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Capital punishment, is it justice?


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The etymology of punishment is to cause pain.

Is it more painful to lock someone up and throw away the key?

Or to take them from the dock and kill them?

Or, in the case of the innocent, to dangle the hope of a reprieve with very little chance of success?

Edited by Phi for All
Corrected "Capitol"
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But that’s not the sole goal of the justice system. Protecting society, rehabilitation and impacts on the aggrieved (i.e. “closure”) are factors, too.

Don't expect too much from me... Ethics never was a main topic for me. I would say, as any sensible person, just the risk of giving capital punishment to an innocent should be reason enough to re

. The death penalty is a crime committed by the society against a single individual, who is helpless. I cannot call it a penalty, it is a crime. . And you can understand why it is committed: it i

1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

Is it more painful to lock someone up and throw away the key?

Depends if their innocent.

I would rather die than spend the rest of my life in prison for a horrible crime I didn't commit. Some people fight, but in all honesty, I don't think I'd have the strength.

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1 minute ago, Curious layman said:

Depends if their innocent.

That's my point, no it doesn't...

If justice is the goal, then a quick death is far kinder...

If they're innocent, what could be crueller?

 

Revenge is never justified, but it's a good excuse...

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2 hours ago, dimreepr said:

The etymology of punishment is to cause pain.

But that’s not the sole goal of the justice system. Protecting society, rehabilitation and impacts on the aggrieved (i.e. “closure”) are factors, too.

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Just now, swansont said:

But that’s not the sole goal of the justice system. Protecting society, rehabilitation and impacts on the aggrieved (i.e. “closure”) are factors, too.

Indeed, but what serves that better? 

Since neither serves as a deterrent...

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9 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Indeed, but what serves that better? 

 

It varies from individual to individual, case to case.

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2 minutes ago, zapatos said:

It varies from individual to individual, case to case.

What if you're wrong?

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3 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Indeed, but what serves that better? 

Since neither serves as a deterrent...

Certainly rehabilitation is not on the table if you’re dead.

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5 hours ago, dimreepr said:

If justice is the goal, then a quick death is far kinder...

That's a personal view that is easily dismissed if a single counter example can be found. Oh, look. I find that I would rather spend my life incarcerated than be executed, regardless of my guilt or innocence. Remind me not to accept any acts of kindness from you.

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Deterring doesn't work 100% of the time. But it does in many cases.

We need @Eise here. Wittgenstein or not.

Edited by joigus
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I had wondered if this was about Trump's Capitol mobbing, whether punishing them would be justice but it was a misspelling.

Good question though, one I admit to doubting I have a clear answer to. Not sure justice is what capital punishment - or any punishment - really does for one thing although a lot of people equate payback/revenge with justice but I do not think they are the same. Each case can be different and courts do not always get it right for another. With an assumption that any decision to execute has the right person and there are no wrongful convictions? I don't think we can make that assumption.

6 hours ago, swansont said:

Protecting society, rehabilitation and impacts on the aggrieved (i.e. “closure”) are factors, too.

Revenge as "closure" is about the satisfaction that comes with doing horrible things to someone people hate and believe deserve it - which, ironically, may very well have been part of the motivation or at least self justification for the initial crimes. It is not a good thing to encourage in my opinion, as popularising punishment to appease those urges feeds violent urges; the violent acts themselves are not treated as intrinsically bad but rather, are good or bad according to what we think of the perpetrator.

I think it is one of humankind's most problematic traits, that we can revel in violence, even horrific violence... as long as we think the victim deserves it. And unfortunately we have no innate requirement for weighing evidence - just being told someone is bad can be enough. Or if they have the wrong ethnicity or religion or political beliefs, that can be enough. It is an urge that has very little to do with justice. Which raises other problems when ethnic or other groups feel unjustly treated and one of their own is arrested and convicted - the disrespect and abuse and lack of cooperation that law officers might get in some neighborhoods can be one unintended consequence. Cycles of revenge and payback can be triggered too, especially where there is distrust in the fairness of legal systems and "justice" turns vigilante.

Imprisonment with or as harsh treatment can work as deterrence but it looks like a very unreliable method that appears as likely to alienate and harden as rehabilitate, especially without any system for rehabilitation. It looks like getting the best results for rehabilitation is incompatible with harsh imprisonment as deterrence. 

Capital punishment vs imprisonment for life? I still don't have a clear answer but no doubt the kind of prison system it is would influence my opinion if it were me facing the one or the other.

