The World According To Damien
in a World gone mad – one sane voice emerges…

Damien on… Capital Punishment

Capital punishment simply does not WORK – for four reasons.

One. It is NOT a deterrent. In olden times you could be hung for picking pockets. And hangings were public. And while the public watched – pickpockets worked the crowd.

Most murders are by definition, crimes of passion. People lose their tempers and go too far. The LAST thing on their minds is what will happen to them if they get caught.

The classic, PLANNED murder (a la Columbo and Poirot) is extremely RARE in The Real World. And professionals seldom get caught, since there is nothing to directly connect them with their victim.

Two. Justice is not an exact science. And during the days, weeks, even MONTHS of a murder trial, any lawyer worth anything will be able to plant SOME doubt into the minds of the jury.

So when the judge uses those famous words, “…beyond reasonable doubt”, how many jurors will be prepared to say they are ONE HUNDRED PERCENT sure?

Because anything less and they COULD be killing an innocent person.

Thus, faced with a choice of guilty or not guilty, many jurors will go for the latter, just in case. Which means that far from REDUCING the number of murderers in our midst, capital punishment actually INCREASES them.

On the other hand, if a juror knows a judgement of guilty will result in a life sentence, they will convict if ALMOST sure, in the knowledge that if they are later proved wrong, the convict can be set free and given compensation – and the chance to rebuild their life.

As opposed to just being RE-BURIED in consecrated ground.

And how would YOU feel, sitting on Death Row, knowing YOU were innocent? Would the notion that you were “taking one for the team” by DYING to help preserve a system of justice – make you feel any better about it? This scribe doubts it.

Or put another way, how many INNOCENT people would YOU be prepared to see KILLED in the name of justice – one a year? Two?

Make no mistake, history shows that there would ALWAYS be SOME.

Three. Killing is a brutal, primitive act – no matter HOW or WHY it’s done. Therefore Society lowers itself to the level of the SAVAGE by countenancing the act – even in the name of justice.

And four. Society does not have the RIGHT to take life. Sure, it has the right to protect itself from its evil elements. That is why we have prisons. Not an ideal solution, but they are the best we have.

And by employing those, Society has the ability AND right to deprive its unsociable citizens of their FREEDOM – just not their lives.

Of course there will be those reading this who will DISMISS all of the above arguments with “But what if someone killed your wife?” Well, certainly I would like to kill THEM – if I was sure of my facts – VERY SLOWLY. But that would be REVENGE, not justice.

Or “But what about the COST of locking someone up for life?” Well, that is the cost of a civilised system of justice.

So no matter how you look at it, Europe’s decision many years ago to REMOVE once and for ALL the obscenity of capital punishment, is why Europe today …is the most civilised society in the World.

America take note.


6 Responses to “Damien on… Capital Punishment”

  1. I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this piece. It is such a straightforward viewpoint of a practice that I certainly do not support. The death penalty agreeably does not function as a deterrent, and I loved your example of the pickpockets working the crowds at public hangings. I am totally unaware of any historical document that conveys on mankind the right to take a life. History has many instances whereby an innocent person was convicted and spend XX years on death row, only to be released upon review of new evidence. There have been numerous instances where a laboratory has doctored results to aid in a conviction, of investigators that ‘did not tell the whole truth,’ or prosecutors who had a bias or a vengeance toward the defendant, or evidence was planted… It seems to me that the USA has a major problem when it comes to punishment. We seem to love the concept of punishing everyone for even a minor infraction. That’s why we have 25% of the prisoners in the entire world right here. It’s why we lock up more blacks that South Africa did during apartheid. Of course nobody feels that this will never happen to them…..until it does. And as the years go on, the USA will most certainly find out just what the costs of confinement is as the prison population grows older and needs increasing medical attention. But as you say, that is the ‘cost of a civilized society.’ But is it? Can not there be a more beneficial alternative to capital punishment or life in prison? That is what we need to search for. In the meantime, I wish every newspaper in the USA would publish your comments on capital punishment. Perhaps it would begin a needed discussion on the penal process in general.

  2. THANK you for that. People look for simple answers to complicated issues – and they usually do not exist. But I believe my four reasons why capital punishment is unacceptable and does not work ARE simple.

    Elsewhere, I have written on how the American legal system is BROKEN. As you say, the percentage of Americans in jail is absurd. About one in a hundred, at any given time.

    One reason is the pointless War On Drugs. De-criminalising and regulating them – as America did with alcohol – would free up the ridiculously overloaded system and allow America to deal with its REAL criminals.

    And the MONEY it costs…

  3. When I am in this discussion, I always clearly state the difference betwixt Reasonable Doubt (where death penalty is not appropriate) and No Doubt Whatsoever Caught Red-Handed as in a child’s being a skeleton in a cot or room soiled with dried shit; or as in the missing ladies are found walled up in the house where the couple live, etc. Nobody seems to notice what I am saying, nor answer my point.

  4. I’m afraid on THIS one, we’ll always disagree. The thing is, NO-ONE gets caught red-handed – there is ALWAYS reasonable doubt. “I didn’t stab the man – we were having a loud argument, yes. And okay, I did say ‘I’ll kill you for that!’ But it was just an expression we’ve ALL used. Not SERIOUS. The truth is, I was CLEANING the kitchen knife and he tripped and fell against me – and the knife went IN him. Then he lurched back, tottered and fell on it again. Then again and again…”

    Bollocks, surely – but suppose it were TRUE?

    Imagine finding a personal enemy dead, with a smoking gun beside him. Like a div, you pick it up – just as everyone rushes into the room to investigate the noise…

    Remember Timothy Evans. A prat – but almost definitely NOT a murderer. Derek Bentley – a moron, but he did not actually kill anyone. And Harry Jukes (Adam Faith in “Mix Me A Person”).

  5. Of COURSE there are the examples you mention. I ALWAYS acknowledge them. Life is correct for them. But there ARE examples of undoubted guilt. Who walled those ladies up in Rose and husband’s house? The two had lived there since before the ladies disappeared. It is prevarication to claim there was doubt there. Same deal with kids starved to death in their cot. It is self-righteous invention to pretend there is doubt in such a (common) case. Delete this by all means.

  6. I have no intention of deleting. It is fair comment. I only delete comments which are trollish or irrelevent – not because I disagree with their content. To do so would be petty and stupid.

    As for your point – there are BOUND to be cases where there is LITERALLY no doubt. However, I stick to my guns on this one.

    100% slam-dunks are EXTREMELY rare. Witnesses are unreliable – how many black men have been wrongly accused by actual (white) WITNESSES, then it turned out that to them, all black people “looked alike”? Evidence can be unreliable (alternate interpretations are always possible). And people can be SET UP.

    Your example of someone who neglects or abuses a baby – which then DIES – is a good example. We ALL would like to squeeze the LIFE out of such a person – with our OWN HANDS (I certainly would, as I’m sure would you). But they inevitably turn out to be MORONS. The real fault lies with those who suspect abuse, but do nothing.

    And even with those few 100%-ers, there are still the OTHER THREE reasons detailed above, that make capital punishment unacceptable in a civilised society.

    I’m afraid that our FURY (you and me both, mate) at those evil elements of our society – CANNOT be vented on said elements by our system.

    Of course, if we were younger, we could always don the appropriate costumes (you Batman, me Robin) and become vigilantes…

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