I am not an advocate of the death penalty but sometimes a crime comes along that really makes the idea feel especially appealing.
In todays news there were two separate stories about crimes that qualify. What really bites in both cases was the apparent pointlessness of the murder and the total innocence of the victims. There is nothing new about mindless killings and we don’t live in a particularily unique age as far as such things go, but stories such as these don’t cease to shock me.
Two 17-year-old girls have been sentenced to life in prison for their “merciless” strangling of a 15-year-old girl, apparently so they could experience murder.
The pair were expressionless when sentenced in Perth Children’s Court on Wednesday after previously pleading guilty to murdering Eliza Jane Davis and burying her body under her house in a West Australian coal mining town on June 18 last year.
Court President Denis Reynolds said their remorseless slaying of Eliza was the worst category of the most serious offence in the criminal code and the pair must spend at least 15 years in jail before parole could be considered.
FULL STORY: http://www.thewest.com.au/aapstory.aspx?StoryName=380540
Then there is this story which I found particularily disturbing:-
A South African court has convicted a woman of hiring a gang to kill the six-month-old daughter of her lover.
Dina Rodrigues paid four men, all of whom were also convicted of murder and robbery, a total of $1,500 to murder Jordan-Leigh Norton in 2005.
FULL STORY: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6634231.stm
Does prison deter such crimes? Does prison reform such criminals? Are there basic notions of justice that should determine our response beyond merely reforming and detering?
I can’t advocate state sanctioned murder for any crime. I will defend a person’s right to self-defence though, including the use of lethal force.
Capital punishment appeals to statists the world over as a simple method of dealing with crime and undesirables. It is no coincidence that totalitarian China is the most prolific advocate of the death penalty with 1770 executions, next being Iran (94) and Saudi Arabia (86) (2005 figures). The fact that the US is 4th (60) is a failure of American liberalism and a stain on their nation.
The only redeeming thing about the American death penalty is the independence of its courts such that it is administrated as justly as state sanctioned murder could be.
Those girls in Collie should rot in gaol, the nature of their crime makes them a real danger of re-offending.
And there’s me thinking you are a non-violent man, Terje.
Brendan – what’s the big deal with capital punishment? Surely only a squeamish issue if you are a God-fearing chap.
I like the idea of the death penalty (I don’t believe in all that sanctity of life rubbish), but I don’t believe the state is competent enough to give it the power to mete out such punishment in most cases.
I’m quite happy with life-without-parole for these kind of cases.
I’d much rather see remorseless killers sent to prison without the chance of parole. If they’re killed then there is no chance to study them; to see what makes them tick. If they’re still alive we can try to work out what caused them to go wrong which may help to get to others before they’re lost causes.
Who said the worst use you can put a man to is to hang him?
I think currently the judicial system has it’s priorities wrong in some cases, or isn’t aware of it’s priorities.
The first function of criminal law should be to protect society, and compensate the victums and their families as much as possible. It is also important to identify the criminals. Once someone has committed a crime, I think there is an argument to say they have reduced their allowed rights.
In regards to revenge and punishment, there is a punishment and revenge component incorporated into measures for protecting the public, decreasing the rights of the criminal and exposing the identity of the criminal. So I don’t think focusing on punishment or revenge are necessary. They occur as a side product of the other measures. I disagree with imposing punishment for the sake of it, and I disagree with using punishment primarily as a deterent. I don’t think it works very well anyway.
I’m against capital punishment because people aren’t infallible and can get it wrong. But I’m all for killing someone in self defense if necessary.
In regards to reforming, this will always be impossible if the criminal doesn’t want to be reformed. But where reforming is possible, then I don’t see a problem with this because it satisfies the primary function of protecting society. I’m someone that is highly sceptical of psychology as a science, but if psychology and psychiatry advance in the future, dealing with crims should be easier. eg/ determining chances of reoffending.
Those girls in Western Australia may change in time and feel bad about what they did. This would then mean they were no longer a danger to society. They’re only 17 years old now. In addition, one of them was probably the ring leader and the other a follower. So the follower may learn their lesson fairly quickly.
Interestingly enough, some anarcho-capitalist libertarians think that crimes and disputes between individuals could all be resolved by all of us having contracts with insurance firms. In any dispute, the firms would hire a neutral third party to act as judge, and let that thrid party arbitrate the dispute, both sides having agreed to obey the judge (perhaps they’d both put money into an account controlled by the third party). The winner gets the compensation from the judge, and the loser gets higher premiums from the firm.
At least, that’s how they say it would work.
Everyone says that you can’t put a price on a human life, but plenty of people take out life insurance, and nobody rejects any money coming their way, do they? And if this system was in place, then no innocent people would be executed, and they could be monetarily compensated for their wrongful judgement.
If applied in the case of the girls above, their parents, as their legal guardians, would pay, and part of the judgement might be that parents and murderers must undergo psychiatric evaluation, to find out where they all went horribly wrong!
In regards to Africa, why is that place so much more violent than Asian or South America or anywhere else for that matter? Or is this not really the case? As I understand, there’re more assaults, rapes, roberies, car jackings (the types of violent crimes we should really worry about). There’s some bad ideology or culture or something bad in those African countries. Perhaps law enforcement have their priorities wrong.
I have a cousin who’s wife’s sister was abducted in Cape Town along with two friends. One of her friends (the male) was shot dead and another (female) was raped. She was lucky to escape with her friend that was raped after they were tied up. It makes you so mad thinking about it I can see how desirable revenge is. (Although I still disagree with revenge for the sake of it). Luckily the raped girl didn’t get AIDS.
I’m not sure if the killer and rapists were ever convicted, I know they hadn’t been two years later when I visited. I think identification was difficult, plus the girls don’t know exactly where it happened because they were locked in the boot of a car and where driven out to the bush. I know they were willing to help police so hopefully things have happened since then. It’s not really something I can ask about during light conversation.
I think my view is pretty close to the position taken by Tex. The death penalty managed by an all knowing benavolent dictator would be okay but no such earthly entity exists. A pity.
In terms of revenge I have sometimes pondered the motives of the Nazi hunters. Does locking up an old man you has lived peacefully for many decades do much besides fufill a desire for revenge, or do we use a more sanitised word like justice. Either way I’m in favour of locking up old people who are found to have been vicious killers in their youth and who have never previously paid for those crimes. Even if they are not a current threat to society.
As I see it the possible motives for locking up criminals are:-
3. Revenge (some call it justice)
4. Our own safety.
Agree with Terje and Tex… The government is incompetent with pretty much everything else – give them a license to kill? No thanks.
