My own sense is that the use of the death penalty in the US is not about justice and closure in the greater sense but vigilante justice in the very narrow minded sense. All of which is brought out by the fact:
“This execution underscores the uncomfortable relationship Americans have with the death penalty. A Gallup poll last October showed that 64 percent of those surveyed supported it for those convicted of murder, a level that had been relatively consistent for the previous seven years. Support had been higher — 80 percent in 1994 — but it has slipped, in part because of the hundreds of convictions overturned because of DNA evidence.”
We are talking of hundreds of death penalty convictions being overturned by DNA alone. Now think in terms of how many have been wrongly executed because there was no DNA process to counter obvious flaws in proprietorial misconduct and vigilante justice conducted under the guise of the criminal justice system.
I have sat through one execution at the request of the condemned and up to the gates of another. At no point in the execution or leading up to it did I see any sense or experience any sense of justice being served but if anything there was a sense of vigilante justice on the part of spectators, victim’s and players. It seems as if we have lost a lot (if we ever had it) in our culture by the absence of books like Ox-bow Incident from the required reading list of our high schools and colleges.
An editorial from the Gainesville Sun on 8 October 2011: Editorial: High cost of death There are a few twists that make this editorial well worth the read.