Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Death for a death

The first excecution in the USA has been carried out since the Supreme Court lifted its temporary hold on excecutions. A mere 20 people showed up to protest the event.

The man convicted of killing his girlfriend by shooting her in the face in 1988 was put to death by leathal injection.

After 20 years, I can not help but wonder if they put to death the same man that committed those crimes. Undoubtedly circumstances would have changed the man. I don't know if he was a nicer or meaner man...but i would find it hard to believe he was exactly the same.

The issue brings up the question of punishment verse rehabilitation. While prison is arguably the worst place for rehabilitation, is our goal as a society to produce balanced members of society? or to punish those who have committed crimes against the society?

If the process is meant simply to punish, execution is one of the better punishments.

If the process is meant to rehabiliate, than the execution of a prisoner is useless.

If the process is meant to serve as a detourant for those who might choose a life of crime, studies suggest that criminals don't believe they will be caught...thus the punishement is not enough of a detourant.

Confusious once said, "Consideration for others is the basic of a good life, a good society". If we are not considering even the lowest in our society, than we have failed to make a good society. After all, "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons". (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

Capital punishment might feel like the right course of action when we have been wronged, but to base judgement on a feeling is wrong. We must be willing to provide more than food and water to those who trespass against society...in fact we should be providing these services long before they trespass. Counselling, Psychologists, Educators, financial stablities must all be provided if a society wants to move forward together.

We have already seen the cost of not providing these. The prisons are full and over flowing. Homelessness is rising, the life expectancy is lower for those on the other side of the gap.

Opening more prisons will not solve this problem. Fast tracking the execution line will not keep society safe. We need to move to the heart of the problem.

1 comment:

ansell said...

are you prepared to say the heart of the problem is you and everyone else in society who hasn't actively protested every single thing that is thought in some way to be wrong with society?

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons" is a reasonably broken generalisation in my opinion, although at the time of writing it might have been more meaningful.

If you don't provide deterents your hypothetical good citizens won't exist, and chances are you won't either. If you attempt to rehabilitate murderers where will you do it? Will you pay money out of your pocket to help murderers and rapists rehabilitate, assuming that it is possible in more cases than not (for lack of a better reason for doing it). How will you pay for counsellors more than are currently given, and would you actually give up your internet or another commodity in order to pay for the services if need be when the amount of human effort put into the prevention causes changes in other parts of society?

I don't know anything about US society, but many many of these services are already provided free of charge in Australia. Also, prisons may simply be overflowing because of increased population, as opposed to a higher percentage of prisoners per capita. How big is the gap actually in Australia for those more likely to be in jail for violent crimes?