13 December 2005

Good news on the death penalty

From USA Today:
An October Gallup Poll found support for the death penalty at 64%, down from 80% in 1994. When life without parole is offered as an option, preference for the death penalty drops to the 40% to 50% range.
Life without parole has always seemed to be a better punishment than execution to me. Given that we know that innocents have been executed, it seems obvious that we should prefer to put convicts in jail from which they could, if later found to be innocent, be released, rather than sending them into death, from which no return is possible.

I understand the emotional appeal of killing those who have killed, but killing for revenge—even if the state is used as a proxy—legitimizes killing as a means of redressing grievances. The death penalty thus brutalizes society, and puts us in the company of such countries as China, Iran, and Syria. America can be better, and it's good to see Americans beginning to realize that.

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