Saturday, July 20, 2019

Capital Punishment Essay: Incidental Issues :: Argumentative Persuasive Topics

Incidental Issues and Capital Punishment      Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  This essay gives consideration to some of the incidental issues in the death penalty debate: cost, relative suffering, brutalization, and others.    Many nondecisive issues are associated with capital punishment. Some believe that the monetary cost of appealing a capital sentence is excessive (1). Yet most comparisons of the cost of life imprisonment with the cost of life imprisonment with the cost of execution, apart from their dubious relevance, are flawed at least by the implied assumption that life prisoners will generate no judicial costs during their imprisonment. At any rate, the actual monetary costs are trumped by the importance of doing justice.    Others insist that a person sentenced to death suffers more than his victim suffered, and that this (excess) suffering is undue according to the lex talionis (rule of retaliation) (2). We cannot know whether the murderer on death row suffers more than his victim suffered; however, unlike the murderer, the victim deserved none of the suffering inflicted. Further, the limitations of the lex talionis were meant to restrain private vengeance, not the social retribution that has taken its place. Punishment-- regardless of the motivation-- is not intended to revenge, offset, or compensate for the victim's suffering, or to measured by it. Punishment is to vindicate the law and the social order undermined by the crime. This is why a kidnapper's penal confinement is not limited to the period for which he imprisoned his victim; nor is a burglar's confinement meant merely to offset the suffering or the harm he caused his victim; nor is it meant only to offset the advantage he gained (3).    Another argument heard at least since Beccaria (4) is that, by killing a murderer, we encourage, endorse, or legitimize unlawful killing. Yet, although all punishments are meant to be unpleasant, it is seldom argued that they legitimize the unlawful imposition of identical unpleasantness. Imprisonment is not thought to legitimize kidnapping; neither are fines thought to legitimize robbery. The difference between murder and execution, or between kidnapping and imprisonment, is that the first is unlawful and undeserved, the second a lawful and deserved punishment for an unlawful act. The physical similarities of the punishment to the crime are irrelevant. The relevant difference is not physical, but social (5).    We threaten punishments in order to deter crime. We impose them not only to make the threats credible but also as retribution (justice) for the crimes that were not deterred.

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