Sunday, January 20, 2008

Death penalty degrades presumed civilized society

Palm Beach Post Editorial

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A reader wrote, "388 on state's Death Row? Where is penalty?" (Jan. 2), denouncing The Palm Beach Post's stand against the death penalty in Florida. While the letter was certainly emotional, stating, "Being on the scene where a fellow trooper was shot and killed only strengthens my resolve to champion capital punishment," the reason implied by the writer for support of the death penalty is revenge.

The letter suggests that the debate about lethal injection being "cruel and unusual" should be balanced with the pain that crime victims suffer. Is this to suggest that society is just like the criminals? Civilized society should be better than people guilty of capital crimes. Just because a killer disregards the humanity of his/her victim does not give society license to be immoral as well. Numerous Death Row inmates have been released due to DNA-based evidence and more are being released all the time.

We know that there have been innocent people executed in this country. Could not the brother or friend of the unfairly executed equally say, "Being on the scene where my brother was unjustly executed for a crime he did not commit only strengthens my resolve to oppose capital punishment"? Who would have the stronger argument? In addition, when the state kills an innocent man, is it not also guilty of a capital crime?

The United States is one of the last developed countries that still executes. Even Russia has abolished the death penalty. Capital punishment is more expensive than the alternatives, and, quite frankly, below the morality of civilized society. Revenge does not justify the loss of society's soul.


No comments: