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?

Tags: Arias, Jodi, liar, pathological, psychopath

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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.

Who says it can't be both?

It is a question of governing principles. If the two come into conflict, one has to prevail. Punishment causes two-fold harm. First, it harms the person being punished. Second, it costs resources, which typically means tax-payer money. If the goal is to reduce harm, punishment can only exist provided the harm it reduces is greater than the harm it causes.

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".

That isn't being said, but costs do have to be weighed against gains. If both punishing criminals and reducing harm are considered gains, these two things can conflict.

That does appear to be the case in my country right now. The government, with its 'get tough on crime' mentality, adopts policies such as mandatory minimum sentencing similar to US policies which haven't proven their efficacy. The net result is going to be an increase in costs to the justice system with no established effect of reducing crime. The net effect of harm on the general public is an increase, not a decrease. If policy was informed on reducing harm rather than punishing criminals, it seems unlikely this would have happened.

Still think that's bullshit, but agree to disagree.

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. I don't disagree with your argument: I don't even know what it is apart from the fact that it is not my position, and that it has something to do with free will.

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.

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."

I think there can be no perceived justice unless it satisfies, or attempts to satisfy, the sense of justice of those harmed.

Possibly. I'm not sure; I'd have to think on it. I use 'justice' here in a very dry way referring only to laws and their enforcement. What you are referring to seems to also include the slightly more abstract  or deeper sense of justice -- a concept which can exist independent from law itself, or perhaps superior to it.

Feel free to let me know if I am off the mark, but what you are talking about would seem to need to rest within the discretionary power of judges and juries.

@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've already answered that. Crimes cannot be undone, and punishment restores nothing to the victims. It is not recompense. It placates emotions, but I believe that laws need to be accountable to reason, not emotion.

If recompense is possible, then I support that. Apart from that, if we are going to account for the emotional needs of the victims, I would rather deal in constructive support over destructive gratification. 

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?

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.

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...
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/is-neuroscience-the...
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-free-will-coll...

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.

Having read them start to finish, neither of your links contradicts what I have said.

@Kris 

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.

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