Sunday, November 3, 2013

Idle Thoughts -- Death, Where is Thy Justice?

Which in your view , is the strongest argument in favor of the death penalty? Which is the strongest argument against it ? In your view , should we retain or abolish capital punishment ? Explain.

For me, the strongest justification of the death penalty is that many believe it reduces crime, murders in particular.

I have very mixed feelings about the death penalty. It gives me a sense of repugnance and yet at the same time there are those for whom I believe execution is actually an appropriate act due to the heinous nature of their crimes. As always, I try to take my position on the facts. If studies proved conclusively that the death penalty actually did reduce the rate of capital crimes, I would then be forced to support it no matter how repugnant I found it to be.

The problem is that you can take exactly the same data set and, depending on how you interpret the data, come to exactly opposite conclusions. The simple fact is, we do not know whether the death penalty reduces crime, has no effect on crime, or increases crime. That is not a pleasant fact, but it is the truth.

The strongest argument against the death penalty is that we have seen, as more and more advanced forensic techniques come into play, that very large numbers of people on death row are entirely innocent. If it is wrong for an individual to commit a murder, is it not even more wrong for a state to execute an innocent person? Is this not a form of judicial murder being committed in the name of all the people of a given state? I say that it is.

I am horrified at the idea that throughout the history of this country we have executed an untold number of innocent people. I do not see any excuse for this. If the death penalty is ever to be acceptable to me, then it must be shown that it can be imposed fairly and accurately. Only the guilty must suffer and all of the guilty must suffer. Race, economic status, and many other factors must not be allowed to influence the imposition of the penalty. The law applies to everyone, or it should apply to no one.

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