Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

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Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:35 pm

http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/ ... spots.html

Basically in a small sample tries to demonstrate that convicts assess risk differently than "normal". Makes sense, I wonder if they can determine how much is learned and how much might be "genetic".

Maybe we can get it classified as a medical condition and then we can do some affirimitive action / diversity training too!

but seriously, I think its very interesting. Do you punish a dyslexic kid for not being able to read very well? Do you punish an adult for not being able to make risk assessments very well?

What does society do with all its non conforming elements turn them out on teh streets (homeless) put them in prison?
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Corth » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:21 pm

kiryan wrote:Do you punish an adult for not being able to make risk assessments very well?


Deciding whether or not to violate the criminal law shouldn't generally be considered a matter of risk assessment. If you simply don't break the law, under any condition, regardless of the pros and cons, then poor risk assessment is a moot point.

Put it another way. Were you raised to be the type of guy who would kill for a million dollars if you knew you couldn't be caught? If the decision is based on risk verses reward then it's a no-brainer. You kill the guy and steal his money. But I think most of us wouldn't do it.

I think the more relevent question isn't whether you punish someone for being bad at risk assessment (you punish them for violating the law), but rather, whether additional punishment - more jail time - has any type of deterrent effect.
Having said all that, the situation has been handled, so this thread is pretty much at an end. -Kossuth

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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Ragorn » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:50 pm

It's well documented that poor risk assessment is a trademark symptom of certain types of psychosis. I've read about a couple experiments along these lines. The article isn't really clear about the terms of the experiment they're referencing, but I do remember another.

I offer you a choice: If you want, I'll give you $50. Or instead, we'll flip a coin, and if I win, you pay me $100 and if you win I'll pay you $100. A normal, logical person would probably reach the conclusion that a guaranteed $50 is better than the coin flip, which has an average return rate of $0. People with addictive personalities and certain types of psychosis would be more likely to pick the coin flip, because the possibility of a larger payout is more exciting. This is how gambling disorders take hold... the gambler gets an adrenaline rush from the CHANCE to win a large payout, not at the actual payout itself. He becomes addicted to the risk, and he makes poor decisions because he seeks risk even when the odds aren't in his favor.

The experiment I read explores this phenomenon in two different directions. The first is magnitude: What if we increase the stakes of the coin flip from $100 to $1M? The rational person tends to back out when the stakes are out of his comfort zone. The convict does not... he's just as likely to prefer the coin flip, because he has a hard time properly understanding what it would mean to lose that flip.

The second direction is probability: What if we leave the stakes the same ($100), but change the game so you only have a 40% chance to win? The rational person laughs out loud at the prospect of playing such an obviously lopsided game. The convict... doesn't. He still plays. He figures he still has a pretty good chance to win, and he doesn't see that he stands to lose a lot more than he gains over time. He plays, and he probably loses.

Then you combine these two dimensions. So I'll give you $50, or we'll play a game where I pay you a million bucks 10% of the time, and you pay me a million bucks 90% of the time. As you increase the stakes and increase the chance of failure, fewer people are willing to play. There's a point where even your lifelong gambler goes "whoa man, that's just stupid." But there is a small subset people that still play, no matter how badly you rig the game. Those people suffer from fairly advanced psychosis... and those are your criminals, the guys who inevitably end up in jail because they shot a gas station clerk for $38 and a pack of cigarettes. They don't understand the odds, they can't see the situation objectively, and they're unable to comprehend the penalty for losing. You can increase the penalty for failure all you want, and they'll still play. When you ask them why, they usually respond with something like "I didn't think I'd really lose."

So the conclusion they draw from this is, longer prison sentences aren't a better deterrent to people with this form of psychosis. And it's really not... the criminal doesn't differentiate between the prospect of 7 years in prison vs. 30. It's just a nebulous concept to him, and he's not properly weighing the punishment.

Then the hard part. What do we do about this? Prison time is designed to be a deterrent for law violation. What do we do with someone who isn't deterred because he doesn't understand the gravity of the punishment? Politicians who want to say they're "tough on crime" are likely to push for the longer jail sentence. That solution feels good, because to us rational people, it seems like you're coming down hard and sending a message that law violation will not be tolerated. However, it doesn't actually end up solving the problem... there's always that subset of people who can't rationalize the punishment, so they continue to break the law. In the end, the crime rate doesn't go down all that much as a result of the harsher sentencing. The "tough on crime" politican created a policy that felt good at the time, but all it ended up doing in the long run was putting more prisoners in jail on the taxpayer's dime. Now you're paying more taxes, crime hasn't decreased much, and the next politican gets elected on a platform of "lower taxes" and cuts education funding. Oops.

So what IS the solution? I don't really know, we never got that far. As soon as this research is published and someone says "maybe 30 year jail sentences aren't the right answer," there's an immediate backlash from people who just want the feel-good solution. And in one sense, longer jail sentences do give society some benefit, in that they take the psychotic individual out of the community for longer. However, it's not a sustainable solution in the long run... jails are overcrowded, and nobody wants to actually pay the taxes necessary to keep all those people behind bars. I'm not sure if rehabilitation from this kind of psychosis is possible. We haven't done that research yet... we're still identifying it, we haven't gotten far enough to cure it. Maybe someday we'll get there. For now, all we can do is understand that we're not deterring crime with harsher sentencing, we're just paying to have those people removed for longer periods of time.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:07 pm

I was thinking more along the lines of what Ragorn posted... great read btw. The degree to which these people think differently is probably considered a mental disorder or at least a behavioral one. The solution we have adopted is to sweep them under the rug into prisons under bridges etc... There are lots of misfits in society and we have institutions and practices that keep them from bothering the rest of us. I even consider the military such an institution.

The honest answer Corth, I might be tempted to kill someone for a million bucks if I knew I could get away with it. Just being honest. I'd probably even trade my life for a million bucks for my family... might take more I'd have to really sit down and think about the amount of money it would take to ensure my family's success. I certainly wouldn't do it for 100k and in both cases it would have to be 100% guarantee. I don't think 99% would be good enough, but 99.9 might be.

but your right, it shouldn't be a risk assessment, it should be a matter of legal or illegal, right or wrong and probably is for most people. but we aren't talking about normal people here, we're talking about people who look like a normal person, but actually operate on a world view that is fundamentally different.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:14 pm

I wonder why someone doesn't develop a test like this before hiring people? It probably exists, I just haven't heard of it. Would be useful in cash register work or accounting.

I'm reminded of a object lesson I gave my kids when they were 6 or so. They wanted to play a game with me so bad they were willing to allow me to stack the deck in my favor (we were playing war, I got all 4 aces and 2 of the kings) and on top of that they were willing to gamble their interest in mommy against me simply playing. I owned 2/3 shares in mommy (2/3 kids) although now that we've had 3 more is that 2/6 or is that 1/3 share now diluted 4 ways. I'm not sure, fuk I think I got ripped off! Those shares were worthless whens she can just issue new ones.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Ragorn » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:10 pm

kiryan wrote:I was thinking more along the lines of what Ragorn posted... great read btw. The degree to which these people think differently is probably considered a mental disorder or at least a behavioral one.

Yes, it is.

The honest answer Corth, I might be tempted to kill someone for a million bucks if I knew I could get away with it. Just being honest. I'd probably even trade my life for a million bucks for my family... might take more I'd have to really sit down and think about the amount of money it would take to ensure my family's success. I certainly wouldn't do it for 100k and in both cases it would have to be 100% guarantee. I don't think 99% would be good enough, but 99.9 might be.

Yep, that's risk assessment. There have been a lot of studies done on peoples' perception of probability, reward, and punishment. For example, a majority of people would rather be paid $50 today than receive a $100 check postdated a year from now. Why? Because you know exactly what you'd do with that money today, but the concept of receiving a reward a year from now is less tangible. The people who would take the $100 are the ones who tend to be better about financial and retirement planning in general. There's no chance I'd take the $50.

Would you pay $1 for a one in ten million chance at a $5,000,000 payout? That's the lottery. Pick 4 is literally a 1:1000 chance with a $500 payout. Poor people tend to play the lottery more than rich people because they think the joy of winning would be huge, but the disappointment of losing "just a dollar" is trivial. So they play over and over and over, never really recognizing that those trivial dollars add up.

