There was a time, and it was a brief time, when the conscience of America had arrived at a place where it recognized that Law is the Servant of Justice, and that justice without mercy is dead.
In that time we had abandoned the death penalty, having accepted the conclusion that it was inhumane, it did not deter crime, innocent people were on death row, innocent people were wrongly convicted and wrongly executed on a regular basis, it did not serve the interest of public safety.
It was believed then that the taking of human life for any other interest than one that served the general good, would be categorically immoral. But slowly other interests crept into the consideration. People began talking about victim’s rights, and the death penalty returned as a vehicle of punishment and satisfaction.
Today, almost every advocate of the death penalty uses an argument based on vindication, retribution and victim’s rights in defense of the proposition.
They disregard the facts that the death penalty does not deter murder. Other industrialized nations who have outlawed the death penalty have a lower murder rate.
Our own crime rates respond more to economic forces than juridical pressures.
Education and full employment, housing and access to markets do more to reduce crime at every level, than the threat of extreme penalties under the law for the commission of crimes.
I had been recognized as a universal truth, as a Kantian Imperative that vindication and retribution are not grounds for administering the death penalty.
Our system of justice is not based on Hammurabi’s Code, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
Vindication does not provide a moral justification for taking life.
The death penalty can only be considered to have moral force, if it in fact prevents the loss of life, but it does not, it only ensures the loss of life, and makes us all the perpetrators of state sponsored murder.