Capital punishment…not!

Today the state of Georgia executed a convicted murderer. He shot his live-in girlfriend three times in the face. He is the first person to be put to death in the US since the Supreme Court ended a de facto moratorium on capital punishment in April 2008.

There has long been a debate over the effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent to murder. But the debate is really unfounded. Why? Because capital punishment doesn’t really exist as it was intended; we as a society don’t enforce it. Instead of murder-trial-conviction-death, it’s celebrityhood. When someone is actually sentenced to death they become causes, not corpses. They appear in the media; on the front pages of newspapers, above the fold. If cameras aren’t allowed in the courtroom, defendants are rendered in water color or tempera by talented artists.

While you and I work to support our families, and catch little if any media recognition for it, people who kill their families get top billing, widespread media attention and big-name attorneys to represent them in an appeal. And most times the defendant has his execution commuted to life in prison.

So the argument that capital punishment does or doesn’t deter crime has no real reference point in the 21st century. There doesn’t exist a sufficient database of statistics to support either assertion.

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