The Morality and Ethics of Capital Punishment

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Alan McDougall
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 04:52 am
@Alan McDougall,
Reasons For Capital Punishment

  1. Prison: There are three purposes for prison. First, prison separates criminals for the safety of the general population. Second, prison is a form of punishment. Third and finally, the punishment of prison is expected to rehabilitate prisoners; so that when prisoners are released from prison, these ex-convicts are less likely to repeat their crimes and risk another prison sentence. The logic for capital punishment is that prisons are for rehabilitating convicts who will eventually leave prison, and therefore prison is not for people who would never be released from prisons alive.

  2. Cost of Prison: Typically, the cost of imprisoning someone for life is much more expensive than executing that same person. However with the expensive costs of appeals in courts of law, it is arguable if capital punishment is truly cost effective when compared with the cost of life imprisonment.

  3. Safety: Criminals who receive the death penalty are typically violent individuals. Therefore for the safety of the prison's guards, other prisoners, and the general public (in case a death row inmate escapes prison), then logic dictates that safety is a reason for capital punishment.

  4. Deters Crime: There is no scientific proof that nations with capital punishment have a lower rate of crime, therefore the risk of the death penalty does not seem to deter crime.
  5. Extreme Punishment: The logic is that the more severe the crime, then the more severe the punishment is necessary. But what is the most severe punishment: lifetime in prison or execution? I am not sure that anyone alive is qualified to answer this question.

  6. Appropriate Punishment: It is commonly believed that the punishment of a crime should equal the crime, if possible. This is also known as "an eye for eye" justice. Therefore using this logic, the appropriate punishment for murder is death.
  7. Vengeance: Some crimes are so horrific that some people think that revenge or retribution is the only option. This reasoning is not based on logic; but rather, it is based on emotions. Therefore, this reason should not be deemed a valid justification.
Reasons Against Capital Punishment

  1. Prison: It is often believe that prison is a viable alternative to executing a person. However as mentioned above, even imprisonment for life with no chance of parole still has issues.
  2. Not Humane: Killing a person is not humane, even if the criminal is not humane. What is humane is subjective to a person's upbringing, education, beliefs, and religion. Therefore different people interpret what is humane differently. For instance, some people consider putting a pet asleep is humane if the animal is in great pain, but doing the same thing for a person is often not considered humane. Other people would not kill an animal even for food. In some cultures, mercy killings are honorable.
  3. Fairness: The life of the criminal can not compensate for the crime committed. Basically, two wrongs do not make a right.
  4. Pain of Death: Executing a person can be quick and painless, or executing a person can be slow and painful. The method, and therefore the pain, of capital punishment is also subjective to society's norms. Some cultures prefer suffering, others do not.
  5. Violates Human Rights: Some groups of people deem death a violation of the person's right to live. Other groups of people disagree that the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment. There is no clear definition of what human rights are, so there will always be disagreements with whether it violates human rights.
  6. Wrongly Convicted: Some people executed were proven too late to be wrongly convicted of a crime that they did not commit.
  7. Playing God: Some people believe that all deaths should be natural. Other people believe murder is a part of nature.
  8. Salvation: Felons have less time and likelihood of finding spiritual salvation if they are executed. The obvious question for this reasoning is salvation a valid concern for the state?
  9. Forgiveness: Criminals have less time and likelihood to seek forgiveness for their crimes if they are executed. Again, is forgiveness a valid concern for the government?
  10. Amends: Executing someone decreases the time and likelihood for the criminal to repair any damage from the crime. Should the state be concerned over this too?
  11. Family Hardship: If is often said that the family members of the executed needlessly suffer too, yet the crime itself has victims and family members too.
Reasons For and Against Capital Punishment

  1. Religion: Different religions have different beliefs concerning capital punishment. Even individual religions have contradictory beliefs. For instance, the Bible clear states the death penalty as valid and just, yet at the same time murder is not allowed and salvation must be offered. Since not everyone is of the same religion and each person can even interpret the same religion differently, the role of religion concerning the death penalty is very unclear. This is why governments should separate state and church.
  2. Morality: The morality of killing a person is also subjective for each person. Throughout the life of an individual, their beliefs and morality can and most likely will change.
As we can plainly see, there are several good reasons to support and oppose capital punishment. Also, there are several bad reasons to be for and against the death penalty too. Furthermore, the general population has a wide range of beliefs concerning capital punishment. Even these beliefs of the general population are subject to change.

