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July 31, 2014

Making a libertarian case for "Why the Death Penalty Needs to Die"

The title of this post is drawn from the headline of this notable new commentary by Nick Gillespie at The Daily Beast. Here are excerpts:

As a libertarian, I’m not surprised that the state is so incompetent that it can’t even kill people efficiently.  But I’m far more outraged by the idea that anyone anywhere seriously thinks the death penalty passes for good politics or sane policy. It’s expensive, ineffective, and most of all, deeply offensive to ideals of truly limited government.

Consider that between 1980 and 2012, California spent $4 billion administering death penalty cases while actually executing just 13 individuals, according to a study produced by Loyola Marymount Law Professor Paula Mitchell.  What’s more, Mitchell told Reason TV’s Tracy Oppenheimer, when the death penalty is in play, “the legal costs [per case] skyrocket to an extra $134 million per year, well above the cost to implement life without possibility of parole.” Given the severity and finality of the punishment, it makes all the sense in the world to make sure due process was followed in all death penalty cases. I’m sure death costs more in California (everything else does) than in other states, but there’s just never going to be a way to make it less than a huge waste of taxpayer money....

Here’s one more [reason to kill the death penalty] that would hold true even if through some miracle the government could make the finances work, guarantee absolute accuracy in convicting only guilty perps, and show that executions significantly deterred crime: The state’s first role — and arguably its only one — is protecting the lives and property of its citizens. In everything it does — from collecting taxes to seizing property for public works to incentivizing “good” behaviors and habits — it should use the least violence or coercion possible.  No matter how despicable murderers can be, the state can make sure we’re safe by locking them up behind bars for the rest of their — and our — lives.  That’s not only a cheaper answer than state-sanctioned murder, it’s a more moral one, too.

July 31, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Permalink


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Same dumb arguments, repeated here over and over.

The cost has nothing to do with the death penalty but with the thieving, filthy, lawyer traitor fraud, especially the heartless, sickening cult criminal on the appellate bench. Not even human.

The error rate is far worse in transportation, including walking, with hundreds of pedestrians killed each year. So stop transportation until the error rate is corrected.

Deterrence cannot be assessed at this point in the dose response curve, since the dose of the death penalty is too low. So give 25 mg instead of 250 mg of penicillin, a miracle cure. Start it years after the onset of pneumonia. Give it to 1 in 100 people with pneumonia. Give it to the wrong guy without pneumonia in 20 percent of cases.

And finally, LWOP is an absolutely immune license to kill.

I have given alternative anti-death penalty arguments, but no dumbass lawyer will adopt them.

1) There is one cruelty about it, the set date.

2) Statements of general deterrence are unlawful, since they violate the due process right to a fair trial, punishing the defendant for future, speculative crimes of people he has never met.

3) The Werther effect, if ever proven, would end my support for it. News of the death penalty induces dozens of people to kill themselves or others inspired in contagion by the execution.

Is it OK to just name the above rebuttal "No. 1," and to just type that "No. 1" after these lame, defunct, stupid arguments get repeated the next 100 times?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 1, 2014 3:23:22 AM

There is a libertarian argument that locking a person in a cage and micromanaging their lives for decades is worse on the individual liberty front than killing them.

"Libertarian" is a variable term. See also, abortion.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 2, 2014 1:49:10 PM

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