Re "The death penalty debate," Postscript, Feb. 8
Capital punishment's deterrent effect was debunked by Benjamin Franklin's reference to the fate of pickpockets who were hung for their crimes in the Middle Ages. Fellow pickpockets' haul was prodigious, taken from all those people entranced by the ongoing hanging.
Food and water for a healthy young man who is jailed for life is hardly a reward for one who will never again have his freedom. Call the death penalty what it is: societal revenge.
There is a well established moral principle of proportionality: One deserves what one has earned. A just punishment is one that fits the crime.
If Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, after the process he is due, is found to have willfully plotted and executed the acts of death and mayhem alleged, he has earned the punishment of death, a consequence proportional to the loss inflicted.
This intuitive sense of justice based on proportionality is fundamental to our natural understanding of justice; it grounded the community support for the execution of the Oklahoma City bomber; and it is the foundation for the current support of the death penalty through the democratic process.
Dennis L. Slivinski