Poll: Capital punishment?
ellen, formerly evil · 17 years, 10 months ago
I can never quite decide on this one between the right of someone to live or die when they've done something inhumanely heinous...
Rather than the dealth penalty, I don't doubt hard labor would be something more effective than what we've got now...
It has never been shown to be a deterent. The death penalty is killing for pleasure.
Eh.... being a deterrent isn't the point, IMO.
I don't want to have to pay for them to live, get free meals, free health care, free housing. That is what bothers the hell out of me.
If they're going to be a useless drain on society, kill them. If we can find a way for them to be useful (hard manual labor, etc.) then so be it.
It costs far more to execute someone than life in prison. It isn't even close.
If it didn't then you are saying it is killing for money. Not exactly a moral position.
It only costs more because of all the legal BS. The actual cost to execute someone is minimal.
ahhh so you think making sure you have the right person is BS. Do you have any idea how many innocent lives have been saved because of that so called BS?
I'll be honest. This kind of talk makes me furious. People want to know how people let the horrors happen. This is how.
Our rights are there for a reason. They are there to protect the innocent. People arrest the wrong people all the time.
I better be quiet now. I could keep writing about this forever and I know I'll never change most people's minds. All I'll succeed in doing is raising my blood pressure.
lawrence · 17 years, 10 months ago
It costs far more to execute someone than life in prison. It isn't even close.
no it doesn't. it costs more to keep them alive until they are executed, though. and for that, I blame the death penalty opponents who insist on appealing on the person's behalf even if they've publicly stated they are ready to die and want no further appeals.
you have the right to appeal. but you also should have the right to NOT appeal. if all the silly protesting and forced appeals stopped, you'd see a massive decrease in what you consider the cost of executing someone.
Excuse me? Not to sound like Maki, but do you have a citation for that? I don't see how, even with all the legal wrangling, it can be more expensive to kill someone than to put them in prison for life.
Well, not suprisingly, it's hard to find unbiased cites for this subject. I've found a few cites, but mostly from people who have an axe to grind. At any rate:
From Amnesty International's Death Penalty Facts page:
From the Independent Weekly's Death Penalty Index:
Cost to N.C. Taxpayers
There ya go.
Yes, but these surveys factor in the appeals process. A more accurate comparison would be to compare the cost of a life in prison vs death penalty where the levels of appeals sought are the same.
Also, in some states, if the death penalty is imposed there is an automatic appeal.
Yes, which is BS IMO. Why should someone who admits to the act and doesn't protest the penalty get an automatic appeal? It's a waste of time and taxpayer money.
FTR, I agree with Nate on this one. I think that all the appeals should be at the behest of the convicted person and his counselor.
But, personally, I think that the money expended on appeals for people who "admits to the act and doesn't protest the penalty" is probably miniscule. I would imagine that most death row inmates fully support every effort being made on their behalf.
I would imagine that most death row inmates fully support every effort being made on their behalf.
Oh, no doubt. But the whole process is just so bloated and rediculous.
That has been brought up and has actually happened in Texas. It turns out that most people who do this suffer either from severe mental retardation or from other serious psychological disorders that themselves constitute enough mitigating evidence to prevent them from being sentenced to death. A man in Georgia in the past few years was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who had attempted and failed to commit suicide several times. But he was able to get a gun license and a gun, so he went to a Walmart parking lot, shot the first two people who came out, walked to the police station down the street, and asked them to execute him. We call them "volunteers."
but these surveys factor in the appeals process
Well, yeah. The appeals process is part of the cost of executing someone. Are you suggesting that we should reduce the number and/or type of appeals that should be open to people who have been sentenced to death?
I never refuted the fact that the appeals process is part of the cost of executing someone. If you would bother to quote my ENTIRE post, you would see that I said the studies are flawed because they compare a death penalty case which makes it all the way to the Supreme Court of the state to other life in prison cases where the appeals never even get that far.
Comparing a death row case where someone goes through all levels of appeals to a life in prison case where the only appeal to the first level is not a fair comparison.
