Thursday, September 22, 2011

Capital Punishment

Since all of the internet seems to be aflame with discussion of the Troy Davis execution, I figure I can weigh in on where I stand with respect to capital punishment.  I do not believe that the death penalty is, in principle, immoral.  I believe that there are crimes which should merit death as punishment.

I do not, however, trust the state and the criminal justice system to either correctly discern which crimes merit such punishment, or appropriately determine the guilt of people accused of such crimes.  Death is permanent, and mistakes happen in this fallen world.  Therefore, I come down against the death penalty with one exception: the guilty should be executed only if (a) they are clearly - to everyone - guilty of the crimes of which they are accused (is there a higher standard than "beyond a reasonable doubt"?) and (b) the very fact of their continued existence poses a threat to the welfare of the citizenry (e.g. a revolutionary leader who has been captured, but whose army/mob/etc will likely try to break them out of prison and continue a war).

As this is an exceedingly rare combination, I think it's safe to say that I am (in general) against the death penalty.

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