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Discussion point XVII

Is capital punishment an acceptable legal sanction?

52 comments to Discussion point XVII

  • CaptDMO

    Of course it is.
    Where ever “the capital” accepts the legitimacy of defenestration.

  • Michael Jennings

    No

  • It’s the only way I know of putting monsters out of reach of the parole board. I’d really prefer it be dealt out rather like drivers’-license revocations – each violent crime carries a certain number of points, and when you accumulate enough points, you’re canceled. And don’t let any one crime ring up sufficient points for execution. That way, we wouldn’t execute the innocent, though some of the executed might not be as guilty as we’d thought.

  • nick g.

    Only if you can be absolutely sure of the guilt of the accused, and only if the accused is accused of deliberate murder. Libertarians believe in fair and free trade, and I see nothing wrong with dealing unwanted death to a person who has dealt out unwanted death.

  • ResidentAlien

    No.

    We should not permit the state to have this degree of power over us.

  • James Waterton

    If you accept that “the state is not your friend”, I cannot possibly see how you could say “yes”.

  • Matt

    If I can legitimately kill someone who’s trying to murder me, I don’t see why someone else can’t do it if I actually get murdered.

  • I hate the concept.

    But if the goal of “legal sanctions” is to set things right, capital punishment is sometimes the only method possible.

    If the goal of “legal sanctions” is to act as a deterrent, it is not particularly effective.

    If the goal is to prevent the possibility of a repeat offense, it is 100% effective.

    Not much chance of rehabilitation of the criminal after capital punishment is carried out.

    This question is a libertarian nightmare.

  • Alice

    Ah! The wealthy society! We are so rich today that we can afford to have these discussions about what to do with deliberate murderers — keep them in 3 square meals a day & good housing & health care for the rest of their lives (at vast expense), or off them quickly.

    When we were poorer, which covers most of history, there was simply no discussion. Someone who was a threat to the common good simply had to be removed as cheaply as possible. That’s why capital punishment was extended far beyond murder to crimes like sheep-stealing.

    Well, our ancestors were poor enough for capital punishment. Likely our descendants will be too. And if any of them ever finds out how we treat violent criminals today, they will treat it as evidence of the degeneration that destroyed our society.

  • Vinegar Joe

    YES. Work 6 months in a maximum security prison (I did while in grad school) and you’ll find out there are some EVIL people in this world.

  • Ben

    No. I believe in the natural right of someone to defend themselves from harm by killing someone who is attempting to harm them or their loved ones. I also agree that as we have deferred this natural right to the courts as an impersonal arbiter they should naturally inherit this right.

    Having said that it seems a wasted opportunity to me to simply kill them. Why not have permanent prison sentences with no chance of parole? In essence a death sentence as they would not be allowed out ever again. We could then let the quacks have at them. Study violent offenders and try to get to the root of their issues so this sort of behavior and attempt to find a cure. Killing them just seems like a wasted opportunity.

  • Ivan

    There are at least three separate questions that too often get conflated in death penalty debates:

    (1) The fundamental one – is the death penalty justified in principle, even if someone is 100% certainly guilty of the worst crimes imaginable?

    (2) The more practical one concerning whether it’s tolerable at all that innocent people might end up wrongly convicted and executed, and if it is, how many.

    (3) Another practical one concerning whether death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime.

    Question (3) is in my opinion hopeless, since it’s one of those in which just about any set of raw data can be shoehorned into a statistical argument supporting either side as necessary, and the available real world data have already been beaten to death without reaching a decisive conclusion.

    Question (1) is for me a no-brainer. If someone has consciously and callously treated lives of others as expendable, I don’t see any grounds for treating his life differently. Have him drawn and quartered, for all I care. And although it certainly doesn’t constitute a rational argument, I can’t resist noticing that the most fervent principled opponents of death penalty are usually statists of one form of another, who have no problem with dealing out other criminal penalties to those who dare to disobey whatever regulations they want to impose on the society in the name of their self-perceived wisdom and benevolence. (Of course, I don’t think that the opponents of death penalty frequenting this website are like that, but it’s certainly true for the general population.)

