My Thoughts on the Death Penalty

Justice is (NOT) blind

The death penalty? I do not support it.

I suspect this will cause howls of protest from some quarters.

I can try to explain my rationale here, although if you agree with me, there is no point, and I suspect that if you do not, there is probably no point either. But that’s the challenge of Plinky and I should not be faint-hearted at the first hurdle. I do not feel equal to the task and approach the publication of my answer with trepidation at the thought of the responses it might receive. And yet…

Why do I not support the death penalty? In a nutshell, because I prefer to live in a society where justice is based on a premise of rehabilitation rather than revenge.

To be clear: this is not about going soft on criminals. People who do wrong need to face the consequences of their actions (where they are sufficiently compos mentis) for two reasons: firstly to satisfy society and the immediate victims that justice has been done and an agreed penalty exacted; and secondly to prevent it from happening again.

There is no such thing as certainty. Some of the most certain judgements of previous years have been overturned as new evidence comes to light.

There is no such thing as incurable evil. We can now manage a whole raft of mental and physical illnesses which used to be impossible to contain.

There is no such thing as a deterrent. The crowds at public executions historically were seething with crime and disorder. In countries which presently indulge in the death penalty I see no evidence of lower crime rates or improved public safety compared with my own.

There is no such thing as an economic argument. The value of a life cannot be measured against the cost of securing a dangerous individual for public protection.

However, I believe there is corruption and deep moral decay in a society that is prepared to treat some of its members as worth less than others. Imperfections in a justice system, so that rampant criminals appear to enjoy the benefits of their wickedness unscathed, do not of themselves justify a retrograde slide into outdated enforcement approaches and behaviours. Instead we all need to work together to build a better system.

I would rather let you live and be wrong than kill you and be wrong.

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