This is true, but it seems to me to also be true that inmates on death row don’t have anything to lose by killing guards or other inmates since they’ve already been condemned to death anyway, so there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two scenarios.

The idea that a rehabilitated inmate should willingly accept death as punishment for murder is an interesting one, though. I’d like to think that if I ever deliberately killed someone in cold blood, I would do exactly what you just described and accept my execution. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that it always serves the public good to put convicted murderers to death. Had Tookie Williams lived and been allowed to continue his work, he might have managed to save quite a few vulnerable teenagers from gang culture. By putting him to death, the system may have inadvertently sentenced many young boys to their deaths as well.

And even if I agreed that capital punishment was an efficient way of protecting society from murderers, I’d still have to disagree with it. I know we’ve put innocent people to death, and it’s a statistical inevitability that we’ll do it again. If the principal goal of the system is to protect innocent people, it doesn’t make much sense to continue a practice that has undoubtedly cost countless innocent people their lives. At least, that’s just how I see it. Others would argue that the collateral damage is worth it, but I just don’t accept that.

P.S. Thank you for reading the piece and responding with a thoughtful reply. Even if we don’t see eye to eye on this, I do appreciate the civil exchange!

Outer space enthusiast. Japanese history junkie. I write about politics, culture, and mental illness. Disagreement is a precursor to progress.

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