> In 1970 the proportion of Americans behind bars was below one in 400, compared with today’s one in 100. Since then, the voters, alarmed at a surge in violent crime, have demanded fiercer sentences. Politicians have obliged. New laws have removed from judges much of their discretion to set a sentence that takes full account of the circumstances of the offence. Since no politician wants to be tarred as soft on crime, such laws, mandating minimum sentences, are seldom softened. On the contrary, they tend to get harder.
On top of that, you also have an entrenched set of special interests who benefit from the status quo (police unions, prison guard unions, private prisons, etc.), so the pressure on politicians is from two sides.
So how do you "solve" a problem that special interests, along with a sizable majority of the voting population, have no interest whatsoever in solving?
Without a massive culture shift, you don't.
I think it mostly has something to do with the directness of democracy, not with a difference in opinion or mentality.
Democracy in the US is very local and direct, politicians can actually be punished by the voters for not being tough on crime. That’s not so easy in (for example) Germany. You vote predominantly for parties – the whole package – not politicians. Something as comparatively unimportant as criminal law is going to get swamped by all the other issues, hardly anybody will focus on the particular weak spots of one lowly member of parliament. That would be a waste of effort.
Moreover all decisions about the criminal law are made on the federal level, in commissions full of experts (a lot of academics: criminologists, psychologists …). There is no reason for politicians in those commissions not to follow their recommendations. Voters will hardly ever notice what they decide, it is going to get lost under all the other issues.
You can actually be successful as a German politician who has a image for being tough on crime on the very local level (in, say, a city state), but on that level you can do no more than strictly enforce the rules that already exist. That will hardly change incarceration rates, though.
You don’t need a culture shift, you need a different political system :)
As for Germany, it seems there's a lot more political choice, even at the top levels. Due to a greater diversity of parties, which more accurately reflects people's opinions than the US's two-party system. In my view, the US isn't particularly democratic, and anyway all of these nations have top-down "democracies."
These laws come from DC and the states have lost a lot of the power they had initially. The federal government had a list of powers. They call them the enumerated powers. The states had everything else.
And the citizens could leave a state if they didn't like it. A lot easier to do than leaving the country.
Which is why local laws are not really that oppressive, even if they are. But federal law is all encompassing and difficult for you to influence. They can pretty much ignore the individual and usually do, except when they need something to grandstand about.
However, if a law is passed at the federal level, you're pretty much stuck with it. With local (or hyper-local like HOAs) you can vote with your feet by moving.
America is a huge country, it’s not exactly surprising that you get all those effects you have on the federal level. That, at least to me, seems to be somewhat softened by a particular strong brand of federalism (in the European sense, meaning strong and independent local and state governments).
For a Japanese person, the conviction of a crime (and the shame it brings) is much worse than the jail sentence. If you are convicted of a crime, your family usually breaks off all ties with you.
Other countries (such as Singapore or China) has laws that are more harsh - which ensures that people do not break it (e.g. execution for drug offenses instead of imprisonment). If a person receives corporal punishment for vandalism, he will quickly stop without progressing towards further crimes (or run back to the USA with his tail between his legs).
It seems to me the harsh punishment of crimes like vandalism is not so much lawfulness as it is about Asian values of group solidarity. When it comes to organized crime, or crime by officials, there's scarcely any need to hide it, since the population is so used to ignoring the misdeeds of the well-connected.
I agree with part of what you said: dishonor is the real punishment. But that's exactly why past a certain point, "getting tough" doesn't work. In the USA, it's so out of proportion now, that in many poor or ethnic minority communities in the USA, the police are perceived as oppressors, not guardians of law and order. And there's no big dishonor in going to jail for a time.
Violent crime in Japan is ridiculously low.
You know that a large percentage of the Yakuza are Korean? In any case, every country has organized crime - yet the Yakuza isn't that violent.
Japan isn't that violent - when you compare things such as murder statistics. I know, I lived in the most violent country and in Japan. Japan is a joke.
> But that's exactly why past a certain point, "getting tough" doesn't work.
The USA never had any really tough laws. I bet that if the USA starts executing major drug dealers (like Singapore), drugs would be a much smaller problem.
> In the USA, it's so out of proportion now, that in many poor or ethnic minority communities in the USA, the police are perceived as oppressors, not guardians of law and order.
The problem in the USA is that it only gets tough when it is too late (e.g. after the 3rd major offense). It should be tough on the first offense (however minor). It is much more difficult to change an established behaviour than a new behaviour - every animal trainer knows this (and it is the same with people).
In any case, the problem with certain ethnic communities is that they value crime (e.g. showing how tough you are) and idolize criminals. That is not the problem of the police - but of the communities. Idolize criminals, dress like criminals and act like criminals and you may be treated as one.
I bet that this idolization of organised crime would disappear if there were chain gangs of criminal members of the community cleaning parks, schools and toilets.
Instead criminals sit in prison doing nothing and each prison becomes a Crime University.
Oh no, there's no crime in Japan.
Generally speaking, "troublemakers" will go to a mental hospital before going to jail. That's probably why suicides are so high in Japan as well: the mental health system is so overloaded they can't appropriately deal with real problems.
My social circle is mostly educated, upper-middle class white males. Most still see police as oppressors, many have had negative experiences with police abusing power & harassing them.
A culture shift is also needed. In most of Europe, being tough on crime is not a requirement for being elected.
Furthermore, judiciary usually isn't elected, which avoids judges themselves having to become tough on crime for their next mandate (though they're not immune to hierarchical pressures of course).
The prison population might still be higher without those laws because of a difference in crime rate – but not quite as high.
The countries just aren't comparable.
The problem is in the U.S. a lot of objectively unethical activities and policies are not considered unethical. A lot of horrendous official behavior passes by without people call it what it is: Corruption.
Of course it's not just prosecutors, it's amazing sometimes to see judges, lawyers, and many other public officials participating in cases in which they clearly have stake in the outcome without people calling it out with the C-word. My conjecture is just that reforming the prosecutorial system would have a big effect on the quality of the overall system and may not be as hard as some other approaches.
Regardless I've been in despair about this for a long time myself, but more recently I've started coming to believe that shifting the ethical goal posts in this country just by using a small list of very simple and objective guidelines and focusing on key centers of corruption.
Ethics are not universal, or at least are not proven to be universal. They are a social construction. It's clear, as others have said, that it's society that needs to change. How about starting by more of us being jerks in the level and ferocity with which we decry unethical behavior large and small and place our highest priority for social and political activism within the U.S. (and many other places) on that.
The part that scares me the most is that is may be impossible to live in the US without breaking some law. When everybody is a criminal, the state gets too much power.
Just because someone you don't like is clamoring for more money doesn't mean no one was clamoring for money before.
Half of CA's budget goes to education, by constitutional amendment.
What industry approaches that?
I guess the rating of your comment reflects the result of pointing this out.
First: since you go to prison after the crime, the inmate population size should be a trailing indicator of the crime rate. More serious crimes affect the prison population for a long period, since their sentences are longer.
Second: take a look at these graphs, and how dramatically they shoot up around 1965:
Another factor is greatly improved reporting. Rape in particular used to be very poorly reported, and this has improved a lot as the social stigma against reporting it lessened. The shape long rise from the 60s to 1990 was certainly strongly affected by that.
A number of reasons exist for the recent drop in very violent crime that the murder graph shows. Demographics are surprisingly only a small part of it. Most of it was the result of public health efforts that reduced the incidence of lead poisoning. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07... for more. A much smaller factor which many have heard of was the legalization of abortion. While this has an effect, and was popularized in Freakonomics, the effect was much less than the benefit of reduced lead poisoning.
This may sound overly idealistic. But a technology shift that is clear about openness and transparency of information, and which gradually supports voting in efficient, electronic ways (with checks and balances that prevent mob-like behavior) could help solve these problems. Could eventually be what solves a lot of this. Obama may be remembered not so much for being the first African American president, but the first one elected with social media. Information wants to be free and networks are fast.
