Why I am against capital punishment...

I wrote this little ditty as a response to a thread on a forum I frequent where we are discussing the execution of the DC Beltway Sniper:

I don't believe in the death penalty. I feel very strongly that violence begets violence. The death penalty perpetuates a viscious cycle which I believe has longterm negative consequences on society, including desentizing society in regards to the taking of a human life. I also believe that capital punishment violates the Bill of Rights, specifically in regards to the 'cruel and unusual' punishment statement - there is no such thing as a humane method of putting a person to death! Also, it is a useless act of vengeance because it doesn't undo the original crime and bring the victims back to life suddenly, and the criminals themselves have innocent families who then suffer from a life being taken as well. What good comes of this viscious circle?!

I won't even get into the cost aspects nor the fact that America's image in Europe is further tarnished by the existance of the death penalty, nor the hippocrisy of a Christian nation supporting capital punishment in any form.

Lastly, I think it is very difficult to provide a fair hearing when the death penalty is on the table because there is the possibility to have jurors who are hesitant to convict based upon facts because it could result in someone dying OR to have a juror who is hugely pro-capital punishment and the fact it's on the table sways their judgement in regards to sentencing. I served on a capital murder case jury several years back and the death penalty was taken off the table for exactly these reasons - it was too distracting and we would have potentially had a hung jury if the death penalty had been an option.

I then started thinking about how I might feel about capital punishment in relation to someone close to me - say a predator who might hurt my sister, my mother, one of the children in my family, etc. If a horrific event befell one of them at the hand of some psychopath, would I change my stance on capital punishment? Really, truly would I still feel it's wrong?

The answer is yes, I would still be anti-death penalty, despite the fact that I might feel so angry about it that I'd likely want to kill the asshole with my own bare hands and risk the death penalty for myself in the process. I would still believe it is wrong even though I probably wouldn't be phased if the criminal died at the hands of inmates or from some terrible disease. No matter what tragedy befalls us, I would still believe that a government's money is better spent on the systemic change required to prevent victimization and  protect the innocent than in electrocuting murderers. Capital punishment focuses society on violence and vengeance rather than on reform and prevention. It's a never ending cycle of 'eye for an eye' that does no one justice in the end. It really must stop.

1 comment: