Attorney General candidate Reagan Dunn began his recent Times opinion piece in support of the death penalty with this paragraph:
“The most important function of local government is to protect the public through enforcement of the rule of law. It is what separates a civil society from lawlessness, keeps our neighborhoods safe and establishes an orderly environment for commerce. That’s why it is essential that we as a society have the death penalty as the ultimate punishment.”
According to Dunn, the very existence of the death penalty as the “ultimate punishment” is “essential” to enforce the rule of law, and necessary for a “civil society”.
States and foreign governments that do not have the death penalty are, in fact, nevertheless able to enforce laws and have civil societies. Canada hasn’t executed anyone in almost fifty years, and has somehow managed to not descend into “lawlessness”.
Asserting that capital punishment is an “appropriate penalty”, Dunn argues, without evidence, because there isn’t any, that such punishment is “important to public safety”.
Dunn laments the fact that the State Legislature denied King County $4.1 million it requested to pursue capital punishment. There are three people currently on death row in King County. At a time when we can’t afford to hire enough teachers, spending millions to unnecessarily kill three human beings is a waste of scarce taxpayer dollars. The Legislature got that right.
I find no credible moral, fiscal, or public safety arguments for capital punishment in Dunn’s piece, or elsewhere. In a truly “civil society”, the death penalty would not exist.