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Bringing a criminal to justice at the cost of telling their victims what they would rather not have known

A horrible thought occurred to me while reading press accounts of the recent trial and conviction of Reynhard Sinaga, who may have been Britain’s most prolific rapist.

Sinaga’s modus operandi was as follows:

He would wait for men leaving nightclubs and bars before leading them to his flat, often offering them somewhere to have a drink or call a taxi. Giving them a drugged drink, believed to have been spiked with GHB, Sinaga would then assault the victims while they were unconscious and video the attack with a mobile phone.

In this fashion he got away with more than a hundred rapes because his victims did not know they had been raped. Finally,

In June 2017, his last victim, an 18-year old, regained consciousness during the rape, fought off his attacker, and reported the incident to the police. Sinaga was badly beaten and was taken to hospital, while police initially arrested his victim on suspicion of grievous bodily harm. Subsequent examination of Sinaga’s iPhone by the police led to the discovery of more than 3 terabytes of digital video evidence of his assaults and rapes. Many of his victims were traceable because Sinaga kept their phones, watches, ID cards, etc., and he had used social media to reach his unknowing victims online.

Note the word “unknowing”. The horrible thought that occurred to me was this: some (not all, but a substantial number) of Sinaga’s victims have said that their lives were seriously damaged by the police tracing them and telling them that they had been raped while drugged and unconscious. They would have preferred not to know. More painful yet, the fact that they had been raped became public knowledge at the trial. But if the police had not traced Sinaga’s victims and marshalled the evidence against him for the judge and the jury to see, he would have been able to continue with his crimes indefinitely.

In the end, I would say that in Sinaga’s case the public interest had to take precedence: he had to be stopped. Yet I think that situations could occur where it might be justifiable to let a criminal go unpunished in order to save his or her unknowing victims from the pain of discovering that they had been wronged.

38 comments to Bringing a criminal to justice at the cost of telling their victims what they would rather not have known

  • Dara Shahrokhshahi

    Would you want to know if he infected you with an STD? AIDS?

  • Itellyounothing

    With all the Facebook crime and what not it is easy to forget, the Police do face a lot of tough decisions….

  • Agammamon

    Yet I think that situations could occur where it might be justifiable to let a criminal go unpunished in order to save his or her unknowing victims from the pain of discovering that they had been wronged.

    I would like to see some examples. Because I can think of no situation where I wouldn’t want to know – or where letting someone get away with a serial crime spree is the smaller price to pay.

  • staghounds

    I prosecuted a rather similar case once. The previously unknowing victims were uniformly upset.

    I didn’t feel any moral question. Whether they knew it or not, the rapes had happened and the only way to stop the pervert was to convict him.

  • Ben David

    We already have rules in place to protect the identity of minors in court proceedings – even when they are the perpetrators.

    There is also a long tradition of protecting women victims in similar situations. Or even in other sensitive cases like Roe vs. Wade.

    How is this case different? Or maybe our society is now different?

  • Ben David

    In any case we should work this out before the inevitable wave of similar cases caused by the normalization of homosexuality and homosexual “mentoring”

  • The truth must always take precedence. What is not true is not. I would rather know than live a lie – and my sympathy for the victims does not stop me from saying they should work through to the point of knowing the truth is better than a lie.

    It is also worth noting that it is often merely a question of delaying the truth. And while one person may, for a lifetime or just for a time, wish they could have avoided some distressing knowledge, another will be justly furious when they discover they were deceived first by the criminal and then by those whom their taxes pay to fight crime. There is an innate problem in getting someone’s consent to being deceived.

    (Aside: the very form of the crime suggests that it may not be absolutely logically impossible to get consent to being misinformed in a sense. Science fiction contains scenarios in which people consent to having their memories wiped. It would presumably be sort-of-almost-possible even today to tell a victim privately and then offer them the same short-term-memory-annulling drug if they wanted to take it, so memory of being informed would vanish. But in such a case, I would refuse. And I would worry greatly about the government’s ability to abuse any such procedure.)

