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Do we design cars so that not a single person ever dies? Do we design medicine so a single person never dies? You can't design a realistic justice system that doesn't have unfair outcomes sometimes any more than you can design a test for cancer that never has false positives.

Outside this particularly sympathetic context, I'd say people want their justice system to be fairly neutral and not swayed by the specifics of peoples' circumstances.

Any system - especially a justice system - unable to take into account peoples' circumstances is not only wasteful, but dangerous. Neutrality does not transcend doing the right thing. Justice isn't a product that is packaged and sold, it is a service, rendered on a case-by-case basis. It is done that way so that the context can be understood sufficiently well in each case. In this case it either wasn't, or they simply didn't care, or were negligent. This is wrong and it needs to be fixed.

What is your agenda? It seems as if you think the system is fine, and cannot and should not improve. Why?

I don't have an agenda, and I don't think the system is fine. I do, however, think a lot of people are being grandiose in condemning Carmen Ortiz. I'm an engineer at heart, and we're a conservative breed, preoccupied with tradeoffs and immune to idealistic tropes. I don't think you can get what you want: a justice system that is compassionate and sensitive to the "good guys" and harsh with the "bad guys" and also considers every case meticulously on a case by case basis while also not costing a fortune to run.

It does cost a fortune to run. Considering every case meticulously on a case by case basis is exactly what they should be doing. That is not an idealistic expectation, it is a realistic one.

To have an effect, condemnation has to be of sufficient magnitude, such that the problem is acknowledged and recognized. It has to be necessarily grandiose in its nature. Given that you agree that the system is not fine, and can improve, where does your contention lie? How can you deny a problem from being recognized if you wish to solve it?

"Mr Prosecutor, yes I killed that guy. But in my defense, my wife was shouting at me earlier in the day and it made me upset. I had been fired from my job the day before, and didn't have a new job lined up yet. So I got angry at the grocery store over raising the price of milk, and killed the cashier. Please consider this and drop some of the charges."

"Ohhh your wife was shouting at you? I hear ya, buddy. I'll drop most of the charges and you won't have to go to jail for murder..."

I mean, come on. We can't take people's personal circumstances that are unrelated to the crime into account. No matter if you are rich or poor, married or single, working or unemployed, kids or no kids, you should get equal treatment under the law. I can't believe people are arguing that "possibly suicidal" people should have charges reduced. If that was true, everyone charged with a crime would claim to be suicidal...

The logical conclusion of what you're suggesting is a system where only outcomes are looked at and assessed, little about the person leading up to outcome is understood, and nothing is learned, because it's somehow unacceptable to understand individual circumstances. But surely you see that it's in our own collective interests to learn why things are the way they are, instead of just indiscriminately slapping parking tickets on everything that looks bad and hoping our problems will go away?

When people die in car accidents, "we" investigate why they died and try to figure out how to build better cars in the future. I'm alive today thanks to that process.

That's a hell of a lot more than Carmen Ortiz has decided to do.

You are defending your profession at the expense of your humanity.

I can not think of any more powerful way to state my criticism of your comments here.

Your lawyer trolling is asinine. My other degree is aerospace engineering: did you see me falling over myself to defend Boeing in the battery threads? No, because I'm not a caricature and capable of having my own opinions.

It doesn't even make sense--every day engineers and scientists make decisions trading off cost, effectiveness, and preventable death. The accountants and actuaries then sign off on it. It's not a deficiency of the professions, that's just how human society operates. Contrary to your assertion, we do not launch an investigation any time someone dies in a car accident. We don't start posting how the engineers at Ford are morally culpable for the death because if only they had used a more expensive XYZ widget our loved one would still be alive. Sometimes bad things happen and it's not anyone's fault.

His profession? He's not a prosecutor. He's not a criminal attorney. Is he even a litigator?

Do I get to inveigh against all software developers every time armed drone C&C software plays a role in killing a civilian somewhere?

Sigh. No, but if someone were to criticize a particular group of software developers for writing some armed drone C&C software that had a completely disproportionate effect on its target, and you rushed to defend the software developers using a really thin argument, then I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing out that your association with software developers might be making you less than impartial.

Then of course you could counter-argue that the person doing the criticizing was related to some of the people that were killed, and therefore they might not be impartial either, even though I never said (nor would have suggested) otherwise, and even though that does nothing to make you look less prejudiced.

And then the whole stupid thing could continue to spiral out of control until someone else suddenly showed up late to the argument and brought with them some absurd analogy that requires some serious stretching to be at all applicable to the discussion at hand...

I don't concede that he did defend the prosecutor. He said the prosecutor didn't cause a suicide. It does not follow from that that Rayiner approves of the prosecutor's actions.

But your logic wouldn't work even if we stipulated that he defended the prosecutor, because defending prosecutors doesn't make you a prosecutor.

It's you, who tried to cut short a debate by saying that Rayiner was defending "his profession" and talking his own book, who's making the dubious argument.

Nobody is calling you out on it because we're all upset about Aaron Swartz and we can obviously all see which way the wind is blowing on the topic here. But I like Rayiner and would like to see him stick around here, so I'll say it: you're out of line. Stop it.

I had already stopped before you jumped in, jackass. I've been saving some pretty severe words for you, but they should wait until I'm not seeing red anymore.

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