Re: news...

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Thu Apr 13 2000 - 09:45:15 MDT

On Wed, Apr 12, 2000 at 03:04:29PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> True, but the problem is in getting charges filed. The prosecutors always toss the
> weapons charges in plea bargaining. This will stop them from doing this. You can't
> argue with the results of Operation Exile. The judge is still free to determine guilt
> or innocence... so his hands aren't totally tied.

Ahem: I _strongly_ suggest you go and read up on the history of The Bloody
Code (the English legal system enforced during the 18th century). It has
some ominous warnings for those who believe in mandatory sentencing and
draconian punishment.

Example: mandatory death penalty for stealing two shillings or a loaf of
bread. (Not incredibly uncommon offenses, if you bear in mind that the
existing social security provisions were virtually non-existent and this
was a time of massive economic migration from countryside to town).

The result? Lots of convictions for stealing half a penny less than two
shillings ... and lots of juries who refused to convict *at all* on
more serious charges.

(Arrest and conviction rates went up significantly in the 1830's, when
the draconian punishments were scrapped and replaced by a more liberal
regime. And the crime rate went down.)

-- Charlie

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