Statistics are a fun thing. You can warp them into whatever view you want to prove.
Amen. If you commit Murder 1, you have no place in society. I think the death penalty should require a much stricter burden of proof than a standard criminal trial, but once convicted, walk them from the courtroom to the chair. Or, like Nate said, come up with a forced hard labor program to keep them busy during the appeals process.
I completely disagree. I think there is no reason to kill anyone ever. What makes you better then them by doing that? Or causing that to come about?
Then make them work to earn their food/shelter/clothes. But those who didn't commit the crime should not be paying for the murderer's cost of living.
I was under the impression that they do work. Personaly, I don't mind paying to keep them in prison. That isn't even on my list of things I sorta don't like paying for.
They do, actually. They do the prison laundry, stamp license plates, etc. There's legislation on the table in many states that would allow private corporations to contract some labor out to prisons.
"There is no reason to kill anyone ever."
Ever? What about self-defense?
Even in self-defense, I'd imagine it's usually possible to incapacitate your attacker without killing them. Of course, in a situation like that most people probably wouldn't be weighing pros and cons and working out a plan rationally...so, like, it's excuseable to kill someone in self-defense, but I don't think it should be necessary to do so deliberately.
Did that make any sense?
I don't think it's right to kill someone in self defense unless that is your only option other than death. I personally think that I would rather be killed than kill the person who's trying to kill me.
I feel that killing is a personal decision, and I wouldn't ever be so arrogant as to think my opinion should be everyone's opinion. But I feel that as far as the death penalty goes, it's not right. There are better ways to deal with that. I'm sorry to families that have been hurt by these people, and I don't know that my opinion wouldn't change if someone close to me was murdered. I just feel that there is something going on, and perhaps researching that, and finding a solution to this problem is a much better plan than just killing them.
Well, you shouldn't kill if at all possible, but if someone is trying to kill you, it's probably hard to think rationally. I agree that i would rather be killed than kill the attacker. I couldn't live with myself.
This is in general response to the response to this thread.
I do not understand how someone can make the statement "I would rather die than kill my attacker." Does your life have no meaning to you? I'm sorry, but lethal force is necesitated by someone placing you in fear of serious bodily harm or death. To my mind absolutely NOONE has any right to place me in fear of my life. I get morally outraged by the concept.
And yes, I would kill to protect my life. If it has to be me or them, then it's better if I'm the one left standing. Perhaps that sounds barbaric to some, but seeing as I strongly believe that it is wrong to initiate the use of force, if I'm placed in a situation where it's either me or them, then they are the ones initiating the use of force against me. That's morally repugnant to me. My life is the highest thing of value to me and I will kill to protect it.
I don't think that sounds barbaric, and I don't know that I wouldn't do the same if I was in that situation, but as I'm not, and have never been, I feel that if I were to kill someone, even in self defense I wouldn't be able to live with myself after the fact. Yes I value my life.. most the time.. That wasn't what I was saying. I just think, personally, that even in a life threating situation, I don't believe I would kill someone.
lawrence · 17 years, 10 months ago
definitely. it should require indisputable proof - say, two independent DNA tests, or four eye witnesses, or a signed confession. but if the conviction is based only on circumstantial evidence, then it's way too risky.
and, as much as I oppose automatic sentencing (look at California's stupid three strikes law for why automatic sentencing is ridiculous) I think that the death penalty should be an automatic sentence in some set of defined cases, to prevent, say, a racist judge from using it unfairly, which I know is another big gripe of the opponents of it.
guess what hardly anyone would be convicted then. There isn't incontrovertable proof. There is lots of circumstancial evidence and lots of faulty eye witnesses.
Eye witness testimony has actually been proven to be the absolute worst evidence there is. And, really, you know how many premeditated murders happen in front of four witnesses? DNA tests are unbelievably expensive (hence the astronomical expense of capital prosecution). It's a shit-worthless system.
Texas recently passed a law that if you commit murder and there are at least three eyewitness, if you're convicted, you go to the head of the line. No death row for you.
