Third degree

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3 comments on this post.
  1. MarkB:

    I go with the analogy to burns. A third degree burn does real, lasting damage to tissue, but doesn’t necessarily kill. The analogy between that and extreme interrogation methods – whether physical or psychological – seems reasonable.

  2. Bill Culbertson:

    Under Manchu rule in China, there were three degrees of capital punishment.

    First Degree: The prisoner was put to death.

    Second Degree: If the crime was serious enough, an investigation would be made into the prisoner’s family. If the father as so lax as to raise a bad son, it could mean he raised all his sons poorly. He would be executed, along with all his sons, and perhaps all his grandsons.

    Third Degree: If the crime was truely heinous, say trying to kill the Emperor, the courts would check out the prisoner’s grandfather. If the grandfather was found wanting in moral rectitude, all his sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons would be executed.

    It was an attempt to have the family and clan keeping people in line.

    I doubt a N.Y.C. police captain studied the Chinese legal system, but he may have worked in Chinatown.

  3. Mike Santangelo:

    Among Irish Catholic policeman in NY the Third Degree would be known to members of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization formed in 1880 by an Irish priest in nearby New Haven. Making the Third Degree conferred full membership in the Knights. It was also the toughest and most demanding test for the candidate.
    To “give him the third degree” was code for a very tough police interrogation.

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