Posts tagged ‘Law’
It is something that has not really occurred to me until recently, but there is much to be skeptical about in the realm of law. I have always, or at least nearly as long as I can remember, been a skeptic (and, depending on who you talk to) a contrarian at heart.
It is not as though law exists in a vacuum, though. It is something fluid and it changes society just as society changes it. Often times, our laws are propped by up by claims of necessity and social good, and it is just these types of claims that can be put under a ‘microscope’, as it were. Further complicating matters is the inherently political nature of law and, by extension, the nature of politics itself. Things that aren’t actually true are true nevertheless, at least as far as public perception is concerned. Throw a little fear and religion into the mix, sprinkle with mass media, and a generous helping of corruption and you end up with an area that is just ripe for skeptical analysis.
They all think child rape should be execution-worthy.
The SCOTUS came back today with a decision on Kennedy v. Louisiana, in which they rejected the state of Louisiana’s assertion that rape of a child under the age of 12 should be subject to the death penalty in a split 5-4 decision. Personally, I was pretty surprised. I thought it was going to be a split court, but I thought that they were going to come down on the side of the State.
I had heard several months ago about the (in)famous case of a presiding judge barring the word “rape” from a rape trial, ruling that it was too prejudicial towards the defendant. This morning I caught an article on Law.Com reporting that the practice is spreading:
In keeping with my newfound interest in all things law, I caught an NYT piece this morning that I wanted to direct people’s attention to. It’s discussing the fact that we’re number 1 (Go USA!) in incarceration rates:
The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.
Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.
Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.
The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.