Archive for the 'Prison' Category

29
Oct
07

Is that carry-on or check in?

No, I am not referring to Airport security. Really, I’m not. I’m talking about a German detention center. Uh huh. Read on…:

A 19-year-old woman appears to have escaped from a juvenile detention centre in northwest Germany by hiding in the suitcase of a fellow inmate who was released, police said on Monday. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Now I might be wrong about this, but as I understand it, when a detainee is checked in, all of the belongings they have with them is cataloged, then placed in storage until they are released. Now I don’t know how detailed the logging process is, but given the Germans penchant for efficiency, I’m sure no detail gets left behind.

So it escapes me how a human being (even a 19 year old, presumably petite, female) in a suitcase managed to avoid raising any red flags is beyond me. I mean, I’m fairly certain “female, 19, petite” was not on the checklist. And even if she only weighed 100 lbs soaking wet, that’s 100 lbs of stuff that this inmate obiously did not bring to the detention center with her.

Amazing. At least they won’t make it out of the country by air. I doubt the luggage (or the contents) would tolerate the treatment of airport baggage handlers very well…

Woman escapes from German detention centre in a suitcase – [Yahoo/AFP]

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21
Aug
07

Killers: Life, death, and the gray paradox in between…

Given that earlier today, I posted my opinion on what I think the criteria of a true “killer” is, I find it ironic that I should run across an article dealing with the ethics of the death penalty for a person who meets the legally circumscribed definition of a “Killer”:

“The European Union notes with great regret the upcoming execution in the State of Texas,” the Portuguese presidency of the 27-nation bloc said in a statement.

Texas is expected to hit the 400 mark on Wednesday — putting it far ahead of any other U.S. state — with the execution of Johnny Ray Conner for the 1998 shooting of a grocery store clerk.

The European Union, which on Tuesday called the death penalty “cruel and inhumane,” is opposed to all capital punishment and has called for its worldwide abolition.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the use of the death penalty serves as a deterrent against violent crime,” the statement said, adding that its irreversibility meant that miscarriages of justice could not be redressed. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

What I find most interesting about this article, is the EUs objection to the death penalty on the grounds that it:

  1. Has not proven to be a deterrent against violent crime.
  2. Is cruel and inhumane.

Oh really? I might actually have bought reason one, if the sole purpose of the death penalty was to be a deterrent to violent crime. But most of the people whom I think would think deserve the death penalty are people who could watch someone getting brutally massacred right before their eyes without batting an eye, and proceed to enjoy a steak dinner like nothing happened and then sleep like a baby that night. IMHO The death penalty is not a deterrent. It’s cleanup.

That’s not to say that the death penalty couldn’t be a good deterrent for the more normal types of killers. It’s just that nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them unless they actually see it happen, up close and personal. Humans are visual creatures. If you really want to make an impression on them, you have to show them. How many people you know have actually ever seen an execution occur? I’m willing to bet few to none. So how exactly is it intended to be a deterrent?

And point 2 is laughable at best. Is life in prison supposed to be less cruel than death? Sure you’ll be alive, but it won’t exactly be a picnic either. Many who get life ending up serving a reduced sentence anyway due to bing killed in prison. And inhumane? There are such things as humane executions. Is death by lethal injection inhumane? I don’t think so. If I had to go, what better way than to just fall asleep an never wake up again. Quick and painless. I don’t think it gets any more humane than that.

Now obviously, I have no intrinsic objections to the death penalty. There are some people who will never be able to function in a socially constructive way, and can never be rehabilitated. And I think these people only pose a continuing threat to the well being of everyone else, and can safely (in my opinion anyway) be removed from society. But there are problems.

The biggest problem, is the only valid objection I saw in the article. The fact that the death penalty is irreversible, and if there is a mistake there is no way to rectify it. I can’t argue that, because our legal system has many flaws. Innocent people are found guilty and the guilty walk free. On the basis of that alone, we ought to abolish the death penalty. Not because it’s not a good solution for eliminating incurably violent criminals from society, but because the system too flawed to accurately determine who really deserves that penalty.