In the end, it is what the majority of society currently believes to be moral that should be reflected by the actions of their government.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 05:07 am
@Alan McDougall,
Many who have been given life sentence try to kill themselves..what message should we get from that fact..If you hang someone for one murder how do punish someone for twenty murders ..Why does one murder become less important than another..Till we can be understand our own opinions we must not have capital punishment..:perplexed:
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 11:34 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
Avatar,

According to two historical sources regarding Punishments, Proceedings and Crimes at the Old Baily (London's Central Criminal Court from 17th to the 19th century), one could indeed be hung for steeling a sheep (or even a hankerchief, apparently). There were in place a particularly-brutal set of laws and available punishments therein called "the bloody code". Both sources did; however, qualify their research on these offenses by stating that although extremely harsh punishment had been doled out, that generally sentances for minor infractions were mitigated.

I find very interesting, two things here: [INDENT]1. I found this information in about 40 seconds of searching the web. I can only conclude that either you felt confident enough that you already knew everything that happened and didn't look, or that it just sounded too absurd to even have been possible (and therefore didn't look).

2. Xris claimed that this sort of law had been in place in 11C; it seems he was not only correct, but that such things were in existence much later.
[/INDENT]The reason I emphasize this error: I believe it's an important point for perspective; that just as surely as there have been absurd uses of capital punishment in the past, so very likely will it be reflected in our future that, "... back in 2009 humanity was uncivilized enough to still use the death pentalty". It's also important to note that this isn't a condemnation on the Brits at all. From my reading into history, I've found most (all?) nation-states have gone through particularly-brutal times where capital punishment was very liberally applied; some still do.

Hope this helps, Thanks



Sources:
  • Punishments at the Old Bailey (Funded by The University of Hertfordshire, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, The University of Sheffield and the New Opportunities Fund).




I was reffering to the 1 in 3 statistic as there is absolutly no way that such a statistic could have been collected in 11th century kent, for a start kent was one of the richest and best ordered counties of england in the early middle ages, additionally I do not dispute that the rule of law was brutal at this time, however this iron fisted rule was ultimatly benevolent, and served the interest of the common people. For instance a comparison of 10th century England and France highlights this. England was under one very strict code of law, whereas france had a vast range of differing laws depending on what person tried to claim authority. France was under the rule of various warring robber barons who extorted their own peasants and killed and burnt the possesions of their rivals, or their own if they felt like it. In England on the other hand, while taxes were high, because of the universal and unbending rule of law, people had a security that made it the envy of Europe. Indeed it was only various foriegn invasions that interfeared with this, and duke william of normandy was conspicuously careful to preserve the laws of britian.
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 01:09 pm
@avatar6v7,
avatar6v7 wrote:
I was reffering to the 1 in 3 statistic as there is absolutly no way that such a statistic could have been collected in 11th century kent, for a start kent was one of the richest and best ordered counties of england in the early middle ages, additionally I do not dispute that the rule of law was brutal at this time, however this iron fisted rule was ultimatly benevolent, and served the interest of the common people. For instance a comparison of 10th century England and France highlights this. England was under one very strict code of law, whereas france had a vast range of differing laws depending on what person tried to claim authority. France was under the rule of various warring robber barons who extorted their own peasants and killed and burnt the possesions of their rivals, or their own if they felt like it. In England on the other hand, while taxes were high, because of the universal and unbending rule of law, people had a security that made it the envy of Europe. Indeed it was only various foriegn invasions that interfeared with this, and duke william of normandy was conspicuously careful to preserve the laws of britian.
It was not the rule of law i was questioning relative to the times but how many where murdered. I apologize i cant find the exact figures i had from my previous readings on the subject but you only have to read the general history of the period and murder was a common occurrence.I dont see how you can be so delighted that serfs in England who where treated like slaves where so much better than their cousins in France.Norman Barons ruled with impunity and it was centuries later that central control of law became the norm, even then it hardly benefited the majority only the landed gentry.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:21 am
@xris,
On a lighter note , if one could give a lighter note to this macabre subject.

Oh I see I can not make it lighterr sorry!!

It is true that a person could be hung for stealing a sheep or any other animal or article for that matter, the only condition is that the value of the stolen item was more than a shilling (ten cents US) :shocked:

Of course this would not let you off the hook , no pun intended,you would be flogged instead of hung and the flogging killed many.

