Originally Posted by Ender
Civil rulers determine what punishments to impose. That does not mean that the punishments they inflict are in fact commensurate with the crimes. The severity of a crime does not change from one place or time to another and neither should the punishment.
The end of your last sentence would be an ideal. However, regardless of the severity of a crime, the level of punishment for a crime is wholly up to the imperfect civil authorities. Hanging children for theft is certainly a case where the punishment does not fit the crime. The "Three Strikes and You're Out" laws in some states has caused some injustices. There may never be a perfect fit between crime and punishment. We are imperfect people and it's part of being human. I would say that even if the burden of imposing and carrying out death sentences were shifted to the Catholic Church, mistakes would sometimes be made, howsoever perfect the Church is.
I do agree, however, that some punishments as doled out are not commensurate with a crime; some people get a short sentence for robbery, some get the book thrown at them. There are harsh judges, and some easy ones - "Let 'em Loose Bruce" in NYC some decades ago comes to mind. A man may be convicted of Capital Murder when 3rd Degree Murder would be more appropriate.
One thing is certain. A lesser sentence doesn't leave an innocent person dead if a mistake in sentencing and execution is later uncovered.