The Great Sanhedrin no longer judged capital cases when there were too many murderers to judge. But isn't that even more of a reason to try as many as possible? It seems like giving up and declaring that anyone who chooses to murder can do so without punishment by man!
Barry Epstein, Dallas, USA
Capital punishment is meant only as a deterrent. The One Who does justice will see that justice is done to the killers. For this reason, the Mishnah in Makos (7a) teaches that it was uncommon for a Beis Din to kill even once in 70 years. When they saw that they could no longer serve as a deterrent, they saw no need to kill for vengeance alone. (It would be a bigger disgrace to the court if the court *did* attempt to try the killers, since they would only be able to try a small percentage of them -- and these would also hire false witnesses etc. to help their cause.)