Home > Crime, Politics > Why the Death Penalty is Wrong

Why the Death Penalty is Wrong

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-adv-death-penalty-costs-20110620,0,3505671.story

I’ve never been a fan of the death penalty just because it costs a lot. In America, it is way cheaper to keep someone locked up for life.

Also, it seems like every month someone is getting released from prison because they were exonerated by DNA testing. I won’t go so far as to say capital punishment, in and of itself, is immoral, but its definitely immoral when you know a system is potentially harming innocent people and, as an administrator, you allow that system to continue (and we are all administrators of this democracy! <yeah right…>) .

Lastly, the death penalty, as it works in America, is just not a very good deterrent. We still have the highest murder rate in the developed world. I know that there are certain constituencies within the US that have a hard-on for punishing criminals, and that there is something distinctly American about our cultural obsession with guns and death, but it’s just stupid to continue to think that the American style of capital punishment is a deterrent against crime… perhaps Chinese-style capital punishment, with no appeals or years spent waiting on death row (just a bullet to the head and no press or publicity) would act as a better deterrent? Even if it did, would it be worth the costs to democracy, society, and fair process? I don’t really think so, although I could see how some could disagree with me.

My own theory/model for crime is that it is an inevitable by-product of society and is mostly promoted by economic factors while being limited by social factors. There is also the question of what exactly constitutes a crime. I have always held the libertarian position that you should be able to cause harm to yourself if you want to, but not to others unless they want you to, ergo drug use and suicide shouldn’t be crimes. As a society, we need to make sure that some of the things we think of as “crimes” actually cause real social damage. And rather than spend a lot of money on an inefficient and ineffective capital punishment system, we should warehouse criminals as cheaply and humanely as possible. Criminals already run the prisons anyway, we might as well send them to an island somewhere and let them setup there own rudimentary Mad Max-style society (coincidentally, Mad Max was filmed in Australia and Australia did start out as a prison colony…).

The word “warehouse” has many negative connotations within the sphere of criminal justice, especially here in California where the prison populations have swelled due to the combination of Three Strikes legislation and drug prohibition. The ever growing “Prison Industrial” complex is undeniably out of control, but from a fiscal perspective, a lot of the costs born to warehouse prisoners is because of the prison guard unions and perverse incentives within the public contracts that permit prisons to operate.

I guess my final words on the subject are that criminals should be imprisoned rather than euthanized, furthermore not all prisoners are “criminals”, and not all criminals are evil people! Crime is not all caused by evil people; it is often good people put into extraordinary circumstances that commit crime. Conversely, not all evil people are criminals; some sociopaths manage to live relatively successful lives within the business world (where some of there sociopathic tendencies can actually be beneficial), but perhaps in the wake of Bernie Madoff, et al, shareholders should be rethinking the logic of letting the sharks run the aquarium. There really is no way to end crime, we can only try to create social and economic conditions where crime is unprofitable or unappealing.

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Categories: Crime, Politics
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