Monday, April 19, 2004

Warning: Unpopular Opinions

I don't support the death penalty. I've got plenty of issues which I consider more important, but that's my view.

Without society, people who harm others would often be killed, either out of revenge or to prevent more injury. Thanks to civilization, we now have three options after capturing criminals: banishment, imprisonment, and execution. Banishment would be the ideal option in many cases, as it removes the criminal from society and obviates costs associated with the other options. However, due to the unwillingness of sane countries to accept rapists and murders, and occasionally due to the ability of criminals to harm us even when deported (traitors, for instance), this isn't always feasible. Thus, the next-most humane option is imprisonment, which is like banishment, but within our borders. However, it's not cheap, especially when things like cable TV are mandated and hard labor is forbidden. Thus, the person who has already harmed society continues to harm them by being a waste of their tax dollars. Lastly, there is the option of execution, which has the advantages of limiting costs and permanently removing the threat. However, costs associated with appeals can be far higher than imprisonment costs. Also, to execute someone is to deny that God has the ability to work in that person, and to place ourselves where God should be.

So, what is there to do? I have an idea, but I suspect that I'll be called a barbarian and have it pointed out to me that it isn't realistically possible. Fair enough. I think the ideal solution would be to establish prison colonies, preferably on remote islands. Here's how it works: there will be enough resources for survival, whether from the land or provided by the government. Beyond that, it's the law of the jungle. By committing a crime, you've decided that you do not wish to be bound by the laws of the United States, and therefore ought not to be. Society kept you from being killed; by rejecting society, it's now your own responsibility to make sure that the other inhabitants don't kill you (or brutalize you in other ways). After your sentence has been served, assuming you're still alive, you will be taken from exile and returned to society (there'd be some mechanism for making sure you weren't an absolute psychopath, hopefully). And, to ensure that you don't try to escape, there will be patrol boats and satellites to monitor the population.

But HokiePundit, isn't this a rejection of the idea that we are to love our neighbors? I don't think that it is. We can't force people to convert, whether it be to our faith or our laws. The most we can do by force is to keep their rebellious urges suppressed, either by carrots or by sticks. For people to become Christians, they have to believe that the Gospel is true and beneficial. Similarly, for people to voluntarily follow the law, they have to believe that it is in their best interests to do so.

Obviously, someone who is caught for speeding won't be sharing a hut with a serial murderer. Not all crimes require measures such as banishment or imprisonment. And, it would seem reasonable that there be different levels of banishment, with those who've been convicted of low-level felonies going to one place while hardened criminals are sent elsewhere.

Anyway, just a thought.

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