I have, in the past, in “Death Penalty, Murder or Social Justice?” made a logical argument in support of my opinion that the death penalty is an appropriate response to the harm done to society by cold blooded killers.   However, the death penalty is a subject that cannot be fully addressed by logic since it carries with it many emotional, religious and moral issues.  Therefore, this time around, I would like to explain my support for the death penalty by expressing my very personal feelings on the subject.

It was asked, what harm does murder and murderers do to our society?   In addition to the obvious harm it causes to the victim and the victim’s family and friends, it has an indelible effect on many other people who feel empathy for them.   Also, as a practical matter, as long as the perpetrator is at large (and this can be years in the case of some serial killers) it has a dramatic effect on society in the form of stress, anxiety, and the limitations it imposes on the lifestyles and activities of those who are caused to now live in fear.   Even when caught and sentenced to life in prison, these violent criminals do not stop wreaking havoc on society.  Since they have nothing to lose, they become lifelong jailhouse criminals posing a constant danger to the guards and other prison employees and to any unsuspecting bystanders they may encounter if they should ever escape.   For me, it is clear that society would be much better off and much better able to function properly if these violent criminals were subject to a death penalty.

Some will say that taking any human life is morally objectionable despite how evil that person may be and that the death penalty is not a humane way for society to behave.   It may become easy for death penalty opponents sitting in the comfort of their cloistered homes and offices and even for the jurors sitting in the austere sanctuary of a courtroom to feel sympathy for these murderers after their lawyers have cleaned them up, put them on their best behavior, and expounded on their troubled minds and lives.

I wonder if it would be a different story if these death penalty opponents could be miraculously transported to the scene of the crime as it was happening and were able to feel the abject terror and pain of the child who was raped, tortured and killed or feel the panic and fear of the innocent people being slaughtered by a mass murderer who meticulously planned his attack to cause the most carnage, and then could actually step into the shoes of the murderer and experience the remorseless, demonic glee with which the criminal played out his crime.   I wonder if they could then see these murderers for who they truly are and understand that they are only imposters, merely shadows of real human beings.  For me, it is a blow for humanity to put these inhumane criminals out of our collective misery.

I support the death penalty not only because I think it is the right thing for our society but also because it feels like the right thing to do for the sake of the victims as well as the rest of us.

On Wednesday, Joe comments on taking responsibility for our actions in “Responsibility”.