Little Fish in a Giant pond

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Reason I am against the Death Penalty

Not surprisingly, the announcement that young Tori Stafford was almost certainly murdered the day she was taken, has spawned a facebook group (and probably many others that I am not aware of) whose goal it is to bring in tougher sentences for criminals. Some bloggers have even blogged about the death penalty, I rather enjoyed James Morton's posting on the matter.

Like Morton, I too am opposed to the death penalty, though not for all of the same reasons. I personally have absolutely no problem with the idea of a murder paying for his or her crimes with his or her life. I realize that it costs more to execute a convict than it does to keep one in prison for the rest of his or her natural life. Just the same, if that was the only argument against the death penalty, I personally would be quite content to write it off as the price of justice.

I am always amused by the notion that some people believe that the state should not have the right to put someone to death because it sets some sort of bad example (like a parent that tells their kids not to smoke, but lights up two packs a day). That is probably the most ridiculous argument against the death penalty of all. There are all kinds of powers vested in the sate that an individual citizen could and should never wield. If it's wrong to punish a murderer with death, is it not therefore wrong to punish a kidnapper with prison? Does an individual have the right to imprison another individual?

There is one Hell of a big difference between someone who commits a murder that is motivated by greed, anger, hatred, etc., and the act of putting someone to death for a crime they have committed. That is not a carte blanche for the state to go around killing anyone that gets in the way of course. Obviously, the punishment must fit the crime, and the accused must be given the benefit of a fair trial, competent counsel, and an Appeal process.

Having said that, I want to repeat that I am personally against the death penalty. My reason is simple. As hard as we might try, our legal system is far from perfect. Judges and juries make mistakes, and a death sentence for an innocent man/woman can never be corrected. If an innocent person spends 20 years in prison before receiving a favourable verdict, we can never restore the lost years, or erase the trauma, but at least the record can be set straight and some form of compensation can be paid. Most importantly, the innocent party is still alive. No matter how good our system is, innocent people WILL be convicted, and if we have the death penalty, the injustice will only be magnified.

At any rate, I've gotten a little off track here. The point I wanted to make is that it appears that people just want to feel safe. I've noticed that everytime a tragedy happens like a child's abduction, or some lunatic goes on a killing rampage, there is a call for tougher legislation, as if that would have done anything to stop the problem.

The horrifying fact is that lunatics and predators walk among us in society. The odds of actually being the victim of one are pretty slim, but they are going to do what they are going to do. Should we therefore abandon all laws intended to protect society? Of course not. And there is certainly no harm, in re-evaluating the system when something goes wrong to see if there was anything that could have been done to prevent it. I'm just saying that we cannot control our world, and there is no way of ensuring that "this will never happen again".



  • I share your view on the death penalty, Fish. It might even be a first.

    That said, I think society would be more content with a life sentence without possibility of parole for those who murder police officers, serial killers or paid assassins. I do believe there are some, particularly egregious crimes for which the slimmest possibility of parole should be forfeit.

    By Blogger The Mound of Sound, at 7:28 AM  

  • Thanks Mound, at least somebody finally commented on this post! You'd think a death penalty post would have gotten more attention! lol

    And yeah, it sounds like we're in complete agreement!

    By Blogger Fish, at 9:04 AM  

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