Saturday, June 2, 2007

A Capital Idea

Capital punishment. So many romantic images: the chair, the gallows, the gas chamber, burning at the stake, crucifixion, stoning, the firing squad, lethal injection, the guillotine.

It can be a tricky issue. On the surface, it seems like a freebie: state-sanctioned homicide, clean and orderly, score-one-for-the-good-guys. However, supporting the death penalty is often at best a zero-sum proposition because it is generally reserved for murderers, who would obviously be more productive in terms of the death rate were they to live. These cases should be dismissed. Other types of criminals and dissidents are certainly fair game for society to glut its taste for vengeance on. While the process may be expensive in the legal environment of developed democracies, at least there is no opportunity cost of future death prevention, for they are of no consequence to the death rate except in their own demise.
Capital punishment is a good way of making miscarriages of justice irrevocable while reducing murder rates not at all. ~C.D. Hare. Awesome!


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