Author Topic: Over the Top  (Read 7920 times)

Pete at Home

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Over the Top
« on: April 07, 2016, 09:03:47 AM »
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/candy-theft-could-mean-king-size-sentence-20-years-to-life/ar-BBrkaCI

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NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana man accused of stuffing $31 worth of candy bars into his pockets faces a possible sentence of 20 years to life in prison, prompting a judge to question whether the sentence was "over the top."

Orleans Parish prosecutors chose to charge Jacobia Grimes, 34, under a statute that boosts the alleged candy theft to a felony. The law applies to people who have been convicted of "theft of goods" at least twice. Grimes has five prior theft convictions, making him a "quad" offender under the state's habitual-offender law.

Any guess on the man's skin color?

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Grimes' attorneys, Miles Swanson and Michael Kennedy, said his prior guilty pleas were for similar shoplifting attempts, including stealing from a Rite-Aid, Save-A-Center, Blockbuster Video, and Rouses grocery stores.

Swanson said all the thefts were for less than $500 worth of items. The last theft of socks and trousers from a Dollar General store got him a four-year sentence in 2010.

One of his lawyers said he could have been charged under a different statute than the habitual-offender law.

Any guess how many African Americans are behind bars for long prison stretches for trivial nonviolent offenses like this?

Seems to me that if "black lives matter" that we should be making more noise about repealing laws like this that stomp on the faces of relatively harmless underprivileged folks.

DJQuag

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2016, 12:24:26 PM »
While BLM talks about other things as well, the difference in how minorities are treated in the criminal justice system is definitely one of their talking points.

I agree with you that changing theses laws should be one of their top priorities.

D.W.

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2016, 12:35:33 PM »
It seems like it would be an easily obtainable victory with a large impact as well.

DJQuag

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2016, 12:48:53 PM »
You would think that, but you have to remember that the vast majority (all?) of prisons are for profit outfits owned by private interests, and that the vast majority of politicians are paid off by private interests.

Seriati

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2016, 12:50:35 PM »
It's not as easy to fix as it appears.  What's the solution for repeat offenders?  Three strike laws exit because of the consequences of using "proportional" punishments with individuals who demonstrate they will continually violate the law.

D.W.

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2016, 12:53:17 PM »
This guy?  Get him a job at Nestle and a few work uniforms.  NEXT!

scifibum

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2016, 01:43:25 PM »
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It's not as easy to fix as it appears.  What's the solution for repeat offenders?  Three strike laws exit because of the consequences of using "proportional" punishments with individuals who demonstrate they will continually violate the law.

The solution of spending tens of thousands of dollars to incarcerate someone to prevent hundreds of dollars worth of theft is incredibly irrational.  When the punitive/deterrence model doesn't work, for some reason we idiotically prefer to double (or triple or quadruple) down on it instead of trying something else. 

In my view, the proposed punishment is clearly cruel and unusual.

Seriati

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2016, 09:33:53 AM »
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It's not as easy to fix as it appears.  What's the solution for repeat offenders?  Three strike laws exit because of the consequences of using "proportional" punishments with individuals who demonstrate they will continually violate the law.
The solution of spending tens of thousands of dollars to incarcerate someone to prevent hundreds of dollars worth of theft is incredibly irrational.
Which is an oversimplistic response and why I said it's not a easy to fix as it appears.  Stopping repeat shop lifting is not a measure of a "couple hundred dollars" versus "tens of thousands."  Look at the budget for any major store and you'll see a ridiculous amount of losses related to theft and to security to prevent theft.  Any reduction in the theft security leads to a big spike in the theft losses.  When stores providing jobs to dozens or hundreds of people operate on small margins (which is true of the majority of retail) those expenses can add up to cause enormous losses to a community.  Failing to keep a handle on shoplifting is one way to guaranty the decline of easy access to shops and to the jobs they provide.

It's not like it's not a known fact that poorer high crime areas are completely underserved by shops and particularly by the kind of low margin low security low cost shops that would benefit the people in that area most.  This is directly a consequence of these kind of security issues.