    Question (2) is the most difficult one, and the answer ultimately has to be subjective. Still, I can’t resist noticing a glaring contradiction in the outlook of many death penalty opponents here: they are greatly concerned about wrongly convicted people being executed, but they have much less, if any trouble sleeping about all the wrongly convicted people rotting in prisons without any realistic hope of having their sentences reversed – and the existence of the former certainly implies a much larger multitude of the latter, since there is no doubt that death penalty cases are receiving far more scrutiny than others on average. This is, in my opinion, a consequence of the fact that few people have the courage to admit to themselves just how bad the criminal “justice” system really is. Therefore, they like to pretend that the only serious problems happen on the death row, even though if you’ve been wrongly convicted to a long prison term – and the chances for that happening are pretty high if the cops and prosecutors want it, and you don’t have the money for a very good lawyer – your chances of ever reversing it aren’t much better than zero.

  • I, for one, see no reason in theory to restrict execution to murder.

    Execution is used to mark a class of crimes that are so incredibly dangerous and evil that they merit the ultimate punishment.

    To be sure, the guilt of the convict must be unquestioned. But once it is, I would execute for murder, treason narrowly defined, perjury falsely implicating the defendant in a capital case, selling people into slavery, and public corruption that leads to the death of innocent people (as with taking bribes to allow shoddy buildings, that later collapse). For starters.

  • nick g.

    The best detterent of crime is an efficient police force. The penalty will be meaningless if there is no hope of the police identifying the culprit. First, make sure the police are good at their jobs, then decide on penalties and fines.
    Ben, if murderers are to be incarcerated for life, why not just execute them? Otherwise, there exists the chance that they’ll escape and commit more murders.
    Plus, you’ll need a prison service of men as tough and ruthless as the people they’re guarding, just so the imprisoned people can die a natural death of old age. Also, what will life mean when Medicine allows us to extend human lifespans, perhaps doubling it? wouldn’t 100 years in prison drive you mad?

  • Evan

    One problem I see with expanding the death penalty to other offenses is the incentives it creates. If you’ve already committed a capital crime, it is in your rational self-interest to murder anyone who could act as a witness against you. If armed robbery is punishable with the death penalty, there may be fewer robberies, but many more will end in murder.

  • Kevyn Bodman

    nick.g is absolutely right about the need for an efficient police force.
    I would like to see a large number of highly visible police officers on patrol deterring and apprehending where necessary the toe-rags, scrotes and ferals.
    ( I believe all these terms atre now in use in Britain.)

    At the same time time I would want the police to leave me alone.
    So their powers, and behaviour that is regarded as criminal, need to be very narrowly defined.

    As for capital punishment, this is not an easy question.
    My answer is NO.
    There are 4 goals of criminal sentencing policy:
    retribution, protection of society, deterrence and reformation.
    Competing goals at times, they can be best satisfied by prison sentences; and that avoids the regrettable act of killing.

    Denying the State the right to deal death to the populace is important too.

    How about the right to kill rulers?
    Does it exist? (I think it does.)
    If so, when? (Not sure yet.)

  • James Waterton

    I am absolutely aware that there are occasions when the taking of life is justifiable. However, I could only countenance the death penalty if I trusted its arbiter, the state. And I don’t.

  • The_Wobbly_Guy

    Yes. If the state doesn’t do it, sooner or later, the people will. And while the state cannot be trusted, I trust the lynch mob even less.

    Never forget that like the state, capital punishment is a necessary evil. To prevent a greater evil in the future, we choose to commit the lesser evil now.

  • James Waterton

    I don’t buy into that line of reasoning. Why would a lynch mob necessarily “do it later” if the state doesn’t get in with the noose first? The state can lock a grevious criminal up for as long as their heart wants to keep beating – both the state and the lynch mob are prevented from killing.

