You might wonder why someone running for the Oregon Governorship should be commenting on a case in Belgium, but I do so because it illustrates my alternative to the Death Penalty, which I oppose on both Constitutional and moral grounds.
The Belgian case involves the 50-year-old serial murderer and rapist Van Den Bleeken, who has requested and been granted permission to die by euthanasia because he says he has “unbearable psychological suffering” in prison, and, since he admits he cannot control his impulses, he would need to be confined for life. This request has been granted because Belgium allows euthanasia, but it has never been requested before by a non-terminally ill, or seriously physically-unsound person. So the case breaks new ground. And since Oregon has a Death with Dignity Law, a parallel situation will eventually arise here when a prisoner claims “unbearable psychological suffering”.
I don’t think Belgium should put down Van Den Bleeken. One reason I am categorically opposed to the Death Penalty is because I believe that the life energies of the murder, after conviction, then become the Property of the next of kin of the victim, and so, if any labor can be extracted from such persons whose crime are so heinous that they currently carry the Death Penalty, then the profits from that labor should justly go to the next of kin, or at the least be divided between the next of kin and the State, to defray the costs of incarceration. To waste that person’s life by executing them would be to steal the life-energies that now should actually belong to the next of kin of the victim or victims. The Property Rights of the victim’s survivors are being assaulted if the murderer is executed, and the financial sums they are robbed of, over the course of 40 or 50 years of a prisoner’s confinement, are enormous.
Prisoners who are so dangerous that they must be confined to solitary, or who committed especially heinous crimes that would normally get the Death Penalty, should certainly have the Right to commit suicide. This is part of self-ownership, one of the key Libertarian principles. But likewise, the prison personnel may feel a moral obligation to save that person’s life that should not be thwarted or forbidden. A prisoner should have the Right to hunger-strike himself to the edge of death and pass out, but, equally, the prison staff may feel a compassionate moral compulsion to revivify and intravenously-feed such a person to bring him back from the brink of death, and they certainly should not be interfered with in the pursuit of fulfilling their self-perceived moral obligations.
In other words, keeping Van Den Bleeken alive should be part of the punishment. If he is experiencing “unbearable psychological suffering”, then he should be free to end his suffering by attempting suicide (say, by holding his breath), but the People, through the prison personnel, should also be free to carry out their will to preserve life if it is endangered, and they extend this will even unto serial murderers.
I believe a life sentence at dull labor in solitary confinement, with all profits from that labor going to the victim’s next of kin for life, would be a far greater deterrent to murder than Capital Punishment ever would be.
The Declaration of Independence says that we our endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and first among them the Right to Life. This very clearly precludes the use of the Death Penalty.
The State should never be given the power to murder an Individual, because it can be used far too easily to murder political opponents, or wealthy citizens whose estates can then be seized by the State and its bureaucrats.
Capital Punishment is one of the cornerstones of Fascism, and that cornerstone must be smashed.
Paul Grad, Libertarian Nominee for Oregon Governor