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.
To my way of thinking (or perhaps my particular indoctrination) punishment for any crime should provide the elements of retribution, `deterrence, and rehabilitation. The question of whether a particular person can be rehabilitated, is another matter and in the U.S. it is a factor in deciding whether the death penalty is the appropriate penalty. Obviously, some people are not candidates for rehabilitation.
Deterence is another matter. In a perfect society I suppose we would all live by the golden rule, and would not perpetrate violence against a person or property simply out of consideration for other people. But, most people I think are aware that if they do these things there are personal penalties to pay — you know, unless the “person” is a corporation.
I think we (“we” meaning "you and I”) probably also agree that not every killing merits the death penalty and also that some killings do not even merit punishment at all. So then the issue becomes what killings would merit the most extreme punishment society can impose, and can justice for the aggrieved persons and the perpetrator be achieved without the death penalty. Is locking up a person for life, sufficient? What does the death penalty achieve that life imprisonment does not? Are we acculturated to thinking the death penalty is the appropriate penalty? An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth? It’s difficult for me to judge.
I know that some societies see payment to the family of the victim for death is sufficient justice. That’s interesting to me. But, it comes back to what society itself deems justice to be. Obviously, the death penalty in theory has a great deal of support in the U.S.
Another thing that interests me about life imprisonment which is not an easy thing, is what do you do with someone who continues to kill after being sentenced to life? These people exist. The last person executed in my state, was one of those. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_Lee_Gardner
I wonder how the people of Norway will feel when this mass murderer walks free. He took so many young innocent and promising young lives. Did he calculate the penalty and decide it was worth it? If the penalty had been his own life or never ending imprisonment, would he have carried out the murders?
I’m troubled by all these things, and at different points in my life, I’ve answered them in different ways. But, when it comes to human life as well as incarceration, I think that all of us should struggle and try to come to grips with the issues and take other views different than our own into consideration.
P.S. JayJay I am concerned about locking up an innocent person for life, but I think with life imprisonment, if the person is found innocent at least he can go free at that point, but if a person is dead, there’s nothing that can be done to make matters even a little bit right. The justice system isn’t all it’s cracked up to be though. I think more people in the u.s. are worried about guilty people going free than they are about innocent people being locked up.