  • Nick Timms

    Even if we had a minimalist state only concerned with enforcing the law and defense of the nation, we should not be so squeamish about the death penalty for murderers.

    There are some truly evil people and they need to be dead not kept alive at the tax payers expense. If you really cannot stand the idea of a death penalty then incarcerate the felon and see if anyone voluntarily provides food and any other necessaries to keep the creep alive. For me this would not constitute torture or inhuman treatment as people convicted of pre-meditated murder are not human, they are not even deserving of treatment fit for animals. They are non people, dead in all but fact.

    I believe that a death penalty is unlikely to deter some people from murdering but it will stop a person who has already murdered, and been caught, from murdering again. How many innocent victims have to die at the hands of reoffending murderers so that we can all feel good that no innocent person has been executed by mistake?

    Modern western society is far too ‘sensitive’ about punishment including punishment for lesser offenses. How punished do criminals feel by the present cautions, fines and short stretches at a free hotel? Punishment should involve humiliation, embarrasment, shame. For most modern criminals being in prison is a badge of honour because they seek the approval of their peers who are also criminals.

    Bring back the birch, public humiliations like the stocks. make it public, make it hurt, physically, emotionally and financially and many first time offenders would not go on to become habitual criminals.

    But it would also make sense to decriminalise victimless crimes. The law is in disrepute with everyone because everyone feels criminalised by so many restrictions on our freedom to make personal choices that may harm ourseves but not other people. If we junk 3/4 of the current ‘offences’ people will see a clear line between themselves and real criminals again.

  • jon

    I work at a prison and have met some truly evil people, some truly over-sentenced people, and some people I can damn near relate to who just happened to get caught after doing something abyssmally stupid, dangerous, or greedy. I’ve seen enough after three years to say that the criminal justice system’s default setting is “railroad”: convict first, ask questions later. And the appeals process is long, frustrating, and expensive (mostly in time, but definitely in money.) And the state pays for appeals, too.

    The death penalty is certainly deserved, right, earned, proper, and justifiable in certain cases. But I just can’t support it for cases where the evidence is contradictory, the co-conspirators are the main witnesses, and the evidence just isn’t provable. If anyone out in the world thinks all district attorneys and police departments are never under pressure to get convictions rather than just to do their jobs, don’t let personal biases enter their decision-making processes, and never make mistakes, then go ahead and support the death penalty. I just can’t do it as it currently works. The risk of innocent people getting murdered by the state is something I don’t favor.

    But disfavor isn’t the same as being unable to compromise. I favor a separate trial following a life or equivalent-to-life sentence. In that one, the prosecution (which will be a completely different agency) can argue that the state does not have an obligation to keep a prisoner alive. Such trials could be started only five years after conviction of the underlying crimes or at the request of the inmate. And the district attorneys can be called to be witnesses by both the defense and the state. And the death penalty should only be given by a jury. I think this will give innocent convicts plenty of time to get lawyered up, some time to gather evidence, and putting attorneys on the stand is something that should happen more often. Plus, shouldn’t suicide be an option for those inmates who know they’ll never see the streets? I can’t see why not.

  • I consider it justifiable in principle but unnecessary and unwise in the current context of relative wealth. For the worst criminals, there is a case that life imprisonment without parole is actually worse (and possibly more of a deterrent) than death. It is certainly more drawn out.

    Pragmatically, with life imprisonment there is the possibility of righting a miscarriage of justice. With execution, you can’t.

  • Steve

    Opponents of the death penalty usually assume that the moral consequences of, say, life imprisonment are zero or negligible. This is not so.

    Life imprisonment causes some damage to the individual. Whether it is greater or less than loss of life depends on the individual (and the prison, I guess). The cost of life imprisonment is also considerable and that cost must be found by diverting money from elsewhere. (I know this is not quite a zero sum game – but it is to a first approximation). That will have a damaging effect on others (patients dying through want of medical services, soldiers dying through want of equipment, future victims of crime not avoided because of fewer police … ). Any deterrent effect would be an additional benefit.

