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Capital punishment, is it justice?


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At the very least, capital punishment should require guilty beyond any doubt, not just reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. That would keep many innocent people off of death row.

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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.

. 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

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

My thoughts from 6 years ago are largely unchanged:

https://www.scienceforums.net/topic/95589-do-you-believe-the-death-penalty-is-unethical/#comments

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The objective is to prevent murders. It's ineffective at that.

It's far more expensive than other forms of punishment. It's fiscally irresponsible.

The justice system often convicts and kills the innocent. That's unacceptable.

It's cruel and unusual, especially when terminating the life of the innocent. That's unconstitutional.

It tries to teach people that killing is wrong by killing them. That's just dumb.

We want to exist in a better society. We employ tools of the state to achieve that end. Allowing the state to murder its citizens, even those that are frequently innocent and wrongly convicted, hinders that goal.

Yeah, there are moral and ethical and religious arguments against the death penalty. They play a role here, too, but we simply don't need those. The death penalty is a self-evidently misguided approach toward societal improvement on essentially every relevant and meaningful metric.

AFAICT, the death penalty simply helps some people to feel better about situations that caused victimhood in folks they loved, but if we're honest with ourselves we must acknowledge that there are far more intelligent, effective, and humanistically advanced approaches to realizing our goal.

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For me, this issue hinges on the finality of it all. 

We all know and tend to readily concede that mistakes in the justice system are regularly and repeatedly made. In fairness, mistakes probably always will be made no matter how profoundly we reform the system or seek their minimization.

We're human and almost by definition imperfect. 

But once someone is put to death, any mistakes become de facto irreversible. End program. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Said another way, the death penalty in a single fraction of a single moment immediately transitions any errant mistakes from the emphemeral to the eternal.

If one is going to seek vengeance, then the vengeful must never once be wrong in their target or timing. And, if we're being honest, perfection is a promise most cannot keep.

 

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3 minutes ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

At the very least, capital punishment should require guilty beyond any doubt, not just reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. That would keep many innocent people off of death row.

But not from suffering...

4 minutes ago, iNow said:

All life end's, what can we learn from that?

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1 minute ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

For most I suspect it might alleviate some suffering though.

For most, seems optimistic... 

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14 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

For most, seems optimistic... 

About 90% of those on death row use all available appeals they are allowed. That indicates to me they would prefer to be off of it and stay alive. Whether that means they would actually suffer less is another thing entirely.

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1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

All life end's, what can we learn from that?

Many things, but how this may be related or relevant to my post is unclear to the point of mud

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3 hours ago, Eise said:

But I try to improove!:rolleyes:

God! I mean, good! ;) 

3 hours ago, Eise said:

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

Informative, interesting, very telling, that some of the chief warden concerns are very reasonable --to do with security, mainly--. But some others clearly go off limits. "What would the victim's family think of this?" comes to mind.

I think there are some lessons for the victim's families and the victims themselves.

If you come to me and twist my arm, and you harm me, what good does it do me to twist your arm, and harm you, in return? Nothing! No reparation, only more harm spread around, no relief for me, and a radicalisation of your already violent profile. Plus my inclusion in the not-very-commendable group of people who willingly harm others --you're being harmed on my behalf".

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22 hours ago, iNow said:

Many things, but how this may be related or relevant to my post is unclear to the point of mud

I'm sorry, it made sense when I was aboard that train of thought, fortunately I managed to jump off... 😣

22 hours ago, joigus said:

If you come to me and twist my arm, and you harm me, what good does it do me to twist your arm, and harm you, in return? 

Isn't an eye for an eye, a perfect justice?

For the family???

When is justice only good for you?

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25 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Isn't an eye for an eye, a perfect justice?

Sounds more like revenge/vendetta, and mutual assured destruction. Tit-for-tat in game theory.

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1 minute ago, swansont said:

Sounds more like revenge/vendetta, and mutual assured destruction. Tit-for-tat in game theory.

Only when tit-for-tat, means two eyes for one...

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30 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Isn't an eye for an eye, a perfect justice?

Depends on how justice is being defined, but one things for sure: Such an approach is a self-reinforcing downward spiral.

This type of path leads to mutually assured destruction. At some point, someone must be mature and wise enough to choose to end the cycle, to say enough is enough, not retaliate, and walk away for not only the greater good, but also for their own mental well-being. 

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8 minutes ago, iNow said:

Depends on how justice is being defined, but one things for sure: Such an approach is a self-reinforcing downward spiral.

This type of path leads to mutually assured destruction. At some point, someone must be mature and wise enough to choose to end the cycle, to say enough is enough, not retaliate, and walk away for not only the greater good, but also for their own mental well-being. 