An idea alone is not going to sway the masses. An idea with proper execution and backing might. Think of it like education- a great follow along would be Plato's cave. You can bring one person into the idea-out into the world- but when they go back the majority still cannot understand what they are saying. Because of this you must convince small portions of the population either by education or force so that they may spread this new knowledge.
How do you spread said idea? By using human nature as a weapon. A powerful weapon would be confirmation basis. Get the powerful to back your idea- with money, fancy words, anything- and you can get most people to follow along. The weak depend on the powerful for survival- this could be reversed, but not likely to ever happen(see uprising).
Even if you are able to infect people with your ideologies you now have the problem of, what if this idea was the wrong? Infections ideas, just as viri in nature, are hard to cure once there is an epidemic.
So your idea does not need to be infectious or catchy or even right, it
just needs to be adopted. Once you establish a user base you can then
use that base to your advantage in order to spread your idea.
Interesting reads. Some have nothing really to do with what I said, just allow for a better understanding of what I mean. I am all for bad ideas, because without them how would we know the good ones?
But that's not all; prison labor is now used as cheap labor to compete with foreign countries, instituting a new age of under-the-radar slavery.
The more you look at this cyclic process, the more disturbing it becomes.
I think the history of our neglect as a society of the mentally ill has little to tell us about crime and a lot to tell us about the homeless underclass in America.
To digress: I just visited DC again a couple weeks ago. You go in a public bathroom right outside the Washington Monument and there are big signs next to the sinks that say "NO BATHING". I felt ashamed.
That makes sense if you look at one as related directly to the other or vice versa (aka mostly not), but if you look at both as symptoms of a bigger issue then it becomes readily apparent that they are highly related: Americans don't want to deal with 'undesirables'. Lock em up or make them homeless, whatever, just as long as we don't have to deal with them.
Sorry, I'm not clear what you're ashamed of? That there are people that would want to wash in the sinks or that they are not allowed to?
I don't think it would be a fair description of all homeless people to say they belong to an underclass.
It doesn't bother you to be a citizen of a country that has allowed so many people to lose their homes that bathing in a public restroom is now a nuisance frequent enough to warrant official signage?
I think the real issue is that the US has some socio-economic issues that we've as yet let unresolved: drugs (as mentioned), policing strategy, judicial/legislative strategy, welfare, education, etc. I don't think institutionalization is a major contributor.
A quick google search finds a source claiming that about 10-20% of the prison population (a few hundred thousand) are seriously mentally ill:
This is BS IMHO. Would you rather see prisoners set free or do nothing all day?
Do you really think that a person will come out of a 6 year prison sentence (without working a day) and then start working and be a productive member of society?
In the old days in my country there was a sentence called "hard labour" - which meant that criminals got a shorter sentence and learned valuable life skills (if they were co-operative) or learned how to make big rocks smaller (if they were uncooperative).
Your comment is being downvoted because if this statement is true (and you reckon it's BS), then it provides a strong incentive to lock more people up, and lock them up for longer - i.e. political and economic motives to lock people up, rather than reasons tied to justice. Reminds me of 'The Shawshank Redemption':
"Warden Norton eventually creates a scheme to use prison labor for public works, undercutting the cost of skilled labor and receiving kickbacks for it. Norton has Andy launder the money under a false identity, in exchange for allowing Andy to keep his private cell and to continue maintaining the library. Brooks, freed on parole, is unable to adjust to the outside world, and hangs himself; Andy dedicates the expanded library to him. In 1965, Tommy Williams (Gil Bellows) is incarcerated on robbery charges. He is brought into Andy and Red's circle of friends, and Andy assists him in getting his GED. Upon learning of the crime of which Andy was convicted, Tommy reveals that one of his old prison-mates, Elmo Blatch (Bill Bolender) had claimed to have committed a nearly identical murder. Norton, fearing what Andy might do if released, puts him into solitary confinement and has Tommy killed by Hadley, claiming he was an escapee."
In other words, the warden killed a prisoner who had information that would have freed the main character. The warden had the prisoner with that information killed, as he wanted the main character around as he was a former banker who was helping him to commit bank fraud.
Seeing as there was this article which said that keeping busy makes us happy, the least the downvoters can do is state as to why prisoners should not be made to work?
If you are going to compare prison with slavery, how about starting with the one thing they have in common, they both are denied their right to liberty!
I agree they should be paid a fair wage. They should be given a bill for their housing and their debt to society and their victims which they can pay off with their wage. The vast majority of prisoners owe society (and their victims) more than they could ever hope to earn in a lifetime.
The whole idea of being a prisoner is to take away rights of someone who have done harm to others. This is done by taking away his freedom (i.e. by locking him up in a prison cell), taking away his right to vote (in many countries) and removing his right to freedom of association.
Locking a prisoner up is not the same as kidnapping (since you make false equivalences). Since a prisoner’s time is already wasted (by locking up in a cell), that time could just as well be used for something productive.
You know what is slavery though? Forcing the taxpayer to pay for the housing and maintenance of a criminal. The taxpayer doesn’t have any say in the matter and doesn’t have a choice. Each person in jail had a choice.
How would taxpayers foot the bill if the prisoner's wage is used to finance his stay? At worst, it would lessen the cost of his stay.
> You're turning this into a prisoner
You turned it into a prisoner's rights issue by claiming that forcing a criminal to do some actual work (like every taxpayer does) amounts to slavery. Your opposition to letting criminals work is therefore due to moral and not practical considerations.
I have never claimed that forcing prisoners to work is slavery. What I did say is that forcing prisoners to work without fairly compensating them is slavery. I also do not oppose letting criminals work; I don't even know where you pulled the "moral and not practical considerations" from.
Are you reading my posts before you respond to them? Are you confusing my posts with somebody else's? What's going on here?
Oh, don't worry, those countries are fighting back, too:
Free the market, free the people, eh?
On a startup side, there is actually is a big difference between common law (e.g. Anglo) and civil law (e.g. Franco) systems - with common law being more advantageous to entrepreneurship because of the reduced risk of arbitrary laws - unlike precedence in common law systems.
"The wider the range of possible transgressions, the greater the amount of potential information available for mutual blackmailing... Italy is a country with a high level of corruption that has proved hard to explain...Italy has in excess of 100,000 laws and regulations...The probability of living a life, indeed of going through the day, without incurring at least one violation must be virtually zero for Italians... It seems plausible therefore to hypothesize that the high levels of corruption in Italy could depend on the fact that everybody has some dirt on everybody else."
My apologies if I have been misled by this.
I would agree that common law is more advantageous, because stare decisis ensures that the continuity of existing law is maintained, and that even new statute law must be interpreted in a way consistent with the existing system of law. Civil law, which relies entirely on statutes, allows legislatures much more leeway to make sweeping, arbitrary changes.
Others have found this a surprising claim, so do I. How has it been weakened or erased? Are they talking about different mental elements or creating offences which do not have a mental element at all? The first doesn't strike me as particularly novel, or objectionable.
> This is a slope that we have been sliding down for some time. While ignorance of the law has generally been excluded as a defense in criminal cases, our system of laws is becoming so convoluted that it is almost impossible to know and understand the applicable law.
This isn't a good thing by any means, but the issue of the law being unknown or incomprehensible to laypeople is nothing new. Take common-law requirements. Honestly, how many people read the relevant case law, or even understand its general effect? People have bumped along for, literally, centuries knowing little more than the broad outline of the law.
I'd also point out that "increasingly codified" isn't synonymous with "increasingly convoluted"; common-law rules are often pretty convoluted.
> Thus we are all at risk.
I'd actually suggest that the general level of legal knowledge has improved. Thanks to the Internet it's at least possible to get at the content of laws without access to a specialised library.
I think judges are very resistant to anything which tries to undermine the principle of intent. If a statute does not make it absolutely clear that the crime is of strict liability, then even the most general words would be interpreted as requiring intent in criminal cases.