    I think a case could be made that every failure to impose a death penalty is a death penalty for at least one other completely innocent person. The fact that you cannot identify who is irrelevant.

    I don’t necessarily support the death penalty. But the simple ‘moral’ argument is neither moral not sufficient.

  • I have no problem philosophically with killing people because of their actions. I have a big problem with killing the wrong people, which is regrettable enough in a wartime setting or a death-by-misunderstanding shooting in a civil setting, but it is intolerable in a judicial system.

    The fact ‘justice’ systems make mistakes is indisputable, no doubt about it. That, and only that, is why I oppose capital punishment.

  • I have a separate question: if we all were not reliant on the state to protect us from criminals, but instead were both able and prepared to protect ourselves and our neighbors, would the death penalty become much less of an issue?

  • michael farris

    Will miracles never cease? I basically agree with Mr De Havilland.

    My objections to capital punishment aren’t theoretical (I would gladly pull the switch or trigger or blade on any number of evil doers and not lose a wink of sleep about it).

    My objections are all practical – I don’t trust any government to get the particulars right often enough (my floor is basically 100 % of the time).

  • jes duit

    No. Not even if we invent the perfect lie detector. The State should not have the power to murder. Life without parole is the proper sentence.

  • Slightly OT: Simply make it legal to use lethal force in the defence of your person of property, That should weed out the criminals pretty quickly, and also means that the government doesn’t have to fork out for bullets.

    On the question at hand, my answer is no. For all the reasons given above and one more; no-one should have the right to take the life of another unless their own life or property is under attack. Kill or be killed or stolen from.

  • ian

    No – for all the reasons set out by Perry.

  • Kevin B

    It’s a toughie.

    I have no problem with the Iraqui state topping Chemical Ali within the next 30 days. (My personal preference would be to hand him over to the Kurds.) Ditto with any of the scrotes who’ve been found guilty of the murder of several young women in the UK during the last month.

    However, if I was attacked by some scumbag and managed to wrestle his weapon from him and kill him first, I would not be happy with the state having the right to seek my death. (Especially as I would most probably fall on the wrong side of the PC victim scale.)

    Then again, if my next door neighbour gets offed and the usual suspect, (the spouse), has an ironclad alibi and there’s some circumstantial evidence pointing my way, I would not feel particularly secure with some Inspector Plod eager to get the crime off his books to meet some government target offering me a deal whereby I plead guilty to manslaughter or else he seeks the death penalty.

    So yes, I’m in favour of the death penalty for all the wrong reasons, (retribution, revenge etc), and against it for all the wrong reasons, (personal protection).

    And I too would like to see more lawyers on the stand. And not just as witnesses.

  • freeman too

    Yes and No.

    In theory, having done all the examining of issues of assumed guilt (and therefore error of judgement) and human fallibility (a mistake made in haste by an otherwise sane and/or frightened person in rare circumstances) the answer is unequivocally No to State murder, aka executions.

    However I would want the state to murder on my behalf if we were in a war, in a matter of us and them.

    I would however want the death penalty if the accused was utterly beyond redemption or refusing help and indeed, there was no guarantee they would not do it again. So yes to a swift and painless method of execution.

    Compromise: the accused may choose (if capable of rational choice) to be incarcerated in a solitary cell with minimum facilities for the rest of their days and live their alloted span that way, or may opt for the swift demise.

    Probably impractical on all levels, but they have a choice. Certainly more choice than the person or persons they killed.

  • Steve

    People are still assuming that (to put it bluntly) the decision to send someone to prison for life doesn’t kill people. It very frequently does – perhaps always does. The fact that we cannot identify the victims and that they are effectively randomly chosen is immaterial.

  • “People are still assuming that (to put it bluntly) the decision to send someone to prison for life doesn’t kill people. It very frequently does – perhaps always does. The fact that we cannot identify the victims and that they are effectively randomly chosen is immaterial.”

