James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Death Penalty II

When thinking about criminal justice, we must not let traditional concepts of its purpose - like vengeance and rehabilitation - taint our judgment. We should think instead in terms of self-defense and restitution. Ironically, I've become more favorable toward the death penalty in principle since becoming a libertarian.

Andrew L. asks in response to my post on the death penalty:

If it is wrong for an individual to kill other than in self-defense (a tenet of the non-aggression pact that is the basis for libertarianism), then how can the state have that power?

It is also wrong for an individual to imprison another person, other than in self-defense. Which points to the underlying presumption: for libertarians who believe in minimal government, the only justification for the state to either kill or imprison, is self-defense, keeping the violent people away from us. The question should be, how do we defend ourselves against known murderers?

Greater justice would be served by executing them - the rest of us are guaranteed we won't be menaced again (no possibility of escape, no pardon from a corrupt governor), and we are spared the expense of housing them.

But, as I said, I oppose the death penalty because of the expenses associated with safeguarding it from error and abuse - which can never be done perfectly.

It's just not worth the trouble.

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