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JeffVader's avatar

What should be the nature of our penal system?

Asked by JeffVader (5366 points ) March 3rd, 2010

John Venebles, the child-murderer of toddler Jamie Bulger has recently been recalled to prison for breaking the terms of his licence / parole. I saw many people on TV saying things like ‘He should never have been released’, ‘they should have locked him up & thrown away the key’. Baring in mind he was 10yrs old when he committed murder, what do you think? Should the penal system be about punishment, or rehabilitation? Can people change?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/8546834.stm

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35 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Rehabilitation. The Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that as a general rule, humans can be reeducated and reprogrammed to become valuable members of society.
Besides, we do not even know what he did to violate his parole.
Also, if he really was 10 at the time of the crime and the 27 was not a typo, the bigger question is why he was sentenced to a life sentence in the first place.

ninjacolin's avatar

Prison and University should be more closely related.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

There are some who can be rehabilitated and other, hardened predators who cannot. The hard part is distinguishing between the two and separating them. Active rehabilitation efforts for those who can benefit from it, “warehouse” custody for the others.

Another problem is with offenders who could be rehabilitated, but the crime committed was too infamous to ever let them free. What do you do with them? Rehabilitate them and then make them an employee of the prison? (it’s been done in the past)

Cruiser's avatar

This is a tough call. A ten year old is much too young to fully understand in advance the true consequences of their actions. I trust our penal systems especially in severe cases such as this and bow to the experts here. As @ragingloli said we know not what he did to violate his terms of parole and even if we did there are people involved in this case who are much more in the know and will do what is right and necessary here.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Cruiser Good point. We don’t have all the details here.

JeffVader's avatar

Sorry I cant enlighten with details of the parole breach. I do have in depth information concerning the crime, & the psychology, timeline of events.

Your_Majesty's avatar

Should we let discrimination to exist in our law?,I don’t think so. Each person who violate law should be processed fairly by law itself without differentiating the violator. By doing so we are able to sustain the justice of society in our country. People should learn the price they must pay for what they did.

Bluefreedom's avatar

The American Criminal Justice system is rife with problems and inconsistencies and it is long overdue for an extensive overhaul. Much more oversight is needed in many areas such as sentencing, rehabilitation programs, and parole rules and regulations, just to name a few.

filmfann's avatar

It needs to involve rehabilitation, to change the offenders into positive contributers to society.
It also needs to involve punishment, so they never want to offend again.
But, mostly, it needs to protect society.

I don’t know much about John Venebles, but if he is the sociopath he is portrayed to be, he needs to be kept away from society.

BoBo1946's avatar

ummm…has to be a case by case basis! especially, under the circumstances you mentioned in your post!

Judi's avatar

Problem is our penal system is like The Count of Monte Cristo. Once in, most are doomed to be hard core for life. Even if someone wanted to rehabilitate themselves, with today’s ability to do background checks they will have a tough time finding a place to live, much less a job!

Sophief's avatar

I know what I think, but people will shit all over me when I say it. What the hell! They should of done exactly what the little bastards did to that poor little boy.

belakyre's avatar

To be honest…I never was fully aware what was going on in the world…nor did I know the consequences of my actions…when I was 10. Now 4 years older, I still am learning new things everyday. I can understand that the victim’s mother may want them to stay in prison…but really, they were only 10. They had a lifetime’s journey ahead of them and now that they get a second chance….they’re going to be thrown back in again? However…I don’t know if this belongs here or not…but Jon Venable’s face gives me the creeps…it reminds me of the Picture of Dorian Gray…

JeffVader's avatar

@Dibley Contentious….. it was a horrifying case though. Couldn’t quite get my head around it until I read Julian Boons work on it. All becomes terribly simple & easy when you see how he described it.