 

Edited by Ken Fabian
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  • Phi for All changed the title to Capital punishment, is it justice?
1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

I had wondered if this was about Trump's Capitol mobbing, whether punishing them would be justice but it was a misspelling.

!

Moderator Note

Good catch! Corrected.

 
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1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

Capital punishment vs imprisonment for life? I still don't have a clear answer but no doubt the kind of prison system it is would influence my opinion if it were me facing the one or the other.

Among the many incarcerated criminals in society, there are a section of really evil incorrigibles that even fellow criminals despise. How much keeping some of these evil arseholes cost society, over a lifetime? Is it worth it?

On the other side of the coin of course, there is always the possibility [even possibly among incorrigibles] that an executed person maybe innocent of that particular crime?

I don't have an answer either.

   

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9 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Since neither serves as a deterrent...

Agreed, neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment serves as a deterrent to the first offence.
However they certainly put a damper on the ability to re-offend ...

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28 minutes ago, MigL said:

neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment serves as a deterrent to the first offence.

I don’t believe this is entirely true in context of premeditated crimes, but may be in context of crimes of passion. 

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3 hours ago, beecee said:

How much keeping some of these evil arseholes cost society, over a lifetime? Is it worth it?

And some will be, beyond any shadow of doubt, guilty. Full confessions and all. There is part of me that wants that ultimate punishment but it is that element of satisfaction, even enjoyment at the prospect that troubles me. It is an urge and not necessarily a good urge.

Keeping people safe from any further harms doesn't require the death penalty so it will be for other reasons. Cost? Unless the perpetrator is dealt with quickly I am not sure that executions really save money.  I suppose I am thinking of other "costs" with my inclination to oppose capital punishment, as in what kind of society we have and want.

What if reliable rehabilitation were possible? I don't really expect much on that front; get tough on crime politicking invariably plays successfully to that too human response - the urge to hurt those we think deserve it. Giving quality care to criminals when there is so much innocent suffering just will not be popular. Unlike executions or harsh treatment. Yet I think rehabilitation - even if a serious crime still gets lifelong imprisonment - is a worthwhile goal; even from within prisons people may yet contribute something of worth to the greater society.

Although I might add that prisons as they mostly exist don't look suited to doing real rehabilitation or making positive contributions to society and prisons as businesses using forced labor don't do really do it; the criminals outnumber the staff, it is us and them and they don't intermingle much, but that is a divide that probably has to be broken down for real rehabilitation.

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12 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

Unless the perpetrator is dealt with quickly I am not sure that executions really save money.

Quite the opposite really:

https://ejusa.org/resource/wasteful-inefficient/
 

Quote

More than a dozen states have found that death penalty cases are up to 10 times more expensive than comparable non-death penalty cases. The most rigorous cost study in the country found that a single death sentence in Maryland costs almost $2 million more than a comparable non-death penalty case.

 

15 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

What if reliable rehabilitation were possible?

It is, and we have lots of evidence in support of this. 

https://www.nber.org/reporter/2020number1/benefits-rehabilitative-incarceration

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16 hours ago, Area54 said:

That's a personal view that is easily dismissed if a single counter example can be found. Oh, look. I find that I would rather spend my life incarcerated than be executed, regardless of my guilt or innocence. Remind me not to accept any acts of kindness from you.

Just a question mate... 😮

Well Fred West certainly made a choice, besides justice is not, souly, dependent on the opinion of the guilty party.

14 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

Good question though, one I admit to doubting I have a clear answer to. Not sure justice is what capital punishment - or any punishment - really does for one thing although a lot of people equate payback/revenge with justice but I do not think they are the same. Each case can be different and courts do not always get it right for another. With an assumption that any decision to execute has the right person and there are no wrongful convictions? I don't think we can make that assumption.

Sometimes there's no doubt of their guilt, caught red-handed etc... 

So the question becomes, is it better for society as a whole? Given there's no way to tell, if their contribution to society can be anything other than negative.

We could give them the choice, but I don't think that would add to justice; if we look at the euphoric scene's at public execution's, I think that is at the heart of justice; public satisfaction, isn't that a greater good. (I'm not equating public execution with mob-rule.) 

9 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

And some will be, beyond any shadow of doubt, guilty. Full confessions and all. There is part of me that wants that ultimate punishment but it is that element of satisfaction, even enjoyment at the prospect that troubles me. It is an urge and not necessarily a good urge.

Why not?

I'm capable of understanding why revenge is a bad thing, while enjoying the death of Hitler.

