I am often appalled by how sadistically Americans and people of other nations regard their criminals. I am appalled because that very sadism itself reduces people to the level of evil as the people we punish. But how does one go about confronting the absolutely wicked notion that because we dislike a persons behavior we should inflict pain on that person thereby perpetuating the evil. Perhaps it can be argued that on utilitarian grounds that some evil should be permitted if it allows less evil to result in total. But that seems to go against the instinct that their is something immoral about being the author of an evil action even if the ends supposedly justify the means. It seems like an ethical system that acknowledges the truth that punishment is nothing more than a perpetuation of evil is utterly impotent. Is there any way at all to resolve this fundamental contradiction between morality and reality?