Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Death Penalty

This morning I was watching Andrew Marr on BBC 1 and then watched "The Big Questions" afterwards. One of the issues under discussion was the death penalty, and it triggered a few thoughts.

Firstly I would oppose the death penalty primarily on the grounds that it is virtually impossible to grantee beyond all doubt the guilt of a suspect. Even DNA evidence does not prove guilt, it simply establishes the presence of the DNA and how it got there is a puzzle for the investigators to complete. I cannot bring myself to accept the miscarriages of justice which will inevitably occur as a price worth paying for ridding us of a handful of truly despicable individuals.

Secondly I would also oppose the death penalty on the grounds that since individuals do not have the right to murder another individual - infringe their liberty - then that power cannot be delegated to the State.

However, in principle, I have no objection to the 100% guilty being obliterated - it is not the death I am repulsed by.

The people who do not support the death penalty tend to support, on the whole, genuine life sentences. And I have to wonder, is there really any material difference between depriving an individual of their liberty for the rest of their life, and killing them? Surely without the freedom to live life then life simply becomes existence, and thus the imprisoned become the undead, the un-human, and by all intents and purposes they become deceased.

I have thought about this all day and cannot find any key philosophical distinction, and yet opponents of the death penalty seemingly see a substantial distinction.

On this basis might a compromise be that under a system where life sentences mean life, that the convicted be given the choice at any time of their sentence to request assisted suicide. This preserves the freedom of the convicted to remain alive, and thus for the wrongly convicted to continue to fight for justice, but also allows for the genuinely convicted to die and alleviate society of themselves.

I would be interested in your thoughts?

3 comments:

Witterings From Witney March 22, 2009 at 8:21 PM  

Prison should be prison with no benefits. Why should those that have broken the rules of society continue to enjoy some of the benefits of said society?

Offer euthanasia too and it must be considered as two worth while cost cutting exercises!

Question: but what about the lawyers arguing that the inmate is in no fit mental state to make the decision? Might just as well keep the death penalty and save on the legal aid bills!

Vindico March 22, 2009 at 9:00 PM  

I also happen to believe that we have too many people going to prison. Prison should be for those who pose a danger to society, and to keep them isolated from society.
Lots of people we currently send there could be adequately punished in other ways.

As far as being in prison goes, yes i can't see the merit in allowing TV's in cells, and all the other wonderful stuff we read about in the newspapers.

FireForce April 2, 2009 at 8:40 AM  

I too am against the death penalty, I had a case against me and the police evidence (forensic) was total crap, but had it gone to court they would take the police word, but after spending £6,000:00 on my costs it was a time ago.
No apology for being wrong at all, but I do firmly beleive we the people should have the right to "Self Defence" and the means to do so!

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