For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 99.5 cents. That's blackjack.
For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 98.3 cents. That's craps (without odds on the pass line).
For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 94 cents. That's slots.
For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 92.5 cents. That's roulette.
For every dollar you give me, you get nothing. That's if you play me in poker ;)

Another interesting example... we'll roll a one-million sided die. If you roll any number other than a 1, I'll give you a dollar. You can roll as many times as you want. If you do roll a 1, however, you pay me $25,000 for every time you rolled the die. Would you play? Millions of people play this game every day... it's called mp3 piracy ;) They perceive the odds of success to be so high that it doesn't matter how severe you make the punishment for failure, they'll keep playing. The RIAA keeps pushing for ludicrous settlements as a "deterrent," but it's patently obvious that astronomical fines don't actually stem piracy for this reason.

but your right, it shouldn't be a risk assessment, it should be a matter of legal or illegal, right or wrong and probably is for most people. but we aren't talking about normal people here, we're talking about people who look like a normal person, but actually operate on a world view that is fundamentally different.

It would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than find a man who makes decisions solely based on right or wrong.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Ragorn » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:11 pm

kiryan wrote:I wonder why someone doesn't develop a test like this before hiring people? It probably exists, I just haven't heard of it. Would be useful in cash register work or accounting.

They have them, and most retail stores make you take a personality test when applying. That kind of psychosis is part of what those tests measure.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby teflor the ranger » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:10 pm

Ragorn wrote:For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 99.5 cents. That's blackjack.
For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 98.3 cents. That's craps (without odds on the pass line).
For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 94 cents. That's slots.
For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 92.5 cents. That's roulette.

For every dollar you give me, I'll give you 13.8 cents, kill children in Afghanistan and off the coast of Somalia, grease the wheels of special interest groups like the pensions of unionized auto workers, and prepare nuclear weapons for the end of humanity. That's the United States Federal Government.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Corth » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:49 am

Getting back to the article - the conclusion was that additional jail time doesn't necessarily serve as a deterrent. I'm not going to disagree, and yet I still think that violent crimes deserve a stiff punishment - certainly more than what is common in most European countries. Deterrence isn't the only goal of incarceration. Keeping violent people from being free to commit more violence against society is an important enough goal to justify stiff sentences in cases of violence.

On the other hand, the drug sentencing laws in this country are beyond absurd. People going away for 20+ years on a possession charge. It's absolutely heartbreaking. In the case of drug use I would advocate the traditionally more liberal goal of remediation. How many children grow up without a parent because of these obscene drug laws, and end up becoming violent criminals as a result? It would better serve society's interests (and save a tremendous amount of taxpayer dollars) to help those people overcome their afflictions rather than lock them up like animals.
Having said all that, the situation has been handled, so this thread is pretty much at an end. -Kossuth



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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Fri Oct 29, 2010 3:43 pm

There was an article that I thought was well done on the death penalty. After extensive statistical analysis by researchers at a couple of different universitiyes IIRC, they decided that the death penalty had a significant impact on reducing murders. More severe punishment can and does have an affect on crime.

I think worse than going to jail I think is trying to function in society after you get out. Who hires ex cons, the stigma? Whether it was violent or non violent crime? God forbid you have to register as a sex offender...

I don't like folks going to jail over drug posession but we almost have to do some sort of incarceration because it has such a high recidivism rate. Look at LiLo, she has been under the scrutiny of a microscope, under weekly court ordered random drug testing and like a complete moron does drugs again for at least the 3rd or 4th time while this case has been going on? Incarcerating her in an intreatment drug rehabilitation center is really the only thing that will probably help.

I certainly don't want to wake up in 30 years and find people unable to function because they're screwed up on drugs, living on the tax dollar and getting only slaps on the wrist when they miss their counseling sessions or come to work high.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Adriorn Darkcloak » Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:17 pm

Corth wrote:Getting back to the article - the conclusion was that additional jail time doesn't necessarily serve as a deterrent. I'm not going to disagree, and yet I still think that violent crimes deserve a stiff punishment - certainly more than what is common in most European countries. Deterrence isn't the only goal of incarceration. Keeping violent people from being free to commit more violence against society is an important enough goal to justify stiff sentences in cases of violence.


