Tag Archives: Crime

Capital punishment: Davis v Brewer

The death penalty. It’s wrong not because of doubt, such as any in Davis’s case. Brewer was executed too and it seems no doubt existed there. The penalty isn’t wrong because it’s barbaric: Davis was anaesthetised before the lethal drug was administered so he was never in physical pain.
The death penalty is wrong because it’s the only penalty a state has against it’s own citizens that it can not apply to itself.
In other words, it’s not justice. The family & friends of the victim that led to the penalty don’t get justice, and the state potentially adds another family to grieve.
The death penalty is wrong because it should always be penalty of last resort, not the first. The functions of prison are to separate dangerous people from civil society, punish the convicted and to attempt reform on convicted. When we remove any of these functions, prison no longer has a role in society.
The death penalty is wrong because our judgement on what is a deliberate act, usually murder, is arbitary and flawed. You shoot and kill a civilian in the street? Murder. You drive you car, killing a pedestrian? Not murder. For the same outcome the penalties are different. Sure, you’ll argue killing the pedestrian was an accident, and juries will believe you because they can empathise as fellow drivers: that jury won’t empathise if you’re a shooter, though.
The death penalty is wrong because, and you must forgive an atheist for saying this, the bible on which our justice is based tell us that killing is wrong and vengeance is not a trait that we humans should aspire to. If someone wants to argue “yes, but…” then I simply say this: if you accept that there are circumstances to ignore just one Commandment, then there are circumstances to reject all Commandments, and therefore there is no basis for a civil, just society- we will be living in a society free to ignore the laws we don’t like and arbitrarily enforce we believe should exist on anyone that offends us.
This issue is emotive. No amount of reason will ever persuade an ardent supporter of capital punishment. In part this is why there was support for Davis and not Brewer. Yet if we want to call ourselves a civil society we must argue that if we had wished to spare Davis’s life, then sparing a vicious, hateful, murderous man by the name of Brewer was equally important. Reverse that, if a vicious, hateful murderous man does not deserve clemency to live, then any person who kills anyone for any reason also forfeits their right to live. That being the case, we lose the very thing that has made us the most advanced, successful animal to ever occupy this earth; our humanity.
The death penalty is wrong. Period.

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