Today I recalled a conversation that took place some days ago with a couple of friends, whether the death penalty should be applied in certain cases. Most of people are against the idea, and European states don’t apply it anymore.
Some blame the fact that it is morally wrong, that taking someone’s freedom is enough, that we are a society that should not apply punishment through retribution and society in itself would turn into a perpetrator by taking the convicted person’s life. I do agree that some systems as the ones in someUSstates or other extremes, such asChina, are not examples to be followed. But there are cases, based on extreme factual circumstances, that should not be overlooked.
I woke up this morning, reading in horror, how the death toll following the Norwegian shooting, rose from 4 people, to 84 persons. 84 young men and women, students, shot cold bloodedly by a person disguised as a police officer. Now after such events, how can someone or a society even imagine that imprisonment is sufficient? Most European states apply 20-25 years imprisonment for homicide. In countries, such as Romania, the cumulative prison sentence cannot exceed 30 years, with all aggravating factors combined. So it doesn’t matter, how many previous convictions you had or how many lives you took, you are forbidden to be sent to prison for more than 30 years. (the life imprisonment section unfortunately does not apply here).
Now I ask myself, what kind of society can let this happen? There is a progression of core human values. First is life, followed by freedom and property. The taking of 84 lives does not equal the taking of someone’s freedom. Period!
My opinion is, and I have always sustained this through my university years, that in certain circumstances the death penalty should be applicable. Many people argue that it is impossible to arbitrarily define such circumstances; what if it is not 100% sure that the convicted person is the actual perpetrator and so on. Here are my arguments:
– the taking of 84 innocent lives, by someone, where there is no doubt whatsoever that the detained person is the perpetrator would classify as such an extreme case
– 84 lives cannot be weighed against someone’s personal freedom. It is not right, just, it goes against everything a society stands for.
– The evidence in such a case is irrefutable. It is not someone who fled the scene of the crime, someone who committed it a year ago and police has to gather sometimes questionable evidence. The guy was arrested on spot, he will also most probably confess.
– Society as a whole should be able to punish in an adequate way and 30 years in prison is anything but adequate. The guy will be out by the time he is 30 and it is questionable whether he will regret his deed or not.
– It seems to me that no-one cares about the victims and their families anymore. It is always about the right of the convicted, of whether he will have a TV set or not and a gym facility. Does anyone ask the question, how will the families of these people ever recover? Will sending such a man to jail ever offer proper satisfaction to the victims and their families?
– It is morally wrong for such a person to be sent to prison, to breathe air for the rest of his life. To eat, sleep, exercise on someone’s tax money, behind bars.
– Many argue that imprisonment should have a correctional role, that perpetrators will change, will find redemption. How can such a person be ever redeemed? Some people just don’t change, especially someone like him.
– I do not believe in the insanity argument. That he should be sent to some asylum. Why? Someone who can plan and plot such a heinous crime, someone who can disguise himself as a police officer and gather people in one spot to shoot them is not an insane person. He might be a lot smarter than you and I and is in the complete knowledge of his acts. He might be twisted, but not insane. An insane person does not know the consequences of his actions. This person clearly did.
– If a police officer, the representative of a society’s law and order, is allowed to shoot someone if fired upon, then it means we have already given the right to certain members of society to take the life of someone. Why should it be different in the case of subsequent punishment?
– And lastly, put yourself in the position of a family member of one of the victims. Would you feel that imprisonment is still acceptable and sufficient?
I will probably defend my arguments from now on as well. I find most of the European systems inadequate when it comes to punishment for serious crimes. I do advocate for capital punishment in certain extreme cases. I know it is hard to define such circumstances, but someone should. It is morally wrong to put a guy behind bars for 30 years, after killing 84 people; it is the sign of a society that is not able to adequately punish anomalies within it and no matter how many arguments you can find against these, no-one will raise the dead and there will never be proper satisfaction for the families.
Maastricht, 23 July 2011
 The maximum prison sentence that can be applied is 30 years, with all aggravating circumstances and previous crimes combined. Homicide shall be punished with 10-20 years imprisonment, and premeditated homicide from15-25 years.