July 24, 2011
Norway mass murderer facing no more than 21 years in (cushy?) prison
As detailed in this press report, which is headlined "Norway killing suspect may get 21 years in jail," it appears that the maximum sentence that could be given to the terrorist who murdered nearly 100 people in Norway is only 21 years in prison:
The person suspected of carrying out terrorist attacks in Norway will be charged for terrorist activity, while the maximum prison sentence in Norway is 21 years, Norway police said Saturday.
Over ninety people have been killed in the two attacks since Friday.
Police have confirmed that arrested 32-year-old Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, was involved both in the explosion in Oslo, and in a shooting at a youth summer camp on Utoya Island. Police did not link the tragedy to any international terrorist organisations but said the suspect was connected with right-wing extremism.
As detailed in prior posts linked below, Norway crime and punishment has previously been noted on this blog because of various press reports on its relatively cushy forms of incarceration. I do not know if Anders Behring Breivik would be eligible to serve his 21 years in one of these "cushy" Norway prisons, but I do know that a significant number of American criminals involved in relatively minor crack deals and child porn downloading and corporate crimes face much longer prison terms in the US than does a mass murderer in Norway. Remarkable.
Related prior posts on Norway's prisons:
- Norway's new prison sound far more pleasant than punishing
- "Hardened Criminals Held in Freedom: Doing Time on Norway's Island Prison"
- Does Norway's success with a "cushy prison" suggest we ought to get softer on criminals?
UPDATE: Anders Behring Breivik appeared in court this morning, and the details are report in this CBS News piece headlined "Judge: Massacre suspect wanted to 'save Norway'."
July 24, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Permalink
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"Under special circumstances, like a murder of severe cruelty, or if there is reason to believe the offender may commit murder again, additional years of imprisonment can be given. This usually takes place at a court hearing near the end of the sentence." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_Norway
Posted by: peter | Jul 24, 2011 12:37:45 PM
There is, apparently, the option of indefinitely long incarceration for dangerous inmates. Wikipedia is, unfortunately, the best source in English that I could locate without too much trouble: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_imprisonment_in_Norway
(My background, as per request: I am not a professional lawyer, but I serve as a lay judge in my local district court.)
Posted by: Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho | Jul 24, 2011 1:18:25 PM
Norway represents the future of American sentencing as more abolitionists and their law school indoctrinated students take positions of policy making in the government. Shorter sentences, nicer prisones.
The death penalty in Norway is reserved for murder victims.
The police took a US ghetto style, leisurely 90 minutes to respond. They want to get there after the shooting has stopped. In my lawyer residential neighborhood? Response time is 2-3 minutes, and the three police cars come out blasting. The death penalty is at the scene, where I live. No police excessive force litigation or civil right violation litigation where the lawyer lives.
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 24, 2011 3:16:28 PM
Too many crimes are unspeakable, meaning there really isn't a language that can explain them. The language of a new law supposedly offers some closure, but fortunately for Norway, there will be some resistance to the Americanization of its law and culture.
But Norwegians fear their cherished freedoms may be affected in the aftermath.
"We should not let fear paralyse our ability to think clearly and wisely," wrote Harald Stanghelle, political editor of the daily Aftenbladet. "There is much that we should not allow to be sacrificed on the altar of fear."
Lars Helle, editor of the daily Dagbladet, said "we must avoid being preoccupied by fear, like the US was after 11 September 2001. Rather, we must look to Spain and England and how the people of those nations recovered their freedom after the horrible terrorist acts of 2004 and 2005".
Posted by: George | Jul 24, 2011 3:55:14 PM
a comment i read today on a message board from from a norwegian named ola:
"In the safest, most boring country, the worst lone gunman shooting happens. The worst in the world, in history. But it will not make our country worse. The safe, boring democracy will supply him with a defense lawyer as is his right. He will not get more than 21 years in prison as is the maximum extent of the law. Our democracy does not allow for enough punishment to satisfy my need for revenge, as is its intention. We will not become worse, we will be better. We lived in a land where this is possible, even easy. And we will keep living in a land where this is possible, even easy. We are open, we are free and we are together. We are vulnerable by choice. And we will keep on like that, that's how we want to live. We will not be worse because of the worst. We must be good because of the best."
though these questions are complex and no answer simple or easy to come by, i'd say that if someone comes off badly in the comparison between norway and the united states, it's almost certainly us.