AS one comedian put it, "Other states are putting a moratorium on the death penalty, my state is putting in an express lane."
Well, I wouldn't go so far as to label it as killing for pleasure, but I agree it is not a deterent. Texas just recently almost executed our 300th person since the death penalty was reinstated in 1982. Obviously, if we've offed THAT many people, it ain't a deterrent.
soul groove feline · 17 years, 10 months ago
I am against capital punishment. If a murderer is executed, they don't have to live through the rest of their life with the knowledge of what they did...they're automatically freed from their guilt, from trying to understand what they did and why, from all the mortal obligations they still have.
My mother works in a prison, and i've seen it, so i know a lot about what happens to convicted murderers, at least in Canada. Their lives are not pretty. They live in a filthy closet, the food they eat is stuff that was too poor quality to be sold or even donated, they're so deprived of any sort of physical affection that they rape each other. They also don't sit around all day either...they have to work to keep the prison going...they work in the kitchen, cleaning and maintainance, lawn care, mechanics...and they also have to take classes in stuff like cognitive skills. (which is what my Mom teaches...it's actually a decent course, it's not just a lot of BS, surprisingly.)
I believe everyone has a right to self scrutiny, to thinking over their actions and trying to become a better person. They have a right to learn from their mistakes. It's not only their right, it's their responsibility. If they are executed, they don't have to do this. They don't have to think. It's the easy way out for them. They do not deserve the easy way out. It's like going into a confessional, confessing your sins, and thinking you are free from them without trying to understand them and learn from them.
But it's a lot more complicated than this, even. my stance on this issue is nowhere near set in stone. this is just my thoughts on a logical level, not a personal level.
Justice systems aren't built for people who have changed. They are for punishment and intimidation, not rehabilitation. my English curriculum is forcing us to read an abbreviated version of Hugo's Les Miserables, which is a perfect example. Jean does some bad things and goes to prison, then gets out and steals some stuff, then he totally changes his life around. He never went to jail for the latest thefts, and the man trying to catch him sees everything in black and white, once a criminal always a criminal, and does his best to make Jean's life miserable and put him back in jail.
My parents are involved in a prison visitation program. The guy they're visiting has done bad things in the past, but he regrets his actions, and we've assumed it was a gun-related thing, and he's said he will never use a gun again, not like he'd be allowed to. I think people like that should get out of prison earlier. Same with capital punishment. Killing is wrong in the first place, and if the person faces what they've done, they shouldn't be killed.
The whole system should change. Jail does next to nothing to help the inmates become better people.
soul groove feline · 17 years, 10 months ago
"Justice systems aren't built for people who have changed. They are for punishment and intimidation, not rehabilitation."
"The whole system should change. Jail does next to nothing to help the inmates become better people."
I can't speak for the American justice system...so everything i'm saying here is based on what my mother has told me about her work teaching cognitive skills to inmates in a Canadian prison.
My mother's job isn't to "rehabilitate" the criminals. Nobody can do that but the criminals own selves. They have to decide for themselves if they are going to take responsibility for what they did, realize why they did it, and not let it happen again. But some of them really *don't* understand. some of them really need help with the process. Which is what my mother does. Yes, i know that a lot of punishment and intimidation goes on there. Yes, i know a lot of the programs are pointless. Yes, i know that a prisoner won't get better if they don't *want* to get better, if they don't make an effort...and no amount of prison or classes or punishment will change that. A good deal of people go to prison, serve their time, and go back out and commit more crimes. There are a lot of messed up things in the justice system. But i disagree with your comment that it does *nothing* to help the inmates get better.
I am against the death penalty for a couple of reasons.
1. It is advertized as a deterrent. Well, here in Texas, we have perhaps one of the loosest standards for applying the death penalty. People know if you commit a capital crime in Texas, the prosecutor is most likely going to go for the death penalty. However, as I mentioned above, we're up to 300 people since 1982. It obviously is not a deterrent.
