Thursday, September 22, 2011

Troy Davis And The Death Penalty

Will Wilkinson sums it up best.
The point, I would submit, is to enforce and reinforce not only the good rules of liberal order, but also the humane ethos of liberal civilization. We punish to deter. We punish to acknowledge the harm brought to the victim, to their loved ones, to their community. We punish to shame and to publicly dishonor the criminal. But the way we do it should embody ideals of humanity, magnanimity, and improvement. Punishment thus should be as light as is consistent with the requirements of security and harmonious society. We must learn, against the grain of our vengeful retributive instincts, to find satisfaction in justice that leaves the thief with his hands, the murderer with his life.
Troy Davis didn't need to be killed in order to achieve any of the goals of a civilized system of criminal justice. Nobody needs to be killed to do that. That's why the people of decent societies oppose the death penalty. The folks at the GOP debate in Tampa who cheered for Texas' record of execution under Rick Perry showed just how indecently uncivilized America remains. But sooner or later enlightenment will dawn and we'll stop perversely killing in the name of justice. Let's hope the killing of Troy Davis helps make it sooner.
I wish I could be as optimistic as Wilkinson, but reading the comments on this Madville Times post makes me believe that states will kill more innocent people.

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