Monday, June 11, 2007

Is Death a Deterrent?

I do not like, but reluctantly support the death penalty. I do not like it because it goes against my grain, but I support it because there are crimes for which no other penalty is justice and it can be effective.

Now a study is suggesting that every execution might save lives.

What gets little notice, however, is a series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim to settle a once hotly debated argument — whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. The analyses (sic) say yes. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.

I would like to know how they came up with this number. "Between three and 18" sounds like 3d6 in the old AD&D terminology. (For those who don't know it means three six-sided dice.) I have to admit that it is suspect to me and I would need to see how they came up with it.

My biggest concern is the possibility of executing an innocent person, which has happened before. When an execution is done it is done; you can't say "Oops!" and bring them back. Of course with DNA testing etc. it is becoming less likely but there is still a real chance of it.

Yesterday I was talking to my parents' neighbor who is a disillusioned peacenik from the Vietnam era and he has since totally reversed his views. We discussed this very topic and he told me that he once considered killing a human for any reason as a violation of the sanctity of human life, but now he understands that intentionally killing an innocent person is such a violation of that sanctity, that there are times when only the death penalty is adequate. Stunned me to hear this come out of the mouth of an old anti-war liberal. Sometimes they do grow up.

Whether as a deterrent against killing or simply because justice demands it, sometimes we do need to execute. We shouldn't like it and it should bother us deeply, but still we must recognize that sometimes justice demands it.

6 Comments:

Blogger dons_mind said...

i've got to admit to being a hardcore supporter of the death penalty. if it were inplace nationwide and done promptly and efficiently without all the legal mumbo-jumbo i think those studies would show an even greater result!

5:43 PM  
Blogger ChrisA said...

To me, it's a deterrent as much as criminals would not want to go after anyone who is or could be armed.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Well said and I agree!! The death penalty should be reserved for the most evil and heinous crimes but when others have argued that it is isn't a deterrent, I'm not phased. Not only does justice require it but I don't want that person free to harm another person, or even alive in jail where there is still a possibility of harming someone.

11:05 PM  
Blogger armed_and_christian said...

The death penalty is a behovable thing that God Himself ordained. It is a severe kind of love that recognizes that some forms of evil must be permanently removed for the protection of the whole.

Hey, Shop, do you think that if executions were televised (at least on Cable) that we could "re-roll the 1's" in that 3-18 range? ;p

11:14 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I don't like it either, Shoprat, but what's the alternative? Our prisons are overcrowded as it is. The idea that someone might be executed by mistake is horrendous, and even with DNA it still remains a possibility. I also believe that mistakes have been made and no one has ever learned about them, which is even worse. But still, what's the alternative? There doesn't really seem to be any other way to deal with human monsters in this society, so I will continue to vote for the death penalty until such a time as we can send all the killers off to another unihabited planet where they can deal with each other! :)

9:32 AM  
Blogger shoprat said...

d_m, ca and A&C: I support it too, but I don't care for killing people. I recognize that is necessary.

lmc good point.

gayle That might work (sending them to another planet) but we'd have to separate them by gender to make sure that no children are born into the hell holes they will inevitably create.

12:10 PM  

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