Perhaps more contraversially, I’d add that I don’t think justice has anything to do with it. A man commits murder, and is either killed or imprisoned… is it justice? It’s necessary, of course, but justice isn’t the right word.
We choose to deprive someone of their liberty to protect someone else from theirs. They may well be locked up for the rest of their life, with no hope of rehabilitation, but we need to do it for our protection… not revenge, not justice, but because we have to.
As libertarians, we say that people take responsibility for their own choices, and I stand by that. But even if free will doesn’t exist (and I am in no position to determine whether it does,) it’s still necessary.
It is the misconception that justice is the goal that puts our lives at risk. If a killer is genuinely acting without choice, then that in itself as an injustice – one dealt out by nature – and it’s a further injustice to imprison him for it. But we must still do so.
Fleeced – if free will does not exist then we really have no choice. 🙂
I think I have free will, but I can’t be sure… as a computer programmer, I’ve always found it an interesting topic – perhaps worthy of a thread in itself.
But even with free will, we know that brain chemistry and so on can make someone pre-disposed to specific behaviour. So, I guess I believe that we have choices, but some choices have a higher weghting for different people – making them harder to resist. Though some would argue that this makes them less responsible (and therefore unjust to punish them), I was simply pointing out that responsible or not, justice or not, sometimes we’ll have to separate them from the rest of society to protect the life/liberty/property of others.
Sometimes ‘Justice’ can be hard to weigh for reasons other than brain chemistry. Some years ago, right here in Sydney, a cop, of middle-Eastern lineage, killed a drug-dealing criminal for reasons of ‘Family honour’. He was arrested and jailed for a few years, and then was released and wanted his old job back. Now if that criminal had had friends of his own, then this vigilante cop would have been killed by a contract killer, but the ex-cop is still alive, so I guess the criminal was of no value to anyone- so what would have been a just sentence?
I dont understand your point on deterrence not working as an effective punishment.
Without an effective punishment, a lot more crime would be committed. Sadly not everyone is as well disposed to his fellow man as law-abiding libertarians.
An item in ‘Policy’ magazine made the point that people are deterred IF the possibility of capture by the police is plausible. The punishment doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’ll be caught!!! So an effective police force would be the best deterrent.
Being locked up, fed and cared for is too good for those who commit horrendous violent crimes against innocent people. Free or locked up, these people are parasites and ought to be dealt with as such – removed.
Nicholas G, you’re right on in mentioning the importance of likely capture to criminals. As well, I have chased up some info on the insure-against this and that philosophy – interesting material. Beware though, of setting up a system where one might “pay” to commit a crime!
There is a lot can be said about retribution. The perpetrators of such crimes should not be allowed to live. It is a simple as that.
The crime I use to show there is a good case for the death penalty was the case in the US about 3 years ago:
A man and a woman stalked a pregnant woman out of a clinic, kidnapped her and then ripped a child out of her stomach while she was still alive and left her to die while taking the baby.
Things like this are so gruseome that the perpetrators shoudn’t be allowed to live.
Both are on death row. Good.
A few years ago I had extensive discussions with a psychologist in Britain who pioneered a new type of prison system. The pilot went ahead and was proving successful but politics and costs had it canned. Instead the government opted for all that talkie type therapy rubbish. Typical of the naive, they think that you can modify behavior by changing the way people talk and think, often what is required is direct behavioral modification and that rarely happens with words. Punishment works but it doesn’t rehabilitate. We need both.
Despite our economic bliss since 1995 imprisonment rates have increased 45% in Australia. So don’t for one minute think that prison has anything to do with rehabilitation or justice, it is primarily about protecting citizens and vengence. There is something sick about a country where everyone is crowing about their new found prosperity while so many are ending up in prison. The rates should have plummeted but the exact opposite has happened. Go figure.
Prisoners should be made to work and receive a “stipend” for the same that is accessible upon release. Doesn’t have to be money, it could the offer the training or treatment post release. At present we throw them out into the world and hope for the best. Our curent methods simply reinforce their sense of alienation and hostility towards society. We must overcome that but it won’t happen.
It is also very interesting to note the extraordinary rates of psychiatric disorders in prison populations. The idiots who decided to save money by closing mental health facilities should be thrown in prison. Their decision had everything to do with money and bugger all relevance to the problems of the mentally ill.
As an esoteric Christian who believes in Karma, I have no objection to the death penalty. My main objection to its’ use is the reality that our justice isn’t perfect. All states and countries have cops who have perverted the course of justice- remember ‘Blue Murder’? Therefore I would forego the death penalty in favour of life behind bars without parole- so that the accused could be released if old evidence was found to be flawed, or fabricated.
I don’t know if I saw the same show as Dead Soul, about psychiatry in British prisons, a decade or more ago, but I was impressed by what seemed to be genuine cures for paedophilia, of criminals who had been victims themselves. Does anyone else know what happened to those prisoners? Were they cured, or did they relapse?
Pommygranate, my point is that deterence should not be the number 1 priority of law but rather a beneficial side effect.
For example, Asian countries have extremely harsh drug laws but drugs are rife. Mandatory sentencing is another example of the deterence idea not working particularly well. Maybe it works for some people more than others but extreme deterence is obviously not about justice, it’s about fear and control.
If an action initiates force against another and therefore people require protection/compensation from this action then it is a crime and should be dealt with. To most accurately and justly deal with the crime I think you should focus on the protection/compensation aspects. If it is a crime that is difficult to police, then I’m still not in favour of harsher punishments.
If an action doesn’t satisfy the first sentence of this paragraph then it’s probably not a real crime.
I’d like to live in a world that treats ethics, law and sentencing more like a science. Revenge is an emotional response to crime. Life isn’t like an action movie.
Dead Soul, I didn’t realise that imprisonment rates have increased by 45%. That does seem like a lot but do you know if this increase is for violent crimes or mainly just drug offenders? I know, violent crime has been dropping in Australia but I wouldn’t have attributed this to increased numbers of people in prison. I’ve always thought prisons can often create more criminals. Sort of like a training ground.
Those supporting the death penalty on this forum, how serious does a crime have to be to warrant this punishment. Pre-meditated murder and above?
My concern with the death penalty is that the US has got it wrong so many times and executed innocent people. I don’t necessarily disagree with the principle of capital punishment but like Terje, can’t see any way to administer it flawlessly.
The non-parole period for the WA girls murder is 15 years. So they’ll be out of jail when they’re about 32.
What would your argument be if I stated:
“I like the idea of a planned economy (I don’t believe all that rubbish about people being entirely rational) but I don’t believe the state is competent enough to plan and manage production and distribution in most cases.”
