POST #44: The Death Penalty

WAAAAAAYYY back at post nine I told you all about the charity I’m blogging for today, Amnesty International, and in doing so, mentioned that I was opposed to the death penalty. I figured I’d explain my position on that.

There’s plenty of reasons to be against capital punishment. The easiest reason is that it is an irreversible punishment that is sometimes assigned to innocent people. A lot of those people do get their convictions turned over through the appeals process, but I don’t believe for one minute that people haven’t been executed that were innocent. I can’t think of anything a state could that is worse than killing innocent citizens of its own country.

But more than that, the death penalty doesn’t work. It’s more expensive to execute someone then hold them in prison for the rest of their lives, given the extensive appeals process involved. Worse, you can’t convince me for a second that it acts as a deterrent for violent offenders. Most violent crimes occur in moments of passion, where people act without consideration of the consequences. They think no more about that fact that this could lead to their execution as they think about it could lead to life in prison. For career violent criminals, the threat of death is an ordinary facet of their lives, so added state-sponsored execution really doesn’t change things. What it does change is the level of desperation for those who committed a capital offense in a moment of passion. Knowing that capture and conviction for their crime will lead to their death only makes them that much more desperate to avoid capture, meaning that they have more incentive to kill anyone who could make that happen. After all, the state can’t kill them twice.

The only legitimate argument I know for the death penalty is pure vengeance. I get that if someone did something horrible to you, you’d wish them harm, even death. If someone were to rape and murder my wife, then yes, I’d want them dead. I’d want to kill them myself. Which is why it’s a good thing I wouldn’t be sentencing them. Because vengeance is no way for a civilised society to operate. It’s a slippery slope that we really shouldn’t be sliding. The fact that the United States and Japan are the only modern, first-world countries that still practice capital punishment (including North America, almost all of South America, Australia, and the entire European Union) shows it to be an outmoded practice, generally exercised by dictators as a means to control its populace.

So I support Amnesty International in their campaign to abolish capital punishment, and you can too by pledging your support to this Blogathon by clicking here.

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