The Ethics of Capital Punishment in Modern Society
#1
Facebook group conversation:

Quote:Sanjay Kumar
Hi all, what is your opinion about capital punishment? Should there be retributive justice or restoration Justice? In the same light will killing of Kasab result in Justice being handed to the 165+ victims of 26/11? What should be a rational response?

Quote:Udhav Naig
Firstly, I don't believe that harsh punishments are in anyway a deterrent for crimes in future.

Secondly, revenge is not something we should be promoting. You kill someone, you will also be killed is a view that is not compatible in modern societies, especially when the criminals are confined to a prison. This may not applicable to Osama Bin Laden who was pretty much out there directing operations.

Quote:Udhav Naig
My idea of justice for the victims is to jail the culprits and make people who did that act accountable. And improve security and well-being in future. Organically work towards a better society. The state cannot kill to make the point that killing is bad.

Quote:Alan D'Souza
I think the philosophy of putting a person in jail is to kepp him/her away from society until he is "corrected". A death penalty does not offer this chance.

Quote:Abhinav Katiyar
I won't mind keeping beasts in the jail if they are willing to pay the expenses. Otherwise, we have better ways to spend tons of money being spent for their security (refer tens of crores being spent on kasab's security). I will rather spend that money on promoting contraceptives and family planning
.

Quote:Udhav Naig
I think the problem is that we are always putting money VS human life argument. This seeps into every argument that we are having today. Why do we need a school for 30 children? Why can't the 30 children be given free bus passes to go to a school that is some 10 KMs away not taking into account the ramifications.

It's something we must not do. Put human life first, even if it means spending thousands of crores. Make use of money in hand properly that can change so many things, instead of saying that if we had more money it will benefit.

I feel quite uneasy at such argument. Kasab's life is a waste, he is a scum worses than a 10 rupee note. I mean, where are we heading?

Quote:Ajita Kamal
I think this is a very important topic and it would be good to have your views archived on the forums.

Quote:Sanjay Kumar
but if you ask me, even Kasab was a tool used and manipulated like some robots at the hands of his religious findamentalists' masters. anyways he came here to die for mere Rs 1.5 lakhs...poverty is a breeding ground for all religious guided violence

Quote:Debayan Sinharoy
‎Ajita, I'm interested to know your views. Let me know if and when you post about this...

Quote:Abhinav Katiyar
In my opinion, we either free the Kasab or hang him. Keeping him in jail is very expensive and may cost more lives. Some terrorist may plant a bomb, kidnap someone, or hijack plane/bus as an excuse to free Kasab. I do not see any value in keeping him in jail and letting him go may set wrong precedence.

Quote:Rajesh Dudeja Thebrandexpress
I think there should be no human rights for inhumans. That is not to say that due process of law must not be followed. But rather that law must be capable enough to distinguish between them. The basis could be , if the criminal worth rehabilitation or not. If he is not, then he is inhuman and none human rights should be applicable to him for the threat he poses to the humanity in general even by living in isolation.

Quote:Yash Gadhiya
I second Rajesh. No human rights for inhumans. People like Kassab who commit cold blooded murders, rapists, hardened criminals deserve to be wiped out from the face of this earth.

Quote:Yash Gadhiya
I definitely would not want such inhumans alive and feeding on my tax money in a jail! They are better dead!

Quote:Fani Raj Mani Chandan
‎Ajita, Can we have the link to the archive on forum?

Personally I believe it is necessary to have capitol punishment as a procedure in the current scenario. Believe it or not but there are people who will go wild and do severe crimes without giving a single thought about people being affected by their deeds. And they will do the same over and over. If you do not have a threat of capitol punishment, I do not know how many Kesabs and Dara Singh will be born.

Quote:Elanchezhian Thulasi
As a principle capital punishment needs to be abolished. the society should not stoop to the level of criminals. we have to give chance even to those heinous people to reform - kasab included. it is really barbaric to to take away once life in the name of law and justice. by doing this we will be aping those criminals only. but it should be abolished for all- not because he is a tamilian, punjabi or muslim.

Quote:Pratap Mohan
Many points in favour of abolishing capital punishments. Studies have shown that there is no difference in the crimes of particular type in places with or without capital punishments. Therefore it may not act as a deterrent. State cannot kill in response to killing. Social hysteria can result in interpreting the case as rarest of the rare like it happened in the case of chaterjee, the last man hanged. Holding the man alive may result in some new facts coming to light which could be used. In case of Kasab holding him alive can result in some kind of revelation on the true chain of events and point to people actually responsible. Hanging him may waste that opportunity.

Quote:Kanad Kanhere
All the arguments given against capital punishment seem very very idealistic and complete void of practical aspects. For e.g. comparing man's life with money ofcourse sounds devilish. But money does save a lot of life. Now the question would be, should the money be spent on saving lives of those who have commited heinous crimes or that of the other who are not that evil. Ideally we should have a united world, and no wars. But till that ideology is globally accepted it would be foolish for our government to stop spending on military weapons which are intended to kill.

Quote:Bhole Vishwakarma
I amagainst capital punishment for all crimes. But if you find an evidence where a plan ks plotted with fair amount of thought and full knowledge of its consequence as in case of 26/11 and Rajiv Gandhi, if proven there should be cital punishment with minimum delay. While in other cases where the crime done as a result of reaction to some event or action there should be only life or whatever imprisionment.

Quote:Anindita Dutt
Capital punishment any day for orchestrated murder as in Rajiv Gandhi and 26/11.. Castration for rape,.. Confiscation of money multiple times the value of bribe taken.... This is not about revenge but fairness and impartiality. Why should Rajiv Gandhi's family and families who have suffered similarly not be able to have a closure? By forgiving the state sends a message - Go ahead, kill anybody you want killed. Spend a decade in jail but then you get to enjoy the rest of your life. And btw the you can keep the money you got paid to carry out the murder. Pretty lucrative. Not a bad deal at all. But is this the message we want to send to India and the rest of the world?

Quote:Anindita Dutt
The irony is that the people who scream "forgiveness" haven't suffered first hand in the hands of the convicted.. and the ones who have suffered they dare not ask for capital punishment because then they will be torn apart for not having empathy...


Quote:Kanad Kanhere
‎Anindita Dutt how do you see "fairness and impartiality" in retribution killing? And exactly what kind of closure is achieved by the bereaved family? By the way make a note there is a serious doubt that retribution killing has a check effect on potential murderers

Quote:Lalit Mohan Chawla
came across http://an-appeal.blogspot.com/ didn't know about it,got any links about it?
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#2
Quote:Anindita Dutt
Karnad - we all pay a price for whatever we take - both realistically and figuratively speaking. Therefore, these convicts should pay a price as well, and in the same currency. There is closure/assurance in knowing that the person who killed your family member - you will never run into that very person again - another person might hurt you, but it can never be that face in the crowd. Just because a specific law/rule has not had it desired effect yet, does not mean you do away with it altogether thereby encourage more lawlessness...

Quote:Kanad
You seem to convey that capital punishment is the only form of punishment and anything besides that will promote lawlessness. How about life imprisonment? Secondly, I tend to disagree that death of the convict will offer any kind of closure to the victim's family. Thats equivalent to saying that if a person stole your cell, the right closure is offered when the thief's cell is stolen. A closure is offered, most likely, when the injustice is acknowledged and the murderer is punished, but not necessarily capital punishment. By the way kindly take this discussion to the forum. I will be posting your and my comment and we can continue there.
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#3
Quote:Anindita Dutt
‎.. the link requires a new login... Therefore, my final post on this thread-- to pass a judgement we need to weigh in the moral cost, emotional cost as well as the economic cost to society. Will the convict or his family bear the economic cost of keeping the person on life imprisonment? The society has to bear that.... It is a sad reality, but it is necessary. On the other hand, you don't just kill because it costs money to keep a person alive.. Therefore, it is a balance of everything, and such judgements are not passed everyday on every convict. I feel equating a cell phone theft with the murder of a family member is entirely out of context ... Lastly, it is not my intention to prove anybody right or wrong -- it is just a perspective.