Put them to work in a mine for 5 years max. No payment. See what the results are.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:42 pm

Or let them battle lions in the arena?
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Sarvis » Sat Oct 30, 2010 10:55 pm

Adriorn Darkcloak wrote:
Corth wrote:Getting back to the article - the conclusion was that additional jail time doesn't necessarily serve as a deterrent. I'm not going to disagree, and yet I still think that violent crimes deserve a stiff punishment - certainly more than what is common in most European countries. Deterrence isn't the only goal of incarceration. Keeping violent people from being free to commit more violence against society is an important enough goal to justify stiff sentences in cases of violence.


Put them to work in a mine for 5 years max. No payment. See what the results are.


People who get out of jail, hungry, desperate and without marketable skills. People who have already proven they are willing to commit crimes.

Wonder what they'll do.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:30 pm

Sarvis wrote:
Adriorn Darkcloak wrote:
Corth wrote:Getting back to the article - the conclusion was that additional jail time doesn't necessarily serve as a deterrent. I'm not going to disagree, and yet I still think that violent crimes deserve a stiff punishment - certainly more than what is common in most European countries. Deterrence isn't the only goal of incarceration. Keeping violent people from being free to commit more violence against society is an important enough goal to justify stiff sentences in cases of violence.


Put them to work in a mine for 5 years max. No payment. See what the results are.


People who get out of jail, hungry, desperate and without marketable skills. People who have already proven they are willing to commit crimes.

Wonder what they'll do.

They could work in a mine.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Kifle » Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:42 pm

Sarvis wrote:
Adriorn Darkcloak wrote:
Corth wrote:Getting back to the article - the conclusion was that additional jail time doesn't necessarily serve as a deterrent. I'm not going to disagree, and yet I still think that violent crimes deserve a stiff punishment - certainly more than what is common in most European countries. Deterrence isn't the only goal of incarceration. Keeping violent people from being free to commit more violence against society is an important enough goal to justify stiff sentences in cases of violence.


Put them to work in a mine for 5 years max. No payment. See what the results are.


People who get out of jail, hungry, desperate and without marketable skills. People who have already proven they are willing to commit crimes.

Wonder what they'll do.


Marketable skills are meaningless when felons are treated like they have the plague in the workforce. As soon as a person enters into the prison system, they receive a scarlet letter which makes them the least likely candidate for any job available -- regardless of skill (for the most part).
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Ragorn » Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:34 pm

kiryan wrote:There was an article that I thought was well done on the death penalty. After extensive statistical analysis by researchers at a couple of different universitiyes IIRC, they decided that the death penalty had a significant impact on reducing murders. More severe punishment can and does have an affect on crime.

And this directly refutes the link you posted originally. Citation?
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Sarvis » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:12 pm

Kifle wrote:
Sarvis wrote:
Adriorn Darkcloak wrote:
Corth wrote:Getting back to the article - the conclusion was that additional jail time doesn't necessarily serve as a deterrent. I'm not going to disagree, and yet I still think that violent crimes deserve a stiff punishment - certainly more than what is common in most European countries. Deterrence isn't the only goal of incarceration. Keeping violent people from being free to commit more violence against society is an important enough goal to justify stiff sentences in cases of violence.


Put them to work in a mine for 5 years max. No payment. See what the results are.


People who get out of jail, hungry, desperate and without marketable skills. People who have already proven they are willing to commit crimes.

Wonder what they'll do.


Marketable skills are meaningless when felons are treated like they have the plague in the workforce. As soon as a person enters into the prison system, they receive a scarlet letter which makes them the least likely candidate for any job available -- regardless of skill (for the most part).


Also true.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:46 am

Sarvis wrote:
Kifle wrote:Marketable skills are meaningless when felons are treated like they have the plague in the workforce. As soon as a person enters into the prison system, they receive a scarlet letter which makes them the least likely candidate for any job available -- regardless of skill (for the most part).


Also true.

And yet, convicts do frequently find jobs. It's not even just a minority of them.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:34 pm

Sorry Ragorn, I can't find the thread we had on it otherwise I would've posted a link. I tried to find the article just now but couldn't come up with it either.

Regardless, I think the interesting point here is not whether incarceration lowers recidivism, but how does that change things if there is a "medical" reason why these folks fail in our society.

