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Capital punishment

  1. Dec 3, 2006 #1
    Capital Punishment, A punishment, or a crime itself?

    For example, In 1984, a man named Gene Hathorn Jr. took a friend named James Lee Beathard to visit the Hathorn family. Hathorn's father, mother and brother ended up dead of shotgun blasts.
    Hathorn and Beathard battled it out at a courtroom, pointing the fingers at each other, untill finally, Beathard was convicted for the triple homicide, and was sentanced to death.
    However, There was no physical evidence that connected him to the crime scene, or the crime itself. He had been put to jail and sentanced to death based on Hathorn's testiment.

    Later, it was found that Hathorn was guilty of the crime, and then he himself was sentanced to death.

    Beathard, an innocent man, had been put to death because of Capital Punishment, and would still be alive to this day had it not been for his early and unnecisary conviction, and capital punishment itself.

    So guys, what do you think about capital punishment? Are you For it or against it?

    Im against it, just because
    1. i think that people would suffer more being in jail.
    2. its possible that the person convicted was innocent, and he could eventually, when evidence was found that supported that he wasnt connected, or didnt do the crime, leave jail, instead of being put to death for crimes he did not commit.

    So, What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2006 #2


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    Some people see that as a plus. I think life without parole is a form of slavery.
  4. Dec 3, 2006 #3
    I think that the sort of life that some can lead even in jail isn't justified when you consider the lives that have been terminated because of them

    I think a worse punishment for a crime such as murder, is not the termination of existance (death penalty) but relegation to a miserable one, and plenty of time to lament over it. By this I don't mean inlicting upon them horrific acts of torture...merely that you feed them just enough to keep them alive and offer them no other stimulus other than four bare walls that serve as their prison...no interaction with other inmates...no communication with the outside world...nothing that would serve as recreation...and for a considerable amount of time, no hope of the situation changing...also make sure that the rest of the world including any wanna be scourges of society know whats in store for them (as long as you can catch them of course).
  5. Dec 3, 2006 #4


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    So it's about revenge, Greg. Do you realise how dangerous that is?

    I was just watching a documentary on World War 2 and they mentioned that as Hitler was advancing eastwards, in many towns in places like Lithuania, jews were rounded up and killed before the german forces got there.

    Public revenge-lust must be withstood; revenge should form no part of dealing with criminals.
  6. Dec 3, 2006 #5
    Prison should be about rehibilitation, not revenge. I would hope society would have evolved beyond the need to settle scores, but it appears not.
  7. Dec 3, 2006 #6
    I don't agree with taking a person's life be it for personal gain or for punishment. For that reason amongst others I am against the death penalty...however for me, making someone who was once alive forever not-alive for their own selfish reasons is an attrocity that should not be dealt with lightly

    You may call it revenge...I call it removing people who have brought about the destruction of someone else's existance from society and ensuring that for a considerable length of time they have little more benefit from their own existance than the one which they thought it was their right to take away... I never said you could not make efforts to try and rehabilitate them at a later stage...I just don't see the virtue in allowing murderers any compensation for their lack of freedom until such time that they have probably come to realise that it is not an act they wish to commit again and would agree to re-pay society in some way or another (though the person(s) who were killed can never be un-killed).
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2006
  8. Dec 3, 2006 #7
    Rehabilitation can't be the only reason, because prisoners serving a life sentence don't need to be rehabilitated (beyond what is required inside the prison). Rehabilitation might be the primary goal for many short sentences, but I also believe deterrence is important. In addition, sometimes prisoners are able to repay the society by doing community work.

    I do however agree that revenge has no place in a modern society, and I don't believe it has.
  9. Dec 3, 2006 #8

    D H

    Staff: Mentor

    That is a liberal point of view, and one with which I disagree. Punishment is an integral part of the purpose of prison. Rehabilitation is necessary also, as we want former criminals to remain so upon release. Society should not want them to become criminals once again. Our prisons are failing in that regard.

    With regard to the narrow question of the death penalty, my view is that the death penalty is the only appropriate way to address those who have irrevocably surrendered their humanity by committing a truly attrocious crime.

