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Murderer With "Aggression Genes" Gets Reduced Sentence

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  • Whoa (Score:5, Funny)

    by mewsenews (251487) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:53AM (#29979194) Homepage

    Maybe I wouldn't have lost my job if I could have proven I have a laziness gene.

    • Re:Whoa (Score:5, Funny)

      by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:06PM (#29979468) Journal
      I tried doing that once, but it was too hard and I was up late the night before.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      Careful, being labeled "special" is very much a double-edged sword. I'd rather be respected than pitied, unless I truly thought I had no shot at being respectable.
    • However:
      1. Is the science mature enough? And more importantly,
      2. If the science is correct - a reduced sentence is not the solution.

      I mean - are there any murderers who don't have the aggression gene? Hell - let's test every murderer and if they have the aggression gene -reduce all of their sentences!

      • by be951 (772934) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @03:28PM (#29983652)
        Yeah I mean, really, don't we want to do the opposite? Logically, isn't someone with an "aggression gene" probably going to be more likely to be a repeat offender?
  • Where's the... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malc (1751) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:54AM (#29979210)

    ... personal responsibility? Controlling our behaviour is one of the things that differentiates us from animals.

    • Re:Where's the... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:13PM (#29979606) Homepage

      Controlling our behaviour is one of the things that differentiates us from animals.

      Says who?

      By the way, you may be surprised to learn that humans are animals. We're apes, more specifically.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Absolut187 (816431)

      Personal responsibility is a pure fiction in a deterministic universe.
      Everything that will ever happen was decided at the time of the Big Bang.
      We just don't have the instruments to predict everything yet.

      As our instruments get better, we will get better at understanding and predicting human behavior.
      It is already clear that we are all products of our genetics and our environment.

      If we're smart, we'll realize that protecting society from dangerous people is more important than crying about who has what gene,

      • Re:Where's the... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:24PM (#29979814) Journal

        Personal responsibility is a pure fiction in a deterministic universe.

        Except that quantum mechanics implies that we are not in a deterministic universe. Replay the same actions twice and you won't necessarily get the same outcome.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          However, there is no more room for "personal responsibility" in a random universe.

          A fair die has a 1/6 chance of producing each of its possible outcomes(a fair D6, that is). A loaded die might have a 100% chance of producing a 6 and no chance of any of the others. One of these is random, one is deterministic, neither is free.

          Aside from the fact that it is intuitively powerful, it is actually pretty hard to figure out what it would mean for something to have "free will". Imagine a die that can "chose"
      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        If we're smart, we'll execute murderers not for punitive reasons, but simply as a solution to a problem.

        If we're really super DUPER smart (per your argument) we'll execute murderers BEFORE they murder... you know, because we are smart.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by khallow (566160)

        Personal responsibility is a pure fiction in a deterministic universe. Everything that will ever happen was decided at the time of the Big Bang. We just don't have the instruments to predict everything yet.

        There's no counter proof to this assertion. For a simple example, we can create a quantum system that can, when observed, collapse into one of two states. But we can't predict which of those two states that the system will collapse into. Even if a human were completely deterministic, all they have to do is use one of these systems to inject unpredictable randomness into their decision making.

        In other words, you don't need to predict the behavior of a human being, you need to predict the behavior of this

      • Re:Where's the... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:40PM (#29980150)

        Personal responsibility is a pure fiction in a deterministic universe.

        Good thing we don't live in one, then.

        Everything that will ever happen was decided at the time of the Big Bang.
        We just don't have the instruments to predict everything yet.

        Nope. It is impossible, even at the most basic theoretical level, to predict everything. Basic physics theory shows that it is impossible to even just measure everything to an arbitrary degree of precision regardless of what instrumentation you may have. Go back and read your Heisenberg.

        • Superdeterminism (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Valdrax (32670)

          Nope. It is impossible, even at the most basic theoretical level, to predict everything. Basic physics theory shows that it is impossible to even just measure everything to an arbitrary degree of precision regardless of what instrumentation you may have. Go back and read your Heisenberg.

