Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Probably Opening a Can of Worms

Confession: I'm fairly obsessed with politics. You wouldn't know by reading my blog because I've shied away from writing about it. I'm not exactly sure why, but I think it has to do with the nature of politics. Everything is very, very complicated and no matter how much information you have on any particular issue, there's still more you could learn. And although I have my basic opinions and try to follow things closely, I admit that I can be wrong about things. Since most people seem to be either extremely opinionated or apathetic when it comes to politics, I haven't really felt like opening that can of worms. Until now. At the request of one of my fantastic Colorado friends, I'm going to start blogging about my views.

First on my agenda: the death penalty. Although I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about this topic, I've only recently solidified my opinion on it. Here are some of the pro-death penalty arguments and my rebuttals for each:

1) It's a just punishment. They deserve to die for what they've done. I worked as a tutor for prisoners trying to get their high school diplomas a few years ago and it really opened my eyes to a completely different world than the one I was brought up in. While there were scary, scummy prisoners, it was easy to see that a lot of them had been born into really bad situations. Situations so bad that if I was placed in them I'm sure I'd be in prison as well. It was amazing to see how they reacted to the program I helped implement. Most of them were so thirsty for any bit of knowledge and kindness they could get. While they had all made serious mistakes, they wanted to change for the better. I'm not naive enough to say all prisoners are like that, but I am saying there are some who, when given the chance, will change for the better. They may deserve to die for what they've done, but as a Christian who believes it's possible for people to change, I just can't support this argument.

2) It deters other potential criminals. Whether or not the death penalty deters future criminals has been thoroughly studied by many criminology experts. While there is some support for the deterrence argument, most experts agree that it doesn't work. Would sentencing more people to death or decreasing the time spent on death row lower the crime rate? It's hard to say, but I really don't think so.

3) Getting rid of the criminals prevents them from committing the crime again. This is true. It does keep them from committing the crime again, but so would incarceration for life without parole.

4) Countries with the death penalty have lower crime rates. Yes, but these countries are: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, etc. Oh wait, do we really want to be like these countries? Because I'm pretty sure we should be taking our cues from Iran. It being an axis of evil and all...

5) The death penalty costs less than incarceration. I won't even pretend it's not expensive to keep a prisoner for life. That's a lot of money spent on food and amenities that could have been used for something like education or law enforcement. Unfortunately it can also cost as much or more to execute someone. Costs for trials in which the death penalty is sought are significantly more expensive than ones in which incarceration is desired. And I'm not sure that it's completely logical to kill someone (no matter how awful they are, they are still human) in order to save money.

So there you have it. Feel free to share your opinions.


ellesappelle said...

Sorry to be boring but: I agree. :)

One question - what do you think of the death penalty for war crimes? For example, do you think it was just for the Nazis who were convicted in the Nuremberg Trials to be executed? What about Saddam Hussein (because I suspect he is less clearcut than the Nazis)?

Diane said...

I agree, but my death penalty views are more that I feel it's cruel and plain wrong.

It's expensive and a waste of manpower, time and legal fees where I'm concerned. I don't know why we don't just do away with the death penalty.

Death row inmates are sitting around waiting to die while their cases are exhausted through years of appeals.

Death row inmates have no windows, so sense of time (no clocks) and lights are kept ON all the time. It's strange. But, what gets me the most is how much pleasure some get out of these killings.

It's an eye for an eye and there is no high moral ground here where I'm concerned. Someone still has to execute these people.

I feel it's unlikely that a mistake hasn't ever been made and someone was killed that shouldn't have been. Given that inmates are being proven years and lately, decades later to be innocent--I feel that it's silly to think that this can't happen here.

I'm against the death penalty across the board regardless of the crime as I feel it's not our place to judge when someone could loose their life.

You can always close the can of worms. It's your blog and your choice about what you do and don't share or discuss.

Anonymous said...

Without delving into a lot (as you know I will rarely do) at this time I will say that I don't agree with all that you say.

Trish Ryan said...

Bold post, nicely done! I agree - it's a slippery slope when our government can legally kill it's citizens.

Foxy Lady said...

Congrats on your leap into the unblogged:) Good topic to begin with, I would say. Not to be the devil's advocate (okay, a little, but just for fun), what would you say to the family of the innocent victims who want closure and say they could only find it through execution of the criminal?
Hehe...I'm proud of you...

Stacy said...

I agree with all of the points you made. It doesn't fix anything, and generally the people who get executed are the ones who can't afford good lawyers. Without a good lawyer, how do we even know for sure they're guilty?

JenKneeBee said...

Allie: I think even for the Nazis or Saddam my opinion stands. Yes they did horrible things. But I just don't believe in the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth train of thought. Solitary confinement for life possibly.

Foxyness: I think I'd tell them to go read the Count of Monte Cristo. Revenge doesn't provide closure. Forgiveness does.