Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nonsmooth justice: the discontinuous mapping of crimes to sentences

From BBC news:
Jordan Blackshaw, 21, of Northwich, Cheshire, jailed for four years after admitting encouraging a riot on Facebook, which never happened
For comparison, if you were driving at 3 times the speed limit on the wrong side of the road, and you knocked someone down and left them in a braindead coma forever, the maximum sentence you could receive in the UK is 5 years. Until very recently it was 2 years.

This is somehow on a par with "encouraging a riot on Facebook, which never happened" which gained at least two people a 4 year sentence each.
Are you having a laugh? Because I'm not.

The situation is similar to that of a schoolteacher in the US who was sentenced to 200 years (!!) in prison without the possibility of parole, for possession of 20 images of child porn. Sure, collecting child porn is not a particularly nice thing to do, but again, there are murderers who will be sentenced and get out of jail before his sentence is finished. There are people who physically abuse, torture or actually kill children who could get out before him. Doesn't make much sense, does it?