The death penalty is a moral issue

Posted: Monday, March 09, 2009

I'm writing in regard to the AP article printed in the March 7 Empire, "In hard times, executions become question of cost," by Deborah Hastings.

The death penalty is a moral issue, not a "question of cost."

The primary scope of any penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When this punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of people, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible, any punishment should contribute to the correction of the offender.

If bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect people's safety, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of humans. The fifth commandment states, "Thou shall not kill."

Because the state has so many options when it comes to effectively preventing crimes, the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not nonexistent.

There ultimately remains no moral justification for imposing a sentence of death. Violence begets violence, both in our hearts and in our actions. By continuing the tradition of responding to killing with state-sanctioned killing, we rob ourselves of moral consistency and perpetuate that which we seek to sanction.

Paul Kokoski

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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