Retributive Justice and the Death Penalty
Christopher Monfort, convicted of the fatal shooting of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton.
Perhaps instinctively, we all understand revenge. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we identify with the young prince on his quest to avenge the murder of his father, even as he kills the innocent old fool Polonius, drives the beautiful Ophelia to madness, and in general creates enough collateral damage to destroy the kingdom. Societies have developed a way to curb this instinct for vengeance and avoid the wanton destruction that often accompanies it. Rather than seeking to personally avenge the wrong, the citizen hands over that burden to the larger society with the expectation that justice will be done and that the punishment will fit the crime. In some cases, the crime is so heinous that the only proportional punishment is death.
By careful research, social scientists have pretty much refuted…
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