Murderers from around the United States have been flocking to the state of North Dakota to escape the threat of the death penalty, The Daily Currant can reveal. Lured by the prospect of being able to murder without being killed themselves, several thousand ordinary Americans who simply want to kill someone have set up camp in this flat, isolated Upper Midwestern state and are expected to target their victims in the coming months.
The United States is the only Western country which retains the death penalty and with 43 executions is ranked 5th - behind China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq - in the total number performed last year. Yemen and North Korea were 6th and 7th, respectively.
Although the death penalty is alive and well in America, capital punishment laws vary by state. Seventeen states - including North Dakota - have abolished the death penalty entirely, and several others have abstained from executing inmates on death row.
The trend has picked up in recent years - Connecticut became state number 17 just this month, and only yesterday former U.S. president Jimmy Carter called upon America to abolish it entirely. Yet the American abolitionist movement is not new. The state of Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1847 - the first jurisdiction in the English speaking world to do so.
Dulce et decorum est pro provincia mori
The lack of a nationwide standard has led some murderers (or aspiring murderers) to practice regulatory arbitrage among the states. The problem is especially acute in the Upper Midwest where a group of non-death penalty states border death penaty states. North Dakota, for instance, does not have the death penalty, but its neighbors South Dakota and Montana do.
The current situation in North Dakota dates to February when Cambridge University released a study comparing prisoner-reported satisfaction surveys of U.S. state prison systems. The study found that North Dakota prisons were far and away the favorite among U.S. prisoners - likely due to the state's low population, low per capita crime rate, and new facilities built since the recent oil boom revitalized state coffers.
"They still have Facebook in jail right?"
Malice Percival (a pseudonym) is a 26 year old short order cook originally from Philadelphia. He explains the impact the Cambridge study had on the homicide community "When that data came in we were all completely shell-shocked. It was a bombshell for us. Now we knew there was a state out there where we can commit our murders, and yet have the reasonable expectation of living in comfort for the rest of our remaining lives if caught. It was a gamechanger for me. I moved out here to Fargo four days later."
Thousands of criminals just like Percival have done the same thing, and are planning to create the biggest crime wave the state has ever seen. Some are intent on using their murder for sport, but most are hoping to settle personal vendettas.
Percival is looking to get even with a former colleague who he claims "stole" his girlfriend two years ago.
What Happens in Fargo...?
Malice seems unfazed about the prospect of a lifetime in prison "I mean jail can't be that bad. They still have Facebook in jail right? As long as I have Facebook I think I'll be okay. I mean he really is an asshole - you have to understand that. Its not like I'm killing a nice person or anything."
Asked if he would think about killing this "asshole" in South Dakota, Percival was adamant, "Oh no way. Killing someone in North Dakota is one thing, but in South Dakota if you kill someone they kill you. I just don't need that kind of drama in my life right now."
He explains that the toughest thing about killing in North Dakota is getting the victim to show up:
"The hard part is coming up with a lure. Its North Dakota. North Da - Fucking - kota. I live here and I still don't know what I do for fun. If Nevada wasn't a death penalty state I'd do all my murdering there. You know - hey you won a free trip to Vegas! A night out with a few hookers. Maybe do a little coke. Make it look like a drug overdose. Man that would be easy. But Nevada has the death penalty, so...North Dakota it is."