General Question

cockswain's avatar

Should the death penalty be extended to violent rapists, pedophiles, and/or those who torture?

Asked by cockswain (15233points) August 12th, 2010

To be more specific, a violent rapist of any sort, a pedophile who is not just an 18 year old having consensual sex with his 16 year old girlfriend, and one who is found guilty of torture that includes permanent physical disfigurement. Regardless of your position, please explain why.

please don’t start a semantic argument about how all rape is violent. Also, for the sake of this discussion, assume waterboarding is NOT the type of torture that would be punishable by death.

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76 Answers

bob_'s avatar


EDIT: Oh snap, didn’t see the “explain yourself” bit in the details.

I believe the most violent offenders can’t be “fixed”, and, well, to be honest, I believe in that whole an eye for an eye thing.

cockswain's avatar

Cmon bobbo, flesh it out!

nikipedia's avatar

No. We have a justice system, not a vengeance system. The punishment should fit the crime. As awful as these crimes are, they are not crimes that cost a life, so no one should have to pay with his life.

And the justice system is not foolproof, and the death penalty cannot be taken back if justice is miscarried.

zenele's avatar

What bob said.

cockswain's avatar

@zenele Make it a discussion, not a vote!

chyna's avatar

Yes. I don’t see that violent pedophiles can be rehabilitated. In fact, I have seen interviews with pedophiles who say that if released from prison, they will continue to rape, molest, harm children as they can’t help themselves. A life may not have been taken, but a life is certainly ruined especially from the pedophiles that have raped children under 5. Most of the ones I have heard of, that have actually lived through this type of rape are so torn up internally, that they will never have children of their own.

Blondesjon's avatar


Slowly and painfully and on TV.

zenele's avatar

@cockswain Alrighty then, boss. I concur with bob that they should all be put to death, and I’d put the noose on – and I don’t need a hood. I can look them in the eyes while doing it. Let’s discuss how many different ways the bastards should be put to death, particularly the most painful ways. I’d also washboard them a little first. Happy?

cockswain's avatar

@chyna That’s kind of where I’m at. Despite a life not being taken, something was taken from those lives that cannot be replaced.

cockswain's avatar

@zenele More so. I was hoping for some of that special brand of reasoning I’ve seen you put forth so many times.

nikipedia's avatar

@cockswain: So would you then argue that any crime that causes something irreplaceable to be destroyed should result in the death penalty? Vandalizing a priceless painting?

What about assault? I have a friend who was assaulted outside her apartment (not sexually) and she will never be entirely comfortable walking home alone again, even in broad daylight. Should the person who assaulted her be killed?

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bob_'s avatar

@nikipedia No. He should be beat around.

@zenele Should we speak slowly to you?

cockswain's avatar

@nikipedia So I think you raise a great point. There is obviously a big gray area here. My feeling (and that’s mainly what it is) is that the vandalism is not anywhere close to a murderous offense despite being irreplaceable. Also, while assault is closer, it isn’t as heinous as violent rape or torture. Even though I think the assault is a terrible event that altered your friend, it does not warrant death for the offender.

It’s difficult to be perfectly logical and fair in all reasoning for this sort of situation. Great question though. What do you think? Should no one be killed, or should the art vandal also be killed?

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Coloma's avatar


I do not believe in murdering murderers, or killing the clearly mentally unwell.

I don’t want any blood on my hands be it through a vote or a rope.

Severely disturbed people deserve some measure of compassion too.

Keep them incarcerated humanely.

Blondesjon's avatar

@nikipedia . . . the perp should be publicly caned, preferably by your “friend”.

chyna's avatar

A 2 year old in my town was horribly abused by his mothers boyfriend. Beat, burned with cigarettes, sexually abused anally, to the point that his gentiles were horribly swollen, beat on the bottom of his feet, cut with knives. The boyfriends father was a doctor and they took the baby to him and he fixed him up several times and never reported the abuse. Thankfully, the child died. The mom knew about it, and got 2 years in jail. The doctor lost his license, but he was at retirement age anyway. He said he thought the child’s genitiles were bit by a dog. The boyfriend got 25 years. He needs to die.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Yes, I have yet to see an offender repeat after the sentence of execution has been performed.

