Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Universal Laws (9) Penalty for Murder

Murder is the most serious crime, so it deserves the toughest penalty. In principle, the only penalty proportional to the killing of a human is the death of the murderer. If justice were the only consideration, the death penalty would be mandatory, because no other penalty can compensate for the death of another human? No financial payment can fully compensate for a human life.

Justice understands that the parents of a murdered child might want to kill the killer. However, justice is not justice, if it is not tempered by mercy. Most people will be uncomfortable about applying a death penalty, because they have an abhorrence for taking life. They would be reluctant to kill, even a murderer. Mercy will temper judgment.

The problem with the death penalty is it does nothing for the financial dependents of the victim. It hurts the dependents of the murderer more than it hurts the murderer, so true justice is not really achieved. Payment of financial restitution to the family of the person murdered will generally be a more satisfactory penalty. This payment would have to be large enough to compensate for the loss of the life and to make up for the future earnings lost by the victim’s family. The murderer might have to mortgage his life to be able to make this restitution.

Where a murder is particularly ruthless or cruel, and there are several victims, financial restitution might not be sufficient penalty. A few murderers are so evil, that they have no future in normal society. In these situations, if there are several independent and reliable witnesses to identify the murderer with certainty, justice might require the death penalty. However, situations with independent witnesses will be very rare, because most murders are committed in private.


Steve Scott said...

With the point you make about restitution, I think it is less just for a murderer to spend life in prison than to be executed. Not only is it also not possible for him to work to repay his victim because of his incarceration, there is the added burden placed upon the taxpayers (of which his victim's family is part) to keep the murderer alive under paid guard in an incredibly expensive prison system.

Ron McK said...

You are correct.