There are those who say capital punishment is itself murder. There are those who say it is the fit punishment for pre-meditated murder.
The clash goes on – the ones note abuses and the death of innocents, the others claim it is the only true deterrant to murder.
The scripture is clear – a life for a life.
The reasons are clear :
- If justice means punishment equal to the crime and to the value of the precept then state inflicted death is the only real justice for murder.
- If it is not possible to forfeit one’s right to life by any amount of murdering others then human life is worth very little.
- All true moral law requires sanctions. Law without sanctions is no law but mere advice or suggestion. Sanctions must imperatively be equal to the value of the law. If not then a decisive imbalance occurs leaving the way for abusers to profit from the inequality. If the sanction is greater than the worth of the precept then the state is guilty of cruelty and injustice – ex. cutting off a hand for theft of a loaf of bread. If the sanction is less the the worth of the precept then the citizen of the state may commit a transgression with relative impunity and injustice is done.
- Injustice is always wrong. If sanctions to precepts do not in fact reflect the value of the precepts then this is of itself an abuse and unjust.
- Abuses though certainly wrong and unjust in themselves have no bearing on the value of the precept and it’s obligatory sanctions. Abuses can be avoided under the proper rules.
- If the death penalty is ALWAYS wrong then why do all nations have armies? Why do all societies have police forces – most of which are lethaly armed? If capital sanctions are wrong these armed forces must also be wrong since they are mandated with the right to take life when necessary for the protection of other lives.
- No amount of “jail time” can equal the loss of one single human life. Life is irreplaceable.
The penalty for involuntary killing “manslaughter” cannot be equal to the value of the precept on murder since the focus of all law is first of all a question of intent and motive. Accidental killing, such as fatal road collisions, cannot be viewed as violations of the precept against murder.
These things being noted, mercy must ever and always be a prominent consideration where public justice and benevolence allow. Mercy can and should be shown where true, sincere change has been adopted by the guilty party, but even then only when the public good may be served by its exercise. This why kings of old and indeed many rulers of today can be praised for releasing certain condemned prisoners through the legal process of pardon when the overall good of society is deemed to profit from it.
But who does not see that to give a pardon to an hardened and unrepentant killer is itself a crime against society?
Both justice and mercy are attributes of benevolence, good-willing or love.
Feelings must not be a part of this judicial process – we cannot allow sentiment to rule over justice.
Here is an example of capital punishment that most do consider as the death penalty :
Suppose that some enters your home and clearly intends to kill you and/or members of your family.
It is not merely your right to defnd them and yourself – by inflicting fatal wounds, if necessary, upon the intruder but it is your duty. Not to do so would be criminal negligence and even complicity in some cases.
You will have exercised capital punishment on the intruder.
The armed forces which guard your nation will do the same to any national invader. And they must do so or be guilty of the same criminal negligence.
This is clearly the path of reason and good willing of the overall good.