Indeed, There's been a few; Nelson Mandela springs to mind...

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4 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Isn't an eye for an eye, a perfect justice?

Do you mean "some kind of justice"?

Perfect justice? Come on.

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8 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Isn't an eye for an eye, a perfect justice?

 

7 hours ago, iNow said:

Depends on how justice is being defined, but one things for sure: Such an approach is a self-reinforcing downward spiral.

This type of path leads to mutually assured destruction. At some point, someone must be mature and wise enough to choose to end the cycle, to say enough is enough, not retaliate, and walk away for not only the greater good, but also for their own mental well-being. 

I gave iNow a tick of approval. But I do have a situation to relate that I believe to be relevant.

When my young bloke was about 3 or 4 years old, we had just moved into the house we now still own and live in. Three houses down was another family who had been there for a few years who had another little boy about the same age, who had two older brothers around 13 or 14 years old. My Son and Andrew [the other little bloke] generally got on well together and played with each other as kids do. Except for the occasions his two older brothers would egg him on to hit my young bloke. This happened four or five times, and my Son would come inside crying.

My wife would tell him to just walk away and turn the other cheek in true christian  like fashion, while after the first couple of times, it greatly annoyed me. On one of those occasions I grabbed my Son after he had come inside crying and asked what had happened. I had though actually observed it. With his Mother away I told my Son that the next time Andrew hit him, to hit him back as hard as he could!

Sure enough around a couple of hours latter, my boy was out playing again, with Andrew, and I noticed the two older brothers in Andrew's  ear. Andrew then walked up to my boy and hit him. My Son took an almighty swing and hit Andrew back, putting him on his arse! As his two older brothers started to approach I walked outside and made my presence known and the two older brothers turned tail with the young Andrew who was in tears and went inside to their parents.

The ending of this tale of bullying as I saw it, is that now more then 35 years later, my Son and Andrew are still the best of mates [my boy was best man at his wedding] and his parents were great friends of ours and still are.

Was this a form of justice? revenge?  punishment? an eye for an eye? Or just an example of how sometimes standing up for one's self, can have a pleasing ending.

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15 minutes ago, beecee said:

Was this a form of justice? revenge?  punishment? an eye for an eye? Or just an example of how sometimes standing up for one's self, can have a pleasing ending.

I find that a proportional response to violence is often the best course of action. I alway told my children to walk away if possible but they should not stand for being abused by another. It's always going to be a judgement call, and things can turn out badly, but unfortunately the world is not a fair place and it is important that we look out for our own best interests.

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2 hours ago, beecee said:

Or just an example of how sometimes standing up for one's self, can have a pleasing ending.

It is good it worked out well, but it was not a reliable action to take - not that I'm sure there can be any guarantees, whatever course is taken. Even constant supervision comes with downsides.

But it could also have had a bad ending. The potential for an "ordinary" fist-fight to result in serious injury or death is always there - usually without any such intent. Fighting on or around concrete surfaces for example raises the risks greatly. Achieving some kind of just outcome also depends on whether the aggrieved party can win the fight - which is always far from certain. Legal repercussions as well as enduring hostility were also potential outcomes.

12 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Isn't an eye for an eye, a perfect justice?

I don't think so, not even when it was malice and intent that took out the eye rather than unintended consequence, such as a fist-fight gone wrong. Restitution - that will work better from someone with both eyes - might serve justice better.

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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 don't think so. The greater good might be in the deterrence - which will be limited - or the public safety by removing someone who might be likely to re-offend - which can be achieved by imprisonment. But not the public enjoyment. Most people in attendance would have no direct involvement, knowledge or interest. The public satisfaction looks more like indulging a powerful human urge to violence by virtue of promoting the lack of virtue in the victim. It looks like populism dressed up as justice.

It seems likely to me that normalising execution unnecessarily affirms and legitimises the taking of human lives - and I think our legal systems work best by putting distance and objectivity between that indiscriminate urge and attempts to deliver just outcomes that maintain community safety and social cohesion. Where capital punishment is practiced it is more likely to be perceived as necessary as well as normal but lots of nations do not practice it and they are not overrun with violent crime. It is not necessary.

Public satisfaction at knowing a serious criminal is executed seems to me to be qualitatively different to the satisfaction at knowing the person will spend their lives under constant supervision, with most of life's opportunities denied to them.

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1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

The public satisfaction looks more like indulging a powerful human urge to violence by virtue of promoting the lack of virtue in the victim.

+1 for that whole damned solid post, but especially for this rather poetic and poignant bit. Thank you for this contribution to the discussion.  