2. If you screw up, as has been the case in over a dozen cases in my birth state of Illinois, and execute the wrong person, you can't fix that. The possibility of executing an innocent man, especially given our corrupt justice system, is too big of a price in my opinion. You can't give someone's life back. You can compensate them for lost time if you lock them up and find out later they are really innocent.
3. I don't like the thought of the government having the power of life and death over anyone. That's just waay too much power.
So what would be an alternative solution? How about 1) making people *DO* the time. Murders, rapists, and theives usually get out in a fraction of the length of their sentence. Why? Because we lock people up for a mandatory 10 years who's only crime is putting a chemical substance in their bodies.
2) How about making people pay reparations? If you steal, you pay the person back. If you murder, you pay the funeral costs and other reasonable burdens you've placed on the family. If you rape, you pay for the counselling and emotional damage you've done.
3) Two words: Hard Labor. Bring back the chain gang. Government needs something built, cleaned, fixed, etc? Have the prisoners do it.
Just my .02 of a dollar.
3) Two words: Hard Labor. Bring back the chain gang. Government needs something built, cleaned, fixed, etc? Have the prisoners do it.
I agree completely.
Yeah, our prison system is way too generous. For lifers, stick them in a private jail cell with a bed, a shower, and a toilet. Give them food twice a day. Swap their towels and sheets out every couple weeks. No maintenance necessary. If the food costs $2 per day per inmate, that's about $40,000 to keep someone for life. No HBO. No playgrounds. Just a cell and the rest of their lives to think about what they've done.
I mean, you wanna talk about being too nice.
Check out the TX last meal requests
They're only allowed to order things that are served in the caf. So, like, all these things are served to people in prison. :P Screw that! They eat better than many people I know who work for a living.
"1 jar of dill pickles"
Wow, somebody must have been conducting their final science experiment..
Some of these guys were hungry!
"Twenty-four soft shell tacos, six enchiladas, six tostados, two whole onions, five jalapenos, two cheeseburgers, one chocolate shake, one quart of milk and one package of Marlboro cigarettes. (Prohibited by TDCJ policy)"
"Two 16 oz. ribeyes, one lb. turkey breast (sliced thin), twelve strips of bacon, two large hamburgers with mayo, onion, and lettuce, two large baked potatoes with butter, sour cream, cheese, and chives, four slices of cheese or one-half pound of grated cheddar cheese, chef salad with blue cheese dressing, two ears of corn on the cob, one pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and four vanilla Cokes or Mr. Pibb "
"Heaping portion of lettuce, a sliced tomato, a sliced cucumber, four celery stalks, four sticks of American or Cheddar cheese, two bananas and two cold half pints of milk. Asked that all vegetables be washed prior to serving. Also asked that the cheese sticks be clean."
What kind of a fruit is that guy?
Well, the other big problem is that people think every prison has HBO. Um, not really. The life you describe as ideal for a lifer is actually pretty nice compared to what actually happens. You haven't even touched upon the issue of prison violence.
I completely agree, especially with:
Yeah, but still do a little jail time. Justice systems suck.
Oh, I'm sorry...I wasn't very clear. I didn't mean that paying the family or whomever should be the *only* punishment, and I'm not just thinking "a little jail time." I'm thinking, like, life in prison (maaaayyyyybe with a chance for parole) while working to earn money for the payment if necessary.
On a moral level, I fully believe that a criminal who "turns over a new leaf" should be able to get out of prison and become a functioning member of society....but on a practical level, it's impossible to determine true repentance from acting and good behavior....so, yes, life in prison. But no death penalty.
Not a direct response to your post, but I do disagree with the general idea of parole. Even if someone has "turned over a new lead" so to speak, I don't think this should bear on the fact they need to pay the consequences of the crime. Maybe better treatment in the prison is warranted, but I'd like to see people who are convicted of a crime involving the infringement of someone else's rights serve their full sentence.
Hopefully that would serve as a deterrent. Or as one lyricist put it: "Can't do the time, don't do the crime."
