Monday, December 07, 2015

[llqwikpg] Prosecution maximizing an objective function

Politically motivated prosecutions are bad because they violate the principle of equal protection.

In order to combat politically motivated prosecutions, define an objective function for prosecutors: a weighted mean of fines collected and years of prison time sentenced.

A prosecutor, or prosecutor's office, can absolve itself from an allegation of a politically motivated prosecution if they can show that they were trying to maximize this given objective function.

Different prosecutors can be compared at how well they are maximizing.  Bad prosecutors can be identified.  Perhaps prosecutor pay is scaled with the objective function, though this has a problem with risk averseness.

It is job of the legislative branch of government, where politics rightly belongs, to set the value of fines and prison sentences, and the weights of the prosecutors' objective function.

There still remains a problem of the rich getting away with crimes.  Consider scenarios in which a rich person and a poor person both commit the same crime.  By equal protection, they should both be dealt the same punishment if convicted, so either conviction would increase the objective function by the same amount.  However, the rich person will have more resources for defense, so the probability of conviction will be lower.  Therefore, the prosecutor should go after the poor person to maximize the expected value of the objective function.  Or, maybe the probability of conviction is the same, but the prosecutor will have to expend more resources against the legal defense of the rich person, leaving fewer resources for other cases, which ultimately decreases the objective function.

One way to fix this is to scale the amount of punishment by the amount of legal resources expended by the defense.  This violates equal protection, but could be justified by the general principle that the magnitude of punishment should be scaled inversely proportional to the difficulty of catching the crime, yielding a constant expected magnitude for the criminal.

Another is to fix the justice system so that the rich have no advantage over the poor.  A noble goal, but this seems very difficult.  (A rich person could, e.g., bribe someone to be a false witness.)

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