Is Capital Punishment A Deterrent?

1138 Words Oct 6th, 2014 5 Pages
1. The views presented by the Catholic social teaching regarding capital punishment present some challenges for me. The teaching references and explains that “since punishment involves the deliberate infliction of evil on another, it is always in need of justification” (McKenna, 12). The three traditional justifications for capital punishment include retribution, deterrence, and reform (McKenna, 12). Considering these justifications, the teaching explains that none of these are viable reasons for enacting capital punishment. Reform as a justification does not make sense. If a criminal is being executed he would not have the chance to change his behavior much less the desire to do so knowing that it would not change his/her ultimate fate. Deterrence of criminals or potential criminals from doing future violent acts assumes “many crimes of violence are undertaken in spirit of rational calculation” (McKenna, 12). The teaching believes that this may be false, therefore not making capital punishment a deterrent. The teaching does acknowledge that retribution is needed, however it does not “require taking the life of a criminal” (McKenna, 12). The teaching further points out that there is a possibility of a mistake being made and that someone who is innocent could be executed. It cautions capital punishment not only causes avoidable anguish in the criminal, but also to his/her family and those who must witness the execution. The teaching also advises that many times those who…
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