Posted by: LG | Jul 24, 2011 3:59:29 PM
An interesting by-issue if you will, is that Norway is often held up by the US gun lobby as the shining example of ultra-low murder rate with the highest gun ownership in Europe. This was a shocking yet very rare instance of murder in Norway, but one that will likely result in tougher gun law. But then I suppose some idiot here will claim that this incident would never have happened if the youngsters had all been carrying pistols in their belts.
As for the response time - take a look at a google terrain map of the location before criticizing too much. Utøya is not downtown Chicago.
Posted by: peter | Jul 24, 2011 4:06:20 PM
Really? Their concept of justice guarantees that a man who killed nearly 100 innocent people, many of them children, will get the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. I don't care what label you put on this, it is not justice.
To me, this is the kind of case that rightly causes even nations like Norway to consider life in prison or death.
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 24, 2011 6:59:22 PM
Maybe one of the hundreds of adults could have carried a gun? In an isolated place like Utaya, police intervention is unlikely to come fast enough to matter.
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 24, 2011 7:38:09 PM
21 years in prison is now a slap on the wrist? You've gone looney.
Posted by: anon | Jul 24, 2011 8:02:47 PM
He'll come up for parole after 14 years. And when he can walk free when he's still in his 40's with 96 murder convictions, yes it is literally that weak.
If I'm looney, go on, show me how 11 weeks per murder is anything less than a slap on the wrist.
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 24, 2011 8:19:15 PM
If a government can't fix a man after 20+ years in jail, one could certainly argue that it has lost its right to try. If he remains an actual danger after two decades in lockup there is of course additional procedure permitted under our, and Norwegian law.
Posted by: anon | Jul 24, 2011 9:37:07 PM
Yes. 21 years in prison for the deliberate mass-murder of 90+ people (something on the order of 3 months of imprisonment per murder victim) is shockingly inadequate.
This is also someone who was politically motivated, who believed that what he did was right and necessary, and who will be released while still young enough to commit additional atrocities or to encourage/coach others to commit similar atrocities.
Although the expression has been seriously overused and abused, Justice Jackson famously commented that the United States Constitution is not a suicide pact; I hope Norway's criminal laws don't prove to be a national suicide pact when it comes to politically motivated people like this who are willing and able to kill lots of people to make a political point and to get attention for his cause. I would like to know from a more comprehensive and reliable source than Wikipedia whether the real maximum possible penalty for this guy is really 21 years of imprisonment, or whether that's just the maximum sentence on the terrorism charge, with additional punishment possible for the murders themselves, etc. If the maximum possible penalty is 21 years, I suspect that most Norwegians will favor amending the law to permit the most obviously dangerous murderers to be kept locked up indefinitely or permanently, rather than simply letting them out while still able and inclined to commit additional mayhem. It's hard to imagine that most Norwegians think their lives, and those of their children, and their friends' and neighbors' children, are cheap enough to simply be something that has to be risked for the sake of giving people like this the chance to prove that -- maybe -- they won't do it again.
Posted by: guest | Jul 24, 2011 9:38:03 PM
Norwegian law, from my understanding, sensibly permits something akin to involuntary commitment (much like SVP laws in the States) if a person remains a danger at the end of their term. Again, two decades in prison is a rather stiff penalty even for the most vulgar of crimes. To call it "shockingly inadequate" says more about how radically fundamentalist our retributionist policies in the States have become than it does about any perceived Euro inadequacies. In my lifetime the average parole eligibility for murder was once less than 10 years here, somewhere, however, we lost our way and decided it was better to send young men to prison than to college.
Posted by: anon | Jul 24, 2011 9:49:34 PM
"If a government can't fix a man after 20+ years in jail,"
I don't even understand what that means. What makes you think that violent crime, and especially politically motivated crime and mayhem" is something that a government, or anyone, can "fix"? How does one "fix" evil?
"one could certainly argue that it has lost its right to try."