So yes, the anecdote describing this guy's situation sounds egregious, but the solution to the problem is not so easy as it appears.  And what you seem to be proposing is nothing short of asking the community in which he lives to bear the substantial burden of the externalized costs of what he's doing.
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When the punitive/deterrence model doesn't work, for some reason we idiotically prefer to double (or triple or quadruple) down on it instead of trying something else. 

In my view, the proposed punishment is clearly cruel and unusual.
Even on a personal level though, this young man has demonstrated that he can not or will not comply with the laws of the country.  From the other pending charges it's also possible/likely he's dealing with addiction issues that make it even more unlikely that he will be able to comply.  He's already, apparently, spent 4 years in prison.   What else can the state really do to prevent his lawlessness from impacting and harming those around him, including both his direct victims, the shopkeepers, and his indirect ones, the entire community?

D.W.

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2016, 10:02:41 AM »
IMO the issues can mostly be solved by removing mandatory sentencing guidelines.  Let the judges apply some reason to the situations.  Then we need to help the court systems to actually have the resources needed to do their job.  They need the time to actually do their job rather than just grind people up to keep the machine running day to day because of the backlogs.

Seriati

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2016, 10:09:34 AM »
IMO the issues can mostly be solved by removing mandatory sentencing guidelines.  Let the judges apply some reason to the situations.  Then we need to help the court systems to actually have the resources needed to do their job.  They need the time to actually do their job rather than just grind people up to keep the machine running day to day because of the backlogs.
I agree mandatory minimums do more harm than good, however, so long as we have the occasional story about a murderer who's been previously convicted a dozen or more times it's hard to explain to people how it was okay to let them back on the street.

Pyrtolin

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2016, 10:47:09 AM »
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Even on a personal level though, this young man has demonstrated that he can not or will not comply with the laws of the country.  From the other pending charges it's also possible/likely he's dealing with addiction issues that make it even more unlikely that he will be able to comply.  He's already, apparently, spent 4 years in prison.   What else can the state really do to prevent his lawlessness from impacting and harming those around him, including both his direct victims, the shopkeepers, and his indirect ones, the entire community?
The state can can treat his addiction. It can give him the educational and financial resources he needs to have better options. It can give him medical treatment in the case that there's an underlying mental illness at play. It can foster community engagement programs so that he feels more connected to rather than at odds with the people around him. It can ensure that he is employed and earning an income.

The state can actually address the circumstances of the crime and help him get to a place where he doesn't do it any more instead of punishing him by stripping away any choices by to commit further crimes to get by and then declaring him to be the problem, rather than the circumstances it forced him to live with.

Seriati

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2016, 11:05:56 AM »
The state can can treat his addiction.
Can it?  I'm not aware of any addiction treatment that can be forced on a person and be effective.  I've been involved with drug addition treatment programs linked to welfare and honestly, you're lying to yourself.  Government can't fix addition in isolation from completely fixing poverty and completely "fixing" the motivations of everyone who's a user.  The incentives to use are too high.
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It can give him the educational and financial resources he needs to have better options.
Lol, so you assert.  Meanwhile, we continue in a world where that costs money that isn't available, and where millions would "qualify" for that support while only a fraction of those need to be incarcerated for their choices. 
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It can give him medical treatment in the case that there's an underlying mental illness at play. It can foster community engagement programs so that he feels more connected to rather than at odds with the people around him. It can ensure that he is employed and earning an income.
Lol, is it going to assign him new parents, a wife, kids and a dog while they are at it?

We are a free people, quit trying to use government to live our lives for us.
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The state can actually address the circumstances of the crime and help him get to a place where he doesn't do it any more instead of punishing him by stripping away any choices by to commit further crimes to get by and then declaring him to be the problem, rather than the circumstances it forced him to live with.
The state can't do any of that, unless you're going to put a mind control chip in him.  He's not pursuing rational or profitable crime, I agree with you he's most likely mentally ill, he could be involuntarily committed and kept there until is proven he can rejoin society (the treatment statistics mean effectively its a life sentence).

