Monday, January 23, 2012

Jim Luttrull on Justice, Recidivism

Heard Jim Luttrell, Grant County Prosecutor, talk today at IWU about the question of what the primary element should be in determining the punishment for a crime.  It was a wonderful dip into the complexity of such issues.  In ethics we cover the four key factors in making moral determinations: 1) the act itself, 2) the consequences of the act, 3) motive, and 4) character.  All of them surfaced at some point in his presentation.

But the main issue he was addressing is the question of justice oriented punishment versus punishment based on likely recidivism, likely repeat offense.  There is a significant trend in many judicial circles to see the reform of the criminal as the primary factor in sentencing.  Jim clearly senses this is a mistake, although I don't think his presentation aimed to be a straightforward argument.

But I strongly resonate with his sense that the starting point for sentencing should be justice.  I also agree with him that "mitigating circumstances" should focus on motive and intent in conjunction with criminal acts, not on likely recidivism.  But these are clearly very complex issues that involve multiple variables, all of which have their place. 

Luttrell would agree.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

I am going to write a blog post about some simliar thoughts, but mainly on collectivist thinking.

I asked Jim what he thought about the recent Supreme Court case concerning the Lutheran minister who sued the school, over discrimination. He had not read the details, but it would be an interesting read, to gather what their rationale was...I can only surmise.

While I do not disagree that our country values religious liberty, was this decision a decision about protecing a "collective", the Church? Jim was quick to point out that recent concerns over restoration, considered RACE a main factor! and he stated that this was unconstituional! Equal justice is blind as to race, gender, etc. In other words, justice is BLIND TO COLLECTIVE IDENTITY FACTORS!!!!

I think I see a pattern of collectivist rights, instead of individual liberties! If this is so, it is a downward spiral in my opinion, toward protections of religious values we do not affirm! or politcal ideologies that undermine our values of individual conscience, as well as undermining the human, as an individual.

Such a stance, assumes that humans are ONLY social creatures! And politically collectivism undermines personal incentive to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is a social consciousness that can cut off a hand that offends soceity! or arrest those that don't assume a "collective consciousness"!!!

Obama has signed a bill that was designed by some moderates that gave him a right to use the military to arrest citizens without a right to trial, and imprisonment. I think this is very dangerous, though he promises not to use it, unless necessary, who is going to be holding him accountable? Government now has the power over citizens and it unaccountable, except in elections, which are already corrupted by money and power anyway....will it be to stop a revolution such as France had, when the "bills came due"?

Therefore, what is justice when such things transpire? and the little guy is held hostage to a "collective" Big Government that doesn't grant him rights before the law???? Big Government can be corporations, as well as political entities!

The ACLU has been battling against some of this collective thought!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Your 4 criteria for ethics is;

1.) the act itself

The act must be a broken law for an act to be considered a crime.

2.)the consequences of the act

There are different consequences to different crimes. The more impact it has had on society at large, or the individual affected, the greater the culpability.

3.)intention or motivation

The pre-meditation of an act is much more grevious to culpablity. Intention has to do with character, while motivations have to do with outcomes.


Is the criminal a repeat offender, how likely is he to repeat a particular crime etc.

Jim went into all the variables that many consider when talking about justice. He pointed out that justice is not straightforward, but that we have a gauge, as we do seem to know what is unjust. So between the two extremes of injustice is a leeway to determine and divy out justice.

The Supreme Court case is problematic, too, even regarding this scenario....
The problem, as I understand it, is;
When there are self interests that one wants to either protect or gain, then determinations have to be made. These are pre-mediatated acts and intentions of leadership. Such strategy is organizatonal structuring that undermines "equal rights before the law", UNLESS there is equal opportunity, meaning that there is an honest attempt to open up the "playing field" to those that are outside the "inner circle".

Stategy must not determine, otherwise, social engineering as to outcomes, is a limitation of justice to another human being. Such acts are crimes of discriminaton, but the Church has that right to discriminate, according to the Supreme Court! So the Church is not an equal opportunity employer, nor is the Church interested in equal justice, ONLY SOCIAL JUSTICE which some SPECIAL PRIVILEDGED have a SPECIAL right to...and this has also been the stance of the U.N. toward Islamists...and their special priviledged Religious LAW!!! in opposition to the Declaration of Human Rights!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Could each of these be different ethical theories?

1.)Retributive justice; an eye for an eye

2.)consequential ethics is utilitarian or outcome oriented

3.)deontology ethics Kant's duty is motive

4.)virtue ethics is character based

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Do you think that with the push towards "collective identification factors", we are protecting "cultural identity", while undermining Constitutionalism, or "the nation state" and its protections of civil liberties? Is this an attempt at "global governing", protecting collective cultural memes?

I heard John Ickenberg in D.C. talk about his book "Liberal Leviathan". He was stating that we were going to be "equalizing the playing field" as to power. America was no longer going to be a "Superpower". Of course, questions were asked about China, tribal conflicts, and what or how to predict resistance of/by Americans, who don't want to give up their priviledged status!

Ickenberg did preface his lecture with how changes have to be made to protect the interests of the monied.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Civil Liberties IS about the right of Churches to discriminate, based upon their particular doctrines.

Civil Rights is the govrnment's power to protect from discrimination. And since the First Amendment grants protections to conscience, the Constitution is designed to protect the Church from the State. BUT, the Church can "run" the State or so it seems.

Threfore, civil liberties trumps civil rights in the case of specified protections under the First Amendment.

The Bill of Rights, though, was to protect the individual from government intrusions into personal life, as it was the "right of conscience" and "freedom of expression", etc.

Does this mean that the Church has a right to intrude into the personal lives of citizens and the government can't do anything about it? Personal looses meaning when "Community" makes demands or invades boundaries that are personal spaces. I suppose the Church's paternalism will over-ride any other consideration.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Therefore, The Church can judge only collectively. This is the theology of sacrifice....and then discipleship to "become like Jesus"....which HAS to be based on faith, otherwise it is co-ercive groupism, or tribal lynching. Such behavior is to be expected for those that do not conform. The Church has a tribal mentality.

Obama wants our country to have a tribal mentality, too, from what he said in the State of the Union address. Shared responsibility and shared sacrifice, while the wealthy and powerful run away with their "rights". It is a banana republic mentality, but hey, we will be equal, then, won't we! Lowest common we don't want to be prejuidiced!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Isn't such a view of theology "covenant theology"?

Arminianism would believe in choice. Therefore, it would give an option, rather than superimpose some "faith claim". And the choice is whether to associate with those that want to further "social justice" under "Jesus as moral model"....

FrGregACCA said...

What is the notion of "justice" being contemplated here?

Ken Schenck said...

He explored CS Lewis at the beginning of the presentation but didn't precisely define it. I personally define justice as "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."