Friday, December 02, 2005

The Death Penalty

With the nation's 1000th execution (since its reinstatement, or some such) past, I learned about Tookie, a man also sentenced to be executed. He's apparently a founder of the Crips, an original gangster. He's since convincingly become a changed man, so should he still be executed? It seems like he can do so much good if allowed to live.

I was born in Texas, but moved when I was 8, so maybe that doesn't have so much to do with anything. Either way, I'm also a big believer in an eye for an eye. I believe that if you commit a crime (assuming that it is also a wrong), you should be punished for it in a manner befitting.

So then, the matter comes to redemption. While Tookie may be contrite, on a personal level, if I were a victim, I would certainly want to see him executed. That is, he would be beyond redemption. On a societal level, allowing him to live may allow him to undo some of the harm he's done. I suppose he could go to gang infested areas and make speeches in middle schools.

I really don't like the idea of a generally bad person going on to live a successful life. I suppose I could be fine with letting him go if all the proceeds from his life (books, speaking tours, personal property, etc...) were to be property of the state, effectively living a non-profit life. His penitence for his past crimes would be bettering society. In many ways, he wouldn't be a free man, but for his past crimes, I don't think can ever be free, if only in his own mind, if he is truly contrite.


Deals On Wheels said...

Death penalty is tricky. Personally, I've always thought that death (as in execution) was an easy way out. I'd rather have someone be sentenced to life in prison - where they would have to spend every single waking moment of the rest of their life, thinking about what they did (and paying for it that way). The rest of your life is a LONG time. Having no chance of parole, no chance of freedom - that is almost a kind of living death, in a way.

Of course, it is probably impossible to truly imagine how you would feel about something like the death penalty, until someone commits a crime against a friend or love one that would deserve it.

Interesting topic, though.

Gabe said...

Of course I'm no expert, but I suppose the death penalty serves several purposes, some of which are questionable. There is the deterrent aspect, which probably doesn't factor into passionate crimes, but may in calculated ones. There is the separation of a person supposedly beyond redemption from society. And there is the vengeance aspect.

Rewatching Batman Begins the other day, Rachel says, "Justice is about promoting harmony. Revenge is just about you making yourself feel better." But really, the justice system may serve to avenge rather than allow revenge. "Promoting harmony" is really another way of saying "establishing order", which has really got to be dependent on the society being addressed.

I think it would be fitting to allow the people directly affected by the crime to decide the punishment (within the bounds of cruel and unusual limitations).