The state is actually doing its job, when it separates someone who is apparently incapable of living in society from society.  Everything else is not actually its job, its things we can choose to do, but by no means an obligation.

scifibum

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2016, 01:52:22 PM »
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So yes, the anecdote describing this guy's situation sounds egregious, but the solution to the problem is not so easy as it appears.  And what you seem to be proposing is nothing short of asking the community in which he lives to bear the substantial burden of the externalized costs of what he's doing.

I didn't propose that.  But what you seem to be proposing is that externalized costs implemented through an effort at punishment are better than lower costs that let crimes go unpunished. 

(In reality, I think small punishments for small crimes are probably justified, but we should simultaneously be investing far more in rehabilitation than we are now.)

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We are a free people, quit trying to use government to live our lives for us.

It's weird that locking someone up for 20 years seems less freedom-infringing to you than actively intervening in helping someone get their life on track.

This stuff is being tried on a small scale, and it works.  The main reason we aren't doing more of it is that it offends people to help criminals. We need to get over it.

D.W.

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2016, 02:09:33 PM »
It's not that weird.  I'm much more pro big government trying to actively fix things than Seriati but I get it.  We are free to act how we choose but those choices have repercussions.  Trying to "protect someone from themselves" is in a way, an infringement of freedom. 

While we should invest more in rehabilitation idealy it isn't up to the government to play the scolding parent.  The system should be set up so it's not rigged (which it is right now IMO) but if someone won't play by the rules, they, not the rest of society are to blame and should be punished.  I'm on board with that 100%... other than the fact that the system IS rigged.  By accident of birth we each play by different rules.

DJQuag

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2016, 02:11:58 PM »
I grew up around addicts, and have even been one myself, in the past.

Seriati is correct in that no amount of help or treatment is going to cure an addict unless the person in question is fully committed to helping themselves.

There will always be people who just can't or won't be helped. That being said, I still think that the benefits of having easily accessible and well funded treatment and counseling are a net boon to society, regardless of cost.

D.W.

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2016, 02:15:44 PM »
Sometimes the window on someone finally deciding to get themselves help is vanishingly small.  If those services aren't around and convenient / affordable when they are ready, the opportunity is lost.  I agree they are a net positive.  But forcing them on people is mostly a lost cause.

Fenring

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2016, 02:24:01 PM »
As I see it the issue scifi raised isn't primarily about whether or not it's proper for government to be involved in a certain sphere of life, but rather about the most effective way it will be involved if its involvement is already required. Sure, we can discuss whether the government should intervene before a crime is committed or only respond after one is committed, but if they are obliged to participate one way or another, and one way costs a hell of a lot more, I would think the cost/benefit analysis might count for at least as much as the sense of which is more proper. After all, when discussing freedom from government it shouldn't be forgotten that taxation is the biggest infringement of freedom currently established as normal. It is literally part-time slavery justified as being for a greater good, and therefore if this argument is to be taken seriously then misusing that tax money seems to me a greater wrong than sticking government's nose into people's lives to try to help them. The prison system has been a major waste of money and human life for quite a while, and the alternative of private for-profit prisons seems to me even worse.

Government seems to always be a case of finding the least offensive and least damaging way of getting things done, since it very rarely appears to just 'do a great job!' Therefore it seems to me somewhat superfluous to point out a given government position and say it's not so good; that's a given no matter what it does. The question is whether the alternative is worse. In this case I agree with scifi that paying for a person to live in prison for 20 years hurts the community more than a store enduring minor shoplifting. It would be more efficient to take a fraction of that money and just keep it in a fund to pay back stores for what shoplifters took. If the petty thief wants to keep spending a year or two in prison for his whole life that's his business. Of course that brings up the issue some countries experience of people deliberately becoming incarcerated in order to improve quality of life, which is another discussion entirely...