With the recidivism rate of pedophiles and rapists what it is, the sooner they are permanently out of society the better. Too many violent felons are being arbitrarily released because a court rules prisons are too crowded. There are some folks I don’t want to chance being let back into society.

cockswain's avatar

@chyna I’m certain you mean genitals, not gentiles I completely agree those people are unworthy of skin.

cockswain's avatar

@WestRiverrat Agreed, I don’t see them as being better, and always remain a severe threat to the innocent.

chyna's avatar

@cockswain My spellcheck didn’t catch that as it is a word. Thanks. Also, I get so pissed off about this story, I can’t spell correctly!

cockswain's avatar

@chyna despite how serious the crime was, that was kind of funny

DrasticDreamer's avatar

To this day, I have never been able to make up my mind about whether or not I believe in the death penalty. For me, that’s saying something, because it is very rare for me to not know how I feel about something this serious.

However… And even though I’m only 25, life experiences have begun to sway me in one direction over another on this issue, at least when it comes to child molesters. I have known far, far, far too many (mostly) little girls who have been victims to these kind of people. I have seen, over and over, to my horror – the severe damage that is done to them physically, emotionally and mentally. It is not just the trauma of the actual acts upon them… But it is everything that happens in their life because of it. Foster homes, feeling like they are worthless, believing truly that no one likes or loves them, always being scared, never fully trusting adults again. They are broken, utterly, and even if they learn to have functioning adult lives down the road, even if they manage this… There will always be a part of them that is destroyed. I know too many adults who were molested as children, and I know too many children that were recently molested, and I’ve personally met too many pedophiles.

Child molesters, I am beginning to believe, do not deserve to live. For them, prison would probably be worse than death would, anyway. The other examples given I’m still not positive about.

chyna's avatar

If we could be sure they were given a life sentence, I would agree. In the case I stated, that is not the case. Also, the other people involved got nothing, or next to nothing.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@chyna I’ve seen the horrors that it can do so many times in my life already… That even if they could spend life in prison… I’m not sure that I wouldn’t want them to die, anyway.

Erulin's avatar

@DrasticDreamer The things you paste on every victim of molestation are a grave generalization (?) at best.. They aren’t all broken, they aren’t all placed in fosterhomes, they do not all feel worthless nor that noone likes or loves them…

Really, as someone who has firsthand experience I can only say that you are wrong. You can get over it and have the experience lead to positive things in your life.

As far as it “will always destroy a part of them” What doesn’t in a childs life ? From the first death they are comfronted with to their first day at school… everything in your life destroys part of you “and” opens doors… everything.

cockswain's avatar

@Erulin Do you mind answering if you would like the one who hurt you killed?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Erulin How do you know I don’t have firsthand experience, either? I don’t wish to argue with you or anyone else. As I said above, I have personally known too many people that were molested, and saw how they were affected by it, into adulthood. I’m not saying that some people don’t successfully move on from it, and lead good, functioning lives. I wish that was the case for all of them. But most people who were molested continue to have major issues in life, in one way or another, because of it.

SowhatifimfromWV's avatar

Yes. Every state and country should have some kind of penalty.

zzc's avatar

I don’t believe in the death penalty. It is my understanding that, after the number of appeals filed, the cost exceeds the cost of maintaining someone in prison for life. So, practically speaking, it’s not cost effective. It is also my understanding, that it is not an effective deterrent. DNA evidence is getting more and more prisoners released, who were falsely convicted. The present system is not foolproof. I do not want to be responsible for killing an innocent person. It’s bad enough, when someone is imprisoned unjustly. I tend to feel that suffering imprisonment, without parole, could be worse than death. I would want a revamping of the sentences, so they are significant, and suited to the crime, more than now. There are also some observances, which I have agreed with, of societies, how they deal with members who commit crimes, and what it says about those societies, that would support the above,.......but I can’t remember them now….and darn it, they were really good too!!!!

cockswain's avatar

@zzc and @nikipedia You guys make fine points that our justice system far too often executes innocent people. To keep this topic isolated to the main point, let’s pretend the justice system only executes the actually guilty.

Erulin's avatar

@cockswain not really, I don’t see the point. Now they have to live with what they did, if they were just put to death it would be over for them.

