I noted a small item in the editorial column of a paper a short while back that kind of caught my interest. It sparked a couple of thoughts off in me, and I'd kind of like to know what others think about the topics it raised.
The item in question was a letter, referencing the execution of a man who had been on Death Row for nearly three decades. The writer of the letter stated that he felt himself, along with every other citizen of the state, was guilty of murder in the death of this convicted criminal. (The man was convicted of killing a young woman, as I recall.) The letter writer's argument was that the man put to death wasn't the same man as the killer. Not that the two were different people, but that 'that man was a 19 year old hothead, while this man is a 46 year old who's spent the last 27 years of his life looking death in the face' or something to that effect. (Not an exact quote; I'm paraphrasing it as best I can recall.) The letter writer also brought up the ancient bit of 'well-known knowledge' about how over time, every cell of the body gets replaced, so this also means that the man who was executed wasn't really the killer.
The whole point of the letter was about how the executed criminal should have been offered mercy by the state, rather than being executed.
The whole thing got me thinking. What's the balance point between offering justice in the legal system, and extending mercy? I know what my own beliefs are, but I'm kind of curious as to what others here might think. Any opinions?