The legal system, for all of it’s massive and highly detailed rules and regulations, is still run and decided by living, breathing, human people. Each person has different belief system, different ideas of right and wrong, and different thresholds and tolerances for things. And few cases feature objective and irrefutable evidence like a video camera or an audio tape that tells the whole story in an accurate and objective manner. The judge and jury often has to make assumptions and decisions based on assumptions. It’s just isn’t morally or ethically responsible to base anyones death on human assumptions and feelings.

But even if the system could determine with 100 percent accuracy who should get the chair, we can’t kid ourselves about what we are doing. There is a paradox to this way of thinking. We are, in effect murdering a person in cold blood. Yes, we are doing it to save the lives of others that we know could be killed if the killer is allowed to continue to live. But we are being killers ourselves, simply because do not have, and cannot come up with, a better solution. Imagine that. We have no imagination…

EU urges Texas to halt executions before 400 mark – [Yahoo/Reuters]

24
Jul
07

The love of money is the root of all… Stupidity.

A group of Chinese bank employees tried to court Lady Luck a little bit too aggressively. And got dumped. Big time:

Five Chinese men accused of stealing 51 million yuan (6.7 million dollars) and then buying lottery tickets in an attempt to win the money back went on trial Tuesday, state media reported. …

… Ren actually replaced the missing funds after he won the lottery.

But Ren became bolder when he began collaborating with Ma, stealing another 50.95 million yuan from the bank during a 30-day period between March and April.

They spent a total of 47 million yuan on lottery tickets in Handan, but failing to win, went on the lam in mid-April, only to be arrested by police days later. – [Yahoo/AFP]

Now come on people, given the infinitesimally small percentage of people that are actually guaranteed to win the lottery, how many of you would rely on the lottery as the hinge pin of an bank embezzlement scheme? I’m not bank administrator, and I don’t even consider myself particularly good at math, but I’ve done the math on this, and though it varies from lottery to lottery, I’m pretty sure that winning the lottery purely by the buying of tickets en mass is not altogether particularly cost effective, and is certainly not guaranteed.

I guess if you aren’t using your own money, then maybe you might be a little more flippant about it, but having successfully done it once, (and reaped what I’m sure were relatively “meager” rewards) why would you take the risk of doing it a second time? Insanity? Greed? Both? I’ll admit I’m not a gambling man by any stretch of the imagination, but the practice of “Quitting while you’re ahead” is a well known concept, even to me…

Bumbling Chinese bank robbers on trial for bizzare lottery heist – [Yahoo/AFP]

26
Jun
07

Is Porn a Right?

I’ve always been one to value an individuals rights. Except where they infringe on the rights of others. Tricky thing is, sometimes the line where ones rights end and someone else’s begins can get blurry.

Now I’ve always thought that this was less of an issue for a convicted criminal serving time in jail for violating others rights, since I’ve always believed that must they must forfeit some of their own individual rights, as atonement for violating those of others. So it always raises serious questions for me when I read articles like the one below:

The Supreme Administrative Court in Stockholm last week ruled that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service had no right to deny a rape convict access to his porn magazines. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now this simply doesn’t make sense to me. Isn’t punishment and atonement (and sometimes rehab) the whole purpose of prison? Isn’t some loss of your rights part of the atonement? And even if it weren’t (which it is) since when did porn become a right?

There are a lot of things that I consider rights. Freedom. Free speech. Fair trials. Equality. Fair and unbiased treatment. That sort of thing. Those are rights. The ability to read porn, watch TV, listen to the radio, or even have access to a gym, are complete and utter luxuries. There are many good and honest citizens walking around who don’t have the benefit of even one of those luxuries, let alone access to three square meals a day, so it always baffles me when convicted criminals claim things like these as “rights”.

The fact that any court (even the admirably progressive Swedish court system) could reasonably consider something like this a “right”, especially for inmates who have directly, purposefully and violently impinged their will on others, continually perplexes me.

Court Upholds Prisoners Right to Porn – [Yahoo/AP]




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