/* -- wedding countdown script -- */
In only
Days Hours Minutes Seconds
I will be Mrs. Daniel Tobin!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More thoughts on the death penalty and redemption

A clarification of my basic point in my previous post.

When a person is convicted of a crime, (s)he is assigned a penalty to pay based on that crime. The jury or judge does not weigh everything good the person has done in his or her lifetime against everything bad (s)he has done and come to a definitive conclusion about the net moral worth of that person's life. That judgement will be made, for all of us, after we die by a Judge who both knows all the facts, and is Himself sinless and perfectly just. It is not the job of our courts here on earth. The only job of a judge or jury in our system is to determine if the person did in fact commit the crime (s)he is accused of, and if (s)he did, what the penalty is (s)he ought to pay for it.

Hence, any discussion of other good things the person has done in his or her lifetime, while emotionally moving, is ultimately irrelevant to whether or not the person ought to suffer the penalty that has been prescribed for him or her. We can always find good things people have done, even the ones convicted of the most horrific crimes.

We, as a society, have decided that certain crimes deserve the ultimate penalty. This decision is based on the severity of the crime, not the overall badness of the person who committed it. There may be irredeemable people, although I hope that everyone, at least when death is imminent, will in fact regret the bad things they have done. But, the fact that someone may reform in prison or even that (s)he has reformed, does not negate the fact that (s)he committed a crime for which the assigned penalty is death. And justice demands that (s)he pay that penalty.

This is not to say that the judge or jury deciding a case ought not to consider things such as potentially extenuating circumstances, motivation, provokation, etc. Certainly, these things ought to be considered, both in determining whether the person ought to be convicted, and what the sentence (s)he is to be punished with. However, once the verdict has been handed down, and the sentence decided on, anything relevant has already been considered. This is especially true when the case has gone through all channels of appeal. If anything relevant has been overlooked in the initial trial, it will certainly have been addressed by the time the appeals process ahs been concluded. Certainly, anything the person does after the conclusion of the trial is entirely irrelevant to whether or not (s)he ought to be punished for the crime (s)he has committed.

Of course, you may argue that no one ever ought to be executed. This is a completely different argument, and like I mentioned earlier, one that, on the whole, I agree with. However, as long as we as a society continue to use the death penalty; I believe the only thing that should be considered in regard to its application is the severity of the crime and the guilt or innocence of the person accused of it.


Post a Comment

<< Home