Quote:Kanad Kanhere
Firstly you can use your facebook login id and password to login into the forum. Also the cell example was trivial but just to explain the fact that "repayment in kind" is doesn't really offer closure.
Just to clarify, my objections to your posts were against retribution killing for retribution sake. I support capital punishment in economic sense especially for a country like India. But retribution shouldn't be accounted in this equation. Somebody might as well argue that real closure is offered only when the kin of the victim personally murders the convict. Such things can definitely not be encouraged
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#4
Quote:Bhole Vishwakarma
Lost of people are giving example how retribution or whatever killing that we call hanging will not deter or check future crimes.....so you and others are implying that the guy who got killed is not even being used as guinea pig so avenging him is futile?

Few years back I had an argument with my boss who said Allah watches and when a criminals pot of crime is full Allah punishes him...and when I asked him that you mean people who suffer from that criminals crime and Allah's wait...are born merely as a guinea pig??

Quote:Kanad Kanhere
‎Bhole Vishwakarma - kindly post your comments on the forum. By the way I didn't get what you meant by "So you and others are implying that the guy who got killed is not even being used as guinea pig so avenging him is futile?" What experiment are you thinking of where the victim is guinea pig? Sorry but not able to understand you.

Quote:Bhole Vishwakarma
Just because killing the culprit will not help in preventing future crime, do we owe nothing to the victim and his family?

Quote:Kanad Kanhere
You are again raising the point that "retribution" is justice offered to the victim and his family. That might be instinctive behavior but is far from rational. At the risk of giving a trivial example again there is a saying that "If a dog bites you, you shouldn't bite a dog". If the victim's family say that they want to kill the murderer, can the legal system approve it? I will reiterate what I have already said, acknowledging the injustice and punishing the convict should be sufficient, the punishment not necessarily being capital punishment
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#5
Quote:Abhinav Katiyar
If dog bites quite a few people, dog is usually killed.

Quote:Kanad Kanhere
Does killing the dog give any kind of satisfaction to the people who were bitten in the "retribution" sense? And again this is ideally not the right approach. Animal activist will request the dog to be quarantined rather than be killed, and I would advocate it if it is economically viable.
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#6
Quote:Abhinav Katiyar
Dog is killed to avoid future bites. I believe punishment is not to get the satisfaction. It is to avoid/prevent same incidents in the future.

Quote:Sanjay Kumar
‎Abhinav Katiyar: but is death penalty a deterent in the first place? retributive justice is some sort of primitive justice...in an unequal world, kasabs are made than born due to circumstances...

Quote:Abhinav Katiyar
Yes, death penalty is a deterrent because most of us still fear the death. I would have preferred life imprisonment (not just 14-20 years) in an ideal world though (assuming Kasab, just for an example, is paying for his expenses in jail and that there won't be any security issues because of keeping him in Jail). Truth is that we do not have enough resources or ability to correct every criminal so harsh punishment is a deterrent to some extent. If we do not hang Kasab, it will be even easier for terrorists to brainwash more Kasabs. Without such deterrents, many people may kill others just for the momentary excitement even though they may realize later that it is not good.

Quote:Sanjay Kumar
if death penalty is deterrent then why do crimes in countries with capital punishment in place still exist or in countries where it is done away we do not have low crime rates?...

Quote:Kanad Kanhere
This thread seems to be recursing into simliar arguments. Abhinav Katiyar - my earlier post was to discard retribution from the equation of captial punishment. I am not against capital punishment because of the practical social & economic aspects (kindly read my first post on this thread for this). You have correctly pointed out that lack of resources can be a issue which forces such measures. Others would be
1. probability of successful rehabilitation weighed against time and cost
2. Other dangers from keeping the convict alive, for e.g. in case of Kasab there might be strikes to free him.

