4 responses

  1. Alan
    March 3, 2016

    Maybe the court knows something we don’t, vis a vis the defendant being some sort of dracula.


  2. Peter Gerdes
    March 14, 2016

    To be fair ultra-long sentences are hedges against future compassionate changes to sentences, plea bargains and early release.

    For all you know in 20 years someone will decide that non-violent white collar criminals (or murders in some category) are eligible for release after only 10% of their sentence is served. If you want to make sure Madoff serves 15 times as long as the guy who was convicted on one count for 10 years you need to sentence him to 15 times as long.

    While I agree that these excessive sentences reflect something rotten in the criminal justice system it isn’t the fact that they exceed the maximum biologically possible prison term. Rather, it’s that they suggest a failure to appreciate both discounting and deterrence judgements. The effect of far future punishment on current decision making will be virtually nil (especially if you assume most criminals are engaged in short-sited decisions).

    Similarly killing 11 people doesn’t make you any more deserving of punishment than killing 2 strangers or any more inclined to recidivism. After all I doubt most people willing to kill 2 strangers would hesitate much on the next 9 if they had similar incentives to kill them.


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