There are lots of things that one could argue, even if it's a stupid argument. This appears to be a fine example. "Okay, Mr. Breivik, I'm sorry that we were unable during your 14-year stay with us to change your mind about the inappropriateness of killing people to achieve political goals. But that has to be considered our fault, because if we were better prison administrators, obviously you would have renounced your political beliefs and the use of violence to attain them, and would have thoroughly embraced multiculturalism. In any event, cheers and good luck to you. See you again for another 14 years if and when you kill someone else."
"If he remains an actual danger after two decades in lockup there is of course additional procedure permitted under our, and Norwegian law."
Not sure what this means either. So I take it that you think the answer is that when the relevant criminal law prescribes a maximum possible penalty that seems grossly inadequate to prevent a particularly likely-dangerous offender from reoffending, the solution should be . . . . to just continue to hold the person despite the expiration of his sentence, e.g., civilly committing him on the grounds that he's sick and dangerous?
Posted by: guest | Jul 24, 2011 9:53:46 PM
"Norwegian law, from my understanding, sensibly permits something akin to involuntary commitment (much like SVP laws in the States) if a person remains a danger at the end of their term."
So, if you're right, Norway in fact has lifetime incarceration; the only difference is that the decision to keep a person locked up is made not by the judge but by prison administrators in the exercise of their judgment about how dangerous the person is or is likely to be if released.
"Again, two decades in prison is a rather stiff penalty even for the most vulgar of crimes."
We have a very different understanding of the meaning of the word "vulgar."
"In my lifetime the average parole eligibility for murder was once less than 10 years here, somewhere, however, we lost our way and decided it was better to send young men to prison than to college."
I agree that criminal laws in many states allowed for parole, even for murder convictions, more readily than they do now; one of the reasons this changed is that a number of "young men," already having been convicted and imprisoned for murder, quickly recidivated and killed again upon release.
I would defy you, however, to tell me what American state -- during your lifetime or anyone else's -- would have considered a determinate prison sentence, with parole eligibility in 10 years, to be a remotely appropriate sentence for a deliberate, elaborately planned, **mass murder** of over 100 people. I assure you that in any U.S. jurisdiction that authorized capital punishment -- even during the more forgiving past you recall -- this person would almost certainly have been sentenced to death and executed, as Timothy McVeigh was in connection with his federal prosecution.
Finally, and at the risk of sounding hard-hearted, with perhaps a very small subset of exceptions (e.g., the young woman who stabs an abusive boyfriend to death, believing that he will kill her if she doesn't), if it's murderers we're taking about: yes, I think murderers generally should be sent "to prison" as opposed to "college."
(Perhaps you're really concerned with the fate of "young men" who are small-time drug users, and even small-potatoes drug dealers, and are conflating them and their fates with those of murderers and mass murderers??)
Posted by: guest | Jul 24, 2011 10:11:40 PM
Excuse me: "almost 100 people."
Posted by: guest | Jul 24, 2011 10:13:42 PM
He can still be released if he can effectively mimic a remorseful, well rounded human being. That is both unacceptable and dangerous given the killers like Mark Schwabb have told their doctors what they wanted to hear and walked free to offend again.
Besides that, tell me how letting a viscous, remorseless murderer free after just ten years to live the life their victim(s) have been denied is justice. We're not talking about an accident or an accomplice here. We're talking about the truly evil and sadistic. I think the lives of their victims are worth more than that.
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 24, 2011 10:27:51 PM
Obviously if they had more severe sentences in Norway, this never would have happened.
Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 24, 2011 10:51:20 PM
More severe sentences in Norway would not have prevented this. That is not relevant to the conversation.
Posted by: Dale | Jul 25, 2011 12:03:56 AM
@MikeinCT: There was reportedly an off-duty police officer providing security. He likely went to meet the perp when he arrived and was likely the first victim on the island. Frankly, to prevent this atrocity the island would have had to be prepared for it, an unprecedented act. One doesn't generally prepare for the unprecedented.
(If everyone had been armed, it's possible they could have just killed the perp without much loss of other life. It is also possible that the resulting confusion would have created a free-for-all in which friendly fire kills more than enemy action. To prevent that, the people on the island would have had to be a military unit. They weren't.)