Finally, the deterrent effect of capital punishment is not so straightforward as most of such crimes are committed because of ideologies that really don't care if the ultimate result is death, e.g. jehad.
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#7
As far as rhetoric goes, how's this one - Why kill Kasab and grant his wish of going to heaven because he had successfully fulfilled the wishes of the merciful Allah? Why not keep him alive and deny him heaven for a few more decades?

Also won't killing a person reduce the amount a revenge (or closure) the family of the victim get? Why not keep the perpetrator alive and show him hell? Isn't that a lot more satisfying? How many times have we felt bad because the villain in the movie was killed quickly without properly suffering for his bad deeds?

PS: I am against retributive justice and capital punishment.
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#8
Capital punishment should be measured against the criminal's intent and actions. Of course reformation sounds wonderful in principle, but the reality is that there are people who are so consumed by hate that reform simply is just not practical.

This is quite ideologically possible. If people are willing to die for their religion, as in the case of terrorists, they aren't going to be changing their closely held beliefs and hate in a hurry.

Personally capital punishment is like mercy-killing. Rather than letting terrorists destroy themselves in their own hate, and to prevent any future exchanges as India has witnessed, hard-core cold-blooded terrorists for whom no reform is considered practical should be executed.

It's funny that people talk of "we don't have a right to take a person's life". What makes a free man if the right to life, and liberty, for starters. Life imprisonment takes liberty away. What's the ethical big deal?

Personally, a painless death is more humane that a life of suffering.

As someone mentioned, why allow terrorists to die in the name of their insane god or that killing is inhumane argument. What about neurosurgery (a lobotomy) for hard-core terrorists?

I'm pretty sure insanity won't get them to heaven.
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#9
(03-Dec-2011, 07:31 PM)RascarCapac Wrote: It's funny that people talk of "we don't have a right to take a person's life". What makes a free man if the right to life, and liberty, for starters. Life imprisonment takes liberty away. What's the ethical big deal?

The ethical big deal is the change in perspective that is necessitated by naturalistic perspective of things. Most people think a murderer should be hanged irrespective of whether there are other options. It is this mentality that needs to be addressed and is unethical.

You can reason death punishment from resources/economics/possibility of rehabilitation/security angle, but retribution for the sake of retribution is unethical.
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#10
(03-Dec-2011, 07:31 PM)RascarCapac Wrote: It's funny that people talk of "we don't have a right to take a person's life". What makes a free man if the right to life, and liberty, for starters. Life imprisonment takes liberty away. What's the ethical big deal?

It will be funny if it weren't for the sad fact that people are wrongly convicted all the time. The ethical big deal is - the not-so-insignificant and real possibility of killing an innocent person.

Of course, there will be slam dunk cases like that of Kasab, but the point of discussion of this thread is much broader than that. Even in the case of Kasab, as Kanad said above, killing for the sake of retribution does raise an objection in a naturalistic framework.

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#11
Killing for the sake of retribution is quite pointless.

But, for those cases beyond reasonable doubt, where the culprit has committed a crime on horrific proportions with the intent of doing so, then he should be killed if he is not mentally insane. It is just the more humane thing to do when a person is incapable of reform, rather than letting him rot forever, at the expense of the taxpayer and the security risk he poses.

Kasab deserves to die. Not because of a sense of retribution, but you have to understand that there are people in this world who see mercy as weakness. Kasab is a pawn in the war between civilization and barbarism. Barbarism must be fought with all means possible, but not mercy.

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#12
(04-Dec-2011, 03:12 PM)RascarCapac Wrote: Kasab deserves to die. Not because of a sense of retribution, but you have to understand that there are people in this world who see mercy as weakness. Kasab is a pawn in the war between civilization and barbarism. Barbarism must be fought with all means possible, but not mercy.

Justifying capital punishment because some will see "mercy" as a sign of weakness sounds silly. It is a false dichotomy. It reminds me of movies where the "hero" loses his "manliness" because he shaves off his mustache.

Also, there is room for a nuanced discussion on capital punishment without derailing it with talk about clash of civilization and barbarism.

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