Capital Crime & Punishment

Reflections on Violating Human Sanctity

by J. Daryl Charles

Among Western nations there is a generally growing sentiment in favor of abolishing the death penalty. This sentiment, it should be noted, is more disposed simply to view the death penalty in unqualified terms as cruel, barbaric, and unsuited to enlightened contemporary culture than it is to wrestle with the complexities of public policy and the meaning of criminal justice—e.g., what is just, what punishments are proportionate, which categories of criminals should be permanently removed from civil society, what sorts of crimes are heinous and worthy of ultimate sanctions, what obligation the governing authorities and . . .

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J. Daryl Charles serves as the Acton Institute Affiliated Scholar in Theology & Ethics. He is author, co-author or editor of seventeen books, including: Wisdom’s Works: Essays on Ethics, Vocation, and Cultural Engagement (Acton Institute, forthcoming), America and the Just War Tradition: A History of U.S. Conflicts (Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2019), Natural Law and Religious Freedom (Routledge, 2018), and The Just War Tradition: An Introduction (ISI Books, 2012). He is a contributing editor to Touchstone.

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