A sentencing aside: 21 years is longer than life prisoners tend to spend in prison in Finland. (Of course, release from life inprisonment is discretionary, but so is release from Norwegian confinement, so far as I can tell.)
Posted by: Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho | Jul 25, 2011 12:49:58 AM
What makes you think they would have had to have been a military unit to stop one man? The mass murderer at the Colorado mega church in 2007 was stopped by a woman who was nothing more than a licensed handgun owner who had volunteered to provide security.
As for gun owners going crazy and shooting more people than a mass murderer bent on killing dozens, when has that happened?
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 25, 2011 1:57:25 AM
@MikeinCT: "What makes you think they would have had to have been a military unit to stop one man?" I do not think that, nor did I write that.
I am not aware of historical examples that are comparable enough for illuminating this issue either way.
Posted by: Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho | Jul 25, 2011 3:35:19 AM
Homicide -- whether gun-related or otherwise -- is rare in Norway, which reports one of the lowest per-capita homicide rates in Europe.
Five homicides committed with a gun were reported in Norway in 2005, the latest year for which the site has data confirming firearm-related murders in the country. In comparison, the U.S., which has a population more than 50 times greater, had 10,158 gun-related murders the same year, or 2,000 times that of Norway.
Posted by: Dott. claudio giusti, italia | Jul 25, 2011 5:10:55 AM
"if a person remains a danger at the end of [sic] their term"
But that raises the question as to whether we can reliably predict who will be dangerous at the end of their prison sentence. I'm sure there are easily cases where the answer is "yes" but there are many more where it is far less clear.
Posted by: Steve Erickson | Jul 25, 2011 8:32:40 AM
Does anyone here honestly believe that harsher sentences would have prevented this? Perhaps somebody should compare Norwegian per capita crime rates to America's to determine whether harsher sentences make the public safer? If we focus on outcomes (i.e., less crime), Norwegians seem to have a lot better handle on the issue than we do, outlier incidents like this, McVeigh, etc., notwithstanding.
Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jul 25, 2011 9:28:33 AM
Simply unimaginable. Norway treats its worst citizens humanely ("cushy" prisons). It views 21 years in lock-up as a significant sentence even for terrible crimes.
It probably doesn't even dispatch heavily armed goon squads garbed in Darth Vader costumes to deal with every little dust-up.
Yet Norway apparently enjoys a vastly lower crime rates than what we have here.
How can that be?
Posted by: John K | Jul 25, 2011 9:53:54 AM
A fundamental question remains unanswered from your post, Doug, and from all the comments: Does the perpetrator face more than one count, perhaps based on the number of murders he committed, or at least two counts based on the separate bombing and then targeted sniper shooting of the young people on the island? Is 21 years the maximum punishment imposed for any related series of crimes? Does Norway law prohibit consecutive sentencing?
Posted by: nan | Jul 25, 2011 10:26:32 AM
@ John K. "It views 21 years in lock-up as a significant sentence even for terrible crimes . . . . Yet Norway apparently enjoys a vastly lower crime rates than what we have here. How can that be?"
In addition to a number of complicated social reasons, at least part of it may be because -- as a number of commenters have suggested is the case (it would be good if someone knowledgeable in this area would comment) -- Norway and other European countries are apparently a lot more comfortable affording discretion to prison administrators or other executive officials to continue to keep people deemed "dangerous" locked up without regard to whether the person has been ocnvicted of a crime or whether the person has been convicted and has served his sentence.
I appreciate that there's a tendency on the part of some to reflexively praise things that are European for being forward-looking and progressive, while criticizing their American counterparts as regressive.
But I don't understand how people can say Norway "views 21 years in lockup as a significant sentence even for terrible crimes" if, in fact, at least some of the people who commit these crimes are *not* released after 14, or 21, years but continue to be held indefinitely, unless and until executive officials determine that the person is no longer dangerous and is reasonably safe to be released.
I wish someone who had actual knowledge of European criminal justice practice, as opposed simply to people who cite Wikipedia or whose thought process stops with ("Europe = civilized; U.S. = uncivilized"), could comment as to how many people Norway and other European countries are holding, without regard to criminal charge or despite the expiration of their criminal sentence, because they've been deemed dangerous to society.
