Monday, May 04, 2009

Voluntary Death Penalty

My post on torture reminded me of the stereotypical Christian split over the death penalty in which usually more progressive Christians are against it and more conservative Christians are for it.

Which is more have the death penalty, or to have someone confined to prison for 60 + years?

I'm guessing it probably depends on the prison and what life would be like there.

I could see some people opting for death.

Would American society accept the idea of convicted criminals choosing one, or the other?

Would any criminals actually choose death over life in prison?

Would it be condoning suicide if we had voluntary death penalties?



Buz said...

An interresting idea.

However, part of the idea of incarceration is that you have lost the right to determine your fate. You can fight against your punishment on the grounds that either (a) you are not guilty or that (b) there were errors made in your trial. But if you accept your fate (imprisonment or execution) you have no further say in the matter. If you are scheduled for execution, you have no right to determine the method, the state mandates that.

So, if you were found guilty of a crime, I could not see the stated allowing you to choose whether you wanted to be executed or not.


jackscrow said...

"Which is more have the death penalty, or to have someone confined to prison for 60 + years?"

Depends on whether you are ready to go.

Lessee, prison for 60 years, with the possiblity of Salvation, or total separation from God for Eternity....

I'm guessing prison.

Anonymous said...

jackscrow, I'm hoping that was a parody post. You conflate the value of life and mercy with an individual's "salvation" status. Who on earth would be responsible to determine that status? What you are saying is that it would be more merciful to execute Christians than unrepentent criminals.

Then again, maybe you are on to something, 'cause Caligula and Nero had the same idea.

terri said...

I understand what jackscrow is saying from a Christian perspective...meaning while someone is still alive, they have an opportunity to seek forgiveness and establish a relationship with God. If they die in their sins...well, then that opportunity is lost.

The problem is that we can't make laws on the basis of someone's spiritual status....which we wouldn't be able to verify anyway....which gets back to Anonymous' point.

The Law must be the Law for all people.

A voluntary death penalty probably wouldn't work anyway. What if someone decided they preferred death and then, as they were facing lethal injection at the last minute, changed their mind?

Or someone might choose prison and after 10 years of misery decide they would rather die than live out 40 more years in prison.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I recall someone on death row asking for execution because he felt he deserved it because of his religious beliefs. I cannot locate the story, so I may be remembering very inaccurately, but I recall that this was out west - Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and the person had idiosyncratic Christian beliefs.

Facing execution would likely prompt me to make my peace with God as best as I could, while endless dragging on might not. Whether that would apply to the psychology of people on death row I don't know. But it's another take - a definite end, a crisis, might prompt reflection in a way that time alone would not.