What the hell is a planned economy or capital punishment if it doesn’t involve the state? I can’t see how you can berate the incompetent state and admire a purely state function. Do you, or do you not believe the state is a flawed concept? If so, then the state has to jump through some considerable hoops to meet any justification for intervention, which I believe we both agree on that it fails when you analyse capital punishment. I can’t advocate state sanctioned murder on utilitarian grounds or any other and am glad that Australia has no place for it.
No, I did not see that program and to be honest I am doubtful about curing paedophilia, all the evidence suggests otherwise. It appears to be a type of sociopathy and that is very difficult if not impossible to cure. I recently read two interesting books on this: The No Asshole rule, and, Working with Monsters. Bit scary that there are business leaders who fit the profile but most of us have worked with the same at one point or the other. Both books reveal that with companies get rid of their assholes\sociopaths there is a marked improvement in productivity. The bastards are everywhere, from schools to CEOs to pollies to charities.
Two weeks ago an American friend advised me that crime rates were burgeoning in the USA, Aust, and Britain. I thought this was untrue for Aus but checked the abs website to be sure. Yep, 45%. Don’t know the breakdown but keep in mind the following:
The rate could well be higher because many people who would have been put in jail are not because of over crowding.
The 3 strike rule(WA and NT?) may have impacted on these figures but I suspect not overly so.
It could a welfare generational effect. That is, families with no bread winners set bad models for their children. Prison breeds criminals and so does cross generational welfare.
Aboriginals figure very highly in the numbers. An ongoing problem.
I don’t know what is causing it. I cannot provide a breakdown of stats but the abs probably does provide the same if you are willing to pay for it. http://www.abs.gov.au
I agree with Brendan, capital punishment doesn’t deter crime and as many cases in the USA has revealed, far too many people have been found guilty when innocent.
What would your argument be if I stated: I like the idea of a planned economy (I don’t believe all that rubbish about people being entirely rational) but I don’t believe the state is competent enough to plan and manage production and distribution in most cases.
What the hell is a planned economy or capital punishment if it doesn’t involve the state? I can’t see how you can berate the incompetent state and admire a purely state function. Do you, or do you not believe the state is a flawed concept?
Brenden, your post has so many problems I’d hardly know where to begin. Capital punishment does not require the state any more than whacking someone with a cricket bat does. The comparison with a planned economy is bizarre. One requires a state and one doesn’t.
If you don’t involve the judiciary (which is an arm of the state) in capital punishment, under what mandate do you relieve someone of their life? Their permission, perhaps? Or are you talking about extra-judicial executions? How is this different to murder? Vigilante justice is not the basis for men and women to arrange their affairs.
I must vehemently disagree with you if you are saying that a civilian may kill another civilian (even if provable beyond doubt of a heinous crime) in cold blood without that death also being considered a crime. I am of course excluding euthanasia and self-defence from this scenario, because these actions are commited under conditions of consent of the sick or infirm individual and in defence of the person being assaulted.
Please explain how capital punishment may be dealt out without the involvement of the state?
I say, if the horse is lame then it’s time to shoot it.
Please explain how capital punishment may be dealt out without the involvement of the state?
Quite easily, but it wouldn’t be called “Capital Punishment”. It would be more like “Vendetta”.
Brendan, whilst I don’t think it would work in reality, a science fiction work, called ‘The Reality Broach’ by L.Niel Smith, had a parallel world where George Washington was killed in a duel with a man who didn’t want to pay whiskey taxes, and that version of the US became an anarcho-capitalist enclave, where duelling to the death was a recognised way to resolve disputes. If you don’t want to involve the state in any way, perhaps that is the only way to go! (I am not an anarcho-capitalist, but i am an Agorophilist, a free-market lover, and some of the ideas in anarcho-capitalism at least stimulate thought.)
I’ve read The Probability Broach, good book, although the talking apes, monkeys and whales were a bit way out. I don’t have a philosophical issue with dueling, so long as it is conducted by willing participants. That is not capital punishment though, that is the settling of a personal disbute between adults. The death penalty explicitly involves the death of the perpetrator of the crime only, not at the risk of the executioner’s life.
Tim R: My concern with the death penalty is that the US has got it wrong so many times and executed innocent people. I don’t necessarily disagree with the principle of capital punishment but like Terje, can’t see any way to administer it flawlessly.
Dead Soul I agree with Brendan, capital punishment doesn’t deter crime and as many cases in the USA has revealed, far too many people have been found guilty when innocent.
Can someone provide some evidence that ‘the US has got it wrong so many times and executed innocent people’? While I accept that ‘many people have been found guilty when innocent’ and then released on appeal or even pardon, this isn’t the same thing as executing someone then finding out that the state has made a fatal mistake.
If these are the best examples of wrongful executions:
then I’m not convinced that capital punishment cannot be used to effect a net benefit to civil society.
Two reasons to oppose capital punishment;
!. We have no individual right to kill except in self defence, and a prisnor in shackles is not a threat, therefore we can’t hand its implementation over to the government to exercise on our behalf.
2. Who among you trust a government with the right to kill you.
We have no individual right to kill except in self defence
Where does this right come from?
Michael,I assume you mean “in self defence.”
If we assume that we have the right to life, (I’m not into the “I think therefore I am” stuff, so I can’t take if further back than that), then we have the right to defend that life. If faced with deadly force, the use of reciprocal force would be justifyed.
Sure Jim, I’m just having a bit of fun. I think it’s great to deeply examine morality.
For your viewpoint I think it is more correct to say that you have a right to use ‘potentially lethal force’ in self defence. In other words, you can shoot them, but you’re only shooting to stop them. You’d really like to stop them and get them before a court so a ‘proper’ determination of their crime can be made and they can be duly punished. However, shooting them may well result in them dying. However, due to the fact that your life, liberty or property is in grave and imminent danger, then you shouldn’t be denied the right to use this ‘potentially lethal force’ against them. This is not the same as ‘a right to kill’.
With the death penalty my argument goes like this: you and I and everyone else has an agreement that we won’t do certain things against each other. In other words we afford each other certain natural negative rights to ensure a peaceful society of freedom, and in doing so we create civil society. If someone grossly and obviously violates these rights, for example a serial rapist and killer, then they have forgone the agreement that we have with each other and are no longer afforded these negative natural rights or the security of civil society. We can therefore do whatever we want with them, and we should do whatever affords us the most benefit as society. I would argue exterminating these people has benefits for the society as a whole, and is morally right in these circumstances.
This is a moral basis for the death penalty. There are of course other issues, such as the accuracy of the state in determining guilt, and the actual cost/benefit ratio of going down this path. However, they are separate arguments to the moral question ‘does the state have the right to kill?’.