Without intending something the government has no legitimacy to imprison the person in most cases. Its a fundamental principle. So, if you are going to make such a big statement concerning the fundamental principle of the criminal law, the least the article could have done is to give some examples, or to give a reference to some journal which documents such "weakening".
As they have not bothered to do either, I would take it as a generalised opinion perhaps with very little basis.
What? Lying to an undercover agent is criminal? Well, I guess considering you CANNOT TELL THEY ARE AN AGENT that pretty much means lying needs to be treated as criminal, if you are to keep yourself safe.
I suspect that if this article was accompanied with a simple pair of pie charts representing the class of crimes under which people are imprisoned in the US, and their economic status, it would make a simpler and more honest point. Using poor people to spring people who've committed securities fraud from prison is wrong.
"Spending per prisoner [is] about $50,000 in California, where the cost per pupil is but a seventh of that."
Yeah, if you count the cost of building prisons but not the cost of building schools. And they're really using the ban on trafficking endangered species as an example of a stupid crime? The fact that there are people in prison for using drugs while people who catch/sell/eat bluefin tuna walk the streets freely is an embarrassment to the country. And it's one thing to complain about being charged for the weight of the whole cannabis plant and not just the buds, but complaining about it being illegal to adulterate drugs is beyond me.
Annual per capita costs of incarceration in California: http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/laomenus/sections/crim_justice/...
Education costs are a bit higher than the article suggests, and you are right that they would increase further if building expenses were included. Part of the problem is that most spending is controlled at the county level and many people oppose centralizing education spending or policy at the state or federal level.
Other interesting data can be found at the links provided, albeit a year or two behind the latest budget #s.
And the specific example was of a guy who was locked up for not having 100% complete documentation when he was importing flowers.
I wish there were some accurate up to date statistics I could link to, but the inaccurate ones themselves are quite telling (http://ncrb.nic.in/PSI2007/prison2007.htm). More than 54245 people were imprisoned for being under trial in 2007. The irony is that if you're well-connected then you don't even need to spend your time in jail if convicted. The press has a ball with such cases and they are decreasing, but they still exist.
On the other hand, I think that a country's justice system is a mirror of the society in which it operates. My real father was a lawyer in Germany and he once explained to me just how different the legal systems of different nations are and just how intertwined they are with the political climate of a country (he's currently doing his PhD on immigration and its socio-economic side-effects which include crime, education etc).
Perhaps, the rise of convictions in the US is a result of a society that wants results fast.Without doubt those tax dollars would reap higher returns if they are wisely invested in programs that benefit those in poverty. The ghettos are the root of a lot of crime, and if their conditions are improved and they're given a lifeline then slowly over time things will change. The problem is that just like in India it is far more impressive to be "tough on crime", than to work at a solution that will take longer than your term in office to give returns.
The same would apply to a lot of other debates. It is so easy to apply a quick-fix, but so difficult to improve something with decades of hard-work. An interesting question is that if there are any countries at all whose culture promotes such things?
P.S. - This paragraph just broke my heart;
>>>But in prison she found she was pregnant. After going through labour shackled to a hospital bed, she was allowed only 48 hours to bond with her newborn son. She was released in March, found a job in a shop, and is hoping that her son will get used to having her around.<<<
I really don't understand how people can treat other human beings like this?
US Population 226MM 307MM = ~36% growth
US Prison Inmates 0.5MM 2.3MM = ~360% growth
Alas, people will continue to argues that democracy is the best form of government despite its various flaws.
What's your alternative good?
However, suppose for a moment that you're the revolutionary leader of a small nation in Latin America and, after a long struggle, you have risen victorious over the oppressive old regime of your country and there is overwhelming public support for you to become dictator. But, being aware of the inherent long term problems of dictatorships, you don't want to be a dictator. So, you declare, "We will implement a constitutional republic like the Americans. But, to ensure our government always has the best interests of our people at heart and we are never again dominated by an elite ruling class, we will choose our representatives in the legislature by a lottery like the American PowerBall." What, then, would be impractical about implementing a jury duty system of democratic representation?
