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Witless
I arrived to uni way early today so I'm starting a topic.

I thought I'd share my thoughts that were floating around my head on the underground. (Yes, this is the sort of things I think about on the underground)

First a story from Copenhagen (the capital of Denmark). Basically a kid that had done perhaps too many drugs was staggering around the street before eventually falling over during his hazy moments and banged his head on the kirb. He wasn't seriously hurt. But he looked a mess. A druggy kid lying in the gutter with blood on his head. The police arrived at the scene and checked to make sure his injury wasn't serious and it turned out it was more of a graze than a real injury, and gently escorted him to their police car.
Now an american tourist nearby asked him what they were going to do with him. They said they were going to take him home, and that they think he was in good need of sleeping in his bed. He asked if the kid was in trouble and the police replied "yes, with his father, but not with us, we're all young and stupid sometimes ni our life" and that was the end of the issue.

I bring this story (true story) to illustrate a point. How many of us can honestly say that we would have gotten such an understanding police force where we live? It's not like Copenhagen is a dangerous place, 6 murders a year on average, and the biggest crime is people stealing unlocked bikes. Plus it seems like when there is something wrong the police are generally quite tolerant.

So I started pondering (while staring at the lady opposite me who I would like to assume was thinking, "my my, what a hansome young man it is that is gracing me with a glance my way (though was more realistically just gripping tightly onto her tazor)) whether or not it's the rules society creates that cause people to rise to meet them. Or if it's the rules rising to meet the people.
On first thought common sense says "well that's obvious! We make rules to stop people doing things they shouldn't be doing!" But well evidence seems to be obvious. In the states they have obscenely vigourous drugs laws. Most people end up doing longer sentences for drug dealing than for murder (shocking I know!) Yet the drugs industry thrives in the states better than any country in Europe. In the UK we have some of the stronger censorship laws of the western world. Though per 1000 people the UK spends more on sexual items than most of europe. The pattern is repeated everywhere. When the law is harsh on something, normally it's something that is common place there.

It's hard to say whether the law is so harsh on things because there is an issue. Or if people are just rebelling against what they feel is an obsurdly overly controlling system by over compensating.

To end this post I'll say I very much agree with the UKs policy of being more and more gentle on drugs related crime. People take a long time to adjust to big changes on their attitude to things. Gently over years easing up on the more mild drugs I think is wise. It will be interesting to see if with the police not being overbearing upon drugs whether (as in Holland). This overcompensating backlash amount of weed dealing slows.
oobunnie
I dunno... Our police here can be pretty hot and cold. Find you with a bit of weed and they could care less (plus I think you only get a fine now if your carrying under a certain amount). Yet if they come across a speed or meth. user it very much the opposite. Which I can understand to point as alot of the rising theft, mugging, and assault statistics have been blamed upon the rising use of these drugs.
Come hockey games when the riots began on Whyte ave they would stand back and chuckle, giving high fives to those who asked. Then they went hardcore lock down and people couldn't even walk on the streets of Whyte during or after the game. Again which I can understand. Broken windows, burning... lots of things. I think the breaking point was when the invented game of people hanging off cables some 20 feet in the air and having people on the street try to knock them off with beer cans caught on. Maybe we are just to rowdy a people to have such complete freedom. Well maybe only during play-off season... and Canada day.

This reminds of this British girl who was telling my friend a story about her flight here. She was going on and on about how all that she wanted on the flight over was a fag. Where as in Canada most would generally call a cigarette either a smoke or a dart. Anyways, my friend told her that this was a term that she should probably try not to use so often as it would be frowned upon here.
pgrmdave
QUOTE
Most people end up doing longer sentences for drug dealing than for murder


Are you sure about this? Remember, drug laws are, for the most part, not federal laws, they are state laws, which means that there are at least fifty different laws governing drug use. The federal government does have drug laws, but they don't tend to be the ones pursuing drugs unless it is interstate trafficking. And the laws are getting softer as they haven't been working. Mandatory sentances are being removed or lowered in New Jersey at least.

What works in one place does not always work in another. New Yorkers aren't the same as Londoners, and so the same rules won't work the same way there. The cultural differences lead to the different laws, and different ways of dealing with drug problems.
LoLo
One of the ones I find interesting is the difference in the way alcohol is dealt with. In the states to be legal to drink alcohol one has to be 21 years old and people do get in trouble for giving alcohol to people who are under this legal drinking age. The person who does get caught gets punished more if the person is say under 18 than they would if they were over 18, but they get punished none the less. I can't really recall a time when I would be attending a party and hope I wasn't the oldest one there, or the host of the party if underage people were drinking and getting roudy enough that the cops might get called on us, so I wouldn't have to be the one to take the fall for all the alcohol. Yet in other countries if you look old enough to drink most places will go ahead and serve the person.

I hope that made sense, I'm still a bit groggy this morning.
Witless
QUOTE (pgrmdave @ Oct 25 2006, 12:53 PM) *
QUOTE
Most people end up doing longer sentences for drug dealing than for murder


Are you sure about this? Remember, drug laws are, for the most part, not federal laws, they are state laws, which means that there are at least fifty different laws governing drug use. The federal government does have drug laws, but they don't tend to be the ones pursuing drugs unless it is interstate trafficking. And the laws are getting softer as they haven't been working. Mandatory sentances are being removed or lowered in New Jersey at least.

What works in one place does not always work in another. New Yorkers aren't the same as Londoners, and so the same rules won't work the same way there. The cultural differences lead to the different laws, and different ways of dealing with drug problems.


It's hard to get stats on any singular source on the net to link you, but my source is a book I'm reading called 'notes from a big country'. It goes into pointing out the strange hypocrisy in the states. Mentioned that it costs more to put someone on death row than to keep them imprisoned for life thanks to the endless appeal system and the court costs that racks up. Then onto how drugs phobic a lot of people in middle america have become. With a sizable percentage believing drug dealing should be punishable by the death penalty. The pressure put onto the courts by them has caused them to send a lot of drug dealers to prison for upwards of 35 years. Now consider that most murderers only do 30 years and you can see that it's a bit of a peculiar situation.

My point wasn't that people are the same over. I was pointing out that it seems sometimes that the laws create the cultures rather than vice versa. It's for example a bit hard to claim it's because dutch people are more tolerant people that they are capable of having laxer laws when they have had 150 years of tolerant laws. Of course they're going to be that way when they have a 150 year history to get used to it. In the rest of the world where we get drowned in laws people can easily have a habit of rising to meet them.
pgrmdave
I did some basic research on sentancing in the US.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/sent.htm

Here are the statistics from that site:

These are the average maximum sentence lengths (average of prison time, jail time, and probation time given) for different crimes:

All offenses 36 mo
Violent offenses 62 mo
Property offenses 28 mo
Drug offenses 32 mo
Weapons offenses 28 mo
Other offenses 23 mo

They excluded those sentenced to death or life in prison. Clearly, the average violent offense gets a longer prison term.

If anybody wants to do some deeper research on this, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/scscf02.pdf has a LOT of data to sift through that is very well organized.

EDIT: glancing through, Table 1.3 and 1.4 are good comparisons of murder to drug crimes.
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