Link flush. Was thinking of elucidating around these, but need to close some Firefox tabs :)
Man's bravery after causing crash vs Lynndie England forced to plea not guilty.
Basically, am reading Foucault's "Discipline and Punish" lately, which has got me thinking a fair bit about society's attitudes towards crime, and how/why it is punished. The two articles above are particularly recent highlights of the factors involved. In the first, a guy crashed his car, and dragged his friend out of the fiery wreckage (to no avail, alas) - 3 year's detention.
In the second, the judge for US Soldier England actually changed her plea from guilty not guilty, as "he could only accept the plea agreement if he was convinced that Pte England knew at the time that what she was doing was illegal." In other words, ignorance at the time of crime is bliss, according to military law.
I was going to go on about the twin purpose of punishment at this point, and the contrast (conflict?) between "teaching people a lesson" and making an example out of them for others (i.e. the personal effect against the "broadcast" effect), but maybe another time :)