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Friday, October 05, 2012
 Death Penalty Redux

It's been eight years since I wrote about the death penalty, and my opinion overall really hasn't changed for the most part. The salient points:

  • It doesn't really serve as a deterrent, because no one seems that concerned about it.
  • There's good evidence that innocent people were executed, either because of new DNA evidence or malfeasance by police and/or prosecutors.
  • Even if you can get someone sentenced to death, it's at least 15 years before anyone ever gets around to it. It's really terribly costly, all told.
So, those are my reasons for being being opposed to it, and fine reasons they are, but even so, I don't really object to the principle of the thing.  My feeling is not that capital punishment isn't so much wrong or cruel as it is simply misapplied.

I believe that if you have incontrovertible evidence of a crime, video, DNA, more than ten eyewitnesses, I mean really ironclad stuff, then go ahead and kill the guy.  If shaky eyewitness testimony or circumstantial evidence comes into play, then the death penalty is off the table.

To the point of its misapplication, the evidentiary threshold shouldn't only be applied to capital murder cases.  It should apply to particularly brutal assaults, major financial crimes, rape, and especially child rape.  

What I know of pedophiles is that it seems as though many would, if a therapy was available or a switch could be thrown to stop the urges, would gladly do it.  Most pedophiles don't want to be pedophiles.  (This isn't to excuse any of the behavior.)  My point is that these guys are wired a certain way, and no amount of therapy or threat of prison is going to stop them from doing what they do.  If the proof meets the high bar, then execute him.  Give him the mandatory appeal, but if he's ruled against, he has 48 hours to get his affairs in order.

If you want to know how high a bar I'm setting for proof, I'll put it this way: Without knowing nearly all the details of the case, and based solely on what I've read, Jerry Sandusky wouldn't qualify for execution.  As far as I know, there isn't any proof other than one eyewitness and that of the victims.  There's no visual or auditory proof, and no DNA that I'm aware of.  If I'm wrong about the scarcity of more ironclad evidence, then I gladly nominate that scumbag for the end of a rope.

The same applies for the other types of crimes I mentioned, and probably a bunch more.  A guy who beats the hell out of his wife and kids was probably beaten as a child by his parents, and his own kids are going to end up beating their own children.  Just end it.  Break the chain, and let's put the defective genes to bed.

There are certain people who cannot be rehabilitated or fixed. Given that even rapists who were "chemically castrated" still found ways to commit sexual crimes, there's just no point to keeping these people around if they've been proven guilty to the degree I've described.

I'm not a liberal, I'm not a conservative, I'm a rationalist. My views and opinions are based solely on what makes sense.  You can argue with me about this if you want, just so you know, you're wrong.

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posted at 12:29 AM

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