Luv2fly: Please forgive the stereotype - I couldn't resist. Just call me a sarcastic pacifist on this issue.
SlamClick: Spending money on prisoners, even those who may be "deserving" of death goes to the heart of the matter. In my original post I alluded to enlightenment of all beings. I feel that it is everyone's job to pull everyone along in this life. It is a difficult philosophy, and I struggle with it sometimes (e.g., crack addicts on welfare, etc.), but I try to adhere to it. Granted, the system is not good and could be much more efficient, as with all phases of government. Anyway, with regard to reincarnation, I steered fairly far clear from that subject since I did not want to cloud my position on capital punishment.
Here goes, and this may seem far-fetched, but seeing as though we can't really answer any questions about the afterlife, how far-fetched can it be. In Eastern philosophy, and in particular, Tibetan Buddhism, reincarnation is a phenomenon that can be controlled by aware beings. In the "Tibetan Book of the Dead" there is a section on "Choosing a womb." Long and short, the purpose of being is to ascend through various realms of being, by meditating and through karma. Thus, bad karma can send a human back as a "lower" being, such as a dog or even an insect. Good karma can drive you up the chain, and eventually to enlightenment. It is said that many, many lifetimes are required for this. Thus, the number of humans can vary significantly, since humans can be incarnated from any sentient being, not just from former humans. There are some real questions in here for me (like how does an insect develop good karma, or does it ascend by chance??), but I recognize this as a real possibility. Otherwise, why is all of this here, and what the hell are we doing here????
[Edited 2004-09-09 21:03:28]
"The deeper you go, the higher you fly. The higher you fly, the deeper you go."