I am actually not that fussy about getting them to a court. If a person kills in self-defence, that is one thing, killing a person by judicial means when they are not able to offer a threat, is another.
This is not an easy thing to resolve and perhaps I was a little flippant before. I have no time for the type of criminal that you mentioned, and would not shed tears for them, if they were killed in the commission of a crime. Killing them after the event is not the same thing.
Saddam Hussein deserved to die, and I have no regrets that he is dead, I don’t wish to sound soft but I was horrified at the video of the guy with the rope around his neck ready for the drop. On the other hand we do shoot savage dogs.
Your ‘civil contract’ argument is valid and quite acceptable to me, until you start moving from the singularity ‘we afford each other certain natural negative rights to ensure a peaceful society of freedom’ to the plurality of ‘We can therefore do whatever we want with them, and we should do whatever affords us the most benefit as society.’
Perhaps in a Libertarian society, a court could rule, “The bastard deserves killing”, then the criminal would lose his natural right to life, and any protection normally afforded by law. I am speculating here, maybe SL could help you more with this.
Then perhaps, I am moving beyond Libertarianism into my deeper philosophical base of ‘practical anarchy,’ which is where my current beliefs evolved from.
On the same theme we have double standards in the application of the law, for example, a person who is faced with deadly force, may be prosecuted if it is deemed that the force was excessive, or applied after the threat had ceased.
There seems to be no allowance made for the emotional reaction of the victim of such force, to such force. Judgements are made on this by people pondering the ethical aspects of another’s actions, from a position of safety, and the consequent attitude of safety without much feel for being in that situation.
Should, for example a person who has been attacked, and taken a few hits, be prosecuted if his emotional turmoil causes him to keep shooting after his attackers start to flee? That to me seems like an acceptable occupational hazard associated with attacking.
I can’t offer much more at the moment. I’m probably a bit dumb to argue philosophy, I thought until recently that a dichotomy was a penalty for rape.
Saddam Hussein deserved to die, and I have no regrets that he is dead, I don’t wish to sound soft but I was horrified at the video of the guy with the rope around his neck ready for the drop.
Yep, sometimes reality isn’t pretty. Ethical choices sometimes aren’t pretty either, but I don’t feel that’s any reason to shy away from confronting them. If we want justice we have to overlook emotion and make decisions only with reason.
Your ‘civil contract’ argument is valid and quite acceptable to me, until you start moving from the singularity ‘we afford each other certain natural negative rights to ensure a peaceful society of freedom’ to the plurality of ‘We can therefore do whatever we want with them, and we should do whatever affords us the most benefit as society.’
With the Sadam example, once he was convicted what rights did he have? On what basis should we decide what to do with him? Was he still a member of our civil society regardless of his actions, and should therefore be afforded certain treatment? Or had he proven himself to be completely outside of our system of morality and therefore devoid of the security an unconvicted person is afforded?
Should, for example a person who has been attacked, and taken a few hits, be prosecuted if his emotional turmoil causes him to keep shooting after his attackers start to flee?
It should certainly be a mitigation against his charge. The person running away (assuming they had simply attacked him unjustly) has forgone some of their rights afforded by civil society, due to their actions. But the rest of the circumstances need to be taken into account before we decide on his guilt and/or sentence.
I can’t offer much more at the moment. I’m probably a bit dumb to argue philosophy,……..
This is a load of rubbish! The ones who think they know it all, and have often formally studied philosophy or politics, are usually the dumbasses who put up the logically inconsisitent, emotionally based, practically ineffective garbage and then insist it be forced on everyone else. The left is full of them. Like you, I’d rather regard myself as a ‘real world libertarian’.
The only valid argument for the death penalty is that it might save lives. The value of punishment is that it creates a dissincentive against crime and so increases the security of property rights (including our rights to our own body).
As there is insufficient evidence to show that government killing changes the incentives, then there is no valid argument to allow government killing.
The only valid argument for the death penalty is that it might save lives. The value of punishment is that it creates a dissincentive……..
Is there any other value in what the punishment provides society, such as retribution, or a murderer getting their ‘just deserts’, or delivering a punishment of equivalent finality to the crime? Or any value in what the function provides society in providing closure to a horrific event and a definitive end to someone with no respect for civil society? If there is any value to these things, should they be considered in a cost/benefit ratio regarding the death penalty?
Michael: My last sentence was a lame attempt at humour; disregard it.
I recognise some weakness in my argument, it comes from the difficulty resolving the feeling that certain criminals don’t deserve to live with my basic distrust of the state. Obviously, some compromise is needed, and I think that possibly your concept of a social contract is the best approach.
We are probably never come to a singular approach, as a group, on this precisely because of our differing philosophical outlooks within the overall framework of the group, and if we live long enough we can argue this one strongly in 2050 or beyond.
John has thrown his hat in the ring with the point “The only valid argument for the death penalty is that it might save lives. The value of punishment is that it creates a disincentive against crime and so increases the security of property rights (including our rights to our own body).”
We therefore now have three views, my individualist view, your societal view (not socialist I’m not sure what word to call it), and John’s utilitarian view. If I wished to be pedantic I would of course question whether saving lives is in fact, a valid argument for killing people.
The fact is that we are all correct in the context of our individual personal beliefs.
The problem is that politically, we have to come up with a more unified approach, so some compromise is called for.
My personal beliefs lock me into a corner here, especially as I agree strongly with the statement in your post on ‘sub groups’, “just as calling oneself ‘The Government’ cannot legitimately add to one’s natural rights”.
I therefore, with tongue in cheek offer the following proposition; that the offender, who has committed a crime warranting the death penalty in a civilized society, be incarcerated for life with none of the privileges of society, with a suicide pill available on request.
I don’t think retribution enacted by the government is of value to society as such. However it is possibly of some value to some individual victims of crime (and/or their families) and given that society imposes laws that inhibit a persons freedom to seek retribution then perhaps the argument has some merit in a round about way.
I’m not sure that unearthing one more Nazi war criminal is going to add to the deterent for war criminals. However I can understand the retribution/sense of justice argument that drives the Nazi hunters to do so.
In the case of little Madeleine in Spain, who is in the news following her suspected abduction by a British paedophile ring, I could easily turn a blind eye if one of the parents had the opportunity to dish out some retribution. I’m not of the view that retribution could or should be institutionalised however I can understand the motive and I’d have a hard time supporting the prosecution of a parent who undertook what might be viewed as just retribution in such a case.
My last sentence was a lame attempt at humour; disregard it.
