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Death Penalty, lets have at it...

FortKnox (169099) writes | more than 8 years ago

User Journal 85

Well, I've seen dicussions, but no one really wants to brawl it out.
Yer poll:
A.) Kill'm all and let God sort'm out
B.) Free love for all, and no death
C.) Really don't care one way or the other.Well, I've seen dicussions, but no one really wants to brawl it out.
Yer poll:
A.) Kill'm all and let God sort'm out
B.) Free love for all, and no death
C.) Really don't care one way or the other.

Me, personally? I'm against the death penalty. The penile system (hehehe) is all about rehabilitation. I believe in forgiveness, and I believe killing is a sin regardless of the reason.
Now, don't get me wrong, if I had a gun and someone was going to kill me or anyone in my family, I'd take him out. I'd be sorry for what I did and all that, but if its me or him, I'm taking out him. I'd almost say "If someone killed a family member and he was caught by police, I'd ask the judge for life in prison before the death penalty", but never being in such a tragic situation, I'll shy away from that statement.
Anywho, I'll close with a cheese line that Gandalf said in the movie, but is true, none-the-less:
Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.

Anywho, have at it. Tell me how you agree, or tell me I'm an idiot. I proclaim the flamewar to begin!

85 comments

B mostly (1)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248012)

but I don't shed any tears when real creeps get the chair

Re:B mostly (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249047)

Killing is an option only in self defense, when your life is threatened. Even then, you'll have to answer for it.

DP is the product of a violent, death society. The same society that produces volumes of violent and mortal crimes.

You cannot exclude one or two fruits, and say "I approve of this tree." The tree is rotten in it roots - and you find it in its fruits and flowers. Eliminating the DP is desireable - not killing is desirable. The culture and the society are themselves wounded, and the symptoms cannot be treated or amputated to any real effect.

Siggy says it all. (1)

Some Woman (250267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248025)

*points downward*

Re:Siggy says it all. (1)

Some Woman (250267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248242)

And also...

I'd ask the judge for life in prison before the death penalty", but never being in such a tragic situation, I'll shy away from that statement.

Most likely, you would want them to die. This is why we have the justice system- to remove as much emotional kneejerking as possible. Sure, it still happens, but a judge and jury is going to be much more impartial than the person who just lost a loved one and would trade all their scruples to have them back.

When people say "you won't understand until it happens to you," what they're saying is "you won't become completely irrational and toss your values to the wind, until..."

Re:Siggy says it all. (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249286)

"A society should be slightly more civilized than its sociopaths"

Nice! Might I suggest inserting the words "at least", though?

Re:Siggy says it all. (1)

Some Woman (250267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249550)

I took it directly from an article [sfgate.com].

   

Re:Siggy says it all. (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14258773)

I'm glad peacefinder quoted it for posterity. Because otherwise, in a few months or years from now, someone is going to read it and see "Ha! I got Ethelred's dentures!" which would be interpreted as something different.... ;-)

Zadr Death Perspective (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248036)

I believe two contrary things, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I say they are contrary, but not totally incompatible.

First, if you've put a jury of 12 people into a room, and tell them that they have the option of choosing punishments, between life in prison and death, and they go through the very personal process of choosing the death penalty - and then the Judge also agrees with the Jury's recommendation... follow through.

Second, if you take it off the table - and you don't put all these people through this process - then that's better. Life in Prison with no possibility of parole is cheaper on my tax dollars - more Euro-friendly (and who says that most of Europe has everything wrong?) - and frankly, easier on a Jury.

That's to say, I believe death row should remain death row, and that the death penalty should be withdrawn for new crimes (with the possible exception of Federal cases - but that's longer and more complex than I wish to deal with here).

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248103)

Second, if you take it off the table - and you don't put all these people through this process - then that's better. Life in Prison with no possibility of parole is cheaper on my tax dollars - more Euro-friendly (and who says that most of Europe has everything wrong?) - and frankly, easier on a Jury.

I fail to see where its less expensive to feed, clothe, and maintain a facility for a person for 50 years, instead of giving them a $120 injection. Most people, when faced with life in prison with no chance of parole, will go through the court system with the same level of tenacity. If the issue of 'cruel and unusual punishment' were laid to rest once and for all, the cost would be much less to execute than to house and care indefinately.

Many of us don't really care what Europe thinks. Look at France during the month of November. I can't really equate that level of lawlessness with something that I would want to aspire to.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248149)

I fail to see where its less expensive to feed, clothe, and maintain a facility for a person for 50 years, instead of giving them a $120 injection.

Because that's not the choice our system gives us. It's really feed, clothe, and maintain a facility for a person for 50 years, vs feed, clothe, maintain a facility for a person for 30 years, plus give them several million dollars worth of time in our justice system, plus the $120 injection. It's the cost of appeals that will get you- and that adds up to MORE than the additional 20 years in prison.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248266)

Regardless of whether or not they are given the death penalty, the option of appeals is open to all. If they streamlined the process significantly, the cost would be minimal. There is no way that the appeals process (4 state courts + 3 federal courts) should take more than ten years.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248394)

But it does, and that's reality.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?did=10 8&scid=7 [deathpenaltyinfo.org]

I'm also careful to include the human perspective (putting 12 jurors through this morality play). It's quite obnoxious. Anyway - I'm against it for a very finite number of reasons, which leads me to my openness to seeing through the punishments already prescribed.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248507)

The cost issue leads me to a "no doubt" scenario. It would have to be corroborated by a dozen witnesses, a lack of substantive conflicting testimony, and, preferably surveillance footage that has been certified to be unaltered. Should there be a memory of a shadow of a doubt, the death penalty should not be an available option. Life without parole, and away they go, and we save a few million dollars in appeals and the collective conscience is at ease.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252458)

Interesting - though - it seems that the practical extrapolation of this would mean it's not really an option anyway.

By the standard above, even Timothy McVeigh (Murrow Building, Oklahoma City) would have been spared. Again, maybe he should still be rotting in a federal prison*, but a jury went though the trouble of recommending he receive the death penalty - and, well, it's too late now.

*Children were hurt and killed. The general population would mete out punishment on a very brutal, and regular basis. In some ways, this would have been less humane. For him, the most humane would probably have been the Marxist Hacker's Welded Iron Box.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248613)

I'm aware of the current system, but the reality is that you're pulling that money from two different pots. There are not enough cells to permantly house all of those who are dangers to society. Whether or not a person was truly a danger is a tough decision, however if it can be substansively considered that more than one person's life could potentially be saved if another person was killed, in the great karmic cycle, I'd put that down as a win.

The twelve jurors agreed to become part of the morality play when they voted. If you wish to exclude yourself, stop voting.

I am personally for it (in case it wasn't inferred) because I believe in more or less and eye for an eye sort of penal resolution. The penal system is not in place to rehabilitate people, its there to punish them for things that they have done that were wrong. If it was to rehabilitate, there would be more psychologists and psychiatrists on staff, and less fully armed guards.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

Allen Zadr (767458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248778)

You know, Jesus, after what the Romans did to you, I'd have expected a different outlook.

Sorry - (see sig) ... Anyway, There is pro and con for the death penalty, but the reality of the way the Death penalty is handled means it's inefficient and very expensive. I don't see that changing anytime soon, but I do see the possibility of the Death Penalty going away (it was outlawed until 1976) in more states. I just don't that should mean automatic reprieve for those already sentanced.

On the other hand, it's also a states rights issue. Currently individual states have the right to enable or disable the death penalty within their own borders. So, obviously, the voters can ask for a vote to shut it down. It doesn't happen in my state, and I'm fine with that, too.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248418)

Regardless of whether or not they are given the death penalty, the option of appeals is open to all. If they streamlined the process significantly, the cost would be minimal. There is no way that the appeals process (4 state courts + 3 federal courts) should take more than ten years.

And yet in capital cases, where appeals are filed on several different alternate theories, we routinely see a 20-30 year appeals process. That's where the additional cost currently is. Because the threat of a "final solution" isn't over the lifers, they have a tendency to either forgo appeal entirely, or be more reasonable in how their appeals are filed.

But if you're looking for validation of your position- you need look no further than Catholic theology on the subject. That's exactly the case where the death penalty becomes moral- when the society either can't afford, or doesn't have, sufficient jail/dungeon technology to protect the innocent from the extremely violent. This shows that the death penalty is cheaper in terms of resources when legal protections for the guilty are removed, as well as being more of an assurance when the only consideration is the duty of government to protect the innocent.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249457)

If the death penalty were eliminated in the USA, it seems that the effort that is currently put into death penalty appeals would simply shift to life with no parole cases. It isn't clear to me that eliminating the death penalty would eliminate the expense of costly appeals.

Re:Zadr Death Perspective (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249733)

If the death penalty were eliminated in the USA, it seems that the effort that is currently put into death penalty appeals would simply shift to life with no parole cases. It isn't clear to me that eliminating the death penalty would eliminate the expense of costly appeals.

Life with no parole cases have an alternate method of getting to the same conclusion- because there is the gift of *time* to be more sure of the truth before an appeal is filed. I suppose you could get the same response from the death penalty cases by putting a 20 year ban on appeals being filed and a 20 year cooling off period before any execution- but we don't have that. Theoretically, we've got a miss-a-filing-date-and-your-client-is-dead system instead; so appeals that get filed are more stalling for time rather than actual well-researched appeals.

Of course, I suppose you could point out that my favorite system, after a couple of months, it's too late as well- the client has gone insane....

The death penalty is dumb (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248092)

but you have to support it to be elected to statewide or national office, so it's still around. Bush killed Karla Faye Tucker (sp?). Clinton killed some dude who was mentally ill. Schwarzenegger killed Tookie. (Well, let them die.) Not because they deserved to die, but because they knew they would lose elections if they didn't.

Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248104)

The penile system is all about rehabilitation

It's also a deterrant, and, it should provide the victim (or their family) as well as society as a whole with some sense of justice. And finally, it keeps bad guys away from the street for a while. Rehab is just one part of it.

I also don't fully buy the forgiveness aspect. In order to truly repent, you must understand the pain you've caused and sincerely regret it. If you do that, you will also want to repair the damages, and, you will accept the appropriate punishment for your crime. From what little I've read, Tookie never admitted his crime or asked for forgiveness. Not admitting guilt isn't reason to execute someone, but it does cast some shadows of doubt on the whole rehabilitated argument/new and improved/kinder gentler murderer pertaining to this case.

(That's part of the reason why I believe that criminally insane should receive a suspended sentence to begin after they are declared sane enough to serve it)

Even if all killing is wrong, no matter what, it won't prevent me from doing what's needed to defend myself, my family or another innocent. If I have to stand in front of the big guy in the sky and justify my actions, I'll still maintain that I did what what I thought I had to do to protect those who didn't have a choice.

If all violence is wrong, what do you do when you see someone being assaulted?

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248970)

That's part of the reason why I believe that criminally insane should receive a suspended sentence to begin after they are declared sane enough to serve it

So you're in favour of LONGER detention for someone who is mentally ill than for someone who isn't? Imagine there are 2 defendants, both of whome receive a 10-year sentence, but one is mentally ill, and it takes 5 years to declare him cured ... he end up serving 15 years under your scheme.

And this ignores the whole "we don't hold people responsible for thair actions when they are under duress or extreme compulsion", which is what mental illness does.

To give a practical example of extreme compulsion you might be better able to relate to (from your own words):

It won't prevent me from doing what's needed to defend myself, my family or another innocent.

Do you feel you really have a choice when someone's thretening yur family? Or is this the sort of duress or compulsion that's forgiveable because it doesn't make a claim to "mental illness", or because its on the "moral high ground"?

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249524)

Of course I have a choice, just like RDewald has made a choice to never use lethal force. I'm just curious what he'll do if he's ever in a position to either use force, or see an innocent 3rd party die.
My mind is made up as to my course of action. I've even made it clear to the wife that if the situation comes up with someone breaking in to our house, I will fight as long as I can rather than submit and place my life in their hands.

Mental care in this context is not a right, it's a privelege extended because we would rather attempt to save someone than to let them waste. Treating someones mental illness is not a punishment. So yes, I am in favor of longer net detention.

How else do you propose to do it? What do you do with the killer who's sane as long as he takes his medication? He was crazy when he did it, but now that he's back on his pills...he's a-OK! So let's release him and hope he doesn't stop taking them again?

He fucked up, his rights to freedom are forfeit. Damn skippy he should serve his punishment.

I don't give a shit about moral high grounds. I will defend my family regardless of what morals, religion, judge or jury say. I won't hesitate a second in pulling the trigger because of fear of what the punishment might be.

Luckily, many states allow you to defend yourself, your family, and your property from those who seek to take away your choices. Simple as that.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250014)

If someone breaks into your house, just give them the crap they came for. It can be replaced. Your health, and the safety of your wife and kids, is NOT worth any macho "I'm taking a stand" BS. Let them take it. Heck, I'd even offer to bag it for them if it will get them off the premises quicker, because the quicker they're gone, the less likely there's going to be an "incident".

He was crazy when he did it
Yes, people stop taking their meds. They take their meds, feel better, then figure "okay, I'm better now" and stop taking their meds. And crash.

Or the side effects make it impossible for them to continue taking their meds on a regular basis, so they try to walk a fine line, and screw up.

We don't have cures for many mental illnesses - just treatments, and a lot of them are hit-and-miss, because we're still learning, just as we're still learning in the treatment of other diseases and conditions.

He fucked up, his rights to freedom are forfeit. Damn skippy he should serve his punishment.

What about caes where the parents refused treatment for a youth with a mental illness, and he or she then kills the parents? Who "fucked up" as you so graciously put it? Do we chalk it up to "poetic justice" or hubris, or worse yet, schadenfreude - a "serves 'em right" attitude?

It's not so black and white.

Luckily, many states allow you to defend yourself, your family, and your property from those who seek to take away your choices. Simple as that.

They also apply a reasonableness test. Try shooting them in the back while they're leaving, and you'll rightfully be convicted of murder. It's not "as simple as that", and to say otherwise is irresponsible, because someone else might pick up on it and actually act on it.

Even when you have no choice, killing someone else is going to leave you seriously screwed up if you're at all a human being. Look at the rates of PTSD in police and the armed forces. Or talk to a vet, and you'll find that under the bravado there's an underlying anger or sadness that they had to kill someone else. So just give them the stuff. Its not worth ruining your own life.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250466)

If you want to stand with your hands in your pockets while someone's being robbed, raped, assaulted or killed that's up to you and your conscience. Me? I have to act. It's who I am.

It's also not about keeping my stuff, the TV, the car or the money. Saying that I'd kill an intruder over it is completely false. I'm just not willing to take the chance that they will decide to rape my wife, or kill all witnesses. Or simply burn the house down for shits and giggles. I prefer to trust my own judgement over that of the robbers, so yes, simple as that.

But let's look at the very case that brought this discussion up and see how that works:

From CNN:
On February 28, 1979, about 4 a.m., Williams and three friends got high on their psychedelic smokes
and took two cars, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber handgun to Pomona in search of a place to rob, according to court documents. They ended up at a 7-Eleven where Albert Owens, 26, was working the overnight shift, sweeping the parking lot.

The military veteran was a "redheaded, freckle-faced kid who had the biggest smile you wanted to see," according to his older brother, Wayne Owens, 55, of Olathe, Kansas.

Albert Owens said, "Take everything you want," says the now-retired prosecutor, Robert Martin, who remembers the case in detail.

Williams ordered Owens into a back room at gunpoint, shot out a security monitor, then ordered, "Get down on your knees, (expletive)," and shot him twice in the back, according to testimony. Williams "later laughed about it as he was eating his hamburger," Martin says.


Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14251081)

If you want to stand with your hands in your pockets while someone's being robbed, raped, assaulted or killed that's up to you and your conscience. Me? I have to act. It's who I am.

Then you better learn some self-control, because you're a danger to everyone around you, including those you want to protect. Because you obviously have never been in such a situation. Its NOT like what you see on TV.

As for your example, there is no evidence whatsoever that if Albert Owens had been armed that the outcome would have been different. He'd still have been shot dead. Just sooner.

Better off to ban handguns. The lame argument "if you ban handguns only criminals will have them" fails to meet even the most obvvious criticism - that once a ban is instituted you can lock up someone BEFORE they kill someone else. But logic has never been the gun-nut lobby's strength. Of course not - hand guns are the way men compensate for their lack of manhood. They're a penis substitute, same as SUVs.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14251113)

Should have used preview (stil getting used to swapping mouse buttons earlier today):
If you want to stand with your hands in your pockets while someone's being robbed, raped, assaulted or killed that's up to you and your conscience. Me? I have to act. It's who I am.
Then you better learn some self-control, because you're a danger to everyone around you, including those you want to protect. Because you obviously have never been in such a situation. Its NOT like what you see on TV.

As for your example, there is no evidence whatsoever that if Albert Owens had been armed that the outcome would have been different. He'd still have been shot dead. Just sooner.

Better off to ban handguns. The lame argument "if you ban handguns only criminals will have them" fails to meet even the most obvious criticism - that once a ban is instituted you can lock up someone BEFORE they kill someone else. But logic has never been the gun-nut lobby's strength. Of course not - hand guns are the way men compensate for their lack of manhood. They're a penis substitute, same as SUVs.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14251870)

Wow you just don't get it.

Just because I have guns and am prepared to use them doesn't mean I do whenever there's trouble. Don't make assumptions about what I have or have not done. Give me a little bit of credit and trust me to use my judgement when it comes to my family.

Please tell me, why do home invaders in Sweden use hand guns when the populace at large are not allowed to own them? Why do the invaders on occasion execute the victims? Why weren't they caught earlier? I'm sure you have done years of research in the area and can provide me with some excellent sources to your published papers.

Looking forward to it!

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252254)

Just because I have guns and am prepared to use them doesn't mean I do whenever there's trouble. Don't make assumptions about what I have or have not done. Give me a little bit of credit and trust me to use my judgement when it comes to my family.

Your previous statements belie your judgement. You've already gone on record as a "must take action" type of person. So, no, I don't give you credit when you speak as someone who obviously has never been in that situation.

This was your response to my saying I'd just give the robbers the stuff and get them out of the area as soon as possible, for the safety of everyone:

If you want to stand with your hands in your pockets while someone's being robbed, raped, assaulted or killed that's up to you and your conscience. Me? I have to act. It's who I am.

It's also not about keeping my stuff, the TV, the car or the money. Saying that I'd kill an intruder over it is completely false. I'm just not willing to take the chance that they will decide to rape my wife, or kill all witnesses. Or simply burn the house down for shits and giggles. I prefer to trust my own judgement over that of the robbers, so yes, simple as that.

... and this indicates that you have already thought it through, and that your legal defence is that "you were afraid they would go further". This is premeditated murder on your part. Its been tried in the past, and juries don't buy it. You can't kill someone because of what they "might" do hypothetically.

You also were very clear that, while you wouldn't shoot them because they're swiping your TV, you would because they might burn your house down. Even if they did, so what? Doesn't give you the right to kill them. Even "an eye for an eye" doesn't go that far.

Also, the "rhetorical examples" you quote show that a general ban on hand guns works - the country you cite (Sweden) has a lower murder rate. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/cri_mur_cap [nationmaster.com] Gee, Sweden doesn't even appear on the list.

http://christianparty.net/incarceration.htm [christianparty.net] and scroll way down to find ...

Per capita homicide rates: US: 8.2. Sweden 2.9

The fact is that the US is soft on crime, specifically because the gun lobby spends big bucks confabulating handgun ownership with security and rights. Europe and Canada don't have anywhere near your murder rate. We also don't have the NRA making people go ballistic all the time. Want to help your police? Work for a handgun ban. Want to help your kids? Work for a handgun ban. Want to get fat off corporate greed? Become a gun advocate.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252336)

Geez, so I need to qualify my statement with every possible condition that has to be met before I would engage someone with force? I don't think so. Use some common sense and again, give me a little credit. You're arguing a case that just isn't there and we're not getting anywhere.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252697)

Its just that I've heard so many people go on about what they'd do, and they say they'd rely on weapons instead of using their head. My bet - a lot of them would end up at room temperature.

Unlike them, I earned the right to be critical of rash statements about hypothetical situations.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252716)

So instead of reading what I actually say, you make assumptions about what my meaning is based on past experiences? That doesn't really seem fair.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252968)

So instead of reading what I actually say,

No, I read what you wrote here [slashdot.org]:

My mind is made up as to my course of action. I've even made it clear to the wife that if the situation comes up with someone breaking in to our house, I will fight as long as I can rather than submit and place my life in their hands.

... and you ended that post with this ...

I don't give a shit about moral high grounds. I will defend my family regardless of what morals, religion, judge or jury say. I won't hesitate a second in pulling the trigger because of fear of what the punishment might be.

Luckily, many states allow you to defend yourself, your family, and your property from those who seek to take away your choices. Simple as that.

These are pretty unambiguous statements.

You believe that its your right to act in an aggressive fashion if someone enters your property without your consent (from the first item quoted). You also believe you're justified in using deadly force (second quote).

I pointed out here [slashdot.org] that the prudent course of action, if your primary interest is protecting your loved ones, rather than your ego, is to get the intruders out of the house ASAP - give them what they want and let them leave.

If someone breaks into your house, just give them the crap they came for. It can be replaced. Your health, and the safety of your wife and kids, is NOT worth any macho "I'm taking a stand" BS. Let them take it. Heck, I'd even offer to bag it for them if it will get them off the premises quicker, because the quicker they're gone, the less likely there's going to be an "incident".

Your response - more macho chest-thumping here [slashdot.org]

If you want to stand with your hands in your pockets while someone's being robbed, raped, assaulted or killed that's up to you and your conscience. Me? I have to act. It's who I am.

It's also not about keeping my stuff, the TV, the car or the money. Saying that I'd kill an intruder over it is completely false. I'm just not willing to take the chance that they will decide to rape my wife, or kill all witnesses. Or simply burn the house down for shits and giggles. I prefer to trust my own judgement over that of the robbers, so yes, simple as that.

Try to understand - I'm not attacking you on a personal level. But your culture teaches that the proper way to respond to violence is more violence - and that isn't working.

There are times when you have no choice - its kill or be killed. However, it is your responsibility to ascertain that this is truly the case, rather than shoot first, ask questions later. You cannot automatically assume that because someone came to rob you, they're also going to rape your wife and then kill everyone.

And, as I pointed out, there is the whole issue of mental illness.

The easy availability of handguns is also a factor. Get rid of them and the body count goes down by 2/3. What is so hard to understand about that?

This is about the death penalty, but its also about personal responsibility. What are you going to do if someone tries to rob you, you pull out your gun, and in the ensuing battle your neighbours' kid gets killed by one of your stray bullets? All the rationalizations mean nothing - she's still dead, and you could have prevented it by just giving them the junk and letting the police and insurance fight over it. You say you prefer to trust your judgment over that of the robbers, but you're showing poor judgment by not thinking it through.

If someone's robbing you, its because they've got a case of the shorts (money or drugs). They want quick, easy cash. They DON'T want the cops looking for them for multiple killings. Its in their best interest to "keep things cool." A real hero knows that swallowing his pride is better than risking someone else's life.

Hand guns kill.
Nut jobs kill.
Nut jobs with hand guns kill more.

Like I said - 2/3 reduction. Just get rid of the hand guns. The nut jobs will still be out there, but they won't be able to kill nearly as many with a knife or a blunt object as with a 38.

Like I said, this isn't an attack on you, but on the mindset of fear that your culture has bred, from well before 9/11.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14253305)

My Swedish heritage breeds violence? I dunno, I can't say we've been known for being very aggressive for the past oooh, 1000 years or so.

There are times when you have no choice - its kill or be killed. However, it is your responsibility to ascertain that this is truly the case, rather than shoot first, ask questions later. You cannot automatically assume that because someone came to rob you, they're also going to rape your wife and then kill everyone.

And you appear to assume that I will shoot first, ask questions later. Have you considered that I simply didnt qualify each of my statements with every single one of the conditions that have to be met? I'm not saying violence is my first resport, or my second, or my third. Obviously I'm not going to open fire the moment someone steps in my yard. Obviously I won't just jump someone who's broken into my house on sight. I don't really see why I have to explicitely say that, but there you go. I could keep going if you really want a more extensive list, but I'm sure that I'd just get more "what ifs".

Please, you're not the only intelligent being in the universe.

All I'm saying is, I'm open to the idea of using lethal force when necessary. You may twist that as much as you want and try to read something into my words that isn't there. Knock yourself out.

As for chest thumping, it's not. I'm not trying to act tough or impress you. Frankly, what a random online self-confessed troll thinks of me matters very little. I'm fairly sure I won't lose any sleep over the thought that you might not be suitably impressed with my macho attitude. Acting when needed is who I am and how I've behaved in the past [slashdot.org].

Read that and take a guess at what I would've done had I been carrying a gun. It seems you've analyzed me enough to know exactly what I'd do.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14254278)

My best bet is to strike first and land a hard kick and then follow up quickly and try to keep some distance.

You blew it. Why not just do as I've done, tell the guy (okay, in one case it was 2 guys, both bigger, but the situation is still the same) that the cops have been called, and if they're smart they should "get out of dodge" while they still can. It works. No violence. No need for "planning how you're going to handle it". Someone pushing someone else around in the parking lot is a bully and a coward. They'll run. Because thats what bullies and cowards do.

Of course, living in a country with half-decent handgun laws means I don't have to worry too much that they'll pull a gun.

The fact is the US has a gun culture. It colours everyone's thinking. It warps things. People think to themselves "I can't risk trying to find a peaceful resolution - I might get shot." And then they wonder why nobody helps them when they are shouting for help. Do you see the cause-effect there?

And there's no way to end it because everyone's now in on the "arms race". Everyone's thinking "let them go first, then I'll disarm - maybe". It just doesn't work.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14254943)

Yeah I guess so, I completely blew it.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14257963)

Okay, I apologize - you didn't completely blow it - sorry. But your first instinct was to plan to return violence with violence, and that just escalates the whole situation. This is what I mean about the "gun culture" and the way it has got everyone so jumpy about all sorts of situations. Its like putting mice into a stressful situation, and watching them gnaw their limbs off.

Its not healthy. I couldn't live like that. I live in a city of several million, and someone getting shot is so rare, it makes the news as a major item. Women walk their dogs at 2 in the morning without fear of being held up at gun point. Convenience stores don't keep firearms on the premises "just in case". Neither do the liquor stores. When you call 911, you get a live response immediately, because they're not spending time handling all sorts of gun situations.

Call the cops and mention there's a gun or gunshots and there's 10 cruisers there, fast! The resurces can be freed up quickly because they don't have to deal with the same level of gun violence.

Unfortunately, there's been a lot of gun-smuggling into Toronto lately, and its become an election issue. And it will be stamped out. Nobody wants guns in their neighbourhood.

Just trying to point out that there are social consequences to the gun culture that affect everything you do, even how you think.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14258313)

But your first instinct was to plan to return violence with violence, and that just escalates the whole situation.

No. No. No. No. I'm not sure what you read, but it sure as hell was not my JE. Read the very opening line of the paragraph you partially quoted. Actually, let me do it for you: "I really don't want to fight if I can avoid it." I had no intention of jumping him. However, I had a game plan ready should all other options fail. What you interpret it to say is very different from what it actually says. Consider that the JE doesn't include every word or action either.

My first instinct was that my mere prescence would deter further violence (Read the JE again, it's explicitely in there, I'm surprised you missed it). My second instinct was that making it clear that the police had been called would deter further violence. My third instinct was that approaching in a non-threatening way would deter further violence. My fourth instinct was that making it clear that even though he came at me, I would not just back down, go away and let him finish the job on her.

I kept slowly advancing, making it clear I didn't want to fight but that I wasn't going to go away. I didn't make any threats or threateing gestures.

So how the hell did you reach the conclusion that my first instinct was to do violence?

Since you did not want to guess earlier, let me tell you what I believe I would've done had I had a gun.

The. Exact. Same. Thing.

The only difference would be that I would have drawn it when he pointed the car at us after we took cover behind Wendys car. Had he then attempted to run over the car and us, which his truck was very capable of doing, I would've fired.

That didn't happen though. I wasn't armed. He didn't try to run over the car. We never fought. Wendy was beaten up but mostly OK. So just how exactly, did I blow it? Just what did I do wrong? What would've changed had I done things differently do you think? I'd love to get some advice for the next time I have to intervene.

Thanks!

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14258446)

Okay, your points are valid. Its probably because I really hate handguns, and this whole death penalty thing is really polarizing. The death penalty doesn't work, but not for the reasons stated. Its actually kinder than keeping someone alive for life with no hope of ever being let free.

Keep them alive. Keep them as an example of a wasted life. Don't give them celebrity status and cult followings by executing them. Don't waste millions on appeals of the death penalty. Don't possibly make a mistake that is undoable.

There are so many reasons NOT to use the death penalty (economic, social, justice) that its just plain counter-productive.

Or let them "earn" their life, thoug not their freedom, by doing something useful, for example, as test subjects for medical treatments, to help them pay back the lives they took by perhaps saving some. Or a job "inside" with the wages going to the victim's families.

The death penalty doesn't help anyone. Knowing you might end up "volunteering" to be a test subject for eye transplants or an artificial heart or an AIDS vaccine might be a deterrent.

It would at least add a new dimension to the "letah injection". And it might end up saving a few lives.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14256352)

Better off to ban handguns. The lame argument "if you ban handguns only criminals will have them" fails to meet even the most obvious criticism - that once a ban is instituted you can lock up someone BEFORE they kill someone else. But logic has never been the gun-nut lobby's strength.

Just like Prohibition got rid of alchoholic beverages, right?

Tom, if banning guns is the answer, why has the violent crime rate dropped dramatically in states that have Concealed Carry Laws? Texas in particular has seen double digit percentage drops in the violent crime rate, despite a larger population. Murder, Assault, and robberies are down. The only violent crime that has not dropped as severely is rape. (Which just means more women need to carry guns.)

Also, if banning guns is the answer, why is crime so high in Great Britain?

All banning guns in GB did was lead to more stabbings. The Concealed Carry laws in the States protect the innocent by making the criminal wonder if the victim is going to shoot them or not.

It's also why home break-ins and robberies in Texas are down - We shoot intruders down here. As a result, no one wants to break in to homes anymore.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14258048)

The Concealed Carry laws in the States protect the innocent by making the criminal wonder if the victim is going to shoot them or not.
[funny mode on] wouldn't it be cheaper and safer to give everyone a face mask, and have them wondering "If I shoot/mug/whatever this person, are they going to bleed on me and kill me? [funny mode off]

Prohibitions only work if the people are behind it. The goal isn't to eliminate, but to control. For example, we can't eliminate rapes by prohibiting them, but we sure as heck can throw the rapist in jail.

Its the same with guns.

You're in an arms race with your neighbours. And the freaks. And everyone else who's had a bad day/week/life and blows their top.

Now, which would you rather try defending yourself against - someone with a gun or a knife? And who is going to kill more people? Most people don't even know how to hold the knife properly for in-close "body work." It's not "point-and-shoot-shoot-shoot-shoot-shoot-shoot-REL OAD-shoot-shoot-shoot-" like a gun.

I don't know how you're going to de-escalate the situation ... by the same analogy (arming everyone), the solution to world peace is giving all countries nukes. The real solution is getting rid of them.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14258232)

For example, we can't eliminate rapes by prohibiting them, but we sure as heck can throw the rapist in jail.

Which is punishment for their actions. We can, and do, heavily punish people who commit gun crimes in Texas.

Now, which would you rather try defending yourself against - someone with a gun or a knife?

For pure hand to hand combat, obviously, a knife.

However, even my black belt in Tae Kwon Do cannot protect me from the knife wielding psycho who sneaks up behind me and slits my throat - or attacks my wife in the same manner - that can be summed up as "shit happens".

And everyone else who's had a bad day/week/life and blows their top.

But that's an extremely small segment of the population who because they blew their top would use deadly force, and that same segment would be just as likely to bludgeon you to death with a tire iron.

I'm not sure what you hear about States with concealed carry laws, but we don't have Wild West Shootouts on the street. It just doesn't happen.

You keep mentioning this as an arms race, but that's not how I see it: If that were true, there'd be more and more laser sighted guns with more powerful ammo, less recoil, etc., and everybody would be upgrading their guns like they do their PC's - and it just doesn't happen that way - a Glock 9mm with Hollow Points is more than enough to stop an intruder, to stop a carjacker, etc. And again - the proof is in the pudding: The violent crime rate is plummetting in Texas. Some groups claim that in the past 2 years there was an increase in violent crime, especially murder - but those same groups fail to take account the increase in population, and they fail to take account that we've had some people convicted for multiple homicides when they tried to smuggle illegal aliens over the border and the aliens ended up dying in the trailer due to the heat and lack of water. One truck in particular they had 120 people jammed in a trailer, and it was around 25 people that died. When you only otherwise have 1200 murders in the State in the year, that 25 is significant.

And did not involve hand guns or any other type of gun.

On the other hand, when the number of violent crimes DROPS despite an increase in population, and it coincides with the State of Texas passing the concealed carry law, that lends solid evidence to the argument that the CCL works. Especially when you treat the number of crimes as a percentage of the total population - then it's even more remarkable.

Plus, in Texas at least, to get a CCL (Concealed Carry License) there is mandatory training on gun use, safety, and the laws on when and where you can actually use it. Plus, you have to prove competency with the weapon, as there are accuracy tests you must pass.

Also - minor nit: You should only shoot twice, then re-aim, then shoot twice. Otherwise, you're going to be wildly inaccurate.

Crime is a problem, and will always be a problem. Confiscating guns is not the solution.

It also protects the populace from invasion, Yamamoto is widely quoted (accuracy is dubious, however) as saying that the reason the Japanese did not invade the US during WW2 is because he knew that there would be a rifle waiting for him under every blade of grass. The quote may be incorrectly attributed, but the overall spirit of the quote is compelling.

... and why nobody invades Switzerland, where if memory serves me each household is required to have an automatic weapon.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14253295)

if you ban handguns only criminals will have them" fails to meet even the most obvvious criticism - that once a ban is instituted you can lock up someone BEFORE they kill someone else.

That's a bullshit example, and you should know better.

Guess what? LOTS of types of guns are banned here in the ole USA. Lots of guns give the cops excuses to lock someone up before they commit a violent crime with them. But there are two major problems with that:

1) there are still lots of those guns out on the street. Which puts the lie to your claim that it protects everyone from their use.

2) just because I own something doesn't mean that I will use it or allow it to be used in a crime. Otherwise, I ought to be locked up for all those long nasty kitchen knives I have.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14254188)

The facts are clear - the US has the highest homicide rate, and the easiest access to handguns.

That there are lots of guns out on the street is because there is no real handgun control. Guns are as easy to get as drugs. Unfortunately. And that's not going to change until ... well, its probably never going to change. You're in an arms race with yourself. And the more weapons, the less secure you all end up. Mutually Assured Destruction is a terrible neighbourhood policy. It might work between cuntries, but it doesn't when you're dealing with people who want to "bust a cap" because they were cut off in traffic, or they think their spouse is cheating on them.

just because I own something doesn't mean that I will use it or allow it to be used in a crime. Otherwise, I ought to be locked up for all those long nasty kitchen knives I have.
The kitchen knives certainly have other uses than killing people.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14255867)

Guns are as easy to get as drugs.

Baaad example, Tom. Yet another case of "flat prohibition does not work".

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14257925)

It works for some things and not for others.

When people want drugs, they'll get them despite the law.

When people don't want guns, and the law is on their side, prohibitions work.

We had a crime wave in Montreal for a while - the Hells Angels were involved in a gang war with another group. This resulted in a lot of shootings - something we're not used to having up here. So, a task force was created, special prosecutorial teams appointed, a secure courthouse and special detention facilities built - in other words, we spent the millions necessary - and the end result was that the leaders are now convicted, in jail, with long terms, and now a shooting is considered a major news item again, instead of a weekly occurence.

Depends on the type of society you want to build.

We're now having a gun problem in Toronto. So we're going to spend $650 million to end it. Increased border guards (because the guns are coming from the US). A guns-for-money program to buy them and destroy them. Etc., etc. The general population up here doesn't want guns in their neighbourhood. The don't want them, they don't want the people next door to have them, etc.

Its a different culture. No metal detectors at school entrances. Women walk their dogs at 2, 3 am. You can watch the evening news and the only reports on shootings are from elsewhere. And when you call 911 you always get a human immediately. Wouldn't you like to live like that?

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14258047)

Wouldn't you like to live like that?

Your fallacious arguments don't do you any favors Tom. Conflating gun bans with all the other differences between Canada and the US is nonsense. Maybe *you* could use a good read of Efficient Society [amazon.com] to understand what I mean.

whoa (1)

SolemnDragon (593956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249059)

"Not admitting guilt isn't reason to execute someone,"

We have a justice system that requires people to plead "innocent" or "guilty," and doesn't allow them, most of the time, a plea of, "guilty but responsible." A lot of the time, people are advised to plead innocent, because that's all it takes. We don't reward responsible behaviour, we tell them to plead guilty not if they did it, but if they got caught in a way that allows them no loopholes. This encourages criminals to be victims. This "happened" to them, it isn't what they did. Jail, where abuses are rife, only reinforce this outlook.

If you want it to work better, allow people to enter into contracts to help repair the damage. Reward taking responsibility in a way that shows that you can take an active part. Allow them to have a voice in their own punishment, even, beyond "guilty or innocent." You're right, maybe they forfeited that, and we don't HAVE to. But we should.

Murder probably requires life in jail most of the time, and there are a lot of cases where this won't work. But there are a lot where it will, and shame on us for not trying it. There is a strong rehabilitative justice movement revving up, and i support it.

Re:whoa (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249655)

I agree. I desperately disagree with the "throw away the key" crowd. I also find the pound-me-in-the-ass prison jokes to be absolutely disgusting.

After you commit a crime, most all your rights are forfeit. It's up to you to prove that you deserve another chance. It's up to us to provide you with the opportunity.

Little known fact, a cousin of my wife was convicted of murdering her aunt 12 years ago when he was 17. Everyone but the prosecutor, jury and judge seem to agree that he didn't do it and was innocently imprisoned. For the past 12 years, he's been working double shifts in the kitchen, as each hour worked and being productive means some time is taken off of his sentence. I believe he's scheduled to be released this spring, but I could be off by a year in my estimate.

He's been on his best behavior, he's worked hard, and he deserves a second chance. Not because he's probably innocent, but because he has proven through action, not words, that he can function, take responsbility, and stay out of trouble.

Cases like that is why I'm opposed to the death penalty.

Nits (1)

Red Warrior (637634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249730)

"guilty" or "not guilty". And in some cases "no contest". "Innocent" isn't a plea you can enter. And I think it should be. And I think if you are declared "innocent", it has completely different implications from merely being declared "not guilty".

I'll pass on the topical stuff, though.

Re:Crime and punishment (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14261235)

In it's current form, it's not a deterrent. The typical criminal has a greater chance of being killed while committing a crime or (in the case of drug-exploiting gang members) being killed for territory in a given year than a death row inmate has of being executed. The death penalty is the criminal justice equivalent of a parent saying "I'm going to count to a hundred and then I'm really going to punish you."

The middle road (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248123)

Punishing the guilty and protecting the innocent is a duty of good government. Thus, whether the death penalty is moral or not is a function of how good your jail technology is. At present time in this world, we range in jail technology from the absolutely unescapable (cubes of welded steel with input and output ports of various types) to the completely ridiculous and obsolete (some third world jails are little better than a few iron bars set in a wall of mud bricks). When the crime is sufficiently violent, and the jail technology is sufficiently low, the death penalty becomes the *only* way to protect the innocent from the guilty.

Having said that, I do NOT think the death penalty is supportable in the United States any longer- and if we could just remove that pesky "cruel and unusual punishment" clause from capital crimes, there'd be no need to *ever* use it.

KILL KILL KILL (1)

ellem (147712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248253)

While Tookie deserved to die and one can hope it hurt Cory Maye [typepad.com] is getting railroaded and should NOT be killed. So kill'em when we're sure.

anti death penalty (1)

subgeek (263292) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248513)

there's no way to make it fair.* there's no way to fix it if they're wrong. it doesn't save money. it doesn't change the past. it's also pretty racially and ethnically slanted.

*example: in the state of ohio, out of 88 counties, only three have enough revenue to prosecute with death penalty.

As pure thought, I'm against it. (1)

SamTheButcher (574069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248514)

However, I don't know how I'd feel if someone in my immediate family were killed by someone and they had conclusive evidence toward that end.

I'm also not a god, so I don't really feel qualified to make that decision. I liked Oculus' take on it, actually, that taking a life can be taking something of value, wasting it.

My $.02 (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248546)

Our society ought to be advanced enough to where the Death Penalty is no longer used. Where it is simply another relic of ancient punishments, like the rack and pilloray. Unfortunately, our society has not yet advanced to that point. Indeed I see a decline and even regression in our growth. For that reason the Death Penalty needs to remain, because we are still a society that is immature enough to need it, and because it will remain a rallying point for those who continue to push our culture forward.

Oh, why not ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248696)

Judge to jury: You took your sweet time. What's the verdict?
Jury Foreman: We find the defendant not guilty!
Judge to Foreman: Well, you go back and think some more, We hung him 2 hours ago!

You can't fix that sort of mistake.

If you're in favour of the death penaty, read it and weep [truthinjustice.org]. There is no excuse for this.

"We all agree that it is better for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted," Mr. Marquis said. "Is it better for 100,000 guilty men to walk free rather than have one innocent man convicted? The cost-benefit policy answer is no."

At the University of Michigan, Professor Gross said that was the wrong calculus.

"No rate of preventable errors that destroy people's lives and destroy the lives of those close to them is acceptable," he said.

I have to agree with the professor. The stat is nowhere near 100,000 to 1, this is just a strawman argument. Its more like 1 in 5, which is an attrocious failure rate when lives are at stake.

The facts are simple:

  1. People are using the overcrowding of prisons as a justification for reducing costs by imposing the death penalty, when the much simpler solution of admitting the war on drugs is a failure would empty a lot of prisons;

  2. Witnesses, cops, etc., all make mistakes and/or lie. Defense lawyers screw up, or lack resources (or, incredibly, sleep through trials [findlaw.com] - how is ANYONE supposed to get a fair trial when their lawyer is heard snoring on tape and the judge doesn't do anything, even though the jurors are complaining? Or the case where the judge was "pumping his penis" with his latest sex toy while presiding over trials [usatoday.com]? Or people who are mentally ill, unfit to stand trial, and unable to participate in their own defence [amnesty.org]?)

    Let's get real here. This sort of thing doesn't even happen on TV, and yet it did in real life:

    Judge Nelson testified that Tirelli (defense lawyer) "slept every day of the trial. How many times during the day I didn't keep track, but he was asleep at times every day of the trial." Judge Nelson recalled that on one occasion (at least) he halted the trial, took all the lawyers into the hallway and issued a warning to Tirelli
    The lawyer slept every day of the 12-day trial. The jurors could hear him snoring. Every time he'd start "sawing wood", the court reporter and prosecutor admitted to exchanging "knowing looks". The judge had to instruct another lawyer to wake him up if they heard him snoring. And yet, it was only after many appeals that the courts finally ruled the defendant had been deprived of effective counsel.

  3. 2 wrongs don't make a right. We teach 5-year-olds that, and we expect them to be able to understand. So why can't adults understand this simple principle, instead of resorting to rhetoric ("you're just being simplistic")

Re:Oh, why not ... (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248827)

The problem is, even if you get rid of the death penalty, innocent people will still go to jail on crimes that WOULD have had the death penalty. Let's pretend that 20 years into their life sentence, evidence is presented that sets them free. Their life is STILL ruined, and those of their loved ones. It's little consolation to be alive and free when nobody will employee you, you have no job skills, no social network, no "honest" friends, no savings or money with which to start over, and who knows what sorts of nasty diseases you might pick up while in jail. If you did have kids before going into jail, their all grown up now and you missed it.

Yeah, it is conceivable you could rebuild your life, but it's really damn hard, and for many it is impossible.

And that's for the ones "lucky" enough to be proven innocent while still in jail. Those who never get the extra evidence to exonerate them still suffer while in prison anyways. For every remaining day of their entire lives.

Life is tough for the convicted, whether guilty or not. Facing the death penalty doesn't change the complete suckage that has been wreacked on your life. Being set free still leaves you facing an extraordinary uphill battle for the entire rest of your life.

Re:Oh, why not ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249245)

No question about it - but better to have half a lifetime as a free person than none at all.

Yes - it is hard to rebuild your life. But people do it all the time, because they have no other choice (as witness the topic of my current series of JEs). Talk to someone who's been wrongfully convicted of murder, then set free, or read their stories. You'll find that some of them, while angry at "the system", have gained unique insights into themselves and those around them. Like a dandelion seed stuck in a crack in the sidewalk, they still managed to grow.

They knew, at their core, that they were not "dirty" to begin with. They refused to let the dirt shoveled on them stick to them. Yes, it causes life-long pain. We can't undo that. But certainly, its better than death.

against (1)

js7a (579872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14248888)

imposible to correct, two proven mistakes as per DNA, about 100 close calls per year in the past year as per DNA, mistakes in progress; not worth the risk.

B... (1)

FirstNoel (113932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249072)

Personal protection aside... Let them live in Prison for the rest of their lives.

There is a commandment..Thou shall not kill. It's not directed towards good guys or bad guys. It means everyone.

I'd like to think we are not barbarians. Apparently we still are.

Sean D.

Barbarism (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249084)

The death penalty is simply barbaric. A country that still uses it cannot claim to be civilized.

It's funny - if you asked a pro-capital punishment person whether they could still be pro-capital punishment if they were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death, usually, they pause and you can see in their eyes that they just imagined being in the execution chamber. It is usually followed by face-saving backpedaling.

Probably the worst case I heard of in the United States was in around 1997 or so - somewhere in the north east (CT, possibly) there was a tragic case where two teenagers from very strict religious families had given birth to a child. In their panic, they killed the newborn. The prosecutor wanted to have them executed to "set an example". Whilst they should be punished for what they did, to execute two teenagers for this to set an example is extremely barbaric.

Death Penalty as Deterrent (1)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249211)

Here's an interesting argument that you need to consider if you're an opponent of the death penalty:

What deters a criminal already facing a life sentence from killing? Look at the latest round of three strikes laws where violent felons face life without parole if they're arrested a third time. Suppose one of these people is out after two offenses and is robbing a liquor store. If there's no death penalty then it's actually to their advantage to murder all the potential witnesses. (If they get caught and tried they're facing life with or without the murders.)

Not my original thought but it had occurred to me. More here [captainsquartersblog.com]

Re:Death Penalty as Deterrent (1)

anto (41846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252270)

But If there is a death penalty applied for any death that occurs during a crime, on the first offence that someone ends up dead (has a heart attack from the stress) it's going to be in the offenders best interest to kill everyone who may or may not have witnessed the event.

Now you have me ranting.. :)
My simple arguments against the death penalty:
a) it's not applied fairly & is open to abuse.
b) the existance of the penalty changes the nature of the legal system.
c) It forces the prison system from a place of rehabilitation, re-education & learning (a lofty goal usually not reached) to an environment of pure revenge & punishment.
d) Sooner or later you *will* kill an innocent person - I can't imagine anything worse than being stuck in a cell waiting for the day I know I will be murdered because someone somewhere made a mistake.
e) It doesn't deter crime.
f) You don't actually feel any better for carrying out your revenge, I know if someone killed (or even hurt) someone close to me, I would want them to die in a particually horrible way, however I would hope that society would step in and ensure the punishment delt out for the crime was fair & in line with the commited crime.

A few points (1)

TheConfusedOne (442158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252949)

a is mostly true in the case of where/when prosecutors seek this penalty. As for the people charged there have been studies in some states showing no ratial bias.

b I really don't know what your point is with this. I would think/hope that a "Life Without Parole" sentence would be as carefully vetted as a death sentence. (Considering that Tookie's case took 24 years there certainly isn't a rush to the chamber.)

c Rehabilitation is a tough thing but how does a small number of death penalty cases change the entire environment? I'd think the whole min to super-max prison setup deals with that directly.

d No system is perfect, we also arrest and imprison innocent people. Should we stop that?

e Actually there's some statistics that it in fact does deter crime. From the link I provided: The paper draws in part on a study conducted at Emory University, which found a direct association between the reauthorization of the death penalty, in 1977, and reduced homicide rates. The Emory researchers' "conservative estimate" was that on average, every execution deters eighteen murders.

f The victim is not carrying out revenge. Society is enforcing its rules. What exactly is a fair punishment for cruel and wanton murder? Tookie shot 4 people with a pump shotgun at close range (at least one was lying on his back at the time).

I switch back and forth as far as the death penalty goes. Sometimes I don't think we should have it, sometime I don't think it's strict enough. (For some monsters the punishment SHOULD be cruel and unusual.) It's obviously a very emotional thing.

Tough question (1)

StalinsNotDead (764374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249584)

In most regards, I'm in favor of death for those who deserve it. The problem I see is that there's no 100% fool-proof way to determine absolute guilt or innocence.

I would rather the guilty go unpunished than see the innocent suffer. Although I think the option for death should be provided, should the convicted wish to speed things along.

At present, I would probably select death over life in prison, even if innocent. It's cheaper for the taxpayers. Prison is not populated by people I would think of as friendly sociable types. Your toilet is right next to your bed, and that's only a good thing in the event of binge drinking. I'd rather take the unknown of an afterlife than the known of a miserable existence with no hope of recovery.

Besides, if I was able to keep my sense of humor I might come up with some good last words. My opinion, the situation is unpleasant enough. Might as well make a joke to alleviate tension.

"KNOCK, KNOCK"
"Who's there?"
"Hopefully the governor."

Maybe give Jack Handey a nod with a Deep Thought

If I was being executed by injection, I'd clean up my cell real neat. Then, when they came to get me, I'd say, "Injection? I thought you said inspection'." They'd probably feel real bad, and maybe I could get out of it.

Infallibility (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14249973)

There are many reasons to think capital punishment is a bad idea. But for me, one alone is sufficient to decide the issue.

So long as our court system mistakenly convicts the innocent, the death penalty should not be allowed.

Of course, this means an indefinite ban. As things stand, it is very clear that our court system occasionally convicts people of crimes they did not commit. Some of these mistaken convictions have led to executions. This has more consequences than one might think.

It's not just that a person has been mistakenly put to death. It's also that the real killer is still walking free. Punishing an innocent person necessarily mneans that a guilty person goes unpunished. This is bad in all cases, but it is much worse in capital cases.

We all suspect that when lawyers are involved, the law has a tendency to take precedence over justice. Both sides seek to shape the evidence to fit their position with little regard for the pursuit of truth. As a result the truth may well be misplaced. The prosecutor at trial has no incentive and no mandate to find the true guilty party, but seeks only to convict the defendant at hand. (This cuts both ways, of course... just ask O.J.)

Once a conviction is secured, the prosecutor's job is to defend the conviction during appeals by all legal means, especially by excluding new exculpatory evidence. Indeed, the DA's very job may depend on securing and defending capital convictions. In case after capital case, the prosecution has tenaciously defended convictions that were clearly wrong or achieved through an obviously unfair trial. They don't want to admit that they might have been wrong. Not only would that be personally embarrasing, it would be a professional disaster. In capital cases, the stakes are higher for everyone... including the prosecutor.

But so long as those false convictions stand, no one looks for the real killer. If the wrongly convicted party is put to death, no one ever will.

That's not justice, that's scapegoating. That's not good enough.

C, and some grammar nazism (1)

sielwolf (246764) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250256)

Penal? [webster.com]

Historically capital crimes used to be things running the gamut to including things that we consider misdemeanors now (petty theft) or failing to pay taxes. I'm trying to remember but around 1800 there were something like hundreds of crimes punishable by death on the British law books. Now there may be two (murder with intent and genocide, which might be considered murder one * n). This narrowing sometimes reminds me of the End of War conversation where the reasoning goes that we are entering an enlightened era that is beyond such things. The criticism is that such broad thinking ignores the fundamentals of being human and actually allows tragedy to thrive (e.g. it was the argument proposed between the two world wars).

It's important to understand most murders in the world: 99% of induced deaths are unintentional aggravated assault (e.g. drunk driving and hitting someone) which no first world nation considers a capital crime. 99% of the remaining one percent represent the bulk of what most consider "murders" and they consist of thus: they are crimes of passion (i.e. result of a split second choice, not a plotted intentional taking of life), between two people who know each other (often in a longterm relationship, often living together), and after the crime the suspect usually A. calls the police and B. admits to the crime without protest. In 99% of all murders the 911 operators actually have to tell the suspect avoid their first instinct which is to clean up the crime scene. Most will wait patiently for the police to arrive and take them away to the station. There are no high speed chases, no Law and Order-type snare of suspects, no dodging of accountability. This is your 2nd degree Murder. Prosecution of the crime is mostly administrative. Unless the death is particularly gruesome, this generally isn't upped to 1st degree which is the only time capital punishment is considered.

Abusive husband and drunken guy at the bar fall into the above. So that leaves us the last 0.00001 which are often the results of murders committed in the execution of some other crime (i.e. like Tookie did, during the execution of a robbery). First degree. Rarer still is the murderer who's sole goal is the killing.

We could then go into the psychological charactaristics that make someone a killer, but the problems are twofold: the known characteristics are fuzzy and are generally the same between 2nd and 1st degree murder. Second that goes into a sort of circular argument about crime prevention and punishment. Does any punishment really prevent crime? Are criminals actually rehabilitated or does our system only act as segregation? And often it is a question of contrafactuals: we all think of a murderer as an abstract when in fact the actual crimes are often the result of arbitrary congruence of things. If the husband had just gone to sleep, if the liquorstore owner had just locked the front door, if the last customer had waited one minute longer, it wouldn't have happened. Killing is often about opportunity, or cutting down someone's hand so they play one of the two cards they have left. A thousand lifetimes could have passed and that same person might never kill again. Or killed in the first place. So "rehabilitation" many times might be a red herring. It is no use if a rehabilitated man is sent back into the same situation that brought him to kill. Men aren't machines; you can't flick the Kill switch to off.

So rereading what people are saying here and I guess I wonder what the consequence of that would be on not the killers, but the rest of society at large. If the death penalty did not exist, would the rational conclusion be that preemptive killing of killers is viable? That's how many abused spouses end up killing their others: they realize that this person might not stop this time, this might be their last chance, and so they kill. In that case many would think it is justified but what about communities at large? Would they suspect the "hooligans" down at the corner who "terrorize" all of our daughters might end up doing something? "Can we risk it?" they might say. Who could say that their actions would be no less justified than a victim of abuse? And so what of killing our future killers? Is that justice or just petty vigilantism? That is rule by lynch mob and the strong arm. One could argue that this too is implausible. But then America has a whole history of such frontier law.

The government exists as an arbitor in cases where we can't allow ourselves sort it out among ourselves. The idea that our legal system provides justice means we don't have to tolerate a rule by those who feel they have to take justice into their own hands. The rules are agreed on and the system operates. The death penalty then isn't for prevention, but faith in the rule of law. As Che said, revolution only occurs in states where the majority no longer believe the system does right by them and there is no legal recourse.

So does that mean a death penalty might be out of place in some other country? Probably. As always, human beings have shown a proclivity to be right hard to pin down and organize. The way we are today might be polar opposite to where we are tomorrow or in a dozen years. As usual, elimination of poverty, education and jobs have proven to be the best panaceas for crime. But those are big problems. This death penalty talk is simpler, academic. It is more clearly defined which lends itself to debate. The hope might be that if we somehow crack this, the larger problems will unravel on their own. ;p

Re:C, and some grammar nazism (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14251662)

I'm trying to remember but around 1800 there were something like hundreds of crimes punishable by death on the British law books. Now there may be two (murder with intent and genocide, which might be considered murder one * n).

There were over 200 crimes, including such gems as being in the company of gypsies for a month. Over time, those were gradually reduced to only the most serious crimes, until the death penalty was abolished in the UK in 1965 for the general case. Two exceptions remained, treason and violent piracy, but the death penalty was abolished for those in 1998.

B. Against capital punishment (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250301)

Here is a world map displaying the countries and their use of capital punishment. [wikipedia.org] Note that Europe doesn't practice it, in part because admission into the European Union requires it's abolition or a moratorium. We should be more civilized than those who kill.

Re:B. Against capital punishment (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250805)

We should be more civilized than those who kill.

John McCain said something similar about not torturing POW's. Wish I could find the exact quote, but it was definately something to think about.

Re:B. Against capital punishment (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252505)

What a fine cohort the US is a member of. Some quality African 'states', the wonderfully tolerant Middle East, and such stalwarts of human rights as China and North Korea.

Re:B. Against capital punishment (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252959)

Exactly. Even most of Central and South America don't do capital punishment, nor Australia and New Zealand.

No! (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14250944)

I do NOT believe I deserve the death penalty. Seriously. No foolin'.

Keep Mekka B outta your crosshairs.

That is all for now.

Pro, with reservations (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14251853)

I seem to be in the minority here, but I'm mostly pro. I believe there are some people that can serve no useful purpose by continuing to live, and if that's the case, then by all means, end their lives (in a humane manner -- electrocution doesn't count IMHO). If someone has committed a suitably horrific crime, then how does society benefit by keeping them in jail for the rest of their lives? I can't see it, and indeed, I can see several downsides.

Will there be mistakes made? Yes. The system is flawed. Is it better to execute an innocent man than let 1000 guilty men live? Yes, in my opinion, it is. What if I were the innocent man? I like to think I'd still believe the same. I wouldn't like the outcome, certainly, but sometimes life sucks. What if it were 100 men, or 10 men, or 5? Well obviously, there's a tipping point, beyond which I wouldn't want to advocate the death penalty. But based on conversations with several people working in the criminal justice system, I'm reasonably confident that the chances of an innocent man being convicted of murder are relatively slim.

What I do believe, however, is that once convicted, the execution should take place relatively quickly. Off the top of my head, I'd say a handful of years and maybe 5 years at the absolute limit. 20 or 30 year appeals are just not even vaguely sane, and are a symptom of a corrupt society that values life for life's sake above common sense. Just accept that mistakes will be made, and try and fix the system to minimise those mistakes.

Pro (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14252543)

I'm in favor, mainly because it appears to solve a problem and I haven't heard any strong arguments that show it having miuch of a relative downside. There are a few that look good at first glance, though:

  • Death can't be undone -- what if you find out the convicted person is actually innocent? I don't like this argument, though, because just about any sort of punishment can't be undone. (Can you undo imprisonment? At best maybe you can claim imposition of a fine can be undone, but even that is iffy.) People talk about how inaccurate the justice system is, but where the fuck is your outrage when someone is falsely imprisoned, or when your neighbor gets a parking ticket that they didn't deserve? If you "solve" the "undo" problem by getting rid of death, you just take away some of the drive to strive for a fairer system, and we will all be further condemned to misery.

    Stop bitching about executions, and start bitching about what happened in court that led to that execution!

    How would I feel if I were falsely convicted of murder and strapped down on the table? I would feel hopeless, enraged, etc -- the same way I'd feel if imprisoned or given a crushing fine that I couldn't afford. Perhaps the magnitude changes, but the overall flavor doesn't. Injustice sucks regardless of whether it's a question of life or death.

    I guess that's why I hate this argument so much. Abolishing death penalty due to a bad justice system, smells too much like acceptance of a bad justice system.

  • Two wrongs don't make a right. This argument only works if you absolutely define killing as wrong. Fundies will whip out their "thou shalt not kill" and I'll whip out my fundy-smacker. ;-) While you're abolishing your death penalty, go ahead and abolish your armed forces too.

    Variation: Killing is uncivilized, barbaric, "cruel and unusual", etc. It's pretty uncivilized to imprison someone, too, and fuckin' barbaric to take their assets without their consent. What part of "punish" don't you understand? Yes, punishment consists of doing nasty things to someone. That's just what it is.

  • We shouldn't play god. Bah. Someone has to play god, and if it's not going to be us, then it's going to be them. If you're so convinced that criminals will be properly judged in the afterlife, then there's no need to worry about society does to them, since we'll all be judged too. Damn, the whole "leave it to the gods" point pisses me off. Why the fuck do you people bother to have a society at all, if that's how you feel?

  • It's expensive. Well, identify what part of it is making it cost more than other forms of punishment, and get rid of that stuff. It should be cheaper, and if it's not, then it's time to bring in the auditors.

Re:Pro (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14256095)

But you CAN release someone from prison when their conviction is overturned. You CAN pay them compensation.

Easy, but hard (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14253274)

IF we could have certain knowledge that everyone killed in the name of punishment really was truly guilty of the heinous crimes they were convicted of, I would be all for the death penalty. The other caveat of course being that it be reserved for truly heinous crimes. Jeffrey Dahmer for one. BTK for another. Killing the guy who you found in your wife's bed, in a fit of passion, is not a heinous death penalty crime (though certainly one deserving serious consequences nonetheless).

The problem I personally have with the death penalty is not the State playing God, but rather the seemingly infinite number of ways for fallable human prosecutors and lawyers to fuck up and kill innocent people. From incompentence to willful evidence tampering, I've heard of cases of all of it, and far too frequently to have any confidence that our "justice" system is killing the right people more than 80% of the time. And there is no room for any slop, much less such a huge amount of it, in a process that eliminates ANY chance to correct the injustice of an innocent person being convicted of crimes they did not commit.

No problem with it, except... (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14261212)

If the condemned is later found to, beyond reasonable doubt, be not guilty of the crime, the prosecutor(s) (including the DA or AG as the case may be), judge(s), and jurors are all considered to be guilty of murder in the first degree (it was most definitely premeditated) and thus punished accordingly. That, more than anything else, will preserve the death penalty only for the cases where it is absolutely true that the accused is guilty.

Half of B anyway (1)

Ra5pu7in (603513) | more than 8 years ago | (#14261946)

I don't buy the free love for all bit, but I do think we need a better option than the death penalty since it reduces us (the society) to the level of killers. As others have pointed out, a false positive is irreversible - once dead a man who was innocent cannot be restored any more than the victims of a killer can be. Our courts are not infallible nor is the appeals process infallible. Innocent people do get convicted and sentenced. Is even one man being killed in error acceptable? Personally I don't think so, though this isn't the only reason I disagree with the death penalty.

I also have to consider the reasoning behind the death penalty. It is generally vengeful or punitive - we have to get revenge for the victims or he has to be punished for what he did. Those are no more acceptable reasons for killing in a court than wealth or adultery, yet they are accepted as answers when the state holds the smoking gun in something more pre-meditated than just about any other murder out there. In no way does the death penalty bring a killer to feel responsibility for what they have done. Nor does it do anything to make reparations to the victims (impossible) or their families and friend (not that such can be made since a human life once snuffed is irreplacable).

A couple of people talked about the message we might be sending other potential killers. A killer is rarely stopping to think about the consequences of his actions. He is especially not thinking "Well, when I get caught and convicted ..." I'm reminded of something a bank teller once told me - that the people smart enough to rob banks successfully seldom do. Many criminals don't think past tossing a gun in a trash can or stuffing a body in a freezer. The most cold-blooded killers, those who do think way ahead, still don't tend to think of themselves getting caught, tried and sentenced. If any message is being sent it is heard loudest by those who didn't need the warning and least by those who do.

Easy. (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14261988)

Death for Red States, Life for Blue States.

But seriously, we should get rid of it. Every so often there's a story about some guy on death row who gets freed due to some new evidence or tools available. So I don't think it's unreasonable to conclude that back in the days before DNA and other forensic tools were widespread innocent people were put to death for crimes they didn't commit. Just thinking about that makes me sick. I say replace the death penalty with life without parole and be done with it. Besides, I really think that spending the rest of your life in jail is worse than being put to death. I think it's clear enough that death doesn't really work as a deterrent anyway, so I don't think taking it away will result in an increase in violent crimes. That being said, we will never abolish the death penalty. Getting rid of the death penalty will happen when we stop driving SUVs and voting for Red or Blue. We are too stubborn or arrogant or whatever to change anything.

We need the Death Penalty implemented MORE often (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270185)

You ever look at the rate of drug use in Singapore?

It is next to zero.

You know why?

THEY FRY DRUG DEALERS.

You want to tell all the crack babies that drugs are a victimless crime? How about I take a scalpel t your nervous system and see if you feel the same way afterwards?

Now of course you would also have to make FRAMING someone as a drug dealer also punishable by death.

The entire scheme likely only wouldn't work due to how f*cked up and racist our society still is.

Likely would get rid of drugs really fast though. Who would want to deal when they KNEW that they would end up dead for it within a year or two?

The entire market would dry up. Nobody would like long enough to get amass a "fortune" as a drug dealer.

Afterwards if the problem was not completely eradicated, we could implement a similar policy for usage of certain drugs (crack, heroin, meth).

Then with all the butt loads of money that we would be saving having finally "won" the "war on drugs" we could actually start fixing some problems in this nation!

Yes I know that there would be a ton of litigations, but the government would just need to quickly press through a number of cases initially in order to get the word out that they meant business.

Seriously, talk to some kids from Singapore some time, they will be amazed that you even KNOW anyone who does drugs.

Talk to some kids from the US, in all likelyhood they know where to GET drugs.

Compare and contrast.
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