Monday, October 20, 2008

The Way China Uses the Death Penalty

The Washington Post reports on the Chinese official who received the death penalty for corruption.

Liu Zhihua, 59, oversaw construction, real estate, sports and traffic projects for the Beijing Olympic Games until he was fired in June 2006 on suspicion of corruption. His high-profile antics and "decadent lifestyle" had attracted unwanted attention among the country's top leaders, according to Chinese news media reports.

Mr. Zhihua's sentence came with a 2-year reprieve, a type of probation period, after which the sentence can be commuted to life in prison based upon good behaviour.

Naturally to me this seems extreme, to say the least. I don't feel white collar criminals should go to jail at all, let alone receive a harsh sentence like this. But, it does make me wonder about deterrence. Would such severe sanctions deter others from attempting these types of crimes? Those proverbial stories, I don't know if they're true or not, in certain countries where they cut the thief's hand off, does that deter other young thieves?

Of course, in order to work these stricter punishments would have to be fairly and universally applied, which in China, apparently they're not.

"Those officials only care about how to grab money. Some corrupt officials are caught, but there are more who are not caught," said Yuan Jianli, 52, a car repairman. "If you stand with the right team, even if you're corrupt, you'll probably be fine. If you're on the wrong team, you'll be caught. Politics in China is too dark, and we ordinary people can do nothing about it."

What's your opinion? Is it different in China than in Western countries? Does it work better?


  1. "I don't feel white collar criminals should go to jail at all, let alone receive a harsh sentence like this."

    So you belive that all punishment done for people of this nature should be monetary? So the one group of people who can afford to pay for their crimes in cash will be granted that luxury?

    Being a *former* Feild Biologist I have some knowlege in Environmental law. Most of the Pollution Statues read as such: "Being found disposing of X Chemical improperly incurs a fine of $Y for every unit of X found."

    Unlike what we teach our children with drivel like "Captain Planet" people don't illigally dump or pollute because its "Fun" or they're "Evil", they do it because proper disposal methods are expenisve.

    So let's say a paper mill has an amount of dioxin created durring a process. Before the Environmental Protection Act, such toxic junk was simply sent down the river. Now for the sake of numbers lets say the EPA is able to catch half of all violations of dumped Dioxin (which I'd say is a VERY optimistic figgure) and the fine for a violation of this volume is $50,000 (arbitrary number). Crunch those numbers and you'll quickly see that if costs less then $25,000 to properly dispose of the Dioxin, the company is being punished by the system for PROPERLY disposing of the chemicals, as the company that illigally dumps has a lower overhead than the company that follows the law.

    CEOs and Managers can budget in Fines and settlements, but can they budget in lost years of their lives?

    I personally don't belive in "Corperate" anything (Corperate Taxes, Corperate Crime ect) as all of them factor down to people. If a crime is committed by a Corperation one or a group of people within that corperation made an executive decison to violate the law. Because of that when such violations are found the individuals who made the call should be punished.

    Also I have to disagree with your lax feeling on "White Collar Crime". When an Enron Exec guts the company so they jump ship with a wad of cash, they aren't stealing from the Company, they're stealing from the Employees, and you can see the results in the faces of the people who lost their jobs that day, as well as their retirment savings.

    The only difference from such a crime to a person breaking a window in my house and stealing my property and cash is the method of the crime.

    Actully the former is worse, as a hoodlum isn't betraying my trust when he steals from me, and likely what he steals is covered by my insurance. My paycheck and 401K are NOT covered.....

    As for China's methods, I find it very difficult to look objectivly at a nation that treats its people like livestock. But of my personal feelings are, I'm fine with the death penalty given justice was properly served, and the defendant has the right to a speedy appeal (tho a limeted number of them), and I'm fine with a sentence being for life, but carrying the possibility of abriviation (parole) given the prisoner demonstrates they have both paid for their crime in years served AND are can demonstrate rehabilitation. But "Life Without Parole" (I use quotes only because there are people who serve "Life Without Parole" sentences who are released on Parole, usally to commit other crimes) I cannot stand by. These are the people who can't be bargained with to behave and keep the safety of the prisoners and the guards, and they incur a monetay cost, as well as tax facilites for what is essentially the same net result of a swift execution.

    The prisoner never re-enters society except as a corpse. They DO still use a bed, need food, need to be guarded, and can still commit crimes.

    I can't stand for that. Kill them and let the universe take custody of them.

  2. Off Topic

  3. Mike,

    I'll add to Weer'd's off topic.

    I pulled up, these were also on their front page

    --Bus, Taxi bombing in Iraq-killing 4
    --Police: Man stabbed ex-girlfriend as 2 kids watched
    --Prosecutors: Coed stabbed in satanic rite
    --U.K. chef gets 30 years for killing (stabbing) & eating gay lover
    --Business tycoon pleads not guilty in pop star slaying (stabbing)
    --Cab driver charged with raping passenger

  4. I saw that crazy Korean, too. In fact, whenever I see one of those stories, I think of you guys.

    About the non-violent offenders, they should be made to pay back or made to work in order to pay back to the victims. Only when that proves impossible should they do time. Of course this would depend upon proper supervision, something impossible with the do-nothing civil servants we often find in these jobs.

  5. Mike,

    That pays back the victims that are known, but what about the costs to society? the unknown and unnumbered victims?

    If I was criminally minded, I would love your system. Commit as many white collar crimes as I can, when I'm caught pay back a few people and I'm done.

    How about the message to society as a whole that behavior isn't acceptable. Look at drunk driving, how many people see celebrities getting away with it over and over again with lax punishment. Doesn't that encourage others to imitate that behavior?