    Finally of course, the law must in any case be obeyed in this very malum in se case.

  • bobby b

    In this age of HIV and other dangerous STD’s, I can well imagine the lawsuits – from victims as well as their subsequent partners – that would result if the police failed to inform people that they had been raped while unconscious.

    And I’m not sure why heterosexual mentoring would be any safer.

  • Lord T

    I’m with most people here. Victims must be informed and during trial their names can be anonymised so the prosecutions can take place. Should be standard in any rape case.

  • Ben David (February 13, 2020 at 9:12 am), two contrasting points.

    On the one hand, way back circa 2001 when this blogging stuff was very new, I recall Andrew Sullivan (not the most obvious suspect to be hypersensitive on this point) posting on the “extraordinary contrast” between huge media coverage versus virtual media silence about two similar-time-exposed multiple-rape cases (tens of victims, the latter ‘ahead’ IIRC though I could be remembering with ‘advantages’) that were very similar except for the alternative orientation of the latter’s perpetrators. In more ways than one, Rotherham is not the only area where a free-speech-silencing narrative could have a statistically victim-endangering effect.

    On the other hand, I know of no such aspect to this particular case as yet. Like Rotherham it went on for years before being exposed to the public domain, and has many victims, but unlike Rotherham I know of no narrative-induced “we can’t afford to have this coming out” assistance to its continuing. IIUC it was unknown to the authorities and the media until it was suddenly known and a big story.

    The narrative being strong, its dangers are not well resisted by accusing it where it isn’t in evidence.

    Just my 0.02p FWIW.

  • staghounds

    For those from elsewhere, and those who don’t know, there isn’t any way to conceal the identity of witnesses, including victims, in a criminal case that is actually prosecuted*.

    We have discovery- the defendant has the absolute right to know who the witnesses against him are.

    We have public trials- witnesses have to testify publicly. Even in the jurisdictions that have tried to “protect” child victims, the defendant and his counsel have the right to observe the testimony and cross examine the witnesses.

    And only the victim can say “I did not consent, I was unconscious.”

    *As opposed to an investigation without a charge.

    Not even this character gets the Star Chamber yet.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall: could i ask you to give more info on the “two similar-time-exposed multiple-rape cases” that A. Sullivan compared? because it is not at all clear what the difference between the 2 cases might be.

    Anyway, it’s good to hear that the British police can still do some good work, every once in a while.

    Ben David’s fears seem misplaced: similar cases will become less likely now that men know that they, too, can be drugged+raped. And if you’ll forgive my callousness, the victims were lucky: it could have been a serial killer. I myself hope that i would have enough sense never to trust a stranger, except when i have to take a chance. It’s part of my philosophy of maximizing freedom from arbitrary power.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As for Natalie’s question: a case could be made that, had the rapist died, there would be no point in notifying the victims (except to warn them about possible STDs). As long as the rapist is alive, caging him is necessary. Not a complete answer, but there is at least one case in which there is no point in notifying the victims.

    BTW there is one thing i do not understand: didn’t the victims feel sore, you know, back there? Didn’t they wonder why?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Agammamon writes,

    I would like to see some examples. Because I can think of no situation where I wouldn’t want to know – or where letting someone get away with a serial crime spree is the smaller price to pay.

    When it comes to serial crime sprees, I agree. The criminal must be stopped from committing future crimes.

    The sort of examples I had in mind where were all of the following conditions apply:

    1) the crime is less serious than rape (but could still be serious)
    2) the chance of future crimes occurring is low or nonexistent
    3) the harm done by the crime cannot be undone by exposing the perpetrator

    That is exactly why so many jurisdictions have a statute of limitations on many crimes, though so far as I know nowhere has a statute of limitations on either murder or rape.

