Argument: Deterrence is not a necessary pillar of the case for the death penalty
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Thomas R. Eddlem. "Ten anti-death penalty fallacies". The New American. June 3, 2002 - "FALLACY #8: No Deterrence
"Capital Punishment does not deter crime. Scientific studies have consistently failed to demonstrate that executions deter people from committing crime." (Death Penalty Focus)
"Correction: Death penalty opponents love to assume that the principal purpose for capital punishment is deterrence, possibly realizing it is a perfect straw argument. Tangible proof of deterrence alone is not a valid reason for capital punishment (or any other form of punishment, for that matter), nor is it the main rationale employed by astute death penalty advocates. As Christian writer C.S. Lewis observes, "[deterrence] in itself, would be a very wicked thing to do. On the classical theory of punishment it was of course justified on the ground that the man deserved it. Why, in Heaven's name, am I to be sacrificed to the good of society in this way?-unless, of course, I deserve it." Inflicting a penalty merely to deter -- rather than to punish for deeds done -- is the very definition of cruelty. A purely deterrent penalty is one where a man is punished -- not for something that he did -- but for something someone else might do. Lewis explained the logical end of this argument: "If deterrence is all that mat ters, the execution of an innocent man, provided the public think him guilty, would be fully justified."
Men should be punished for their own crimes and not merely to deter others. That said, the death penalty undoubtedly does deter in some cases. For starters, those executed will no longer be around to commit any more crimes."