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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I don't see a problem with killing her. She saw no problem with killing the guy. It's a fair price for murder if you ask me. As an atheist, I see value in life some theists don't. There is no after life so life is all you get. If you take someone life away, shouldn't yours be forfeit?

Okay, what?

Not necessarily. If I shoot an enemy, perhaps when I leave the service I should volunteer for projects that save lives. Now, if I drop a bomb that kills a dozen innocent people, perhaps I have a debt to mankind. 

On the other hand, suppose the person I kill is a terrorist and I'm actually saving lives?

The terrorists GOAL is to terrorize. The soldier generally has other objectives than to terrorize.

It's pretty simple actually.

Generally, if the ied is used in territory they regard as their own, they are called "insurgents" not "terrorists." If used in territory they regard as alien to their interests, then they are terrorists, like the Boston Marathon bombers, for example. Even though one was a naturalized citizen and the other was here as a resident alien, they regarded the U.S. as alien territory, so they are terrorists.

If you take someone life away, shouldn't yours be forfeit?

Yep. I always say this but it seems to perplex people. If you're willing to kill somebody, you have no right to bitch about it if someone tries to kill you.

Is killing convicted criminals really the best solution? Does it serve society in the long term? If research can be done on these sort of people, and some sort of effective treatment developed to help prevent future atrocities from happening, isn't that a better outcome than learning nothing about how and why people like that develop and behave?

Is killing convicted criminals really the best solution?

In the case of pickpockets or joy riders, no. In the case of murderers, perhaps.

Does it serve society in the long term?

In the long therm, it may not matter. It's more for the survivors and other victims. Otherwise, you are doing nothing for them

If research can be done on these sort of people, and some sort of effective treatment developed to help prevent future atrocities from happening, isn't that a better outcome than learning nothing about how and why people like that develop and behave?

How does conducting research help the proximate survivors and victims? And what is this research you're talking about? "Now, Bill, why did you cut Joe's head off?" I don't think we need to keep murderers alive in order to do research. Besides, if terminating murderers has ethical implications, so does turning them into lab rats.

Anyway, you like most in this discussion give the victims and survivors short shrift. By executing a murderer they get to feel that something has been done on a par with the gravity of the crime in a "the punishment fits the crime" sense. It's not revenge, it's justice.

I agree that, since execution is final, it needs to be reserved for cases where there really is no reasonable doubt of guilt. For example, if the crime doesn't depend upon purely on witness testimony or circumstantial evidence. Fingerprints in a knife handle. Being caught in lies designed to prevent detection. Their DNA mixed with the victims. Or even caught on video. Some combination of things like that can remove all but the most perverse doubt.

If someone left their fingerprints in a knife plus they have mysteriously burned some clothes in a fireplace or left their bloody clothes in a bag in a dumpster and if they have made a lot of google inquiries about the best ways to kill people. If a case like that can be built, how much doubt can there be?

At some point, doubt becomes unreasonable. However, if the prosecution's case is weak, then I couldn't support the death penalty.

Why even convict people, though, if you have so much distrust in the system or if it is wrong sometimes? You can't undo an execution, but if you put someone in prison falsely, whether or not they are eventually exonerated, you can't really undo that, either. If a man is put in prison for a rape based on false testimony at age 24, but 18 years later DNA exonerates him, it's not like you cam say, "Sorry 'bout that. Tell you what. We're going to make you 24 again."

Aren't your qualms, if accepted, good reasons not to even have a justice system?

I'm quite puzzled as to why there is so much anxiety about killing an innocent person under the judicial execution system.  It clearly isn't a problem for any other aspect of American law.  "Collateral damage" appears to be acceptable regarding driving, or gun-ownership, or even police shoot-outs.  Why is it unacceptable for the death penalty to scoop a few innocents?

I understand the death penalty is a mechanism to remove unacceptable people from the community.  If you are going to have a death penalty at all, and I really don't have a strong opinion on it either way, why can't it be acceptable to bump off an innocent or two amongst the vast majority of guilty?

Would I personally like it if the 'innocent' was me or mine?  No.  But then I don't think I'd personally like any of 'mine' to be "collateral damage" in any way - either as a victim or a bystander to a violent event.  That doesn't mean I have any guarantee that it wont happen.  Why is the judiciary system being held more accountable than the operator of a drone which kills innocent people, or the gun-toting adherents whose guns are taken and abused? 

Collateral damage seems to be acceptable in all other areas of American activity.  Why does that change for this situation?

I'm quite puzzled as to why there is so much anxiety about killing an innocent person under the judicial execution system.  It clearly isn't a problem for any other aspect of American law.  "Collateral damage" appears to be acceptable regarding driving, or gun-ownership, or even police shoot-outs.  Why is it unacceptable for the death penalty to scoop a few innocents?

Why limit your question to killing. Why is it acceptable for innocent people to be convicted of crimes they didn't commit, as I'm sure happens in your own judicial system as well as ours? 

I understand the death penalty is a mechanism to remove unacceptable people from the community.  If you are going to have a death penalty at all, and I really don't have a strong opinion on it either way, why can't it be acceptable to bump off an innocent or two amongst the vast majority of guilty?

See my prior answer. Also, you like most leave the victims and their survivors out and assume that the death penalty has some purpose such as getting rid of bad apples. I think the main purpose of the judicial system is to provide justice for those affected by murderous criminals. While there is no possibility of adequately compensating these people, at least once the planet is rid of them, they won't have to worry about the perpetrator being released or escaping prison and coming after them. Most of us who have support for capital punishment in particularly egregious cases see it as justice, not punishment. If justice is fairness, then the fairness is to the victims and/or survivors in the case of capital punishment.

Would I personally like it if the 'innocent' was me or mine?  No.  But then I don't think I'd personally like any of 'mine' to be "collateral damage" in any way - either as a victim or a bystander to a violent event.  

But why do you fret so much more about the off chance of someone being an unintended victim of the system whereas you exhibit very little concern for the much greater category of innocent victims of the murderer?

Why is the judiciary system being held more accountable than the operator of a drone which kills innocent people, or the gun-toting adherents whose guns are taken and abused? 

Who is it that's holding the judicial system more accountable than the drone operator? In both cases attempts are made to reduce the chance of collateral damage. I maintain that a system which takes the approach "this is a social and judicial matter" alone and more or less shoves the victims and survivors aside as not worthy of justice is dysfunctional.

Collateral damage seems to be acceptable in all other areas of American activity.  Why does that change for this situation?

Why pick on America? I'm sure it would take little effort to find examples of systemic collateral damage on your side of the pond as well. For example.

You don't need a drone or capital punishment to generate collateral damage.

I'm not 'picking on' America, I thought we were discussing the death penalty, and there isn't one in the UK.  I'm also not holding the UK up as any kind of paradigm.

As to why I didn't point out other victims - simply an attempt at brevity. If you're going to have a system that kills criminals, I think it should be a swift and efficient one.

The problem you pose with retribution of the victims is not such a problem if you don't try to recompense them.  Why does the State or Government owe something to the victim.  Its unfortunate, but I don't see why the government feels it has a responsibility to reimburse a victim, and in any event it isn't possible.  This problem is akin to trying to make the country a gigantic insurance company that reimburses for losses.

Shit happens.  The perpetrators get eliminated, and that should be that.  I see no liability on the part of the state or government to 'repair' it.  Collateral damage is everywhere.

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