kills the father, I will say this is a justified homicide, because I can identify with this. Jesus, speaks wisdom when he says, judge not.
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Athena on October 21st, 2016, 6:32 pm 

[quote="Paul Anthony » October 21st, 2016, 4:14 pm"

You have responded to the last line of my post. Consider it in context with the next to last line:

Drugs can elicit sociopathic behavior in people who, without the drugs, would not show any signs of such tendencies.


Putting illegal drugs aside for the moment, prescription drugs are over-prescribed and abused at an alarming rate. The side effects can create sociopathic and psychotic behavior in people who did not display such tendencies before starting the drug regimen. Add the rampant use of illegal drugs, and you have a possible explanation for the statistically high percentage of sociopaths in the US.[/quote]

I am strongly opposed to manufacturing and marketing drugs that can cause psychotic behavior. I am wondering if we will see the day when we rethink what we doing and stop doing it. It is not just that these drugs can have an adverse effect, but the whole mentality that it is okay to change how we feel with drugs, seems problematic. It opens a can of worms. If we can change how we feel with this drug, why not with that drug?

Possibly we have created an unhealthy society and instead of drugging people so they can function in it, perhaps we should change what we are doing?
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Re: American justice is a crime

Postby Serpent on October 21st, 2016, 6:52 pm 

Neri » October 21st, 2016, 3:19 pm wrote:You seemed to have ignored my response to Serpent concerning acts of the will. I will repeat it here:

“Your view rests upon the erroneous assumption that all human action is causally closed within the meaning given by Laplace.

They may have ignored this, because it was not, in fact, a response to anything I said. You made an assumption concerning my 'view', which I had not expressed, while failing to answer the questions which I had posed.
“A person may act knowingly and deliberately even if he knows what he does is wrong. By “wrong” I mean violative of the rights of another and tending to disrupt the social order.”

This is the crux of the matter. All the rest is aimless prattle.

The 'aimless prattle' was, in fact, aimed at trying to determine what causes discrepancies, between one nation and another, in the number, frequency and relative violence of lawless acts committed by citizens -- for whatever reason.

If you believe that all humans with normally functioning brains do not, to any extent, have free will, you must explain exactly how such a thing is possible—in light of the fact that we all have direct experience of the freedom of the will.

They're bad hombres; I get it. But how is this relevant to anything?
All I asked for was a plausible explanation for the phenomenon you yourself have introduced. I wanted to explore whether there is a way of reducing the number of violent crimes committed by sociopaths, so that they would not be so difficult and expensive to keep sequestered from the rest of the population for up to 70 years.

I did think, once that was disposed-of, we could move on to what the justice is supposed to do with the remaining 75-85% of the prison population.
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