Culturally we generally accept people as they are and give them leeway around the rules. We tend to except people from consequences that were influenced by elements out of their control. I think the clearest one is "not guilty by reason of insanity", mentally incomptent, charged as a minor. Why do we have these distinctions? Think about how you would be inclined to treat a fat person, who just loved eating icecream, differently than a fat person who just had an uber slow metabolism and went to the gym every day?

As soon as you take the conclusions of the article and back it up with some research and create a medical diagnosis for it, I think it becomes a real policy problem. We start hearing about treatment instead of incarceration. Especially if we find that there are genetic markers and that it falls more heavily along certain racial lines which I wouldn't be surprised one bit to find.

--

I don't know Teflor. In the past I worked extensively with HR departments... Unless the government was paying half the convicts wages, being a felon was pretty much a disqualification for any job at the company... in Los Angeles. I'm sure each market is different and each state has different programs... but I don't think you can rationally claim that anywhere less than 90% of Americans would at least 75% of the time choose a less qualified non felon for a job.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:33 pm

Of course many companies would chose not to hire ex-felons. There are plenty that do. Some workplaces don't like to hire asians. Others don't like to hire people from out of town.

The fact is, however, that most former convicts find jobs. They may not be considered by the elite as 'good' jobs, but any job that lets you take home fair wages is a good job.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Corth » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:19 pm

Kiryan,

You rstate that it creates some serious policy issues if we can exculpate criminal behavior due to essentially medical reasons: an inability to properly weigh risk verse reward. The answer, though, is that risk vs. reward has nothing to do with the underlying criminal prohibition.

You are not allowed to rob a bank. Period. It doesn't matter if the maximum sentence is a stern lecture or life imprisonment. You are simply not allowed to rob a bank. The question isn't so much what your thought process was in deciding to violate that law. The question is whether you did it or not.
Having said all that, the situation has been handled, so this thread is pretty much at an end. -Kossuth



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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:22 pm

However, you are also not allowed to drive over the speed limit. Yet, due precisely to a calculated risk assessment, nearly every driver exceeds the speed limit.

If a medical condition prevented people from making an accurate assessment, one might use the same logic and care of thought that normal people use when determining what speed to drive at.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Ragorn » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:26 am

kiryan wrote:As soon as you take the conclusions of the article and back it up with some research and create a medical diagnosis for it, I think it becomes a real policy problem. We start hearing about treatment instead of incarceration. Especially if we find that there are genetic markers and that it falls more heavily along certain racial lines which I wouldn't be surprised one bit to find.

Yes, treatment instead of incarceration is the goal, for all felons (not just ones with genetic markers). You don't WANT to endlessly incarcerate felons. Lengthy incarceration is a huge tax burden, and it creates problems of violence and corruption within the prison system. The ideal correctional system would identify criminals and rehabilitate them quickly and efficiently so they don't continue to commit crimes. That's what we're TRYING to do... punishment is a means to rehabilitation, not the end goal itself. That is why our prisons are called "Correctional Facilities" and not "Punishment Facilities."

If there were a subset of felons that, for genetic or mental reasons, could be rehabilitated and integrated safely into society quickly and with a minimum of expense, would you be in favor for it? Or are you still stuck on the mindset of judgement, punishment, and retribution against people who break the law?
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:41 pm

Some consideration has to be made for the victims of the crime.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:15 pm

I pretty much agree with you Corth, I'm a everyone plays by the same rules kind of guy irrespective of circumstance. I also believe in the principle that punishment has an effect on the crime rate.

But, I'm not sure that is how we actually operate... We do give people different punishment based on the circumstances, some of this is formal in "not guilty by insanity" some of it is merely the judges discretion to determine the appropriate punishment. Heck, we even take into account age when determining punishment for older people getting a sentence that is effectively life and diminishing sentences for younger people, minors in particular... The punishment should fit the crime, however, we have an extensive history of taking into account other circumstances... Its not much of a stretch to imagine a medical diagnosis could seriously affect sentencing.

