Friday, October 19, 2012

This Is Why We Shouldn't Over-Punish Non-Murders

Woodard gets life for killing two DeKalb officers

This Dekalb County criminal case about the murder of two police officers highlights a problem of some "get tough on crime" policies. Why?  Because Woodward was facing life without parole merely for the possession of a firearm. Rather than get caught with a gun, he opted to end the lives of two men just doing their jobs.  After all, he probably though, if he gets caught for murder he will still go to prison for life and he might not get caught at all!  In other words, the over-punishment of the gun crime to the same level as murder means that Woodward basically got to kill the cops for free. He's no worse off than he would have been had he not killed the cops. So what's his incentive to not kill?  Nothing. 

A similar paradox happens in child sex cases. We as a society have raised the punishments on child sex offender cases so high that now the child molester might as well kill his victim and any witnesses.  It greatly reduces his chances of getting caught and the punishment for murder is about the same as child molestation.  So why NOT kill them?

Punishments such as death and life without parole should be reserved for the ultimate crime of murder. All other crimes should be punished less.  Otherwise, we just create a perverse incentive to kill witnesses. 

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios