Dealing with criminals
May 2, 2008 at 2:28 pm #460
I’ll just throw this out there, having not given the matter much thought myself:
Is a functioning criminal justice system scalable?
I understand that the anarco-cap answer to criminal justice would all be based on an existing contractual understanding, and I find some of David Friedman’s writing on polycentric, market-driven police/defense forces as a means of enforcing criminal law compelling.
But does any of that work if you live in a floating society of – say – 400 people? What do you do with the first serial child molestor who comes along? It’s quite a burden for 400-odd folks to keep the guy jailed for 20 years.
I don’t mean this question as a critique, so please don’t answer with “we’ll do whatever everyone contractually works out form the get-go.” I’m sure that’s the case . . . I’m just wondering if there are any ideas as to what form such a work-out would take.
Thanks.May 2, 2008 at 3:09 pm #1932
(and welcome!) When there are only 400 people Seastead will just fly a flag so what happens to the child molestor is up to the country whose flag we fly to decide, the same thing would happen if a child molestor is captured on a cruise ship. He would probably be in jail in his own country soon. Personally I don’t think people will be in jail for so such a long time in an ancap society though because of the huge costs, but I think no one can tell exactly what will happen.
-JoepMay 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm #1934
I see. I hadn’t thought of that.
I obviously need to brush up on my maritime law. I had thought that flying a country’s flag is tantamount to subjecting yourself to its sovereignty.May 2, 2008 at 3:22 pm #1933
Sorry I’m getting these posts out of order somehow. I am trying to reply to your reply.
(By the way, thanks for the reply.)May 2, 2008 at 4:12 pm #1935
Do as the Icelanders did: if someone breaks the law and won’t make amends, he’s outside the protection of the law. Anyone can violate his rights without recourse to the courts.
If that’s too brutal for your tastes, consider that when you’re on the high seas, banishment would be pretty effective. If you’re close to land, row the violator to shore and drop him off. If not, tell him he can either catch a ride back with the next supply ship or take his chances in the open ocean.
My guess is that in small, isolated communities crime would be very, very uncommon. It would be very difficult to get away with, and if your community turned on you in the high seas, they could easily cover up your disappearance.May 2, 2008 at 4:29 pm #1936
I obviously need to brush up on my maritime law. I had thought that flying a country’s flag is tantamount to subjecting yourself to its sovereignty.
That is the case, but doing so might be desirable initially. A group of a few people with hardly an internal economy might find 200 nautical miles a tad much to start with.
Personally, i think this is solved just fine by voluntary association. If someone commits a crime that warrants the end of said voluntary association, thats essentially the same as good old exile. Meaning you can go drift on the oceans by yourself, or find other people that do condone your behavior. Luckily, most nations dont care about voluntary association at all, so you can just apply for a passport anywhere on the world and wait to get rubber-stamped, no matter how many people you murdered.
Not sure if that is something we would get away with easily in practice, but in theory, im all for making people see the consequences of their nonvoluntary associations. It might make them consider the alternative.May 2, 2008 at 6:20 pm #1937
I had thought of exile before writing my original post. But if that is the maximum penalty the law can impose, then we would probably not realize the “deterrence” objectives of criminal law.
Anyway, you’ve answered my question. It does seem a little counter-intuitive, though, to accept that the engineering might be “scalable” but political institutions potentialy less so.
I’m going to re-read Friedman’s book chapter on private prisons and involuntary servitude for payment of restitution to victims. It occurs to me that some of the solutions he proposes might indeed be scalable once the seasteading venture decides to shrug off another nation’s sovereignty.May 2, 2008 at 7:39 pm #1938
“What do you do with the first serial child molestor who comes along?”
If the seastead does not have an immediate reason for extraditing him to land, the only realistic response would be to hang him, assuming he did molest a child. Seriously, if you’re expecting anything else to happen you’re deluding yourself. A 400 person community living more or less isolated and strapped for ressources would be pretty much in the same human situation as the villages of the West, so I see no rational reason to expect any fundamentally different way for them to handle crime.
On a more general note there would be no jail in a free society, save for some temporary holding cells or maybe even makeshift cells, for keeping perps locked down while the people get together and argue about what to do with them. As the community grows the division of labour would let a solution emerge that satisfies the needs and constraints the best, should it be a local judge or a set of aggreed-upon procedures.
Instead of re-reading Friedman’s “machinery of freedom”, may I suggest reading instead Bruno Leoni’s “Freedom and the Law” ? This book is a must-read for everyone interested in the development of Right, Law and judiciary processes in free societies. Leoni is a jurist and has a whole lot to tell about natural right, a little something that David Friedman has completely overlooked in his book and which has shaped most of international right and of the law of the sea.May 2, 2008 at 8:20 pm #1939
As for members of a community, im not too convinced of deterrence. Crimes of a nature that warrant exile are typically not of the kind that leave me with much confidence in the sanity of said person to begin with. Besides, there was an attempt at humor there: being exiled wont actually be a whole lot of fun, unless you like assuming a new identity and leaving all your material and immaterial posessions.
But deterrence is a good point with regard to people whom are not invested in a community. Crimes commited by a stranger are trickier, other methods will have to be thought of.
Personally, im not too keen on the deathpenalty. The only advantage i see is it being potentially cheaper, but i find the relative reversibility of imprisonment in case of error a much more compelling argument. I dont think cost will be much of an issue, personally.May 2, 2008 at 8:52 pm #1940
Hey Jesrad – I will try to take a look at Leoni’s book. Thanks for the tip.
At the risk of employing circular logic, I’d disagree with your proposiion that “there would be no jail in a free society,” unless by “free” you simply mean “uninhibited.”
I had always thought of the terms “free society” as meaning”free from tyranny,” which I suppose is where most libertarians would also stop. I don’t think that “free from prisons and jails” is what most of us have in mind.May 2, 2008 at 8:56 pm #1941
I’m with you on not being keen on the death penalty, for exactly the reasons you describe.
As to your comment on deterrence, you’re probably right that the “can’t-associate-cause-with-effect” insane won’t be deterred by harsh criminal penalties. But (and I should add that I’m a lawyer by trade) there’s a pretty substantial body of literature that suggests that criminal justice penalties will deter the “can’t-tell-right-from-wrong” insane.May 3, 2008 at 4:53 am #1943
Initially, I suspect that seasteads will not have enough space to jail people. Instead, I suspect your average seastead community will only be able to shift the problem to some poor land based country that has more resources by ejecting the individual. If no land based country wants the ejected individual, then comes some interesting moral issues.
-WayneMay 3, 2008 at 8:02 pm #1946
Solution: Simple. Plank, short, 1 each….Walk, long, 1 each. Problem: Solved.May 4, 2008 at 5:25 pm #1950
Or as I like to call it “Enthusiastic deportation”.May 5, 2008 at 8:11 pm #1951
Wayne, if you’re suggesting that a small seastead society would contract out prison services to a willing on-shore sovereign, then I think that’s a very likely solution.
I will note that Jesrad is pretty sure I’m “deluding” myself in so concluding, which comment tells me I should give the matter much more thought. Jesrad is from France, so he probably has a keener nose for social philosophers deluding themselves than I.
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