Posted in Philosophy

Thief And Murderer

Imagine that you have been incarcerated for committing a crime. You get to choose one of the prisoners as your roommate, but your choice is limited to a thief and a murderer. Who would you trust more?

Most people would consider the thief’s crimes to be lighter and choose him without a doubt. They would rather live with someone who stole some jewellery than some beast that killed another human being.

But if you think about it in depth, you may come to the opposite conclusion. Stealing is often a meticulous and calculated crime that involves logical planning, but murder is more often a crime of passion that is spontaneous (of course the person may be a psychopath). Ergo, statistically speaking thieves tend to be more predisposed to a criminal nature than murderers. A thief will easily repeat their crime, whereas those who have murdered often do not repeat it. Furthermore, thieves tend to target people they do not know, where as murderers often kill someone that they know. Statistically, you are more likely to die in the hands of someone you know well than a stranger.

Therefore, it just might be that sharing a room with a murderer is preferable to a thief (maybe the murderer will not steal all your secret food). This would definitely be the case if the “murderer” was actually framed like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. Of course, the wiser choice still is to not commit the crime in the first place so you do not end up in prison.

Posted in History & Literature

Crime And Punishment

Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali. 
No crime or punishment without a previous penal law. 

This is the backbone of modern criminal law, stating that the law defines what a crime is, and without the law, there can be no crime. Ergo, a crime in the past cannot be punished with the law of the present.

The principle has allowed for many loopholes where past crimes went unpunished as they were not subjected to new laws. An example is The Homicide Act of 1957 in English law, which never gave a statutory definition of murder. This led to no less than six appeals challenging the definition, using it as a defence.
It also protects criminals by allowing them to use a defence (e.g. provocation) even after it is outlawed, as long as the crime was committed before the law came in place.

If Wonderland’s legal system was based around nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege, then the King of Hearts would not have been able to impose his Rule #42: “all persons more than a mile high must leave the court immediately”, as he created the rule after Alice ate the mushrooms and grew in size.