Plinky.com asked me whether I believe in the death penalty, and to defend my answer.
Two points of context. First, and most importantly, I have never been the victim, or known the victim, of violent and/or truly abhorrent crime. This alone makes my opinion next to worthless as I cannot speak to justice from an informed stance. Second, I'm an atheist, so my POV (while inevitably informed by my upbringing in the UK) isn't driven from some received morality.
So, do I believe in the death penalty?
Flippantly, yes I believe in it because it still happens in many states here in the US and across the world. The news media tell me so (and for once, I believe them).
Do I support the death penalty?
No. I cannot support the conscious, directed taking of a life.
I have, I think, two reasons for this – both reflective of karmic balance.
First, for me, love has to be placed above all else. And killing someone in retribution does not speak to me of an act of love. Love is healing, and misdirecting energy toward revenge ultimately doesn't heal, it corrodes.
Second, if someone has committed a crime sufficient to earn the death penalty, then death is too easy an option. I want this person to know what they've done and live with it. I want this person to wake up every day haunted by the damage they've caused. I want this person to have some chance of redemption (whatever that might look like).
And, being completely honest, if the crime is truly abhorrent, I want this person to spend the rest of their life in solitary confinement, with only the voices in their head for company.
Finally, from a practical standpoint, there have been too many miscarriages of justice for me to support the death penalty.
What an interesting meditation for a Monday morning.