A quick follow-up to yesterday’s post on the trial of the captured Somali pirate. If convicted of piracy, he’ll get a life sentence — or as I put it yesterday, “provided medical care, guaranteed three square meals and a roof over his head” for the rest of his days, as opposed to “playing chicken with tankers on choppy waters, hoping the teenager behind him isn’t shaky when aiming his AK-47 and that he doesn’t fall into the drink and become shark chow.”
Ordinarily, the possibility of life imprisonment is a deterrent to criminals, but in the case of the Somali pirates, the “punishment” may be better living conditions than their previous circumstances.
The “golden age” of piracy came to an end with the widespread use of summary execution. We may have determined that returning to that practice would violate our principles today. But if that’s off the table, we’re going to need some other daunting option to deter people from choosing this criminal activity . . .