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Punishing a Murderer

From: JB
Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2017 7:32 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Requesting your insight to a hypothetical

Professor Block, A friend of mine supplied to me this scenario and I was hoping you might have time to review it and provide me with insight. I have tried to keep it as brief as possible.

Assuming an AnCap society. A young man, John, is new in the area and meets an older man, Bob, at a gun show or something and Bob tells John to come by the house. Bob has a pretty large piece of property and throughout the conversation John finds out that some of the property once belonged to someone else. Eventually it comes out that Bob had acquired the property from a man whom he had killed and had taken the man’s land. A lot of time had passed since the crime and, when the community found out, they were not too concerned about it because nobody liked the guy anyway. The man had no known family and nobody to pay for an investigation. The crime had taken place 20 years previous. John was horrified by the tale and ran off. My friend wanted to hear what, if anything, could come of this situation, if there was any chance of something happening to the older man Bob from a legal standpoint.

I tried to introduce many possibilities. I suggested it is unlikely a community would simply be comfortable with someone having taken property by force and committing murder. My friend insisted that the community did not care in this scenario and could anything else come of it. I suggested that it is unlikely that the crime would have gone unnoticed because the man’s protection service or insurance company would notice.

However, let’s just say the man was out there winging it with no protection service and no insurance company, no family, and is now just dead. The young man, John, has now learned of the crime and can now potentially bring it to the attention of someone who might be interested.

Could, say, one of the protection services in the area launch an investigation against Bob for initiating force and murdering someone, and could they potentially make claim to Bob’s ill-gotten gains as payment. The dead man has no heir and no one to make a claim, so could a third party initiate that investigation and lay claim?

My friend also asked what would compel Bob to have to participate and cede that property should he be found at fault. I suggested Bob would have an interest because he could otherwise call bad attention to his area and therefore to himself, even from neighbors who initially did not care.

I suggested an indirect approach that the area protection agencies would certainly have an interest in addressing such egregious acts, as this would be a safety issue for other customers in the region. The community would ultimately be compelled to care because if they didn’t and they were just comfortable with crime like that happening in their area and word got out to the surrounding towns, people would not want to come there. Also, you could, for example, even see insurance agencies possibly refusing to cover liability on delivery trucks going into that town and other such scenarios that would greatly affect everyone in the area.

1. Are my responding scenarios reasonable possibilities.

2. Could those third parties act in that manner and could they make a claim to pay for their investigative actions, exposing a killer and securing the area?
3. What could happen to that man, if so? / What could compel him to go to court?
4. And my final question is this: On one end of the spectrum I can understand a situation where a guilty party must accept a punishment voluntarily and on the other end of the spectrum permission is not needed from the guilty party (immediate self-defense). What is the middle ground there, or the dividing line? At what point do I go from needing to not needing permission to act on a guilty party?

Thank you so much for your consideration! JB

Dear JB: In my view, John, or any third party (such as a private protection agency), would be justified in seizing this land from the murderer, Bob, and placing him in jail. I don’t see any “middle ground.” If the guilty party goes quietly to jail, well and good. If not, he should be compelled to do so. I don’t see the point of the several decade gap between Bob’s murder and the present. Bob should be treated exactly the same as if he murdered an innocent person 20 minutes ago and 20 years ago. There should be no statute of limitations on anything in my view, certainly not on murder.

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