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Flawed Reasoning for Opposing the Death Penalty

3 comments | 9:08 am | top |
ACT MP Law & Order spokesman David Garrett writes on his blog about why the death penalty would not work in New Zealand in response to an article by Cactus Kate calling for the death penalty to be introduced with recent posterboys including psychopath Clayton Weatherston who killed his girlfriend by stabbing her 216 times.

As some readers will know, I have in the past (prior to my involvement with ACT) advocated a return of the death penalty for our worst murderers – the Bells, the Rufus Marsh’s  and the Burtons.

After ten years reflection, I have now changed my view somewhat. While most people wouldn’t have much of a problem if Bell or Burton were executed, as a matter of public policy it becomes very problematic.

Having lived in a country where the death penalty remains on the books as a discretionary sentence for murder, I can say with some certainty that one of the results of having a capital sentence even as an option  is what lawyers call “perverse verdicts” by juries unwilling to convict because they know or believe the person concerned will be executed, and they cannot cope with that on their collective conscience.

The question of whether or not the death penalty would be enforceable or workable should come after the discussion on its justification. To rule out bringing in the death penalty because some juries were emotionally compromised is a pragmatic response to the issue. Garrett states that life without parole (LWOP) is probably a worse penalty than being sentenced to death, and he's probably right - but a worse penalty for who? With New Zealand's tax-payer funded prison system, incarceration is merely a no-frills holiday with a varying range of lifestyle options including low-paid work, education and drug-use. That's not to trivialise some of the abuse that goes on within prisons however the real question here is, why should society suffer twice at the hands of the offender. First when the offender commits a crime deemed worthy of LWOP, and then second when they pay for his existence until death.

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Anonymous Nathan said...

Death penalty is a hard one...esp. when it comes to things like murder and manslaughter...but in the case of the ( refering to Clayton Weatherston, and im not going to call him a man because of his repulsive action, i will call him a thing...) so in the case of the "thing" death penalty i would say is out of the question...a double life sentance back to back no exeptions...with the thought of his action in his mind forever... My thought is that a death sentance...its over to quickly, just a 'jab' and your out...


10:15 am, November 17, 2009 
Blogger Allie said...

Your reasoning may not be flawed but isn't there a major problem with saying - it's expensive to keep them alive and in prison, so let's kill them?? BIG flaw in my opinion. And not coming near a justification of the death penalty. Actually I'm surprised you'd used that argument, given your stance on abortion - it's not all that different to say "I don't want to be a mother, and babies are expensive, so I'll kill mine."

1:21 pm, November 17, 2009 
Blogger Andy Moore said...

Thanks for your comment Allie. I agree with you, there is a major problem with justifying the death penalty with the cost of the alternative (keeping them alive). However I am in favour of prisons that operate at no cost to the state; ideally they would run at a profit. I've actually completely avoided the morality of the death penalty in this post, so as simply to focus more on Garrett's comments.

4:28 pm, November 17, 2009 

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