It was funny. I got the funny bit.
Retribution is not an appropriate justification for government. If the government was allowed to violate one person’s liberty because of the emotional value to another person… then they can ban drugs (because my parents are sad when they know I use drugs) and homosexuality (because many christians/muslims are offended by the knowledge of gay acts) and high paying jobs (because it creates envy) and pretty much anything else.
Government becomes a game of “it’s all about the vibe”. We need more concrete rules for government intervention which is why it should only be justified when there is a clear argument for a material/physical benefit. Your emotional state of affairs is yours to manage.
Whether his tongue was in-cheek or anywhere else, I agree with Jim’s suggestion.
I’m happy to admit (as per Terje’s example) that I would personally like to see some of these criminals killed. Slowly. But we must always be at pains to distinguish the personal from the political. The failure to distinguish between personal/political is perhaps the biggest problem in political debate and leads to an interventionist government. And I think trusting your government enough to give it the power of life and death shows a level of faith in politicians & bureaucrats that I don’t want to encourage in society.
We therefore now have three views, my individualist view, your societal view (not socialist I’m not sure what word to call it), and John’s utilitarian view.
These are all really the same thing, and should be seen as different ways of approaching any one particular issue.
Terje: I have been trying to avoid getting blood in the water, as I sensed the raft was being circled, even before JH appeared. (My jokes really aren’t that good)
We seem to be on the same wavelength on that comment, except that I am not convinced that the state should impose laws restricting the right to seek retribution privately, provided that such retribution is in proportion to the crime.
As a parent I can think of a few things I wouldn’t mind doing to that paedophile ring myself. They might not be proportional though.
I have felt some discomfort for years about Nazi hunting. To be born by the end of WW2 would make a person 62, years old, to have participated in the war given that Germany was calling up 16 year olds at the end, would therefore make that person 78 years old, to have committed a war crime, would make the age higher again.
Given that from the Nazi take-over German youth was subjected to an insidious propaganda hate campaign, there are some mitigating aspects to this. I am inclined to think that exposure alone should probably be enough.
It would be nice to think that if we grew to adulthood under those circumstances that we would be different, but would we.
There have been a number of experiments that clearly demonstrate you can radically alter a person’s behavior by changing the environment. The experiments of Milgram, though very difficult to interpreet, have quite shocking implications with regard to how easy it is to turn adults into monsters. With children is dead easy. Irrespective of that, given the evidence that you can’t change paedophile behavior I’d be reaching for a rusty chainsaw … . That’s the rub, we can create monsters but we can’t turn monsters into angels.
If the government was allowed to violate one person’s liberty because of the emotional value to another person… then they can ban drugs (because my parents are sad when they know I use drugs) and homosexuality (because many christians/muslims are offended by the knowledge of gay acts) and high paying jobs (because it creates envy) and pretty much anything else.
This is not a valid argument because you are comparing apples to oranges. I am talking about the acts against the morality system which can be proven through reason to be the basis that affords us civil society. Without this basis we know that the best we can do is mob rule or tribalism and it is therefore essential to the very existence of any enlightened society. You are talking about personal biases, or rules that were relevant in tribal societies, that have, somehow, unfortunately made it into law in modern society.
Furthermore, you need to consider what emotions are and how they relate to happiness. As libertarians one of the goals we claim to aspire to is to allow each individual the pursuit of happiness so long as they afford the same right to everyone else. One the arguments I happen to regularly use to defend libertarianism is the fact that it maximises happiness and prosperity. Happiness is an emotion so straight away you are linking a political philosophy with an emotion.
We should view emotions as the satisfaction of values that we have developed within ourselves. The question then comes down to what are good and bad values. If we hold the value of a higher human condition through civil society then happiness through satisfying this value is a positve, good and desireable emotion. Executing a blot on civil society satisfies this value. It’s positive, good and desireable.
And I think trusting your government enough to give it the power of life and death shows a level of faith in politicians & bureaucrats that I don’t want to encourage in society.
This is really the crux of it for you. I don’t disagree with your higher level utilitarian positon (although I do think there is some evidence of a decrease in violent crime over the longer term, but it is marginal), but I think there is more to it as I’ve outlined above that still affords a net benefit.
The failure to distinguish between personal/political is perhaps the biggest problem in political debate and leads to an interventionist government.
I do have a problem with this. The personal is the political in the key areas that the political should exist. We are the government.
(I agree with Jims suggestion, although some would see it as somewhat of a ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ California is already giving people the option of death or life imprisionment at the time of sentencing.)
This site needs a preview function.
I’m comparing apples to apples. You have changed the topic back to the dissincentive affect. You must distinguish between the dissincentive argument and the emotional argument (ie kill them because it makes me feel good).
I agree that the role of government punishment is to create a dissincentive against property crime because a robust private property system is the basis for civilised society.
I don’t think you can… nor do I think you should try… to define “good” emotions and a “good” life. Those decisions are for each person to make for themselves (as long as they are non-violent). It is not possible for the government to know or enforce “good” emotions on people. The banning of gays and drugs and high incomes are just some examples of how this thinking can end up. So is killing somebody because it makes people feel better.
At best, the argument for government is that there are institutional biases in the market that may lead to situations that do not provide net benefit voluntary interactions. For exmample, externalities or public goods.
“We are the government.”
I’m not the government. Moral philosophy is not political philosophy. This is the mistake of socialists and conservatives.
I’m comparing apples to apples.
No, you are not. Are laws that prevent people using drugs, having gay sex or ensuring people don’t get envious of a high performer the same as laws that say people shouldn’t kill each other? My opinion is that the first lot should be repealed and the second one enforced with extreme prejudice. Do you disagree with this?
I don’t disagree with your utilitarian argument. It is correct and you have pursued it to it’s logical conclusion with regards to disincentives (note, that’s not with regards to limiting government power I’ll talk about that later on). I am saying that that is not the whole picture. You are ignoring other morally correct ways to extract benefit for society from the use of capital punishment.
I don’t think you can… nor do I think you should try… to define “good” emotions and a “good” life. Those decisions are for each person to make for themselves (as long as they are non-violent). It is not possible for the government to know or enforce “good” emotions on people.
That’s partially correct. However, as you have pointed out, people need to acknowledge the moral principle with regards to non-initiation of violence. This has to be part of everyone’s ‘good emotions’ ,which really means ‘good values’) or there is no chance of civil society.
Moral philosophy is not political philosophy.
Again a partial truth because moral philosphy is broader. But do you deny that any government’s political philosophy needs to stem from, and never contradict, the moral philosphy of the society that created the government?
