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Capital Punishment: Why Everyone is Wrong

Updated on June 30, 2016
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My tax dollars are used in all sorts ways with which I disagree, one of the more egregious is state-sanctioned, premeditated murder of fellow US citizens as a form of discipline.

While the civilized world has largely shrugged off such barbaric tendencies, and while more and more private companies refuse to sell drugs if used to incite death - the US remains stuck in the Middle Ages when it comes to killing our own people for revenge.

Perhaps in a perfect world we would enact perfect laws, perfectly charged & perfectly prosecuted, perfectly defended & perfectly adjudicated before perfectly reasonable jurors, with perfectly impartial application to perfectly sinister criminals, in an effort to perfectly dissuade perfectly logical otherwise-criminals in a perfectly logical world.

Instead, we hide quasi-professionals behind closed-doors and away from prying eyes, to murder our fellow citizens in a disturbing effort to satisfy our blood-lust for revenge. We support and defend a barbaric policy which not only wrongly murders innocent people, but does so in an extremely racist manner. Perhaps some (only some) of this could conceivably be overlooked, if in fact capital punishment could be shown to be an effective form of dissuasion.

Capital Punishment
Capital Punishment | Source

There may very well be plenty of people among us who deserve to die - but how many of us deserve to kill? And even if the vast majority of people sentenced to die may seem unworthy of sympathy, how many collateral innocents is it okay for us to murder in the pursuit of exterminating bad people?

And the idea which makes the least bit of sense is the idea that we can teach people not to kill people - by killing people! Killing people carries the most harsh of possible penalties, but killing bad people is perfectly reasonable. Do not as I do, but as I say...

Ah yes, reason.

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Christian Conservatives

"...He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone." -John 8:7
"Judge not, that you not be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will also be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” -Matthew 7:1-3
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” -Matthew 6:15
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 7:12
"If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them." -Luke 6:29
And He said, “Woe to you also, you lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” -Luke 11:46
But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice..." -Matthew 9:13
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.” -Matthew 15:8,9

Fiscal Conservatives

The cost of prosecuting a capital punishment case versus a 'life' case is a difference of $90,000 per inmate, per year of incarceration.

Another way to think about this - US life expectancy is 78 years*, if a defendant is 18, then it costs $90k x 60 years = $5,400,000 more to kill a fellow US citizen than to keep them alive and in prison.

(*US average. Men live shorter lives than women, black men live shorter lives than white, and I would venture to guess that folks in prison have shorter overall life expectancies - but you get the point.)

Libertarians

And if you want to talk hypocrisy, those small-government folks take the cake. They want a government so small that it murders it's own citizens. On purpose. Libertarians cannot be pro-capital punishment.

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Establishment Democrats

To those spineless abhorrents who think they have to balance their beliefs that women can control their own bodies, and that equality means for gay people, too - by being tough on crime.

It doesn't work. If you learn one thing from Obama, it's that they don't like you. Doesn't matter how tough you are on crime, how hawkish you are with Iran, how much you talk national security and counter-terrorism, how much you thump your bible or clutch your rifle - they don't like you.

They won't cooperate. They think effective government hurts their brand, they will not play nice, even when they agree on policy. Divided gov't is broken gov't, you have to win control. You win moderates by being more reasonable and making better (populist) arguments. By showing the contrast, not by going juuuust to the left of your opponent.

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Liberal Progressives

Make no mistake (and it's certainly no mistake) - the justice system is anything but.

Private prisons use their profits to (legally) bribe politicians who pass laws that keep those private prisons profitable, by filling them with non-violent drug offenders and guaranteeing a minimum number of beds-filled (or else the tax-payers reimburse the private prison).

Blacks are more likely to be (aggressively) charged for crimes with (racist) mandatory-minimums. While using/manufacturing/selling drugs at roughly the same rates, blacks are far more likely to be convicted for drugs. Blacks and Latinos consist the vast majority of death row inmates while consisting of less than half the population. As with the bible verses, I could go on...

When we murder someone (yes murder, it's premeditated), we can't take that back. We have tens of thousands of DNA tests waiting to be done, and innocent people are rotting in prison for it. A recent study showed that 1 in 25 death row inmates were innocent! That is collateral damage that none of us should be comfortable with.

Once in prison, we throw people in solitary for decades at a time, or leave them in a prison gang and rape culture that only makes matters worse. What happened to rehabilitation? Isn't that why we called them penitentiaries in the first place?

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Medical Professionals

Hippocratic oath. First, do no harm. Luckily, every major medical association refuses to allow members to participate in a state-sanctioned murder. Unfortunately, this means that barely-trained volunteers are tasked with carrying out the premeditated killing. (Hence the mishap in Missouri a while back, where they went straight through the vein and as result the drugs were absorbed into the muscle rather than the blood stream.)

