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Death penalty questionable as a deterrent to mass killing

13 Comments
By COLLEEN LONG

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So what. We live in Japan, where the people are fiercely pro-death penalty. The reason is retribution. It's a cultural thing. Deterrence is rarely part of the debate.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If a mass murder is himself murdered, it seems like poetic justice. If he spends the rest of his life incarcerated, and that is cheaper than an execution, so be it. My sympathy is with the victims, not so much with the perpetrator.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Fierce?

Fact check: 80% of Japanese take the death penalty for granted, but are not necessarily embracing it. Of these retentionists, 71% said that if the government decided to abolish the death penalty, they would accept that as official government policy.

This suggests that acceptance of the death penalty is a default position, rather than active support of it.

src: The Public Opinion Myth: Why Japan retains the Death Penalty”, Dr Mai Sato and Dr Paul Bacon 2016

In the USA, there's been a disingenuous manipulation of this issue from being just the high profile intentional mass murders, to include any shooting with 3 or 4 people, as in ordinary crimes like home invasion or gangland shootings.

Under such circumstances, I'm be concerned that it was just another excuse to cull off African Americans.

And, of course, it will never go as far as their war criminals, who are worshipped in Arlington, and who Trump is currently pardoning.

@1glenn

So find a cheaper way of doing it, that would not be hard to do.

It strikes me that the expense is more related to the generally racial failings of the American justice system and financial interests of the American legal system.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

There is no question. Studies have repeatedly concluded that there is no deterrent effect from capital punishment. It's about revenge, not justice.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's very easy to change the thinking of (young) Japanese concerning the death penalty. Most never think about it, some support it and a few are against it. Just by watching a few few films showing "the raw reality" of the process leading to the termination of a human life by the government, most will think about it and then many will come to the conclusion that state killings are wrong while a few will still remain supporters of state-sanctioned murder. The problem is that few Japanese are ever given the opportunity to see any films that might make them think seriously about the moral issues involved. Japanese TV companies have a fierce aversion to showing the public documentaries about social problems in Japan (outa sight, outa mind). And the murder victims? Everybody knows that few people pay the victims any mind, either, as long as they are not personally involved. After all, we are only human.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@expat

there is no deterrent effect from capital punishment. It's about revenge, not justice.

What would "justice" be or serve in this equation?

Can you point to Japanese studies, or studies of attitudes in Japan?

I am not so sure it is about revenge so much as eradicting an impurity within society. A sort of eugenic reaction and economics.

Historically, freeing a margin society, or the family of the perpetrator, from the expense of a pointless lengthy incarceration.

I have concluded that Western concepts of justice and the obsession with the "human rights" of serious criminals are bound in with some misguided beliefs in Christian redemption; atonement, salvation and its afterlife. And then, of course, the lawyers making money out of fighting it.

Japan's cultural roots are different.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I don't need the death penalty as an kind of deterrent. It's simply the price you pay when committing these crimes.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

 in Japan, where the people are fiercely pro-death penalty. 

acceptance of the death penalty is a default position, 

Kids in Japan are taught in school that the death penalty is ‘correct’. I remember the shock the form teacher expressed when my son’s JHS class ( after hearing a lecture on the topic) were told to write an essay on the merits of the death penalty and a number of students wrote that there were none, that killing people is wrong regardless of whether it’s done by the state or by an individual. I’m proud that my son was among that number.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese TV companies have a fierce aversion to showing the public documentaries about social problems in Japan (outa sight, outa mind). 

They will, but first they've got to taste all of the oishi food out there. Once they've done that, they can tackle the issues.

There is of course a real aversion in Japan to considering social issues and there is limited public discourse on the matter. It is often apparent when educated Japanese are so inarticulate when it comes to such issues.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am not so much concerned with the deterrent power of the death penalty; anything that takes away my freedom is of concern to me. My biggest concern is that so many people here in the States are wrongly sentenced to die, not to mention convicted for crimes that they did not convict. Dozens and dozens of people have been set free after sitting on death row, when new crime scene investigation methods, such as DNA analysis, have shown that the wrong person or persons were convicted. If a mass-murdering White nationalist is sentenced to die, I will not lose sleep over it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Barbarism. And it solves nothing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

expat:

It's about revenge, not justice.

Revenge is justice. Death penalty is justice.

It is also an absolute deterence. The guy cannot commit another heinous crime. The soiety is safer by one.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It is also an absolute deterence. The guy cannot commit another heinous crime. The soiety is safer by one.

Yeah, the innocents who get murdered accidentally by the death penalty are also definition detered from committing a heinous crime. Not another one of course, since they were innocent in the first place, but you can rest assured that they will NEVER commit a murder.

Society is safer by one...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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