    That is fundamentally a utilitarian argument over the proper use of resources. Even if we think that civil/human rights have a utilitarian rather than natural basis, it is still worth considering the value to society of NOT having the death penalty. Think of the potential social, cultural, ethical damage caused by just ONE wrong state execution. How much authority would be lost to a justice system that allowed that to happen even very occasionally. Is it worth having that just to save a few resources on keeping a few murderers in a jail rather than killing them?

    Life imprisonment might be expensive, but it might still be more practical even on this highly reductive cost basis you are suggesting.

  • “If I can legitimately kill someone who’s trying to murder me, I don’t see why someone else can’t do it if I actually get murdered.”

    Neither do I, but I will not have my name on the indictment. (“The People vs…”) In strict terms, your murder is none of my business and I will not be involved in any of it against my better judgment.

    This is the individualist position. All others are void.

  • Billy: what if the murdered is someone very close to you, like a family member?

  • Charlie

    No.

    All that theory is nice, but there are more practical aspects to consider. Like… why should US murderers get rewarded with all the hot EU chicks? Seriously.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/120907dnmetdeathrowlove.2c3fc16.html

  • I think Alisa is on to something. There’s no doubt who the perpetrator is when he’s running towards you with an axe or has just smashed your car window and is demanding money. At that point you can shoot him in the face and it’s self defence. No opportunities here for the state to make mistakes or get rid of unpopular people.

    In a society where criminals have much shorter life expectancies because of the well armed populace, the death penalty would be unnecessary.

    Back in the real world, I would oppose a death penalty for the same reason as Perry.

  • “Billy: what if the murdered is someone very close to you, like a family member?”

    Essentially: same deal, only run the other way: that’s none of your business.

  • Ivan

    Kevin B:

    Then again, if my next door neighbour gets offed and the usual suspect, (the spouse), has an ironclad alibi and there’s some circumstantial evidence pointing my way, I would not feel particularly secure with some Inspector Plod eager to get the crime off his books to meet some government target offering me a deal whereby I plead guilty to manslaughter or else he seeks the death penalty.

    On the other hand, if I were charged innocent, I would much prefer the prosecutor to seek the death penalty than a long-term prison sentence, especially if I didn’t have the funds to get a top notch defense lawyer. A typical jury will hand out a guilty verdict based on shaky evidence much more easily and casually if it’s not a death penalty case. Also, in a capital case, cops and prosecutors will be more reluctant to employ fraud and perjury, because it’s pretty much only the capital cases in which miscarriages of justice get any significant press and could therefore jeopardize their careers if the defendant is eventually exonerated due to some unexpected piece of evidence that might pop up and reveal their lies and frauds.

    Furthermore, taking into account the general perverse nature of the criminal “justice” system, it seems to me like the death penalty might actually have the net effect of reducing the amount of injustice dealt out by the system. When people wrongly sentenced to death are exonerated, this usually sends a noticeable public message that something is wrong with the system. On the other hand, people are generally indifferent to the stories of innocent people being locked up for years or even decades. In non-capital cases, even the worst miscarriages of justice barely make any press, even in cases of the grossest abuses by the police and prosecutors.

    In my opinion, this is sheer irrationality on behalf of the general public — having someone innocent locked up for most, let alone whole of his life seems to me no less outrageous than executing him outright. Even in cases of less severe penalties, I consider it only slightly less bad when someone’s life is unjustly ruined by a prison term and a criminal record. Yet, in practice, the possibility of innocent people being executed is just about the only thing that makes most people ever even think that there might be problems with the system.

  • The State should not have the power to murder. Life without parole is the proper sentence.

    What’s the difference ?
    The State should not have the power to murder, but having the power to hand life sentences without parole is ok ? Why would one deny the state the first and give him the second ? If an injustice is done by the State, life sentence without parole is not one iota less unjust that death.