Your argument about government use of deadly force is basically this:
And I think trusting your government enough to give it the power of life and death shows a level of faith in politicians & bureaucrats that I don’t want to encourage in society.
which is basically a pacifistic argument. Simply that we should limit the power of government so that it can’t make a deadly mistake, because the government can’t be trusted to make accurate decisions.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s good to be sceptical of government. But in the same way that I don’t agree with the pacifists in that we should refuse violence to produce peace, I don’t think we should limit the government’s use of deadly force whether it be in capital punishment or war. These things are simple realities of our human condition and we will probably not overcome them within the next millennia, if ever. We need to accept them or we are deluding ourselves, and ensure that the government is acting with a moral basis when it uses them. If there is benefit to be had from the moral use of violence then we are stupid not to use it.
Retribution in terms of capital punishment is valid. It is of value to the (living) victims, it provides just finality to horrific crimes, it allows people to put their faith in civil society and live as civilised beings safe in the knowledge that society will enforce their rights to the utmost, it allows people to accurately feel beyond doubt that a monster will never be able to act again. It has value beyond deterrence.
(Knock yourself out with the last word, this is my last post on this one.)
Jim – once a Nazi hunter exposes a very old person to have been a vicious killer in their youth then I think that the state can no longer let it be. There is a necessary deterent effect in then prosecuting that person. To leave them be sends a message of comfort to would be criminals. There should be to statute of limitations for such things.
John – I agree with your analysis and I am onside with the view that the state should not orchestrate retribution (but should orchestrate deterence). However a couple of questions to clarify your thinking if I may:-
1. Does the state have a role in reforming criminals?
2. Should criminals be locked up merely to keep us safe from the possibility that they may reoffend?
3. Does the state have a role in preventing personal acts of retribution and where should the boundaries be set?
When I was living in England I remember that there was a case where some British nurses were on trial in Saudi Arabia for murder. There was an Islamic lawyer interviewed on the TV and he was explaining the difference between British law and Islamic law. This is basically how he explained it:-
Under British law if you murder somebody then you are seen to have commited an offence against the crown. The victim was after all one of the Queens subjects so you’ve offended her. Hence the crown will prosecute you. Under Islamic law murder is seen as a crime against the victims family. As such the negotiation of blood money is seen as entirely reasonable. It might be viewed as being much the same as a plea bargain in which the crown will seek a lesser sentence in exchange for something of value (typically information and co-operation).
Now I don’t know if this is really an accurate characterisation of islamic law or of British law but it was an interesting contrast.
once a Nazi hunter exposes a very old person to have been a vicious killer in their youth then I think that the state can no longer let it be. There is a necessary deterent effect in then prosecuting that person. To leave them be sends a message of comfort to would be criminals. There should be to statute of limitations for such things.
Tell me Terje, if an old Nazi has been on the run for 60 years in fear of his life, has had no chance to effectively live his life or pursue happiness as a free man, and is undoubtedly near death, how much more of a disincentive to future dictators will his prosecution be? Are we really prosecuting him to avoid sending a ‘message of comfort to would be criminals’ or are we doing it for ourselves? Do the people pushing for his prosecution believe this will help protect them from the next holocaust, or are they seeking justice for their loved ones and closure for themselves?
To answer your question I would suspect that those that pursue Nazis have a mixture of feelings but that seeking justice for their loved ones and closure for themselves is very high up on the list.
My point to Jim however was that explosing them after such a long time and then electing to not prosecute them was actually probably worse in deterent terms than not exposing them at all. Once exposed they should definitely be prosecuted even if deterence is your only motivation.
Terje: By all means prosecute them, however my point is that anything higher than a minor functionary would now be at least 82 to 85 years old now. Very few of these would be in good health, so a jail term would probably be served under fairly intensive medical supervision. I question whether there is much benefit in actually jailing them, I feel the exposure and the community censure in their old age is probably enough.
I feel that as most of the leadership element is now probably dead, many of the records are lost or destroyed, and the latest recolections of witnesses, referr to incidents from over 60 years ago, it is probably questionable as to whether a fair trial is even possible.
Yes, if discovered they should be tried, but even if you can achieve a fair one what the hell do you do with them afterwards.
As I have pointed out, it is a fair bet that from here on in only minor players will be caught, and given the mitigating circumstances mentioned before by me, the serious nature of it mentioned by Dead Soul, the trial problems, and the penalty difficulties, I really think traveling much further down this road is flogging a dead horse.
Michael — I don’t agree with laws against drugs, gays and high incomes. I was pointing out that they are a logical consequence from your type of argument. Your argument for government murder on the grounds of emotional benefit is identical to the argument against drugs, gays and high incomes on the grounds of emotional benefits. I have argued that we shouldn’t use emotional arguments.
Emotions does not mean values. It never has. It never will. I note that you effectively agree with me that emotions should be an entirely private matter. The logical consequence from that is the emotions you feel from seeing revenge is not relevant for the government. I agree with the consistent logical implementation of this principle we share.
Your points about moral & political philosophy make no sense. It’s not necessary for people to share a moral philosophy. And despite your odd protestations, my statement was entirely true: moral philosophy is not political philosophy. Never has been. Never will be.
You then say I have a pacifist argument. You are going to amazing lengths to misrepresent me. My point (which was very clear) is that the government should never be violent unless there is a clear benefit. This is not a pacifist argument. Nothing like it. It is impossible for anybody to confuse my argument with a pacifist argument.
I did make the point that I would prefer to encourage a sense of skepticism about government. But that, also, is impossible to confuse with pacifism.
You finish with a claim that government killing has more benefits than deterence. Strangly, one of the “other” reasons you give is deterence. The other reason you give is the emotional benefit people get from having somebody killed. As I’ve clearly established (and you’ve agreed) it is not appropriate to have the government act on our emotional whims in a free society.
I agree with Terje that a nazi war criminal would have to be prosecuted properly. Nothing undermines laws better than having them arbitrarily enforced.
I also agree with Jim that the individuals in question probably don’t deserve a serious penalty. I think that is probably true for a lot of people who face the courts. But the role of our legal system isn’t to ensure we improve the life of the criminals… but that we improve the life of all people by giving them security in their property (most importantly their self-ownership).
Terje — in answer to your questions (1) I don’t know (2) I don’t know; and (3) I don’t know. 🙂
Ha. That proves that you don’t know a lot. 🙂
John, if you used the word coercion instead of violence you couldn’t be accused of pacifism. An aversion to violence actually is pacifism, as Michael suggests. An aversion to coercion (which encompasses a lot more than violence) is the basis of libertarianism.