Beyond that, you run into the problem of lobbyists. Not the evil type that is a stand-in for the word "corruption", but instead the legitimate "education" type lobbyists. You lose much of the institutional knowledge that prevents candy coated views of the world from taking hold. Honestly, how many of the randomly selected people are going to understand the trade-offs of each and every policy, be it economic, societal, political, industrial, trade, environmental, etc. Having experienced people who have been around a few cycles provides a base level of knowledge.
In one way, the system I've proposed has an inherent protection against this problem that our current system doesn't have. Specifically, because all candidates are chosen by random lottery, an incumbent cannot run for a second term except in the exceedingly rare circumstance that they are chosen twice in a row by the lottery. Therefore, the incumbent has no incentive to try to please any third party that helped them get elected in order to retain their support for a re-election campaign.
Really, I think that there is no such thing as a perfect government, only a perfect citizenry, because the power of a government is always derived from the people within it. A philosopher king would not be able to maintain power unless either A) he was omnipotent or B) the people allowed him to remain in power.
False dichotomies are the sceptre of the philosopher king‽
I think democracy is necessary - but not sufficient - to maintain stability in the state and moderation in the laws. The cultural problem we face today is that the popular perception of democracy has shifted from seeing it as a mechanism by which the public can protect itself against the abuse of power to seeing it as a legitimizing factor for the assertion of power; institutions are criticized for being "undemocratic" on the latter basis, targeted for reform, and the end result is that our laws become increasingly unbalanced and excessive.
As Symmetry points out, it is from a speech (to the House of Commons) in 1947, after Churchill's first tenure as Prime Minister.
tl;dr: the quote itself isn't bad, it just has been coopted by those with a certain fanatic mindest.
In the last couple of years, I've encountered well-reasoned opposing views for the first time.
Let's back up, and consider how to get an effective x, where x is a cup of coffee or a laptop or anything else. One way might be to get everyone to vote on what kind of x they like, and then give that to everyone. This is of course a terrible system, and not Starbucks nor Apple have that kind of system.
Much better to have competition. I'd be terrible at making coffee or a laptop, and it's best that I'm not trusted to make those things, or to choose who would be good at making them. Nor ought I to be trusted with running a country or choosing who to run it.
So, I think an ideal world might be a world of many smaller governments, each competing for consumers/citizens. Apply the creativity and efficiency of startups to the governing industry. I want a world of Singapores and Hong Kongs and Liechtensteins, where I can pick my government provider approximately the same way I pick my ISP or my employer.
Of course there are problems. So solve them! What better decrepit, corrupt, monopolizing old industry to fix than the governing industry? A Peter Thiel-funded startup is trying (http://seasteading.org).
See also Arnold Kling on competitive government vs. democracy: http://smartdemocracy.com/papers/kling_competitive_governmen...
And also see the reading list at the Let A Thousand Nations Bloom blog: http://athousandnations.com/recommended/
I think we all want to be one world with no border without any government whatsoever. It is unfortunate however that a government is needed.
Personally, I favour Aristocracy combined with some form of accountability to the people. Thus a combination of Aristocracy and democracy.
Democracy with limited and enumerated state powers is actually kinda okay.
For example, we could start interpreting the commerce clause the way any reasonable and sane person would. That would go a long way toward fixing this sort of problem, by making us less of a pure democracy.
I knew there was an incarceration problem in the US, but I didn't realise it was this bad.
The article above indicates that many innocent people in the US are encouraged to plead guilty. I'm inclined to believe the opposite.
And where does the article does not indicate that many innocent people in the US are encouraged to plead guilty?
Its a perfect setup.
1) Pick a minority with an easily identifiable physical trait (so your beat cops don't have to be too bright)
2) Encourage a set of behaviors through entertainment culture that are unique to them, easily identifiable, and just distasteful enough to garner popular support against them without destabilizing society.
3) Arrest them en-mass and incarcerate them in private prisons.
4) Hella-profit. Channel a portion back to #2. Repeat.
 War on Drugs (The Prison Industrial Complex) -- http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=864268000924014458...
