Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Stitch In Time

Daily Telegraph writer Garry Linnell highlights the arguments made against capital punishment then delivers the inconvenient truth:

By the time they make their third point, the anti-capital punishment gang throw in a favourite red herring. The death penalty, they say, is no deterrent to further crime. Yet a recent studies suggest otherwise.

In Harris County, Texas, where executions are most aggressively carried out, there has been a 72 per cent decrease in the annual murder rate since 1982.

In the US, which suffered an explosion of crime and urban breakdown in the mid-1970s at the same time its Supreme Court ruled against the death penalty (later overturned), you are now less likely to be murdered than in 1960.

University of Colorado economics professor Naci Mocan conducted a study on more than 6000 death sentences in the US between 1977 and 1997. His findings suggest that every execution meant five or six extra murders were not committed. "Science does really draw a conclusion ... The results are robust," Mocan said.
Brave lad, Linnell, speaking in favour of a protection under the law that our political and social betters, including the vast majority of the mainstream media, would deny us.

However, Linnell makes the fundamental mistake of falling for a component of the very first anti-death penalty argument he highlights:

Their first port of call is always the claim that the taking of any life lowers and demeans us as a society.
An aspect of this is to portray executing a murderer as murder itself, and Linnell begins his otherwise good piece by doing this very thing, suggesting we 'have murder in our hearts' for wanting the likes of the Bali bombers and the killers of Anita Cobby dead.

The execution of a vicious killer is not murder in a legal, moral or even Biblical sense ('thou shalt not kill' is an oversimplified translation of 'thou stalt not unlawfully take a human life'), nor is it revenge. It is a method of saying to all citizens that a society so highly values human life that, if you unlawfully steal that life from another, your own existence will be forfeit.

Interestingly, comments are invited on the Linnell piece at but none have been published.

-- Nick

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