Re Terje’s questions, I’ll have a go at answering:
1. Yes, the state has a role in reforming criminals. Criminals locked up by the state will ultimately be released by the state, and high recidivism is a known consequence of failure to ‘rehabilitate’ criminals while in jail. Assuming the state has a legitimate role in helping to protect life and property (via the police and judicial system), the state clearly needs to reduce recidivism.
2. Should criminals be held preventively? Pedophiles are the most resistant to rehabilitation and likely to reoffend. Bank robbers etc generally grow out of it once testosterone levels decline and they’ve done a few years in jail. I consider preventive detention to be valid in a very small number of cases, where the potential to reoffend is high and the anticipated offence is huge (eg child rape and murder). Control orders would be preferable though. The big risk is that they won’t be applied legitimately, so there must be independent scrutiny. The police can’t be trusted.
3. Does the state have a role in preventing personal acts of retribution? Sometimes, but it’s hard to generalise. Many potential acts of retribution would be motivated by perceptions of honour and disproportionately coercive. On the other hand I wouldn’t think twice about breaking someone’s arm if they were stealing my car, whether or not it was necessary to prevent the theft. If juries were used to determine guilt or innocence in these cases, sound outcomes would be fairly certain.
An aversion to violence isn’t pacifism. It’s normal human values.
Pacifism is the belief that violence can never be justified. I don’t believe that.
Breaking a car thiefs arm as they are caught in the act is likely to have a high reform effect.
1. It is very painful.
2. The occurance of pain occurs almost simultaneously with the criminal act.
3. The likelyhood that they will infer a causal linkage is quite high.
In psychological terms these three factors mean that it should be highly effective. However this is not the same as advocating that the state should break arms.
One of the problems with justice administered justly by the state is that the punishment is rarely proximate to the criminal behaviour. The most tangible experience I have of watching the effect of pain that is proximate to behaviour was growing up on the farm and watching calves (and puppies and human visitors) learn about the electric fence for the first time.
Assuming that DavidL did catch a car thief in the act and immediately break their arm then:-
1. What would the state do about it?
2. What should the state do about it?
p.s. Never piss near an electric fence.
The role of imprisonment should merely be isolation. Just as the state has no legitimate role in educating us or in administering healthcare. I would advocate that charities with this aim be given access to prisons to administer educational and reform programs to inmates, at the consent of the prisoner. Prison should be administered with as little emotion as possible, with no regard for revenge or reform. Sentences should be absolute, if this encourages shorter sentences, so be it. Administering the state’s monopoly on the power to detain should be considered very carefully. Mandatory sentencing diminishes the power of the judiciary to balance the conflicting forces involved in administering justice. The risk of reoffending is the primary determiner for sentencing.
The extent that a criminal prosecution opens the way for civil proceedings should not be ignored. I think this is the way that common law handles crime as both a law and order issue and as a civil disagreement. The concept of blood money being the only solution leads to the wealthy having less disincentive to commit crime.
One reason for agreeing to the trial of exposed nazi war criminals is that exposure, is not necessarily guilt. Nazi hunters like to announce their finds so that even if is a case of mistaken identity the guy gets pilloried.
A trial may in some cases prevent a gross miscarriage of justice, especially where trial by press has been employed. In such a case, where the accused is acquitted, costs should be awarded against the accuser and the media companies involved. This may make frivolous or vexatious claims less likely.
The deterrent effect is in fact another, others may be discouraged by “We will hunt you to the ends of the earth and forever”, though for the reasons stated above I am sceptical about going much further down this road, in relation to WW2.
I saw a reference above to deterring dictators. This is a great theory, but the truth of the matter is that there is little willingness to intervene against these people unless they become a threat to a major power, or engage in expansionism. Kim Jong Il and Mugarbe are classic examples of this. While they stay on the top of their own national dung-heap they are pretty safe.
I doubt that it would even be a great deterrent to war as most dictators seem to have some kind of messianic complex, and in any case are unlikely to start a war unless they think they can win, in which case the defenders would be in their view, the war criminals.
Re. Paedophilia and breaking arms, I worked for a while with a rather large lesbian, who on hearing of the arrest of a geologist for trying to procure children on the net, expressed a wish to visit him with her biggest dildo and…………
Is this the same thing?
Terje: you can piss near an electric fence, just check first on the wind direction.
Libertarians believe in fair exchanges, in swapping things of agreed equal value between consenting traders. This is why many of us also support the death penalty for murderers. Executions are not considered to be murders by the state, but an enforcement of equality, so that things are brought back to fairness- a dealer of death has been dealt death.
Thus, believers in free and fair trade tend to support the death penalty. My only caveat is that we would need to be sure that we had the right person. That is a big caveat, of course, but I do believe in just trade, and some transactions are anything but just.
Hello! I happened to run across this site just as I was thinking about Capital Punishment.
I find the Japanese point of view on this quite interesting. They are one of the few developed nations to still have the Death Penalty (with 77% support) but only in two conditions. A combination of murder and rape, or murder and robbery.
I agree with this, particularly in terms of rape.
I don’t see this as a deterrent. Rapists are vermin, and don’t think they’ll get caught. “Murderers” aren’t really a type, though multiple murderers possibly are. People in extreme situations can commit crimes such as murder, crimes of passion. They should be punished, yes. But to rape a woman and kill her? That takes a broken person.
I don’t think criminals are heavily deterred by punishment, but I can guarantee you one thing. No one who was executed (by any method) EVER offended again. Can you say the same of released paedophiles or serial rapists?
And if you’re going to say they should be locked up forever… why? Hit them with a brick and get it over with. (No I’m not advocating that as a method, I’m just being flippant.)
Some people are just foaming at the mouth, they’re broken and they’re dangerous. For the safety of us all they should be put down like the rabid dogs they are. Not in retribution. Not in rage. Not an eye for an eye, nor a tooth for a tooth. Rest in peace.
Dennis Ferguson, Ivan Milat, Martin Bryant, there’s a list of them as long as my arm. Typed small.
Oh, I agree with pretty much everything Michael Sutcliffe said. There is a covenant in among us that certain behavior is accepted and certain behavior is not. Those covenants protect the sanctity of our life and liberty while we abide by them ourselves. By grossly violating those covenants these people lose any protection associated with being a citizen. (I’m referring to people who actually do it. Not those accused. An accused person no matter how egregious the crime deserves the full protection of our legal system, from Innocence till Proven Guilty to Trial By Jury.)
I have only one problem with the concept of Capital Punishment. The potential for innocent people to be killed. I’m not sure how to reconcile that. Acceptable collateral damage? That doesn’t sit well with me.
