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RareDenver's avatar

What do you think the existence of state sponsored capital punishment within a society says (if anything) about that society as a whole?

Asked by RareDenver (13092 points ) May 19th, 2010

Winston Churchill once said “The humanity of a society can be judged by the treatment of its prisoners.”

This map has an interesting story to tell I think.

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19 Answers

marinelife's avatar

It says that the society has not given up on the notion of vengeance. It says that the society as a whole has not risen beyond state-sponsored murder.

cfrydj's avatar

It demonstrates an attitude that perceives the purpose of the criminal justice system to be retribution. Society as a whole feels wronged when someone commits a crime.

This is to be contrasted with a perception that the focus is not on the victim but on the criminal, and giving them an appropriate punishment for their sentence while keeping in mind the ability to reintegrate them into society as contributing members (rehabilitation).

Primobabe's avatar

Every decedent is issued a death certificate. Do you know what’s listed as the cause of death on an executed prisoner’s death certificate? It’s “homicide,” defined as the killing of one human being by one or more other human beings. Think about it…

wonderingwhy's avatar

There is a limit to our willingness to forgive and suffer insults against our morals.

josie's avatar

There really isn’t an organism that is “Society”. There are only individuals that live and work together to their mutual benefit. Having said that, the existence of capital punishment is evidence that a “society” is absolutely crazy (or careless) to let the fallible and corrupt State have the power to levy a totally irreversible form of punishment.

PacificToast's avatar

@josie What type of punishment is reversible? You can’t give some one back the time they spent in prison, or their credibility, or their dignity.

HungryGuy's avatar

It says that the politicians in charge care more about vengeance than justice, and that they don’t really care about the actual guilt or innocent of anyone involved.

josie's avatar

@PacificToast Gimme a break. You know what I mean. Death is irreversible. Everything else has a fall back.

lillycoyote's avatar

Yes. It’s barbaric.

squidcake's avatar

It makes me embarrassed to be a citizen of a nation that is so backwards and medieval in logic that they don’t even realize the hypocrisy of killing and man because he killed another man.

perspicacious's avatar

It is a barbaric one.

lillycoyote's avatar

@PacificToast No, you can’t give them back their past but you can give them back their future, in addition to their freedom.

PacificToast's avatar

@lillycoyote I know we’re not to be the ultimate judge of people. And I know we’re to hate the sin instead of the sinner. But what is freedom for if you have nothing but the clothes on your back? A future with what? A stain on their record? From what I hear, it’s hard to be a hired employee if you did a crime worthy of the death penalty. Thus, you have created a leech. I tend to think of the death penalty is an incentive to be one who does not commit horrifying crimes.

ETpro's avatar

Thou shalt not kill. Of course, that’s you. We shall.

lillycoyote's avatar

@PacificToast Maybe I am a little confused. I was discussing the fact that the death penalty is irreversible in terms of innocent people who may have been convicted in error, convicted unjustly. Our justice system is not perfect and mistakes are made. The chance that an innocent person could be executed for a crime that he or she didn’t commit is just to great and would be as much of a crime as murder. And a couple of other things, no human being in prison is a “leech.” They are human beings that have committed crime for which there is a punishment, a sentence. Unless we want to execute everyone who has ever committed a crime, who then becomes a “burden” to the state until that sentence is completed I don’t know what else we can do. Additionally, in response to your comment that the death penalty is an incentive to not commit horrifying crimes. I think people who don’t commit crimes don’t commit them for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they don’t want to go to jail, but I think that most people who do commit crimes, specifically the most horrific of them don’t ever imagine that they are going to be caught. So I don’t think that the death penalty is much of a deterrent at all. I don’t think those committing capital crimes think about at the time that they are committing their crimes. If the death penalty was a deterrent the US would have a lower murder rate than nations without the death penalty, though I know the statistics, the variables, are not that simple.

ETpro's avatar

@lillycoyote You are absolutely right about the death penalty not preventing capital crimes and @PacificToast is either unaware of the many studies of murder rate changes in societies that eliminated the death penalty, or the fact that the death penalty does not serve as any more deterrent than life in prison is not of concern to @PacificToast, and revenge is.

PacificToast's avatar

@ETpro, forgive me for being a 14 year old who has an opinion backed only by her ideas.

ETpro's avatar

@PacificToast No nee to beg forgiveness for holding an opinion. The unforgivable act is clinging to an opinion even when facts come along that suggest it is wrong. Read this study for a fuller understanding fo the facts. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/teaching_aids/books_articles/JLpaper.pdf

bunnygrl's avatar

@RareDenver When a country adopts, and carries out any form of corporal punishment, it gives up its right to be called a just society. The death penalty has no place in civilised society, when it is adopted and carried out in the state’s name, that state has proved itself to be guided more by revenge than by justice. Justice would see the murderer deprived of his freedom, his life choices, his future, until he died. He should never go back to a normal life so long as the family of his victim serve their life sentence through the loss of their loved one.

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