    The problem with the death penalty is that mistakes are irrevocable. The OP describes one such mistake. The burden of proof needs to be much higher than 'beyond a reasonable doubt' in the case of the death penalty. There was no doubt that Hitler was responsible for the deaths of millions. Had Hitler been captured alive, it would have been a crime against humanity to let him live. Rehabilitate him? Never.
  10. Dec 3, 2006 #9


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    Obviously there is a deterrence element but people try to use it to justify getting revenge, especially with emotive language like "they are getting away with it".
  11. Dec 3, 2006 #10
    i dont like the idea of a function of government to ever involve killing someone. i dont like capital punishment for other reasons but this is the primary one
  12. Dec 4, 2006 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    I used to be a big supporter of capital punishment, but, revenge and deterrence issues aside, I no longer trust the justice system, or any system, or any government enough to concede the right to take a life as a form of punishment. To do so is insanity IMO. We all know the corruption potential of humans given power. We all know that people make mistakes. We all know that no system can be perfect.
  13. Dec 4, 2006 #12
    The principle concern of the criminal justice system is public safety (i.e. keeping killers off the street). The problem with the death penalty is that it really is not about public safety. Arguments that it is a deterrence or that it keeps dangerous criminals off the street are disingenuous. Capital punishment is about reprisal, and I do not support it.
  14. Dec 4, 2006 #13
    Not justice?
  15. Dec 4, 2006 #14
    "Justice" is a very subjective term when you think about it. Justice is an ideal, and there are many varying philosophical arguments that attempt to define it. I realize that I am in the minority in opposing capital punishment, but to me, justice (in the context of crime and punishment) is the minimum amount of force necessary to ensure public safety.
  16. Dec 4, 2006 #15


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    You really think someone like Henry Lucas could be rehabilitated? Or Jeffrey Dahmer? Or Dennis Rader? Or Dorothea Puente?

    There's some sick people out there that are beyond rehabilitation. There's only two choices for them: keep them alive in a cage or execute them. Either one is good enough, but I don't see much point in keeping them alive. About the only real justification for not executing them is that the execution process winds up being more expensive than keeping them alive in a cage.

    (Lucas is the answer to an interesting trivia question. Out of 152 death sentences reviewed by Bush as governor of Texas, Lucas is the only one that Bush ever commuted.)
  17. Dec 5, 2006 #16
    You certainly arent in the minority by opposing capital punishment. The Majority of western/1st world, Democratic countries abolished this years ago. It is deemed barbaric, and counter productive. A judicial system in Europe at least, or European influenced nations, isnt supposed to be about revenge. Thats the cold hard logic...
  18. Dec 5, 2006 #17
    I can understand that and most people in Europe will agree with you. However, how about the fact that those inmates cost a lot to society. In the end prisoners are just parasites of society because they produce nothing, yet to need to be kept alive.

    I don't see the value in making all this effort and that is why i support capital punishment for convicted murderers, (child) rapists, and other sick/lost people.

    Well, i again understand this, but what you state here is that one cannot entirely trust the judicial system. That is true, yet think you need to consider the majority of the cases where the conviction is correct !!!

    Besides, putting somebody behind bars, in a cage, for the rest of his/her life is the same as killing somebody. Once you are in prison, you lose one of the most fundamental human rights : FREEDOM.

  19. Dec 5, 2006 #18
    How on earth is jailing someone and killing them the same thing?

    When you kill someone they loose all their 'fundamental human rights' plus their life, and you punish anyone who cared for that person.

    What about Mentally Ill people, they add no value to be kept alive either. So where does one stop? If someone is Sick, or Lost wouldnt it be better to cure that person? I am sure you dont mean we should execute all Mentally Ill people, or do you?
  20. Dec 5, 2006 #19
    How can we put these two aside? :smile:
    Ivan what is your position on these two fundamental aspects of Capital Punishment. I presume you must think that they are null. Do you believe that CP does detere people?
    Do you believe that revenge has a place in the context of a Justice system?

    I ask these because you were for Capital Punishment, but now are not because you dont trust the justice system...
  21. Dec 5, 2006 #20
    Nope, you cannot lose something you don't have. You lose those right when you kill or rape women, children, men,...

    I don't care because the parents of a murdered child feel far worse.

    Why do you defend such criminals. Why are you not talking about the feelings of the victims and their family, huh ?

    Ofcourse i am not saying that. Actually, your line of reasoning in this case (and many others as well i noticed) is very cheap and childish. You don't need to insult my intelligence, Anttech. Anybody can see the difference between people with epilepsia or whatever and a rapist.

    Even, a rapist should be trialed in ANY case, even if the guy/woman has a psychiatric history.

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