          Actually, while complete measurement may be impossible, it does not mean that the actual underlying mechanics are not deterministic. In fact, superdeterminism [wikipedia.org] is considered a viable explanation of Bell's inequality that avoids ruling out a completely deterministic universe by abandoning any notion of free will in performing an experiment.

          You can read a longer explanation here [everything2.com].

        • Re:Where's the... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Absolut187 (816431) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @01:45PM (#29981424) Homepage

          We're talking about people who commit murder, not Schroedinger's cat.

          Even if the universe is not deterministic, my point is just as valid.

          Nobody is really "responsible" for anything if you go back far enough.

          We're all just bags of salt water.

          The fact that subatomic particles can do some weird shit doesn't mean that I can change my genes, or my upbringing, or my parent's genese/upbringing, etc. etc. etc.

          Every effect has a cause (in the macro world at least).
          To extrapolate: every crime has an excuse.

    • I'm certain the judge has the gene for rectal-cranial insertion. There is a simple test for that defect, of course. Just read what a person writes. Is soon becomes obvious whether he has his head up his ass or not. In itself, the rectal-cranial insertion isn't a real problem, unless the victim has an exceedingly large skull, or an especially small orifice. The real problem, of course, is the resulting oxygen deprivation to the brain.

    • Re:Where's the... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hannson (1369413) <hannson@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:42PM (#29980188)
      How about extending the sentence? Given his gene pool he's likely to kill again. See, this door opens both ways.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BikeHelmet (1437881)

        Given his gene pool he's likely to kill again.

        More likely. People can change - or perhaps no change is necessary if it was a crime of passion or accident. I wonder if those crimes are more common with genes such as this?

        I would've leaned towards more time. A former alcoholic has to watch his beer intake, and possibly stay away from it altogether. An aggressive person has to keep his anger in check. This reduced sentence seems backwards to me. What's next - reduced sentences for hit and run cases and manslaughters, if the drunk driver has a gene that h

  • Backwards? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sefert (723060) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:54AM (#29979214)
    By that logic, isn't he more dangerous, and therefore should get a longer sentence? (Until a gene therapy solution comes out, anyway).
    • Re:Backwards? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slim (1652) <john.hartnup@net> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:57AM (#29979268) Homepage

      By that logic, isn't he more dangerous, and therefore should get a longer sentence?

      Only if the purpose of imprisonment is to keep dangerous people off the street.

      Finding a consensus on the purpose of imprisonment is pretty much impossible.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        To protect us from those persons who cannot recognize the validity of this statement: "No man has a right to harm another. And that is all the government should restrain him." The government's job is to restrain these persons in cages, to protect our inalienable rights.

        • Re:Backwards? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by slim (1652) <john.hartnup@net> on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:13PM (#29979596) Homepage

          You're confusing your own conviction, with a consensus.

          Truly, there is no consensus, and there probably never will be.

        • by Improv (2467)

          That statement is at best a vague intuition unless you can tell us all about what you mean by harm, what situations might change how that is to be understood, etc.

          Law cannot be reduced to such sparse statements.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          To protect us from those persons who cannot recognize the validity of this statement: "No man has a right to harm another. And that is all the government should restrain him."

          I'm not sure if that's what you've actually meant, but you basically just said, "everyone who's not a libertarian should be imprisoned".

      • Finding a consensus on the purpose of imprisonment is pretty much impossible.

        Which is, in my opinion, the problem. If prison is about punishment; fine, take away the cable TV, education, and job training. If prison is about rehabilitation; fine, then prison should be like a combination full time thearapy and education system (and incidently, the same kinds of facilities should be open to non-criminals). If prison is about keeping dangerous people off the streets; fine, then sentences should be based off of scientifically valid recidivism rates combined with the dangerousness of t

      • by MBCook (132727)

        If the purpose is to keep him off the street and the rest of us safe, he should get more time.

        If the purpose is so he can learn he did wrong (penance), then he can't fix this, so he should be locked up permanently because he can't learn to control this. After all, it's not his fault.

        Or if he can learn to control it, it's harder to control, so he should be in for more time since he'll have a harder time learning to be in control as much as a "normal" felon,

        Look at that. it doesn't matter what the purpose

      • Re:Backwards? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:46PM (#29980278)

        Finding a consensus on the purpose of imprisonment is pretty much impossible.

