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Topic: Criminals with amnesia, should they still be punished?

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Mabbit

This is a topic that I got from another forum. I thought that it was very thought provoking and made for a good conversation. So this wasn't my idea

I was discussing this with a friend earlier and I thought it'd be an interesting question to ask you guys, since so many games start off with the protagonist suffering a severe case of Amnesia

Say a wanted war criminal was caught (say Bin Laden [yes, I know he's dead] or Gadaffi) and during the capture operation he got a very bad knock to the head and doesn't even remember who he was. He's tested (to make sure he isn't just bluffing) and it turns out he isn't lying.

Is it then still morally correct to punish him?

I personally think no, if he has no memory at all of who he was and the crimes he committed, it would be wrong to punish him, as it would be like punishing a new born baby.

But on the other hand, one could argue that in the case of murder, the victims family want some sort of justice. As long as that person is out on the streets, people would still treat him as a murderer and he would cause far too much grief to the community. This rejection from the community would cause him to return to his earlier state.

I would like to hear your views and please don't just answer the poll and leave, give some justification for your reasoning.

EDIT: Also, would your views change if it was severe brain damage?
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The_Fox

Yes, otherwise we're going to see a skyrocketing amnesia epidemic in criminals.

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TheLZdragon

Heck yeah

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TeeJay

Definitely. Otherwise like Fox said every criminal is going to claim to have contracted amnesia.

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Tasuki

The_Fox wrote:

Yes, otherwise we're going to see a skyrocketing amnesia epidemic in criminals.

stick to the question at hand, please; don't make it personal or political — TBD

Edited on by theblackdragon

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Deviant_Mugen

Yes. Their crimes might be erased from their minds, but that doesn't mean they just cease to exist to their victims, too...

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theblackdragon

how do you 'test' for amnesia? i'd be interested in how they would prove to a jury beyond all reasonable doubt that such a notorious person actually had amnesia.

that said, honest-to-god amnesia or no, there's always the chance they would remember who they were down the line and start making trouble again, so I think it'd make more sense to put them into some kind of maximum security facility possibly receiving appropriate care and/or rehabilitation until such time as they were able to remember who they were and be put to trial, and if they never could? they'd never get out, so it'd be like a life sentence anyway.

Edited on by theblackdragon

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Meta-Rift

Depends on the situation. I would probably see it as an opportunity to reform them into a better person.

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Aviator

If s/he has no memory of committing the acts, it doesn't matter. The acts have still been committed.

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DarkLloyd

i say no and well i dont want to say yes but no and yes the person who dont know who he is could be commited to appointments to test for any memory recollection like once every month or twice a month depending on how fast or how fastly slow they recover if any at all

like @rift said it would seem like a opportunity to reform them but if i was to do it one of my many scenarios would be this:

-tell them what they did in thier past life then offer them the opportunity to change thier ways through thier memory loss personal and if they want to change then so be it they will get supervised help then after some time a long time to be exact to calm the pants of people who might freak over the idea after time past and are deemed worthy to be truly let on the streets with assurance that they wont do anything stupid

( i got to admit this sounds like it only works for someone who has permanent memory loss) but it could have some effect on a person who may eventually regain his/her memory and 50/50 chance of feeling really bad about what they did and want to try to truly make up for it

id personally would just forgive them and would never wish hell on them no matter what they did even if it effected me in some way or someone close to me which thankfully i dont have lol

DarkLloyd

retired_account

Huh. So are we talking something like a crime worthy of the death penalty and the offender, without doubt, gets 100% amnesia? I think the odds of that happening are about zero, lol.

Assuming this did happen, I'd say jail him for life, regardless of whether he recovers or not. You can't just execute a guy who doesn't know wtf he just did, but you also can't release him back into society when there's the ever-existing chance of him remembering and going back to his old ways.

But like I said, the odds of this happening are ridiculously low.

Edited on by retired_account

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the_shpydar

When an act is committed which is considered a crime, what is considered is the person's state of mind at the time of the commission, not their mental state at the time they are prosecuted. Their mental state at that time may determine their punishment (eg, mental health facility vs prison; execution vs incarceration), but does not affect or obviate the crimes that were committed.

Lawyered.

Besides, this would never actually happen, except perhaps in a badly written movie. Let alone the fact that the type of amnesia-syndromes connected to head injury are typically of the temporary and/or partial variety. This isn't the 'Toon world where a bash in the head with a mallet makes someone forget everything.

Also, there is no sure-fire way to "test" for amnesia.

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Meta-Rift

As people have said before, the criminal would still be punished unless their amnesia can be proven. This is unlikely to happen, but I answered the question from a philosophical point of view, assuming that they really do have amnesia and will not recover. Under those circumstances, I don't think anyone has the right to punish them. They're essentially a new person, and the criminal's mind is gone. Treating them like a criminal would be like punishing a puppy that can't remember anything that happened more than five minutes ago. Victims of the crime would no doubt want justice, but justice won't repair the damage. Whatever the criminal did can't be changed, and punishing them would just waste the second chance they've been given.

Meta-Rift

the_shpydar

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Deviant_Mugen

@irken: Well played, sir...

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TeeJay

Rift wrote:

As people have said before, the criminal would still be punished unless their amnesia can be proven. This is unlikely to happen, but I answered the question from a philosophical point of view, assuming that they really do have amnesia and will not recover. Under those circumstances, I don't think anyone has the right to punish them. They're essentially a new person, and the criminal's mind is gone. Treating them like a criminal would be like punishing a puppy that can't remember anything that happened more than five minutes ago. Victims of the crime would no doubt want justice, but justice won't repair the damage. Whatever the criminal did can't be changed, and punishing them would just waste the second chance they've been given.

Of course, this is all assuming a lot of conditions are present that are
a.) Unlikely to happen, and
2.) Can't be tested for.

TeeJay

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Meta-Rift

@TeeJay: Yes, and that makes this question pointless to begin with, unless it's philosophical.

Meta-Rift

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