Seriati

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2016, 02:27:20 PM »
I didn't propose that.  But what you seem to be proposing is that externalized costs implemented through an effort at punishment are better than lower costs that let crimes go unpunished.
What I'm stating is that an analysis that shows lower costs on the branch of letting crimes go unpunished is ignoring actual costs to get there.  The whole way this thread started was a focus on the personal costs to the individual versus the costs of the goods he stole.  It absolutely ignored every externalized cost his actions has on the community.  As I said, there is an absolutely provable and material cost to poor communities that low cost stores can not safely operate in those communities.  It's a major factor in keeping poor people trapped in poverty, and this kind of crime is a major contributor to that.
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(In reality, I think small punishments for small crimes are probably justified, but we should simultaneously be investing far more in rehabilitation than we are now.)
Small punishments are justified, but only if they are effective. That's exactly how we get to repeat offender escalation punishments, they exist specifically because small punishments are not effective for a class of people.
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We are a free people, quit trying to use government to live our lives for us.
It's weird that locking someone up for 20 years seems less freedom-infringing to you than actively intervening in helping someone get their life on track.
20 years is rough, and probably not justifiable. 

However, the larger point about freedom only seems weird if you if you ignore the harms this young mans actions have on the freedom of everyone else.
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This stuff is being tried on a small scale, and it works.  The main reason we aren't doing more of it is that it offends people to help criminals. We need to get over it.
A lot of people don't understand how punishment and reinforcement work, absolutely true.  It definitely leads to people supporting policies that undermine their goals.  But neither side is free from it, and the other side here completely undervalues the effectiveness and need for punishment.

Pyrtolin

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2016, 02:29:32 PM »
Seriati is correct in that no amount of help or treatment is going to cure an addict unless the person in question is fully committed to helping themselves.

Absolutely. But then he's the one who suggested _forcing_ treatment, not me. I said we should provide it for him. And we should provide him the other things that he needs to support himself and give him a reason to use it, particularly fostering community connection and support, because addiction tends to be what fills the space left behind when a person doesn't have a sense of meaning or connection.

Seriati

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2016, 02:35:36 PM »
Absolutely. But then he's the one who suggested _forcing_ treatment, not me.
You know your quote is still there?  If it's not what you meant then restate, but don't lie about it.

Pyrtolin

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2016, 02:55:56 PM »
The state can can treat his addiction.
Can it?  I'm not aware of any addiction treatment that can be forced on a person and be effective.  I've been involved with drug addition treatment programs linked to welfare and honestly, you're lying to yourself.  Government can't fix addition in isolation from completely fixing poverty and completely "fixing" the motivations of everyone who's a user.  The incentives to use are too high.[/quote]
Indeed, that's why making treatment available was only part of my answer, where I thin also proceeded to suggest that we remove the effects of poverty from the equation.

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It can give him the educational and financial resources he needs to have better options.
Lol, so you assert.  Meanwhile, we continue in a world where that costs money that isn't available, and where millions would "qualify" for that support while only a fraction of those need to be incarcerated for their choices. 
A huge fraction of them. The money exists if we will it to exists,. We have the resources to do it, it's only spite that keeps us from employing them by intentionally restricting the supply of money such that so many people who need them can afford them (and similarly that so many people who could have jobs providing them, instead have to remain unemployed and impoverished instead)

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It can give him medical treatment in the case that there's an underlying mental illness at play. It can foster community engagement programs so that he feels more connected to rather than at odds with the people around him. It can ensure that he is employed and earning an income.
We are a free people, quit trying to use government to live our lives for us.
We are a people with a huge prison population and a large portion of our public impoverished. None of them are free. I'm not proposition "living anyone's live" for them I'm proposing that we ensure that everyone has the basic resources _needed to be free_ in the first place, rather than forcing so many people to live in debt and wage slavery because we'd rather punish and control them for being poor than risk that they might choose to do things that people like you don't approve of them doing.

We, as a society/community, require people to find employment in order to support themselves. If we are going to enforce that requirement then we are obligated to ensure that there is sufficient employment for all people to be able to support themselves.

