Thoughts on capital punishment

Vigilant

Woodpecker
Woman
In my opinion, we do not utilize capital punishment enough in this country. What are everyone's thoughts on this?

I think capital punishment ought to be the default punishment for anyone who rapes, trafficks, or molests a prepubescent child, as well as those who create, distribute, or watch pornography involving said age group. Severe physical child abuse ought to warrant the same. (Not spankings; I mean these cases where they recover 50 pound 12-year-olds; kids beaten black and blue, kids living in squalor and animal feces, etc.)

Cold-blooded murderers deserve the death penalty as well. Not crimes of passion, but premeditated, calculated murders and murder/kidnappings.

These thoughts come to my mind whenever I read a heinous news story and know the perpetrator will get off in five or ten years.`
"Cold-blooded murderers deserve the death penalty as well"
It is disturbing how a lack of empathy has much to do with this. This searing of the conscience comes in many forms in our day, because justice is not being served on the murderers. Prisons should be outlawed as it is a breeding ground for it too.
 

stugatz

Pelican
"Cold-blooded murderers deserve the death penalty as well"
It is disturbing how a lack of empathy has much to do with this. This searing of the conscience comes in many forms in our day, because justice is not being served on the murderers. Prisons should be outlawed as it is a breeding ground for it too.
Prisons are definitely a problem. Corrupt underpaid guards look the other way when murder happens inside of them - and it's pervasive enough where conventional wisdom in prison is usually to kill someone who victimizes you so it doesn't become a cycle. That ultraviolent HBO drama Oz actually tones down how bad it is on the inside.

Criminals actually don't mind prison, they see it as a networking opportunity (and it is). Many in lower class communities aren't taken seriously unless they're an offender. (I worked at a Goodwill towards the end of high school alongside many vocational rehab cases fresh out of prison, and saw this firsthand. "I'll gladly go back to prison if fill-in-the-blank happens" is a common thing you hear.)
 

Max Roscoe

Kingfisher
I'd say all of these, with protection of further victims being the #1.
Well, the death penalty does not do a substantially better job of protecting victims than other punishments.

Several here are clearly coming from a retributive justice position of "this person should suffer, let them fry."
Life in prison is far more cruel than the death penalty.
This is only part of the reason why the death penalty does not prevent criminals from committing crimes beforehand (the larger issue is they do not believe, or do not care, that they will be caught--the act outweighs the possibility of police reaction).

If you are designing a justice system to meet all 4 of these goals at once, it is going to be less effective at each of them.

Some things to consider:

(1) Exile was one of the most effective tools of justice. The primary concern of safety is that a dangerous person will not harm others (if he has harmed someone already, he can be punished, but that will not change the harm he already did). Exile is no longer practiced, and it is a punishment I would use for many, many cases. Sometimes the crime might not even be as serious as murder, but it would be a sign that we do not want this person in our society any more (think of cases like rape, where the criminal will eventually be released back into society in a non-exile system). Why is exile not an option today?

(2) Thomas Aquinas was in favor of the death penalty, citing several Biblical versus. I Corinthians 5 "You know that a little leaven corrupts the whole lump of dough?" does not provide justification for the death penalty in my opinion. It does justify things such as the recent banning of non-Christian discussion on this forum, but one must really stretch to believe it justifies the killing of bad people.

However, he cited other versus which justify state killing basically by separating the functions of the church and the state, as I Peter states "Be subjected therefore to every human creature for God's sake: whether to be on the king as excelling, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of good".

However, there is still considerable room for debate, as the church also justified killing nonbelievers which is a position no one holds today. John Paul II in Evangelium vitae argued for the sanctity of life in all areas, including the killing of criminals *except in extreme cases*.

3) How many innocent people who are killed by the state is an acceptable level, so that guilty men are also executed?

4) The nation of Australia, one that is more peaceful, cohesive, safe, and prosperous than the United States, was founded almost exclusively by prisoners and criminals, many murderers. Are we to discount the possibility of someone who has done evil to go on later in life and do something good or productive?

5) Nations without the death penalty are safer than those with (though this is a difficult comparison to make as there are relatively few nations which still execute its citizens today and this may be more of a racial or ethnic comparison than a legal one of capital punishment).

Personally, I believe that (a) America is too lenient for minor infractions (you can be a thief and in many cases the state will do nothing), and too severe on many major ones, (b) the American prison system is evil and inhumane and often creates future criminals in place of rehabilitating those it knows will eventually be released back into society, and that (c) exile is a legal tool that should be used in many cases. As for the death penalty, I am generally opposed to it, certainly in the form we currently practice it where The Innocence Project has identified over 200 innocent people who were murdered by the state (while the real criminal went free). Morally I am undecided but above anything I believe in consistency, and we must either respect life or we do not.
 
