Sunday, June 16, 2013

Crime, Punishment and Belief

It just occurred to me, the whole concept of the death penalty works if the condemned - and the accused, the potential perpetrators - believe in an afterlife of eternal damnation, believe that the human judge on this side mirrors the eventual judgement they will receive and the following punishment. 

If you believe that what you are doing is wrong, wrong enough to warrant an eternity of the lake of fire, and the lake of fire exists and is waiting, and you will be caught, and when you are hung, God will send you to hell to forever burn... you will be deterred. You'll think twice. 

If you think you won't be caught - 
If caught, you think you can evade punishment - 
If punished, the punishment is too light - especially if the roof and regular meals of prison looks attractive compared to whatever brutal hell you are already living in - 
If the maximum punishment is given, you don't believe in God or hell - 
Or if you believe his judgement will be different from society's - 

The the entire concept of punishment to act as a deterrent to crime breaks down. It becomes an escape, a start-over. A reward. An irritant. Fame and glamour. Not the stuff that will ever stop crime. 

What's an acceptable alternative? 
Honestly, I don't know. It's not that easy. For the victim of the crimes, it's easy to like increasing brutality, barbaric punishments. Taliban-esque. Make the immediate, visible results of a crime seen to all, the thieves without hands to make other thieves think a thousand times. But this will make societies increasingly brutal. The chances of an innocent caught in the machine. It also needs a enforcement and judicial system that's fast, efficient, and accurate. 

Maybe humanity's just too big to govern effectively now. 


  1. Just one innocent sentenced to death is too much. Greetings, I'm schizoaffective, similar to you, I guess. How's that for an introduction?

  2. This is going to sound weird, but I don't remember posting this comment this morning. I received an email this morning alerting me to the fact that I had supposedly commented. I'm trying to figure out what's going on. I'm wondering if maybe I left this comment a long time ago and you're just now getting around to approving it or if someone hijacked my account. The funny thing is, the comment sounds like something I'd say. If I commented a long time ago it's possible I've just forgotten, but I have no memory whatsoever of posting this just this morning.

  3. Never mind. I see what's going on. I found your blog in some old bookmarks which means I've been here before, and after I just left my last comment it said it will be visible after blog owner's approval. So, that means I left the first comment months ago but had just forgotten about it. Oops. Sorry. :-)

  4. Yeah, i went to check the pending comments after a reeeeeally long time - sorry :)