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Balancing Justice and Mercy

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Eight panelists composed of representatives of the criminal justice system, crime victims, an ex-offender, and "average citizens" answer a moderator's questions about the psychological effects of criminal victimization; the causes of crime; and the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, particularly regarding the use of capital punishment.
The format for the video is a room in which the panelists are sitting as they are asked questions by the moderator. The camera focuses on each panel member as he/she answers the moderator's question. The first question considers how people are affected when they encounter crime. The primary respondents to this question are the two crime victims, each of whom has been victimized by a purse snatching. They discuss their anger, lingering suspicion of people, and mistrust, as well as fear that the offenders may find them again, since they obtained information from their purses. The next issue discussed concerns the factors that lead people to harm or injure others. Suggestions include opportunistic behavior, mental illness, and the influence of drugs. The panel then discusses the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in addressing crime. The primary topic is capital punishment. There was not a consensus among the panelists on this issue. Most agree that it is not a significant deterrent, apart from eliminating one individual who may be dangerous to others. One panelist who favors capital punishment argues that it is necessary for deceased victims' families, since it brings justice and closure to them. Others argue that killing violates the ethic of the reverence for life, regardless of whether the state or an individual inflicts it. Suggested alternatives to capital punishment are the serving of maximum sentences and the imposition of a life sentence without the possibility of parole.