"It is the nature of punishment to have for an end the disposing of men to obey the law. For the punishment foreknown, if not great enough to deter men from the action, is an invitement to it: because when men compare the benefit of their injustice with the harm of their punishment, by necessity of nature they choose that which appeareth best for themselves..." Thomas Hobbes 1651
"You may call an act an crime or what other name you will; yet it can never be against reason, seeing all the voluntary actions of men tend to the benefit of themselves..." ibid
Of America's 1.7 million prisoners, 1.4 million (80 percent) are incarcerated
for drug or alcohol related offenses (alcohol is highly related to violent
crime). We have imprisoned our children, turned our country into a
gangland, and given up our most precious rights in the name of health! We
fight a lost and immoral war instead of
teaching our children values. Here are some problems with the policy of war
It cannot be won as a practical matter. It is exactly
like Prohibition. It is a victimless crime. Large amounts of profit ensure
it can never be stopped.
It is prohibitively expensive as seen by
statistics just for the jailing, let alone the enforcement. It criminalizes
many who would not otherwise be, therefore it is a policy that cannot be
moral. It is estimated that 78 million U.S. citizens have used illegal
drugs. Should they all be barred from public office? Should they all be
incarcerated? Laws that criminalize more than every third adult
are not a good idea.
A policy that disproportionately jails so many young black
men cannot be moral. It is a racist policy. By pushing the price of drugs,
it leads to gangs and the economic collapse of legitimate work and values.
It leads to more violent crime as users try to raise the great amounts of
money needed for their habits. It destroys an entire segment of society,
which should never be tolerated. If these were afluent whites in gangs, the
drug laws would be overturned immediately. (Something like the
decriminalization of Marijuana). 13 percent of drug users are black and 74 percent of all sentenced to prison for drugs are black. (Scientifc American, August 1999, page 25)
It causes the US to interfere in, abuse and destroy other countries
like Columbia and Mexico, which is clearly immoral.
It causes US
citizens to give up rights which they otherwise would not. It leads to
enforcement procedures like the use of informers which has a corrosive effect
on the moral fiber of the country. The great money, an estimated 67 billion
dollars a year, leads to the inevitable corruption of officials.
Finally, the drug policy is immoral at its core. Everyone
has the innate right to commit suicide. Therefore, any law enacted for safety
or to protect the health of the users - like laws against suicide, smoking, alcohol, drugs -
has no moral force. They are not permissible. It is simply some busybody
telling you what to do. You wouldn't tolerate it from a jerk down the
street, so you shouldn't tolerate it from a bunch of jerks down the street;
Prudes imposing their rules on people they have no business
bothering. Can it be moral to tell someone else how to live, when he is not
bothering anybody? It is Big Brother. It is evil. If you are going to tell
people how to live, why not be consistent and bring back Prohibition? Alcohol
is much worse healthwise than most other drugs. If health is the issue, how
can it be healthy to have citizens buy drugs from unreliable pushers, or
fly-by-night labs, or use common needles? Impure drugs are not healthy.
Are jails healthy? Since prisoners get drugs in jail, how have you
improved their health? If you balance the supposed hypothetical
good (health) from this busybody policy with the evident evil, no sane person
could be for it. If you don't want your kids to do drugs, teach them, but do
not imprison them; do not take away their rights; do not give up your
SUMMARY PROS AND CONS OF WAR ON DRUGS
Loss of rights
Destroys other countries
Bad for health to be in jail or use dirty drugs
ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION
Incarceration disrupts the economy, family life, is inhumane and brutalizing, and is a training ground for criminals and is prohibitively expensive. Although America does not lead the world in crime, except for murder, we have gone overboard on building prisons.
The following also addresses the problem that "rehabilitation" is a fraud. Alternatives:
DEPORTATION--QUARANTINE. For recidivists who are not
likely to adjust to society, the old tried and true solution is the best:
deportation. Reduce the penalty for the first two infractions, but on strike
three strip them of their assets and passports, fly them to a receptive
country, give them a pup tent, and airdrop them a pound of rice a day. This
fulfills the goal of protecting society, it saves billions of dollars, and it
is infinitely more humane. Their friends and families are free to join them.
However, a mere change of air is not punishment and depriving them of their
economic resources before shipping them is only pecuniary punishment. The
significant punishment is that they can never leave (also that they must live
with people like themselves, with no rules - life that is likely to be
solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short). The advantage to society is that
predators are removed. It is a free-form prison colony in the sense that
Australia or Devil's Island were. The boundaries can be natural like the
ocean, the desert, and the jungle. A few local bounty hunters can monitor the
few routes out. The understanding should be that escapees will be
DEATH PENALTY. "Inhumane" is a word that
simply means disapproval. Did the criminals treat their victims humanely?
Then they are not entitled to consideration. Criminals are animals who have
placed themselves outside the normal conventions - have created a state of
war with society. They are animals that must be controlled. There is the
issue that many murderers get paroled and 1/3 of these commit another murder.
And there is the concern that many of them kill prison guards and other
inmates in prison. They might also escape, or be pardoned and so on. We
execute murderers to make a communal proclamation: that murder is
Capital punishment is not about the grief, rage, fear, or blood lust of
the victim's family. It is not about rehabilitation or whether it will be
'good' for the murderer. It is not about prevention or deterence. It
is about one thing and one thing only - JUSTICE. It may help the grieving
family and an effective death penalty, swift and sure, obviously is a
deterent, but society without justice cannot survive and should not
This also can be considered an economy measure. One of the major arguments
against the death penalty has been that it costs more to execute a criminal
than to incarcerate them for life. Now with appeal limited by federal law to
one shot that will no longer be true (which explains the ABA's recent stand
against the death penalty - they see a great loss of work ahead). A bullet
costs as little as 2 cents, retail. All crimes that merit life imprisonment
should be converted to swift and effective death penalty. The argument that
it does not prevent crime is false, one-third of all murderers released kill
again, besides we have never had an effective death penalty. For every 500
murders, only one criminal is executed. The only negative is that our
justice system is so poor that we have a lot of false convictions. That
is generally a separate issue which needs to be addressed in any case.
PUNISHMENT should focus more on victim restitution, public shaming and
absolute commitment not to allow them to profit from their crimes. Widespread
identification of the criminal should prevent future criminal opportunities
for them. A note on victim restitution: "this is but a satisfaction for
the hurt done him; and extinguisheth the accusation of the party injured, not
the crime of the offender." Hobbes
JUVENILES. The age limit to
be treated as an adult should be reduced to 12 years old and less privacy
should be given to those over 8 years old than is now given.
CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. We have the ability to inflict unlimited pain on people without physical damage. This was not true two centuries ago when flogging was common. We need to test the effectiveness of massive electroshock pain on the behavior of small-time violent criminals to see how much pain equals how many days incarceration. One problem is that jail time is just not punishing enough. At least shock can partially satisfy the public's need for retribution, so incarceration can be reduced or replaced. Again, we need to return to the tried and true, what has worked for 30,000 years. The principle is no pain inflicted without due process - otherwise there would be abuses.
CRIMINAL ID. Ultraviolet sensitive but perhaps otherwise invisible tattoos should identify all felons. An ID number and code for the most serious crime committed should be sown on their forearms. This will help law enforcement, potential employers, potential mates and dates, and even bank loan officers to more rationally assess risk.
SOME BONEHEADED IDEAS
Weightlifting for violent predators. Whoever thought up that idea should be shot.
Governor Branstad of Iowa has proposed teaching computer skills to inmates.
That's all we need, more computer criminals. Skills, yes. Skills that
could be used for crime, no thanks.