Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"An eye for an eye, and the whole world goes blind."

For what is probably an extremely obvious reason, I've been thinking a lot about capital punishment today.

I've never lived in a country where there is a death penalty; the last execution in Canada was carried out twenty years before I was born, and the practice was entirely abolished here six years before I was born.  But according to a relatively recent poll, a fair number of Canadians support capital punishment in theory, though less than half of us would actually like to see the measure reinstated here.  Personally, I hope I never see it reinstated.

There is no true justice in taking a life for a life.  There is nothing but bloodthirst and a hunger for revenge that is only thinly disguised as justice, using excuses that have not stood up to true scrutiny.  It is not an effective deterrent to crime.  (The idea of it being so is utterly ludicrous; after all, how many criminals actually plan to get caught?)  And there is still too great a possibility of executing people who aren't guilty of the crimes for which they've been convicted.  And at the most basic level, this is nothing more than state-sanctioned murder using justice as a flimsy excuse.  It is as grave an injustice as the crimes for which these people have been convicted.  Taking another life rights no wrongs.  All it does is turn other people into murderers.

I don't know whether Davis is guilty or innocent of this murder.  I know that the evidence that convicted him is by no means solid, and I know that it's very reasonable to doubt that he did it.  With no DNA evidence, no murder weapon, and seven of the nine witnesses who identified him later recanting or casting significant doubt on their testimonies, and as I hear that another man has actually confessed to the murder, I know that it's highly likely that there has been a grave miscarriage of justice in this case.  And I also know that even if he truly is guilty of the murder, the death penalty is too goes too far.  And to have dangled four execution dates over his head now, and to have granted three stays of execution and now a delay of execution (allegedly while the Supreme Court decides whether or not to grant a stay of execution) within minutes of the time at which he was supposed to die is tantamount to psychological torture.

This is wrong.  On every possible level, this is wrong.

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