Saturday, August 08, 2015

The death penalty dilemma

 You also have a dilemma where capital punishment is concerned. If you have it, we feel a strong obligation to enhance the appeal process to make sure innocent people aren't executed, since the penalty is irreversible. But if you do that, then you severely weaken the deterrent effect of the death penalty, and the value of closure for victim's families is also taken away, since families have to relive the crime every time a new hearing or trial takes place. I hear of people being executed today who committed their crime in 1989.

7 comments:

B. Prokop said...

Wow! You just blew my mind. I never considered that idea that giving an accused person life rather than capital punishment could lessen his chances of getting a review of his case. I'm going to have to ponder this one.

Unintended consequences, unintended consequences...

Jezu ufam tobie!

Ilíon said...

"You also have a dilemma where capital punishment is concerned. If you have it, we feel a strong obligation to enhance the appeal process to make sure innocent people aren't executed, since the penalty is irreversible. But if you do that, then you severely weaken the deterrent effect of the death penalty, and the value of closure ..."

THERE is a huge part of the problem ... and you can't even see it.

The purpose of capital punishment isn't "deterrence" and it isn't "closure" (*); the purpose is justice.

A society -- and the state that rules that society -- has the moral obligation to see that justice is done to all its members, and indeed, even to non-members who are within its jurisdiction. Thus, for instance, the State of New Mexico is obligated -- by God -- to do its best to achieve justice for *any* person murdered within its borders, be that person a citizen of the State of New Mexico, or of the State of Alaska, or of the nation-state of Mexico. At the same time, the State of New Mexico has not moral obligation to seek justice for a Mexican who was murdered in Mexico.

Now, if a society -- or, as is more commonly the case, the *rulers* of that society -- *refuses* to do its best to achieve justice for persons murdered within it jurisdiction, then the practical effect of that refusal is to cede to the murderers the power to declare that some persons, specifically those they choose to murder, are not *worthy* of having justice done them.


(*) and I can't begin to tell you how I despise that sentimental claptrap concept.

Ilíon said...

This obstinate *refusal* of "liberals" to admit that capital punishment is appropriate in some circumstances -- and, indeed, that in some circumstances it is the *only* appropriate punishment -- dehumanizes the victim, and casts *the victim* out of society.

Steve Lovell said...

My comment here will be at best rather tangential.

Remembering my courses in applied ethics, most people who were against the death penalty seemed to be against it primarily because of the possibility of executing and innocent person and obviously there would be no opportunity to redress such a mistake. Whether this is a sufficient reason to oppose the death penalty isn't clear. However it is certainly a very important consideration.

Now, it strikes me that almost the exact same reasoning can be applied to argue against abortion. In debates over abortion quite a bit is usually thought to hang of the question of when life begins. But if there is any chance that life begins at conception (or prior to the point at which the abortion is being considered), then abortion brings with it the possiblity of taking the life of an innocent person.

If we oppose the death penalty on these grounds, it looks like we ought to oppose abortion too.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, I would use exactly those considerations as a reason never to be a party to an abortion. Whether this is sufficient to bring the long arm of the law on abortion is another matter.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, it's my other post where I question whether the death penalty is better retribution that life imprisonment.

I wonder if it even more severe of a penalty than life in prison. One well-known prison murderer in Arizona kept killing people and demanding the death penalty.

http://murderpedia.org/male.V/v1/vickers-robert-wayne.htm

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