    Think of it this way: imagine you, as a private citizen, came across evidence that thirty years ago a man had become indebted to a loan shark but paid it off by embezzling money that he held in trust for a young relative. The embezzler then got his life back on track and has lived a life of respectable poverty until now. He will die soon, and conscious of his guilt, will leave all he has (but that’s a pittance) to his former ward. She for her part will mourn her beloved Uncle Fred having no suspicion that she would have been financially much better off had he not stolen her trust money. Would you tell her, knowing that knowledge of the truth would not get the money back but would inflict upon her the pain of knowing that a beloved relative had betrayed her – and that her own three decades of having to struggle to make ends meet could have been avoided?

    Does the situation become different if you are not a private citizen but a police officer?

  • Itellyounothing

    Yes. Significant legal duties to expose crime (yes yes that is failed with examples we all know) exist for the Police. Unless well embedded in the common purpose club, a Senior Cop can expect to be in very serious trouble if any are tied to the “government-protected” rape gang scandal in a blame worthy way and the politicians who made their early careers in local council would much rather see the Police take all the sins.

    A private citizen has only a civic duty to report crime. Not a legal one. You can’t really be punished for mere awareness of a crime after the fact.

    It is much easier to contemplate ignoring it all and letting it go away when no legal harm can come to the private citizen. Is it worth the bother and the trauma?

    The Police, need some aura of not being total failures. When that slips, it invites vigilante action…..

  • Gonzo 69

    So who needs to know what in order for the prosecution to be successful? “But if the police had not traced Sinaga’s victims and marshalled the evidence against him for the judge and the jury to see, he would have been able to continue with his crimes indefinitely.” But they had the evidence – or at least some of it – on the phone. And that phone evidence might have made it clear that his victims were just that (i.e., unwilling and unwitting).

    Even if we assume that this evidence needs to be made available to the victim for it to count as evidence (although clearly this isn’t a conceptual truth – it obviously doesn’t apply in the case of murder) how many such victims need to be enlightened before Sinaga could be put away? Half of them? 10%? This number might depend on Sinaga’s state of health, to ensure his victims would not unwittingly pass on the disease possibly given to them by Sinaga. If he had no such disease this justification falls away.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Concealing bitter truths…

    There was a survey of medical professionals a few years ago. They were asked: if it came to your knowledge, due to genetic or just blood type testing, that a child could not be the offspring of the putative father – would you inform the man? Nearly all said they would not.

    In this case: it would certainly be distressing to the victims to know they had been physically violated in this way. But the knowledge would be abstract. It would not be traumatic like the actual experience of rape.

    One question: it’s stated that Sinaga stole phones, watches, and ID cards from his victims. Didn’t they report these thefts? ISTM the police would be looking for him for that. If they didn’t bother, that’s another problem. (Although since Sinaga kept them as trophies and never used or sold them, the usual methods for tracking thieves wouldn’t apply; police and victims might think the items were just lost.)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Rich Rostrom,

    I gather Sinaga selected young men who were already visibly “the worse for wear due to alcohol” as his victims. They were already very drunk when he drugged them. They knew they had been very drunk: he just made them believe that they had been even more drunk, so much so that they could not remember what had happened. (A staple of comedy but not really a funny situation.) The next morning when they couldn’t find their credit card it would be more natural to assume that they had dropped it, or that if it had been stolen it must have been by someone other than this gentle-seeming guy who had helped them out, particularly as Sinaga prudently refrained from ever using the cards. The fact that they knew his name and where he lived would also give them the impression that he was legitimate. From then on they thought of him as a friendly acquaintance, someone they would say hello to if they met him in the street. Possibly a similar explanation might answer the question raised by Snorri Godhi.

  • bobby b

    “Yet I think that situations could occur where it might be justifiable to let a criminal go unpunished in order to save his or her unknowing victims from the pain of discovering that they had been wronged.”

    The more I read this sentence, the more it bothers me.

    We should not allow for such discretion in our public officials. Once they get to decide which crimes ought to be ignored for the general good (and arguably we’re mostly there anyway, to our detriment) we find that the friends of the officials always seem to escape scrutiny.

