Smart on Crime
I argue that (blue-collar) crime—theft and assault, in all their varieties—is still a real and major problem; that its economic and social costs are vastly under-appreciated; that its primary victims are disadvantaged minorities and poor people; that the current criminal-justice system wrongs them by under-enforcing the law against those who victimize them (who are, of course, mostly people like them in racial and class terms); that better criminal-justice policy could give us less crime and less incarceration; and that better and more equal law enforcement ought therefore to be as central a progressive political goal as better and more equal education or health care. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Nov 1, 2013 -
On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed
by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary
. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts
. His final letter.
posted by zarq
on Jun 13, 2013 -
“I was a monster,” Malvo said. “If you look up the definition, that’s what a monster is. I was a ghoul. I was a thief. I stole people’s lives.
I did someone else’s bidding just because they said so. . . . There is no rhyme or reason or sense.”
posted by silby
on Sep 30, 2012 -
Bugs and Beasts Before the Law
- "Murderous pigs sent to the gallows, sparrows prosecuted for chattering in Church, a gang of thieving rats let off on a wholly technical acquittal – theoretical psychologist and author Nicholas Humphrey explores the strange world of medieval animal trials." More on the theme of barnyard scapegoats from the BBC podcast documentary: Animals on Trial
posted by madamjujujive
on Jan 5, 2012 -
Norway's penal system has gathered some attention recently, as the new Halden prison
just opened. The $217 million facility will house 252 prisoners, some long-term and some short. The new prison is notable for, among other things, use of armoured glass instead of bars on windows, natural lighting
and single-inmate cells with private showers, TVs and access to a gym and a sound studio. There was also an art budget, and Norwegian street artist Dolk
was commisioned to decorate some of the walls. The Norwegian penal system is similar to the other Scandinavian countries', with no death penalty, and a "life" sentence of 21 years. In Norway there are no privately run incarceration facilities, and the opening of the rather plush-seeming Halden prison spurred some discussion, but garnered no big controversy. [more inside]
posted by Harald74
on May 27, 2010 -
The threat of a mild punishment imposed reliably and immediately has a much greater deterrent effect than the threat of a severe punishment that is delayed and uncertain. A state trial judge in Hawaii, was frustrated with the cases on his docket. Nearly half of the people appearing before him were convicted offenders with drug problems who had been sentenced to probation rather than prison and then repeatedly violated the terms of that probation by missing appointments or testing positive for drugs. Whether out of neglect or leniency, probation officers would tend to overlook a probationer’s first 5 or 10 violations, giving the offender the impression that he could ignore the rules. But eventually, the officers would get fed up and recommend that Alm revoke probation and send the offender to jail to serve out his sentence. That struck Alm as too harsh, but the alternative — winking at probation violations — struck him as too soft. “I thought, This is crazy, this is a crazy way to change people’s behavior,” he told me recently. So Alm decided to try something different. [more inside]
posted by caddis
on Jan 10, 2010 -
The Czech Republic offers surgical castration
as a "voluntary" option to sex offenders, whose rate of recidivism in some studies then drops precipitously. Officials at the Council of Europe
, calling the punishment "invasive, irreversible and mutilating." Atul Gawande noted 10 years ago
that, despite his reservations, castration works - at least against a subclass of offenders: the pedophiles and sadists.
posted by shivohum
on Mar 14, 2009 -
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
on Jun 7, 2008 -
Throw Away The Key dot org
seeks to lengthen the sentences of criminals on the premise of their mission statement: "Incarceration Works!" From their site: "If you believe a girl should be able to walk down the street in broad daylight without being abducted and murdered by a convicted felon, then it is time for you to get involved.
posted by fandango_matt
on Nov 29, 2005 -
You think you've got it bad?
That nice Tony Blair has set up a new UK-style FBI which will be ruthless in fighting organised crime. Saviour of freedom Blair says, "the system is struggling against a presumption that you treat these crimes like every other type of crime and that you build up cases beyond reasonable doubt".
posted by biffa
on Feb 9, 2004 -
Three Supreme Court Justices publicy oppose executing teenage criminals.
In a rare move, Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Stevens made a public statement in a delay request to state their opposition to executing someone who committed murder before the age of 18. With the Court already banning the execution of the mentally retarded this year, is this another sign of a soon-to-be next step in the abolishment of the death penalty? Or does the average American still believe that regardless of what time, when you do the crime you walk the line?
posted by XQUZYPHYR
on Aug 30, 2002 -
No perp walk for Enron and Halliburton?
Asked to explain why no arrests had been made for these two companies, Larry D. Thompson said, "Some cases are more complex than others."
Does it matter what the penalties are for corporate crime? Seems all you need are the right political connections and an adequately complex scheme to defraud investors and employees. Is the White House protecting corporations with their interpretation of whistle blowers? Aren't preventive measures more appropriate than punishments for these crimes? Does wealth truly create a double standard for prosecution under our legal system?
posted by nofundy
on Aug 2, 2002 -
Life, not Death
for Ms. Yates. And, Texas doesn't have a no-parole sentence, so she'll be eligible for release. Where does she go from there?
posted by dwivian
on Mar 15, 2002 -
Should the killers of James Bulger be released?
8 years ago, two 10-year-old boys killed the toddler James Bulger. Now 18, having served the minimum of 8 years of their juvenile sentence, they are eligible for parole. Have they changed, as some say? Are they safe to be released back into society, albeit under new identities to protect them? Or are the protestors right that they should stay locked up for life? For those not familiar with the case, check this
posted by emc
on Jun 18, 2001 -
You be the judge
Mercy killing? Perhaps. You be the judge and pass sentence after reading the facts that convicted the father.
posted by Postroad
on May 25, 2001 -