Little children were not exempted from this barbaric horror. Children as young as five were murdered by this beastly system :devilish: :mad:

Oh!! God are we humans really the highest form of life on planet earth? :puzzled:
 
Fido
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:24 am
@Alan McDougall,
Where it is our term, we usually take the prize.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 11:16 am
@Alan McDougall,
We are the best and the worst
 
Fido
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 01:23 pm
@Alan McDougall,
See what I mean; a prize on both ends...
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:28 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall wrote:
On a lighter note , if one could give a lighter note to this macabre subject.

Oh I see I can not make it lighterr sorry!!

It is true that a person could be hung for stealing a sheep or any other animal or article for that matter, the only condition is that the value of the stolen item was more than a shilling (ten cents US) :shocked:

Of course this would not let you off the hook , no pun intended,you would be flogged instead of hung and the flogging killed many.

Little children were not exempted from this barbaric horror. Children as young as five were murdered by this beastly system :devilish: :mad:

Oh!! God are we humans really the highest form of life on planet earth? :puzzled:
On board our majesties ships if you got two hundred lashes and you died after one hundred they still carried on with the punishment.Oh happpy days..
 
Fido
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 03:46 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Who says you can't beat a dead horse???
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 06:13 am
@Alan McDougall,
Fido and XRIS,

Assuming god exists and he has created us as well as all animal and plant life in the world.

Are we the best he could do, and why did he give us dominion over all the animals in the field knowing we would slaughter them ?

If you consider the earth as a living biological entity, what would you consider humanity to be

A virus?? an out of control virus , maybe earth will still shrug up off her beautiful shoulder
 
Kolbe
 
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 07:04 am
@Alan McDougall,
I'd prefer it as more of a fungus. A virus would affect internally using bodily systems to corrupt them, whereas a fungus grows on the outside of the entity, thrives on water and pollutes the area where it has been.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 07:24 am
@Kolbe,
I had a thought on this issue I'd like to add; and actually, I'm surprised this hasn't been really fleshed out.

I'm against capital punishment. To me, it simply can't be justified. But while working through this issue some time ago, it occurred to me that if you place a quantitative measure on life and you also believed there were any quantifiable deterrent value, one could make a strong argument for justifying capital punishment.[INDENT]Quantitative Measure on the Value of Life: By this, I mean to say that 1 life is worth less than 2; that if you believe 10 lives could be saved you might sacrifice 1. In this mindset, there is more worth in a hundred than ten - that mathematics can be applied to human lives.
[/INDENT][INDENT]Deterrent Value: That witnessing an execution, or the sheer horror of being executed, might dissuade a potential murderer from acting.
[/INDENT]To me, if we're to give human life it's rightfully-high value, then we are consistent in how we treat it. Add to this the absurdity of resolving the sin of murder by murdering and one simply hits a mental wall that says "No, it can't be justified". These considerations are completely aside from the notion that 'justice' (read: vengeance) be served which I believe remains a strong motivation for many.

Still, I've seen a good number of very strong arguments based on the aforementioned conditions.

Anyone here hold to this set of justifications?
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 01:08 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

Anyone here hold to this set of justifications?

I assume you're asking does any believe that the value of human life goes as the number of humans, and that the spectacle or danger of capital punishment is an effective deterrent. I don't. On another thread (I think Catchabula's) the same question arose. If the spectacle or danger of capital punishment were an effective deterrent, I might argue that a perfect system of justice would be wise to consider it despite myself. On the other hand, I might not: pre-emptive action negates the possibilities of being proven right or wrong; that is, we cannot credibly punish someone not only on the grounds of what they have done, but on those of what they or others might do later on. The responsibility of the state only goes so far. Right, I've doubted my convictions and re-convinced myself they were right. Thanks again.
 
xris
 
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 01:34 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall wrote:
Fido and XRIS,

Assuming god exists and he has created us as well as all animal and plant life in the world.

Are we the best he could do, and why did he give us dominion over all the animals in the field knowing we would slaughter them ?