    I remember that James Comey, when justifying his decision to let Hillary off for her e-mailing hijinks, remarked about using his discretion to avoid larger societal upheavals. I don’t think that discretion belongs in the hands of the prosecutorial bunch.

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby, and I gather staghounds also, and any other U.S. trial lawyers and/or prosecutors (are all U.S. prosecutors experienced trial lawyers?),

    Prompted by bobby’s comment just above (12:15 a.m.):

    Is it true that in the U.S., there is “prosecutorial discretion” as to whether to seek an indictment for a (suspected crime OR criminal — if the distinction even makes sense in context of this question)? If so, is that nationwide or up to the particular jurisdiction or what?

    Also, O/T but pertinent to my question, do some or all prosecutors have to go before a grand jury to get an indictment?

    (I’d swear that the legal thrillers I use as casebooks seem somewhat at odds on these questions.)

  • bobby b

    Julie:

    Yes, that does exist, almost everywhere. It’s a power jealously protected by prosecutors, who will tell stories about forgoing prosecution of 18-year-old guys for “rape” of their 17-year-old girlfriends, of not prosecuting people for technicalities when the equities demanded they violate those technicalities. It all sounds so decent and commonsensical.

    And that’s how people like Epstein go forever in safety, how Clinton escaped prosecution for the same acts that put others in prison regularly, how the Jussie Smollets of the world walk away from their troubles . . .

    It all makes sense in the small cases, and results in huge unfairness in the rest.

    In my relatively short crimdef career, I asked prosecutors to use that kind of discretion many times. It worked for the judge’s kid, for the cop, and for two staffers of the St. Paul City Councilperson. They were the only ones deserving of the city/county attorneys’ mercy.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thank you, bobby.

    I reckon you give us a further insight into why you decided to let the criminal bar get along without you.

    –Julie

  • John

    Here in the UK inconsistent application of the law has become endemic. Straight off the top of my head and without mentioning the word Rotherham:-

    1. Jo “battery acid” Brand. Police interest – zilch.
    2. Anna “not a nazi” Soubry. Custodial sentence for saying otherwise.
    3. Kevin “bacon sandwich” Crehan. Custodial and intimately death sentence. .
    4. Innumerable Extinction Rebellion supporters commuting criminal damage, obstruction of traffic and disruption of public transport and airports. Custodial sentences to date …………….
    5. Tommy Robinson. Whatever you feel about him.

    Impartial Justice my arse.

    P.s. apologies for going off track from the original subject but I sensed that the discussion was going this way anyway.

  • John

    Sorry. So many typos.

    Ultimately – not intimately.

    Commiting criminal damage – not commuting (although the events at Canning Town should never be forgotten).

  • Natalie Solent (Essex, February 13, 2020 at 4:16 pm), I would be absolutely furious at anyone who I discovered had deceived me about such a hypothetical embezzling guardian Uncle Fred. If the crime is so much less serious then why is it not sufficiently less serious that it can be told, including any extenuating or explaining facts about Fred’s difficult situation at the time, and the niece allowed to forgive, or not, in her own good time.

    Suppose Uncle Fred’s will includes not just leaving his pittance of repayment but also confessing the crime. Were you, his deathbed lawyer, whom he persuaded years before to keep it quiet “because it would only upset her”, the one drawing up the will, do you urge him to go on keeping it quiet? Do you beg his deathbed conscience to shut-up and get with the programme?

    The deathbed confession is only one of various ways in which my earlier point about concealment lasting only for a time, and risking greater hurt when it dies, applies. Your post asks an interesting question, but I find the answer is in general very clear.

  • And that’s how people like Epstein go forever in safety, how Clinton escaped prosecution for the same acts that put others in prison regularly, how the Jussie Smollets of the world walk away from their troubles . . .

