Crime and Punishment

When the concepts of law and property came into being, crime was undoubtedly not far behind. While there have always been crimes of passion and political crimes such as assassinations and hijackings, the most common crimes have arisen from the desire of A to obtain property of B without going through the uncertainty of a free market exchange.

Punishment for crimes used to be a lot simpler than it is today. It used to be that when a thief was caught he was hanged, put in the pillory, or sent to prison for a time depending upon the prevailing custom and the severity of the crime. When a murderer was caught, he was hanged, shot, or decapitated according to local custom.

Today, there are many other issues to consider. Although the guy may already have been arrested a half-dozen times or so, was he read his rights? The Supreme Court says that if he isn't read his rights when arrested he can get off. Other technicalities also abound concerning admissibility of various sorts of evidence. Finally there is the insanity defense. One awaits the day when psychiatrists decide that all people who commit crimes are insane and hence can't go to jail.

Although these changes are supposed to reflect an advance in the way justice is meted out, it would seem that many people prefer the old methods. For evidence of this, look at the cop shows on television and such films as the Cint Eastwood Dirty Harry Series and Charles Bronson's Deathwish. People don't want to see criminals released on technicalities. They want to see the matter taken care of quickly and permanently.

Hijackers should be given a rapid trial with due process of law at the airport and then hanged.
Ed Davis, Los Angeles chief of police

Stealing has always been a way of redistributing wealth.
John Conyers Jr.

To make certain that crime does not pay, the government should take it over and try to run it.
G.Norman Collie

We don't seem to be able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business.
Will Rogers

Murderer: You cannot blame me. It was my heredity and environment that caused me to kill. Judge: It is my heredity and environment that sentences you to hang by the neck until dead.
John Christian

If society is at fault that we got killers running around murdering innocent people, then it's simple. We turn the killer loose, give him a pension for life and shoot the rest of the city.
Archie Bunker

The police can't use clubs or gas or dogs. I suppose they will have to use poison ivy.
William F. Buckley Jr., when campaigning for New York City mayor

If poverty is the mother of crimes, want of sense is the father of them.
Jean de la Bruyere

The criminal left belongs not in a dormitory, but in a penitentiary.
Spiro Agnew

Let them sweat it out in the sun, grow vegetables to eat and learn a trade.
Gilbert Lindsay, LA City Councilman on deporting Skid Row bums to work camps during the 1984 Olympics

The crime should be punished no matter whether poverty or wealth caused it to occur, because the crime is wrong.
Ernest van den Haag

It is not our job to apply laws which have not been written.
Supreme Court decision, on the Sony VCR case, in refusing to interpret as yet unwritten copyright law

The new law leaves no doubt about the citizen's rights when a criminal breaks into his home.
Dave Treen, former LA governor reacting to criticism of his "shoot the burgular" law

To find a policeman in a hurry, double-park.
Ellis' eloquence

Capital punishment has probably been responsible for a good deal of human progress. The overwhelming majority of those executed were of the sort whose departures for bliss eternal improved the average intelligence and decency of the race.
H.L. Mencken

The method of electrocution would be much better than the old method of hanging.
Meldrim Thomsom, speaking on capital punishment

The long and distressing controversy over capital punishment is very unfair to anyone contemplating murder.
Geoffrey Fisher

Where would Christianity be if Jesus got eight to ten years with time off for good behavior?
James Donovan, NY State Senator arguing for capital punishment

If there hadn't been a death penalty, there would be no Christian religion.

I agree with the death penalty. I think that people would be alive today if there were a death penalty.
Nancy Reagan

He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
Exodus 21;12

A death-row inmate who refused triple-bypass surgery was in guarded condition Saturday after suffering a heart attack that may delay his scheduled Aug. 18 execution, officials said.
From the Grand Rapids Press, Michigan

A jury consists of twelve men chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.
Robert Frost

It's not the people in prison who worry me. It's the people who aren't.
Arthur Gore

The Lord Chief Justice of England recently said that the greater part of his judicial time was spent investigating collisions between propelled vehicles, each on its own side of the road, each sounding its horn, and each stationary.
Philip Guedella

If the criminal wants to commit suicide then he should be allowed to do so. Something should be left in the cell. Perhaps a razor blade.
Jonathon Guiness

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.
H.L. Mencken

Jury: A group of twelve men who, having lied to the judge about their hearing, health, and business engagements, have failed to fool him.
H.L. Mencken

The late William Jennings Bryan, L.L.D., always had one great advantage in controversy; he was never burdened with an understanding of his opponent's case.
H.L. Mencken

We are all subject to the law in order that we may all be free.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

What do I care about the law? Hain't I got the power?
Cornelius Vanderbilt

Headline in the Indianapolis News, after John Hinckley was declared insane

Mercy is not what every criminal is entitled to. What he is entitled to is justice.
Lord Hailsham

Unsuccessful perpetrators of gun-and-mask crimes may find themselves putting in up to ten years in the slammer. Their white-collar, computer-savvy counterparts become consultants.
Jack B. Rochester and John Gantz

Judges, as a class, display, in the matter of arranging alimony, that reckless generosity which is found only in men who are giving away somebody else's cash.
P.G. Wodehouse

If I had my way I am afraid I would abolish mothers-in-law entirely.
Sir Geoffrey Wrangham, British High Court Justice

Perhaps the crime situation would be improved if we could get more cops off television and onto the streets.
Bill Vaughan

Trying a case a second time is like eating yesterday morning's oatmeal.
Lloyd Stryker

If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him.
Cardinal Richelieu

These detective series on TV always end at precisely the right moment - after the criminal is arrested and before the court turns him loose.
Robert Orben

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