First-year criminal law course in webcomic form


20 Responses to “First-year criminal law course in webcomic form”

  1. Diccon Hyatt says:

    The retaliation aspect of the justice system has one important aspect that the comic doesn’t talk about. The state taking retaliation is important because if vengeance is the job of the state, it is not the job of the victim or the victim’s family. If people feel the state is taking revenge on wrongdoers, they don’t have to take revenge themselves. That’s why you don’t see clan or tribal wars in places that have a functional justice system.

    • wysinwyg says:

       This is a great point.  The comic’s analysis is from the perspective of a completely detached Apollonian philosopher applying only logic to the situation.  There’s a lot of work in behavioral psychology on morality that suggests that morality is not very rational — people are willing to lose money to punish cheaters, which a completely “rational” economic agent wouldn’t do.  I was confused about some of the retributive aspects of the criminal justice system but the idea that those are there to satisfy peoples’ congenital desire for “justice” or “vengeance” or whatever is a good tentative explanation.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I’m strongly opposed to having a punitive aspect to the justice system for the very reason that I have such a strong desire to punish the criminals.  Revenge is a terrible thing to codify as public policy.

        And yet, I’m strongly in favor of putting violent criminals (if they don’t have any really valid extenuating circumstances) away where they can’t do any more harm.

  2. robcat2075 says:

     Interesting text.  What actually defines something as a “comic”? 

    I would say this is not.  The imagery is nearly superfluous.

  3. ChicagoD says:

    That is SO not a complete first year criminal law course. It’s more like an editorial in a philosophy course. Entertaining, but not a law course by any stretch of the imagination.

  4. petersd says:

    You wanna know WHY negative reinforcement works? Psychology 101 is just down the hall.

    • Marja Erwin says:

      In most cases, law uses punishment, which doesn’t work like negative reinforcement. Psychology 101 should explain the difference and its importance.

    • Nytespryte says:

      And you would learn that negative reinforcement is not a synonym for punishment.

      Positive reinforcement: the adding of an appetitive stimulus to increase a certain behavior or response.

      Example: Father gives candy to his daughter when she picks up her toys. If the frequency of picking up the toys increases or stays the same, the candy is a positive reinforcer.

      Positive punishment: the adding of an aversive stimulus to decrease a certain behavior or response.

      Example: Mother yells at a child when running into the street. If the child stops running into the street the yelling is positive punishment.

      Negative reinforcement: the taking away of an aversive stimulus to increase certain behavior or response.

      Example: Turning off distracting music when trying to work. If the work increases when the music is turned off, turning off the music is a negative reinforcer.

      Negative punishment (omission training): the taking away of an appetitive stimulus to decrease a certain behavior.

      Example: A teenager comes home an hour after curfew and the parents take away the teen’s cell phone for two days. If the frequency of coming home after curfew decreases, the removal of the phone is negative punishment.

  5. bkad says:

    I saw this before, but didn’t read the intro sections. I think later sections on criminal defense (especially the series on entrapment ) are especially interesting. 

  6. psulli says:

    From The Three Rs:

    “Instead, such a civilized sentence would be purely indefinite: You punishment would last until it wasn’t needed any more – potentially lasting FOREVER.
    But this is hardly a civilized thing to do.  That’s the stuff of mediaval dungeons and tyrants’ gulags, not something we associate with modern justice.”

    I don’t know if this is cognitive dissonance on the artist’s end or on my end.

  7. Bartek Bialy says:

    I think book about sources of crime (and behaviour in general) would make a better gift instead of one about retribution.

  8. pduggie says:

    Wow. If governments only tool is punishment, we’d better be very careful to strictly limit what government can do. 

  9. MarkVent says:

    Anyone make a PDF of this?

  10. Mr. Winka says:

    Regarding the question “How does adding more suffering make society better off?”, I would say that a person who commits a violent crime at least should no longer be considered part of society. Therefore, adding more suffering (directed at the criminal) doesn’t make society any worse off at least. Having said that, I advocate only “mental” suffering through long or indefinite imprisonment. It gives them some time to think about what they did wrong. However, if they try to escape or they’re caught after escaping, then kill ‘em!

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Therefore, adding more suffering (directed at the criminal) doesn’t make society any worse off at least.

      I can think of nothing that would make society worse off than systematically trying to make anyone suffer.

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