My object all sublime . . . to let the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime….

If you’re a Mikado fan, you know the source of my post title:

The song came to mind because of two stories today, both of which left me wondering whether the punishment fit the crime.

One story you may already have read:  an Iraqi living in Arizona was convicted of 2nd degree murder for intentionally running his daughter over with a car because she had become too “Westernized.”  (Of course, if he was worried about that happening, a logical person might ask why he decided to move to the West in the first place.)  A second degree murder conviction carries with it a sentence that can be as long as 22 years.

The other story just broke recently:  the former head of a California mental hospital was sentenced to 248 years for sexually abusing his adopted son over an eight year period.

Both are heinous crimes, but does it seem to you that a deliberate murder is being treated more lightly than it should be?

When I was back and law school, a Crim Law professor liked to make a big deal out of two murder cases:  when was a garden-variety bar killing that ended in a death sentence; the other was a torture-murder that ended with life imprisonment.  His point was that the death sentence isn’t fair.  My takeaway message, though, was that, if you’re planning a crime, you might want to pick a jurisdiction that allows you to get away with it, so to speak.

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  • Charles Martel

    It goes without question that California is the place to commit murder. If you are given the death penalty, you have a 0.025 percent chance of lethal injection. Otherwise it’s three hots and a cot, courtesy of the little people, for the rest of your life.

    Two examples: David Carpenter, the “Trailside Kiler,” murdered five women (some cops think it was seven) in 1979-80, for which he was sentenced to death in 1981. He is now 80 years old and no closer to ultimate justice than he was 30 years ago. Two of the women were murdered 3 miles from where I live.

    Richard Allen Davis raped and murdered the niece of two of our best friends in 1993. He has been on death row since 1995. He will never be executed because there are too many people lined up in front of him.

  • Ymarsakar

    Give me the executioner’s axe and the power to rewrite criminal justice laws. I think I have a way to make death row more efficient and accurate.

  • Ymarsakar

    One of the fundamental issues with having too big a government is that there’s no accountability. All you have is a bunch of stuff only lawyers can figure out, and half of them are lazy judges who don’t care what the law even says. A regular civilian don’t know hell from beans when it comes to the maze of jurisprudence and legal turf wars. And if you can even get past the lawyers, you still have the bureaucrats. Environmental protection agency stamp your milk container yet for hazardous materials?
    It’s not a government for the people, by the people, when only lawyers and bureaucrats know how things work in the corridors of power. It’s a government for the people, by those in power who know how to stay in power.
    So the point is, there’s a lot of things in “US law” that is flatly contradictory. FOr example, take divorce laws concerning men and women. Alimony was originally designed with the intent to make dead beat dads pay for the upkeep of children, in a time when women couldn’t make what a man could make. Now that wages have increased for women and with more women graduating from college then men, alimony is still on the books as it was long ago. Also take a look at the murder laws on what happens when a pregnant woman dies along with her child from a murderer. The murderer gets billed for two crimes, death of the infant and death of the mother. But the mother can go abort her child and it is called “privacy”. Do you see how that is consistent? It’s not.
    Of course it’s not consistent. But what are you going to do it. Until the “rulers” it needs to be changed, people can’t do anything about such laws. And that’s why it’s called a government for the people, by those in power that know how to keep power. If it was by the people, for the people, the people would change these inconsistent laws ASAP. But they don’t, even though they want to. What do you call a government where the people want to update the laws, but haven’t gotten it for decades?
    I’m sure there are plenty of other inconsistencies that I can’t recall to mind at the moment. But I’ll end with death penalty. California doesn’t have a death penalty. What they have is called Life Imprisonment, then possibly release by death. So when people choose the death penalty, it’s the same as life imprisonment. And if they choose life imprisonment, it’s the same as the DP.
    Another inconsistency that makes zero sense. Either it is DP or it is life imprisonment. Otherwise, why do you have laws that separate out the punishments as if they are different? They’re not different.
    States like Oklahoma have a real death penalty. McVeigh died within 3 years of conviction. That’s actually a real death penalty. Don’t talk about death penalties, that aren’t death penalties. But people are perverse and like to confuse things with internally inconsistent US laws.

  • Ymarsakar

    People should have more choice of punishments. Prison, life imprisonment, parole, and death row, those aren’t very diverse.
    In the interests of modernizing the criminal/justice system for the 21st century, I would like to make reforms concerning the “variety” of punishments that juries can dish out. And in that sense, I have a lot of variety in mind. Instead of locking juries up on DP or Life, each juror should have a vote, used in secret, to vote for a punishment that they believe fits the crime. On top of the guilty/notguilty verdict. The judge should only be allowed freedom to choose amongst such punishments. The criminal may even be given a vote on the matter of which punishment he would like the least and that can be struck off or not depending on allowances. Freedom is really the answer to useless bureaucracy and legal mazes.
    That should allow a far more suitable and adaptable punishment system for different crimes.
    Also, I would like society to become more lethal. The classic mentality is that prisoners are in jail to protect society (me) from criminals. But I think in reality it’s the opposite for some and should be the opposite for all. Criminals are in jail to protect them from people like me. Who would and can kill them rather easily. This classic mentality seems a bit… old, given modern technology, advances, and training methodologies (it used to be seen that women couldn’t be trained to do violence, now we know better, even though the methodology is still a mystery).
    Society is more virtuous when the individuals in society don’t have to fear criminal elements. Nor should individual independents (if they really are independent) be forced to rely upon police or the military for things they can do themselves. (Like get the F out of New Orleans before it floods). People call themselves independent a lot, but then rely on the police for anything from burglars to serial killers. What’s “independent” about that?

  • Ymarsakar

    I’m wondering if these Arabs really are from Iraq or if the media simply made that up in order to not mention “Arabs” or “Muslims”.
    Yea, I know, I have a suspicious mind.


    In both cases it was deliberate murder. In the first trial, Noor Faleh Almalekiit, the daughter, was murdered by her father and in the second case, Claude Foulk murdered the souls of a dozen boys, including the adopted son. In both cases, the sentence is about 20 years per count and in neither case was justice served.
    The law professor failed to delete the ‘i’ – the death sentence is not far enough.

  • Charles Martel

    If we are not going to execute people who plainly merit it, at least make their life sentences harsh. In California we have a remote maximum-security prison, Pelican Bay, up near the Oregon border. Only the hardest-core convicts are committed to it—gang leaders, in-prison murderers, incorrigibles.

    The regimen there is simple: Each prisoner lives in an isolated cell 23 hours per day and is allowed out into an adjoining small walled courtyard one hour daily for exercise. When a prisoner must leave his cell for a medical or legal appointment, he does not come into contact with any other prisoners or persons other than guards. 

    The poor dears don’t like it. Humans are social creatures and need contact. But I’d say after you’ve cold-bloodedly murdered somebody, tough beans. If the state doesn’t have the guts to kill you, it should have the guts to make the rest of your life as barren and bleak as possible.