One interesting aspect of the debate about the restoration of death penalty is when the proponents are under heavy assault by research data backed by some eloquence that its deterrence is not proven by empirical facts they tend to recoil and make a compromised version such as it is only meant for very few segment of the population, for example, heinous criminals like drug traffickers.
Right from the outset, the bill has all the tone of barbarity no small thanks to the mainstream religion which spent no small effort to even paint the bill as mankind playing God. With the heavy tone of sentimentalist logics with strong backing from the international community, the bill is somewhat put on the defensive.
This is very unfortunate for the very reason that it does not encompass the overarching historical development and the restrictive analysis of the death penalty restoration.
First and foremost of this bill is centered on societal benefit chief of which is so-called deterrence. But how the investigative data really plays out?
When closely examined, we could find out that the investigation does not take into account multiplicity of factors and how equally powerful these as to the impact on the number of crimes as a result of the restoration of capital punishment.
The usual formulaic construal cited by studies can be expressed in the following expression,
Society A + No Death Penalty = Society A + Death Penalty
Hence, based on comparative data, if crimes committed on the left expression have almost the same number as the one on the right, we can obviously say it has no impact at all!
But life is stronger than simplistic views. Potential and full-blown criminals are not created equal.
Thus non-deterrence argumentation is built on poor science. Your statistical result is only as good as your presumption on the factors contributing criminality.
To make more room for an in-depth study, we can expand the factors that cause criminality. This is non-exhaustive but you may get the idea.
Heinous criminals such as drug traffickers who are doing their usual wares are virtually immune with or without capital punishment. If the goal is to make their perspective change, then imposing death penalty has no threatening effect on them and so the human rights’ proponents have a solid point that can’t be easily dismissed.
However, the dynamism of society allows us to consider another angle to zero in – the potential heinous criminals, the tributary to social offenders. In this new expansive study, it is helpful to do in depth study on those criminals who still pursue the life of crime even when the gallows is waiting for them if they get caught.
Let’s begin to consider their transformation,
[A,B,C, & D] – the factors that transform a criminal to become immune to any deterrence, whether its death, torture or otherwise
[E,F,G, & H] – the factors that transform a criminal to become vulnerable to any deterrence, whether its death, torture or otherwise
So the total crimes without deterrence is basically,
[A,B,C, & D] + [E,F,G, & H] = Total crimes
In view of the above, we could say that adding Death Penalty to the left parameters do not alter much the results if [A,B,C, & D] have the most dominant numbers in a locality or in the national sum.
Supposing the government vigorously addresses [A,B,C, & D] by providing socio-economic alternatives and at the same time imposes capital punishment, we can then be assured that the resulting deterrence is dependent on the leftover effects of a government drive, average criminals molded by [E,F,G, & H] for various reason graduated to full-blown monsters by opting out the government program and went to the road to perdition, and the remaining crimes by perpetrators who are already virtually immune any form of deterrence.
Factors [A,B,C, & D] can include among others extreme poverty or severe exposure to a criminal environment. One retroactively trained to commit a crime can reach a point where it has no regard whether there exists a societal deterrence or not like a capital punishment.
In short, the multiplicity of factors is the stone where the arguments against deterrence run aground.
To the students in the school of thoughts, it is not hard for them to pinpoint why our reactions to capital punishment almost always allude to barbarism.
Apart from the fact that modern man thinks the old means of capital punishment belongs to where it is – the past, mankind actually faces a double whammy.
When the medieval thinking of natural and supernatural distinction put at odds with each other, the secularist upholds the former in a way that when it reaches its the strongest rational and empirical attacks, the proponents of supernatural view recedes into a moral and emotional domain as the new epistemic source to keep the faith.
So too one major church dogmatics shifted its center of gravity from objective to subjective partly because of the deadness of objectivity. The modern church movement is into this direction weighing more on the value of experience over the object of their belief.
When Freud came into the picture to categorize feelings and subsequently the post-modernistic worldview came in the second of the 20th century, all the subjective experience has finally sealed its fate as a major epistemic source.
When you have one major church movement heavily tapping into a subjective experience in the sectarian world and modern man tapping post-modernistic principles in the secular world, anyone who resurrects the old retributive system is in for a wild ride to defend his position.
The citation of reason by the anti-death penalty activists can be circumvented if the advocates know all too well the historical-intellectual contour — that it was because of sentimentalism undergirded by subjectivism, not an objective truth that often gets used as a justification of the human rights of a criminal.
Subjectivism through and through introduces a lot of moral arbitrarities that cannot withstand the rigors of objective logic.
For example, if the right to life of the criminals in prison cells is to be preserved at all cost, what then its real value to any society like the Philippines? Who or what affirms that value, its value’s value, ad infinitum?
Any secularist should be reminded that unless it’s axiomatic or self-evident to all, or it is assured trajectory mankind will go into a downward spiral if they imposed the death penalty, then it’s a fallacious thinking through and through and therefore they can never say logic is on their side.
Social value and historical causalities
So here we go back to the first point, the capital punishment’s social value. We know for a fact that its deterrence is presupposed by the dominance of factors that affects behaviors.
We can proceed further assessing the fact that heinous criminals are costlier to maintain, including among others more stringent securities and personnel, if they live up to their old age. So what warrants the cost of their existence?
To be more humane
What if the cost of their preservation would save another poor life elsewhere by re-channeled budget? Society operates in one organic whole that historical causalities are tied up to one another, a saved expense on one can be used in another.
For a cash-strapped government, if P50,000 is the total money needed to preserve a life of one single heinous criminal up to his old age, and assuming the same amount of money would be able to help ten people out of poverty by financial and training assistance, which then is more valuable, the ten people deprived, or the one preserved? Or what if the P50k could save two poor people out of life-threatening risks?
1. The death penalty can be a real deterrence if the factors affecting the transformation of potential heinous criminal is given parallel concern by the government. In this case, deterrence is shifted its center of gravity from will (heart) transformation to nature (personality) transformation.
2. The call for the abolition of death penalty is based heavily on sentimentalism, rather than cold logic and therefore irrational.
3. It may help a bit in solving the overpopulation of our prison cells particularly those that house heinous criminals.
4. It would solve the moral dilemma, “How far can we commit a crime that we put our lives at stake in exchange for it?”
5. If there is no capital punishment, the more heinous is the criminal act, the costlier it is for the government to preserve the inmate and the more it affects the overall economic impact in the society, where it appears he gets more by committing more.