        True. However, it would be extremely strange for a prison to release an inmate a year early because he is displaying unusually aggressive behaviour.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      Depends on how you look at it.

      If prison exists as a punishment, then he is less to blame for his actions, and therefore should have the shorter sentence.

      If prison exists as an example to others, then this ruling doesn't even make any sense, as a person cannot change their gene structure.

      If prison exists to keep the dangerous elements of society away from everyone else, then the whole idea of prison "terms" seems illogical to me. Everyone should go to prison until such time as they are evaluated to no longe

      • by crmarvin42 (652893) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:26PM (#29979844)
        Prisons serve all three roles. Their existance is ment to be a deterrent to those that have not broken the law, punishment for those that have already broken the law, and protection of the rest of society from those who've demonstrated a willingness to break the law. The nature of the crime will effect to what extent the sentencing is intended to act as a punshment or protective role.

        Sentencing of Blue and White colar criminals are going to be aimed at punishment and a warning to others that may be tempted to perpetrate similar acts (embezlement, breaking and entering, etc.). The ancillary effects of incarceration (loss of job, being ostrasized by friends/family, difficulty finding a job post incarceration) are as much part of the punishement as the actuall time spent in prison.

        The sentencing of violent offenders is going to be targeted more at punishing the perpetrator and protecting the innocent. That's why they tend to have longer sentences and are locked up in higher security facilities than their blue collar compatriots. Rehabilitation is more important, but less successful with certain groups of violent criminals and thus they serve longer sentences and are occationally euthanized by the state (depending on where they are incarcerated).

        The death penalty is the ultimate in both punishment of the criminal and protection of society, and IMO not to be used lightly. It should never be used for those that have not proven themselves to be violently dangerous to the rest of society (ie tax fraud doesn't deserve a needle, but repeated homocides does).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        And if prison exists for the purpose of reforming prisoners then his sentence should be longer because it's more effort to reform someone who has a genetic disposition towards violence.
    • Thats what i though when i saw this.

      Prisons serve as place to corret behavior and redeem criminals where it makes no sense to keep someone ucorrectable longer.

      But at same time they also serve as means of preventing further offenses and insulating society from criminals.

      Basically, it makes more sense to jail person with innate violent tendencies for longer period, not shorter.

      Even better, just make no difference at all and it will be fine.

      Also, WTB, personal responsibility.

    • That is what I thought.

      Maybe, after he gets out of prison, he should be kept in some other institution? An institution designed, not to punish, but to keep dangerous people off the streets.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Until a gene therapy solution comes out, anyway

      There are other therapies, such as drugs or anger-management classes. You may be genetically predisposed to cancer, but rather than "genetic cancer therapy" you'll get radiation and chemo.

  • Backwards? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rotide (1015173) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @11:56AM (#29979252)

    Seems a little bit backwards there.

    If I'm actually genetically predisposed to violence, keeping me in society might not be the best course of action.

    Seems to me, those that are _not_ predisposed to violence have a better chance of rehabilitating than those that aren't. Shouldn't they need less time in the slammer to rehabilitate?

    Predisposed to violence = more time in?

    Not Predisposed = less time in?

  • Honestly - do people refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, or lack of actions anymore?
    The purpose of jail isn't really to punish anyone, but rather to keep them off the playground until they can "play nice". If law is going to say that genes controll the way we behave, then will Italian courts start locking people up for having certain genes because they will tend to be violent?

    • What do you mean 'any more'? 'My genes made me do it' is the new version of 'the devil made me do it'.
  • I can understand that it doesn't seem right to punish someone for things out of their control, but part of the purpose of putting murderers in prison is to make it harder for them to kill more people (at least that's my impression). They could maybe put him in a nicer prison, but if anything having the gene implies he's more dangerous than most people, so there is more reason to keep him in prison longer- not less. Hopefully they can help him overcome his genetic aggression, but it makes no sense to put him
    • by radtea (464814)

      I can understand that it doesn't seem right to punish someone for things out of their control

      I can't, because I can't understand the idea of "punishment" at all. I understand the idea of conditioning, and the notion that imposing a negative consequence on someone because they have violated some behavioural norm may in some cases reduce the rate of such violations.

