There is a difference between revenge and justice. Revenge means a person is getting someone back for something, but it does not make it right, according to Professor Arthur C. Paulson, chair of the political science department.
“If you could show me killing murderers would bring their victims back,” said Paulson, “then I would be persuaded on balance that— that would be the better thing to do, but it doesn’t do that.”
Paulson, a pre law advisor, said the death penalty is probably constitutional, in terms of what the framers meant by cruel and unusual punishment, because no case law has struck down the death penalty. He also said he thinks the death penalty is absolutely and unconditionally wrong all the time.
“The only way the state would justify authority to kill people as punishment,” said Paulson, “is if killing is absolutely and always wrong, but if killing is absolutely and always wrong, then that includes killing by the state.”
Regarding the Steven Hayes conviction, Paulson said it’s not a matter of the death penalty being wrong in this case, rather it is always wrong. He does not think killing resolves the issue— Paulson said he has no remorse for the two men involved with the Cheshire home invasion—rather life in prison without the
possibility of parole would be the appropriate sentence.
Michael Swetz, senior political science major, said the death penalty is constitutional and he supports it. He also said if the murder was accidental and not premeditated, then the death penalty does not apply, rather the person should receive life in prison.
“It’s a capital crime and if you take someone’s life then you should be put to death yourself,” said Swetz. “It would give some relief to the family of the murdered victim.”
Swetz said a prosecutor must have substantial evidence that does not lead to a hypothesis of the accused murderer committing the crime.
In Jaeho Song, a junior political science majoro, thinks the death penalty is constitutional, but personally he is against it on moral and religious grounds.
“I believe no one has the authority to take another’s life,” said Song. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of horrendous crimes taking place in this society. My personal belief is that it is not mine or anybody else’s
authority to take a life.”
Rodney Bailey, senior political science major and a veteran, said the death penalty is a necessity to punish the worst class of criminals in the more serious cases, and not so much deter crime.
Bailey said people do not agree with absolute murder until an unfortunate circumstance happens to them.
“Everybody always looks at the death penalty as — oh that’s so horrible to do to a person, until they’re in a place of the victim where their family gets brutally raped, beaten, burnt alive,” said Bailey. “Then all of a
sudden they want absolute justice, so you can’t have it both ways.”