Re: Punishment

Anton Sherwood (
Sat, 14 Mar 1998 00:17:22 -0700

Charlie Stross wrote:
> As for the fairly tiny proportion of dangerous recidivists -- well, I'm
> not opposed to the death penalty because it's painful or extreme; I'm
> opposed to it because it's irreversible. The British judicial system
> has maintained a constant error rate of about 10-12% on murder convictions
> throughout the 20th century, as indicated by original verdicts being
> struck down. In many cases in the past 20 years, people have been found
> to have been wrongly convicted decades after the event. [...]

Some lawyers recently pointed out that since the death penalty was
revived twenty-odd years ago Illinois has carried out 8 death sentences
-- and 9 convicts on death row have been cleared by new evidence.

In Virginia a few years ago, a man died (still protesting his innocence)
because his lawyer was a day late filing some paper or other.

> Personally, I don't much like paying taxes that support people in
> prison, but the alternatives -- letting them free, or killing them --
> are worse. Maybe freezing (when proven reversible) would be an
> acceptable alternative to execution; it takes dangerous ones out of
> circulation permanently, but its reversible if you find there was a
> mistake. [...]

Larry Niven's novel _A World Out of Time_ has a brief depiction of a
zero-time prison: a big temporal stasis box that amounts to a waiting
room - since time only passes while a convict is coming in (or going
out, but that's obviously more rare), there's no need even for beds!

"How'd ya like to climb this high without no mountain?" --Porky Pine
Anton Sherwood   *\\*   +1 415 267 0685
!! visiting New Mexico, end of March !!