Mindcrime Liberty Show – Ep. 99: Is the death penalty more humane than life imprisonment?

Most societies won’t go full Anabaptist and so will punish criminals for justice or deterrence. Lifetime incarceration, especially if it’s done humanely, is expensive (which typically requires taxing the innocent) and doesn’t really function as a punishment. On flip side, some prisons are deeply unpleasant: prisoners are locked in solitary confinement without human interaction, sunlight or any stimulus at all. You could make a humane prison worse by using prison labour but it could encourage prisons to entrap people and the prison labour could undercut free labour. Would the death penalty be more humane then the actual existing alternatives while not undermining the broader labour market?


  1. Death penalty very sensible. It is the sword of Damocles over those who would commit evil.

    It would also deter the conviction of the innocent for crimes they didn’t commit. I suspect in people’s mins there is the thought that ‘Well, if he/she is innocent, then he/she will be released eventually for good behavior.’

    I think the expense issue one is something people ignore; society pays for the crime committed, not the criminal.

    Then there is the issue of the victims family. They may lives the rest of their lives fearing the murderer will get out again and commit a similar crime. Sometimes this happens.

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