I am opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. Agree or disagree, you've gotta admit that this is an interesting take on things: Feed the Worms Who Write Worms to the Worms - The economic logic of executing computer hackers.
I see at least one big flaw with this theory. I don't believe that the death penalty deters crime. I've met quite a few criminals in my day, including a few accused or convicted of murder, and I don't believe that a single one of them ever thought "I might get the death penalty for this" as they killed. I don't believe that murderers think of the consequences of their actions (beyond the death of the other party), and, moreover, I don't believe that any person committing homicide believes that he will be one of the few to get the death penalty for his murder. Many, but not all, criminals believe (at least until a defense attorney explains otherwise) that they can beat their case at trial (no matter how many times they've confessed or what type of evidence they've left behind). Even of those that know they're unlikely to beat their case, very few believe that they'll be one of the few to get the death penalty.
Actually, that's my case against deterrence in murder cases. On the other hand, I think that "hackers," not only premeditate their crimes, but are also capable of, at the very least, imagining the consequences of their actions and the possible repercussions. Perhaps, for hackers, knowing that they may face the death penalty might actually be a deterrent.
So, anyway, it's an interesting article. It's the first piece that I've read by Steven E. Landsburg, and it was good. Now I've read a few of the others available on Slate and liked them too, so perhaps, at some point, I'll write more on those too.
Right now, though, I'm feeling bad because Ken Lammers invited me to guest-blog at CrimLaw while he was away. So far I haven't had much to say. Well, at least nothing of the caliber that Lammers usually writes. (In case you haven't noticed, my stuff is mostly "war stories" without much legal substance, Lammers, on the other hand, writes about actual caselaw.) Now I'm going to see if I can dig up some kind of something, anything really, that I can blog about. I'm not one to snub such a prestigious invitation.