Jeffs sentenced to life in prison

Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has been found guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice, and has been sentenced to life in prison.

As you can tell if you read through my essay on free will, I hold a deterministic view of the world (I am what philosophers call a compatabilist determinist), and this has important implications for issues of moral culpability, punishment, and rehabilitation. One of these implications is that moral responsibility is a difficult concept to pin down, leading to doubts about the value of punitive actions. However, there are cases in which a criminal is a danger to society, and ought to be imprisoned purely out of concern for the safety of that society’s citizens.

Jeffs’ case seems to fall in this category. Because he still holds the same beliefs that led him to commit his crimes, he is likely to commit similar crimes if allowed back into the outside world. Life in prison therefore seems to be the best decision in this case. Unfortunately, Jeffs will likely be seen by his church as a martyr, and his influence is unlikely to wane.


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