Death is Wrong for Wisconsin

May 17, 2006

In November Wisconsinites will be asked to weigh in on whether or not to reinstate the death penalty. (We haven’t had one here since 1853.) I will vote no on that referendum. This is why.

I’ve heard it costs an average of $20 million more to execute someone than it does to imprison them for life without parole. Sure, there may be ways to kill people on the cheap, but one of the main arguments of the pro-death camp is that they say they’re going to take great pains to do it right, and right takes time and money.

Plus, I agree with Jay; it’s just wrong. No one sheds tears for perpetrators of heinous crimes, but I think executing people speaks ill of the character of our state. Just as I believe you can judge an individual by how he or she treats people less powerful than him or herself, so I believe that a society can be judged by how it treats its least popular members. We risk no harm by showing compassion to people who do not deserve it, but by doing so we elevate ourselves and make a positive statement about the morality of our great state.

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  1. Well, I can say that I am not sure which way to go, and I have waffled on this issue many times over the years.

    The economics point to life without parole. Most of the economic issues have little to do with the cost of taking a human life, but more to do with the repeated appeals and stays that occur.

    But does compassion? Yes, there is the compassion for the perpetrator’s life, that is true, but is life imprisonment more compassionate than death? One should read Chekov for a discourse on that.

    Then there is another form of compassion. Once inside a prison for life sans parole, what really stops a criminal from, well, remaining a criminal? Pretty much nothing. What about the first-time offender who has to share a prison with these career criminals? What about their ability to try and come clean?

    I, for one, do not know what line of the compassion argument I will stand on in November, but my vote, whatever it will be, will be based on compassion.

  2. So does this mean you will no longer support the practice of unborn innocents being put to death?

    Or would you just continue to cry tears only for the depraved of our society?

    I am sure Steven Avery is glad to have your protection.

  3. A fertilized egg isn’t a human being, Fred. It doesn’t think, feel, or merit any protections under the law. And frankly, I find your concern for the “unborm” a little disingenuous. If you really and truly felt strongly about reducing abortion you’d be working to prevent unwanted pregnancy. When’s the last time you lifted a finger in support of birth control or comprehensive sex education? The only way to reduce abortion is to make sure nobody ever becomes pregnant unless they want to.

  4. I just don’t, from any angle, see the benefit of the death penalty.

    Conservatives should be championing the lower cost of a lifetime in prision.

    Liberals should be vigorously promoting rehabilitation cost to society.

    Your average American religious zealots should see the value in all human life, and realize that state-sanctioned murder is playing God. And he hates that.

    Morally, I don’t believe it is our role to determine the value of a life. I just don’t see how anyone justifies it.

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