Re: Is the death penalty Extropian?

John Clark (
Mon, 30 Nov 1998 22:16:35 -0500

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Charlie Stross <>

>Over the past thirty years, something like 10-15% of all life
>sentences for murder have been overturned as unsafe and unsound.

I'm surprised the percentage is so low, it happens all the time in the USA. Sentences are overturned because a judge thinks the jury was not ignorant enough and knew things they should not, or knew about evidence that was true but obtained illegally, or because somebody was mean to the murderer when he was a child, or because some doctor thinks he can see something wrong with his brain on a X ray, of something wrong with his genes, or because the law thinks it can read minds and figures the murderer was thinking good and happy thoughts when he chopped up his victim with an axe, or because he was so angry he could not control himself, or because....

>If the UK had retained hanging, something like 50-100 innocent
>people would have been executed over the past 30 years

I don't see how you figure that, certainly your previous statement has nothing to do with it.

>However, the recidivism rate for murderers released on license
>from a life sentence is vanishingly small -- less than 0.2%.

Amazing, only one murderer in 500 murders again! All I can say is that the experience the USA has had with recidivism is radically different.

>Under the previous regime these people would have been hanged.

Then I have no doubt recidivism rate of murderers really would be vanishingly small.

     >We can discount the deterrent argument -- studies as long ago as
     >the 1860's proved that it wasn't a factor in the British penal system.

How could you even set up such a study in the 1860's or today that could even pretend to be scientific? I have no doubt that there are lots of such studies, subsidized by the taxpayer naturally, I just don't see how any of them could be worth a damn, not even the ones that support my views.

     >I don't think the state should have the power of life or
     >death over its citizens,

You're talking to the wrong man here, I don't think the state should have any power of any kind, I'm for privately produced law and private protection agencies.

>but that's an opinion, rather than an objection based on hard numbers.

Yes, hard numbers are very few and far between but sometimes you need to make a decision even though your information is incomplete.

John K Clark

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