Redemption And Capital Punishment Analysis

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4) The execution of Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams caused a considerable amount of controversy, as recounted in the case study “Redemption and Capital Punishment” in the textbook. The execution of Williams was not controversial because he was considered of having been innocent of the crimes he was convicted of or that capital punishment was necessarily too severe for his crimes (for he had been convicted of murdering several people), but rather because he was considered to have repented of his past and made some measure of atonement for the evils of his past. Thus, many believed that some measure of clemency was in order, that to execute a man who had totally repudiated his former life and worked to do good to make up for it would …show more content…
I do not believe that Van Den Haag, in applying his philosophy, would commute the death sentence of Williams. The main reason for this is that he views the death penalty as the only punishment which is proportional to the crime of murder, in terms of retributive justice. Thus the only fitting punishment for the crimes of Williams would be execution. However, Van Den Haag also, in formulating his “best bet” theory, also states that the primary (though not the only) concern of punishment is deterrence, and that the number one argument for the death penalty is that it is our best bet for deterring crime. Given this, would Van Den Haag allow for partial clemency in recognition that Williams was seemingly reformed and doing good works? I believe he would not, especially given the apparent lack of remorse or apology on the part of Williams for the crimes he had committed (as described in the case study from the governor’s denial of clemency). He would view the execution of Williams as the best bet for society in sending a strong statement that murder will never be tolerated or treated less harshly than is warranted, rather than relying on the supposed appeal of Williams’s alleged conversion. Moreover, he would likely say, even if we were wrong in our utilitarian calculus in this regard it would still be giving to Williams nothing more than his just deserts. At the worst, a convicted murderer was forced to suffer the just and moral consequences of his actions. Given the ambiguities surrounding the supposed change of heart experienced by Williams, I also would view this as the morally superior position, given the uncertainties in any utilitarian argument in favor of clemency and also what I consider to be the basic morality of proportional retributivism (it thus cannot be unjust to execute Williams, despite the claims

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