Ragorn, I agree with the goals of a "correctional" facility vs a punishment facility, however I think there is today and needs to be a punishment aspect to a sentence. A person who raped and murdered your wife should not walk free 6 months later even if they have been 100% guaranteed rehabilitated to never commit that crime again. On the other hand it would be great if someday we as a society could pracitce this kind of perfect forgiveness... I'd vote for that, but it'd never work.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Corth » Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:52 pm

Just because we try to make the punishment fit the crime doesn't mean that society is suggesting that the minimum standard of conduct required of citizens is subject to a meer weighing of the costs and benefits. Of course criminals take into account cost v. reward in deciding whether to commit a crime. As Teflor rightly mentions, most of us weigh those factors in determining the speed we drive. BUT, just because we try to weigh those factors doesn't mean that we get any leeway in sentencing should it turn out that we are not capable of properly weighing those factors. The ability (or inability) to weigh risk v. reward has no bearing on the ability to understand that you are commiting a crime.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Ragorn » Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:54 pm

kiryan wrote:Ragorn, I agree with the goals of a "correctional" facility vs a punishment facility, however I think there is today and needs to be a punishment aspect to a sentence. A person who raped and murdered your wife should not walk free 6 months later even if they have been 100% guaranteed rehabilitated to never commit that crime again. On the other hand it would be great if someday we as a society could pracitce this kind of perfect forgiveness... I'd vote for that, but it'd never work.

Fair. Perhaps "rehabilitation and punishment" is the right approach, it doesn't need to be a dichotomy.

And I'm not sure I ever thought I'd say this, but I agree with Teflor. Some consideration does need to be given to the victim, and that's where the punishment side comes in.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:04 pm

Corth wrote:Just because we try to make the punishment fit the crime doesn't mean that society is suggesting that the minimum standard of conduct required of citizens is subject to a meer weighing of the costs and benefits. Of course criminals take into account cost v. reward in deciding whether to commit a crime. As Teflor rightly mentions, most of us weigh those factors in determining the speed we drive. BUT, just because we try to weigh those factors doesn't mean that we get any leeway in sentencing should it turn out that we are not capable of properly weighing those factors. The ability (or inability) to weigh risk v. reward has no bearing on the ability to understand that you are commiting a crime.

However, if you give as much consideration as comparable to someone who doesn't have a mental impairment to the calculation, it could be said that any of us, with that impairment, would have committed a greater crime.

So, if someone gave the thought due consideration as any reasonable person would, but were impaired in such a way that it was completely off, so long as no one was really all that injured, shouldn't incarceration be primarily about rehabilitation, assuming the victim has no complaint? Shouldn't the law put those considerations into stone?
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:23 pm

I think you could make the case that "society" is harmed even if the immediate victim declines to press charges.

The problem I see with exceptions is they try to achieve "fairness" through considering all the circumstances. In one sense dicing is the 100% most fair way to distribute equipment, in another sense, handouts take into account more data to achieve the most "fair" result. None of us are born the same, how much resources should we allocate to correcting this mistake? Whether its in education, social services or court?
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:03 pm

How is society harmed by a person that made a poor decision largely due to a mental condition when the victim would prefer that the criminal receive treatment instead of punishment? Deprivation of freedom and forced treatment, assuming the accused can be rehabilitated, coupled with punishment purely as a secondary objective at the judgement of the judge or jury should suffice for damages to society.

If you make law enforcement primarily about punishment, you end up a police state.

Of course, this logic best applies to more mundane or pedestrian crimes. When it comes to serious crime or crimes in which the potential for harm against individuals is high, there would need to be a more serious standard.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Ragorn » Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:48 pm

kiryan wrote:I think you could make the case that "society" is harmed even if the immediate victim declines to press charges.

In the past, you have decried this as "government meddling." If the victim chooses not to press charges, but the government steps in and prosecutes anyway... is that "society being harmed" or "an overbearing government oppressing its people?"
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:34 pm

I'm not stating my opinion there just something I recalled that was relevant to Teflor's argument. I believe, and I'm no lawyer, that the decision to prosecute criminal cases is in the hands of the DA because it is understood that breaking any law is a harm to the public / society by weaking the concept of the rule of law / the deterrent effect / original defendent reoffending.

