Death penalty is about revenge

The death penalty is an angry response by people who don’t know how to cope with their grief like adults. It’s only ever about revenge, one of the most petty acts available to humans. One of the family members of Ronnie Lee Gardner’s victims embodies this notion perfectly. (Gardner is soon to be put to death by firing squad for a man he murdered 25 years ago.)

Tami Stewart’s father, George “Nick” Kirk, was a bailiff who was shot and wounded in Gardner’s botched escape. Kirk suffered chronic health problems until his death in 1995 and became frustrated by the lack of justice Gardner’s years of appeals afforded him, Stewart said.

She said she’s not happy about the idea of Gardner’s death but believes it will bring her family some closure.

“I think at that moment, he will feel that fear that his victims felt,” Stewart said.

Well, there you go. If Gardner feels the same fear he caused in someone else, then all is well with the world, right? No? But surely something has been made better! No? Nothing?

Oh, wait, wait, wait. That’s right. Two wrongs still don’t make a right. It’s almost like what everyone teaches every child ignores those lessons when understandable but unjustifiable emotion takes over.

22 Responses

  1. Sorry, I do not agree with you Michael. Besides the bailiff Kirk mentioned above, Gardner killed one person in 1984 and another in 1985.

  2. And if he killed 10 more people, murdering him would still be unjustified revenge.

  3. Punishment for murder that results from due process is not murder. Are you suggesting we let him go so he can murder 10 more people? Or just keep him in jail, costing $100K+/year.

    The doofus even requested a firing squad.

  4. Just because a lot of people get together and set up a series of rules so they can be really sure they’ve got the right guy doesn’t mean it isn’t murder.

  5. Then by that definition all war is murder, by all sides, no matter what the cause or who is defending what. I don’t buy it.

    Also, since he had killed one person and then he killed an officer of the court (who is part of the system of trial and punishment) then another murder would have no consequences whatsoever. Therefore there is no incentive for this guy to do anything except attempting to murder everyone and everyone for his purpose of escape.

  6. No, it’s the justification that matters. If the point is merely to kill someone, then it’s murder. If the reason is that there is no alternative, then it’s killing. When we look at war, the soldiers might be there for one reason or another personally, but when they’re faced with kill or be killed, they aren’t murdering for the sake of murdering. Their respective nations and leaders may be responsible to the point of being murderers, like WW2 Germany and co, but that doesn’t speak directly to the moral standing of the individuals involved.

    Also, since he had killed one person and then he killed an officer of the court (who is part of the system of trial and punishment) then another murder would have no consequences whatsoever. Therefore there is no incentive for this guy to do anything except attempting to murder everyone and everyone for his purpose of escape.

    The death penalty hasn’t proven to be much of a deterrent, but even if it’s the most effective tool in history to curb violent crime, that has no bearing on its moral standing. But this sounds like you’re making a (practical) case against the death penalty: if he has no incentive to reform since he’s going to be killed, then what discourages him from more violence?

  7. …but that doesn’t speak directly to the moral standing of the individuals involved.

    The Nuremberg trials say differently. “I was just following orders” is not a defense.

    The death penalty hasn’t proven to be much of a deterrent…

    It is a 100% effective deterrent for those executed. They won’t kill again. There are many examples of people who killed more than once.

    But this sounds like you’re making a (practical) case against the death penalty…

    It has taken 15 years so far for a clear cut case. If they had executed him years ago, dispensing with this incorrigible more quickly, then he would have less chance to do it again.

  8. You are correct. It is all about revenge. So is all punishment for crimes when you think about it.

    Part of it is keeping dangerous people away from the public.

    Part of it is society getting revenge.

    Revenge is a harmful action directed at a party for a real or perceived grievance. I am perfectly happy having all judicial punishment called societal revenge.

    Whether it is a deterrent or not doesn’t matter to me as much as is it fit for the crime. TX… or maybe it was LA….
    tried to expand the death penalty to include those who were repeatedly convicted of sex crimes against children under 12. I would have been happy to hold the rope myself. but…

    The courts found that only killing someone is justification for being killed back. I can understand the finding even if I disagree. Repeatedly raping children should be punishable by boiling in oil, too bad they let the old ways go… (joke here please don’t get excited, obviously cruel and unusual)

    I’ve heard a case made that life in prison is more cruel than the death penalty, and I can actually see their point. Again I disagree.