      But when people talk about "punishment" they seem to have something quite different in mind. In particular, people who talk about "punishment" o

      • Re:Right... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dissy (172727) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:40PM (#29980134)

        So when someone says, "A murderer deserves life imprisonment" what they mean is "I would feel better if that person was put in prison for life." I don't really see why people's feelings should be the basis for the criminal law system.

        After you get stabbed 12 times, I'm pretty sure your pain receptors will cause a feeling of not wanting that to happen again (At least to yourself, if not to anyone else)

  • When we have inherent individual faults of some kind, it would be better to have society expect us to strive to overcome them. A mens rea is a big part of crime, but the effects of this kind of biological difference threaten to make grey a matter that the law (and society) relies on being reasonably clear - whether people are to be judged responsible for their actions. If people are drugged through no fault of their own, are insane, or are in a situation where they have little other choice, we may be lenien

  • Fat Gene? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Caviller (1420685)
    I have the fat gene....can i get a discount from McDonald's then since the gene is causing me to spend more money on food then i can afford?
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:02PM (#29979388)

    It's the smell of free will going out the window, courtesy of people thinking that gene==unable to overcome that impulse. And with free will out the window, there's no liability. And with no liability... well, the court system we have is completely unworkable.

    I was wondering when that issue was going to crop up. Thankfully, Italy seems bound to test just how much of a disaster that road will be.

    The only solution to this is to ignore genetic predisposition when judging a convicted criminal.

    Or, to put it differently: we have no choice but to believe in free will. Our society depends on it.

    • Is making an empirically questionable premise, taken on faith, the foundation of your society really a good idea?

      Beyond that, it isn't even the "only solution". Just as, today, our justice system is extremely interested in parsing out "intent"(premeditated vs. non-premeditated, accidental vs. negligent vs. willfully negligent, etc.) you could easily enough imagine a system based instead on parsing out behavioral disposition. We already take some classes of mitigating factors and aggravating factors into
      • No, you misunderstood. The problem isn't liberal depravity. The problem is that this approach removes intent, and replaces it with "genes did it". Yes, it's an exaggeration, and even the Italian judge didn't go all the way on this.

        Here's the problem with this approach: it is possible to tie a genetic predisposition to pretty much anything these days. And from what I know about the cognitive sciences area, more and more genes are found to influence more and more behaviors. The end game here is that pretty mu

    • There are those who suggest that homosexuality isn't a choice, but a strong genetic predisposition. If one can choose not to be homosexual, they are at core the same as everyone else, and then gay marriage laws aren't discriminating against people, but behavior. Granted the behavior discriminated on is a silly and unnecessary distinction when judging marriages (homosexual couples have demonstrated they can raise children, have stable households, contribute positively to society), but it's no longer a civi
    • While I agree with the general idea behind your statement, it's not as clear as just overcoming impulses. If it were, you could just tell people with clinical depression to "just cheer up!" or schizophrenics "just stop listening to those voices in your head!" Or, as a particularly horrible example, people with Tay-Sachs disease [wikipedia.org] who have been known to beg to be tied back up so they will stop chewing off their own fingers, and go back to just chewing off their own lips. They are absolutely unable to contro
  • Practical Usage (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lueseiseki (1189513)
    Both of my grandpas are terribly addicted alcoholics, and my father is a regular drinker. I've been charged with underaged drinking before, so does this mean I couldn't really help it? ;)
    • by aicrules (819392)
      Actually yeah, you could use that to get your sentence/penalty reduced or commuted, though it would likely be at the inverse change to amount of court mandated therapy.
  • Have a propensity for murder? Get released earlier!
  • http://www.boingboing.net/2009/11/04/love-of-shopping-is.html [boingboing.net]

    And I agree with a previous comment that he should have gotten an INCREASED sentence, since clearly we can't allow someone who has no control over themselves loose in public.

