Re: AltInst: An Alternative to the Death Penalty

From: Tom Breton <>
Date: Tue May 01 2001 - 18:06:15 PDT

dennis morgan <> writes:

> (This is a proposal that is meant to stimulate
> discussion on a reform in the penal system for those
> on death row, those in maximum security facilities and
> those who have proven themselves to be incorrigible,
> repeat criminals. The suggestion of an "area of
> containment" is only in the "idea stage" and needs to
> be fleshed out. This "fleshing out" can be done
> through further discussion - brainstorming.)
> The death penalty is wrong because it lowers society
> to the level of the murderer. Murder should be
> ABSOLUTELY wrong. State sanctioned murder is out of an
> antiquated sense of justice: "An eye for an eye and
> tooth for tooth," ... etc.

[etc as expected]

I'll accept the goal of avoiding the death penalty as a premiss, altho
I can't accept your arguments.

> If criminals prove to be incorrigible, they should be
> considered as total outcasts of society and then
> exiled. The society tried to reform them and failed.
> In that case, they are no longer that society's
> responsibility and should not be locked up, fed and
> looked after by the society. Of course, we can't
> unload them onto other countries either. Instead,
> create an absolutely contained area where they will
> have a chance to survive but, at the same time, not
> have it easy. No prisons, no guards, only themselves -
> in a semi-harsh environment where it may be possible
> to survive but not easy. Certainly not lush, prime
> property.

Heinlein. I think the story was _Coventry_.

And historically, Australia and Georgia, tho I don't know what range
of offenses it was for.

> After a few years, sociologists may want to study what
> kind of alternative society (if any) they come up with
> and this may be useful knowledge for our own society.
> Some might call that cruel and inhumane. A kind of
> penal colony - yes. But without prisons, guards,
> authoritarian figures and systems, etc.

Some mite call it the death penalty in denial. They would probably
slauter each other. Certainly accused rapists and child molesters
would have little chance of survival. And given the huge rate of
false accusation for those crimes, that strikes me as very bad.

> After all, it's only fair. They have shown that they
> cannot live in society and will continue to perpetuate
> their crimes.
> At the same time, society tried to
> reform them but failed. There's no need to continue to
> support them and oppress them. Stop the cycle. Leave
> them on their own and let's see what happens.

"They" are not monolithic. Criminality covers a huge, disparate range
of behaviors, from acts no society could tolerate between its own, eg
murder and (non-trivial) theft (*) to victimless crimes like
prostitution, sodomy, and drug use.

(*) Yeah, some societies tolerated them done to outsiders, and some
have sanctioned them in restricted ways (eg dueling and
special-interest voting).

Tom Breton,
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Received on Tue May 1 18:33:14 2001

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