How many laws are really necessary? It's like hate crimes. Is not every crime a hate crime of some sort? Do we really need a specific hate crime? No. But what is happening is the public crying out for the government to do something about the crime in the nation. Since the government cannot take any proactive action the only thing left is to make more laws.
Where the problem lies is not the lack of laws but the lack of teeth in the laws. Real punishments need to happen when laws are broken. Chain gangs, whipping and execution need to happen simply to tell every potential lawbreaker that there will be real punishments when laws are broken. As it is now, there are people that commit crimes just to be sent to jail because of the lax atmosphere in the penal system.
If you allow private corp to build the prison you're always going to get screwed, they can increase the cost per capita each year just short of the amount where it will be worth using another supplier or building your own. That's a big yearly increase.
isn't that just about exactly what happens in America? :-(
the unhuman organism has no right over human body - let the government -catch- the criminal who offended a human body - and then deliver him to the family who was offended - deliver the offender to the -human- relatives - if the criminal goes to jail - he spends his time in the gym - he watches tv - he is fed - he doesnt have to work - he is with people like himself - he is actually --happy-- in prison - prison is --not-- a deterrent - catch the killer and hand him to the -mother- http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2010/06/01/2010-06-... the mother will not let the killer spend time in the gym or watch tv or feed him - she will ---torture--- him until he begs her to -kill- him but she will not kill him as long as she lives - and this is what he deserves - this is what i call a deterrent - this is what i call justice - if you killed someones daughter you dont want to be handed to the mother - this is justice
This is one of the few issues that thinkers on the left and right can agree about. Depending on which way your politics lean, you can read comments from Justice Stevens and Judge Alex Kozinski, or Justice Scalia and Judge Richard Posner (to pick just a few prominent jurists popular stereotyped as being liberal or conservative). All have expressed opinions about the shortcomings of criminal justice policy and sentencing in particular.
The root of the problem is that those who enforce and administer the penal system have a huge economic interest in maintaining or expanding it. While a good many people point to this as an example of why government is bad (monopoly on the use of force etc.), the sad fact is that very often people vote for this sort of thing in referendums. California's 'Three Strikes' law is a famous example. It's a terrible policy IMHO, but it wasn't foisted on the state by the government. 'We the people' put that one in place, along with quite a few others since.
A not sound title is an indicator of a not sound argument.
PS, voting me down won't make the article any more on-topic, and it doesn't matter anyway, I have oodles of this karma shit, and if I have to burn it pointing out the reddit-bait, so be it.
On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.
I think this would fit under intellectual curiosity, but who's to judge.
This is very clearly one of those articles that people vote up because they like the message and it gets them fired up, rather than because they didn't know these things (unless of course they happen to reside under a rock).
Even though I disagree with you, personally I think you raised a reasonable point.
This article and any other article is on here because someone submitted it and rather than be ignored like countless of other articles, it was actually liked and attracted more than one hundred comments and more than that votes.
The community does not owe him an explanation
Also, reading this same question in many threads becomes a
In full consideration, genuine question, would you rather cops simply drove by when witnessing people with damaged public property in hand or would you rather they stopped and made some sort of enquiry?
Did they arrest you, what crime did they claim they were arresting you for? How did you avoid being arrested if they said that is what they were doing? Either they arrested you or didn't, if they didn't they were making an enquiry.
Yes, perhaps they hedged their bets and thought that you might be scared off damaging public property if you had perpetrated the offence by the apparent threat of arrest.
I was hanging out by a damaged pole when they demanded identification and threatened to arrest me for destruction of public property. They could have
a) used some critical thinking and realized that there was no way I could have damaged said pole
b) been polite, and adopted an "you and us vs. whoever damaged the pole" perspective instead of "us vs. you".
You can always find a connection if you use your imagination.
That game is called "6 degrees of hacker news".
I guess we've all submitted things that are seemingly irrelevant to startups and hacking from time time.
Luckily, so far, this site hasn't gone that far downhill - pg and company have mostly been vigilant about letting too many of these through.
Anyway, I still think most of us are guilty of posting content that is not clearly appropriate, but it's amazing how it sometimes strikes a nerve. Just flag it.