It was considered more humane to brand someone than to lock them in a cell for 10 years. Many prisoners serving such sentences today would likely agree.
I don't much care what was considered humane at the time, or how many prisoners would agree.
and it is galling that you suggest it can be.
I didn't suggest that time can be reversed. However, I do believe that death is the worst of them all, with permanent physical damage being second. Permanent physical damage could keep you from doing things you'd normally be able to do (although I'm not aware of the government doing this). Forever.