What to do with guilty Jodi Arias and other psychopaths

Yesterday (May 8, 2013), Jodi Arias was found guilty of murdering her boyfriend. Actually, she more than murdered him, she virtually obliterated him. Stabbing him 29 times, shooting him in the face, and slitting his throat almost from ear to ear. She made damned fucking sure he was dead.

That alone should qualify her as a psychopath. However, she's also a pathological liar. She had several versions of her story, finally admitting that she killed him but in, as she termed it, "self defense." She trotted in battered woman syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder, and just about everything but the kitchen sink in an effort to beat the rap.

She may get the death penalty, but should she? The syllable "path" in "psychopath" and "pathological liar" indicates a sickness. She's not a mentally healthy person. 

pathology (n.) "science of diseases," 1610s, from French pathologie (16c.), from medical Latin pathologia "study of disease," from Greek pathos "suffering" (source)

As revolting as the murder was, can we separate her guilt from the sickness from which she suffers?

More generally, suppose all crimes could be traced back to some sort of pathology. What would happen to the entire concept of guilt? And suppose that once a pathology was identified, there was a "cure." Could we ethically hold people responsible for their actions before the cure, given their diminished capacity for making proper ethical choices?

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She requested to be executed? I say let her have it lol. 

I guess "brutally" meaning "planned", versus it happening in the heat of the moment. Still thinking "brutal" from the 30-ish stab wounds and slit throat deal.

This becomes the crux of the matter. What is it that makes some want to murder to the point of actually doing it while most don't? I do not murder people, but truth be told I don't want to murder people. I don't ever recall choosing not to want to murder people, and I have no motive to do so. Is there really any merit in that at all?

I think if you have actually spend the time and effort planning how you're going to kill someone, and then go through with it, it's worse than if you got into an argument with someone, things got out of control, and you killed the person you were arguing with. They're both inexcusable, but for me the forethought makes a big difference, even if the outcomes are the same. That's why there are different levels and types of homicide charges.

Why would anyone choose to be a selfish, miserable asshole...?

Because it's easy, and people are apathetic and lazy lol. I'm not coming from a "people are inherently good" perspective. I think people have to actively choose to be good, and if the desire's not there, then there's not much to be done about it other than enforce laws to encourage people to not be dicks to each other.

I don't think it makes a difference if people who commit premeditated murder are better, worse, or the same as people who don't. It's a moot point. I have no doubt that there are people in the world who want to hurt/kill someone, for whatever reason - but not everyone acts on it. I'm not sure what your issue is here. If it's with me calling premeditated murderers assholes, then.... okay, lol. I have no problem saying I think I'm better than Jodi Arias, because there have been times I've wanted to make someone hurt (which I will not get into), and I've never followed through with it - and not because I was afraid of getting caught.

You can't choose your circumstances or what life you began with, but you can still choose your actions and responses. Or do you not think that free will exists?

Unless someone's been living in a box since birth, it's common knowledge that in modern-day USA/Europe/Canada/Take Your Pick intentionally killing someone is considered wrong. If said killer had actually been living in a box by themselves their entire life I might think, "Okay, maybe this box-dweller just didn't know any better. Who would have possibly informed him?". 

Whether or not their line of reasoning, wherever it came from, leads them to agree with society's no-killing rule isn't the issue. If you're a part of a society, you have the choice to either follow the rules, or break them and deal with the agreed-upon consequences. 

If I want to beat the shit out of my neighbor because he keeps letting his dog poop in my yard, I can beat the shit out of him, get arrested, maybe make bond, go to court and get on probation and/or pay some fines (I don't know, I've never beat the shit out of anyone before), or I can not beat the shit out of him, ask him to stop, complain to HOA after taking pics/video of it happening and hope that gets him to stop, and maybe even have to keep putting up with dog poop in my yard. Depending on who you ask, one option might sound better than the other - but regardless, you still understand if you beat your neighbor, you'll probably get arrested etc., and you make your decision accordingly. Any more intricate or semantical than that is to me just a cop-out for someone not owning up to their actions.

So the question becomes, what is the reason for setting laws? To punish people for doing wrong, or to protect people from harm? If the former, what's the point of that and who defines wrong? If the latter, why should we take any steps further than those which provide protection?

Who says it can't be both?

