Justice and Punishment

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Mon, 23 Mar 1998 22:05:42 -0800 (PST)


"den Otter" <otter@globalxs.nl> On Mon, 23 Mar 1998 Wrote:

>If one would be accused of a crime, he could hire as many people to
>*prove his innocence* as he pleased/could afford.

Prove his innocence? In the USA about 40,000 murders are committed each year,
with a liberal interpretation of the word "prove" I might be able to prove I
didn't commit 75% of them, unfortunately that leaves 10,000 murders I'm
unable to prove I didn't commit.

>Human judges would still have a place in this system as controllers
>of the computers' verdict (other controllers are the defendant and
>his defense team or designated others) which is a simple summing up
>of the known facts with a recommendation (xx% chance that guilty of
>crime xx resulting in punishment no. xx).

Just add up the facts and crank out a conclusion, It's a real shame that
wisdom can't be achieved that easily, we would have had super intelligent
computers long ago, although they'd be too busy changing the universe to
concern themselves with human beings and their petty disputes.

>there are lie detectors that, although still not too reliable, have
>an intimidating effect on all but the toughest suspects

Yes they are intimidating, to the innocent as well as the guilty. I would
agree to have a lie detector test only if I was guilty and about to be
convicted. I've read a little about them and I think I'd have a better than
50% chance of beating the machine, unless of course the operator didn't like
me, interpretation the machine's output is largely subjective.

>hard questioning. This means causing physical/mental nonlethal/not
>permanently damaging discomfort the suspect in order to extract a
>detailed confession (no words shall be put in the suspect's mouth,
>and a confession alone can't convict; details only known to the
>murderer/thief etc. must be forthcoming).

You say you didn't murder anybody but I suspect you may have, so like a good
policeman I bring you in for some hard questioning. After I pull your third
fingernail off by the roots with a pair of pliers your demeanor changes and
you insist that I was absolutely correct in every respect and that you did
indeed commit the crime in question, however information about the deed that
only the murderer would know is not forthcoming. After I pull off all ten of
your fingernails your claims of being a killer of the vilest sort are even
more vigorous, but despite my insistence that you do so you still tell me no
details of the crime not generally known.

What should a reasonable policeman such as myself do at this point?

1) Conclude that the reason you don't tell me the details is that you don't
know them, give you an apology for any inconvenience and a discount coupon
to the nearest nail cloning salon, thank you for being a good sport about
this little misunderstanding and send you home, OR

2) Conclude that you're just being stubborn and get to work on your toenails.

>crime rates would be down considerably due to decriminalization of
>victimless crimes like drug abuse, gambling, prostitution etc. so
>that the police and justice system could focus all their manpower on
>the real crimes

Your technique would be particularly effective against real crimes like
slander, I'll bet close to 100% would retract their statement and apologize
to the state for any embarrassment caused.

>society as a whole would have to be re-educated (through the usual
>channels like CNN, tabloids, soaps & movies) to condemn only really
>damaging behaviour instead of harmless recreation.

It's amazing how easy it reach a consensus and educate reporters and authors,
all you need is a sturdy pair of pliers.

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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