Capital punishment should not be abolished essay

The concepts of desert and justice play a central role in Kant’s theory, and they are applied in a way that rules out the possibility of justifying the punishment of innocents. Since an innocent person does not deserve to be punished, a Kantian is not committed to punishing an innocent person, and since it seems to some that utilitarians are committed to punishing innocents (or participating in the punishment of innocents) in certain circumstances, Kant’s theory may seem to be superior in this respect. Recall that the failure to take desert and justice into consideration is thought by many to be a major problem with utilitarian theory. However, while Kantian theory may seem superior because it takes desert and justice into account, an influential criticism of the theory challenges the idea that punishment can be justified on the grounds of justice and desert without requiring that the balance of happiness over unhappiness be taken into account.

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    The worst horror of the criminal justice system is the execution of an innocent person. Time and time again, evidence has shown an unacceptably high risk of convicting the innocent in a criminal justice system that is so flawed. That risk becomes particularly unacceptable when execution is at stake. Between 1973 and 2015, there were 148 exonerations of innocent people from death rows in the modern system. Research suggests that the actual number of innocent people who have been sentenced to death is far higher and that one in every 25 defendants sentenced to death is likely innocent.

    It is also wrong to infer “evolving standards of decency” from a state’s decision to establish minimum age or IQ thresholds for the death penalty. Governments often choose to legislate by rule for reasons that have nothing to do with standards of decency. A state might establish a minimum age or IQ simply to economize on decision costs, or to eliminate the risk of false positives, or to preserve taxpayer money given the expense of litigating capital cases. One can favor a rule of this sort even if one believes that it will spare some murderers who richly deserve the death penalty. No one thinks that a state that establishes a minimum age for driving or voting is declaring or suggesting that every person under the specified age is incapable of driving safely or voting responsibly. There is likewise no basis for assuming that a minimum age for the death penalty embodies a belief that any execution of any murderer under the specified age is disproportionate or contrary to contemporary standards of decency.

    Capital punishment should not be abolished essay

    capital punishment should not be abolished essay

    It is also wrong to infer “evolving standards of decency” from a state’s decision to establish minimum age or IQ thresholds for the death penalty. Governments often choose to legislate by rule for reasons that have nothing to do with standards of decency. A state might establish a minimum age or IQ simply to economize on decision costs, or to eliminate the risk of false positives, or to preserve taxpayer money given the expense of litigating capital cases. One can favor a rule of this sort even if one believes that it will spare some murderers who richly deserve the death penalty. No one thinks that a state that establishes a minimum age for driving or voting is declaring or suggesting that every person under the specified age is incapable of driving safely or voting responsibly. There is likewise no basis for assuming that a minimum age for the death penalty embodies a belief that any execution of any murderer under the specified age is disproportionate or contrary to contemporary standards of decency.

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