JeffVader's avatar

@belakyre Heh, they do seem to have found the creepiest picture of him dont they :)

Sophief's avatar

@belakyre They killed another human being! They deserve no life.

tarmar's avatar

The nature of our penal system?It should strive for ‘fair punishment’ and ‘suitable rehabilitation’. Ambiguous enough? Good. Then I must have it right.

erichw1504's avatar

Heehee… you said penal.

ragingloli's avatar

how infantile

BoBo1946's avatar

@erichw1504 loll..see where your mind is today!

erichw1504's avatar

@ragingloli & @BoBo1946 Somebody had to say it. Figured it could be me.

ragingloli's avatar

In any case, it is “penile”.

partyparty's avatar

I think if I was Jamie Bulger’s parents I would be going out tonight and celebrating. Imagine how they must have been feeling all of these years.

Rehabilitation, maybe. Nevertheless, ‘if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime’ is my philosophy. This may seem harsh, but this is how I see it.

syzygy2600's avatar

I guess if @ragingloli‘s two year old son was murdered, he would want the killers to be free. Of course prison should focus on rehabilitation, but there are two problems : not everyone can be rehabilitated, and there needs to be a punishment for taking a human life. Your sympathy is supposed to be with the victims, those who had their lives cut short by someone elses actions, and their family members who now have to live with their own version of a life sentence.

This attitude of “I want murderers to be free cause I’m so compassionate and liberal” is retarded. You’re not compassionate at all if you would let a killer back into society where he can do more damage. Look up the cases of Johann “Jack” Unterweger and Jack Abbott. Both murders who were released from prison largely due to the efforts of liberal types who campaigned for them, only to kill more innocents after their releases. Whoops! We fucked up I guess! Who cares, it’s only a few lives, right? It’s much more important for us to have our smug sense of self-satisfaction, and prove how liberal and open minded we are by showing our sympathy for murderers!

ragingloli's avatar

@syzygy2600
I am not saying the killers should not receive punishment. I am saying the punishment should be appropriate to the crime and the perpetrator and there must be an effort at rehabilitation. Sentencing a 10 year old to life is what is retarded.
Also if my child was murdered by two 10 year olds, damn right I would not want them to receive a life sentence or a death penalty (you probably would want the 10 year old kid to be exectuted) because I can look past the emotions and make a rational judgement.
Sentencing a 10 year old to life is also highyl hypocritical. Society has no problem with limiting what a child can legally do, we do not allow them to vote, to drink, to make legal contracts or to engage in sexual activity, all because they are not mentally mature enough to do so, but somehow people see them mature enough for them to be treated like adults when they commit crimes. This is also retarded.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I can’t judge this. I don’t have all the facts.

syzygy2600's avatar

@ragingloli I never said they should be executed or in prison for life. But should they be in prison for years as punishment, and then monitored for a good long while to ensure they are not a threat to society? Damn right.

CMaz's avatar

“What should be the nature of our penal system?”

Exactly what it is… To archive “bad” people till they earn their right to freedom.

ragingloli's avatar

@syzygy2600
Children who commit crimes should mainly receive psychological treatment so that they learn that what they did was wrong, because children are much easier to reform than adults. Just locking them up will achieve nothing.
Judges sentence mentally disabled people who commit crimes to psychological treatment instead of jail because of a reduced or missing ability of responsibility. Children should be treated the same way for the same reason.

syzygy2600's avatar

@ragingloli I would agree, but they should still be monitored after release. We have a responsibility to protect innocents from violent offenders. Now we’re only talking about child offenders. My initial post, (and I assume your initial post) were referring to murderers in general, not child murderers, which I agree are two different things and should be handled differently. For adult murderers who are in their right mind, I have no sympathy. They can potentially be rehabilitated on a case by case basis, but we should be very wary about who we let out of prison.

and some people do not deserve to ever be free. In 1997 in Australia, Leslie Alfred Camilleri along with an accomplice abducted a 14 year old and 16 year old girl. After raping and torturing them for 10 hours they were finally stabbed by the accomplice at the orders of Camilleri. In sentencing Camilleri to life plus 155 years, the judge stated “Through your own actions, you have forfeited your right ever to walk among us again”. That sums up my views on violent offenders.

partyparty's avatar

I have just been watching BBC news, and it has been said that he would NOT have been sent to prison if he had broken his licence / parole. He must have done something much more serious than this.