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The state can actually address the circumstances of the crime and help him get to a place where he doesn't do it any more instead of punishing him by stripping away any choices by to commit further crimes to get by and then declaring him to be the problem, rather than the circumstances it forced him to live with.
The state can't do any of that, unless you're going to put a mind control chip in him.
Sure it can. I detailed how it could above.You seem to be so lost in an obsession with forcing people to live by your dictates to honestly respond to suggestions that we empower people to be able to make better choices on their own accord by providing them the resources and support needed to do so.

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  He's not pursuing rational or profitable crime, I agree with you he's most likely mentally ill, he could be involuntarily committed and kept there until is proven he can rejoin society (the treatment statistics mean effectively its a life sentence).
Perhaps, if that can be proven, and he repeatedly declines treatment when he's free to obtain it. That's moot so long as we deny him access to care by not ensuring he has the resources needed to afford and use it in the first place.

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Everything else is not actually its job, its things we can choose to do, but by no means an obligation.
The state exists to provide a communal decisionmaking process to help us coordinate our efforts for survival, growth, and prosperity. If it is forcing people to live in conditions that aren't well above the baseline standard that they could manage purely on their own- including failing to transmit the survival skills needed, such that they're fully dependent on society for survival, then it's failing in its most fundamental purposes, and it's little wonder that people are pushed to violate its rules to try to find their own way to improve themselves.

Pyrtolin

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2016, 02:58:02 PM »
Absolutely. But then he's the one who suggested _forcing_ treatment, not me.
You know your quote is still there?  If it's not what you meant then restate, but don't lie about it.
Absolutely. It's still here, and you still inject your own made up assertions and try to pretend I said things I didn't. You're the only one who brought up force; I didn't say one thing about forcing anyone to do anything.

DJQuag

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2016, 04:36:23 PM »
I kind of think Pyrtolin has the right of it.

I fell into my addiction because I felt isolated from friends and family, and alone. It was what made that situation okay for me. The habit itself contributed to unwise decisions, which caused more stress, which made me want the drug more.

If the goal is to make the person a productive citizen again, all I can say is that Pyr's approach would have been far more likely to snap me out of it.

That's not to say there aren't people who take advantage. I'm working in the social field in the UK at the moment, and I see it daily. But if you want to help people and communities, you just have to hold your nose and accept them.

Seriati

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2016, 05:54:46 PM »
I'm not sure I'm willing to engage in much back and forth with you, honestly, I'm finding your positions very repulsive these days.  Definitely damping my interest in even reading the site.
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The state can can treat his addiction.
Can it?  I'm not aware of any addiction treatment that can be forced on a person and be effective.  I've been involved with drug addition treatment programs linked to welfare and honestly, you're lying to yourself.  Government can't fix addition in isolation from completely fixing poverty and completely "fixing" the motivations of everyone who's a user.  The incentives to use are too high.
Indeed, that's why making treatment available was only part of my answer, where I thin also proceeded to suggest that we remove the effects of poverty from the equation.
Still not enough, you actually have to change people as well.  There is no system that can protect people from the consequences of bad decisions other than one that takes away their decisions.

Of course its worse than that, because most of what you advocate, goes beyond protecting people from consequence on to full on enabling them to make worse decisions.  There is no fix for poverty that comes from handouts, that's mitigation not cure.  And its a mitigation that increases the incidence of poverty.
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A huge fraction of them. The money exists if we will it to exists,. We have the resources to do it, it's only spite that keeps us from employing them by intentionally restricting the supply of money such that so many people who need them can afford them (and similarly that so many people who could have jobs providing them, instead have to remain unemployed and impoverished instead)
No it's not spite, its the FACT that no country on Earth operates its economy or handles its money supply consistent with your pet theory.  Money is not an unlimited resource for any entity, including the entity that prints it.

It's quite simply false to claim that we have the resources to do so.  We are chronically undersupplied in the types of care givers that are required to provide this kind of support.  It's also incredibly inefficient to spend the resources of multiple people to confront and correct for the poor decisions of a single individual.  It's demeaning and dehumanizing to take away such persons ability and right to make their own decisions.

