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← Psychopaths: Born evil or with a diseased brain?

Alexandreina's Avatar Jump to comment 119 by Alexandreina

Bah, late to the party again. This is particularly interesting to me since I'm writing a paper for an advanced English Comp course on this subject.

We DO spend loads more money in the US on our prisoners than we do on our children attending public school. This is an outrage. However, capital punishment is probably not the answer as far as cutting costs go when you consider that the vast majority of those we imprison are not there for violent crimes, even less for murder (especially of the serial variety) and a very LARGE percentage of them are there for daring to exercise their freedom to treat their own bodies badly by ingesting drugs that are illegal for no real logical reason. We end the "war on drugs" and put even HALF of the savings it would give us in reduced numbers of prisoners we have to spend tax dollars to support (to say nothing of the money we'd save on law enforcement costs) and we could pretty much entirely correct our abysmal failure of a public school system, the doing of which would ALSO reduce various other crimes. But I already digress...

We're actually pretty good at diagnosing sociopaths these days. Neuroscience is helping with that by showing us the ways in which the brains of sociopaths differ from those of "normal" folks. And yes, there are a LOT more sociopaths who do NOT go on to be serial killers than there are those who do. Frankly, I find the ones who manage NOT to kill people to be far more dangerous generally. Those who kill usually aren't too bright or, at the least, they eventually get sloppy and we catch them. However, one study has suggested that while true sociopaths comprise only about 1% of the general population (I personally think this estimate is VERY low) they comprise 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs. If THAT doesn't scare you, it should. Unfortunately, thus far there has been no similar study conducted among politicians.

The soicopaths we DO incarcerate should be studied intensely and should have sentences that utterly preclude the possibility of parole, ever. I don't care that it's "not their fault." And if we are able to eventually ascertain that there is no viable treatment for these people, and we've learned what we can to help us with early diagnosis and intervention, well then, harsh though it may be, it's time to help them as gently as possible to shuffle off their mortal coil. We don't blame a dog when it contracts rabies. Indeed, we even feel really badly for such a dog. But we shoot it anyway.

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 22:28:55 UTC | #890853