If you consider the earth as a living biological entity, what would you consider humanity to be

A virus?? an out of control virus , maybe earth will still shrug up off her beautiful shoulder
How can i assume there is a god and then answer a question i find not relevant..yes we are parasites and all parasites are capable of killing their host.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 10:03 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall wrote:
http://www.philforhumanity.com/Capital_Punishment.html

This is an ongoing subject but in my country of South Africa where the death penalty's been abolished from law crime is now rampant and risen to unimaginable heights

South Africa my country has discontinued with capital punishment against the wishes of the majority and crime has worsened unimaginably. I believe only Colombia has worse crime statistics


But the question remains Is it moral to murder the murderers


The Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment


<SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 13.5pt">


I don't believe that capital punishment (the death penalty) is right because it is uncivilized, and it is a confusion of the emotional desire for revenge with the societal desire for justice. Justice and revenge are not synonymous with each other.

In my opinion, the whole prison system needs to be reformed, because the ultimate goal should be rehabilitate the criminals, and statistics show that criminals usually come out of jail worse then they were when they went in. Prisoners should be forced into going through extensive psychological treatment and educational preparation if they are to be released back into society. The prison system is also an unsafe environment and it doesn't look like the powers that be are really doing everything they can to keep prisoners safe. While I believe that the prisoners should have certain rights and leisure stripped from them as a punishment I also believe that as human beings they should be able to live in a safe environment. I know that this is a little off topic, but I really wanted to say that.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 12:51 am
@Alan McDougall,
This might be the ultimate test of this debate

Hitler maybe the worst mass murderer in all of human history.

Should we have kept and fed this beast in relative comfort? (compared to the horrors of those in his death camps)

Or should we have killed or murdered him like he did to millions

He unlike his victims was guilty of mass murder and they were innocent and guilty only of being Jewish

What would you have done with this monster, kept it alive???
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 04:40 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall wrote:
This might be the ultimate test of this debate

Hitler maybe the worst mass murderer in all of human history.

Should we have kept and fed this beast in relative comfort? (compared to the horrors of those in his death camps)

Or should we have killed or murdered him like he did to millions

He unlike his victims was guilty of mass murder and they were innocent and guilty only of being Jewish

What would you have done with this monster, kept it alive???
How do you measure an individuals crime ? is it the ability or the intent.How do measure a countries guilt? was every german responsible in varied amounts ? should we have hung the majority of germans? Hitler was the result of, not the cause.There are hundreds of nutters but without the power just nutters, its who allows the power.Do you honestly think without hitler those jews would have lived?
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 08:08 am
@Alan McDougall,
XRIS

President Truman famously said the Buck stops here (At his desk)

The ultimate "accountability" for the atrocities for the Nazi crimes stopped at Hitlers desk.

You can delegate responsibility but you can never delegate accountability

Yes without the mysterious criminal mind of Hitler and his depraved ideas about a master race millions of Jews would be alive. today.

How much better would the world be today if these remarkable people had lived. The contribution of by the Jewish people to the advancement of knowledge and science during human history is out of all proportion to their numbers Einstein is just one example

It was Hitlers idea and his idea only for the horrors of what he called, The final solution.

Stalin was just as evil as Hitler, but even this monster did not erect factories of death like Hitler.

Hitler got very angry with what he perceives as the slow pace of eliminating all the Jews.

Every action starts as a thought and this grows into words. Hitler stood before thousands and mesmerised them with his mad raging malignant malevolent screaming

My mother was Jewish so if I had lived in Germany or any of the conquered countries i would have been murdered just because i am half Jewish

A quarter Jewish blood was sufficient to sent one to the gas chambers.

Hitler was not some silly little nutter he was almost a demigod to the German people who were mesmerised by his satanic mind and thoughts

But you have not answered my question, if you captured Hitler alive, what sentence would you have given him if you were the judge at the time of his trial??
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 4 Feb, 2009 08:35 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall wrote:
This might be the ultimate test of this debate

Hitler maybe the worst mass murderer in all of human history.

Should we have kept and fed this beast in relative comfort? (compared to the horrors of those in his death camps)

Or should we have killed or murdered him like he did to millions

He unlike his victims was guilty of mass murder and they were innocent and guilty only of being Jewish

What would you have done with this monster, kept it alive???


I will admit to the fact that I would rather have Hitler dead, because he was such an inhumane monster. However, that feeling is based on an emotion and a desire for revenge. The one thing that separates the person from the ordinary animal is the ability to reason without letting primal instincts cloud your thoughts. With that said, I would give him life without the possibility of parole, and I would mandate that he get extensive psychological therapy to realize the evil nature of his ways.
 
 

 
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