  • by mea37 (1201159)
    So if we can explain why you are who you are, then you are no longer responsible for being who you are? Neat.
  • Given punishments for crimes where judgment is impaired, this makes sense. I don't know that I can agree though. For example, if your are driving drunk in a car and kill someone, that carries a different sentence than being sober and killing someone, in or out of the car. Circumstances dictate different sentences, which they should. In theory, genetic dispositions are not something you can control so could actually require more consideration than drinking. I do think personal judgment should override t
  • I'm ok with this, so long as the genes are removed from the pool.

    How about, "You have bad genes and we're so empathetic that we're lowering your punishment. And because we don't want anyone else to suffer like you do, we're preventing you from procreating."

    I think I could get behind that.

  • As often as we try to "cut the heads off of people" by separating the mind/brain from the rest of the body, we really can't. They are inseparable. We have an abundance of evidence that shows, for example, that homosexuality is not the "choice" that many assert it is and occurs among animals other than humans as well. Some people are quite naturally more aggressive than others and that, in fact, it can be modified through various chemical means.

    It would be much more convenient if we could simple blame peo

  • And adding a couple extra pounds of carbon to the air. Probably worse than this if you believe all the climate hysteria on the other side of the ocean.
  • Not Fair (Score:4, Informative)

    by donnacha (161610) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:27PM (#29979864) Homepage
    I have a gene variant linked to tickling policemen and, yet, they throw the book at me every time.
  • OK, let's say that this is true and it isn't this guy's fault that he's more likely to hurt/kill people (note: pure bunk).

    So that means that he is more dangerous than the average felon, because he can control himself less.

    Does that mean he should be put away for more time to protect society from his increased danger?

    "Agression Genes": Because more dangerous genes means you need to be able to get to commit crimes you can't stop yourself from doing sooner!

  • by niko9 (315647)

    So remember emacs users, it's really not your fault!

    Ducks...

  • Not surprising... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:32PM (#29979986)

    Society has been on a tear lately always looking to avoid personal responsibility and blame someone (or in this case, something else). For example,

    --Kids aren't hyperactive or have too much energy. They have ADD and require Ritalin.
    --Why isn't my kid cut out to do Algebra in 2nd grade? It's not that he/she might have a disposition for the arts, but that I need to blame the school and the teachers.
    --"The Man" is holding me down. I find it odd that at my Fortune 500 company the "White male" is not the majority of VPs.
    --I'm not fat, it's just that I have a genetic disposition to eat tons of crappy food and avoid exercise. My genes make me buy ice cream and not even take a 10minute walk around the neighborhood every day.
    --I can't get a date b/c I have a genetic disposition to be single, and not because I want to date Hawaiian Tropic models and I look like Bill Gates and dress like a slob.

    Damnit people, take a bit of responsibility, there's millions of cases out there of people finding their niche and succeeding or overcoming their obstacles to obtain greatness. I don't recall all the immigrants that came through Ellis Island in the early 1900s saying, "I can't be anything" and blamed everyone else.

    There used to be an expression, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." I think to many people this now has become, "When the going gets tough, blame someone else."

  • But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:33PM (#29980000)

    ...don't we need to keep him locked up *longer*, since he's more likely to do it again?

  • by Zebra_X (13249) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:34PM (#29980020)

    The alcholic who was drunk driving and killed someone should get a reduced sentence?

  • An appeal court judge in Trieste, Italy, cut Bayout's sentence by a year after finding out he has gene variants linked to aggression.'"

    So the fact it has been proven he has gene expressions linked to aggression, shouldn't that mean his sentence should be RAISED?

    This is a man who proved to others his genes make him dangerous to everyone around him.
    That is exactly what prisons are for. To keep such animals away from human beings.

    Does this mean if he runs at someone, and gets shot for doing so, it is not murd

  • That's backwards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday November 04, 2009 @12:59PM (#29980528)
    Shouldn't someone with "aggression genes" get a longer sentence, to protect others from his aggressive behavior? Since when has "being an asshole" constituted extenuating circumstances? Oh, that's right -- if you are genetically an asshole, then that's ok! So, all I have to do is prove in court that my father and my grandfather where assholes too, and I can get away with murder? That shouldn't be too hard...

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