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Ordered to code.... competently?

By dave114 in Internet
Sat Mar 10, 2001 at 11:11:54 AM EST
Tags: Security (all tags)

I've often run across cases where judges as part of a sentence against a cracker prohibit him/her from using computers.

I just ran across a story about a judge going the opposite way.

I guess this fits under the category of community service. However has the judge overestimated the competency level of what seems to me basically a scripter kiddie?

Teen Hacker Sentenced to Jail (4:42 PM ET) CONWAY, N.H. (AP) A teen-age computer hacker who defaced Web sites was sentenced Friday to nine months behind bars and was ordered to help program the jail's computers.

To me the mainstream media has often misunderstood the whole issue of technology. (Ignoring the issue of cracker vs. hacker here for the moment). Has this now spread to the legal system as well?

Many people think of anyone capable of defacing a website some sort of master villain... but of course the truth is that many of these people are clueless and without the aid of available software would be totally uncapable of any similar action.


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Ordered to code.... competently? | 16 comments (15 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
who knows? (4.50 / 2) (#1)
by SEAL on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 08:58:52 PM EST

Maybe the judge has the right idea. Force someone to do something for a long enough time and they probably won't want to do it anymore. Deprive them of something they enjoy for a long time and they'll want to go right back to it. So in this case it sounds like the objective is psychological impact, rather than community service.


It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
The Headlines (none / 0) (#2)
by brainrain on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 09:18:04 PM EST

I can see the headlines now: "Incompetent minor sentenced to life term by judge, complains of software availability"

Kleptotherapy - Helping those who help themselves
Brilliant Logic!!! (4.80 / 5) (#3)
by Global-Lightning on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 09:59:21 PM EST

'Web defacer sentenced to program jail's computers.'
Great! What's this judge going to do next?
Sentence a bank-robber to community service as a security guard?

Yes, I hope so. (5.00 / 3) (#13)
by lonesmurf on Sun Mar 11, 2001 at 04:43:46 AM EST

I think that the whole conception of locking people up (well, for certain crimes like theft, fraud and other non-violent crimes)is wrong. People do bad things. They should be punished. Placing them in a cell for a really long time doesn't seem to do them and society a whole lot of good. More like society is more comfortable with out of site of mind than dealing with the problems at their roots.

It occurs to me that it would be more useful if we created pseudo-jobs for crooks, and put them in a position that would help them to see the error of their ways and at the same time to be a productive part of society. A perfect example is the one you suggest: place a robber in charge of something invaluable and have him guard it. Make him work hard. Make him see that his actions harm people. Also make him see that he can do well, that people care and that he will get help if he wants it.

Most importantly, the entire situation with criminals coming out of jail after a prolonged incarceration and then not being able to get a job for either a) lack of current skills or b) bias against them, needs to change. I can't find any current figures, but I'm sure that the rate for first-timers to repeat is very high because of the inabilty to get jobs and pay their debts. (I read a news story about this recently, I'll see if I can dig up the link.)

Lastly, and I'm sure that this has been rehashed so many times that it does not need to be said, drug users do not need to be in jail. They either need to be left alone (not bloody likely in the US) or they need to be treated. What exactly will putting them in jail do besides flood the already over-full institutions and make them into either in-jail sellers or in-jail addicts.

end rant.



I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.

[ Parent ]
Ultramax (none / 0) (#15)
by dennis on Mon Mar 19, 2001 at 08:59:57 AM EST

What's even worse is the "ultramax" prisons they're building these days, which basically put people in solitary 23 hours a day for years. Pretty secure, but the rage that builds up over the course of a decade or so of sensory deprivation is not going to be pretty when these people get out.

[ Parent ]
eh... (none / 0) (#16)
by eudas on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 03:05:37 AM EST

who says they get to get out?
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
this is an example of the legal system at its best (4.92 / 14) (#4)
by eLuddite on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 10:19:57 PM EST

This is an excellent judgement. Make the kid work for the jail instead of putting him into the jail. Very enlightened given the nature crime and the age of its offender.

Many people think of anyone capable of defacing a website some sort of master villain... but of course the truth is that many of these people are clueless and without the aid of available software would be totally uncapable of any similar action.

Yeah, well, so are many people drawing high salaries in the industry, relatively speaking. What's the big deal? He has to help, not rewrite tcp. Presumably he has some experience with software and knows where the keyboard is so, at the very least, he can be used to type and/or test.

Who knows, he may come out of this with a sense of responsibility and some learned programming skills. Frankly, the judge sounds smarter than you give him credit for.

