Monday, April 14, 2008

Possible Inclusion For the Death Penalty

The Washington Post ran a story today on the inclusion of child rape as a crime that deserves the death penalty and states that have adopted this, or some that wish to in the future. Let me first say that I am against the death penalty, not for moral reasons, I have no sympathy or respect for the life of someone who murders someone or rapes a child. I do think, however, that logistically it has become an unsatisfactory punishment. The "eye for an eye" model does not make sense in today's society. The death penalty is also costly, and depends too much on other resources such as DNA testing and the ability of the lawyer to make sure innocent people do not get killed. I also don't understand the moral argument that that's what they deserve. If someone brutally murders your daughter, you'd want just punishment. Put the state isn't going to brutally murder them, they will instead peaceful inject them with substances that in essence is like putting your dog to sleep.

The arguments for and against this new provision may seem completely logical and simple to the side arguing for each, but I think that in this case, the answer is more complicated, if one were to assume that the death penalty should be implicated at all, for anyone. On one side, it is argued that this is one of the most henious of crimes, that anyone who has the ability to molest a child ought to be given the most strict punishment. I agree that alongside murder there isn't anything as unthinkable as the molesting of a child. However, the other side has a more convincing argument. Many of these rapes and molestations are reported my friends and families of both parties. Many molestors will only commit crimes on those they know and spend time with, which is why in many cases the molestor and the child have the same circle of relationships. This provision might cause those who would normally report a rape, not to, because although the act is a disgusting one, it's hard to turn a relative in when it is common knowledge they will be facing death. Prison time is much easier to deal with. This also, some may argue, will encourage rapists to kill their victims instead of living them alive to tell others.

In rebutal to both: If it were my child being raped by my brother/uncle/father/grandfather, I think my anger and disgust would override my feelings of nostalgia to keep them around. Prison time or death, I doubt I'd be in contact anymore. Secondly, the later argument seems to contradict the first in that if uncle Henry is doing the raping, he probably isn't going to kill his neice. That's a lot harder to cover up to the rest of the family. As for both sides, prison time is not going to change a child molestor which is exactly why the Megan laws were created. If you commit manslaughter and spend time in jail, upon your release you do not have to tell anyone about your crimes. It is assumed that you did your time and you learned your lesson and it is against a democratic society to assume you will commit again. For molestors however, they do not learn from their mistakes no matter how much time is spent in jail. Punishment does not work because it is a disease. It takes therapy and counseling and other approaches to deal with child molestors. Therefore, both would have to reevaluate the punishment of offenders. Perhaps death is not the answer, but neither is prison.

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