James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Death Penalty

Well, the guy the guy who admitted to bombing abortion clinics and the Atlanta Olympic games, Eric Rudolf, pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence.

When it comes to crimes of this nature, three principles come to mind:

1. We should make sure we have the guilty person;
2. He must be removed permanently from society;
3. We shouldn't incovenience the taxpayer any more than necessary.

In light of our extremely expensive appeals process, and the length of time before execution, life imprisonment is probably the best way to fulfill all three principles, even though #3 isn't exactly well-served.

I have no problem with the death penalty as a principle of justice, because I don't see why taxpayers have to pay for the existence of murderers behind bars. But when capital punishment is expensive, as our system is, it's probably not worth it. To protect the innocent and guard against abuse, we've made capital punishment really expensive.

That's the problem with the State. Give it power to do something, and it will be abused. Or, as in this case, when it creates for itself safeguards against abuse, they are so expensive as to be not worth it.

Rudolph was probably smart to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty. It seems that an "innocent" verdict would have been unlikely. Now, if only there was a way we could have criminals like him do forced labor in prison to pay their way and compensate the surviving victims and the families of the dead.


  1. As hard as it is to see someone like Rudolph live, I cannot bring myself to grant the state the power to kill people as punishment or revenge. Of course, the state has assumed this power without regard to my views.

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