: NJ, while in my heart I believe some horrible murderers deserve the
death penalty, intellectually I know that it demeans the nation which
practices it, and does not deter crime and, most importantly, is applied in a prejudiced and classist way and, even more importantly, can be applied erroneously, thereby executing an innocent man.
But EVERY punishment, in the society we live in, is going to be applied
in a prejudiced and classist way. The way to fix that is to change
society, not the punishment.
You make one day - maybe - eliminate class, but you'll never eliminate prejudice.
:Make all lawyers work for teh state, thus giving everyone an equal shot at getting a good lawyer.
"A shot at getting a good lawyer." That's the crux of your statement, and even if all lawyers work for the state, they will always vary in talent and commitment, so woe to you if you get the inferior lawyer.
:That's an argument for changing the circumstances of trials, notthe eventual punishment. Is it OK if lots of people are unjustly imprisoned for life?
Jailing an innocent person for even one day is wrong, but the obvious difference between jail and death is that an imprisoned person can still prove their innocence and be set free, while a dead person can only rot.
: In my criminal law class, my professor arranged the following: while
he was lecturing, a young man burst into the lecture hall, ran down the
steps, squirted a water pistol in the professor's face, and ran out the
side door. There were dozens of witnesses to the awful crime...and
dozens of differing descriptions of the perpetrator. I need go no
further in explaining why the death penalty should not exist.
:What about when people confess?
You mean of their own free will, and when they're not crazy or suicidal or have some other ulterior motive? Okay, the murderer confesses, and better still, two people saw him do it, and a security camera caught him in the act. Now we move on to whether it is good for society to execute people, and my answer is no. When the State kills, it assumes godlike powers, and also says to its citizens: thou may kill. It makes for a violent, unjust society. Look around at the countries which still execute people: e.g., Iran, Saudi Arabia, China; tyrannies all, with scant respect for civil and human rights, and rampant torture. Is that the awful club the USA should be a member of?
Lastly, I personally think it's a harsher punishment to jail someone for the rest of their life than to kill them quickly, both due to the misery of living in a jail, and also due to the irony that in this world, very few people will enjoy the rare luxury of a quick and painless death - so why give it to heinous criminals, of all people?