Argument: Capital punishment is void of compassion

Issue Report: Death penalty


Albert Camus, Renowned 20th century French-Algerian writer and moralist, Reflections (summarized by Mangesh Kulkarni): – “Camus also draws attention to the culpability of the larger society: The victim, to be sure, is innocent. But can a society that is supposed to represent the victim lay claim to innocence? Is it not responsible, at least in part, for the crime it punishes so severely?…Finally, Camus, in Reflections, invokes the principle of compassion: Compassion loathes the definitive, irreparable measure that does an injustice to mankind as a who-le through failing to take into account the wretchedness of the common condition…”

Jesus Chris interrupting a public execution of a woman for adultery. John 8:7, (NKJ) – “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Jesus said this sarcastically to point out that no man is sinless, and, therefore, that no man or woman can maintain a perfect moral high ground from which to severely punish another person with execution. Jesus’ actions here are commonly interpreted to mean that a level of compassion, sympathy, and forgiveness is needed in any just law, and that a law that lacks such principles – such as capital punishment – is unjust.

Marquis de Lafayette, American Revolution General and Statesman – “I will believe in the death penalty when you will prove to me the infallibility of human beings.”[1]

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. “Justice, Mercy, and Capital Punishment”. 2005 – “Killing the guilty is still the wrong choice for a civilized nation. Why? It accomplishes nothing. It does not bring back or even honor the dead. It does not ennoble the living. And while it may satisfy society’s anger for awhile, it cannot even release the murder victim’s loved ones from their sorrow. Only forgiveness can do that. What the death penalty does achieve is closure through bloodletting and violence against violence—which is not really closure at all, because murder will continue as long as humans sin, and capital punishment can never, by its nature, strike at murder’s root. Only love can do that.”

Maureen Burford, whose mother was murderer in 1988, Mercury News, 10/1/2005. – I do want to communicate to him that my mother would have been willing to represent him, and that she believed that everybody can turn their life around, that I know he doesn’t have a lot to look forward to in prison, and I would be rooting for him to find something worthwhile to do there. … My mother would forgive him.[2]