    In my relatively short crimdef career, I asked prosecutors to use that kind of discretion many times. It worked for the judge’s kid, for the cop, and for two staffers of the St. Paul City Councilperson. They were the only ones deserving of the city/county attorneys’ mercy. (bobby b, February 14, 2020 at 3:01 am)

    The fact that bobby b was of course acting properly in asking for his various clients, both the privileged and the refused, should probably be mentioned if this ever appears as a samizdata quote of the day (it may well from me this weekend, but work is busy this week, several posts are hanging fire, so anyone who wants to get in first please be my guest). I mention this because I tripped out for a second on the word ‘asked’ before switching my brain on, and would not wish any skim-reader to go ballistic on bobby b.

  • Fraser Orr

    It seems to me that prosecutorial discretion is a part of the design of the legal system. On the one hand we have the inflexible statute laws. Then we have a filtering mechanism. First the police decide whether to arrest you, then the DA decides whether to charge you, then the jury decides whether to nullify the charges, then the judge gets to decide whether to throw out the verdict, then the appeals court gets to decide it too.

    At each level people get to judge whether the law is sufficient and appropriate in that particular case.

    I go back and forth on how good or bad that is. On the one hand black and white law does not do well when meeting the cold reality of messy real world situation. On the other hand it is absolutely ASKING for corruption, especially so when, in our current situation, we have so many laws of such complexity and obscurity that it is almost impossible to go without violating any. Which effectively means you give discretion to the police or DA to prosecute you at any time at all. (One sees the utterly disgraceful uneven application of the law in the political swamp in Washington right now where Stone goes to jail for a million years for practically nothing, whereas Comey, Clapper and Brenan have book deals and CNN gigs.)

  • Fraser Orr

    Two other points: a few years ago we had a discussion similar to this. It was some footballer in Indiana who had sex with a girl at a party who was drunk out of her mind and someone filmed it (of course.) She knew nothing till someone showed it to her the next day. I think there was a hearty discussion on the rights and wrongs of this.

    Back to the OP, it is pretty common to place burden on the individual for the “good of society”. Taxes for example, or parking restrictions, or drug laws. I am generally pretty opposed to these things. However, in this case I think that the authorities really have no right to make this decision. I think that they should inform the assaulted men that this has happened, but as to which are to be included in the case? I think that is really up to the victim. They could be included or excluded at their preference. I imagine there would be enough who say “fuck the bastard, I’m in” to lock him up for a long time. But, here in the USA, we have this imagined right of privacy that prevents the government from even knowing about an abortion, it is hard to see how that doesn’t also cover being the victim of a crime, should you chose to exercise it.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Fraser:

    At each level people get to judge whether the law is sufficient and appropriate in that particular case.

    Which is how it should be … except for the asymmetry: if the police decide not to arrest a criminal, or the DA decides not to charge him (or her), or the jury decides not to nullify the charges, or the judge decides to throw out the verdict, then the criminal can get away with murder.

    And then there is early release: in the Netherlands, a man convicted of 2 murders was released after 10 or 11 years, and went on to murder at least 4 prostitutes.

    So i say: make the police accountable for failure to arrest, the DA accountable for failure to prosecute, and whoever decides for early release accountable for whatever crimes are committed after release. But i would not go so far as to hold the jury accountable; nor the judge, except for blatant abuse of power.

    On the other hand it is absolutely ASKING for corruption, especially so when, in our current situation, we have so many laws of such complexity and obscurity that it is almost impossible to go without violating any. Which effectively means you give discretion to the police or DA to prosecute you at any time at all.

    Which is why i recently advocated on this site for making it easier to repeal than to enact laws.

  • Dalben

    How can you know if they would rather know without asking them – at which point you’ve basically had to tell them already.

    In general principle I think it’s okay not to tell people things if you know they don’t want you to, but it’s a rare circumstance where you can actually know that.

    Maybe if you’re having a discussion about medical decision making and someone tells you they don’t want to know about certain fatal diagnoses in some circumstances, though even that is kind of tricky. People change their minds and can normally tell that something serious is wrong, but sure if the circumstances are correct.

