General Question

NightStalker's avatar

If a person is convicted of a brutal crime why is it cruel and unusual punishment to do to them what they did to the victim?

Asked by NightStalker (459points) July 25th, 2011

For the sake of argument- there is no doubt of the guilt of the offender. Also assume that there are those willing to inflict the sentence, possibly even allowing the family or victim to take part or decide.

Would such a policy in any way deter violence?

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28 Answers

Berserker's avatar

Well, it doesn’t solve the problem. It’s like cutting the leaves and not the root. A buncha psychos can’t be thwarted by fear. All that’s done by killing a criminal is feed the masses the blood for which they ask. That’s not very productive when you think of the grand scheme of things.

However, I have no real alternative. None that seems possible, anyways, not in our types of societies.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I don’t know if it would deter violence in others, but when you excecute a death sentence on a murderer, you can be sure there will be no repeat offenses.

JessicaRTBH's avatar

Are you talking about like what Dexter does? ;) I hear two wrongs don’t make a right though

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It becomes more about the action done by “willing participant” and blurs who is really the cruel savage.

I believe in culling cruel and unusual offenders from the rest of society, not as punishment but for the safety of larger body of non offending people. To me, killing them as quickly and painlessly as possible seems the best for everyone to live easier without fear and also to not be punished by having to support the offenders.

lillycoyote's avatar

You seem to be asking a number of questions here. One, the U.S. Supreme Court, I believe, has determined, so far, that merely executing someone does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The second issue: allowing the family or victim to take part and decide: that is not the way things work; the justice system can only work when it involves and evaluation of the facts and the evidence and rather than the wishes of the victims and the families. Thirdly, evidence is very mixed if not non-supporting of execution as a deterrent to murder. The U.S. has both one of the highest rate of murder and one of the highest rates of execution and imprisonment. I doesn’t seem to be working. We need some better idea I think.

lillycoyote's avatar

I realized I jumped right to the idea of executions but what are you thinking about when you sa “why is it cruel and unusual punishment to do to them what they did to the victim?” Do you mean murders should be killed in the way they killed their victims? That people who rape and torture someone should be raped and tortured? We don’t do that because we are civilized. We don’t become the savages that some criminals are in order to avenge the crime. We just don’t do that. We are civilized. We have to be better than the criminals or there is no hope for us or our society.

cletrans2col's avatar

The death penalty does not deter, as @lillycoyote said. But, I support the death penalty because I believe it to be an apt punishment.

But @lillycoyote, I do not think that we are “savages” if someone like the BTK Killer should die the way he killed his victims. I believe that is justice.

iphigeneia's avatar

I don’t believe we humans have the right to dispense that kind of ‘justice’.

Tit for tat violence does nothing to solve the problem, and I can see a state system that operates in this way being viewed as encouraging citizens to ‘take an eye for an eye’ in their personal relationships, which will not make society a nice place to be.

augustlan's avatar

It would lower us (society/the state/individual people) to the level of the criminal. It wouldn’t deter anyone who was seriously considering such actions, either.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. – Mahatma Gandhi

Hibernate's avatar

One doesn’t find relief if he will enjoy the suffering of the offender.
How can one sleep after knowing they did the same thing to another and they did it willingly and without letting the offender defend. This is because when a punishment is applied the offender doesn’t have a say in this. He might did a terrible crime but is UN HUMAN to just apply the same thing as punishment to him.

An eye for an eye just leave the whole world with just an eye not blind. Then the whole world will be filled with one-eyed persons.

I ain’t into death penalty because one deserves a chance to redeem themselves. [unless their mental health is the issue] How can one explain death penalty? The offender killed someone or maybe more than one. He goes to jail and here he’s sentenced to death. Isn’t this cruel? Like how can others say they are above him when they do the same deed?

@JessicaRTBH Dexter has a dissociative mental illness which is psychopathy. If you watched the whole 5 seasons you had to see that he doesn’t feel any emotions but after he remembers his mother death he slowly changes to a human being. Maybe in an older time Dexter would have been a sort of a Robin Hood but in modern days he’s just a mass murderer which has the best job when it comes to covering up.

ratboy's avatar

Part of what makes a criminal act brutal is that is cruel and unusual, so yes it would be cruel and unusual to subject the criminal to the same acts that he inflicted on others.

flutherother's avatar

An eye for an eye is not an unreasonable form of justice. It is not cruel or unusual in that the punishment is defined by the criminal. It isn’t a very enlightened way for society to react to crime but you could argue that it is no more cruel and unusual than locking people up for years in extreme solitary confinement.

