Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Death Penalty

I have been working on a couple of posts lately and have not gotten around to finishing them.
The Death penalty issue was not on my radar until I saw that Democrats in my blue state of NJ seek to abolish the death penalty.
I am generally considered to be a pretty conservative guy and I used to be a pretty strong proponent of the death penalty but my thinking has evolved. First I am deeply concerned about how many people have been wrongly convicted. But I also have developed doubts about the concept in general.

The Criminal justice system is supposed to accomplish a few things; protecting the public, deterring crime, reforming the criminal and vengeance.

The death penalty does protect the public from additional crimes by that person but that can be accomplished by locking them up. Although there is an exception to that. Terrorists. When you lock up terrorists you risk their colleagues doing desperate things to gain their freedom. This puts more lives in danger. Therefore this is the one place I would sanction the death penalty

The evidence does not suggest criminals think about the death penalty before they kill someone The death penalty does not act as an effective deterrent.

It obviously does not reform them. Not much in our current justice system seems to do that.

It does serve our need for retribution. Now I will be the first to admit that if someone harmed a member of my family my first instinct would be to kill the perpetrator myself. Preferably with my bare hands. I personally like the thought of vengeance. I have dreamed of lesser vengeance for any number of lesser grievances. However as a Christian I know that this is not what Jesus would want me to do. Because of this thankfully the desire for vengeance has always passed. Would it pass if someone hurt or killed a member of my family. Honestly, I do not know.
In the long term vengeance does not make us happier it gives hollow satisfaction and can eat away at the soul. While it is an all too human response the need for vengeance is not one of our better qualities.

Having come to this realization I have concluded that the government should not cater to our baser instincts. The government should not be in the business of vengeance.

It is time that ( with the exception of terrorism) we end the death penalty

1 comment:

Art Gallagher said...

Congratulations! You made the Star Ledger, print and web!