The Rape Case

I forgot to say anything about the Court's ruling on the child rape case. My evolving view of the death penalty is that there are situations one could envision wherein punishment by execution would be a just outcome but given the realities of the world a "no executions" policy would be the best way to go. At the end of the day, to be haunted by a nagging fear that somewhere there lurks a criminal who deserves death but who is, instead, suffering a lifetime of imprisonment doesn't strike me as especially reasonable. So from that perspective, I both sympathize with any effort to limit the constitutional scope of the death penalty while also thinking that these efforts to draw distinctions -- to tinker with the machinery of death -- are fundamentally misguided.

In the specific case of people who rape children, it's worth saying that the death penalty is bad crime control policy. You want to make it the case that no matter what terrible things a criminal has done, he would get an even worse penalty if he killed the victim/witness. Getting bogged down into a debate over the relative heinousness of various crimes is a bit of a red herring -- there's an internal logic to the deterrent system that requires murder to carry a unique and maximally severe penalty.

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This wildly inventive short film takes you on a whirling, spinning tour of the Big Apple

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In