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My old testament says, "if a person kills another, surely he must die". It's the emphasis on the surely that makes this fact of even being an issue quite extraordinary. I'm not saying I'm a complete old testament guy, but it's such a prominent commandment it's kind of hard to deny the fact that by not executing people we are directly violating the will of God.
 

stugatz

Pelican
I am mindful of the fact that if the death penalty came back in full force in the United States it would be used to punish Whites exclusively.
We recently had a case where someone was executed for burning someone alive in their car in the 1990s. The media expressed an insane amount of grief over it, because he was black and had reformed in prison (what’s the bar for that?) and the whole thing wasn’t really his idea, his gang pressured him into it.

Comparatively, with the George Floyd case, you had people last year calling for Chauvin to be executed for first degree murder, seeming to not understand what first degree murder even is.

Yeah - you’re spot on, and it will only get worse. Some DAs may even start dropping charges for murderers if they're the right race.
 

Vigilant

Woodpecker
Woman
Supporting the death penalty is kind of a double edge sword because it depends on the fairness of the laws and the impartiality of the judicial system.

I am mindful of the fact that if the death penalty came back in full force in the United States it would be used to punish Whites exclusively.
I believe this is the agenda and many of us will be 'raptured'.
 

DeFide

Robin
The teaching of the Catholic Church concerning capital punishment is clear and certain from its ordinary universal magisterium. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) imposed upon a group of returning heretics, known as the Waldenses, this profession of faith:
“Concerning secular power we declare that without mortal sin it is possible to exercise a judgement of blood as long as one proceeds to bring punishment not in hatred but in judgement, not incautiously but advisedly.”
Pope Pius XII defended capital punishment in a 1952 allocution to a Congress of Histopathology:
The public authority has the right of depriving the condemned person of the good of life, as an expiation of his crime, after he himself, by this crime, has stripped himself of his right to life.

Sacred Scripture explicitly supports the death penalty. The essential rationale for capital punishment is contained in Romans 13:
“For he [the prince] is God’s minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God’s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.” (Romans 13:4)
The 13th chapter of Romans is entirely devoted to the theme that the heads of state are the representatives of God and wield the power of God. In this passage, St. Paul clearly recognizes the power of the public authority to inflict capital punishment upon evildoers, “for he does not bear the sword in vain,” and, as God’s minister, is “an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.” What could be more explicit? Romans 13:1 explicitly states that all authority is from God, and that those who possess authority are God’s ministers:
“Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God.”
This doctrine, that the State receives its authority from God, and that the heads of state are the ministers of God, is key to understanding the government’s right to inflict the death penalty. For it does so with God’s authority, just as it can authorize, by the same power, its citizens to go to war and inflict death on the enemy. For this same reason, a policeman may lawfully shoot to kill someone who is posing a mortal threat to either himself or other citizens. Modern political thinking strips God from the authority of the State; instead, it follows the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who said that the State is the effect of a social contract, in which the majority of the people contract, as a group, with the government to carry out the good order of society. In this system, the State receives all of its power from the majority of citizens, and not from God. The citizens retain political power, and merely delegate it to the elected ministers. In such as case, those elected to govern must follow the ideas and wishes of the majority. This system clearly contradicts the teaching of St. Paul concerning the State and government. It also argues that the death penalty cannot be inflicted since there is no divine authority to inflict it, but simply the authority of a mob of equals. In the Old Testament we also see justification for the death penalty (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 24:17) These are commands from God, who could not, by His infinite goodness, prescribe something that is immoral. All Catholic theologians assert the lawfulness of the death penalty. St. Thomas Aquinas:
It is lawful to kill an evildoer in so far as it is directed to the welfare of the whole community, so that it belongs to him alone who has charge of the community’s welfare. Thus it belongs to a physician to cut off a decayed limb, when he has been entrusted with the care of the health of the whole body. Now the care of the common good is entrusted to persons of rank having public authority: wherefore they alone, and not private individuals, can lawfully put evildoers to death.
The fundamental principle here is that the State acts as God’s minister in the government of society, and as such, has the right to deprive someone of his life if, as Pope Pius XII states, through his crimes he has already deprived himself of the right to life. Likewise a combatant in war loses his right to life inasmuch as he is a combatant, and may be lawfully killed.This teaching concerning the lawfulness of the death penalty is something which is “theologically certain”, which is a technical designation in sacred theology for a doctrine which is deduced directly from principles which pertain to faith.
 
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The teaching of the Catholic Church concerning capital punishment is clear and certain from its ordinary universal magisterium. ...... This teaching concerning the lawfulness of the death penalty is something which is “theologically certain”, which is a technical designation in sacred theology for a doctrine which is deduced directly from principles which pertain to faith.
Yes! And if the state has the power to imprison someone for life... which is clearly a punishment which would be a mortal sin in other circumstances as well, and an implied threat of the indirect punishment of death (i.e. attempting to escape) .. why wouldnt it have the power to inflict death as the direct punishment?
 

