Please allow me to make use of some twisted logic, which may actually have you reconsidering the seemingly absurd proposal put forth in the title of the article.
In a recent article by Paul Huebl on Lew Rockwell’s site, Huebl makes the standard libertarian case against the death penalty. Arguments I’m sure we’ve all heard before. However, there is one in particular that bugs me. Huebl states,
If we end the Death Penalty we will save hundreds of millions on appeals. We too often forget that we must bay for both the defense and prosecution of Death Penalty cases. It’s significantly cheaper if we simply warehouse the convicted killers until they die or are too old and feeble to cause any harm.
Now that might seem like a rational libertarian argument to make. I mean who’s opposed to spending less money?! However, this line of reasoning is problematic in a few ways.
Consider that it is precisely because death penalty cases seek to extract the ultimate form of vengeance they are accorded an enormous amount of attention by the legal system. The appeals process typically goes on for decades in a death penalty case. A person convicted and sentenced to life in prison would never get so many opportunities to prove his innocence or question the methods and evidence that was used to convict him.
Setting money aside, so we are just looking at this issue from a moral perspective, ask yourself why it’s OK to put a man in a cage for the rest of his life, yet deny him the same appeals process given to someone who is sentenced to death? Shouldn’t the person who is sentenced to life be accorded the same standards of judicial review as the person who is sentenced to death?
A life sentence, a 10 year sentence, or whatever sentence – why should the judicial process be different based on sentence? That’s not moral. It violates principles of equal justice if you believe in that sort of thing. All people accused of any crime should be allowed the same opportunities to overturn their conviction.
I mean think about it. Huebl is essentially arguing that we can save money by simply denying people their right to due process – right?
So now let’s consider a justice system where all cases are death penalty cases. Assuming we kept the same standards of judicial review that we have now for death penalty cases, doesn’t that mean all cases would get the full and complete judicial review they should be entitled to, but presently are not accorded?
I recently watched a documentary film on death row. They interviewed a guy who had been on death row, but was later exonerated on appeal. I distinctly remember the guy saying he was lucky he was sentenced to death, because he never would have been afforded the appeals that eventually led to his exoneration had he been sentenced to life.
And now for the clincher. Obviously death row cases take decades of appeals, with many death row inmates dying of natural causes before they are ever dragged into a gas chamber. If all cases were death penalty cases, including the 800,000 or so annual marijuana arrests, the judicial system would implode. There would be no plea bargaining. All cases would go to trial, again, and again, and again. The whole fraudulent justice system would be exposed for the sham that it is. There’s not enough lawyers on the planet to accommodate such a system of insanity.
Of course, all of that assumes we keep the same standards of justice we have now. Most police states eventually figure out that they can’t adjudicate people the way a sane and rational society would because the courts couldn’t handle it, so they turn to summary judgement carried out by roving bands of costumed brigands, or they turn to kangaroo courts where people have no hope of a fair and impartial trial, along with fair and impartial sentencing.
The degradation of the court system is essentially why 97% of federal cases never go to trial today. The system is a sham. It’s so stacked against the accused that people know going in that they have no shot at a fair trail, so they plead to fewer charges in the hope that the feds will not stick them in a cage for the rest of their lives. I can assure you that the feds don’t have a 97% plea rate because they are just so good at proving their cases.
Take a moment to read this article by a lawyer that exposes just one of the many reasons why people accused of crimes in this country have no shot at a fair trial. I guarantee it will have you fuming. Be sure the read the NYT article too, not all judges think the same way.
Food for thought.