Some good news

About a month ago, I wrote about the case of Cornealious Michael Anderson III, a man who was convicted but never sent to jail. He managed to turn his life around and start a family but was re-arrested 13 years later and was going to have to serve that time. I am pleased to say that, a few days ago, he was released from prison and given credit for his entire sentence.

“You’re a good man, and you’re a changed man, and that makes a huge difference in my decision today…. You’re not the man you were fourteen years ago,” said Brown. “I believe that continuing to [incarcerate you] serves no purpose” — here there were gasps and tears from the Anderson family — “I think it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. I think it would unnecessarily punish an obviously rehabilitated man.”

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What is the point of the justice system?

This story is totally ridiculous. The entire point of a justice system should be to reform criminals so that they can return to society. Now I’ve heard of story where a man, due to an error, was not sent to jail. In the meantime though, he hasn’t been out committing crimes. He started a family, started businesses, made no attempt to hide and has essentially been a model citizen. When he was going to be released, they realised he wasn’t in jail and arrested him. Now they want him to server his 13 year sentence. More details available from the Riverfront Times here and here. That is totally pointless! It’s pure retributive “justice” that seeks only to punish. It’s ethically indefensible and serves absolutely no practical purpose.

There is a Change.org petition for his release.

Moving away from retributive justice

There are two articles dealing with this topic recently, or at least that I am aware of. One is a look at how incorrect brain functioning can contribute to criminality and the other is a criticism of a paper on free will. The take-home message is this: our actions are determined by the physical workings of our brains.

This causes a problem for free will in that it can’t be free. If we accept that our actions are determined by our brain and our brain functions according to physics and chemistry, the direction in which all evidence points, then we can’t really choose, at least we can only make one choice no matter how it feels to us. This is because everything that happens in our brain depends on the state it was in the moment before and so on. There is no way to make a choice that wasn’t already predetermined. In short there is no free will. Continue reading