I'm sure that I've criticized specific DA decisions, but I do believe that Justice should be meted out evenly. Allowing victims to have veto authority makes justice more subjective and less uniform. If you stab someone, you should expect to be prosecuted and punished... I'm not a fan of subjective, politically driven prosecution decisions... but I concede that the system works better in most cases if there is a DA making the call on whether to prosecute.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:16 pm

That society is harmed by someone who breaks the law is an important cornerstone in the administration of justice. The victim can be the weak point in a case, as criminals can pressure the victims into "forgiving" them (under threat).

It's a factor that we must consider in the prosecution and prevention of crime. Yes, it is government meddling, but the primary purpose of the government should be to defend your liberty and protect opportunity, for these are the things that just about all Americans are willing to sacrifice for.

What Kiryan largely objects to is the Federal government trying to become the provider of the American public, and therefore the controller of behavior, and the taker that removes from so-called "enemies" to reward their friends. And that is something that all Americans should object to and fight.
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Re: Interesting article on convicts and risk assessment

Postby kiryan » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:48 pm

Interesting article. Builds upon the previous article I posted linking difference in the brain to criminal behavior.

Adds some information like brains of repeat offenders vs those that go clean no significant difference.

Does I think overreach by at one point suggesting this is proof of a biological causal effect.

Introduces some ethical questions about intervening in children's lives who show the risk factors (whether biological or behavioral).

also introduces some evidence of biological defect being used to reduce culpability (man killed his wife, had a cyst, got a favorable plea bargain).

Interestingly enough, I think I might've fit the bill of a "callous and unemotional" child which apparently is a risk factor for becoming a psychopath. Funny I thought of myself as intensely logical and rational at the time, but decided years later to fundamentally change my personality and embrace emotion and be comfortable with inconsistency. I think I suspected that the world view I was operating on would result in a negative outcome.

I can tell you, government intervention would not have been a good thing for me personally unless they incenticized me positively (another point they discuss, certain types of at risk kids don't respond to negative reinforcement).

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/ ... different/

The latest neuroscience research is presenting intriguing evidence that the brains of certain kinds of criminals are different from those of the rest of the population.

...

In one recent study, scientists examined 21 people with antisocial personality disorder -- a condition that characterizes many convicted criminals. Those with the disorder "typically have no regard for right and wrong. They may often violate the law and the rights of others," according to the Mayo Clinic.

Brain scans of the antisocial people, compared with a control group of individuals without any mental disorders, showed on average an 18-percent reduction in the volume of the brain's middle frontal gyrus, and a 9 percent reduction in the volume of the orbital frontal gyrus -- two sections in the brain's frontal lobe.

...

Another brain study, published in the September 2009 Archives of General Psychiatry, compared 27 psychopaths -- people with severe antisocial personality disorder -- to 32 non-psychopaths. In the psychopaths, the researchers observed deformations in another part of the brain called the amygdala, with the psychopaths showing a thinning of the outer layer of that region called the cortex and, on average, an 18-percent volume reduction in this part of brain.
...
Overall, these studies and many more like them paint a picture of significant biological differences between people who commit serious crimes and people who do not. While not all people with antisocial personality disorder -- or even all psychopaths -- end up breaking the law, and not all criminals meet the criteria for these disorders, there is a marked correlation.
...
..."There is a neuroscience basis in part to the cause of crime," Raine said.
...
Criminologist Nathalie Fontaine of Indiana University studies the tendency toward being callous and unemotional (CU) in children between 7 and 12 years old. Children with these traits have been shown to have a higher risk of becoming psychopaths as adults.
...
"Brain research is showing us that neurogenesis can occur even into adulthood," said psychologist Patricia Brennan of Emory University in Atlanta. "Biology isn’t destiny. There are many, many places you can intervene along that developmental pathway to change what's happening in these children."
...
"Both groups showed similar results," Pardini said. "None of these brain regions distinguish chronic and remitting offenders."
...
Because the brain of a psychopath is compromised, Raine said, one could argue that they don't have full responsibility for their actions. That — in effect — it's not their fault.

...killed his wife. Brain scans subsequently revealed a large cyst in the frontal cortex of Weinstein's brain, showing that his cognitive abilities were significantly compromised.

The scans were used to strike a plea bargain in which Weinstein's sentence was reduced to only 11 years in prison.

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