@DrasticDreamer nor do I wish to argue with anyone :) But just the word “most” you added in your reply makes it carry alot more weight. Generalizations are never a good thing…

One thing I will add is that society in general has alot to do with how children deal with being molested. The care of victims of abuse should be individualised and not generalised. Putting children in forsterhomes is a bad thing, as children will see as a punishment. And exactly “that” is the beginning of alot of problems they might have later in life. If you can guide victims of abuse to not only accept that it happened, but that not every adult is “evil” and they themselves are not to blame… then they stand a better chance to overcome it.

cockswain's avatar

@Erulin So you feel they are punished greater by living with their guilt than by being executed?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Erulin I understand how you feel about my use of the word “most”, and I can see your point. But that said, my opinions are based off of my personal experience. Because I know so many people that were molested (the number is unfortunately very high)... I just can’t feel differently.

I agree with the rest of what you said, but your last line matters a lot: ”If you can guide victims” – and a lot of times, you can’t. Most times, in my own experiences, you can’t completely.

zzc's avatar

For perps of the heinous crimes, posed in the original question, I understand, that living in prison society can be a living hell, in itself. True?

Coloma's avatar

I don’t think it’s a matter of suffering from guilt.

Truly mentally unwell people usually do not suffer from guilt.

Those that committed grievious acts that are not mentally ill, well…if one is not dead they have a chance to redeem themselves, make some sort of contribution, restitution, heal themselves.

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind, and no, I am not religious, but do seek wisdom from all sources.

Nobody alive is free from doing harm, how many of you have hurt those you love, by word or deed, or worse?

Those that cross the big lines are, beyond a doubt, lost souls with severe psychological issues.

The truth is that MOST pain and suffering is caused by ‘normal’ individuals, lying, cheating, unspeakable emotional cruelties to those they claim to ‘love.’

We are so up in arms over the few, the very few, that commit horrendous acts of violence but, in reality the most suffering is perpetrated by those that will never see the inside of a prison yet still manage to cause countless pain to many.

The cheating spouse that destroys their marriage and family, the employee that steals from their company, the tax evader, the abusive friend, is not any better than a rapist or child molester in the spiritual realm, different maybe, but not any better or any worse, bottom line.

Coloma's avatar

And no, I am not advocating the reckless release of violent sexual offenders.
The odds of them healing from their issues are not good.

Erulin's avatar

@DrasticDreamer : I don’t know if you work with people that were molested, but I take it you do (hence you knowing so many people that were) that or you are in a selfhelp-group.

If you work with adults that were molested and still need help, you will only get to see the people that do not overcome it. You won’t get to see those that overcome it.

If you work with children that have been abused, you can’t know if they will overcome it or not.

If you were a victim, then I’m truely sorry if my posts have opened old wounds… that wasn’t and would never be my intention.

You are ofcourse correct that you can’t help everyone. I’m a firm believer in the conversion laws of Stern that state that we are who we are because of both genetical influences and enviromental influences (the family into which we were born, our friends, our surroundings) So I understad perfectly that you can not help everyone overcome everything, but we can try to help as many as possible in the proper way… i.e. stop using a set number of steps from point A to point B, but truely individualized treament.

Reinforcing the believe that all children are FUBAR after being molested won’t help a single child… If they catch on to someone thinking that of them, it will do more bad then good…

I mean, everytime I hear people saying : “Molested children have a bigger chance of becoming molesters themselves” I cringe… why ? Because if I were to believe that, then I would have an excuse to do it… “well… it’s not my fault… I got molested myself”

@cockswain ofcourse… not that I wish it upon them to feel guilty for the rest of their lives, but ofcouse it’s alot worse to live with guilt for years then to just get put to death…


No. I only support capital punishment for convicted murderers, not violent rapists or pedophiles, a life should only be taken for another physical life.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Erulin I agree with you that reinforcing victims to believe that they’re fucked up beyond repair is only a very negative thing. But even surrounded by love from all sides, not a lot of victims fully recover. That’s all I’m saying. Right or wrong, it doesn’t change anything, unfortunately.

cockswain's avatar

@Coloma The cheating spouse that destroys their marriage and family, the employee that steals from their company, the tax evader, the abusive friend, is not any better than a rapist or child molester in the spiritual realm, different maybe, but not any better or any worse, bottom line.

I need some further explanation on this one if you don’t mind. If I steal, say, $10,000 from my employer, am I as spiritually bereft as the man that tortures a child to death?

