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Post Reply Two Thieves Are Arrested for Identical Crimes...
Sogno- 
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Posted 7/26/13
If you took the quiz linked on the "Dating Persona" thread then this question will look familiar to you:

"Two thieves are arrested for identical crimes. Criminal A stole for his hungry family. Criminal B stole for himself. Should Criminal A serve less time?"

I said they should serve the same time because, regardless of reasons behind the act, stealing is stealing.

What do you think?
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26 / X / Rochester, NY
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Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/26/13
I'm very based on the whole picture, rather than just lumping everything together.
I would give Criminal A less time.
I try to take all factors into account. I understand the "Law is law" bit though too and everyone should be punished equal, but meh. Not my style :3
Also, I tend to feel bad and sympathize more with people. Too lenient :p
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Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/26/13
EDIT: - If anyone for some unknown reason is interested in a small glimpse of my deeper thoughts on the subject, consider reading the essay entitled "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment" by C.S. Lewis (where he argues against the theory).

They should serve the same time. To give criminal A a lesser sentence seems far too subjective to me. Examine the facts - did he steal? Yes. What's the penalty for stealing? X amount of time in jail. Therefore, the culprit is sentenced to X amount of time in jail.

However, that's from the court's perspective. Say i owned a bakery and the two criminals stole some bread from my own personal bakery. Say that I could choose what happened to them. In that scenario, I would let Criminal A serve less time, or even go free if that was possible. If Criminal B was truly selfish, then i'd have him serve time. However, if he was starving, or truly repentant, then I might let him go free as well.
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18 / F / Ontario, Canada
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Posted 7/26/13
I think that criminal A should serve less time .. I can't help but be sympathetic towards him, for going to such extremes to provide for his family. I'm not cold enough to give them both the same sentence .. but truth be told, I wouldn't give any of them a long sentence cause if a guy's starving, he's gotta eat
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Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/26/13
tl;dr -- Not enough information, but probably, they both should serve the same time.

I'll explain though. It's pretty easy to just split up the criteria into either "for the law" or "for practicality," but really you need to think about why that criteria is there in the first place. Why do we have laws?

First, I'll just change the question a bit, and see if we come to a different answer:
"Two thieves are arrested for identical crimes. Criminal A steals from a hungry family to feed his hungry family, and Criminal B steals from a well-off family to feed his hungry family. Should Criminal B serve less time?"

The reason I changed the question to this one is because we need to look at why we have laws in the first place. My support for the laws lies in my belief that they benefit society as a whole, and therefore, if we're ignoring the viewpoint "because it's the law" (that doesn't have a lot of support on it's own), we need only evaluate whether it benefits society to have one criminal serve less time (in either example). In the second example, it seems as though A has more of a negative effect on society, since he's essentially just trading one starving family with another. Criminal B creates an end result of 0 hungry families. But in this second case, both of them are "just feeding their families" even though the "stealing money selfishly" is only applicable to one of them (arguably).

I probably didn't explain that as well as I could have, but it doesn't really matter -- my point is this: Assuming I had access to all of the consequences, results, and relevant data, the decision is easy: Choose the choice that's better for society (based on subjective, but nonetheless accepted criteria that I won't elaborate on). However, in this case, we have uncertainty, which is the exact reason we have the laws. Judges, jurors, lawyers, and criminals don't know (with certainty) how their actions will affect society.

Criminals serve the same time because we accept that we can't know for sure that in the original example, criminal A's hungry family was more important than the alternative (suppose the money he stole would have gone to cancer research or something similarly cliche, or maybe B is a cancer researcher). We can't say with certainty that one criminal stole "better money," but we still agree that stealing is probably worse for society, so we make them both serve the same time. If we could know which criminal's crime was better for society, then of course we'd make them serve different amounts of time. But we can't, so we don't.
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32 / M / So Cal
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Posted 7/26/13
If you want him to serve less time, there would have to be absolute proof of cause, rather than an excuse that could just as easily be a lie. Since that's unlikely in most scenarios, you have to judge the crime through a black and white lens.

My issue with jail sentences is that a rapist, on average, serves half as much time as a pot dealer.
7 years for rape and 15 for selling weed. Does this make sense to anyone?
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20 / M / Aberystwyth, Wale...
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Posted 7/26/13
The point of prisons is, at least in theory, to rehabilitate people. Not to punish them. Punishment, in my view, is just another word for revenge and has no place in civilized society.

Yes, criminal A should serve less time. If he had to steal for his hungry family, putting him in jail won't make him less likely to turn to crime in future, in fact it's likely to make it more necessary (if he can't get a job now, what do you expect him to do when he has a criminal record dragging him down?). Obviously, jail is the wrong answer, and we should look at other ways to rehabilitate him. I'd suggest a basic income guarantee, but that's a solution at the level of macroeconomic policy and not something to be decided in the sentencing of one guy, so I think the answer is "system stays f---ed, what'cha gonna do?"

