Rehabilitation vs revenge

I’ll settle for any sentence that makes the remainder of his time on earth not worth living.


Serious hypothetical question: do you think it would be in any way possible to rehabilitate him?

For the record, I think (with a high degree of confidence) the answer is no, but your comment got me thinking about the whole punishment versus rehabilitation argument regarding the purpose of prisons. Your comment (and I’m not judging, it’s a totally understandable desire) is very much on the punishment/retribution side, but it’s arguably better to try to help people change into someone societally positive. Again (sorry for being a broken record), I agree with you in this case, there’s far too much harm done and not enough time in the world, much less a human lifespan, to atone for what he’s done.

Anyway, to end off my ramble: What kinds of crimes can be atoned for, and what kinds of criminals can be rehabilitated? At what point does incarceration versus death penalty become a serious question about the kinder/more-ethical option?



If I thought it was possible to rehabilitate him I guess I’d have to favor that course of action on general principle, but I admit I’m not particularly dismayed by the “punishment” angle in this case either.

One nice start would be taking all of Weinstein’s money and directing it toward groups that counsel and advocate for victims of sexual assault.


Ooh, I like this idea. Especially with the number of rich people getting in trouble right now.


It’s a nice thought but somehow I suspect that his lawyers will end up with the bulk of his fortune.


It’s a good question.

I would like to work with a definition of Rehabilitation of: Changing the behavior of the offender in such a way they are unlikely to reoffend, even if presented with opportune circumstances.

I think it unlikely Harvey Weinstein can be rehabilitated for the following reasons:

  • Most crimes of violence are committed by young-ish men, generally within the first couple of decades after they reach adult height and strength. Weinstein is an outlier since he is accused of rape as late at 2016. That makes him a long-term, serial rapist.
  • Weinsteen’s crimes were motivated and facilitated by his power over others. I just don’t see him not taking the opportunity, if he ever got another chance.

I would also like to bring up the topic of Reparation which I would define as: action the offender is compelled to perform for the purpose of mitigating the harm to his victims.

  • He’s a horrible choice for community service
  • But huge, obligatory payments to his victims, Rape crisis centers, anti-rape education seem very appropriate.

And also, there is Retribution which I would define as specific punishment meted out to the offender with the purpose of deterring others, as well as discouraging them from reoffending.

  • Cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden by the 8th amendment, as well as being something that civilized people just shouldn’t want to do, no matter how viscerally satisfying it might be to imagine eye-for-an-eye justice.
  • But given Mr. Weinstein’s considerable wealth, the fines could (and should) be proportionally huge. Indeed, he needs to be rendered pretty much destitute, less the Reparations described above, and just enough that he could live out his days after his prison sentence without being a burden on society.
  • Very roughly, given his present age of 66, he might be expected to live to approximately age 84. That’s eighteen more years. Even minimum sentencing for kinds of crimes of which he is accused amount to a life sentence.

So be it.


100% ok with this

I am not.


Except 18-year-olds who have sex with their 17-year-old partners are considered “sex offenders.” Wasn’t some guy put on the list for walking around naked in his own house, as well?

Also, what if later evidence exonerates? Same problem as with the death penalty, but it’s much easier to get onto the sex offender registry than death row.


If you have any doubt that revenge is the goal rather than rehabilitation, just take a look at the way solitary confinement is abused as a punishment/convenience by our jailers. There’s no evedence that it helps criminals stop offending, and every evidence that it causes permanent mental damage that in no way helps the inmate become compliant. Utter madness.

If there were such a thing as a scientific audit of how well the system works/what could make it work better… I think it would need to stop looking so hard at how individuals rehabilitate themselves, and spend more energy figuring out how institutions can be made to change direction. The prisons need changing far worse than Harvey Weinstien.


how low can you set that bar?

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Maybe, but not Harvey Weinstein, the predatory serial rapist

Unfortunately, vast amounts of empirical evidence shows harsh sentencing does not deter crime.

You can deter crime by convincing people they are more likely to get caught, though, which is a lot of what #metoo seems to be accomplishing. If a big name can get taken down, then anybody can get taken down.




You have a mass-murderer, without any doubt proven to have done the deeds, and with the crimes proudly confessed to by said murderer. He is sentenced to death. Now, between the sentencing and the date the sentence is to be carried out, the murderer, newly diagnosed as having some recently incurred brain injury or disease, cannot remember his crimes (or anything else) to any extent. It’s all been wiped clean. Here’s the question: What do you do?

These days I really worry about how the US Constitution can/could be twisted for nefarious purposes and where that could take this country; there’s something in there about “cruel and unusual punishment” (which, I believe, can include castration). There’s also the specter of NAZI experiments re human genitals. Along with that, the many horrible occurrences of people being found guilty of crimes they did not commit.

Castration as an option? JMHO: Nope.

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