Monday, August 13, 2012

Find Me Another Hell

Tauriq Moosa:

Presumably, PB thinks that life-long prison-sentences are too cruel, since it is a “living tomb”. Capital punishment is not (or shouldn’t be). If we wish to be humane, we ought to simply execute people who do commit such crimes: not for deterrence but in terms of appropriate punishment. This is why execution should be allowed, instead of prison. I’m not sure how right this is, but it is certainly merits thoughtful attention.

I think there is merit to his/her thinking on capital punishment and I'm mostly persuaded by flogging. Furthermore the capital punishment explanation has shaken some of my own foundations for being opposed to the death penalty. I don’t think my arguments are as strong, now, given the overarching context and need for radical revision within our punishment mechanisms. Indeed, it is what PB calls a failure of the imagination that we default to imprisoning: even I, when opposing capital punishment, claim life-long imprisonment is a “better” option. It is precisely what “better” means that I need to start reconsidering.

My ambivalence hasn't really changed since the last time we kicked this topic around. What say you?


  1. "The leap of reason produces monsters." - Let's not get too abstract here. Criminal justice is doomed to involve confusing complications and ambiguities. At least the life sentence can be commuted should new information be discovered. Otherwise, though cruel, it is better than granting the government permission to kill us. It's not that some people don't deserve it; it's that the rest of us shouldn't have, or have to have, that responsibility.

  2. I think the death penalty is problematic MOSTLY for systemic racism with which it's enacted. If blacks are sentenced to death 8 times as often as whites, even if the death penalty is merited, you can't argue that it's being justly enacted. Therefore, the death penalty is unjust.

    But I also think that if you're facing life in prison -- hell, even 10-20-- if you want to end it, you should be allowed to (I do think, however, that there should be a mandatory waiting period, since I would imagine bouts of deep depression are common among the incarcerated.) It's ridiculously punitive to say that the condemned may only die at the time and place of the state's choosing.

    But then you get into the sanctity of human life thing (I've never understood why HUMAN life is assumed to be so unique that it must be protected at all costs)which is another murky pit.

    And of course, the same fuckups that happen now could happen if my suggestions were implemented, like people pressuring the incarcerated to take the needle to save the taxpayers money.

    I don't really know how I feel about flogging, never having experienced it myself. I understand that in eras when flogging was prevalent, the brutality of flogging varied by the weapon used, the anger of the person wielding the weapon, the places where the victim was hit, and whether the victim was able to shield his vital organs, and of course the duration of the flogging and the care the victim recieved preceding and following the beating.

    Like I said, I don't know much, but my initial thought is that if we've discovered that beatings are ineffective in training children and animals, what do we think we'll accomplish with a grown person? It may be preferable to prison, but lets not fool ourselves, it's no part of rehabilitation.