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A case against death penalty

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9/19/2013 12:14:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The best article against death penalty I've read till date.

On the arbitrariness and coldness of the 'rarest of the rare clause': "Unfortunately, what matters is which "crime", which "breaking news" horror story of the the moment, is more worthy of being called "rarest of the rare". This notion of "worth" is constructed more by social and political exigencies (which inevitably foreground the ephemeral cost-benefit analysis of a given decision rather than universally testable claims to justice) than by any real response to pain or wrongdoing."

On why one death penalty (rightful) leads to non rightful death penalties, diluting the potency of rarest of the rare: "In mathematics, there is a well known problem known as the "prosecutor"s fallacy". This assumes that if an act is very rare, or if the criminal leaves a trace, say a blood stain, which on analysis identifies him as the bearer of a very rare blood disorder, then there are higher chances of that criminal being rightfully convicted when a person who exhibits similar tendencies or characteristics is found. It all depends, again, on how "rare", rare is taken to be."

Basically, that one death penalty case is going to set a precedent with a lot of other people asking for death penalties based on some of the parameters of that specific case. So even if the case isn't that strong, you have a pressure to prosecute people in this particular case, because of that one case where people were prosecuted.

Plus, the no significant reduction in crime rate thing.

And my favourite part:

As long as you believe that certain choices that people make should be met with the abstracted application of deadly and violent force, you will have "death penalties" handed out, not just by courts, but also by lynch mobs and gangs of men in night buses. The rapist-murderer and the hanging-judge have more in common than meets the eye. I am not saying that the judge is a rapist, but a rapist is sometimes a judge, in the sense he thinks he is handing out the "punishment" of rape to a person (usually a woman) he thinks has crossed a given patriarchal line " by being alone at night, by expressing her sexual agency, or simply by being a person possessed of her own sense of autonomy and dignity.

That article is a thing of beauty, pretty much cemented my view on the issue. Although I still think Death penalty can be justified to 'overturn' the inherent mentality of a certain people, just to signal the tolerance and mentality of the 'higher' class and try embedding it into the psychological structure of a lot of societies, but I suspect that might have to do more with emotions than logic. I'll have to do some thinking there.