    As to Perry’s argument: that we can never be 100% sure – most of the things in life aren’t 100% sure, but we still do them… We could refrain from capital punishment if some doubt lingers, but in many cases there is no doubt at all – so the doubt argument doesn’t apply universally.

  • Pa Annoyed

    If you kill someone when acting in the defence of self, people, property, or honour does that count as applying the death penalty?

    People here clearly don’t have a problem with killing crims per se, they just don’t trust the state to get it right. So if we allow for the idea of non-state actors making the decisions, is it ever allowable? What standard of evidence should you apply in deciding whether the conditions are met?

    Or is that a decision you don’t trust anybody to make, and the distinction is that you can kill someone to prevent a crime, but not to avenge one?

  • Billy: I tend to agree, at least intuitively. A practical question: does this mean that you wouldn’t serve on a jury in a murder case?

  • Oscar

    Peter Hitchens has just posted a very long blog entry on Castro, the Left and the Death penalty. It’s worth reading for an excellent takedown of the Left’s hero worship of Castro and for an interesting Q and A on the Death penalty (he’s very much in favour).

    Anyway, here’s the link:

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2008/02/if-its-all-righ.html

  • Alisa: Yes, Ma’am. That’s what it means.

    I completely reject all the state’s protestations of interest in justice. I would have nothing whatever to do with any of it.

  • Stephan

    Someone above mentioned the drivers licence points idea, where, if a criminal racks up enough points he gets executed. This seems good, and wouldnt be so bad in weeding out the real scum, but all of that only so long as we have laws that are actually there to punish real crimes. Not non cimes like the millions that exist now. With the way the state is these days I could picture the points system bieng eventually used as an especially harsh way of dealing with frequent environmental law violators, or even people with one too many speeding tickets haha.

  • RRS

    A “legal sanction” exists for purposes of enforcing a law.

    Whilst capital punishment may or may not be appropriate as a penalty for a number of offenses (Treason, kidnapping, child torture, murder, etc.) it is not a sanction.

    “Deterrents” are not legal sanctions, although some sanctions, at common or statutory law, may be deterrents.

    That said, to “sanction” capital punishment, by public approval, however engrossed in the culture, is quite another thing.

    As I recall, in Britain, as late at the early 19th century children as young as 8 were hung for stealing – even food. There was a surfeit of beggar urchins, and that was the culture. The punishment was sanctioned.

  • Heh. I served on a jury once (not murder, rape). The rookie public defender asked the jury whether we saw some classic 70ies crime movie that he thought was relevant to the case. I was the only one who saw it, so they dismissed me. I happened to think that he was innocent. Funny, seeing as he was convicted.

    Stephan: it could easily be limited to capital crimes. But then how many people one has to murder before he is taken out? I am not prepared to execute someone for property crimes. (Hell, I am not even sure I am prepared to execute someone for murder either).

  • Louis

    As a lifelong supporter of capital punishment i am one of the few it would seem that has moved into the anti camp in recent times. I won’t bore you with a lot of high faluti’n stuff but the case of Stefan Kiscko, the mental defective fitted up by plod for the murder of Lesley Molseed which science subsequently proved he couldn’t have commited was one half of my conversion.the other was the news that Ian Huntly the vile Soham murderer is so unhappy in prison that he is on continious suicide watch.If medical science can prolong his existance for another hundred years then good and well
    As a father of two young girls one of my greatest fears is that after x ammount of years some well meaning impressionable social worker/probation officer type will decide these people are reformed characters and let them out in time to have one last day at the races

  • Alsadius

    Yes, though obviously only in extreme cases and with good certainty of who did it(I’m not exactly a Code of Hammurabi fetishist). If someone is so far gone from the realm of civilized society that they’re willing to kill another member of that society, then I see no reason for us to protect their life – if you don’t believe in the importance of life, then you clearly believe that yours has no importance either. I’m not saying that we *should* kill people – that much is as much a decision on efficacy and efficiency as anything – but morally, I see nothing wrong with it.

