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Ron Paul: Do Away With The Death Penalty

“THE ULTIMATE CORRUPT BIG GOVERNMENT PROGRAM” || by RON PAUL  || Nebraska’s legislature recently made headlines when it ended the state’s death penalty. Many found it odd that a conservatives-dominated legislature would support ending capital punishment, since conservative politicians have traditionally supported the death penalty. However, an increasing number of conservatives…

“THE ULTIMATE CORRUPT BIG GOVERNMENT PROGRAM”

ron paul|| by RON PAUL  || Nebraska’s legislature recently made headlines when it ended the state’s death penalty. Many found it odd that a conservatives-dominated legislature would support ending capital punishment, since conservative politicians have traditionally supported the death penalty. However, an increasing number of conservatives are realizing that the death penalty is inconsistent with both fiscal and social conservatism. These conservatives are joining with libertarians and liberals in a growing anti-death penalty coalition.

It is hard to find a more wasteful and inefficient government program than the death penalty. New Hampshire recently spent over $4 million dollars prosecuting just two death penalty cases, while Jasper County in Texas raised property taxes by seven percent in order to pay for one death penalty case! A Duke University study found that replacing North Carolina’s death penalty would save taxpayers approximately $22 million dollars in just two years.

Death penalty cases are expensive because sentencing someone to death requires two trials. The first trial determines the accused person’s guilt, while the second trial determines if the convicted individual “deserves” the death penalty. A death sentence is typically followed by years of appeals, and sometimes the entire case is retried.

Despite all the time and money spent to ensure that no one is wrongly executed, the system is hardly foolproof. Since 1973, one out of every ten individuals sentenced to death has been released from death row because of evidence discovered after conviction.

The increased use of DNA evidence has made it easier to clear the innocent and identify the guilty. However, DNA evidence is not a 100 percent guarantee of an accurate verdict. DNA evidence is often mishandled or even falsified. Furthermore, DNA evidence is available in only five to 10 percent of criminal cases.

It is not surprising that the government wastes so much time and money on such a flawed system. After all, corruption, waste, and incompetence are common features of government programs ranging from Obamacare to the TSA to public schools to the post office. Given the long history of government failures, why should anyone, especially conservatives who claim to be the biggest skeptics of government, think it is a good idea to entrust government with the power over life and death?

Death penalty supporters try to claim the moral high ground by claiming that the death penalty deters crime. But, if the death penalty is an effective deterrent, why do jurisdictions without the death penalty have a lower crime rate than jurisdictions with the death penalty? And why did a 2009 survey find that the majority of American police chiefs consider the death penalty the least effective way to reduce violent crime?

As strong as the practical arguments against the death penalty are, the moral case is much stronger. Since it is impossible to develop an error-free death penalty system, those who support the death penalty are embracing the idea that the government should be able to execute innocent people for the “greater good.” The idea that the government should be able to force individuals to sacrifice their right to life for imaginary gains in personal safety is even more dangerous to liberty than the idea that the government should be able to force individuals to sacrifice their property rights for imaginary gains in economic security.

Opposition to allowing the government to take life is also part of a consistent pro-life position. Thus, those of any ideology who oppose abortion or preemptive war should also oppose the death penalty. Until the death penalty is abolished, we will have neither a free nor a moral society.

Ron Paul is a former U.S. Congressman from Texas and the leader of the pro-liberty, pro-free market movement in the United States. His weekly column – reprinted with permission – can be found here.

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19 comments

MashPotato June 16, 2015 at 10:36 am

He doesn’t mention that the religious right are the biggest supporters of the death penalty. They cite biblical verses to support their position. Personally, I don’t want to live in a country run by bible thumpers.

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Tazmaniac June 16, 2015 at 10:51 am

Maybe a few Fundy Baptists, but as a whole I would have to say that is incorrect. The religious right are the ones holding a vigil for some piece of crap outside the prison on execution day, which I find maddening. The only reason I oppose the death penalty is because of the high cost and low body count.

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SYNTwist June 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm

I have a tendency to agree with MashPotato in this case. The religious right, in most cases, has almost no sympathy for anyone on death row. There are some good Christians out there and for many I am glad faith does exist, because what would some of them be like without it? Having said that – they are the to scream lock down for drug dealer, few ever consider rehabilitation v. incarceration and none that I know oppose the death penalty. If I were ever on trial that might lead to a death penalty, which I cannot fathom, but let’s say I was – I would pray for a liberal jury. Many of your liberals are also religious, just not the “religious right.”

