- Con to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?"
“Executions should be banned by act of Congress for this simple reason: Experience has shown that the death penalty doesn’t serve the cause of justice… How likely is it, really, that a killer will be more deterred by the risk of the death penalty than by having to spend the rest of his life in prison? The claim fails the test of common sense. Criminologists and police chiefs say the death penalty just doesn’t influence murderers — partly because its application is so haphazard… It’s true that the purpose of punishment is not only deterrence but also retribution. But this doesn’t justify the popular view that killers should be killed, any more than it would support the idea that rapists should be raped or thieves stolen from. To be just, retribution must be measured and restrained. That’s the difference between justice and revenge…
The extraordinary crimes that would justify the death penalty are difficult to imagine, much less define, before the fact. And, even in exceptional cases, the requirement to prove guilt beyond any doubt is hard to satisfy. (What does ‘beyond any doubt’ actually mean? Is a psychopath guilty beyond any doubt?) Let’s allow that it would have been right to execute Hitler. But let’s also recognize that restricting the death penalty to the few cases where it would be both just and safe is impractical. The best pragmatic course is not to use the death penalty more sparingly but to abolish it outright.”
Bloomberg, “Ban the Death Penalty,” bloombergview.com, Feb. 23, 2014
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