Friday, June 15, 2012


The Death Penalty

An eye for an eye?

Despite philosophical analyses of recent publication, I remain convinced that the death penalty is necessary and justified, and is a good deterrent to murder in most cases (but not all!). I do agree that the justice system is flawed in some murder cases, and that the system should be fixed somehow–a fix that, not being a lawyer, I cannot propose. Cost arguments are not appropriate in my opinion, since they are both expensive propositions: 60 years of living costs in jail versus, say, 25 years of living and retrial or appeal costs.

Why am I convinced of the worth of the death penalty? Mainly because I looked into my own internal thinking on the idea, and concluded that it does indeed deter me from murder, because I value my own life so highly, and do not want to have it taken away from me permanently. I believe it acts in a similar manner for us all, with the exception of the man with no conscience at all, and no value for life.

Proof of false convictions supported by DNA evidence is a good result, but I suggest that we are gradually catching up with the backlog of such false convictions, and are now using DNA evidence ever closer to real time to exonerate or convict suspects. If so, we should see a significant reduction in false convictions of this kind going forward. A reduction of false executions to zero is most probably not possible, so those of us that still believe in the death penalty must reckon with this imperfect result, and help work to reach that zero mark.

A convicted murderer enclosed in a cell for 23 of 24 hours and isolated from the prison population is still able to live life in his conscious mind, to think, to dream, to plot, to hate, to love, to court women, and to fantisize; a life of the conscious mind that his victim no longer has. Why should the murderer have that opportunity?



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