Capital punishment for crimes less than murder encourages murder, as there is an incentive to kill your victim and shut them up.
Even “ol sparky” Texas requires multiple murders, intentional murder of an on duty police officer or other qualifiers. A spouse or sibling killing their spouse or sibling during a fight won’t result in the death penalty.
“Less than murder” is subjective. I would characterise some crimes as worse than murder. While I’d be hesitant to say rape broadly (despite my own personal opinion), serial child rapes to most of society are viler than a single murder.
We seem to have a concept in society that death is the worst thing possible. Is it worse to kill someone? Or to mutilate them physically and emotionally, to torture, to rape?
Regardless, I knwo what you’re saying, but couldn’t we say the same of all punishments? That same incentive is there to kill the victim to prevent incarceration. I think that’s a dubious call at best.
Sorry my resposne is a little long winded.
““Less than murder” is subjective. I would characterise some crimes as worse than murder. While I’d be hesitant to say rape broadly (despite my own personal opinion), serial child rapes to most of society are viler than a single murder.”
Be subjective as you like. If death is a punishment for any crime other than murder, there is an incentive to kill the victim.
“Regardless, I know what you’re saying, but couldn’t we say the same of all punishments? That same incentive is there to kill the victim to prevent incarceration. I think that’s a dubious call at best.”
No it is not. Ehrlich (1978) showed the death penalty has an increased marginal deterrence effect for murder, about eight less murders per execution compared to life terms. Alternatively, where execution is punishment for non murder crimes, the murder rate increases as a result of that law.
Yes at least one of Dennis Ferguson’s victims became suicidal. I’d rather give them more of a chance to make that awful decision for themselves, rather to give their abuser an incentive to murder them.
You would end up with less abused children and more murdered children if sexual abuse of children was a capital offence.
My point: There needs to be some sense of primacy for crimes. Look at armed robbery. If it was punishable by death, it might decrease, but there would be more murders. By classifying manslaughter committed during the commission of a crime as murder, the risk of wounding a victim (even accidentally) turning armed robbery into armed robbery and murder increases the disincentive for violent robberies and armed robbery in general without increasing the incentive to kill victims of armed robbery.
You’re just arguing against my subjectivity. I respond to this by wanting to give people a choice over their lives. You don’t have any choices if you are dead.
I appreciate a well reasoned response, even if I don’t agree with it.
I just have to point out that my initial argument wasn’t to advocate CP for rapists, despite my personal abhorrence for it. Rape is notoriously difficult to prosecute, and often comes down to hearsay and “his word against hers” and while my instincts almost always lie with the “victim” that’s not enough. My use of quotes is not to impune the many genuine victims but to suggest that there may be cases where the accused is actually victimised by a false accusation.
No, my point was not to advocate CP for rapists or robbers, but for rape or robbery AND MURDER. Much of your response, however debatable, is not really relevent. I’m not talking about situations in which a man might choose to kill his victim instead of leaving her as a witness. I’m talking about the punishment of a man who DID kill his victim.
Dennis Ferguson’s victim’s (attempted? considered?) suicide isn’t really all that relevant, though a good illustration of the damage a man like this can cause. The point is clear: one of his victims. How many have there been, and how many more will there be, now that he’s been released? His guilt is unquestioned. His rehabilitation? As if. He went in a paedophile, and he came out an older paedophile.
You would end up with less abused children and more murdered ones.
I disagree with this. Most children aren’t molested and assaulted by strangers. That’s a myth. They’re molested by serial child abusers in positions of responsibility or authority. Positions that would make it EXTREMELY difficult to kill them to keep them quiet. Stepfathers, teachers, priests, coaches, foster parents.
If I’m going to end with a point I think it’s this: I think the efficiacy of punishment as a deterent is overated. People don’t not-kill because they fear incarceration (or the death penalty). I doubt a single person reading this is currently sitting there thinking they’d love to go on a spree of serial rape and murders across the country… except that they’d go to jail. Foiled.
Fear of punishment doesn’t stop rapists, child molesters (actually it might a bit there), and serial killers. Those are not the actions of regular people. Those are broken people. I think more good is done by the removal of those people from society. Jail is one way. I know another good one.
I will repeat a point I made earlier, and I know it must be true because I read it in “Policy”.
A lot of criminals are deterred by an efficient police force. There is little fear of punishment if they think that the cops won’t catch them. If the cops are very good at their jobs, that also reduces crimes, as well as any fear of the punishment for that crime.
I think Nicholas is right – looking at a recent controversy over a paper written by Baker and Mc Phedran on guns and crime, the crime rate has been falling since the 1970s, well before any gun prohibitions.
Since then we have seen continuous improvements in policing practice and forensic science. Although, sentences have been toughened.
Libertarians for the death penalty. I think this issue is even more marginal than the LDP’s pro-gun owner’s rights stance (which i do agree with). I don’t believe that the state is capable of administering the death penalty effectively enough to realise any of the proposed utility that its proponents believe in.
Actually, it doesn’t pass a CBA even if the deterrence is stronger. it costs too much to try someone fairly with a death penalty. That could buy more police etc.
The murder committed by the two seventeen-year old girls because they wanted to experience murder sounds like a modern version of ‘Crime and Punishment’.
An issue that I’ve thought about for a long time is whether Martin Bryant should be allowed to commit suicide, after multiple failed attempts. Is it fair for him to choose, in effect, when to end his imprisonment after having denied all of his victims their right to life? His prison papers have been marked ‘never to be released’, and I support this. I believe that if a person commits a crime within the society in which they inhabit, based on the severity of their offence, they should be punished accordingly. I think that prisoners should be afforded every opportunity for rehabilitation, and that the Swedish probably have one of the best systems in the world for achieving this, but that if rehabilitation isn’t practical or achievable in an individual case, and if the prisoner is deemed highly likely to recommit on their release, that steps should be taken to eliminate this chance. Murder and sexual abuse are the two highest crimes in terms of the emotions that are expressed by collective individuals within society when these crimes are committed. If the traits for committing these crimes are inherent within an individual, is it more (or less) morally acceptable to let that individual (taking the case of Martin Bryant) have the choice, and the means, to commit suicide within their cell, and should the disallowance of their ability to carry this out be seen as further punishment on the part of society, or should it be seen as society proactively fostering care for the individual, regardless of the crime committed?
I don’t know if there are any answers to these questions, but I can’t imagine almost anything worse than being denied the right to choose my own actions. If a person identified as a psychopath is punished through loss of liberty, does their lack of emotional capacity in effect make their punishment pointless from a rehabilitation point of view, or should their punishment through imprisonment be simply about protecting society from what they ‘might’ do?