The Right Coast

March 18, 2005
No Death Penalty, Perhaps, But It Should Be Painful
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Eugene Volokh, who had posted in favour of painful execution, responds thoughtfully and at length to several of us (i.e. including me) who disagreed. He wasn't kidding, though:
[M]y tentative current sense is that for a small number of extraordinarily monstrous crimes, the need for retribution is so strong — and the risk of error can be made so low — that not just death but deliberately painful death is the proper punishment.
Eugene also has further thoughts on painful executions and "slippery slopes", on Catholic responses to his original post, and -- especially thoughtfully -- on the death penalty debate more generally.

Oddly, Eugene seems more uncertain about whether to support the death penalty at all -- although in the end he says he favours it -- than about whether sometimes to inflict death with deliberate physical agony. There may be something to it: no death penalty, but it should be painful. This idea may actually be pretty close to the Talmudic view of the death penalty.