And, contrary to your assertion, the state already provided educational opportunities to everyone in the country directed at exactly what you claim needs to be done.  They provide public education for every individual through 12th grade, and for anyone impoverished its trivial to obtain the financing necessary to continue their education through college.  That's handed to everyone.  What exactly are you proposing that is different?  Another school that people who chronically make bad choices will suddenly decide to make good choices and partake in?
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We are a people with a huge prison population and a large portion of our public impoverished. None of them are free.
Interesting lumping there.  People in prison are, for the most part, there as a consequence of their own decisions.  Freedom is not freedom from consequence, its freedom to make a good or bad decision in the first place. 

There is absolutely nothing about being impoverished that implies you lack freedom.  You lack resources and opportunity, but that's not the same thing.  You like to pretend it is, because that's a social science short cut to change the terms of what's being discussed, so you can turn something that isn't a right into a discussion about rights without actually having to make an argument.

Poor people have freedom.  They exercise it everyday, with many many choices.
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I'm not proposition "living anyone's live" for them I'm proposing that we ensure that everyone has the basic resources _needed to be free_ in the first place, rather than forcing so many people to live in debt and wage slavery because we'd rather punish and control them for being poor than risk that they might choose to do things that people like you don't approve of them doing.
Nice combination of a strawman and a false dichotomy there.

No one's using force.  No one is stuck with a choice between debt and wage slavery and being given free stuff, and certainly not as a form of punishment and control. 

In fact, in this country, we go out of our way to give people the resources they need to thrive.  No one is born with a marketable skill (okay maybe a few baby models), they have to learn them and practice them, and we give people free education to do that, but we don't force them to use it.  We have some of the best income mobility in the world.

Even the words you use are a lie.  Working for a living is not the same as wage slavery.  Wage slavery used to really exist, coal miners were paid in company scrip that was only good at the company store, which meant they could neither save nor ever leave.  Getting paid in cash today, and getting paid in benefits if you don't make enough cash is in no way wage slavery.  Even the whole idea of every job deserving a "living wage" is utter nonsense. 

I do tend to agree that debt policy has been designed to enslave us all.  I think that falls into the category of a broken clock being right twice a day.
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We, as a society/community, require people to find employment in order to support themselves. If we are going to enforce that requirement then we are obligated to ensure that there is sufficient employment for all people to be able to support themselves.
Which is only a partial truth.  There is also a reciprocal truth that people have an obligation to actively train themselves for the jobs and lifestyle they want.  There is no obligation to create jobs for those who chose to be unskilled that pay them the wages that they would like.  Jobs are not entitlements, they are activities that need to be done and that someone is willing to pay to have done, period.
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The state can't do any of that, unless you're going to put a mind control chip in him.
Sure it can. I detailed how it could above.You seem to be so lost in an obsession with forcing people to live by your dictates to honestly respond to suggestions that we empower people to be able to make better choices on their own accord by providing them the resources and support needed to do so.
The state already provides every citizen with the resources and support to improve their lives and get ahead.  Your argument is premised on the idea that your new initiatives will make a difference where existing ones have not, and you claim somehow that we're trying to force our ideals on people by not agreeing that even more resources won't work.  Your whole plan fails because you have to rely on people taking advantage of the opportunity to improve themselves, and while some will a not insignificant number won't (which is in part why we are where we are now).  So long as the remainder exists, and it always will, your philosophy only has one answer, throw more opportunities at them.

It's the opposite of efficiency to throw more resources at the worse performers.
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  He's not pursuing rational or profitable crime, I agree with you he's most likely mentally ill, he could be involuntarily committed and kept there until is proven he can rejoin society (the treatment statistics mean effectively its a life sentence).
Perhaps, if that can be proven, and he repeatedly declines treatment when he's free to obtain it. That's moot so long as we deny him access to care by not ensuring he has the resources needed to afford and use it in the first place.
It's not moot at all.  It's just a fact, his crimes are neither rational or profitable, they reflect a fundamental flaw in his decision making.  It is not okay to leave him in society as is.

