Emmanuel Mashandudze

Business Intelligence, Tools and Process Specialist, Witwatersrand University

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The death penalty is a method of punishment in several countries. Is it justified to give someone such a penalty? Is it right?

The law against right or wrong is so difficult and different in several countries. In some its flexible and some are so strict that certain individuals have the power to get someone executed over their crimes. Society has a different take on many of these laws. What does the world say? Is it fair to kill as a person for their wrongs and isn't this saying they do not deserve a second chance to life? Who has the the right to kill?

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    Dec 21 2011: I was thinking of starting this topic here =]
    There are lots of disadvantages of the idea of death penalty like: if you kill a criminal, you become a criminal; who are you to kill?; what if it is killed not a criminal due to a mistake and so on.
    Gandhi had told once absolutely wonderful words: eye for an eye will make whole world blind.
    Besides, I believe all the criminals are victims. I understand that many people can not see this. However, I see criminals as the ones who suffered in a miserable environment and have a lack of empathy. The thing is that, people do horrible crimes not because of their genes and family (that's have more or less the influence, but I think that's not the main factor), but the whole society. We all raise such people. I'm sure for this. We raise frauds, thieves...murders...
    To my view, instead of penalty and prison system, there should be healing criminals' psychology system. Their deep psychological/emotional wounds should be healed and they should practice to feel the empathy. I suppose, empathy is the key word here. Of course, it's easy to say nice peaceful thoughts, hard to do that in practice. It may seem that some people are pure evil, nothing and no one can change them...
    However, setting positive attitudes is right, I guess. Healed person could do some nice things. Maybe much, maybe just some, but that's still better than nothing, plus, knowing, there's one murder less.
    I'm absolutely against death penalty.
    Maybe I wrote impossible things, but read Gandhi words once again, please.
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      Dec 22 2011: Hello Julija,

      I agree with you (as you might notice in a previous comment I wrote here).
      I think this is not so impossible as it may look like. It is a question of society changing.
      As in any other problem there are many things to deal with, forces against a change will always exist.

      I once saw a documentary on Japanese prisons for women and I was impressed. They looked like to exactly a prison set on better grounds. The documentary was about an American woman (I guess) who was arrested there and how she stayed there for 5 years and what she learned, and how did the prison was just what she needed to change her mind.

      As I questioned before, do prisons have a right format?
      I don't argue that there are people who must be kept in prison, but what is the purpose? punish them and set an example? allow them to go to an "university" of crime and get better criminals once they come out? expand criminal networks? have criminals protected in forts and allow them to rule their gangs outside?

      For this and as in other social relevant issues I agree that professional psychological support, behavior therapy, social assistance are a key to a better society. Allowing the comparison I see these professionals as I see enzymes in a Human body...as small individual working units that are essential to sustain life.
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        Dec 23 2011: Yeah, I do not get a reasonable purpose for prisons existence, too.
        But. People who suffered from a crime, for example, lost a family member because of the murder, often have no mercy. They want criminal be dead, or, at least, get a lifelong punishment in a prison with bad conditions, which would make her/him suffer.
        Yeah, I don't know, what I would think, if someone hurt my absolutely fascinating cat. At first, I would be one of those people, I described above, but then, I HOPE, I would get my mind back.
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          Dec 24 2011: What you just wrote about is the primitive feeling of "revenge" - eye for an eye.
          It is natural that one person feels like that after such lost, but the point here is not to suffer.

          Not those who lost some one close or the criminal. The objective is to learn, to evolve.

          Everybody needs it. But then again we are just Humans and we can't disconnect our animal, primitive side. But certainly we can condition in with reason and channel Love out to the world.

          By the way, I hope your cat is fine.
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    Jan 6 2012: I defer to the laws of nature when faced with questions of right and wrong as humans view it and apply their beliefs to other humans. In my opinion it's never acceptable to kill anyone by the death due to the multiple and unclear of "right" an "wrong". As far as humans go, right and wrong soley depens on when and where and what culture or society you are born into. That tells me right and wrong is subjective and not definitive. Peace.
  • Dec 29 2011: In order to justify the death penalty judicial systems would have to know the truth of the matter, i.e. know for a fact that an individual is guilty. But since we can only make educated guesses as to the guilt or innocence of an individual due to a gathering of a body of evidence, the system exhibits a possibility of flaw. To negate someone's ultimate potentiality and sheer humanity due to the rendering of a decision by a possibly flawed system does not follow logically. Furthermore, it is more expensive to kill a prisoner rather than to let him live- where he could society by being made to labor the rest of his life.
  • Dec 19 2011: My idea is that nobody should be able to be killed even if they make unbelievable crimes(bad crimes). There could be other types of punishments, but killing someone alse is not fair.
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      Dec 19 2011: I echo your sentiments. I also say no to capital punishment but I have seen ruthless people who have no respect for humanity or life, Terrorists who kill for whatever reasons. Is it not justified then to apply capital punishment to such ill mannered beings.
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      Dec 20 2011: What is the alternative? Can someone, with full knowledge of what he was doing, murder someone and be allowed to live?
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    Dec 19 2011: And when you killed an innocent man?. The death penalty is a difficult topic, but, in my opinion, if you kill a murderer, you are being as him. What is the difference?
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    Dec 18 2011: I think that nobody has the right to kill anyone, nobody. I'm very glad that in my country this is not allow.
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      Dec 19 2011: You are definitely lucky to have a group of people who lead you who believe in such principles. There are so many nations that believe in it. I just want to ask you though, What happens to serial killers and those people who go out to prawl on mankind for the fun of it.
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    Dec 16 2011: Hello Emmanuel,

    I find the topic you suggested for debate very important.
    First and answering directly to the topic, I think it is NOT justifiable to kill someone as punishment.

    The drive to kill someone as a way of revenge or punishment is basic (though not the elementary one, I think the essence, the core is exactly the opposite, love). We are living Beings that evolved (really even at a structural brain level) from basic needs to being able to wonder about these kind of questions (e.g frontal cortex).
    Since there is this need to evolve towards a conscious where love, tolerance, non-violence, compassion can breach through the basic structures and drives I think the idea of killing some one is not suitable. I am not naive enough to tell you we should "kiss and cuddle" criminals and delinquents but we should not kill them.

    This raises other questions as:
    Do prisons have a right format and people in charge and working in it?(I mean at least most of the one's I heard of and know).
    I think they don't. Every one knows there is more crime in prisons than outside from corruption to bribes, every kind traffic to murder, managing crimes from inside out and use prisons as forts... A prison should be rehabilitating, instructional, helping people to evolve and educate them on how to overcome their difficulties and at the same time respect other. I realize there's the need to use physical force and fences but as a way to prevent crime in it and restring behaviors that lead people there. During the stay at a prison things should evolve towards education, psychological work, social worker assistance, spiritual guidance, a space (physical, time and psychic) to clearly reflect in actions taken.

    If not successful... well... one has at least a life to spend in prison and work things out... no body says it is easy... the worse is to pretend it is and opt for the actual measures in course.
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    Dec 16 2011: I believe death should ultimately be decided by God. I believe in peace and gaining as much mental power as possible to use it to our advantage to spread that in the best way possible. I don't have a problem with someone serving time with crimes or murder.....but i also believe learning should be implied with that time being served. Lack of true knowledge of civilization leads to death. Money is behind a lot of death that occurs around the world....of innocent women and children . If we punish those who have power over the money with death, a lot of people would change their opinions, when they're in the same boat with the executioner, only with a different conscious.