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You wrote, Our society frowns on punishment that is cruel and unusual, let alone unjustified.

No. Our Constitution supposedly does that - see the Eight Amendment. The USA seems to have a lot of so-called "social conservatives" that have no problem with it. And as far as I can tell, they trample that provision all the time. But of course the US courts have repeatedly ruled that imprisonment for any term by itself is neither cruel nor unusual, regardless of the crime actually committed.

Politicians in Texas almost always run a "Hard on crime" platform. So the crimes being committed doesn't seem that bad? We'll just reclassify them to make our stats look better. (Or worse, depending on the intended spin.) Or induce some addict to sell you some of his stash so we can up the charge to a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Don't catch enough criminals? We can fix that!

No, what you see going on here is hardly unique in our society. Lots of punishments being meted out today are far worse than the original crime. They like to call it a deterrent. But sometimes it just makes you sick when you hear the details of actual cases.

- Joel
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