chapter  5
19 Pages

Criminal Justice

ByIsaac Taylor

In many jurisdictions, terrorists are prosecuted with different procedures than ordinary criminals, and in particular receive fewer guarantees for a swift and fair trial. The chapter considers three arguments which have been given for withholding procedural rights to terrorists in this way, all of which are found wanting: one which appeals to their failure to identify themselves as combatants, which is thought to render their protection by the ordinary laws of war invalid; one which claims that we can be surer of the guilt of terrorists than of ordinary criminals, and thus be sure that we are not violating the procedural rights of the innocent through this practice; and one which justifies doing away with procedural rights as a lesser evil. Finally, the chapter investigates whether terrorists can permissibly be given harsher sentences than superficially similar sorts of criminal, and find limited support for this practice from the major philosophical theories of criminal punishment.