Edited by dimreepr
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17 hours ago, joigus said:

Deterring doesn't work 100% of the time. But it does in many cases.

We need @Eise here. Wittgenstein or not.

Don't expect too much from me... Ethics never was a main topic for me.

I would say, as any sensible person, just the risk of giving capital punishment to an innocent should be reason enough to refrain from it. And AFAIK deterrence seldom works. 

So I think incarceration might be the best solution, in the first place simply because we put somebody away who has proven to be dangerous, in the second place we, i.e. society must attach consequences to people who do not want to play by the rules. However, if a society does not take the chance to rehabilitate the offender, it is not much use. Just putting somebody in jail, specially when it is overfilled, you create offenders and possibly more radical ones too. 

In this respect, it seems to me that there is a huge difference between prisons here in Europe, and in the USA. Most of the times rehabilitation is the aim. Therefore we might take some risks, letting out somebody who will still act criminally (which hurts extremely when its is murder on innocent people), but I think a lot more crimes are committed by ex-inmates who were radicalised by their life in prison.

To get a glimpse of the difference between the USA and Scandinavia, there is a short series about 'the Norden'. This is the episode about prisons (the others are just as interesting):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfEsz812Q1I

To get back at capital punishment: there are also examples of murderers who felt much remorse about their killing, and ended up meeting the family of the victim, or became meditators, even meditation teachers to their fellow inmates. These are pretty extreme examples of course, but just killing a criminal, or putting him/her in jail purely as punishment I find useless, and not something a civilised society should do. Punishment yes, but for the betterment of offender and society. A loose-loose is the last we want, no?

 

Edited by Eise
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As always I have to agree with Eise.

More fundamental is the question, as it relates to the OP, "What exactly is Justice ?"
And from who's point of view ?

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I very much agree with Eise on this one too. When I said deterring works to some extent, I meant for ordinary cases of breaking the law. Not for violent criminals. I lost some focus. For violent criminals I don't think deterrence is a factor. Nor is it positive to clump together people of a violent profile. I liked the video very much.

Just one thing. When you say:

17 hours ago, Eise said:

A loose-loose is the last we want, no?

 

I think you meant lose-lose. I don't think you want to conflate "lose" and "loose" when talking about criminals!

;)  I know it was an innocent typo, Eise, I hope you forgive me.

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2 hours ago, joigus said:

think you meant lose-lose. I don't think you want to conflate "lose" and "loose" when talking about criminals!

;)  I know it was an innocent typo, Eise, I hope you forgive me.

Of course, I forgive you: even stronger, anyone can correct my English. Wasn't it you who said you wanted to know English perfectly, at least on your deathbed? As long as the stream of the discussion is not disturbed, any correction is welcome. You know, there are so many ways that the same, or nearly the same (especially in none English ears) sounds can be written in English. My favourite is the [i:]:

  • peace
  • piece
  • pee
  • release
  • receive
  • retrieve

But life, live, and yes, lose and loose are difficult too to remember. But I try to improove!:rolleyes:

2 hours ago, joigus said:

I liked the video very much.

The one about the police is also an eye-opener. The astonishment of the American police officer is great to see!

16 hours ago, MigL said:

More fundamental is the question, as it relates to the OP, "What exactly is Justice ?"

That is one question further. The question as asked, takes a kind of "we all know what we mean by 'justice'" as starting point. But yes, if you want to get to the presupposition of the question, that one should be answered too.

You slowly are getting a philosophical inclination MigL... Good to see! ;)

Edited by Eise
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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, MigL said:

More fundamental is the question, as it relates to the OP, "What exactly is Justice ?"
And from who's point of view ?

Society as a whole... 

Which makes Eise's model an ideal; justice is to benefit everyone, even giving the guiltiest of the guilty a chance of redemtion. 

But in a country like the UK/USA, where rehabilitation is almost non-existent and is indeed a lose-lose for the criminal, I think the benefit of justice, in this type of society, is to inform society why it's wrong; I think capital punishment is more efficient, than throw away the key; they're both out of sight, but one is still alive and capable of suffering.

Therefore, when society realises its mistake and there's no chance of redemption, with capital punishment; it's more likely to change, rather than pat ourselves on the back for a job well done...

 

1 hour ago, Eise said:

That is one question further. The question as asked, takes a kind of "we all know what we mean by 'justice'" as starting point.

Haven't you heard? I'm very ineloquent... 😪

 

Edited by dimreepr
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