Should the government provide criminal defendants free legal services? One objectivist gives this very well articulated answer that it should not. However, I am curious to see what other objectivists think.
If not, then why should the government pay for the prosecution of criminals? Is not the prosecution of criminals simply the government providing a plaintiff with free legal services? A crime is a rights violation. However, for many rights violations (e.g., breach of contract, negligent harm, etc.) the victim has to pay for their own legal services if they want redress, i.e., they have to sue in civil court. Some rights violations are so bad, however, that we make them crimes, and in doing so we take the vindication of the violation out of the hands of the victim and place it in the hands of the state. What justifies this? How does this justification not apply to the defendant as well?
It seems to me that the argument that it is wrong to force some people to pay for the defense of other people is simply misapplied here—in a free society the funding for the government would not be coercive and thus paying for defendants’ legal services is not taking money from anyone against their will any more than paying for the prosecutor is.
Ultimately the government is going to pay a certain amount of money (“X”) for the prosecution of a case. This expenditure is justified because it promotes the government’s legitimate function of protecting rights, which it does through dispensing justice. How X is divided (some to court reporter, some to guards, some to prosecutor, etc.) seems irrelevant as long as every expenditure contributes to the legitimate purpose of the criminal justice system, i.e., to seeking justice. Thus, if spending part of X on the legal defense leads to more just results, then it seems legit to me.