DeFide

Robin
In her autobiography The Story of a Soul, one of the greatest saints of modern times, St. Therese of the Child Jesus AKA “the Little Flower” (1873-1897) beautifully recounts the conversion story of Henri Pranzini, a triple-murderer whom she feared would die impenitent:
In order still further to enkindle my ardour, Our Divine Master soon proved to me how pleasing to him was my desire. Just then I heard much talk of a notorious criminal, Pranzini, who was sentenced to death for several shocking murders, and, as he was quite impenitent, everyone feared he would be eternally lost. How I longed to avert this irreparable calamity! In order to do so I employed all the spiritual means I could think of, and, knowing that my own efforts were unavailing, I offered for his pardon the infinite merits of Our Saviour and the treasures of Holy Church.

... I said in all simplicity: "My God, I am quite sure that Thou wilt pardon this unhappy Pranzini. I should still think so if he did not confess his sins or give any sign of sorrow, because I have such confidence in Thy unbounded Mercy; but this is my first sinner, and therefore I beg for just one sign of repentance to reassure me." My prayer was granted to the letter.

The day after his execution I hastily opened the paper, La Croix, and what did I see? Tears betrayed my emotion; I was obliged to run out of the room. Pranzini had mounted the scaffold without confessing or receiving absolution, and the executioners were already dragging him towards the fatal block, when all at once, apparently in answer to a sudden inspiration, he turned round, seized the crucifix which the Priest was offering to him, and kissed Our Lord's Sacred Wounds three times. . . . I had obtained the sign I asked for, and to me it was especially sweet.
DC17196A-F624-4030-888F-5F783EDD20F2.jpeg
St. Therese became convinced that her prayers had helped save the forsaken Pranzini from damnation. He became for her “mon premier enfant”—“my first child”—and the experience strengthened her conviction to become a Carmelite nun, and intercede for others in desperate need of God’s love. St. Therese understood that the most important thing was the criminal should repent and die well so as to be received in the kingdom of God.
 

byzfash

Chicken
Woman
I think that the death penalty in a Christian society can be used to bring to the forefront of great criminal's minds their mortalities. Sigrid Undset recounts how St. Catherine of Siena would meet with those waiting to be killed, and many would convert rather than face Hell.

That being said, allowing the death penalty in our society where Christians are persecuted seems like a bad idea.
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Kingfisher
The Orthodox Church does not take a clear view on capital punishment, and neither do I.

In some situations it may be warranted, particularly when there are no other avenues for the criminal, or the society is too poor to be able to afford imprisoning an offender with dignity. Jesus seems to suggest capital punishment for crimes involving children (Luke 17:2).

However, we should show mercy to sinners when they're contrite, and capital punishment has been used to persecute political dissidents and religious people.

This is a nuanced issue.
 
Prisons are definitely a problem. Corrupt underpaid guards look the other way when murder happens inside of them - and it's pervasive enough where conventional wisdom in prison is usually to kill someone who victimizes you so it doesn't become a cycle. That ultraviolent HBO drama Oz actually tones down how bad it is on the inside.

Criminals actually don't mind prison, they see it as a networking opportunity (and it is). Many in lower class communities aren't taken seriously unless they're an offender. (I worked at a Goodwill towards the end of high school alongside many vocational rehab cases fresh out of prison, and saw this firsthand. "I'll gladly go back to prison if fill-in-the-blank happens" is a common thing you hear.)

Not to mention the jokes about the sexual abuse that goes there. People always joke about not picking up the soap or having to be locked in the same place as Bubba. Of course they rationalize that being the perpetrator that it is not gay and only the person being perpetrated against is gay.


Very evil and fostering even more evil. I would prefer Capital Punishment, Canings like in Singapore and paying fines instead. Far more Godly and in accord with Justice than being gang-raped.

Of course such punishments should have no regard for sex. And only in regards to age in terms of whether they have reached the age of accountability may it be tempered. And I think at least teens are culpable for their actions having left childhood proper behind especially if the crime is particularly malicious.

Likewise all prisoners should locked in their own private cell and only the guards, pastor and family may see him/her.

As for prison being seen as a badge of honor. I don't think this kind of humilation will make it so:

Of course there are other examples. But what happens if a Mafia don was humiliated this way in the process of going to the gallows.

How respectable in the eyes of young Men would crime be if the result of crime is that they will look embarrassing. They end up looking like a total loser.

How instead of manliness they see weakness,cowardice and shame. The thing with modern Western Culture is that Criminals seem cool. They look to be amoral exemplars of masculinity. Who is able to take what they want and rule the block.

Rappers make those Men larger than life. Bestowing Honor upon them and respectability. Powerful and on top of the world.
 
