nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

How common is it to believe that life imprisonment is worse than being executed?

In recent discussion at Less Wrong, I mentioned that it seemed to me that a good many Americans oppose capital punishment because life imprisonment is a worse punishment, but it turned out that I didn't have much evidence that it's a common belief.

I'm interested in information from other countries as well as the US, but please mention where you're referring to.

Do you oppose capital punishment because you think life imprisonment is a more severe punishment?

Have you heard other people make that argument? Much, occasionally, rarely, never?

I originally thought people who made that argument did so because they actually thought capital punishment was wrong, but believed they would get more traction by presenting their opposition as being harder on criminals. Is there any reason to think I was right about anybody?

As for the question of whether life imprisonment is actually worse than capital punishment, aside from the matter of exoneration, I'd say that capital punishment is usually a more severe punishment, but not always.

Mock executions are considered torture. I haven't heard of anyone being tortured (or even harassed) by being falsely offered a chance to commit suicide, so I'm going to assume that it might have happened, but if so, it's rare.

Prisoners are not permitted to commit suicide, but I don't get the impression that most of them want to. I've heard that many have a horror of dying in prison.

ETA: The one person I found by a fast google who'd used the argument is a British judge. Thanks to lethargic_man for telling me that QC meant he's a judge, not a politician.

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