The illogic of this statement is breathtaking. Justice means each person getting what he is owed, such that good deeds are appropriately rewarded and bad deeds are appropriately punished. So as far as the 'bad deeds' side of the ledger is concerned, justice is retribution.
"i do not think that is what we get today"
You're right about that! We get ham-fisted attempts at deterrence and rehabilitation, but justice is a big non-no. The justice system is now nothing more than an arm of the welfare system.
"There's nothing wrong with the current system which also provides relatively instant closure for the friends and family of the victims."
Every time Bryant attempts suicide or makes some protest and it's reported in the media the horrors of that day are brought back for the families of his victims. There will be no closure till he dies.
"There's also something intuitively wrong to me in taking away somebody's entire existence for a single act, no matter how wrong"
Please explain this intuition. And you aren't taking away the person's whole existence, just the earthly existence of which he deprived another.
Or, to look at the matter from another angle: Sex Discrimination Commissioner Ms Elizabeth Broderick asserted recently that “There is no question that legislated paid maternity leave is a basic human right” and we know that she is of the opinion that this leave should be taxpayer-funded (source). Presumably you would agree with this, Ms Dunlevy (please correct me if I am wrong). Now a human right is something that someone is owed in justice. I agree that a mother has a right to financial support while she is out of paid work caring from her children. I think that this right should be fulfilled by the husband. The paid maternity leave advocates think that it should be fulfilled by the taxpayer. But since taxation is the expropriation of resources, how can a mother be considered to have a right to other citizens’ property?
Furthermore, a right is implied by and dependent on a duty. A right to paid leave implies a duty of taxpayers to fund this leave. Certainly a mother without an husband to support her is entitled to expect that the community will support her, but this is an obligation pertaining to the virtue of charity, not a duty pertaining to justice.