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Yes, so this question encapsulates the plot of Minority Report, along with a number of other movies. The reason I bring it up is because as far as I can tell the majority of the population is against this sort of behavior by a police force or government. The idea of imprisoning someone before they have even committed a crime is abhorrent; it takes away any pretense of “innocent until proven guilty” and is actively putting away those who we all agree have not committed a crime.

So starting from the premise that we all agree on I have a few questions. What about the sociopaths I brought up yesterday? Many of these people are institutionalized despite having committed no crime at all, or refused the option of release if they ever commit a crime (no matter how petty). In the past, many psychologists and other scientists have called for the institutionalization of all sociopaths because they were severely mentally ill. In fact, sociopaths are entirely rational; there are no hallucinations, delusions or paranoia associated with sociopathy. The main “symptoms” involve a lack of empathy, a lack of guilt, and generally shallow emotions. There are other diagnostic criteria, but these seem to be the ones that make your average “emotional” person uncomfortable.

This lack of emotionality found in sociopaths has led many diagnosed to be institutionalized despite having committed no crime. At the moment there is no “cure” for this “disease” and the best option people suggest is to lock up these people so as to protect the rest of society.

How is this fair? A person who has committed no crime, and has made no plans to do so is allowed to be locked away merely because we are uncomfortable with their personality. Over the past few decades we have made huge steps in mental health care, and today if someone is institutionalized for life due to a diagnosis there would be outrage. Except for this one diagnosis. If a sociopath is locked away for committing no crime, we are all celebrating the removal of one potentially “evil” person from out world.

Why is this?

This doesn’t make sense to me. This doesn’t seem consistent with everything else we want. Is it now okay to remove someone from society due to their personality and the risks they could potentially pose to society? If we were to work that way then we should at least be consistent. Children who have been the victim of prolonged abuse at the hands of their parents are more likely to abuse their own children. Does this mean they should be institutionalized, or at least banned from having children?

I don’t think so, but I also don’t think sociopaths should be institutionalized or have prolonged jail sentences merely due to their personality.

Today, if a person is in prison and is up for parole and it is discovered they have sociopathic traits, they will never receive parole. If there were two people, with identical records, with identical good behavior while in prison both up for parole, and one the them “failed” the sociopathic traits test then they would not receive parole while the other would.
I see no reason that a sociopath could not have “learned their lesson” the way any one else is supposed to in prison.

What do you think? Did you find yourself agreeing with me at the beginning (that we should not be jailed for crimes we haven’t committed) and then feeling like we should keep sociopaths away from the rest of society?
Is that contradictory?