Death penalty is a just punishment if carefully administered

In the end, justice is the only question to consider in the death penalty debate.

The proposed reinstatement of the death penalty in Minnesota seems to be a horrible, costly idea. Many consider its basis to be that it will deter crime. If a government act harms individuals just to deter crime, that seems unjust at best. And a government that acts unjustly is truly a bad government.

The death penalty is a bad idea – unless it can be shown to be a just act. That is really the only issue that matters in a government’s administration of justice. And if it is just, the death penalty is not only not a bad idea, but something that should be implemented for the sake of an ethical society. This being the case, other issues such as cost become irrelevant because it is an issue of justice, and justice is not bound by cost.

So now that the playing field has been set, the dilemma arises: Is the death penalty just?

The first argument appeals to those who rely on rationalism for the source of morality. In this argument, it seems right to say the following: If one human being purposefully takes the life of an innocent human being, a moral cost has been acquired for which the only just payment is the life of the murderer.

The second argument appeals to those who rely on God as the source of morality. Believing that God is just, one might come to the same conclusion as the rationalist, but if this is insufficient, please note that the death penalty appears in

the Quran, the Torah and the Bible. In fact, the only legal command repeated in the five books of Moses (the

Pentateuch) is the death penalty. The Ten Commandments say, “You shall not murder,” not “you shall not kill.” Many fail to read the next chapter in Exodus, which goes on to declare the death penalty for murder. For those who follow Christ, please note that he died to fulfill the eternal death penalty so that you may be forgiven from eternal punishment. God supports the death penalty; it must exist for him to be just.

Minnesota is now in a dilemma to choose between the status quo and instituting a death penalty. The only question worth considering is the justice of capital punishment. Yet one problem still remains: Would capital punishment be carried out in a just way? This must be separated from the first question because this is a judicial process question, not one of just legislation. It seems that if capital punishment is instituted the requirements for a murder conviction must be set at a reasonable level of conclusiveness. Just as it is unjust for guilty men to go free, it is unjust for innocent men to be punished.

In the end, justice is the only question to consider in the death penalty debate. All in all, however, it seems right that Minnesotans vote to reinstate the procedure in this state. It must be done carefully, but it still must be done.

Chris Hill is an aerospace engineering senior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]