Posted by: guest | Jul 25, 2011 10:30:37 AM
Counting counts...isn't that typically more about leveraging plea agreements (or punishing those who reject them) than balancing actual wrongdoing with appropriate punishment?
Any American prosecutor so inclined can stack charges at will; lawmakers have seen to it that virtually every prohibited act can easily be splintered into multiple "counts." It's one of the things that keeps the system churning along at a confession rate upwards of 95 percent.
In fact, determining how many "counts" to bring might be the one factor even more malleable and seemingly arbitrary than the terms of imprisonment ultimately imposed at the end of the process -- elaborate, meticulous-sounding guidelines structures notwithstanding.
Fifteen years, 30 years, 300 years...ever-harsher, mostly arbitrary terms ratcheting ever higher from the harsh, mostly arbitrary terms imposed by previous generations of mob-pandering and/or tyrannical authorities.
Had our sentencing history been more restrained, even-handed (more Norwegian?), it's doubtful we'd be dismissing a 21-year sentence as a slap on the wrist.
Posted by: John K | Jul 25, 2011 11:52:06 AM
@guest I am a Finnish lay judge, and as such I have both experience on the Finnish criminal justice system and access to (Finnish language) sources. I believe all the Nordic countries are roughly comparable, but there are important detail differences, and as such I am limited to Wikipedia about Norway.
Addressing your question as to Finland: "how many people Norway and other European countries are holding, without regard to criminal charge or despite the expiration of their criminal sentence, because they've been deemed dangerous to society". In Finland, that practice was outlawed in 2006, and it had not been used after the 1970s (source in Finnish: HE 262/2004 vp and sk no 780/2005).
Of course, Finland still retains and practices the (nominal) life imprisonment sentence, which in practice means an indefinitely (but at least 12 years) long imprisonment with release up to the discretion of a certain appellate court. In 2009, the average length of actual imprisonment for "life" was 14 years (counting only those who were released that year), and that appears about typical. There were 151 inmates serving a life sentence in 2009. (Statistical source: Table 12 in "Rikosseuraamuslaitoksen tilastollinen vuosikirja 2009 – Vangit ja yhdyskuntaseuraamusasiakkaat" available at http://www.rikosseuraamus.fi/53758.htm ) There have been individual cases of imprisonment of about 20 years (for example Nikita Joakim Fouganthine was released on parole in 2008 after 19 years of inprisonment).
As I said, as to Norway I am limited to Wikipedia :-)
Posted by: Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho | Jul 25, 2011 12:01:44 PM
i take the quotation in question to be so important because it locates the particular (possible) sentence in this particular case in the context of the larger system and, more importantly, its animating principles-- the principles of the norwegian people as codified by their democratically elected officials. disagree as you might with the possible outcome in this one particular case (and, as others have shown, it does in fact seem very possible that this man will spend the rest of his natural life in prison), it's still quite possible that justice, by anyone's standards, is more consistently served in a system like theirs.
god knows i don't think there's anything easy about any of this, and if the people of norway come to feel that their own laws are insufficient to the address a case like this one, i wouldn't presume to disagree with them. but that's not the view of the norwegian citizen whose view i posted. her sense is that the most deeply held values of the norwegian people, their sense of justice, is in fact alive in their existing laws and legal system.
while it maybe be true that the decision the norwegian courts will render in this particular case will be less satisfying to you than the decision our own courts would render in the same case, that fact is not sufficient to demonstrate that the norwegian justice system is less just than ours, or that this particular norwegian's sense of justice is lesser than your own.
my heart is with the norwegian people as they struggle with these profoundly difficult questions.
Posted by: LG | Jul 25, 2011 12:18:29 PM
You claimed that to arm citizens to stop this man and avoid shooting eachother in some mass frenzy they would have needed military training. That is silly and I provided you with an example to demonstrate it.
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 25, 2011 1:04:27 PM
It appears that the Norwegian people are debating whether their current justice system can execute justice in this case and it wouldn't surprise me if they looked to the US for more appropriate sentences.
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 25, 2011 1:09:55 PM
My sense is that everyone is shooting in the dark about the actual application of Norwegian law in these circumstances. Someone got someone to translate a single statute that says "terror - 21 year max" and the blogosphere is in a tizzy.
