Under prohibition, activities deemed criminal do not stop; they only change into a more dangerous form. This includes not just substance prohibition, but also death penalty legislation, which seeks to ‘prohibit’ heinous crimes by graver threats.
Those who engage in crime do not do so out of the lack of fear of punishment. Rather, it is a distorted sense of moral conviction, and/or desperation, that brings one to overlook the risk of social backlash, whether such backlash involves ostracism, imprisonment, or death, or a combination of the three. Upping the punishment thus scares no one into ‘good behavior.’
When punishments become more severe, the organization of crime shifts, empowering the more dangerous and those capable of fighting back against legislation-empowered forces. This means more criminal power is concentrated into the hands of the fewer. Just like how centralizing authority creates dictatorships. Instead of deterring crime, the death penalty creates a situation where society is faced with a growing institution more capable of going to war or colluding with the state.
Violence, or even the threat of it, is never a solution.
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