    I just pinched myself because bob and I are in agreement, but there you are. :)

  9. Meanwhile, Celtics up by 6 at the half.

  10. At 2:05 America will be just that much safer…

    We can’t forget the prison guards lives that are at risk everyday they have to herd these animals around the prison. So they can watch their cable tv, or work out in their gym, or in at least one case their gender reassignment surgery.

    When prison becomes scarier for the inmates than it is for the guards we may not need the death penalty, tonight I’ll sleep well knowing he will get a fair punishment for taking someones life, two someones in fact.

  11. Yeah….I think that prison should mean “cold dark place” whether than vaca on tax payers dollars. Perhaps people would assess the situation a bit further before committing a crime……..

    and maybe the death penalty should be activated sooner than 25 years for senseless crimes as murder

    and those (offenders) found to be mentally or emotionally disoriented due to childhood etc. should be given help…….this should be the only exception where the death penalty is exchanged for a life long mental facility……..

  12. People who have killed with no recognized justification are probably all a little mentally or emotionally disturbed if you ask me.

    In Texas if more than 3 people saw you do what you did you don’t sit on death row for 25 years you go right to the front of the line.

    Also I approve of this firing squad business. Think of how inexpensive that must be to carry out. Who are we to replace something that worked just fine for hundreds of years? There’s even talk that it is more humane than lethal injection and the same has been said in some cases for hanging… pretty interesting.

  13. I agree with the post by Nate of 11:00 am.

  14. See and you’ve all been saying there is no such thing as miracles! Ha ha

  15. The Nuremberg trials say differently. “I was just following orders” is not a defense.

    Many of those involved were leaders or prominent figures, and they weren’t merely following orders.

    It is a 100% effective deterrent for those executed. They won’t kill again. There are many examples of people who killed more than once.

    That isn’t what a deterrent is. Yes, if we murder people, they’re dead. But the (side) issue is whether the threat of the death penalty curbs murder. And that still isn’t where my qualm lies: I’m not concerned with the effectiveness of the death penalty.

  16. LOL, I love that people think that if prisons were harsher, they would house less people. This is not only not statistically the case but also makes it sound like criminals make decisions based on the likelihood of jail being enjoyable, rather than having poor decision making and/or predictive skills or poor reasoning/reflection skills. Most criminals aren’t very calculating. Either they think they won’t get caught (poor predictive skills) or they are desperate enough to think it won’t matter (poor reasoning skills).

    @Nate–that is one theory of justice (retribution). There are others, like corrective justice and utilitarianism. In this country, we seem to fluctuate between revenge and wanting to rehabilitate the offenders, which has created some screwy statues.

    @ Michael–I completely agree with you.

  17. I love that people think that if prisons were harsher, they would house less people.

    A very ignorant straw man argument. No one thinks that.

    …makes it sound like criminals make decisions based on the likelihood of jail being enjoyable

    Once again, straw man argument. Pure nonsense.

  18. I don’t care if prisons are “harsh” or not, I take offense at the hotel room style criminals are housed in. If harsh is defined as not having each and every privilege you have on the outside EXCEPT the freedom to come and go than I take issue with your definition.

    Cable TV is not a right, I don’t care how damn liberal you are with the application of the word.

  19. Privileges and incentives are in place in prisons because when they are taken away violence always goes up higher than it is. European prison systems tend to treat their prisoners more like human beings, so they don’t tend to be as barbaric and violent as the let’s-be-a-dick style system the U.S. has.

  20. Europe as a whole has significantly higher (and rising) crime rates compared to the United States.

    I can’t say and I don’t believe crime rates and the way they run prisons are tied together but it clearly doesn’t help.

    I have a friend who went to jail for a DUI, she said it was more like a vacation than her expectations of jail. does that really sound like the way to run a criminal justice system? Why bother to incarcerate at all?

  21. We could torture prisoners and we’d probably see a dip in crime. Effective does not necessarily mean good.

  22. Not having cable TV and some other amenities doesn’t quite count as torture.

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