Posts Tagged ‘crime’

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On Cruelty | Judith Butler

July 13, 2014

‘Whence comes this bizarre, bizarre idea,’ Jacques Derrida asks, reading Nietzsche on debt in On the Genealogy of Morals, ‘this ancient, archaic (uralte) idea, this so very deeply rooted, perhaps indestructible idea, of a possible equivalence between injury and pain (Schaden und Schmerz)? Whence comes this strange hypothesis or presumption of an equivalence between two such incommensurable things? What can a wrong and a suffering have in common?’ By way of an answer, he points out that ‘the origin of the legal subject, and notably of penal law, is commercial law; it is the law of commerce, debt, the market, the exchange between things, bodies and monetary signs, with their general equivalent and their surplus value, their interest.’

In the first volume of The Death Penalty, Derrida considers the jus talionis, the principle of equivalence according to which a relation is set up ‘between the crime and the punishment, between the injury and the price to be paid’. Debt, in On the Genealogy of Morals, gives Nietzsche a way of understanding how ‘the “consciousness of guilt”, “bad conscience”’ came into the world. Earlier he laments ‘that whole sombre thing called reflection’, in which the self becomes its own object of relentless scrutiny and self-punishment. If one wants to keep a promise, one must burn memory into the will, submit to – or submit oneself to – a reign of terror in the name of morality, administer pain to oneself in order to ensure one’s continuity and calculability through time. If I am to be moral and keep my promises, I will remember what I promised and remain the same ‘I’ who first uttered that promise, resisting any circumstances that might alter its continuity through time, never dozing when wakefulness is needed. The promise takes on another meaning in Nietzsche when what I have promised is precisely to repay a debt, a promise by which I enter into, and become bound by, a certain kind of contract. What I have apparently burned into the will, or had burned there, is a promise to remember and repay that debt, to realise the promise within a calculable period of time, and so to become a calculable creature. I can be counted on to count the time and count up the money to make the repayment: that accountability is the promise. I can count on myself, and others can count on me. If I prove capable of making a contract, I can receive a loan and be relied on to pay it back with interest, so that the lender can accumulate wealth from my debt in a predictable way. And if I default, the law will intervene to protect his interest in the interest he exacts from me.

Read full text at London Review of Books

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Science in court: Arrested development

April 20, 2012

Neuroscience shows that the adolescent brain is still developing. The question is whether that should influence the sentencing of juveniles.

Advocates for juveniles have been embracing this work as part of a long-term strategy to ensure that young criminals are given less punishment than adults and more opportunities for rehabilitation. And many neuroscientists studying the adolescent brain are gratified that their work is contributing to these efforts. “It’s so satisfying to think that maybe in some minuscule way my work was relevant to society,” says Bea Luna, who studies adolescent brain development at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

But the brain research may not have as great an influence in court as some scientists and advocates like to think. Some say that the neuroscience offers no fresh insight into adolescent behavior, and may serve merely as a rhetorical flourish in judges’ opinions or as a tool that lawyers and advocates exploit to make their case. “The neuroscience is being used for an advocacy position,” says Emily Murphy of Stanford University in California, who was a fellow with the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project. “That’s all it’s always been, in a legal context.” Murphy and others worry that the neuroscience currently being used in court may be abused, and might overshadow other research that could make a deeper impact on juvenile crime and punishment.

Excerpt of an article written by Lizzie Buchen, Nature. Read it HERE

Neuroscience and the Law

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The end of the for-profit prison era? A nationwide campaign to stem investments in private corrections companies is gathering steam

February 25, 2012

A protester displays a placard reading “Stop corporate greed. Close private prisons” as he takes part in an Occupy Phoenix demonstration on Oct. 17, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer)

Hannah Rappleye: Early this year, the United Methodist Church Board of Pension and Health Benefits voted to withdraw nearly $1 million in stocks from two private prison companies, the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

The decision by the largest faith-based pension fund in the United States came in response to concerns expressed last May by the church’s immigration task force and a group of national activists.

“Our board simply felt that it did not want to profit from the business of incarcerating others,” said Colette Nies, managing director of communications for the board.

“Our concern was not with how the companies manage or operate their business, but with the service that the companies offer,” Nies added. “We believe that profiting from incarceration is contrary to church values.”

It was an important success for a slew of activists across the country who are pushing investors and institutions to divest from the private prison industry.

Article via Salon