On the Death Penalty and Money

 

There’s a measure on the ballot in California (where they’re called propositions) tomorrow to eliminate the death penalty. The idea behind this measure, Proposition 34, is that the death penalty is too expensive and therefore should be abolished. The idea is so morally vapid that it’s hard to believe people would take it seriously. Justice should never be a matter of money.  Do supporters of Prop. 34 really mean to suggest that, yes, heinous murderers should be executed, but because it’s costly we should allow every murderer to live? 

Isn’t the obvious and better answer to do something about the endless and usually pointless appeals process that makes capital punishment expensive? 

The reason the death penalty is so expensive is that groups that oppose capital punishment (like the ACLU), with their nearly bottomless resources, manipulate the legal system to keep murderers alive. Now these very same groups come back and say to the voter, “we’ve got a big problem, the death penalty is too expensive. Think of all the money we can save if we abolish it.” 

The opponents of capital punishment make capital punishment more and more expensive, and then demand the abolition of capital punishment because it’s more and more expensive. If it weren’t angering, it would be funny. 

Regarding the rightness of capital punishment, I have created a new course at Prager University making the moral case for capital punishment. I didn’t make it as a response to Proposition 34. In fact, I don’t address the cost issue. But I would submit that it’s hard to watch this five minute lecture and not come away with a clearer grasp as to why capital punishment for murder is so necessary and so moral. 

You can watch it here

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @VicePotentate

    I find trust in the legal system in the general case to be highly suspect. In a case involving a human life this room for error makes the death penalty doubly suspect. When the stakes are very high incentives for both officers and prosecutors are raised to levels that encourage corruption or mistakes. This is particularly true in very gruesome or emotionally loaded cases where the drive for retribution can lead to overzealous prosecution by the sate due to emotional investment.

    • #31
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Valiuth:  Is there a reason to think the death penalty would have more deterrence than life imprisonment? It is not as if all opponents of the death penalty think there should be no punishment or even minimal punishment for brutal crimes like murder.   · 1 hour ago

    If any advocate for a particular death row inmate is successful in stopping his execution, I think it would only be appropriate that that person or organization should be held responsible if that inmate later goes on to kill a prison guard or other prisoner, or gets out and kills again.  Hey, NORMAN MAILER did it and paid no price.  Well, I hope he is now….

    • #32
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @

    I remember hearing the actor Scott Glenn, who played Jack Crawford in Silence of the Lambs, say that during his research with John Douglas, who the role of Crawford was based on, that he was against the death penalty going in to the film.  Crawford played him a tape of two scumbags who carried out a plan they had hatched when they had met in prison, in which they torture and kill two young women.  These two insects made an audio recording of the incident.  Scott Glenn did not get all the way through the tape.  He told Douglas to stop the tape and said, “all right, I’m now a death penalty supporter.”  

    Sure is easy to forgive somebody for killing someone else’s daughter ain’t it?

    • #33
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @VicePotentate
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Given that the prevailing opinion of most Christian churches is that repentance is impossible after death, wouldn’t Christian groups believe they were benefiting death-row inmates more by pleading for stays of execution for those who hadn’t repented? · 2 hours ago

    This is a key point to the anti death penalty case from the perspective of Christian churches and groups. Essentially they view it as consigning someone who is unrepentant to hell for all eternity without giving them every chance at forgiveness in Christ, even if Christ would have only been adopted at a very advanced age. When the state takes over and executes before repentance it truncates the time available to save the perpetrator’s eternal soul.

    • #34
  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Valiuth
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: 

    Something puzzled me about this. Shouldn’t the truly repentant be able to face death with more courage than anyone? Presumably, they’re going to Heaven, which is even better than life itself. 

    This argument I could see being used to pull the plug on the infirm and religious. Furthermore does abortion not simply swell the ranks of heaven with the souls of the innocent? Why oppose it then…

    With all things I think Tolkien provides the most wisdom.

    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    I think our use of the death penalty should be very measured and if I were to err I would do so against it.  

    • #35
  6. Profile Photo Contributor
    @Midge
    Valiuth

    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

    I love that quote, too. And of course, we should use the death penalty only with caution. But how much caution? Is no amount of caution too great, or does there come a point where too much trepidation about these things does more harm than good?

    Vice-Potentate

    This is a key point to the anti death penalty case from the perspective of Christian churches and groups. Essentially they view it as consigning someone who is unrepentant to hell for all eternity without giving them every chance at forgiveness in Christ, even if Christ would have only been adopted at a very advanced age. 

