Thoughts on economics and liberty

The absolute necessity of capital punishment

I'm flabbergasted by the new-fangled theories of justice which have presumably, in a fit of "humanity", reached a conclusion that INNOCENT taxpayers must support HEINOUS criminals for life.

It costs the taxpayer arm and a leg – at least well above so-called "minimum wages" or even the welfare handout – to support someone in jail each year.

So I find it obnoxious (on first principles of justice) as well as intolerable (as a taxpayer) when I hear that governments across the world are now moving away from capital punishment in cases where it is highly deserved.

In DOF I've suggested that even though life is of ultimate value, no protection must be accorded to the life of a heinous criminal. If someone has taken lives then he/she must PAY the penalty. I disagree with any system of justice that is not based on the "eye-for-an-eye" formula. Retributory justice is CRUCIAL if any meaningful conception of justice is to exist.

Just one case will illustrate the point I'm making. The case of the crossbow cannibal in UK

It is beyond comprehension why taxpayers will be paying SERIOUS money to feed and clothe and provide shelter to this man for the rest of his life. He must be hung. Period. 

Capital punishment also has proven deterrence effects, but that would amount to a utilitarian argument and while I agree with that line of thinking (to add support to the basic moral argument) I'd suggest that we revert to first principles to confirm the meaning of JUSTICE.

Where there is no justice there is no freedom.

Three people KILLED AND EATEN, and now INNOCENT TAXPAYERS will have to feed this monster for the rest of his life. Pathetic!

The most basic conception of morality has been lost in the wilderness of confused ideas and ideologies. These ideas will ultimately bring the West down to its knees, as its taxpayers are stung repeatedly for bills for the whimsical and crazy (allegedly charitable) ideas of their totally confused politicians. Such nonsensical conceptions of justice are not sustainable.

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5 thoughts on “The absolute necessity of capital punishment
  1. Surya

    Finally I am seeing someone say that a justice system should be retributive. As you said deterrence is only a secondary effect. The primary reason for capital punishment is that, it is the only way justice can be done to the victim's family.  The modern age has made us forget why courts of justice arose in the first place.  Courts arose only because if everyone is forced to seek justice for himself, no peaceful life is possible. So while it is important that a judge properly investigate if a person is really guilty of a crime, he should have no second thoughts in punishing him once the crime is proved. Otherwise people will lose faith in the rule of law and it is again each man for himself.  
    But where to invoke the capital punishment is a different question. In general it is not appropriate to invoke it for victimless crimes ( rarely done. But cases are known. Desertion of a military unit during war was considered a crime worthy of capital punishment during WWII by the US. I find this unacceptable considering the fact that enrolment for service was compulsory then )In case of murders with a motive, it can be argued that a chance should be given for a person to repent and turn a new leaf.
    But in case of psychopathic serial killers, there is no meaning in keeping the person alive. Apart from the burden on the taxpayer, there is always the risk that due to some loophole in the law the killer might be let loose again some day.  Two cases in point are Pedro Lopez and Luis Garavito. The former, a monster responsible for the death of 300 girls in Colombia and Ecuador was arrested in Colombia, released after 16 yrs, deported to Ecuador and served a sentence for a few years and was finally released on parole for "good behavior"! Now he is missing and Interpol has issued a fresh notice for a fresh murder. The latter Luis Garavito is a Colombian serial killer who murdered 140 young boys. Due to flaws in their laws the max sentence possible is only 22 years and there is a eerie possibility that he might be released earlier. Now Colombian authorities are trying to find ways to extend the sentence. 
    Many of the advocates against capital punishment, mistakenly argue that it is not a deterrent. Of course nothing can deter a psychopath. Here the need for capital punishment is retributive justice as well as making the world a bit more safer place.

     
  2. Surya

    Finally I am seeing someone say that a justice system should be retributive. As you said deterrence is only a secondary effect. The primary reason for capital punishment is that, it is the only way justice can be done to the victim's family.  The modern age has made us forget why courts of justice arose in the first place.  Courts arose only because if everyone is forced to seek justice for himself, no peaceful life is possible. So while it is important that a judge properly investigate if a person is really guilty of a crime, he should have no second thoughts in punishing him once the crime is proved. Otherwise people will lose faith in the rule of law and it is again each man for himself.  
    But where to invoke the capital punishment is a different question. In general it is not appropriate to invoke it for victimless crimes ( rarely done. But cases are known. Desertion of a military unit during war was considered a crime worthy of capital punishment during WWII by the US. I find this unacceptable considering the fact that enrolment for service was compulsory then )In case of murders with a motive, it can be argued that a chance should be given for a person to repent and turn a new leaf.
    But in case of psychopathic serial killers, there is no meaning in keeping the person alive. Apart from the burden on the taxpayer, there is always the risk that due to some loophole in the law the killer might be let loose again some day.  Two cases in point are Pedro Lopez and Luis Garavito. The former, a monster responsible for the death of 300 girls in Colombia and Ecuador was arrested in Colombia, released after 16 yrs, deported to Ecuador and served a sentence for a few years and was finally released on parole for "good behavior"! Now he is missing and Interpol has issued a fresh notice for a fresh murder. The latter Luis Garavito is a Colombian serial killer who murdered 140 young boys. Due to flaws in their laws the max sentence possible is only 22 years and there is a eerie possibility that he might be released earlier. Now Colombian authorities are trying to find ways to extend the sentence. 
    Many of the advocates against capital punishment, mistakenly argue that it is not a deterrent. Of course nothing can deter a psychopath. Here the need for capital punishment is retributive justice as well as making the world a bit more safer place.

     
  3. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Thanks, Surya.

    Well said. Indeed, retribution (or accountability) is the foundation of justice. I've explained at length in DOF how the concepts of justice arose, and yes – they all boil down to compensation for harm.

    It is not sufficient to say, as Mises says (here), that "the purpose of punishment is solely to rule out, as far as possible, behavior dangerous to society." That's a purely utilitarian approach and is totally inadequate to the problem at hand. Note that even this utilitarian approach leads to the capital punishment pathway, since many studies have proven that capital punishment deters murder.

    But that empirical debate is irrelevant to the underlying conception of justice. There is no freedom to kill. The only way to obtain compense for killing an innocent person is to have the state take the killer's life. There is no requirement to feed and clothe and shelter the killer for the rest of his life – in effect treating him BETTER than a poor person who has not killed anyone.

    Regards

    Sanjeev

     
  4. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Thanks, Surya.

    Well said. Indeed, retribution (or accountability) is the foundation of justice. I've explained at length in DOF how the concepts of justice arose, and yes – they all boil down to compensation for harm.

    It is not sufficient to say, as Mises says (here), that "the purpose of punishment is solely to rule out, as far as possible, behavior dangerous to society." That's a purely utilitarian approach and is totally inadequate to the problem at hand. Note that even this utilitarian approach leads to the capital punishment pathway, since many studies have proven that capital punishment deters murder.

    But that empirical debate is irrelevant to the underlying conception of justice. There is no freedom to kill. The only way to obtain compense for killing an innocent person is to have the state take the killer's life. There is no requirement to feed and clothe and shelter the killer for the rest of his life – in effect treating him BETTER than a poor person who has not killed anyone.

    Regards

    Sanjeev

     
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