    That’s the kind of nuanced and personally specific policy that I think the government or really an large institution would never be any good at, even a minimalist and well run government or institution, it’s too personal.

    And bringing criminals to justice is important. In a very theoretical sense, if prosecutors could establish that a person really wouldn’t want to know without first giving them the information (how I don’t know) then it could be a factor in decision making to the extent that the well being of the victim is EVER a factor in decision making. I guess in the example of the beloved uncle who reformed and lived a good life and is dying soon and committed the crime long ago and no money can be recovered (because I guess despite reforming he has no assets, maybe spent them all on treatment or gave estate away already), it would be questionable whether that case was worth prosecuting at all (assuming for the sake of the example the statute of limitations hasn’t run out) so it wouldn’t take much to push it into not prosecuting.

    If it’s not a prosecutor, but say an accountant just reviewing accounts for the victim or something, you have a duty to tell the person, but sure if you can somehow, magically, clearly establish that the person would rather not be told then don’t tell them.

    Since we’re not mind readers, in reality you always have to tell, expect maybe in very specific conditions based on preexisting requests.

    And if it’s necessary for prosecuting serious crime then that overrides it too. Not telling people something they don’t want to hear would be a kindness not a right, and enforcing the law against theft and violence is the most basic function of government. (You can legitimately object to even that, but then you’re objecting to the existence of government at all so the whole issue is moot)

  • Fraser Orr

    @Snorri Godhi
    then the criminal can get away with murder.

    But that is the bargain we have struck. Let ten guilty go free lest one innocent be punished is the very basis of the criminal law, why we have many of these “technicalities”.

    But, as I have asked here, and I’d love to know our resident lawyer Bobby’s view on this: what is the limit on this? Should we let 100 guilty go free to save the one innocent? How about a thousand or a million? The only way to ensure that the criminal justice system does not punish any innocents is to simply punish nobody. And, as you say, that has the effect that all those guilty go on to kill, injure and rob from many, many innocents.

    So it is trying to find a balance between FCR (false conviction rate) and FNCR (false non conviction rate). Blackstone set FCR/FNCR = 0.1, but perhaps a different number is appropriate.

    So perhaps you look at holistically, if your goal is to minimize the number of innocent victims. Let’s say the recidivism rate is RR, and the number of victims of recidivism is probably something like of sum(2,infinity) 1/k^n where 1/k is the repeating chance of an extra victim. So each failed conviction produces that many extra victims. so you can tune the rate R of FCR/FNCR such that 1/R < 1 + sum(2,infinity) 1/k^n then you reduce the total number of victims of both recidivists and false convictions.

    However, we probably consider the state victimizing an innocent more weighty than a criminal (factor W), we we have to further multiply by that weighting ratio meaning our goal is to set 1/R < W + sum(2,infinity)1/k^n

    There are lots of other factors you need to include. For example, recidivists probably accelerate the severity of their crimes (sexual assault becomes rape, battery becomes murder, shoplifting becomes burglary). Plus recidivism is very different for different categories of crime. However, there is a massive amount of data on this and some deep data analysis would no doubt be able to provide a pretty effective model or total cost to setting the FCR/FNCR at a particular value.

    Moreover that R pertains to the middle. There are some people we can determine as either definitely guilty or definitely innocent. So by improving the quality of the criminal justice system we reduce the "middle" ground where we have to use a weighting system.

    But we don't think about it that way since we'd rather prefer to pretend that the criminal justice system is entirely just. Which it isn't, and in fact can't be. Part of the purpose of the criminal justice system is to give victims and their loved ones a sense of justice so that they do not resort to vigilantism, and consequently the breakdown of the state. Justice is offered to us plebeians ultimately to keep us from rioting and tearing down our rulers.

    Our criminal justice tools can readily detect some people who are definitely guilty, and some people who are definitely innocent, but there is a huge band of uncertainty where an extremely blunt and flawed instrument like the criminal justice system is not even close to being able to discern.