My feelings are that these boys (who are now men), should have been sent to an ‘adult’ prison once they reached the age of eighteen, just to see what it was like, and to serve their 15 years (they were 10 when they murdered, so they should have served another 7 years). Also they were given a new identity. Why ?? I really don’t understand it.

Sorry to go on about this, but I feel really strongly about the topic.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well I am certainly against the life for a life mentality so no death penalty, imo. It should be about punishment followed by rehabilitation but the system should be class and color blind (as it is not now).

ucme's avatar

Of course criminals should at least be given the chance to rehabilitate,but there are exceptional circumstances of which this is certainly one.Just to put into context the severity of their brutal, sadistic, sustained, torture & murder.Venables & Thompson “took” him from under his mother’s nose in a shopping centre.They then walked him to a railway line & proceeded to kick,punch,throw bricks off his head,hit him with an iron bar & shove batteries down his mouth.The police were so sickened by what they saw they received counselling.The doctors couldn’t say what the cause of death was,so severe were his multiple injuries.It was to later transpire that Venables & Thompson had several oppurtunities to give him up on that fateful walk from the shopping centre to the railway line.They chose not to.This was not the act of children up to no good unaware of the nature of what they were doing.This was pure evil being played out on the streets of Liverpool.I make no apology for saying that in my & the majority of Brits opinions they should rot in whatever hell is waiting for them.

Ltryptophan's avatar

If we find somewhere better, I guess we’ll suffer from penal envy.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

from fiction, truth from diction. Though this is a UK issue because they seem at least to me try to so much like us Yankees under Uncle Sam I can see similarities. Basically it comes down to using justice as vengeance. It is not so much about trying to make sure those who go to lock up come out as better person than they went in (which seldom happens under the system in place here in the US) but to inflict equal or greater punishment or hurt upon the perpetrator based on the outrage felt by society.

The secret identity and relocation of those boys that did the killing one can just point out how the crowd reacted when they were taken away. That and maybe the UK don’t have enough stout trees where they can be just hauled out and strung up by the neck with nice strong rope (worked well here in the US for decades, many of the guilty are still among us living out their days playing bocci in the retirement home). Was it any different than the feds basically giving Sammy “The Bull” Gravano a pass by giving him just a slap on the wrist and witness protection because he turned on John Gotti and kept him from continuing to make monkeys of them? Gravano was linked directly or indirectly to the murders of 19 people; guess some of those 19 did not deserve to get justice.

Drunks on the road are rarely “outted” they pay their fine, go to their classes, pay their SR-22 insurance get back behind the wheel and drive back to the liquor store. A neighbor once asked me if I knew how many times a drunk drives drunk before they get caught. I was wrong in my answer he said he learned form his DUI class that a drink drives drunk about more than 300 times before they are caught. Drunk people with a 3,000lb 170hp land missile and no one knows who they are until they whack someone. Why? The outrage is not great at least not on a whole just at the ones dumb enough to make the news making those who didn’t get caught look bad . Another thing is that politicians are themselves offenders so they won’t take any action or toss any net they will surely be caught in.

We have these boys, they viciously beat another boy to death (when it is a toddler or baby it is certainly worse unless that baby is unborn then half the people hardly cares, it lives or dies at the whim of the mother). With all the violence in TV, in movies, and video games I am surprised harming people isn’t seen as more entertaining and more sport. Had those kids decided they were going to take the advances of their 2nd or 3rd grade teacher they would be seen as who they are. Just boys, even if they consented because they are just boys, but let them kill a toddler then everyone wants to have them treated as adults, locked up, and toss the key away (no hypocrisy there)

Justice and the penal system is woefully flawed because people want to lace it full of emotion on how liked or vilifies a perpetrator is an not carrying out the law evenly across the board.

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