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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I am against the death penalty because people make mistakes, too many people have been executed by the government in the Untied States who did not deserve it.

I understand but what about when someone admits to the murder, as she did?

But if they lie about their guilt, that takes the burden off us, doesn't it? Is there no situation in which it's time to stop asking questions?

Your arguments against wrongful execution equally apply against wrongful conviction, so how can you even justify going through the motions of a trial?

I've been having my doubts that justice is even possible given that, as famous law professor Avery Friedman opined after Caylee Anthony was unexpectedly acquitted, "Of course another jury might have convicted her."

Who will reject the good because it's not perfect?

Unseen will if it stimulates discussion.

Have you taken any philosophy courses? Conceptually, The Good IS perfect. If it's not perfect it's not The Good.

The only time a person, acting on behalf of the government should be allowed to kill another is in a war zone.

When those who order the war do so in order to steal another nation's assets? Or when their god tells them to order a war? Or when they feel slighted by another nation's leader? Etc, etc, etc?

... the amount of damage doesn't really matter, dead is dead. You make a lot of assumptions in your argument.

It actually matters a lot in terms of what charges to find her guilty of and it matters even more when it comes to the penalty phase in which aggravating factors can make the difference between life in prison or the death penalty in her case.

Interesting. How to factor in someone's genetic predisposition to being violent. One's genetics are beyond one's control, after all.

Maybe I wasn't clear. I am also asking a deeper question. If psychopathology is a pathology, is it really ethical to execute or even convict them of a crime if their behavior is merely a symptom of their disease? Let me repeat the last paragraph of the original post:

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?

What's left out of your discussion is the innocent victim, if he lives, or his survivors if he has been killed. I'm sure at least half the purpose the justice system is to provide some satisfaction or recompense to those harmed and/or their heirs.

This is a really difficult topic for me, because my gut reaction in just about every one of these kinds of cases is "let the motherfucker burn". And it's honestly because I 100% reflexively think they deserve it. In my mind, if you willfully, purposefully choose to brutally kill someone/people for no reason other than you wanted to, and you'd do it again if the opportunity arose, to me it doesn't matter if the perpetrator has a mental illness or not. You are responsible for someone's life being taken from them, and saying "oops there went my bipolar disorder LOLZERS" doesn't excuse anything. There's a news story in the US about how a woman literally cooked her infant in the microwave after a fight about its paternity with her boyfriend Why? Who fucking cares, for fuck's sake. 

Granted, I don't think everyone who is found guilty of murder should die (like people who've committed second-degree murder).  I do think that some people can even be rehabilitated. I also think that there are people who kill because they're selfish, miserable assholes who couldn't give two shits about anything other than what they want, and if the death penalty is inflicted on them, I wouldn't raise any ruckus about it. Some of them very well may have extreme cases of psychopathy or sociopathy, but that doesn't make them incapable of understanding what they did. 


whether the death penalty is pragmatically the best route to go,  I don't know. I've heard different opinions about cost, effectiveness, and ethics, including the "well if you're all for killing them then you're no better than they" argument (which doesn't phase me much since I'm not the one actively going out finding people whose throats I can slit just because I fucking feel like it). I just default to being okay with the death penalty, and some days I'll veer a little more towards "eh, life in prison I guess", for whatever random reason. 

Anyway, that's my opinion. I'm not saying it's the right one, and I'm not even fully comfortable with it, but I'm fine not taking a supposed high road on this issue. At least today.

Actually, to add to this, and I have a feeling this sentiment isn't going to be popular:

I don't understand why it's acceptable that a dog who kills a baby or child, or even just bites someone's face, gets put down, but a human who willfully kills another human somehow only deserves life in prison. 

"Well a human isn't a dog. OMG WTF."

Humans are animals the same as dogs. And a dog doesn't even have the same mental capacity as a human, so what does that say about Jodi Arias? If a human is supposed to be placed higher than other animals, then (s)he shouldn't do base, "animal" things. You act like an "animal", you get treated like an animal.

That's assuming there's a general agreement with putting animals down that kill/maim humans. 




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