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Tough Luck
June 7, 2008 1:15 PM   Subscribe

The public shaming of Orange County billionaire Henry Nicholas continues apace. While his financial crimes may not have drawn more than a passing reference, his drug use and other, more unsavory acts, have gotten widespread coverage -- as early as last year. Perhaps, it's because Nicholas was famously involved in supporting tough sentencing laws (his sister was murdered by her boyfriend in 1983.) However, some of the "tough on crime" policies he has backed as recently as a few months ago are said to unfairly worsen the punishment for those who commit crimes much less serious than those for which he was just indicted.
posted by noway (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Three strikes and out is disproportionate, because it takes into account persistence rather than seriousness, thus possibly delivering a wholly unwarranted sentence. The use of sentencing frameworks, such as in California, also threatens to remove discretion from sentencers, as they have to mechanistically apply the rules.

It seems to be a move on from deserts-based sentencing which was designed (especially in Minnesota, often seen as an example) to reduce injustice by making sure that the sentence was proportionate to the crime - that the punishment was predicated upon the idea that punishment should only be retrospective in scope (i.e. address the offence), rather than consequentialist (i.e. address the effects of releasing the offender etc.), and thus the idea that this was a greater guarantor of fundamental human rights, and also treated offenders as rational moral agents in their own right, punishing them only for something they had done rather than something that they might do.

Three-strikes is a classic illustration of one of the weaknesses of desert, in that an ordinal scale can be created, but the anchoring point is a serious issue in possibly creating overly harsh sentences. It also brings to the front the discomfort desert has with previous convictions, unlike more teleological theories such as incapacitation and deterrence. It also serves as an example of how difficult it is for a criminal justice system to strive for multiple objectives (deterrence, fairness etc.) at the same time.
posted by djgh at 1:33 PM on June 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


The public shaming...

I read that as public shaving...
posted by neuron at 2:01 PM on June 7, 2008


Hey, where's the schadenfreude tag?
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:09 PM on June 7, 2008


Uh...
posted by chillmost at 2:49 PM on June 7, 2008


My favorite part: "On a drug-fueled 2001 private plane flight--during which Nicholas allegedly used and distributed narcotics--the pilot was forced to don an oxygen mask due to the "marijuana smoke and fumes."
posted by gingerbeer at 3:03 PM on June 7, 2008


No, I think this may be "3 strikes and you're IN"... It is framed somewhat better than the previous two (not PERFECT, but hey, I didn't write it).

Now, we were talking about this Henry Nicholas guy and... and... I got nothin'.
posted by wendell at 3:17 PM on June 7, 2008


Although this might be a good place for me to repeat for the umpteenth time my story about being a "staff comedy writer" for a radio show (not TV) in the 1980s and the only one on the staff who was NOT funnier when stoned (the main reason I have never gotten into pot) and having to spend most of my time outside the smoke-filled Writers' Room. It killed my writing career at the time, but there was a secretary outside typing up the writers' notes who I got to make out with.
posted by wendell at 3:24 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a lot more collecting of actual coverage here compared to the previous not-great and the initial just-awful post. We're letting it stand. Go crazy with the actual thread-having.
posted by cortex at 3:30 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


heh... it's gonna stay, eh?

the problem is that I keep reading the articles in this post, and the guano articles from the last post, and it all starts to sound the same.... but it does get fun if you just reverse the words guano and Nicholas in all the articles.....
posted by HuronBob at 4:06 PM on June 7, 2008


Not sure how this works, would stay awake for four days in a row, fueled by heroin and cocaine that he then forced others to ingest, but if he was making people eat his boogers he should be shamed. That ain't right.
posted by BostonJake at 7:10 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just on cursory reading to me it sounds like someone is piling on a pile of lurid stories that may or may not be true to help make a more boring bunch of charges get some traction.
posted by zog at 8:00 PM on June 7, 2008


The use of sentencing frameworks, such as in California, also threatens to remove discretion from sentencers, as they have to mechanistically apply the rules.

Worse, it moves the discretion to the prosecutors, who get to pick the sentence by changing the charge. So, the same crime rates either probation or a mandatory ten years, depending on what charges they actually file.
posted by eriko at 8:56 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Three strikes and out is disproportionate

Besides that, has anybody noticed how batshit insane it is to base a get-tough crime policy on a frickin' baseball metaphor?
posted by jonp72 at 9:41 PM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously, that kind of intercontextual crosswind makes it just that much harder to put the split-knuckle of law enforcement into the strikezone of justice.
posted by cortex at 9:54 PM on June 7, 2008


Seriously, that kind of intercontextual crosswind makes it just that much harder to put the split-knuckle of law enforcement into the strikezone of justice.

The idea is to make the punishment fit the criminal - not so much the crime. Obviously, for some people, calling strikes ain't enough. They keep crowding the plate of lawful behaviour. So society adds another pitch to its selection: a little chin music called three strikes and you're out.

The baseball metaphor makes it easy to remember so that the criminal element in society might have a chance to understand it.
posted by three blind mice at 11:30 PM on June 7, 2008


those who commit crimes much less serious

Perhaps it's just me, but I can't think of *any* crimes less serious than hiring hookers and buying free hits of recreational drugs as party favours for your pals.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:08 AM on June 8, 2008


Damn, I want to hang out with this guy.
posted by dozo at 6:49 AM on June 8, 2008


The indictments paint a bizarre picture of a successful entrepreneur, who allegedly used much of his fortune to fund drug parties in airplanes and luxury homes and to build a secret tunnel and room beneath his mansion in Laguna Hills.

I've always wanted to do that.

The baseball metaphor makes it easy to remember so that the criminal element in society might have a chance to understand it.

Nah, it's for the clueless voters to remember come election day.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:31 AM on June 8, 2008


So society adds another pitch to its selection: a little chin music called three strikes and you're out.

Which, of course, only exacerbates the problem of malfeasants clogging the basepaths of the incarceration industry.
posted by cortex at 7:35 AM on June 8, 2008


The baseball metaphor makes it easy to remember so that the criminal element in society might have a chance to understand it.


Yeah that's because criminals are a lesser type of human like africans or the blind; they are simply stupider than the rest of us good upstanding citizens of better breeding. Obviously, the only reason that anyone would commit a crime is because they are mentally deficient compared to us privileged folks with computers. Perhaps if these fools had better breeding they would understand not to commit crimes or get in trouble with the police.

Please think about what you say and what it implies. Thanks.
posted by fuq at 9:30 AM on June 8, 2008


I wonder if this lurid sounding prosecution (to use another's word) has any
political motivation. The timing of the prosecution and the involvement of Broadcom
with network products and this administrations drive to firmly establish common
carrier surveillance makes me wonder if this isn't some kind of political payback
for a lack of cooperation or complicity in a crime.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:57 AM on June 8, 2008


I imagine Broadcom's products are too low-level to be directly involved in surveillance stuff. They sell things like processors and ethernet chips, not devices with firmware. Evilness tends to lurk in software.
posted by ryanrs at 7:19 PM on June 8, 2008


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