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1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

But it could also have had a bad ending. The potential for an "ordinary" fist-fight to result in serious injury or death is always there - usually without any such intent. Fighting on or around concrete surfaces for example raises the risks greatly. Achieving some kind of just outcome also depends on whether the aggrieved party can win the fight - which is always far from certain. Legal repercussions as well as enduring hostility were also potential outcomes.

The object of course had nothing to do with winning any fight. It was primarilly to stand up to continued bullying, albeit being egged on by older kids that maybe should have known better. And yes, of course things may have been different, but remember, we are talking of 3 to 4 year olds. I think the chances of anyone being seriously hurt was minimal at best, due to their ages, and since it occured on a grass medium strip.

The only real repercussions was a couple of old fashion wacks around the backside for the two older brothers by their Father, after I explained what had been happening. Yes it all could have turned out differently and yes I could also have simply approached his parents when the bullying was happening. 

It may also have been a reflection of similar bullying tactics when I was a kid, and the victim of said bullying. It was when I was about 10 years old and I was leaving the school yard proudly displaying my brand new Coca Cola badge on my lapel, a rage with all the kids at that time. When the "school bully" approached me, ripped the badge off me, and threw it up on the church confessional roof [I was a good little Catholic boy in those days 😉] I was totally enraged and swung my globite suit case to the side of his head. He was stunned momentarily and before he had time to regain his senses [he was a big bugger!] the school teacher grabbed him and me, and frog marched us to the Principal's office. I was first called in to explain my actions and the graze on the side of my opponents head. Not much was said and I was given a pat on the head and told to get home straight away, instead of as I was thinking, getting the strap. Corporal punishment was of course the thing in those days and his [my opponent] bullying reputation was well known by all. Not sure what happened to him, but he never ever bothered me again.

 

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4 minutes ago, iNow said:

Except for when the older siblings approached your bloke and only backed off when they saw you coming. 🤷‍♂️ 

Not sure if the two older brothers would have done much, even without me there. Perhaps a push, shove, slap on the back of the head. Both turned out as reasonable citizens without any real problems, afaik,  and I have had a beer with one of them since those days. They were only 13/14 year old at the time anyway. Sure, maybe their parents could have sat down with them, explaining the outcome of bullying and its general rejection in a normal society. I venture to say we/they probably all have some regrets when looking back at certain happenings in hindsight.

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5 minutes ago, beecee said:

I venture to say we/they probably all have some regrets when looking back at certain happenings in hindsight.

Indeed, which is why I deleted my reply 15 minutes before you submitted your reply to it ;) 🍻 

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20 hours ago, swansont said:

How so?

Revenge wants more pain in reparation, to compensate for our limited perception of 'their pain'; it's that perception that spiral's down to blindness; not tit-for-tat...

19 hours ago, joigus said:

Do you mean "some kind of justice"?

Perfect justice? Come on.

Indeed, my bad, I suppose I mean 'natural justice'...

12 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

I don't think so, not even when it was malice and intent that took out the eye rather than unintended consequence, such as a fist-fight gone wrong. Restitution - that will work better from someone with both eyes - might serve justice better.

A bully doesn't intend malice, at least they're not born that way and they don't see themselves as monster's; but maybe, with one less eye they will see with far more clarity...

12 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

I don't think so. The greater good might be in the deterrence - which will be limited - or the public safety by removing someone who might be likely to re-offend - which can be achieved by imprisonment. But not the public enjoyment. Most people in attendance would have no direct involvement, knowledge or interest. The public satisfaction looks more like indulging a powerful human urge to violence by virtue of promoting the lack of virtue in the victim. It looks like populism dressed up as justice.

It seems likely to me that normalising execution unnecessarily affirms and legitimises the taking of human lives - and I think our legal systems work best by putting distance and objectivity between that indiscriminate urge and attempts to deliver just outcomes that maintain community safety and social cohesion. Where capital punishment is practiced it is more likely to be perceived as necessary as well as normal but lots of nations do not practice it and they are not overrun with violent crime. It is not necessary.

Public satisfaction at knowing a serious criminal is executed seems to me to be qualitatively different to the satisfaction at knowing the person will spend their lives under constant supervision, with most of life's opportunities denied to them.

I absolutely would agree with you, in an ideal world such as Eise suggested; but I don't live there, I live in a world where the criminal is made to pay, with no chance of redemption; except in a dream, where only the elite can hope too see...

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4 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Revenge wants more pain in reparation, to compensate for our limited perception of 'their pain'; it's that perception that spiral's down to blindness; not tit-for-tat...

This is more you're adding to the discussion. You said an eye for an eye was justice. And then said tit-for-tat had to be two eyes for one. I don't know where that came from. There's a whole bunch of subtext you seem to be skipping over. 

 

 

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