Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner wants to bring the death penalty back to the Prairie State. The proposal is part of six “critical improvements to public safety” he included in an amendatory veto on House Bill 1468.
His changes extend the waiting period on the sale of weapons, bans bump stocks and trigger cranks, gives the state authorization to use restraining orders to disarm individuals, requires judges and prosecutors to explain why charges are reduced in plea arguments involving violent offenders, allocates local government revenue for resource officers and mental health workers to become involved if they believe they can prevent student violence and reinstates the death penalty for mass murderers and individuals who kill police officers.
The death penalty, which was last used in the state in 1999 to execute Ripper Crew murderer and rapist Andrew Kokoraleis, was officially brought to an end in 2011. But now that Rauner wants to make “tough on crime” a policy, the practice might be reinstated.
To libertarians, the main issue with the death penalty isn’t necessarily about the killing itself, even though many liberty-minded people will say that taking a life is always wrong. Instead, many will argue that the government doesn’t have jurisdiction over life and death, period. Therefore, allowing the state to take a life because of a crime committed amounts to nothing but the appearance of vengeance.
There’s also the issue of government’s tendency to make too many mistakes – take the many cases of prisoners who were on the death row and who were eventually freed after their sentences were challenged.
As Marc Hyden explains for FEE, “the death penalty system is not perfect — but a program designed to kill guilty U.S. citizens must be perfect because the Constitution demands zero errors.”
The government doesn’t know best because bureaucrats don’t want to find a solution. Keeping the problem in place helps them to make government “relevant.” Additionally, we often see individuals being treated as if they were guilty before being proven innocent which is a complete reverse of the presumption of innocence, which is ingrained in the U.S. Constitution. Isn’t it clear that innocent people can end up being killed if death penalties are put back in place?
To skeptics who think that a society where the free market reigns cannot be civilized due to the lack of government-backed laws and enforcement agencies, there’s the argument defended by Kevin Flanagan, the program manager at European Students for Liberty and director of the Brehon Law Academy.
According to Flanagan, Brehon Law, which is the system that existed in the anarchic and stateless Ireland, used no prisons. And despite the absence of what we know as the justice system, he explains, Ireland was called the Insular Sanctorum et Doctorum, or the Island of Saints and Scholars. And it sustained a prosperous civilization before it was invaded by its neighbors.
While we are light years from experiencing this type of free market existence, it is comforting to know that there are examples in history that teach us that policies like the death penalty are not needed.