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festus June 16, 2015 at 7:18 pm

You live in a country where mothers kill their own children. 1.5 million a year. Shame on you for not saying a words about that.

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You know what? Chicken butt! June 17, 2015 at 4:06 pm

What’s he supposed to say while visiting non-sequiturville? You, being the mayor, should help him out.

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HD June 16, 2015 at 11:09 am

Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of theology understands that the “Thou shalt not kill” commandment means “Thou shalt not murder.” There are rational reasons to oppose the death penalty, but this isn’t one of them. Also, I think most people who support it would say that the reason they do is that some crimes simply demand the ultimate societal retribution. Retributive justice is perfectly legitimate. It’s different from revenge and deterrence. The biggest problem with the death penalty is that we aren’t serious enough about it to demand that it be carried out in a reasonably timely manner. When it routinely takes decades before the sentence is carried out, the sentence becomes a joke.

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God June 16, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Well duh, anyone who has read the Bible knows I love killing, whether by my own godly hands or by one of my faithful servants.

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Socrates June 16, 2015 at 11:48 am

The dichotomy between ‘for death penalty/against abortion’ is the same as ‘ against evolution – the market is always right’ . The difference is pragmatism (you could be wrong and too expensive) and education (evolution is an established scientific fact and a myth: Adam Smith mentioned the ‘invisible hand’ twice in his two major books) – the latter proves that education better be ‘a core function of the government!

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You Know My Name June 16, 2015 at 11:56 am

I respect Ron’s position and points but I believe the death penalty needs to stay on the table for extreme cases. Having worked in a prison, I was extra careful when dealing with death row inmates as we both understood that they literally had nothing more to lose. Can you imagine being the correctional officer working in “population” and all know they have nothing more to lose if they kill you, the infirmary nurse who treats their sniffles and cuts, or a citizen if they escape?

I feel that the world is definitely a better place with the likes of James Terry Roach, Joseph Carl Shaw, Cecil Lucas, Larry Gene Bell, and more, gone from our midst.

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Positive Use Death Penalty June 16, 2015 at 1:02 pm

There is nothing wrong with sentencing certain criminals to die. For sure we need to end people who shoot up crowded areas or blow up buildings. It is sad that we prescribe that punishment as often as we do because sometimes we do get it wrong. What is sadder are the states that have a hard on for executions like Texas.

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SYNTwist June 16, 2015 at 12:19 pm

In the case of the death penalty. I agree with Ron Paul.

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Manray9 June 16, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Paul is right on it. The death penalty is just another example of the conservative (mostly Republicans) hypocrisy on fiscal matters. They’ll go to the mat against education spending, unemployment compensation, health care expenditures and so on, but spend millions to execute some poor sucker who may not even be guilty. And keep in mind, rich white people don’t get the death penalty. They hire expensive lawyers and get jail time.

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Matlock June 16, 2015 at 12:59 pm

If the lawyers are expensive enough, sometimes they don’t even get jail time.

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SYNTwist June 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm

Yes, but what you are saying is horribly unfair. If they have enough money to hire high dollar lawyers, then they may not even get jail time. What about the poor guy, who didn’t even commit the crime, has no money for an attorney and ends up on death row? I am sure that is an exception, but it has happened.

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SYNTwist June 16, 2015 at 5:45 pm

I agree – remove the death penalty. I can think of some cases it might be necessary, but I cannot imagine anything more horrific than having to live in prison with ones choice AND it save tax payers money. Imagine that – life spared at a cheaper cost.

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Taos June 16, 2015 at 12:46 pm

I too oppose the death penalty… only God should know the day/time in which someone dies. That said, when someone is convicted with certainty of a heinous crime, they should be sent to an extreme labor camp where day in or day out they will work, regardless of whether they have medical maladies. I would suspect that under my vision, these evil people would exit the earth due to natural causes within 6 months to a year. There, problem solved… no death penalty and no long life in prison either.

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SYNTwist June 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm

I re-read something interesting today “The Man Of The Crowd” … problem complicated.

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festus June 16, 2015 at 7:16 pm

I too oppose the death penalty… only God should know the day/time in which someone dies.

Excellent.I am pro-life.Abortion is murder.Death penalty is murder.

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euwe max June 18, 2015 at 10:45 pm

The “state” hasn’t proven it’s competent enough to kill us yet.

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