Nov 6, 2007

utilitarianism and the plea bargaining resolution

I like the definition of a utilitarian justification of punishment given in Kathleen Moore's Pardons: Justice, Mercy, and the Public Interest. (The book is a useful introduction to retributivist reasons for pardoning criminals, and has much relevant information regarding the current resolution.) Her definition:
1. The state has the duty to achieve a specified object.
2. Laws are the instruments by which the state is to reach its object.
3. Infractions of the law frustrate the achievement of the object.
4. The state has the right to punish infractions of the law so far as this is necessary to achieve its object and within the limits established by the nature of its object.
The primary goal of the utilitarian view, Moore argues, is deterrence. For this reason,
A penal system that hopes to deter crime cannot tolerate exceptions. Punishment deters crime not only in criminals themselves, by reforming or disabling them, but in others as well, by setting an example. The first sort of deterrence, specific deterrence, is important. But, because it affects the actions of so many more people, the second sort of deterrence is proportionally more important.
Now we're at an interesting juncture. Does a plea bargain in exchange for testimony conflict with the second kind of deterrence? If so, under utilitarianism, we vote Aff.

If not, because of other utilitarian considerations, we vote Neg.


Gabrielle Biggs said...

Plea bargaining is perfectly legal, but is it JUST? The justice of this matter has to do with the utter definition of justice: marals or righteousness in accordance to the law. Under the Constitution there is a perfect legal explaination. I am not saying that this resolutio9n is "just" though. If someone is sentenced for a certain amount of time all moral-logicideas agree with the original sentence. Otherwise there WILL be (has been) twists of the sentencing for the prosecutor's sake. This is where plea bargaining has gone wrong. The District Attorney of a specific state ,or ever country has to go in accordance with the number of cases(not the quality). This leads to rapists, murderers, or even just a vandelist to offend again and again. You may say: "Vandelism is not nearly as big of a deal as the murder of a human being." This is where the "morals" your mother, or soeone everyone looks up to comes in. If your Mom, Grandmother, father , Grandfather, best(real) trusted friend told you this, you WOULD listen to them. Therefore, if you were to steal something from them and you got away with it, you would think: "Maybe I can get away with it again". This is the exact (perhaps more powerful, if you have a conscience) thought that would go through a crimainal's minf=d when he does something that was not exactly hanorable. The evidence to back this up is the fact that: between 10 to 15 percent of criminals in state prisons alone suffer from SEVERE mental illnesses. What does this tell you about their conscience? They have on and it is working and talking to them about what they have done. With this, there is absolutely no reason to believe, much less practice plea bargaining because they in fact ARE human, have consciences, and will abide by the law and are punished rightfully for what THEY have done. By their own free will, mind you. Also, if they do not serve the JUST time, they WILL suffer from more stress on their minds. In conclusion; this conscience will pile on the weight if they KNOW they were supposed to serve certain abounts of time and did not. They would not be able to live with themselves. This would lead to MORE severe mental illnesses and MORE rising suicide rates.

-Thank you for listening
-Yes I AM a Lincoln-Douglas competetor.

Jim Anderson said...

gabrielle, that's a unique perspective, one I hadn't thought of. Some things to consider:

1. How do you prove that mental illness is caused by an attack of conscience?

2. How do you show that mental illness is not deserved by criminals--making it just?

3. What if (as many people do) we don't listen to the morals of our families or friends? Can't we have a more stable definition of morality?

4. A neg could argue that plea bargaining, by reducing time in prison, actually reduces mental stress, and thus reduces mental illness, turning your impact.

Starting LDer said...

I cant think of a second contention for my neg case. v=- justice vc=- protecting society

can you please help me?

Jim Anderson said...

starting lder--perhaps, but it sure helps to know what your first contention is :)