Re: Is the death penalty Extropian?

John Clark (
Thu, 26 Nov 1998 00:30:46 -0500

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>>Just punishment for an evil act is the minimum action needed to prevent
>>a future similar occurrence, anything more than that is revenge.

>Dick Gray:
>First off, studies have called into question the deterrence value of sanctions,

If punishment didn't deter anyone then I can see no reason for punishing anyone for anything, at least no reason I'd want to defend.

>in particular that of capital punishment.

I'm pretty sure capital punishment deters at least one person quite effectively.

>There seems to be little correlation in general between either severity or sureness
>of punishment promised and rates of commission of the corresponding crimes.

There is no way you can know that because there is no control experiment, punishment is seldom severe and never sure. Even if you're convicted of murder your chances of actually being executed are almost as low as being hit by lightning, and almost as random.

>Another problem is with measurement: by what method are we to establish the
>"minimum action needed",

You ask too much, If I could answer that question I'd have an algorithm for perfect justice. We'll never have that but at least we know the direction to go.

>To me it seems much less problematical and at any rate more cost-effective
>to deter by means of prevention

How? Sometimes moral monsters reform and become good people but it's rare and nobody knows how to accomplish it systematically. It won't make them good but there is a method to at least improve the very worst of the worst in just a few seconds, all you need is 5000 volts at 4 or 5 amps.

John K Clark

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