Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Name & shame

I sometimes despair of my fellow countrymen and women.

Here in the UK a couple who were found guilty of abusing and finally killing their child have been named. It has sparked a debate on whether criminals should be publicly named and shamed. You can read some of the answers here.

From the answers the majority of the great unwashed give, you’d think we were back in medieval times.

I’m no bleeding heart liberal, but:

  1. In the case of the couple at the centre of this debate, given the lives they led and the abuse they themselves suffered at the hands of their parents, their crime was almost a foregone conclusion. Abuse engenders abuse and those who have suffered abuse themselves are in an almost inescapable vicious circle. Some 80% of we do what we do we do because of what went before.
  2. If people such as these are named and shamed then millions from the public purse have to be spent protecting them from vigilantes. Is that a wise use of public funds that could be better spent elsewhere?
  3. If someone has done their time in prison and served the sentence the courts consider just, are they then not entitled to try to rehabilitate themselves into society?
  4. America has proven conclusively that the death penalty is not a deterrent.


Cotswoldgent said...

The courts idea of just is somewhat different to the masses, although the courts are limited in what they can do. The vigilantes are no better than the people they hunt and inevitably they get it wrong. Pity we dont have a system of just brainwashing the guilty, but I suppose that's harking back to 1984!

Alan Burnett said...

I think I agree with you Bill although I seem to have conflicting emotions somewhere along the line. I must confess to having carefully filed away the knowledge that one of the perpetrators was a racist white supremacist for future use. Is that me making political capital out of a personal tragedy? Probably

Chairman Bill said...

Cots: I agree entirely. Justice is not something handed out by the mob.

Alan: We make the mistake of assuming these people are just like us and labeling them monsters as a consequence. They aren't - they're people whose past experiences have led them to this dark place, and had any of us had the same experiences, then we too might (I'd say almost certainly) be standing in their shoes.

What goes around comes around.

truestarr said...

I find the whole "Catch 22" of Name and Shame (to titillate the sales of papers?) and then sticking the general masses with the costs of lifetime protection for the perps by necessity to be more than a bit tedious.

There must be a better way. And yet, throwing them to the masses meant of course a rise in bloodlust; so: freedom of press?

hmmm, don't know that I agree that was the best use of a free press.

The costs of making these people anonymous is over the top.

Then too there's the problem of where will they be relocated. Near a school? Will they have more children?

In some ways perhaps their childhoods made them by necessity wards of an institution.

So does that mean there are some people who can't be trusted with freedom?

This is a very confusing issue.

Chairman Bill said...

Truestarr: It is indeed a complicated issue.

The press are no better than the mob, as they pander to the mob's blood-lust and whip up emotion in an irresponsible manner.

What's needed is a sentencing policy that ensures, as best it can, that people released from prison are no longer a danger - or if they are, then they are monitored closely. The problem with the latter is that it's subject to human error.

Then there's the problem of imprisoning people for what they might do. Goes against the grain with me.

truestarr said...

I agree with the problem of imprisoning people for what they might do being counter to all interpretations of democracy- on the other hand because these people were evaluated from the criminal point of view, was that to the exclusion of the psychological point of view?

Are these people (or will they ever be)cured from doing this again? (didn't the woman have another baby while in prison?)

It boggles the mind that one would throw an innocent into prison. What about a mental institution that could perhaps reach into that dark place and "make them better"??

Chairman Bill said...

Truestarr: I believe sex offenders and murderers are psychiatrically assessed before release, but phychiatry is not as precise a science as say medication. Give someone a pill and there's objective evidence to say what will happen. Give them psychiatric therapy and you're not as certain of the result, or able to measure the result as precisely.

Some may give all the outward indications of being cured, but the mind is a strange creature that is still very much behind a veil.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Your last statement is so true, CB, there is so much that is not known about the mind and pills are not always the answer, although they are heavily relied upon on psychiatric science...

