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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What you are describing, if it's value at all, is self-delegated value, not inherent value. The value you give your own life isn't inherent, it's the result of a self-evaluation. It's delegated.

The victims would want the debt settled. Since their son/ daughter can't be brought to life and giving them another child[maybe from an adoption centre will not work] the only way they see it is to take the life responsible. 

Unseen, I don't think if a god existed it would give human life inherent value, we would just be serfs. Existing at the pleasure of the said god busy bowing and singing songs of praise. Maybe we would matter to this god, but then if this god is responsible for all life, then why should we matter and not a firefly? We have thought ourselves important, years of this being told to members of our race has given us some airs of importance.

The notion of life having an exchange value is absurd. Why for example, if I save life now and take another the next moment, why shouldn't it then be that they equalize? Why would society demand that I be punished?

I am strongly opposed to the death penalty because...

...it’s NOT a punishment.  We are ALL going to die (sorry, Christians).  For most of us, it takes us from a life that included moments, hours, and years of happiness.  For Jodi Arias, it frees her from a life of the misery she deserves.

...it is, at its core, a religion-based vengeance: “an eye for an eye,” and all that Old Testament crap.  And when Karla Faye Tucker was sentenced to death in Texas, who tried to save her from the death penalty? Christians.  But they didn’t do it on the basis of the inhumanity of it; they did it because she conveniently became a “Christian” in prison.  They CERTAINLY wouldn’t have tried to save her had she not “converted.” Of course, pretend Christian, George Bush, stuck a needle in her anyway.  Nobody loves a good execution like a macho Texan.

...There is no going back and correcting an error once the person is dead.  Over 100 men on death row have been exonerated by DNA and other forensic evidence in recent years.  Had they been executed before the new evidence cleared them, it would have been too late to correct the mistake.

...It is racist.  Black people are FAR more likely than whites to be executed for the identical crime.  Mississsippians became enraged, last week, when a court stayed the execution of a black man because no credible evidence of his guilt was ever presented at trial.  His only proven crime was, basically, being black in Mississippi.   “To Kill a Mockingbird” all over again.  

...The death penalty is almost non-existent in the civilized world.  Practically the only countries that still have a death penalty are countries that we regard as evil or uncivilized - mainly Islamic countries.  Only 10% of the countries, world wide, still have the death penalty.  The only countries that executed more people last year than the U.S. were China (682), Iran (314), Iraq (129), and Saudi Arabia (79).  The U.S. came in 5th, with 43.  This is the kind of company the U.S. keeps, vis a vis the death penalty.

...It protects murderers who flee the country and move to one of the growing number of countries that refuse to extradite because they regard America’s death penalty as inhumane.  In some cases, U.S. prosecutors have given up on returning murderers to the U.S. for trial because it is politically risky for them to take the death penalty off the table.  For Americans, it’s more about exacting revenge than seeking justice.

...it serves no practical purpose.  There is no evidence that the death penalty has ever dissuaded anyone from committing an act as serious as murder.

...It can be used for political leverage with Americans at large.  That's because it is so ingrained in the American psyche that even the “pro-life” crowd embraces it enthusiastically.  

...It is applied to people who killed or harmed nobody but the body politic, e.g., treason, horse thievery, etc..

...it is totally unnecessary. Our prisons are very effective at keeping the worst murderers locked up for life where they can hurt no one else.

...It defines us as a primitive, bloodthirsty, and vengeful society.

...it’s NOT a punishment. We are ALL going to die (sorry, Christians). For most of us, it takes us from a life that included moments, hours, and years of happiness. For Jodi Arias, it frees her from a life of the misery she deserves.

The punishment comes before the execution as the prisoner has to contemplate that, unlike the rest of us, for whom the exact date and time of our demise is a mystery, his is a date and time certain (barring postponements, which simply add to the punishment).


...it is, at its core, a religion-based vengeance: “an eye for an eye,” and all that Old Testament crap.

Wrong. You don't have to be religious to view capital punishment as just.


...There is no going back and correcting an error once the person is dead. Over 100 men on death row have been exonerated by DNA and other forensic evidence in recent years. Had they been executed before the new evidence cleared them, it would have been too late to correct the mistake.

That is the best argument, but some cases have a high degree of certainty (e.g., the crime was caught on video) and, in others you might have a perpetrator who confesses and feels his/her death is all he/she can offer survivors to compensate them for their loss while assuaging his.her sense of guilt and shame.