So the question becomes, what is the reason for setting laws? To punish people for doing wrong, or to protect people from harm? If the former, what's the point of that and who defines wrong?

The point of punishment is to try to deter people from breaking laws. Yes, there are people who break laws every day regardless of punishment, but I think it'd be blatantly false to say that there aren't people alive in this world who need those punishments to make themselves "behave". I know people who are already verbally/emotionally abusive to family members, and would be physically abusive if not for the sole reason that being arrested for domestic abuse would be an embarrassment and ruin their reputation. It's completely fucked up, but it does something, at least. These examples are everywhere. And there are fucked up people who need harsh punishment to keep them from committing heinous acts. No, it's doesn't catch everybody. But it still deters some, which is better than nothing. And in this case, where the people who get death sentences are people who bomb hospitals, I couldn't care less. I'm obviously not talking about other societies where you get killed for committing adultery or "witchcraft". I'd hoped that was a given....

[Deriving the right to punish others from the sense that they had the choice to be good or bad]... rests on the idea that the individual in question could have chosen to not do what they did do, which is nonsense.

Still think that's bullshit, but agree to disagree, because this part is obviously going nowhere.

Who says it can't be both?

Let's add a third: providing some satisfaction for the victim if alive and the survivors if the victim is not.

Define 'satisfaction' in a way to which justice can be accountable. To my mind, this means either a form of satisfaction which is objective, or a form of accountable justice which is subjective to individuals' sense of satisfaction.

I think there can be no perceived justice unless it satisfies, or attempts to satisfy, the sense of justice of those harmed. And when it comes to justice, perception seems to be just about everything. If someone wrongs another, they should say they are sorry. If that isn't in the offing, then the state can say "Well, maybe he isn't sorry or can't be sorry, but whatever the case we feel a need to give you something or there can be no justice."

@Kris  I continue to be baffled by the almost total abandonment of those injured by the crime by almost everyone engaging in this discussion.

I hear, for example, "Capital punishment accomplishes little." Did anyone ask the aggrieved? The widows, the orphans, those from whom a friend or loved one was taken? Have they no chair at the table? Obviously, we can't give them a place as jury members, but shouldn't the aftermath of the crime be taken into account?

If we're to talk about fairness, what is fair for them?

I really don't think you can separate justice from emotion. It can't be true justice if it doesn't feel just to the aggrieved. Who has a bigger dog in the fight than those who've been harmed? In some ways, who else has more standing?

I don't agree to disagree to someone who walks off calling 'bullshit'. You have clearly stated you disagree, but have yet provide any argument to the contrary.

Okay then. Thought there was already a debate floating around about this somewhere...

It's irrelevant what factors play into someone's decision to kill a person outside of self-defense. When it comes down to the do-or-die moment, they could have simply not done it. It's not hard - you don't have to even do anything! If you feel like that's not a good enough argument for you, then ... okay? Considering saying there's no such thing as free will isn't completely correct even from a scientific standpoint, I'm already over it.

Punishment causes two-fold harm. First, it harms the person being punished...

LOL I'll have to try that line of reasoning the next time I get pulled over for speeding. 

Second, it costs resources, which typically means tax-payer money.

Concerning capital punishment, from what I've seen it costs about the same to house someone for life as it does to lethally inject them - and it only costs that much because of all the appeals they use.

If both punishing criminals and reducing harm are considered gains, these two things can conflict.

They're only in conflict if you see punishing criminals as a bad thing. And I don't.


Society as a whole has a bigger 'dog in the fight' than individual victims where the entire justice system is concerned. When it comes to individual court cases, the reverse may be true, but the justice system itself is larger than those individual cases.

I would submit that the justice system exists primarily to preserve order.

Well, to preserve order by replacing revenge with process intended to be fair to the accused, I suppose, but the interests of society at large aren't well served if the victims of assault or murder are simply given the role of witnesses to the harm done and then sent home to appreciate the fairness of the process to the accused. 

How can order be preserved without the ability to provide satisfying results, especially in the eyes of the aggrieved? And have no doubt, the rest of society watches the procedure to see how the interests of the aggrieved are satisfied.

This is why purely abstract procedural justice falls on its face if it cannot satisfy the aggrieved as well as possible. It is simply unsatisfactory and as so cannot expect the respect and regard of the populace.

@Unseen I think I agree with you there.


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