I am sojourning in your Fatherland for the next two weeks, Sir, please forgive me a short absence from your wit, wisdom and waggishness... Tot ziens, and my best to Hay x

Chairman Bill said...

Woman: Keep taking the pills and give my regards to Rutger Hauer.

Must pick you up on one issue - we don't refer to our native country as the Fatherland - it's the Moederland or Motherland.

Kabbalah Rookie said...

I am not a bleeding heart liberal either, but neither do I believe in mob justice. Releasing their names to the public given the emotional climate is irresponsible. We are forgetting that (and forgive me if I misquote) 30 children are murdered by their parents or guardians in the UK every year. Where are their stories? All of the anger is directed at the only case that reaches the press.
Whether their backgrounds were to blame or not, the most important factor is to find the best solution to prevent them from offending again - whether that is rehabilitation and psychiatric treatment, or keeping them detained.
A very complex issue indeed. Good discussion, Mr Chairman.

Chairman Bill said...

Kabbalah: When you consider the number of children under ten in the UK, 30 is a phenomenally small number.

The law of diminishing returns comes to mind. How much do you have to spend to ensure no children are killed? I would postulate a lot - much more than can be afforded.

Kabbalah Rookie said...

I totally agree.

Eek - I could make myself very unpopular by mentioning the word 'Karma'...

boneman said...

criminals named? Is this a problem?
Yes, and I won't play naive for the set. I have noticed that in the USA, a sinister counter-productive ruling has emerged and is becoming quite favorable to the masses, thanx to know-nothing professional politicians pandering to the mobs.
Murderers have served their times and gotten out of prison.That, in itself, seems a contradiction in justice.
But, let's go from there, eh?
They served whatever time they were given and gotten out. Are they then considered rehabilitated? By means of time served?
Not necessarily, I think. The concept of taking a life is about the worse thing one can do to a person, and therefore, I would think a life sentence is a life sentence. Not early outs for good behavior in prison, which is also a weird concept to understand. (Good behavior may have meant being free of notice by the authorities at the prison, which may or may not equal civilized behavior)
(should I mention that while the world screams its protest about Aung Kyi in Burma getting an additional 18 months tacked on her sentence that people are serving life sentences in Texas for smoking pot?)
but, someone else wrote :So does that mean there are some people who can't be trusted with freedom? which can also be stated as...
Does the honor system really work?

The UK is an interesting example, but a more drastic example would be Canada because of its proximity to the USA. Gun laws have done well to curb 'instant' revenge deaths in both countries, I believe, even though there is some worry over knife violence in both countries, now. But that the population has kept to the idea is to be applauded. Freedom can be had without owning deadly weapons.
That Canada has been compliant of its ruling on gun laws is even more the amazing thing, because, as I said, there are 14 year olds in the US that own and are trained to use guns.
so, in my estimation, the answer would be, "yes" the honor system does have good adherents.
(questionably, though, is the conscience of a murderer who has no concern over the LIFE of another human being? The respect level is already disabled in their brain)
But...I started by saying something about mob rule....
A child molester is given years for a sentence, however, no matter how many years, they are then marked for life as guilty, have excessive punishments put upon them, travel restrictions, and lord knows what else.
If they are to be given a life sentence? To what end are they released?
That is, if a murderer is set free.

I don't like or advocate either murder or sexual deviancy. But, as a kid, an older gal once had her way with me in a park at night (and was I ever happy!) however, as we were both under seventeen, I, as the male, could have been charged with rape, and be serving one of those 'life sentences' the justice department passes out so readily.
Geez. I'm not sure I've actually stepped up with a valuable statement or if I've just rambled on for a lot of paragraphs.
I think I should stop, because you have already pointed out the idea of mob rulings (the fellow convicted of the Lockerbie bombing) being outrageous.
I for one didn't know about the 'funny business' behind the scenes.
'Course, I wouldn't have heard, yet, would I have? Being freshly escaped from the clutches of what may go down in history as the worse presidency yet in our history. Bush junior was such an ass!