@zzc Is prison worse than death? Great question. I don’t know. What do you think?

@MRSHINYSHOES So the standard litmus test for that answer: would you not want to see the man that rapes and tortures your wife/sister/daughter put to death?

Coloma's avatar


It’s all relevant.

Whatever within you, that allowed yourself to fall from grace, so to speak, is the same root of gracelessness that a violent offender abides by as well.

Stealing a candy bar may not be quite as bad as stealing a car, but stealing is stealing.

Once a person lacks conscience anything is possible.

What if that 10k was destined for a life saving operation, and by stealing it you kept someone from getting a new heart or liver?

Any serious breach of integrity flows into the same sewer.

cockswain's avatar

Mmmmm. I get your logic, but I’m sorry, I do not agree with it. But I still respect you as much as ever.

Coloma's avatar

@cockswain explanations of thought may be weak, but, my point is….that mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy humans see each other as one.

I am you and you are me.

What one does to another, one does to themselves.

In this sense it all ties into a much bigger picture.

Thanks for your gracious support, likwise! ;-)


@cockswain——No. Death is too easy.

ragingloli's avatar

No. It should be completely abolished. Worldwide.
Also, for the sake of this discussion, assume waterboarding is NOT the type of torture that would be punishable by death.
If I supported the Death penalty, Waterboarding would definitely be the type of torture that would get you the needle.

So the standard litmus test for that answer: would you not want to see the man that rapes and tortures your wife/sister/daughter put to death?
So the “standard litmus test” is the appeal-to-emotion fallacy? That is just great.

Odysseus's avatar

Too vague a question for any answer to be correct.
It seems to be more of a ‘what’s your opinion’ type question.
My opinion = I am generally against the death penalty save for the most evil of people whom have been found guilty with 99.999% certainty, and hold little hope of ever mending their ways.

DominicX's avatar

I’m sorry, but I just don’t support the idea that the government should be allowed to kill people. I don’t support the death penalty under any circumstances, no matter how deplorable the crime. They can rot in prison for all I care, but the idea that they can be killed by the government doesn’t sit right with me.

Now, experiencing a crime such as this has a tendency to change people. It’s possible that if I lose a loved one to a murderer, I could change my mind. I’ve heard people say things like “I was against the death penalty until [loved one] was murdered.” That kind of thing happens. I’ll never truly know how I would react in such a situation, but as it is, I do not support the death penalty.

If the death penalty is to continue to be allowed, however, I believe it should only be used in murder cases where there is strong DNA/blood evidence.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

I agree with @nikipedia. The exoneration of death row inmates in my home state underlines the issue of miscarriage of justice.

augustlan's avatar

Absolutely not. I’m with @DominicX on this one. I don’t believe in the death penalty for any reason. We should not be in the business of vengeance, which is all it really is since we know that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent and costs more than life imprisonment. I do think that those types of criminals should be locked up for life, and that it shouldn’t necessarily be a nice life. I don’t mean we should torture them, but I’d be fine if they had to live without the things we take for granted… like a TV, gym, or library, for instance.

As for the standard litmus test… most of you know that I was sexually abused for just about my entire childhood. I hated and feared my abuser, and had no tender feelings for him whatsoever. But I never once wanted my abuser put to death. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have killed him in self-defense. Likewise, I’d probably kill someone in a fit of rage if I caught them in the act of hurting one of my children similarly. But after the fact? No.

LostInParadise's avatar

The only justification for the death penalty in my opinion is if it acts as a deterrent. If you have people who are unable to stop themselves from committing crimes then obviously the death penalty is not doing much deterring. How about bringing back penal colonies? Find some remote island and let the incorrigible live comfortably while bothering one another and leaving the rest of us alone.

We could have a new thread on the eye for an eye philosophy. I am surprised that some here subscribe to it. Hurting someone else in return for hurt caused does not improve anything. It just increases overall suffering. It reminds me of the question, Do two wrongs make a right?

Winters's avatar

I guess so unless it were possible to come up with a 100% successful reformation program for people like this. However, most people who end up in prison for doing things to children tend to find themselves in the morgue relatively quickly.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m flip-flopping again. I wish I had not answered this question at all.

