? I rather thought execution was about...
you know... removing a person who'd shown that he couldn't live in normal society? Kind of like how you have to shoot a rabid dog? "Oh, no, put it in a kennel until it dies a natural death..."
I'd have to agree with John Blackley. Essentially, the compact of civilization boils down to a single promise: you have to promise not to harm another member of that civilization, whether by stealing from them, beating them up, killing them, insulting them, etcetera. Once you've removed yourself from that compact by harming another, you have to be punished. Murder is the most serious of these offenses; removing another man's life is the worst thing you can do. If it's accidental, that's one thing, but if you make someone drink HYDROCHLORIC ACID after stabbing him and then laugh about it, then you cannot be considered human any more.
Incarceration should be reserved for those who can be rehabilitated to rejoin civilization, not for someone who has decided that civilization doesn't apply to them at all and can never understand what it means. Mind you, I'm in no rush to kill anyone on Death Row and take away their appeals so they don't waste taxpayer money; if they truly are innocent then it gives them the chance to at least prove it.
And if the system fails... then it fails. System failures happen all the time, and they may be sad, but that's no reason to outright reject the system without being SURE that what you're embracing instead actually works. Every time an aircraft carrier puts to sea, one man in a thousand on board will die, but is that any reason to disband the Navy? Children stick forks into electrical outlets, but is that any reason to go back to candles and open fires? Windows 3.0 crashed all the time, but was that any reason to go to OS/2 without making sure that it worked right? Might as well stop eating in case you get mad cow or e.coli. Might as well stop breathing in case you inhale an allergen or disease.
Feh. How many of you "no capitol punishment" types ever spent five minutes with some of the people on Death Row? Or with hardened criminals who WOULD kill you for your sneakers, and haven't landed on Death Row... yet? It might be barbaric (I dunno about that, really) but until you're sure the new system is better, don't kick the old one to the curb. And lifetime incarceration is NOT better than execution: it costs a lot more, and is in my mind much more of a "cruel and unusual punishment" than simply ending their life in exchange for the one they took.
How vicious and vindictive are YOU to want to spend YOUR money in exchange for keeping these humans who have decided to not be human alive but without any hope for as long as they live, with complete medical benefits to make sure that life is a long, long one?