  • bobby b

    “Our criminal justice tools can readily detect some people who are definitely guilty, and some people who are definitely innocent, but there is a huge band of uncertainty where an extremely blunt and flawed instrument like the criminal justice system is not even close to being able to discern.”

    As an initial matter, let me disagree with this.

    From my experience, we know to a certainty approaching 95% who is guilty and who is not guilty of the crimes with which they are charged. We’re protective enough of rights and evidentiary rules and assumptions that we don’t drag people through the system unless their guilt is nearly indisputable. Most crimes aren’t committed by masterminds, and there’s seldom any real doubt about whodunit.

    (I’ll leave out some specific jurisdictions – say, Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis, etc., where they’ve given up on the concept of policing for political reasons.)

    What we don’t know are the reasons, the motivations, the circumstances that all combine to tell us what an appropriate punishment is for the individual commissionings of those transgressions. Once a person has been charged, most judicial-system efforts go into this area, and since we only live our own lives and not the lives of others, we’re not too good at discerning which component of someone else’s act was driven by evil and which was driven by chance and necessity – i.e., which part deserves which punishment.

    “Should we let 100 guilty go free to save the one innocent?”

    If you ask me the best way to drive to Minneapolis, I can’t answer you unless you define “best” for me. Fastest? Most scenic? Best gas mileage? Most Waffle Houses on the way?

    Likewise, your question can’t be answered without defining your goals and values for a justice system. Pure citizen safety? Affordability? Protection of individual liberty? Attracting voters?

    As a practical matter, we design our systems based on all of these factors, and each individual system gives its own weight to each factor. The answer is going to be different in each jurisdiction, because it’s not a math equation – it’s preference. It’s not “1/R < W + sum(2,infinity)1/k^n" – it's "blue is better than green."

    As you watch individual jurisdictions, you can see a historical oscillation between "lock 'em up!" and "kill the police!" There's a sine wave around a baseline of acceptability, but even though that would make it seem as if it ought to be possible to just settle on that baseline, the preferences keep changing, so the cycling continues. It's as if, in your equation, all of the variables can and do change at any time.

    As an example, I watch your own Chicago. I'm guessing that your Ms. Foxx has brought Chicago close to a nadir in its cycling – she'd seemingly rather that no one was ever locked up – but the voters there are going to tire of the increasing crime soon and swing the preference up above that baseline once again. But there won't be a right answer or a wrong one. It'll still just be "blue is better than green."

  • APL

    Wiki calls Singa is ‘an Indonesian’ and ‘a mature student’, Wiki goes on, ‘Sinaga is believed by police to have raped or assaulted at least 195 men since 2005, two years before his arrival in the UK [a bit odd]’. It’s now 2020, what the fuck was he ‘studying’ for fifteen years??

    a degree in Architecture 2006 (UoI)
    MSc degree in Planning Manchester 2009
    an MA in Sociology Manchester 2011
    on human geography Leeds 2012. His thesis, entitled “Sexuality and everyday transnationalism among South Asian gay and bisexual men in Manchester”, was submitted in August 2016, and was assessed as a “fail”. that’s probably what triggered him. Manchester should have given him a pass.

    “While in England Sinaga attended St Chrysostom’s Church, a liberal congregation of the Church of England, and the church provided Sinaga with a character reference for his trial.”

    Planning, sociology, human geography. Damn! those are hard subjects. Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger ‘of immigrants are a benefit’ to British society.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “From my experience, we know to a certainty approaching 95% who is guilty and who is not guilty of the crimes with which they are charged. We’re protective enough of rights and evidentiary rules and assumptions that we don’t drag people through the system unless their guilt is nearly indisputable.”