You're losing sight of the issue because of sensationalist journalism copy (Teen Hacker sentenced ...) and the "offensive" misuse of hacker for cracker. Neither of these things were in the judges radar, or at least shouldnt have been.

To me the mainstream media has often misunderstood the whole issue of technology.

To me technologists often misunderstand their role and importance in society. Good karma all around :-)

God hates human rights.

This judge knows not what (s)he does (4.33 / 3) (#5)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 10:27:01 PM EST

Sentencing a script kiddy to be a programmer? How bizarre. This is supposed to be punishment?

I hope the next judge has a clue and sentences the script kiddy to five years of Windows tech support.

too late! (none / 0) (#7)
by Seumas on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 10:37:15 PM EST

Probably too late. I'm pretty sure that's what drove him to it in the first place. ;)
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
RE: This judge knows not what (s)he does (none / 0) (#11)
by erikn on Sat Mar 10, 2001 at 01:05:03 PM EST

Sentencing a script kiddy to be a programmer? How bizarre. This is supposed to be punishment?
I'd have to agree... if you are the type that likes programming, and just happened to use your skill"z" to the end of defacing websites, what better assignment than to further hone your skills? Don't prisoners get paid for their labor? So what I'm reading then is that a tech-criminal has been told to sit in jail for awhile and become more l33t, while pulling down a prison-living wage. Boo-hoo.


(see if Mozilla gets rid of the markup this time)

[ Parent ]

cool (4.50 / 2) (#6)
by Seumas on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 10:35:51 PM EST

I heard this on the radio today and hoped someone would mention it here. It really does seem strange, though not necessarily befitting. After all, would you force someone who steels car radios to fix the police force's squad cars? Just becuase you can dick around with something and cause some trouble with it doesn't mean you actually know the first thing about it.

They'll probably reconsider after the guy is released and they suddenly find all sorts of files going missing while he enjoys the backdoor he leaves himself.

I think, if he knows a thing or two, he would be better utilized teaching computer skills to either his fellow inmates or as some sort of volunteer service to the public.
I just read K5 for the articles.

Ah! Now I can see a new headline (none / 0) (#9)
by mystic on Sat Mar 10, 2001 at 07:10:54 AM EST

"Former jail bird breaks into the top security prison computer system, and surprise surprise, he designed that same system a couple of years ago".

Several outcomes (4.83 / 6) (#10)
by DesiredUsername on Sat Mar 10, 2001 at 08:46:39 AM EST

Case 1: The kid is incompetent.
Result: He will find that out--quickly. Script Kiddies do what they do to prove how l33t they are. Showing them they are incompetent is the best punishment.
Quality of result: High.

Case 2a: The kid is a whiz.
Result: He helps them out a lot, saving the taxpayer some money and possibly teaching the kid the difference between creation and destruction.
Quality of result: High

Case 2b: The kid is a whiz.
Result: He seems to help them out, but actually injects some sleeper code to free all prisoners on April 1st.
Quality of result: Extremely Low.
Probability of result: Low. Even if the judge doesn't know anything about technology, presumably an state office big enough to have a "computer system" has an IT department (or person) who knows enough not to let prisoners near the vital system code.

My guess is the judge weighed all of the above and realized it didn't matter if the kid was any good or not. The punishment still works.

Play 囲碁
Another possibility (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by scruffyMark on Sat Mar 10, 2001 at 11:40:49 PM EST

Case 1b: The kid is incompetent.
Result: He seems to help them out, but the software he wrote is so convoluted and bug-ridden (and undocumented) that the moment anyone sneezes near a department computer, the thing dies. After his release, nobody knows what he did, but the admin, being security conscious, has to waste his time completely reinstalling every single computer the kid was ever anywhere near.
Quality of result: Pretty darn low.
Probability of result: Given (a) the kid is incompetent and (b) the admin is security conscious, more or less inevitable.

[ Parent ]
This is really a bad idea (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by Ken Arromdee on Mon Mar 12, 2001 at 11:42:16 AM EST

Fixing someone's computers is a job that in the real world gets quite high pay rates.

What the judge said is basically "In the interests of poetic justice, we're going to force you to do a couple of thousand dollars of unpaid labor for us". The government should never be benefitting financially from imprisoning people. China does that; *we* shouldn't. It's a big conflict of interest and makes it impossible for people to get a fair trial or fair sentencing. (If it was real community service, the guy would have been able to do the work for someone non-government.)

I hope that the ACLU catches wind of this and nails the judge.

Ordered to code.... competently? | 16 comments (15 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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