Friday, March 05, 2010

Victimless Crimes and State Budgets

Free the innocent

The paper of record, yes, the New York Times (not the Daily News), had an article today on how states are putting in place early-release programs to reduce their budget expenditures, and, how citizens are becoming concerned over the early release of violent criminals. Well, the solution to that is quite easy. States should just free non-violent criminals, or, easier-said, should free those who are incarcerated for victimless crimes, or, in other words, people who are in jail for what philosopher Robert Nozick called "capitalist acts between consenting adults".

The most obvious examples of victimless crimes are the drug laws and laws against prostitution. Needless to say, making these things illegal just drives these markets underground while the business goes on. It is stupid public policy, and the budget crunches are a good opportumnity to correct this historical foolishness.

In fact, Kristin Davis, who recently declared her candidacy for governor of New York has proposed exactly this. She is running on a platform to legalize and tax these victimless crimes. While taxing is never a good idea, it might be if taxes (and spending) are reduced elsewhere. Of course, if the police didn't have to enforce these bad laws they could focus on crimes where people are actually harmed. Go Kristin, you have Workers' vote.