    Interesting. I’d heard that the US system got such a high conviction rate by the routine use of plea bargaining. You could either plead ‘guilty’ to a lesser charge, or gamble double-or-nothing on a much longer sentence if you plead ‘not guilty’ and lose. It potentially makes sense for even innocent people to plead ‘guilty’, if they’re less confident than you are of the old dictum ‘the innocent have nothing to fear from the police’. (I’m also thinking about Mike Flynn’s case being in the news, here. Is what happened there unusual, or SOP?)

    How does plea bargaining affect the equation? Are we letting more people guilty of even greater crimes off being tried for them by allowing them to plead to a lesser charge, or are we pushing more innocent people into pleading ‘guilty’ to avoid going through a trial where juries believe that ‘if they were innocent, they wouldn’t have been arrested’?


    “Planning, sociology, human geography. Damn! those are hard subjects. Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger ‘of immigrants are a benefit’ to British society.”

    You could also say:

    “Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger of ‘students are a benefit’ to British society.”

    or

    “Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger of ‘mature students are a benefit’ to British society.”

    or

    “Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger of ‘of long-term residents of Manchester are a benefit’ to British society.”

    or

    “Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger of ‘CofE Christians are a benefit’ to British society.”

    or

    “Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger of ‘architecture graduates are a benefit’ to British society.”

    or

    “Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger of of ‘people whose surname starts with an ‘S’ are a benefit’ to British society.”

    You could have. But you didn’t.

    But I’m more interested in the ironically-expressed implication that only passing students of hard STEM subjects are a benefit to British society, and everyone else is a debit. Do you really think so? Where is the dividing line? What do you propose we do about it (if anything) to balance the ledger up?

  • APL

    NiV; “But you didn’t.”

    Correct.

    He has clearly stimulated;
    The mobile phone industry. Since he appears to have stolen his victims phones they would have had to order new phones.
    But on the other hand, a deficit to the taxi industry. Since the taxi’s were deprived of a fare on the night of the rapes.

    He may have stimulated the NHS, as there may have been more customers thanks to his ministrations than otherwise would have been the case.
    And he has just stimulated the Legal profession, as there have been extra legal cases as a result of his efforts.

    He obviously had the best interests of the higher education sector in mind, two and a bit degrees in seven years. That’s a net positive.
    And if his parents paid his tuition, that would have been a positive for the balance of payments too.

    Good to see the criminal’s fan club moving on from advocating for the poverty of low expectations to pushing the broken window fallacy.

    NiV: “Clearly on the credit side in the debit/credit ledger of ‘CofE Christians are a benefit’ to British society.”

    Perhaps it’s Reynhard Sinaga’s profession of Christianity which means any internet search, brings up his image. But that’s just normal.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes it must be horrible for the victims to be told this – but I still think the police did the right thing.

    Crime (real crime – and this is real crime, the violation of other people) must be punished – and to be punished the crime must be brought to light.

  • APL

    Off topic. No on topic, actually.

    If anyone doesn’t know what Huddersfield looks like. The Guardian helpfully gives you a picture of the place

    Because, that’s the most important aspect of this story.

    These underachieving rapists. Only two counts of rape between 1995 and 2007. These guys should ‘ave taken lessons from our star Reynhard.

  • bobby b

    Nullius in Verba
    February 15, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    “How does plea bargaining affect the equation? Are we letting more people guilty of even greater crimes off being tried for them by allowing them to plead to a lesser charge, or are we pushing more innocent people into pleading ‘guilty’ to avoid going through a trial where juries believe that ‘if they were innocent, they wouldn’t have been arrested’?”

    In my experience, it’s primarily the former. If all criminal defendants insisted on going to trial, the system would grind to a halt in a week. As it is, we have the resources to try maybe 4-5% of cases. So, in order to save resources, we let the guy who used a gun to rob someone plead to simple robbery, with no gun charges, and we let the guy who beat someone badly plead to fifth degree assault.

    We read the apocryphal tales of innocents being “forced” to take a year in prison in order to avoid the chance of twenty years in prison, but I never saw it, in my years of clerking and lawyering. I’m sure it happens, but exceedingly rarely.

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