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DeFide

Robin
I think that the death penalty in a Christian society can be used to bring to the forefront of great criminal's minds their mortalities. Sigrid Undset recounts how St. Catherine of Siena would meet with those waiting to be killed, and many would convert rather than face Hell.
Exactly. St. Thomas writes:
In Romans (13:4) it is said of earthly power that “he does not carry the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him who does evil.” And in 1 Peter (2:13-14) it is said: “Be subject therefore to every human creature for God’s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good.” Now, by this we set aside the error of some who say that corporeal punishments are illicit to use. The fact that the evil [men], as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at the critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.
(St. Thomas Aquinas, Contra Gentes 3:146:6,7,10)
Not only does the Angelic Doctor put the primary focus here on the salvation of the soul—he upholds the legitimacy of the death penalty while doing so.
That being said, allowing the death penalty in our society where Christians are persecuted seems like a bad idea.
Because our focus as Christians is supposed to be avoiding martyrdom...? Who else uses this type of “situational ethics” mentality in questions of morality? As in, “Yes, but is it good for the Jews Christians?”...I’m not aware of any of the early Christians sponsoring legislation to abolish capital punishment in the Roman Empire, to avoid being thrown to the lions, are you? I think you can see my point here. Besides, why limit it to the death penalty? One might as well apply this logic to any form of criminal punishment. (“Locking up criminals in prison seems like a bad idea in our society, where Christians are persecuted...”) Our Lord makes it clear that persecution is an inevitable fact of life for any true believer in this world. In the meantime, crime goes on, and so must justice. Modern society’s drive for eliminating the death penalty arises from a perverted sense of justice. IMHO, it’s a clear indication of how far awry the world has gone.
 
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We recently had a case where someone was executed for burning someone alive in their car in the 1990s. The media expressed an insane amount of grief over it, because he was black and had reformed in prison (what’s the bar for that?) and the whole thing wasn’t really his idea, his gang pressured him into it.

Comparatively, with the George Floyd case, you had people last year calling for Chauvin to be executed for first degree murder, seeming to not understand what first degree murder even is.

Yeah - you’re spot on, and it will only get worse. Some DAs may even start dropping charges for murderers if they're the right race.

The Media also praised the Soviet Union in the 20th Century. They have been enemies for more than a century.
 

DeFide

Robin
How respectable in the eyes of young Men would crime be if the result of crime is that they will look embarrassing. They end up looking like a total loser.

How instead of manliness they see weakness,cowardice and shame. The thing with modern Western Culture is that Criminals seem cool. They look to be amoral exemplars of masculinity. Who is able to take what they want and rule the block.
Hmmm, I wonder what changed?
AEF67439-0240-404E-887C-F349F20DA0B3.jpeg
Nothing quite says “embarrassing” like one’s lifeless corpse dangling from the end of a 10 feet rope before a crowd of 20,000 jeering onlookers, eh? Talk about ending up looking like a total loser...SO NOT COOL!
 
Not to mention the jokes about the sexual abuse that goes there. People always joke about not picking up the soap or having to be locked in the same place as Bubba.
Some Orthodox guy mentioned there needing to be dignity in prison. I agree. If the State is going to have prisons, it has to assure you basic safety, IMO. Allowing casual rape as part of the "punishment" would amount to extra-judicial punishment and violation of due process as well as basic human rights.
 

Lamkins

Woodpecker
Woman
I’m not at all against it, but having watched dozens of crime shows I kind of like the idea of these people sitting in prison for life without the freedom to even eat when they want. That kind of mental imprisonment is the best punishment IMO. Most of the crimes I see on tv are spouses killing their spouses for money, so these are ”normal” people leading normal lives, a lot of them successful doctors or business owners, till they’re busted. Regret is a horrible way to live. I doubt any regret the crime, but you know they obsess over and regret the dumb mistakes that got them caught.
 

Kitty Tantrum

Woodpecker
Woman
The idea of people rotting in prison is not all bad, for sure... but on the other hand, prison is kind of like a hotel for a lot of criminals. Or a boarding school, for that matter.

Average Joe commits a crime of stupidity early in life and ends up in jail for a weekend, maybe that's enough to knock some sense into his head.

Future Career Criminal commits a crime early in life as a means of paying his tuition for career-criminal-boarding-school, learns how to commit crimes better while in prison, graduates top of his class, and exits the prison system with dozens or hundreds of new "business contacts."

It's pretty expensive, and it's not the kind of tuition I want my tax dollars paying.
 

Max Roscoe

Kingfisher
Several here have mentioned money.
The most cost effective method of dealing with crime is eugenics.
Eugenics was quite popular in most of the western world up until the 1960s.
It began to be phased out because Nazi Germany (along with all the allied nations) practiced it.
Somehow, our interstates aren't evil but eugenics is.
 
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