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Anyone have a problem with imprisoning kidnappers?

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Every news source is reporting the horrifying story from Cleveland.  Debbi Wilgoren has this story in the WaPo:

Three women and a 6-year-old girl rescued from a house in Cleveland Monday night after years in apparent captivity have been medically evaluated and are in good health, police said Tuesday morning.

The girl is believed to be the daughter of Amanda Berry, the woman who triggered her own rescue and that of her fellow captives by flagging down a neighbor and begging him to help her escape. 

Berry, now 27, disappeared in April 2003, a day before her 17th birthday, after calling her sister to say she was getting a ride home from her job at a Burger King. Gina DeJesus went missing a year later, at age 14, while walking home from middle school. The oldest of the women, Michelle Knight, disappeared in August 2002, when she was 20 years old.

*                                *                              *
[Ariel] Castro was arrested Monday night, along with his brothers Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50. [See update note on the continuation page.]  The brothers are in custody and must be charged within 36 hours, law enforcement authorities said. They declined to specify what charges the men are likely to face or to detail how they were placed under arrest. Pedro and Onil Castro have addresses elsewhere in Cleveland, police said.
If Ariel Castro is convicted of holding these women prisoners for years, how will our society punish him?  By holding him prisoner for years.  Does anybody have a problem with that?  Will there be protests that "it is wrong to hold people prisoner to show that it is wrong to hold people prisoner"?  Will there be sanctimonious declarations that by holding them prisoner we are lowering ourselves to their level?  There weren't any such protests for Phillip Garrido, to my knowledge, and I doubt there will be any for Castro.
Yet that is precisely the argument we hear all the time about executing murderers.  People say all these things about the death penalty with no explanation of how imprisonment is any different in this regard.  Strangely, they usually say it with a tone that implies they think they are being profound, even though the fallacy in their logic is readily apparent.

The old "eye for an eye" is neither always right nor always wrong.  Very few people think we should execute all murderers or that we should rape rapists.  But hardly anyone has a problem with imprisoning kidnappers or fining thieves.  So on the points to be argued in the death penalty debate, we should just cross that one off the list.  It does not answer the question either way.

BTW, I would oppose the death penalty for crimes such as this one, even if it were constitutional, even though it would be well deserved.  Perpetrators of kidnapping and rape know very well that they can reduce their chance of getting caught by killing the victim.  There needs to be a differential in punishment to give them an incentive not to.  Punishment serves both retribution and deterrence purposes, among others, and in this case the deterrence need outweighs the retribution, in my opinion.

Update note:  This post originally referred to possible punishment for all three of the brothers in the event they were convicted, as all three had been arrested.  As noted in this subsequent post, police later said that did not have reason to believe Pedro and Onil Castro were involved and did not charge them.  I have edited the post to refer only to Ariel Castro.

2 Comments

It looks like they beat the women to induce abortions. For that, they should be executed.

Of course, the policy argument about whether it's wise to have the death penalty is different from the question of whether it's constitutional to execute someone for the crime of kidnapping/rape what have you. The Supreme Court's decisions barring execution for non-murder is fundamentally illegitimate, and the Justices that have signed on to such nonsense are worthy of the contempt of a free people.

Truer words cannot be spoken about the tone of people who make that ridiculous argument. In it's most annoying form, it is a question---"Why do we kill people to show people that killing is wrong?"

I often hear people who oppose the DP state that "death is different" to which I say, yes, murder is a uniquely serious crime that deserves the uniquely serious punishment.

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