...It is racist. Black people are FAR more likely than whites to be executed for the identical crime. Mississsippians became enraged, last week, when a court stayed the execution of a black man because no credible evidence of his guilt was ever presented at trial. His only proven crime was, basically, being black in Mississippi. “To Kill a Mockingbird” all over again.

Well, gee, at the risk of appearing racist myself (so let me emphasize this is offered merely for the sake of argument), might it not be that they tend to be guilty of the crimes with which they are charged more often? It's not unknown for. Are you arguing that a jurisdiction needs to have a racial arrest profile that matches the local demographic? That flies in the face of logic.


...The death penalty is almost non-existent in the civilized world.

Argumentum ad populum.


...It protects murderers who flee the country and move to one of the growing number of countries that refuse to extradite because they regard America’s death penalty as inhumane. In some cases, U.S. prosecutors have given up on returning murderers to the U.S. for trial because it is politically risky for them to take the death penalty off the table. For Americans, it’s more about exacting revenge than seeking justice.

Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't. Like most things, it's imperfect.


...it serves no practical purpose. There is no evidence that the death penalty has ever dissuaded anyone from committing an act as serious as murder.

What would you accept as evidence of a practical purpose being served? If you can't think of anything then this isn't much of a criticism.


...It can be used for political leverage with Americans at large. That's because it is so ingrained in the American psyche that even the “pro-life” crowd embraces it enthusiastically.

You don't seriously believe that the pro-life people are actually pro life, do you?


...It is applied to people who killed or harmed nobody but the body politic, e.g., treason, horse thievery, etc.

When was the last time a traitor or horse thief was executed? In the case of traitors, maybe they deserve it.


...it is totally unnecessary. Our prisons are very effective at keeping the worst murderers locked up for life where they can hurt no one else.

Jeffrey Dahmer might dispute that. He, a murderer, was murdered by a fellow inmate, Christopher J. Scaver, also a murderer. Prisons are dangerous places. Normally, you have to join a race-based gang in order to feel some degree of security. Sounds like heaven, doesn't it?


...It defines us as a primitive, bloodthirsty, and vengeful society.

Or a just society. One which feels that a weak response to a murder is an offense against society.

Unseen, if ,the prisoner knowing they are going to be killed on a specific date, kills themselves before that date, would justice have been served? 

I agree in general. But I do love this photo..

My girlfriend and I just had an interesting discussion in which we discussed what should be done with people that have severe mental and or personality disorders, particularly those that have committed crimes and are imprisoned. As a society, is it ethical to force prisoners with serious mental illnesses that don't qualify them for a insanity defense to participate in scientific research, including the testing of experimental medications and other procedures?

Given the possibility they are actually innocent, I would think not. Of course,. is it ethical to imprison someone who might be innocent in spite of their guilty verdict?

What if there were guidelines set that only allowed for the experiments to be conducted with the consent of the inmate in question? What if there were incentives offered (e.g. reduced sentences) to participate in such a program? Is there any hope in ever finding a solution to the problems psychopathy presents society if we are not ever able to test possible procedures or medications on those that are clearly a threat to others? Is the possible future benefit to society, not to mention the possible future victims of psychopathy, worth the possible repercussions in the here and now. This is an ethical question all scientists in any field have to answer.

If this article (2006) is correct, it's already happening:

"A federal panel of medical advisers has recommended that the government loosen restrictions limiting the testing of experimental pharmaceuticals on prisoners. The restrictions were put in place in the 1970s after prisoner abuses were discovered.

"The proposed changes would include rules meant to prevent previous abuses from happening again..."

After reading the article that you posted a link to, it would seem that the program that is being discussed allows pharmaceutical companies to test ANY medication, especially ones that they are finding it hard to find volunteers for. I was suggesting that inmates that have clearly defined mental and personality disorders be part of studies that are targeted towards treating those disorders in the future, with the hope that someday in the future we will be better able to identify and treat those afflictions before they result in violent behavior. The question of whether or not the inmates should be required to participate in such studies, or have their prior consent given beforehand is a separate, but linked, issue. My stance is that they should be included in such studies.

That's my theory that lives have exchange value. Save a life, double the value of yours. Take a life and your life's value becomes zero.

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