A much maligned form of punishment
for certain severe crimes
. In America
, that can include murder
. Since the death penalty
and Why Capital Punishment is a Bad Idea
nodes were overcrowded and my measly dialup
can barely load either page, I'll post it here instead.
Capital punishment has had a long history in human civilization. In the past, this was often combined with torture to teach the prisoner a lesson before sending the poor sod off to wherever it is people go when they die. Obviously a waste of time, but people seemed to take a childish delight in making their enemies suffer those days. True enough, that was in accordance to the eye for an eye morality of the Bible. I recall that the Pillars of Ur (or something like that) dictated the law of ancient Sumeria. Centuries before the bible, those set of rather draconian laws were exactly eye for an eye. You know, chopping a thief's hand off, killing the murderer, castrating the rapist, and all that.
Perhaps the brutality of some methods of the death penalty drove people to go against it. The old torture/execution mix came up with some pretty macabre ways to end a person's life (see my list Strange Execution methods). However, that is not to case, at least in America or China anyways. Lethal injection is purely chemical, and the tranquilizer puts the condemned into a coma before the heart is stopped. In China, the single bullet to the head is not exactly "prolonged" suffering.
Please, don't throw the "bill for the bullet goes back to the family" complaint at me. It only serves to confuse the issue, and since China's taxes are so damn low, I'm not suprised the justice department will bill the condemned's family. In any case, it is a mere distraction to the real point of the debate.
No judicial system is perfect. And there won't be any, ever. The need for such a system derived from the flaws of humans, our flaws. Hate begets hate. The crime/punishment system will never be perfect, because it is in itself a way to make people suffer for actions they perpetrated to cause their victims to suffer. You can make it as fair and just as possible, but it will never be perfect. Part of the flaw is the possible innocence of the prisoner. But the pros beat the cons.
Some crimes deserve extra punishment. Are you telling me a muderer is fit to live for decades in a prison, spending our money? First of all, its cost-ineffective. Secondly, some people don't deserve to live. Since punishment increases as the severity of the crime goes up, the death penalty is the harshest penalty possible. Seriously, are you telling me that rapists, after submitting their victims to lifelong psychological torment, deserve to live in a comfy little cell for 50 years? I think not.
There is also the huge benefit of intimidation of potential criminals. China's liberal use of execution has stemmed crime to much lower levels than America. The same applies to Saudi Arabia and Singapore. In all honesty, I believe part of the reason America's average crime rate is higher than other industrialized nations is due to the lax nature of its judicial system, and its slow nature. The argument that the death penalty is expensive is only because the American system is so sluggish. Despite all that, the death penalty, with all the appeals and other costly processes, is still chepaer than keeping a prisoner for decades in a cell.
The eye for an eye ethos does not apply here any more. If execution is applied to drug traffickers, rapists, and traitors to the nation, then isn't it more about the dispensing of justice? If you cause harm to others and society, you're going to pay for it. If your crimes were heinous enough, your life is forfeit. Don't confuse the issue with religion or ethics. When they committed rape or murder, their ethics flew right out the window. We shouldn't require the benefit of ethics when dealing with them.
And no, executing them does not make us as bad as they are. This is not a karma contest, remember. This is about justice.
Just my $0.02.