  • What would happen in Rothbard World?

    There would be no government, but simply a collection of private insurance agencies and/or family-based protection agencies, and possibly even a few people going it alone without protection from an insurance company or their families. These protection agencies and/or individuals would be served by private courts, with judges being those recognised by a particular society as being those most without blemish in life, such as Sir Thaddeus, therefore fit to be judges.

    As in the time of Samuel, in Judges in the Bible, there would be a few trusted people adjudicating on cases according to natural law. What would Samuel do in the case of a murderer? Well, the murder would have to be proved to Samuel’s satisfaction, in a court of natural justice, to which the accused would be invited, that the accused actually was a murderer.

    Samuel would then have stipulated that the agency/family protecting the murderer pay a “fair” blood price, to compensate the grieving family for their loss.

    If the agency or family protecting the accused (or the person themselves, if they were “going it alone”) had refused to accept this ruling, Samuel would then have declared the guilty party as an outlaw, and removed societally recognised legal protection from them.

    The aggrieved family would then have been free to do whatever they wanted to the accused, without fear of later being accused themselves of any crime. The accused would then have either had to come to some accommodation with the aggrieved family, or disappear. Or, let’s face it, get killed.

    So it’s not so much capital punishment, but more a removal of legal rights from those refusing to accept the adjudications of natural law courts. Being without legal rights would almost certainly be a death sentence, without actually “being” a death sentence.

    I think “You are declared outlaw” is an acceptable punishment for those who refuse to pay a blood price set by a natural law court. Whatever else follows from that is literally outside the bounds of any further legal discussion.

    Obviously, some “rogue” insurance agencies might still protect their customers in the face of guilty verdicts, but they would quickly lose market share for doing so, because the expense of protecting outlaws would be punitive. It would prove more economically efficient for these organisations, in the face of determined aggrieved parties, to simply drop their protection from outlaws (as would be stipulated in their contracts).

    This does of course only work in a society in which most “decent” people accept the legitimacy of natural law. For if not, one rogue insurance agency which protected murderers in this way would quickly become a nascent state. In fact, this may BE the origin of the modern state! :-)

    So the real question to ask is, how do we persuade most people to accept the legitimacy of natural law? Or do we accept that the state has a “natural” right to exist, to administer “the law”?

    You thorny question-meister, you…! ;-)

  • Midwesterner

    No government should ever have the authority to kill its own citizens. Particularly one so 51% majoritarian democratic as ours have become.

    I grew up in a county where three DAs with the help of four deputies deliberately and knowingly framed a couple of unsympathetic petty thieves and gang members for a particularly brutal child murder and sought the death penalty. The decade in a half of legal wrangling to sort it all out cost the tax payers millions. The county had to spend $3.2 million to provide criminal defense to the “DuPage 7″ co-conspirators who tried (successfully) to frame Cruz. They had to pay $3.5 million to the guys they framed. The co-conspirators suppressed exculpatory evidence and manufactured a ‘confession’ that magically appeared days before the trial without any records or history, just the detectives’ word.

    Elected prosecutors and judges promise ‘law and order’ when what they deliver is often government run lynchings timed to happen during elections. At least a life sentence can be ended early.

    A Tribune examination of homicide cases over the past 36 years shows 381 homicide convictions have been reversed because prosecutors knowingly used false evidence or withheld evidence suggesting the defendant’s innocence.

    and

    But that’s not what Birkett said last week. Not even close. No, after two decades and three overturned trials relentlessly trying to put to death a man any reasonable person knew 20 years ago to be innocent; after successfully arguing to keep juries in the dark about evidence that would have revealed that innocence; after the sole piece of evidence against Cruz, the ‘vision’ statement, was revealed to be a fraud; what Birkett had to say was that maybe the people who tried to railroad Cruz had a point.

    In other words, ‘even if the facts were wrong, the narrative was right.’