Well, I see your point, and I sort of agree....but...OK, let me work this out.
Again, from a purely moral/ideal point of view, I think if someone has reached the point where they truly regret what they have done and are not going to do it again, they've served - by definition - the full sentence. If they truly are "rehabilitated," keeping them in prison won't accomplish anything - it won't help the victim of the crime, all it will do is delay the reformed criminal's chance to become a useful member of society.
But the legal system isn't concerned with moral ideals.....and, practically, maybe the full sentence does need to be served....I'm not really sure what I think about parole in the real world.
renita · 17 years, 10 months ago
if that's the case, I think that THAT is when they should get some skills training, education, etc. still as a part of the justice system, still 'serving time' but at the same time preparing them for the end of their sentance and their re-entry into society.
and not for free, care of the gvmt.but rather work to pay for those privilages.
so I think they SHOULD be kept in prison for the entirety of the sentance. but once that point of rehabilitation or recognition of wrongdoing in addition to a determinatio to not do wrong again is reached, the remainder of the time should be spent preparing for re-entry.
Andrea Krause · 17 years, 10 months ago
I don't know what to think about the death penalty. Part of me wants to excise murderers from the world. Another part of me thinks that an eye for an eye isn't the way to go. And the biggest part of me is worried that as flawed as the system is we can never get it to work right anyway. I mean...maybe I could go along with it if you could be 100% sure every time that the person is guilty. But I don't know if we have the capacity in our system or a future system to have that sort of certainty. And I think sending even one innocent person to death is too many.
Also, I think there is a great deal of debate as to whether it's applied fairly. When human emotions and human prejudices are present I don't know if you ever can truly have fair application.
So I guess...even though sometimes I find myself wanting vicious (sp?) murderers to die...I can't really agree with the death penalty. There are too many variables and the result is final. You can at least overturn an erroneous conviction. You can't make someone un-dead. (Well, not without icky magics. :) )
What is this? We kill people who kill people to show people killing people is wrong? Even so, you're killing somebody to stop others from being killed. You're being killed for a reason totally unrelated to your crime.
Poor people get a bum wrap too. If you can't afford as good a lawyer, is it worth getting killed over?
You're punishing innocent families. The offenders' families will cry over the loss of a friend, possibly, especially if the person is innocent. How cruel are the victims' families, being glad the person is dead? They have public watching areas and some executions are on TV. This is so sick words can't describe it.
Killing is wrong, in ANY circumstance. This should be left to those who it was given to.
With veiws like this you'd think I'd be a vegetarian. Fooled ya. (maybe)
"Killing is wrong, in ANY circumstance. This should be left to those who it was given to. "
Again, what about self defense? If someone is coming at you with intent on causing you serious bodily harm or death, don't you have the right to defend your own life even if it means using lethal force?
elfy, teacher of many · 17 years, 10 months ago
I loved the Ten Foot Pole option! I just HAD to choose it, especially since my brain function is currently low. I did see some great arguments here and many of them do echo the thoughts that I have in my head.
But I don't see a post that says "gosh, bed would be a good idea right now" so I guess I do have some original thoughts. :)
no one · 17 years, 10 months ago
Henry VIII is famous for having had six wives in his lifetime. Less well known is that during the same period he had 70,000 criminals executed by hanging, a rather large proportion of England's population of the time. The crime most of these where hung for was vagrancy. They were killed simply because they were poor.
That couldn't happen these days, could it? Or could it? Here in Australia most prisoners are illiterate, or mentally unstable, and/or - on a pro ratio basis - mostly aboriginal. And most of them would be from an economically and sociologically disadvantaged background. If we still had the death penalty, that would be the segment of society most likely to be killed by our justice system.
O.J.Simpson successfully defended his case. So, he is black, but - innocent or not - if he didn't have the wherewithall and a well functioning mind he'd be on death row.
"Justice" assumes that each individual is responsible for their action. I say, those actions are mostly due to social circumstance, exceptions notwithstanding.