Blondesjon's avatar

We all talk about the death penalty’s effectiveness as a deterrent in respect to would be criminals. Who cares?

I look at the death penalty as a way to keep the criminal being put to death from ever getting a chance to repeat their crime(s).

ragingloli's avatar

well i guess we should execute every criminal then

WestRiverrat's avatar

@ragingloli Kentucky used to do that. When it became a state it had no penitentiary. If you were convicted of a felony you hung, usually that afternoon or the next morning. They saw no sense wasting food on a dead man.

Misdemeanor offenses meant you worked it off for the city, usually by cleaning out the public corrals or the courthouse out house, unless you could pay the fine.

bob_'s avatar

@ragingloli Well, I guess we should pardon all criminals, then. You know, turn the other cheek.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ragingloli . . . i knew you’d come around.

Erulin's avatar

@bob_ To bad you don’t know the original meaning of “turning the other cheeck” before Catholics destroyed that saying utterly

WiseOldUnicorn's avatar

Personally, I don’t think the death penalty should be extended to anyone. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and regardless of whether it’s government-sanctioned or not, murder is still wrong. Are there people in this world that have done things that would make me be happy to see them killed? Absolutely. That does not, however, make it morally right. Not to mention, the justice system is not infallible, and it’s not worth the risk that someone innocent could be falsely convicted and killed.

augustlan's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Don’t feel bad. I’ve flip-flopped on the death penalty a few times, myself. Now I’m certain of my feelings, but I wasn’t always so sure. (I never wanted it used on my abuser, but was uncertain about folks like terrorists.)

@Blondesjon I get your point, but why wouldn’t life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole, be a better alternative?

Blondesjon's avatar

@augustlan . . . The death penalty is much more cost effective. Take the tax dollars involved in keeping a prisoner incarcerated for life and apply it toward health care or education.

ragingloli's avatar

“The death penalty is much more cost effective.”
No it is not. Appeals processes of inmates drive (you know, when they want to try to prove their innocence) the cost for the death penalty up massively and make the death penalty a lot more expensive than life incarceration.

mattbrowne's avatar

No. The solution for ultra-violent individuals is preventive detention which means a life sentence means life and even a 10-year sentence means life in prison (“indeterminate life sentence”), see for example

The death penalty gives the criminals an easy way out. And in case of a mistake it cannot be undone.

augustlan's avatar

@Blondesjon It definitely is not cheaper under our current system. The death penalty would only be more cost effective if carried out very quickly. Given the many innocent people later cleared of the crimes they were convicted of, I am opposed to changing our current system to allow the sentence to be carried out quickly.

Blondesjon's avatar

Then limit appeals and get the chair fired up.

I’m not talking about rushing Joe Blow to the gallows based on shaky evidence. I’m talking about criminals who have been caught red handed, be it a smoking gun or irrevocable DNA evidence. These criminals don’t get appeals or a chance to get off on a technicality. They get the hot shot and ride the bullet train to nothingness.

brokenhearted's avatar

The Death Penalty should be enforced whenever possible. If not society will be burdened beyond recovery. Jails will become over crowded. There will come a time where there is No More money to cover the cost of housing inmates. Prisons are becoming privately run in some cases because the States can No longer afford the costs involved. How much tax can the average worker be expected to pay for other peoples mistakes?

ragingloli's avatar

Except that the US has alot more prisoners per capita than countries without the death penalty.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ragingloli . . . On this point I agree with you. Thanks to our ridiculous “war” on drugs, prisons are overcrowded by the addition of a great deal of non-violent offenders.

Erulin's avatar

@Blondesjon totaly agree, decriminalising drug use would be a good step forward. I don’t mean legalising it, just decriminalising it…

Odysseus's avatar

@brokenhearted Privatisation of prisons is big business. Stricter laws = more inmates = more $$$$. And having big $$ ensures that you have a say in the law. hehe
Capitalism is reaching breaking point.

Erulin's avatar

Wasn’t there a town in the US where they had a privatized facility for children. 9 month for making fun of your teacher and stuff like that… till it came out that the Judge was a close friend of the owner of the facility…

Think I saw that in Micheal Moore’s CapĂ®talism : A Love Story


Perhaps to those who subject their victims to torture, but rapists and pedophiles, no. The punishment does not equal the crime committed. Overkill, if you ask me.

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