Death Penalty

Die, Death Penalty, Die! The Libertarian Case Against Capital Punishment

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Another week, another botched killing under the legal euphemism of capital punishment. After macabre screw-ups in Oklahoma and Ohio, it was Arizona's turn last week, when double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood III took about two hours to die. The specific problem this time around was an apparently unreliable "cocktail" of the drugs used in the lethal injection process.

But let's face it: There's no good way to kill a person, even one as completely unsympathetic as Wood (he killed his ex-girlfriend and her father, shooting them at point-blank range). 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.

That's the start of my latest Daily Beast column. I run through arguments about how expensive capital punishment is, its ineffectiveness on murder rates, and the reality that innocent people are on death row before offering up this:

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.

Read the whole thing.