Kudos medical professionals. Huzzah. And boo to those vile volunteer cads carrying out the evil deed.

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Pharmaceutical Companies

Profits. Pharmaceutical companies are (at least 50%) publicly traded, which means fiduciary responsibility to share-holders takes precedent. In this particular case, that can be a good thing.

When you sell pharmaceuticals, it is very bad marketing if your company is associated with death. More specifically, you don't want your brand of anesthetic known for killing people. Too easy.

Compounding companies on the other hand?

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The States

Red states are turning to compounding pharmacies for single-use batches with exactly zero FDA oversight/approval and no assurance of 'cruel and unusual' compliance.

The SCOTUS has approved lethal injection under the 8th Amendment only under specific conditions, including the specific drugs to be used and where on the body to inject.

We are now passing laws in states that not only hide the identities of the folks performing the executions, and laws hiding the producers of the drugs used, but laws even hiding the drugs used to murder our people, clearly at odds with SCOTUS.

We also have states (FL) trying to expedite the process so innocent death-row inmates have minimal for appeal.

If we're going to make such a fuss over how we kill people, if we are going to eschew the 8th Amendment -

Old Sparky
Old Sparky | Source

'Murica

Pay-per-view. Weekly.

We have a free pregame sentencing show on CSPAN with (preferably good-looking) people convicted of crimes with possible life-sentences. As with the ponies, we could have successive events (sentencings) on which bets can be placed - bets on 15-to-life, 25-to-life, life w/o parole, multiple life sentences (either concurrent or consecutive), and death.

Sure, it would throw sentencing guidelines into chaos, but we're talking about criminals here, who cares?

Once the main show begins, those sentenced to death in the previous weeks' pregame show step up to spin the Wheel of Death! Guillotine? Lions? Firing squad? Disemboweling? Crucifixion? Burning at the stake? Drowning? Not only would it be ratings gold, this allows for all the more wagering! Just think of all of the tax-breaks we could give to the wealthy with the proceeds!

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      In one of my hubs about the death penalty, I made a similar point that you made in yur section of this hub addressed to Christians. On the cross, Jesus did not ask for justice , he asked for forgiveness. "Father forgive them..." is what the bible says he said.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      This is a very smart hub-solid moral and pragmatic arguments followed with a side order of satire. I have written on this topic too. Can we dare to hope that the Supreme Court will strike capital punishment down? Very well done. Voted up+++

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Justin - I began writing a response to the nits you picked...two hours ago! When I realized that I'd written enough for a hub, I decided that perhaps that's what it should become. I'll need to do some research and work on it a lot more, but at some point I'll add to your arguments against capital punishment and publish what I've written on HP (with a link to your hub).

      When I'm passionate about a topic, I tend to go off on tangents, but this one turned into a record one for me! So, I copied what I'd written and pasted it into a Word document, and then I erased it from your comments section. I hope that once I've completed my research, the writing and published it on HP, you will be satisfied, perhaps even pleased, with my long answers to your questions.

      Regards,

      Jaye

    • Justin Earick profile image
      Author

      Justin Earick 3 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      I appreciate your support. But I must pick nits.

      This is not a simple black-or-white issue. The first question is whether the severity of the punishment dissuades the individual (feel free to provide evidence).

      My foremost question is this - while many people may certainly well deserve to die, how many people do I (we) deserve to kill?

      Secondarily is the purpose of punishment. Is it it's purpose to incite fear of inhumane treatment, or to rehabilitate people so that they can assimilate back into society?

      Do we throw people away once they commit a crime? Or are they still people?

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Every time I read about another death-row inmate being found innocent of the crime for which 12 untrained jurors convicted him (usually male) and a judge levied the death sentence, I get cold chills. It could happen to anyone!

      And the hypocrites to whom you referred--those same ones who speak out voluably about 'right to life' somehow do not equate RIGHT TO LIFE with convicted live adults the same as with with unborn fetuses.

      There are some crimes so heinous, usually those committed by a psychopath with no conscience and unable to feel remorse, and especially those where a child is concerned, I can almost understand the mob mentality that takes over and screams for blood. And yet.... I can't reasonably consider that murdering a murderer will deter another psychopath from committing murder. Life in prison with no chance for parole will keep the murderer off the streets and protect citizens. Solitary confinement can protect guards and other prisoners if this person is such a monster. But let's tell it like it is: Capital punishment is nothing but REVENGE.

      Voted Up+++

      Jaye