    Well, that at least is a more sensible argument. Though I think they’re presuming somewhat more knowledge of salvation than they actually have.

    • #36
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Valiuth

    Midget: Good questions. I think it is very hard to answer you though. How much evidence does it take to feel the death penalty is the right punishment for a particular crime? I think it is not possible to draw easy lines in the sand on such questions of sufficiency. 

    I don’t think we are at a point where people’s squeamishness on the issue is really leading to bad social results. I hardly think prosecuting these cases is a significant cause of our financial troubles, nor do I think our less vigorous execution of convicted murderers is driving up murder rates. 

    • #37
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Valiuth

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: 

    Something puzzled me about this. Shouldn’t the truly repentant be able to face death with more courage than anyone? Presumably, they’re going to Heaven, which is even better than life itself. 

    This argument I could see being used to pull the plug on the infirm and religious. Furthermore does abortion not simply swell the ranks of heaven with the souls of the innocent? Why oppose it then…

    Because you cannot do an inherent evil for the side-effect of good.  The Church already reasoned this out several times– I think you can find it if you search around a bit.  You’d also be able to find a wide range of explanations on the death penalty isn’t the same as killing an innocent, both from religious and natural law standpoints.  Here’s the Catechism on it, if you’d like a start.  Catholic.com (home page for Catholic Answers) might also be useful, and I seem to remember St. Thomas Aquinas went into it as well.  EWTN’s site doesn’t work very well for me, but might try them.

    • #38
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @Grendel
    Foxfier

    Perry Palmer: How can a person be against the death penalty but for abortion, which Liberals seem to be.  

    Emotion and ease.

    Note, this is specific to the question, not all who oppose capital punishment; I am aware that some folks follow the “seamless garment” theory that no human should be harmed, ever.  … I do not agree, but at least it’s not self contradicting like “kill the infants, protect the murderers.” · 

    I have yet to hear an argument against the death penalty that was at all concerned with justice, which is “the virtue of returning to each that which is owed him”.  Justice is one of the chief duties for which society creates the state.  Justice for the criminal; justice for the victim, including survivors; justice within society as a whole.

    Liberals turn everything upside-down and backwards.  Sex is not to produce children; marriage is for buggery; property is for those who did not produce it; working to supply the needs of others is selfish, but taking from A and giving to B is laudable; public power rules in private matters, but is ineffectual at public matters; justice gives license to the irresponsible.

    • #39
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Grendel

    I have yet to hear an argument against the death penalty that was at all concerned with justice, which is “the virtue of returning to each that which is owed him”.  Justice is one of the chief duties for which society creates the state.  Justice for the criminal; justice for the victim, including survivors; justice within society as a whole.

    I’d imagine the flip side is that folks could say they haven’t heard a death penalty argument from the perspective of mercy.  

    I suppose the “what if someone makes a mistake” option could be called an argument from Justice, but then the it would be just as justified to say that mercy to the innocent requires that we not put them in harm’s way by allowing known, horrific threats to go on among us.  (Counter to what blessed JPII believed, I think our current interpretation of “life imprisonment” falls rather short of the life of the threat, let alone the criminal.)

    • #40
  11. Profile Photo Member
    @Grendel
    Foxfier

    Grendel

    I have yet to hear an argument against the death penalty that was at all concerned with justice, which is “the virtue of returning to each that which is owed him”.  Justice is one of the chief duties for which society creates the state.  Justice for the criminal; justice for the victim, including survivors; justice within society as a whole.

    I’d imagine the flip side is that folks could say they haven’t heard a death penalty argument from the perspective of mercy.  

    I suppose the “what if someone makes a mistake” option could be called an argument from Justice, 

    People who commit homicide by accident are not sentenced to death.  It is not owed them.

    In any case, the time for mercy is after justice has been established.  The courts are the place for justice; the executive has the powers of clemency:  commutation, pardon, amnesty.  As I said, Liberals turn everything backwards.

    • #41
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Grendel People who commit homicide by accident are not sentenced to death.  It is not owed them.

    Mistaken in who did the murder, not that they killed someone on accident. 

    • #42
  13. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @JosephStanko
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: 

    Shouldn’t the truly repentant be able to face death with more courage than anyone? Presumably, they’re going to Heaven, which is even better than life itself. Given that the prevailing opinion of most Christian churches is that repentance is impossible after death, wouldn’t Christian groups believe they were benefiting death-row inmates more by pleading for stays of execution for those who hadn’t repented? 

    “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” -Samuel Johnson

    • #43
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