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NCJ Number: 120085 Find in a Library
Title: Comment -- Humanism and the Death Penalty: An Alternative Perspective
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:6  Issue:2  Dated:(June 1989)  Pages:197-209
Author(s): D O Friedrichs
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 13
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A humanist perspective, which promotes a societal transformation that enhances human freedom and is opposed to sexism, imperialism, militarism, and inegalitarianism, does not necessarily translate into a specific position on such issues as abortion, surrogate motherhood, euthanasia, and the death penalty.
Abstract: It is not self-evident that jailing murderers for life is more humane or dignifying than executing them. The same argument applies to keeping terminally ill patients alive artificially. Although execution does "eliminate the development of individual potential" and there are many cases in which criminals have been transformed to the good in prison, it does not follow that justice is served by giving precedence to rehabilitation in response to violent crimes. The article questions whether the concern for those sentenced to death is disproportionate, reducing the attention paid to preventing unfair and lethal circumstances from befalling other, innocent members of society. With regard to the issue of racial discrimination in the application of the death penalty, the author argues that abolition of capital punishment would not eliminate racism in this realm. Capital case juries composed of people of the same race as the defendant and the possibility of the penalty for government and corporate executives who knowingly act in a manner that will cause innocent deaths are recommended. The primary and secondary victims of homicide, disproportionately poor and powerless, have usually been neglected by progressive proponents of death penalty abolishment: The alleviation of these victims' pain could humanistically justify the death penalty. Criminologists are challenged to analyze the broad range of "sanctity of life" issues and to determine the rationalizations which people use to justify one form of termination over another. 31 references.
Main Term(s): Abolishment of capital punishment
Index Term(s): Homicide Co-Survivors; Human rights violations; Victim-offender relationships
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