Saturday, March 13, 2004

Death Penalty in Michigan?

A committe in the State House voted yesterday to send a bill to the full house for a vote to put the issue on the ballot in November of whether or not the state should have the death penalty. This would amend the state's constitution and remove the current prohibition on the penalty of death.

Michigan has, in my opinion, a proud history of abolishing the death penalty. In 1846 this state was the first English-speaking territory in the world to abolish the death penalty, under the newly-approved 1835 constitution. Since then this state has had no executions.

There are a whole host of arguments in favor of the death penalty, and most are dealt with pretty satisfactorily well here, but there is one issue that I believe overrides all practical and utilitarian arguments, and that's this: no one has the right to take someone else's life. What is government? It is simply an extension of the people. Government derives its power from the people. How could government then do what the people themselves are not allowed to do?

Does this argument then prohibit any punishment for crime? No, it doesn't. People have the right to defend themselves and jailing an individual who has committed a crime allows a level of collective protection from further crime. However, killing someone is a different story.

Besides, what is the worse punishment for the criminal? Sitting in jail for the rest of their life or getting the early ticket out by being executed?

Just some philosophical musing from your friendly GR Pundit.

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