Life sentence/imprisonment

Oct 2017
339
America ??
Let’s discuss the concept & punishment of life sentence & imprisonment.
Particularly without parole (LWOP - Life without parole), which is most true to the term I suppose.

While death sentence & penalty was all too common historically, the concept & punishment of life imprisonment is historically recent, having been around no earlier than the previous century it seems. There’s really not many historical precedents to it, the only I can think of is slavery, & mutilation is sort of halfway that, yes those were greatly evil themselves. Yet life sentence & imprisonment, particularly without parole, is something humans are definitely not designed for, even less than death sentence possibly, since we have innate fears of death & danger & all. Life sentence, particularly without parole, must bring out all sorts of negative emotions to those condemned to it.
As a biologist, I wonder whether other animals would be just as psychologically un-designed for this sentence as well, for example if we could somehow tell intelligent animals like apes, dolphins & crows that they are to be locked up in their enclosure for the rest of their life, or forever if they can’t understand death. Wouldn’t that make an interesting experiment?

The aim of this sentence is to be a humane alternative to the death penalty. It’s aims & origins largely revolve around modern concepts of the sanctity of life & in-humaneness of killing. Most people don’t actually know or think much about it, have probably only heard of it marginally, & have a lock ‘em up n’ throw away the key mentality. Yet it may not be as lenient as it appears. It has been nicknamed “the other death penalty” & “the slow death penalty’.

Some countries, mostly in Europe & Latin America, have abolished life imprisonment laws. Most countries do have life imprisonment sentences, however the likelihood of individuals spending the remainder of their lives in prison is relatively small in most countries, usually prisoners are paroled. Actually most countries don’t seem to have notions of non-parole in their legal systems & cultures.The Unites States, however, is one of the few countries where lifers can literally expect to die in prison with no hope of being released whatsoever. The US is notorious for frequently handing out life sentences, particularly without parole, along with other unusually long sentences, along with having the largest lifer & overall inmate population in the world. Other developed countries don’t fall far behind the US either. I suppose to be able to hand & carry out this sentence largely revolves around the financial & technological advancement & sophistication not present historically & in most other countries.

I have no doubt that there are highly evil people who deserve to be locked up for the rest of their lives, but on the other hand there are also those who have essentially committed big mistakes & still have goodness in themselves. I suppose just about any fiction author can think of scenarios where good people would find themselves pressured into committing acts that result in life sentences. Sure you may think “Do the crime, do the time”, but if you were to seriously place yourself in their situation for a moment, would you still think that about yourself? Wouldn’t you wish for “a chance”?. I suppose this dilemma applies to most serious punishments in general. However my understanding is that historically most people were certain of an afterlife, which I suppose has huge implications when facing death & punishment, while in modern times many people know better.

This is indeed a very sticky dilemma. I’m not saying that certain highly evil people do not deserve to be locked up for the rest of their lives, but am inclined to think that there are indeed lifers who are personally rehabilitated & deserve to be released, but are condemned by a combination of not being able to demonstrate their inner rehabilitation & goodness combined with a legal system that doesn’t allow it. I am at least hoping to spread awareness & have a discussion of the nature of this sentence.

As a nature-lover & biologist, imprisonment & slavery, & punishment holds a very sticky dilemma for me.
 
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Jun 2017
518
maine
It is not a dilemma for me. The "criminal justice" system of any country should be designed to increase the safety of its citizens and deter the commission of crime. It doesn't always work that way. Capital punishment (described as "stomach-turning viciousness") is ineffective and discriminatory. LWOP is counter-productive and immoral. A society would be far better off spending its resources to averting violence than in making certain that the guilty suffer without redemption
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,154
Sydney
justice was developed to stop individual revenge
it must be public and follow a customary course
if proportional justice is not given to the aggrieved then the deal is off and better to resort to doing it yourself
 
Sep 2017
119
Pennsylvania
justice was developed to stop individual revenge
it must be public and follow a customary course
if proportional justice is not given to the aggrieved then the deal is off and better to resort to doing it yourself
I would argue that "justice" was developed to centralize power for the benefit of the state, particularly where state and ruler were inseparable. For example, Hammurabi's code, Solomon in Israel or the Pharaohs in Egypt.

The definition you're presenting, I think, skews more toward the modern concept of "social justice" where "justice" is an end unto itself. This did not tend to be true historically.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,154
Sydney
the concept I present is straight from Dinkka tradition , viking law and Hebrew law
the judges came before the kings , their purpose was to mediate personal justice and find a result all parties would see as fair
it mostly involved the payment of compensation
if one side disagreed , they risked to be seen as unreasonable

I had a personal example in Saudi Arabia , one of the guy I worked with was involved in a road accident , one person died , a grand mother
while the inquiry took it's course , he was thrown in Kobbar jail , a tin shed with no lock on the door .... didn't need one
since food was not provided , we brought him food which he shared with other not so fortunate as to have friends on the outside

the police determined that his car was hit by the other and the judge ruled that he was responsible for 20% of the damage
refusing the ruling would leave the family free to take honor revenge without the police batting an eyelid

the Saudi advocate told us it was lucky it was a grand-mother , an elder son would have been very expensive
the insurance covered the cost and we got our colleague out after he had said farewell to the inmates , the guards and had tea with them
 
Jun 2017
518
maine
straight from Dinkka tradition , viking law and Hebrew law
Don't limit that to Viking era law. I studied the case of a murderer and his victim in 1500's Norway. The matter was settled with a compensation payment (which was nominal because everyone agreed that the victim deserved what he got) and the marriage of the son of one to the daughter of the other.
 
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David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
It is not a dilemma for me. The "criminal justice" system of any country should be designed to increase the safety of its citizens and deter the commission of crime. It doesn't always work that way. Capital punishment (described as "stomach-turning viciousness") is ineffective and discriminatory. LWOP is counter-productive and immoral. A society would be far better off spending its resources to averting violence than in making certain that the guilty suffer without redemption
While I agree with a lot of this, to protect the rest of us, some people need to be taken out of society and left there. Way too many death sentences, way too many long prison sentences, many of both just used to “send a message” or express moral disapproval. We need to find someyhing else
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,557
Las Vegas, NV USA
What do you say to the families of the numerous young victims of Kennith McDuff? No one knows exactly how many. He was twice sentenced to death in Texas but had his first sentence reduced and he was later paroled. He went on another killing spree kidnapping, raping, torturing and killing mostly young girls. The second death sentence was carried out.

Personally I don't support the death penalty either for convicted killers OR their hapless victims. But if the former is bad, the latter is much much worse.

Kenneth McDuff - Wikipedia
 
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Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,487
Netherlands
It is not a dilemma for me. The "criminal justice" system of any country should be designed to increase the safety of its citizens and deter the commission of crime. It doesn't always work that way. Capital punishment (described as "stomach-turning viciousness") is ineffective and discriminatory. LWOP is counter-productive and immoral. A society would be far better off spending its resources to averting violence than in making certain that the guilty suffer without redemption
I am not against the death penalty, however practically I think the chance of killing the wrong guy is still way too big to do it. LWOP I don't have any problem with. Some people should just not be let back into society.
Unfortunately here the laws are based on the nutty idea that everyone must have a chance to redeem (there is a better word but that escapes me atm) himself.
 
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