Therefore incarceration, or if you prefer treatment until his fundamental flaw is gone, which again is likely to be never.  If you can't posit a solution that stops him from harming society, you're just standing on a soap box and blowing smoke.
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Everything else is not actually its job, its things we can choose to do, but by no means an obligation.
The state exists to provide a communal decisionmaking process to help us coordinate our efforts for survival, growth, and prosperity.
Really?  Care to quote that part of the Constitution?

The state exists to preserve our rights, period. 

It does not exist to provide a communal decision making process.  That's just a process not a reason.

It does not exist to coordinate our efforts for survival, growth or prosperity.  It does exist to provide for our common defense and security, which sounds similar enough that its easy for you to twist the meaning.
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If it is forcing people to live in conditions that aren't well above the baseline standard that they could manage purely on their own- including failing to transmit the survival skills needed, such that they're fully dependent on society for survival, then it's failing in its most fundamental purposes, and it's little wonder that people are pushed to violate its rules to try to find their own way to improve themselves.
Since that isn't its purpose its not a failing if it failed to do so. 

That said, there is virtually no American for whom its true that they are not living above the baseline standard they could manage on their own.  In a state of anarchy, most of the people in this country would be slaves of one bully or another.  They wouldn't have property.   There plenty of countries on earth that demonstrate exactly this principal, last I checked you thought we should take in more refugees from them so you must be aware of them.

Your position puts a nice gloss on the idea that because other people have more, poor people are entitled to take it.  But that's all it is.  Naked redistribution.

Pete at Home

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2016, 10:06:18 PM »
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It's not as easy to fix as it appears.  What's the solution for repeat offenders?  Three strike laws exit because of the consequences of using "proportional" punishments with individuals who demonstrate they will continually violate the law.
The solution of spending tens of thousands of dollars to incarcerate someone to prevent hundreds of dollars worth of theft is incredibly irrational.
Which is an oversimplistic response and why I said it's not a easy to fix as it appears.  Stopping repeat shop lifting is not a measure of a "couple hundred dollars" versus "tens of thousands."  Look at the budget for any major store and you'll see a ridiculous amount of losses related to theft and to security to prevent theft.  Any reduction in the theft security leads to a big spike in the theft losses.  When stores providing jobs to dozens or hundreds of people operate on small margins (which is true of the majority of retail) those expenses can add up to cause enormous losses to a community.  Failing to keep a handle on shoplifting is one way to guaranty the decline of easy access to shops and to the jobs they provide.

It's not like it's not a known fact that poorer high crime areas are completely underserved by shops and particularly by the kind of low margin low security low cost shops that would benefit the people in that area most.  This is directly a consequence of these kind of security issues.

So yes, the anecdote describing this guy's situation sounds egregious, but the solution to the problem is not so easy as it appears.  And what you seem to be proposing is nothing short of asking the community in which he lives to bear the substantial burden of the externalized costs of what he's doing.
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When the punitive/deterrence model doesn't work, for some reason we idiotically prefer to double (or triple or quadruple) down on it instead of trying something else. 

In my view, the proposed punishment is clearly cruel and unusual.
Even on a personal level though, this young man has demonstrated that he can not or will not comply with the laws of the country.  From the other pending charges it's also possible/likely he's dealing with addiction issues that make it even more unlikely that he will be able to comply.  He's already, apparently, spent 4 years in prison.   What else can the state really do to prevent his lawlessness from impacting and harming those around him, including both his direct victims, the shopkeepers, and his indirect ones, the entire community?

House arrest. Ankle bracelet.  All sorts of options both cheaper and less tyrannical than 24/7 incarceration.

TheDrake

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2016, 08:44:35 AM »
Zombie thread!

Clearly incarceration can be a component, but I should think that even habitual shoplifters impact would be curbed with a mere 14 days in jail. When you consider the damage and externalities that white (collar) criminals cause in fraud cases, and are let out after 2 years or less, it is impossible to conclude that justice has anything to do with the departments bearing the name.


rightleft22

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Re: Over the Top
« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2016, 09:41:38 AM »
The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing multi million-dollar industries in the United States.