I don’t think one can divorce retribution from the justice system. If that element is neglected, a society as well as victims may feel justice has not been done. To me, really, it’s a debate about how does society operate to provide justice. What people in one society see as appropriate punishment another may not.
Although personally, I do not like the death penalty at all, I understand it’s an area where reasonable people can disagree.
People get heated on both sides of the issue.
I do have to say that of course the rights of the accused/convicted do have to be taken into account.
In my experience in debates on this issue, it is always those who are against the death penalty who end up being unable and/or unwilling to accept that it's reasonable to be for the death penalty. And that just becomes infuriating and is a real turn-off for debate on the subject.
I perfectly understand the case against the death penalty, of course there are flaws to it and injustices against innocent people can, have and will occur - although far less readily I would guess, than injustices against people who end up being locked up.
What I find annoyingly amusing is how some people can't justify the possibility of an innocent man or woman being sentenced to death (which won't actually come into being for years in most cases), but it's perfectly okay to be given a life sentence in prison for an innocent man or woman? As if the latter is not in some cases to be considered worse than death itself.
The death penalty is not a perfect solution and I doubt anyone has ever claimed it to be, but I fail to see how it is any worse than the world and society we currently live in.
I had this same debate at work not too long ago and it got pretty heated - and a common theme of the argument against the death penalty is that it won't deter criminals seeking to murder. And again, it's just amusing how that possibility somehow equates to meaning that being locked up for a few years is a deterrant? We know full well it isn't.
The idea of a person who has committed cold blooded murder being "rehabilitated" and later allowed to melt into society repulses me. Even though I can appreciate that there are plenty of people out there who want to bring out the good and reformed in those who have done wrong, I fail to see how justice is served in such an instance.
You take a life or lives, you spend some time in an environment where you mingle with like-minded individuals, and then you are later released having possibly seen the error of your ways.
And the victim? Oh, nevermind.
The idea of retribution is a must in sentencing, it is usually all a victim's family and friends can hold onto - to see that justice is done. We all know it won't bring the victim back, but that surely has never been the point.
You would think that it is perfectly logical to believe that if you choose to end someone's life, you lose right to your own - but then again, that's the fucked up world we live in, unfortunately.