Besides, the threat of capital punishment is not a deterrent. Murder, for instance, in the USA is measured at 14 persons per million per year, despite the threat of capital punishment, while it is 3 per million here in Australia where capital punishment ceased in 1964.
Two more points:
Regarding capital punishment: The number of individuals executed and later found to be innocent is truly atrocious.
Regarding imprisonment in general: prisons are a breeding ground for petty crims to become serious crims. Instead of the "three strikes and you are out" mentality we ought to adopt one where we create an environment that stops punks from knocking down old ladies to get to the five dollars both of them need so desperately.
Ahem. I actually submitted a similar poll . . .
I work in the death penalty abolition movement for an organization of family members of murder victims who also oppose the death penalty. It's been a major education.
1) Cost. The high costs of capital prosecution have little to do with the death penalty abolition movement. Indeed, proving beyond a reasonable doubt that one particular person killed another particular person (or persons) is incredibly expensive -- and this standard of proof is and is what must be required if we are to have an effective, operational system of capital punishment. The DNA tests, expert witnesses, and a host of other expenses must be done, if only to make capital punishment pass the fourteenth amendment test -- if we can't be absolutely positive of an individual's guilt we must not execute them. Indeed, there are some commentators who believe that life on death row itself is cruel and unusual punishment. Which leads us to our next point.
2) Life in prison. People who have no experience with the prison system assume all of the things above. Free healthcare, free meals, free education? Some of these things exist, some don't . . . but living in a place for the rest of your life (or for a really long time) that measures 9x12 is not nearly as cushy as others might believe. This is absent the personal dangers of life in prison. One of our members spent 22 years on death row in Texas for a murder in which he had absolutely no part -- except that he had had a relationship with the victim several months prior to the crime. During that time he suffered an enormous amount of physical and emotional abuse.
But that has to do with prison reform and isn't important (don't get me started on the way drug policy affects this whole thing). Do I like the fact that scumbags get to live and their victims don't? No, I don't. Do I like the fact that there are victims of violent crime who have lost their jobs and their lives as a result while the criminals get to continue theirs? No. Crime is an enormous problem that has disastrous consequences -- but I'd rather look for solutions that prevent these horrifying things from happening than concentrate on avenging them after the fact.
3) The actual statistics. Only 2% of murderers get the death penalty. They are, actually, the poorest and least educated 2% (with some exceptions). A full 98% of death row inmates are functionally illiterate (in fact, 90% of all prison inmates across the board are functionally illiterate). In Maryland, you're five times more likely to get the death penalty for killing a white person than you are for killing a black person. Do I morally oppose the death penalty? Yeah, I do -- but not absolutely. There's still something in my moral system that can understand the concept of the death penalty. But it's just absolutely too screwed up to fix. In every way.
4) What it does to us. Texas, a state that has eliminated most of the expense of administering the death penalty by eliminating most of the appeals available to an individual sentenced to death, executes per annum more individuals than any other country in the world. It also has a higher homicide rate than all but two non-death penalty states. Louisiana, a state with an active death row, has the absolute highest homicide rate. I would say this isn't coincidence, nor is it mere proof that the death penalty is not a deterrent. I would say that promoting the idea that violence is an appropriate response to violence promotes violence generally.
Another interesting fact -- since it started using the death penalty again in the late 1980s, the federal government has executed three people. Two of them (Timothy McVeigh and Lou Jones) were decorated Gulf War veterans. The Vietnam Veterans Association came out full force against the death penalty after the state of California executed Manny Babbitt, a decorated Vietnam Vet who was not able to secure treatment for severe post traumatic stress disorder and killed a woman in Reno, Nevada using an execution procedure outlined in U.S. Marine Corps manuals. He was turned in by his brother on the assurance that Manny would receive psychiatric treatment.
There's a lot more . . . two great websites for capital punishment info: The Death Penalty Information Center (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org -- against) and Justice for All (http://www.prodeathpenalty.com -- for).
What about lower-case punishment?
Should that be done away with too?
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