Haleth's avatar

Criminal acts like violent crime are illegal for a reason. You can’t have a legal system that outlaws violent crime and then carries out the same acts. Maybe some people would have faith in a system like that, but I wouldn’t. Violent crimes are morally repugnant and harmful, which is why we try to remove violent criminals from our society. Endorsing this kind of punishment would make us all hypocrites.

john65pennington's avatar

Two wrongs do not make a right, may be true.

But, it’s for darn sure Mr. Wrong will never commit this act again.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because then everybody acts like a brutal criminal.

wundayatta's avatar

An effective justice system is supposed to teach people and get them to reform their behavior. But most sentences in the American “justice” system are designed to extract revenge. They are not punishments designed to reform people.

Even though the American people want revenge against people who have wronged other, they don’t believe in obvious torture. That means the punishments can not be the same thing as the criminal did to someone else.

But don’t worry. What we do is far worse. We send them to prison where they are humiliated every day. They live in very dangerous conditions. They have no health care to speak of. Their conditions are as miserable and as despicable as we can make them. We seek to make them even more criminal then before, and then we send them out to commit crimes again, so we can bring them back for more punishment.

Once someone gets in the system, they tend not to get back out. They spend the rest of their lives being punished. This is far worse than giving them a taste of what they gave to someone else.

The problem with conservatives is that they support this kind of wussy idea, thinking they are being tougher on crime. You couldn’t do anything worse to a criminal than to put them in prison. Not even waterboarding offers you as much revenge for your buck.

In case my sarcasm isn’t clear, I think the American idea that revenge equals justice is just totally wrong. I think that prisons are designed to create criminals, not reform them. An idea like the one in this question has to be one of the stupidest and short-sighted ideas I have heard in a very long time. And I’ve heard a lot of stupid ideas.

JessicaRTBH's avatar

@ Hibernate – good point. I was just being silly. Are you ready for the next season in October? I’m so excited. They claim it’s not the last one too. (which makes me super happy)

zenvelo's avatar

The idea has an inherent contradiction- punishing cruel and unusual behavior by imposing the same cruel and unusual acts. That’s why we have the 8th Amendment.

Meego's avatar

If it was legal to kill someone the way they killed wouldn’t that be the killers ultimate fantasy?

They believe they have justification already for killing the way they have. It’s like torturing a rapist with porn.

I don’t see the good in it other than when the criminal is dead you’d feel much different than them and then so does that mean the killers family can come back and get you the same way?

I cant see how this would work. It’s much less complicated to just take away from the criminal their right to enjoy.

SpatzieLover's avatar

It would create Karmic debt.

Tuesdays_Child's avatar

I don’t think it is cruel and unusual punishment to end the life of a killer, but where is the line drawn? Is this just for serial killers, or are people who drink and drive included, too? How about a person who kills after years of abuse? Too many variables. By the way, incarceration is cruel and unusual punishment if it is done correctly.

ETpro's avatar

I think @augustlan \s’ got it right. We don’t limit brutality by matching it eye for eye, tooth for tooth for tooth, we double down on it. We limit it by bringing an end to it.

cletrans2col's avatar

@Tuesdays_Child I think that drunk drivers should be charged with first degree murder if they kill someone.

NightStalker's avatar

Fantastic dialogue all.

What if the punishment was enacted by a cosmic force? (Yeah this sounds like a Dr. Who episode but bear with me) What if violent (and only violent acts done with the intent to harm) would be randomly carried out on those who perpetrated the crime. Thus eliminating the degrading of humanity.

Would it be cruel and unusual punishment if the universe sometimes revisited the acts upon those who did them?

Coloma's avatar

Vengeance is the lazy form of grief.

cletrans2col's avatar

@Coloma Then I guess I’m lazy.

augustlan's avatar

@NightStalker Kind of like karma? I’d be ok with that, as long as we (people) weren’t the force behind it. I wouldn’t celebrate it, but there would be no one to blame (except the original violent offender).

iphigeneia's avatar

Here’s an interesting case from Iran where a literal eye-for-an-eye sentence almost went ahead. Ameneh Bahrami was blinded when a man threw acid in her face because she refused his marriage proposal. The man was going to be similarly blinded, until at the last minute Bahrami decided to stop the punishment.

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