I would not be surprised if it turns out that, either through consecutive sentencing, or charge of intentional murder in addition to/instead of "terrorist activity," or some other mechanism, Norwegian law provides a way to keep this person locked up indefinitely.
Posted by: Anon | Jul 25, 2011 1:21:07 PM
It's not just bloggers, reputable journalists around the world seem to agree he's facing no more than 21 years.
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 25, 2011 2:32:51 PM
The latest casualty count is 86 dead. If the longest sentence available is 21 years, that means the killer will serve roughly three months for each murder he committed.
A three month sentence for murder is preposterous. It's as if the lives of the victims counted for next to nothing. No person with a conscience could think it's remotely adequate.
Nonetheless, the America Stinks contingent is in full throat, using this detestable crime as a way, not to even question Norway's irrational leniency, but to trash the United States.
On the other hand, when EVERY event, here or anywhere, is an occasion to trash the USA, what should we expect?
The killer plotted for months and acted with inhuman coldness. Anyone with remotely human sensibilities would have had a pang of conscience and would have stopped. This man didn't. He won't get the death penalty, but he's earned it.
Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 25, 2011 2:35:18 PM
@MikeinCT: I did not claim what you claim I claimed. But I may have been unclear, so let me restate my position.
It is perfectly possible for armed citizens to stop a gunman without further bloodshed; I said as much. It is also possible (note: I never claimed it was inevitable) that a situation where everyone is armed and shots are fired can cause confusion and friendly fire incidents. I suspect that the people involved need to be in a disciplined unit (such as a military unit[*]) to be able to deal with that sort of confusion without risking friendly fire.
[*] Yes, I realize I previously only allowed military units. That was too big of a restriction, my bad.
Now, about your example. You did not give any references, and I am unfamiliar with the incident. Googling inclines me to believe that it was not a case where everyone was armed. Thus, it does not appear to be comparable to the hypothetical at issue. Even if it were, one example does not disprove a claim of possibility.
Posted by: Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho | Jul 25, 2011 3:17:52 PM
@ Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho:
Thank you for the response. Even if it was, as you say, limited to Wikipedia as to Norway, the information you provided as to Finland is interesting -- and more useful than simple guessing or conjecture would have been.
Posted by: guest | Jul 25, 2011 8:17:02 PM
Even if the final death toll from this extraordinary outlier is 100, Norway's homicide rate for the year should come in somewhere around one-fifth of that in the United States.*
So it would seem that all things considered, Norway's "irrational leniency" is working for them.
P.S. No, I don't believe 21 years is a sufficient period of confinement in a case like this. Of course the only thing that would be more ridiculous than letting someone out for a crime like this after just 21 years is actually believing that Norway will release someone who's committed a crime like this after just 21 years. (I'm sure Norway's heretofore marginalized law-and-order contingent is out right now stoking public credulity on the point.) Breivik will probably be confined for the rest of his life, certainly well more than 21 years.
*Norway's homicide rate has been .6 per 100,000 the past two years. The U.S.'s has been 5.0. (Homicide rate stats here.) Norway's population is about 4.9 million. Over that population, 100 homicides comes out to an extra .49 per 100,000.
Posted by: Michael Drake | Jul 25, 2011 9:24:58 PM
The fair comparison is not murder rate of Norway to that of the USA. The fair comparison is compare the rate in Norway to hat of Norwegian areas of the US. I bet we look far better than a 40 fold higher rate than expected. That large rate includes that of black people. They receive little or no protection from the government and its criminal law. Black folks are mostly on their own here. Thank the feminist lawyer for the high black murder rate. The excess number is 5000 higher than expected each year. The feminist lawyer achieves in a year what KKK lunch mobs achieved in 100 years of terrorism. The achieve something quite remarkable. By wide margins they persuade black folks to vote for the democratic party, the party of the confederacy since Jackson. and for the party of the KKK. Remarkable. They do the same to highly educated and well to do Jews. The Democrat gets the Jews to vote against their own economic self interest, and against Zionist Israel.Then, the same Democratic Party sends its agents into law schools, and persuade law school teachers to teach supernatural doctrine that do not exist in nature.
