What Capital Punishment Isn’t

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 9 2011 @ 5:19pm


Ari Kohen takes on the "imagine your family was murdered" argument for the death penalty:

I would argue that nothing will make me feel better about the loss of my loved ones. You could put the offender to death a hundred times and I still wouldn’t feel better … because the execution doesn’t make me whole, it doesn’t even things out. My family members are infinitely precious to me and the offender means nothing. When the execution is over, my house remains empty.

What we do, what our system does, is encourage victims and co-victims to believe that they will feel better after something bad is done to someone else. When it comes to the death penalty, we call it closure … as if watching someone die will put an end to the catastrophe that our lives have become as a result of violent crime. 

(Photo: Relatives of the victims of the April 28 bombing of an outdoor cafe in Marrakesh that left 17 dead, attend the final hearing on October 28, 2011 at the court in Sale. The anti-terrorism court in Sale, near the capital Rabat, delivered the death penalty verdict against Adil Al-Atmani and gave the life sentence to Hakim Dah, an AFP journalist reported. By Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images.)