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Accountability and Amnesia

Emma

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I have an interesting moral question to pose. I am not even entirely sure where I stand on it myself. I think it'll make for an interesting discussion.

Okay, say you have a hypothetical person that has committed a serious crime. There's absolutely no doubt they did it. There is conclusive evidence proving that they are guilty. Then... before conviction, they are either injured or they get ill, and they lose their memory from, say, the last few years or so. And they absolutely have no recollection of the crime they committed, their motive, or who or what was involved. And the memory loss is permanent. Permanent retrograde amnesia. An alternate scenario is that they became brain damaged and mentally handicapped so they no longer function normally or comprehend most things.

The question now is... can they still be held accountable in either of these cases? Is it ethical to punish someone for a crime they absolutely cannot remember? If the goal of the justice system ideally is rehabilitation, would this mean that they effectively already are rehabilitated?
 

Jamie

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As you said in the OP, this person is already rehabilitated. I am in a huge minority with my opinions on how we treat prisoners, particularly sex offenders, and I believe that the person in question should not be held accountable. They should be forced to undergo a series of mental evaluations, as the whole nature vs nurture debate is far from settled, but aside from that no punishment should be enforced.
 

Dio

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I say if the person has lost their memory of committing the crime then they are rehabilitated and don't need to spend time in a correctional facility.
 

Akuhime-sama

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That's a good question. I think it would depend on if that person had the ability in them to do it again.
But that would be hard to determine.

and, what if, somebody could fake amnesia, like- pretty damn well?
There's also that possibility.

If you did hold them accountable, it could put some (innocent to them) people in the slammer who don't know why they are being locked up.
This kind of brings me back to an episode of Fear Itself, called "Family Man".... It's really neat episode, about a guy who has a near-death experience and swaps bodies with a serial killer... it's kind of the same idea, since he gets convicted for something "HE" didn't do.


And also, this thread, was it at all inspired by Deathnote?
It also reminds me a bit of parts of Deathnote, when Light temporarily loses his memory of being Kira.
 

Garo

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I think it would be important to consider the situation that led the individual to commit the crime in the first place. Was this a crime of passion, a crime of extreme need? Was this crime committed under circumstances that would lend themselves to recurrence? Was this crime premeditated? It's quite hard to make a judgment without certain knowledge of these variables, which would make the entire situation a very tricky one.

Ultimately, I feel my judgment would be swayed by empathy for the person who no longer remembers their crime, and I would be unable to advocate their conviction. I might be willing to accept some form of probation or close monitoring over some defined period to ensure that they are not somehow lying or that they don't return to their criminal activity, but I wouldn't be in support of convicting them in almost any case.
 

CheyRose

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I have a "no, BUT" thought here.
If all memory is totally erased, than no they should not be held accountable. They SHOULD be out under surveillance. BUT if the person was charged and given less time due to insanity, they should still be held accountable.
 
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I disagree. They should still be put in a correctional facility. Maybe a different facility, or a different level of security, but they still need at least an attempt to rehabilitate them. Whatever caused the person to commit the crime is still there, memory loss/mental retardation or not.
 

Farore's Chosen

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yes they should be still held accountable for it. just because they are currently an amnesiac doesn't mean that the one they committed a crime against,= should be just shoved aside with no justice, closure or whatever. we are getting too lenient on serious crimes anyways, if you brutally murdered someone fifty years ago and they finally found out it was you, should the family be left with no justice because you are suffering from senility and can't even remember who your own kids are? if a relative molested/abused you should they not be made to bear the consequences when you were finally able to speak out against it? no.
 
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Emma

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I disagree. They should still be put in a correctional facility. Maybe a different facility, or a different level of security, but they still need at least an attempt to rehabilitate them. Whatever caused the person to commit the crime is still there, memory loss/mental retardation or not.
Not necessarily. It depends on the exact circumstance. What if it was in retaliation to a series of events where they felt they were were wronged very badly? Doesn't justify it, but it also means if they lose their memories of all that, that they couldn't possibly just repeat it like that. Because their motive for doing it is gone. They'll never have that same motive again. No amount of time will just make it resurface if it was in response to events that happened to them and was not just their personality.
 

Jamie

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and who is to say that they won't regain their memory later and decide to fake it to avoid conviction?
I urge you to take the hypothetical as it is and assume that you are 100% certain they have amnesia. Makes for better discussion.
 

Emma

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and who is to say that they won't regain their memory later and decide to fake it to avoid conviction?
Part of the hypoethical I presented in the opening post was that that the memory loss was permanent. Because a temporary memory loss would obviously have different ethical implications.
 

Clank

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Well, this certainly poses an interesting question. I suppose it would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis though. I mean why did the person commit the crime? Maybe it was to get money to feed a drug addiction, if so then that would require close monitoring to make sure that they didn't get addicted to them again.

A second point would be that I'm honestly really skeptical about what medical professionals say relating to the brain, as far as I am concerned, we don't understand the brain well enough to be sure that memory damage is actually permanent, I mean it could just be long term or something, which again, complicates things.

But leading off of the first point, there was obviously a reason that they committed the crime in the first place, so unless we can be certain that that reason would no longer influence them to commit another crime, you really can't let them go.

But whatever, that's just my opinion on the matter.
 

Emma

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Well, this certainly poses an interesting question. I suppose it would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis though. I mean why did the person commit the crime? Maybe it was to get money to feed a drug addiction, if so then that would require close monitoring to make sure that they didn't get addicted to them again.

A second point would be that I'm honestly really skeptical about what medical professionals say relating to the brain, as far as I am concerned, we don't understand the brain well enough to be sure that memory damage is actually permanent, I mean it could just be long term or something, which again, complicates things.
Oh, yeah. That's why this is a purely hypoethetical. WE don't know enough now to say these things. I wish we knew more about the brain. For example, about Alzheimers disease. Terrible. My grandfather is going through it. Understanding the brain better can only help improve our society.
 

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