Actually... does criminal B stealing for himself mean he personally was starving, instead of his family, or that he just stole out of selfishness? If the former, actually no criminal A shouldn't serve less time, because the amount of time each should be serving is exactly zero. If the latter, yeah put him away, he's the sort of person that prisons are supposed to be made to rehabilitate, if that's something they're capable of at all.
Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/26/13
no to rob is a crime he could simply ask and give a reason why he wont it


but to rob your baking your trust you are given and can never be trusted again if you rob



very true its same if you kill some one
Bavalt 
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Posted 7/26/13
I'm opposed to the idea of standardized punishments based only on certain aspects of the situation. In my opinion, the criminal who steals for his family, while not necessarily receiving a different sentence, should have this detail taken into account and dealt with. Either give him a lesser sentence, or give him the same sentence and look after the poor people who don't have food -or- a father/husband/brother/son now.

There is nothing more important than autonomy. Your own subjective opinion will always be worth more than that of an objective and rigid system, because any system with rigidity is not prepared to make correct and complete judgments. It's right to allow yourself to be influenced by criminal A's situation and make a judgment accordingly: it's present, it's relevant, and ignoring it makes those who make the call blindly based on pre-established laws simply authoritarian cogs.

So yes. Look deeper into the situaton, and accomodate whether or not somebody deserves what they're getting. Subjectivity is not a problem by any means. If the powers that be give him the same punishment as a criminal with vicious motives, then they had better be prepared to give him the means to fix the problems his family is having too. If you're forcing your 'justice' on people, then you have no right to not try and meet their unrealistic expectations, because no matter how hard you try and what you do, you'll never make up for making the decision for them.
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Posted 7/26/13
I think a crime is a crime, because technically once people figure out you get less jail time for "stealing for your family" then everyone's going to begin using that reasoning when they are caught, thus muddying the idea to begin with.

But then again on the flip side you have the extremes too. Shooting someone in self defense deserving the same jail time as someone who knowingly commits murder? So my first thoughts listed above, in a sense, are as flawed as the justice system itself.
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24 / M / PA, USA
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Posted 7/26/13
I would say it depends on what country it is in as well. USA has many programs in place where people can at least get enough food to get by such as food shelters and welfare. If they did it in a country with such programs they both should be punished equally.
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Posted 7/26/13
I see that giving different punishments for the same crime is something already built into our system. That is what the sentencing part of a trial is. The trial doesn't end at guilty/not guilty. Crimes are given a range of punishments to be conferred. Examples such as "Up to ______ in fines. 3-5 years in jail. 25-life. Life w/ or w/out parole. and Life w/out parole or the death penalty." are built into the judicial language in order to differentiate based off of circumstances.


BearSol wrote:

If you want him to serve less time, there would have to be absolute proof of cause, rather than an excuse that could just as easily be a lie. Since that's unlikely in most scenarios, you have to judge the crime through a black and white lens.

My issue with jail sentences is that a rapist, on average, serves half as much time as a pot dealer.
7 years for rape and 15 for selling weed. Does this make sense to anyone?


I have to ask, if you are going to start throwing numbers around, cite them. Else wise you are just attempting to get a rise. We don't know what country, or even state/district you are talking about, let alone individual counties. Heck, for all we know the 7 years could be a statutory rape circumstance between a 19 and 17 year old, while the 15 years for pot comes from distributing millions of illegal drugs across an entire country. Rhetoric like this goes away from the initial question and posting.
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25 / M / Long Island
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Posted 7/26/13
They should serve the same time stealing is stealing. One stole to feed his family, the other to feed himself, they seem the same to me. It's not as if criminal B stole some food just for the thrill, he's hungry just as criminal A's family was hungry.
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Posted 7/26/13
A crime is a crime, they should serve the same time. Even though Criminal A had a family to feed, they both needed it so it's kinda the same.
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32 / M / So Cal
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Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/26/13


I was referring to the US. It's easy to research if you're actually interested in the facts.

http://www.census.gov/ for example is a GREAT resource. Very reliable. I really don't understand why people with such adamamant opinions of topics avoid this site like the plague. With this site you can you can peruse all the unbiased data collected over the years, rather than just listen to what you might hear if you get your opinions and "facts" from major media outlets.

If you want individual state averages, you can go to the link I listed and inspect them one by one. If not, it's on you. I'm not about to flood the thread with hundreds of links to each states averages, it's all in the census reports, knock yourself out.

So now that there aren't any rhetoric issues or confusion as to the location problems, do YOU want to attempt to get a rise, or are we finished here?
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