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 25, 2011 10:59:33 PM
Michael Drake --
1. How can you possibly know he'll serve more than 21 years? That sounds like a sheer guess designed to take the heat off this absurdly victims-count-for-zilch sentencing law.
2. You forgot to tell us about Japan's murder rate. Japan has an active DP, with a murder rate less than Norway's, isn't that correct?
3. When a guy with months of planning, and in cold blood, without a single conscience-driven thought, and for an extended period of time, guns down defenseless children, there is simply no way a term of imprisonment, whether 21 years or 21,000 years, is justice. Not for one minute do I believe you don't know this.
This guy resembles a human being, but has nothing resembling human empathy or morals. He has the conscience of a shark, and deserves the same fate.
Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 25, 2011 11:08:54 PM
"How can you possibly know he'll serve more than 21 years?"
The same way you can possibly know that he won't. But if you want to draw up a futures agreement (as it were) set to the delivery date of your choice, you know how to contact me.
"You forgot to tell us about Japan's murder rate."
But then you forgot to tell us about Norway's murder rate. And given that you were explicitly comparing the U.S. and Norway ...
"there is simply no way a term of imprisonment, whether 21 years or 21,000 years, is justice."
I doubt anything could bring justice in a case like this, Bill. In my view, justice just doesn't have anything to do with whether Norway should kill this man.
Posted by: Michael Drake | Jul 25, 2011 11:53:29 PM
"Of course the only thing that would be more ridiculous than letting someone out for a crime like this after just 21 years is actually believing that Norway will release someone who's committed a crime like this after just 21 years."
That's a huge assumption with no proof or concrete examples to back it up. People like him have been released in other countries. Pedro Lopez walked out of a Ecuadorian prison, despite having raped and murdered more than 50 little girls, after less than 20 years.
Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 25, 2011 11:57:00 PM
Michael Drake --
1. Translation: You boldly asserted that he'll serve longer than 21 years but, when challenged, offer zilch to back it up. This is understandable, since you can't foresee the future. Of course you couldn't when you wrote your original post either. Why not admit you're just guessing?
2. The reason I didn't tell you about Norway's murder rate is that it has nothing to do with whether THIS DEFENDANT has earned the DP.
This is in stark contrast to the reason you brought up Norway's murder rate, which was to imply that a system without a DP produces a lower murder rate than one that has it. But that is not true. Some of the countries with the lowest murder rates in the world DO have the death penalty. So your excursion into comparing murder rates is misleading (as tendentiously limited to just two countries) in addition to being irrelevant to the main question, to wit -- again -- whether THIS DEFENDANT has earned it.
Michael, the guy spent an hour and a half hunting down defenseless children and, without a wisp of mercy, compassion, or doubt kept killing, killing and killing them. The idea that all that happens now is he goes to prison is just breathtaking in its accommodation to pure evil. I don't want the DP for everyone or close to everyone, but this guy is not a close case.
"I doubt anything could bring justice in a case like this, Bill. In my view, justice just doesn't have anything to do with whether Norway should kill this man."
Wrongo. Justice is the primary factor in determining punishment -- I didn't think that was even controversial. Is it? Why?
If you can't do full justice, you come as close as the Eighth Amendment allows, and that, in this case, is execution.
Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 26, 2011 12:09:57 PM
"You boldly asserted that he'll serve longer than 21 years but, when challenged, offer zilch to back it up."
On the contrary: I offered you an opportunity to enrich yourself.
It's a fact about the present that Norway has the means to keep Breivik confined for life. If you want to wager that they won't use those means in this case, again, you know how to find me.
"[To say that Norway has a low homicide rate despite having an 'irrational[ly] lenien[t] sentencing regime is] to imply that a system without a DP produces a lower murder rate than one that has it"
No, it's to say that you don't need a regime of harsh punishment to enjoy low crime. (Yes, I understand there are other variables—which is part of the point.)
"Wrongo. Justice is the primary factor in determining punishment -- I didn't think that was even controversial."
Of course it is not controversial that "justice" matters in sentencing. What is controversial is whether having the state kill a killer enhances "justice." You clearly think it does. I don't.
Last word's yours if you want it.
Posted by: Michael Drake | Jul 26, 2011 11:40:04 PM