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DreamPipEr
Since 1976 there has been 997 executions in the United States. There are several cases of possibly innocent people being sent to their deaths for crimes they didn’t commit. According to the Death Penalty Information Center:
QUOTE
There is no way to tell how many of the approximately 1,000 people executed since 1976 may also have been innocent. Courts do not generally entertain claims of innocence when the defendant is dead. Defense attorneys move on to other cases where clients' lives can still be saved. source

Recently, evidence has been uncovered that there is another case of possible (or probable) innocence. Ruben Cantu was executed in 1993 and now the key eyewitness (one of the victims) and his co-defendant have recanted their testimony. The Prosecutor also admits he shouldn’t have sought the death penalty when the only evidence was an eye witness.
story here
and here

Questions for Debate:

Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?

Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why?
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Vibiana
QUOTE(DreamPipEr @ Nov 22 2005, 05:44 PM)
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society?  Is life, without parole, a viable alternative? 
 
Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.?  Why? 
[/b]
*



The death penalty should be abolished. By executing people, all the government or state does is lower itself to the level of the murderer. If killing is wrong, then it is wrong no matter WHO does it, the individual or the state.

LWOP should be the "ultimate" penalty.
Sleeper
QUOTE(Vibiana @ Nov 22 2005, 01:05 PM)

The death penalty should be abolished.  By executing people, all the government or state does is lower itself to the level of the murderer.  If killing is wrong, then it is wrong no matter WHO does it, the individual or the state.

LWOP should be the "ultimate" penalty.
*



That is a tremendous fallacy Vibiana..

From Wikepedia

QUOTE
Example 1: Material Fallacy
James argues:

Application of the death penalty is killing a human being.
Killing a human being is wrong.
Therefore, application of the death penalty is wrong.
This argument claims to prove the death penalty is wrong. This particular argument has the form of a categorical syllogism. Any argument must have premises as well as a conclusion. In this case we need to ask what the premises are, that is the set of assumptions the proposer of the argument can expect the interlocutor to grant. The first assumption is almost true by definition: the death penalty is the judicially ordered execution of a prisoner as a punishment for a serious crime. The second assumption is less clear as to its meaning. Since the assertion has no quantifiers of any kind, it could mean any one of the following:

Every act of killing a human being is wrong.
Most acts of killing a human being are wrong.
All acts of killing a human being are wrong, except those that are carried out for some legitimate purpose such as deterring serious crime.
Some acts of killing a human being are wrong.
In any of the last three interpretations, the above syllogism would then fail to have validated its second premise. James may try to assume that his interlocutor believes every act of killing is wrong; if the interlocutor grants this then the argument is valid. In this case, the interlocutor is essentially conceding the point to James. However, the interlocutor is more likely to believe some acts of killing are not wrong, for instance those carried out in self defense or in legitimate warfare; and in this case James is not much better off than he was before he formulated the argument, since he now has to prove the assertion that the death penalty is not a legimate form of killing, which is a disguised form of the original thesis. From the point of view of the interlocutor, James commits the logical fallacy of begging the question.

Vibiana
QUOTE(Sleeper @ Nov 22 2005, 06:10 PM)
That is a tremendous fallacy Vibiana..

From Wikepedia

QUOTE
Example 1: Material Fallacy
James argues:

Application of the death penalty is killing a human being.
Killing a human being is wrong.
Therefore, application of the death penalty is wrong.
This argument claims to prove the death penalty is wrong. This particular argument has the form of a categorical syllogism. Any argument must have premises as well as a conclusion. In this case we need to ask what the premises are, that is the set of assumptions the proposer of the argument can expect the interlocutor to grant. The first assumption is almost true by definition: the death penalty is the judicially ordered execution of a prisoner as a punishment for a serious crime. The second assumption is less clear as to its meaning. Since the assertion has no quantifiers of any kind, it could mean any one of the following:

Every act of killing a human being is wrong.
Most acts of killing a human being are wrong.
All acts of killing a human being are wrong, except those that are carried out for some legitimate purpose such as deterring serious crime.
Some acts of killing a human being are wrong.
In any of the last three interpretations, the above syllogism would then fail to have validated its second premise. James may try to assume that his interlocutor believes every act of killing is wrong; if the interlocutor grants this then the argument is valid. In this case, the interlocutor is essentially conceding the point to James. However, the interlocutor is more likely to believe some acts of killing are not wrong, for instance those carried out in self defense or in legitimate warfare; and in this case James is not much better off than he was before he formulated the argument, since he now has to prove the assertion that the death penalty is not a legimate form of killing, which is a disguised form of the original thesis. From the point of view of the interlocutor, James commits the logical fallacy of begging the question.


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And your point would be ... ?
Wertz
I would happily amend the argument of the hypothetical "James":

Application of the death penalty is killing a human being.
Every act of killing a human being is wrong.
Therefore, application of the death penalty is wrong.

No logical fallacy there. thumbsup.gif

Further, the Wiki argument itself contains a bit of a fallacy. "All acts of killing a human being are wrong, except those that are carried out for some legitimate purpose such as deterring serious crime." This assumes that there are acts of killing human beings that do deter serious crime - yet no foundation whatsoever is provided for this assumption.

By the way, I'm just helping poor "James" out here - this is not necessarily my own argument. wink2.gif
Sleeper
QUOTE(Wertz @ Nov 22 2005, 01:55 PM)
I would happily amend the argument of the hypothetical "James":

Application of the death penalty is killing a human being.
Every act of killing a human being is wrong.
Therefore, application of the death penalty is wrong.

No logical fallacy there. thumbsup.gif

Further, the Wiki argument itself contains a bit of a fallacy. "All acts of killing a human being are wrong, except those that are carried out for some legitimate purpose such as deterring serious crime." This assumes that there are acts of killing human beings that do deter serious crime - yet no foundation whatsoever is provided for this assumption.

By the way, I'm just helping poor "James" out here - this is not necessarily my own argument. wink2.gif
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That's not entirely true though either.... If I were at my home and an intruder were attempting to kill my family and I took his life before he acted I would have prevented/deterred him from killing.

But I think we are getting away from the debate questions at hand.

But my point about the fallacy still stands.
aevans176
QUOTE(Vibiana @ Nov 22 2005, 01:05 PM)
QUOTE(DreamPipEr @ Nov 22 2005, 05:44 PM)
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society?  Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?  
  
Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.?   Why?  
[/b]
*



The death penalty should be abolished. By executing people, all the government or state does is lower itself to the level of the murderer. If killing is wrong, then it is wrong no matter WHO does it, the individual or the state.

LWOP should be the "ultimate" penalty.
*



I believe that the death penalty is not used enough, and hence not a true deterrant.

Our Supreme Court's history of protecting criminal activity via judicial activism (i.e. Miranda v Arizona or Mapp v Ohio) has inhibited the Justice system from making prison terms or the "system" a true deterrant. If a car thief, rapist, or murder knew that they'd be dealt with swift and harsh punishment, many of us would feel better about walking the streets at night. If technicalities protected more victims than they did criminals, chances are that the death penalty wouldn't be necessary. However, when a man w/ a history of sexual assaults is caught with a stolen car, but is let go due to a Supreme Court decision (umm... Miranda), we have a problem as a society.

Yogurt
QUOTE(aevans176 @ Nov 22 2005, 04:43 PM)
I believe that the death penalty is not used enough, and hence not a true deterrant.


I have to side with Aevans on this one. "Justice delayed is justice denied"
If the would-be perps knew that within 90 days or so they were going to get a warm and fuzzy feeling in their vein I would be willing to bet there would be a change in behavior. If not, it would irrefutably reduce recidivism.
The scales are tiled heavily on the behalf of the defendants. If we refused to accept the risk of penalizing even one person by mistake, we could have no justice at all.
So a person recants their testimony, how are we to know "oh this time he's really really telling the truth". The testified in open court under penalty of perjury. After 10 years of relentless pressure by those lawyers who believe no one should be held accountable for their actions, why should we be surprised if they change their stories?
moif
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? Is life, without parole, a viable alternative? Yes. Life imprisonment is just as effective a method of punishing the guilty.

Some people make the argument that the tax payers shouldn't have to pay for the upkeep of murderers but I don't see why murderers shouldn't work to support themselves.


Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why? Yes.

For the very simple reason that you cannot return what you've taken.



There is not one single supporter of the death penalty who would continue to support execution by the state if they found themselves on death row, charged with a crime they hadn't committed.

ConservPat
QUOTE
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?

Yes it does. There is absolutely no justification for killing innocent people, period. Don't get me wrong, I want to see murderers and rapists dead, but if there's a chance that they aren't guilty then what do we do? I'm not sure that there's an answer to that question, but it is extremely important.

QUOTE
Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why?

Oy. Wow, I'm extremely up in the air on this issue. I hate the idea of paying for a rapist's or murderer's food and necessities. On the other hand, "life in prison" isn't life in prison any more...So my thought is, okay, if we do away with the death penalty, the mandatory penalty for murderers is life [as in until you DIE] without parole. Having said that, jail should be hell, no reforming it, no making it more confortable for prisoners...If you murder somone and go to jail for life, you should be wishing for death every waking minute. So, yes, do away with it, and make mandatory life sentences for criminals.

CP us.gif
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aevans176
QUOTE(moif @ Nov 22 2005, 05:07 PM)
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? Is life, without parole, a viable alternative? Yes. Life imprisonment is just as effective a method of punishing the guilty.

Some people make the argument that the tax payers shouldn't have to pay for the upkeep of murderers but I don't see why murderers shouldn't work to support themselves.


Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why? Yes.

For the very simple reason that you cannot return what you've taken.



There is not one single supporter of the death penalty who would continue to support execution by the state if they found themselves on death row, charged with a crime they hadn't committed.
*



Ahh... in contrast to all the supporters of bigger prisons and hard labor when they've been imprisoned wrongfully?? I don't really think many men imprisoned wrongfully are big fans of the system at all.

That being said, since the beginning of forensic evidence and modern science, how many people are even wrongfully convicted?

How can you quantify in US history the number of people that have been executed wrongfully? How does that contrast to the large increase in crime since the inception of judicial activism in the 1960's?

The whole idea of "justice" is to protect victims and potential future victims by deterring those proned to criminal activity. Prison should be punishment, and for the most abhorrid crimes, the death penalty (if used effectively) might prevent some rapes, murders, etc.
ConservPat
QUOTE
The whole idea of "justice" is to protect victims and potential future victims by deterring those proned to criminal activity. Prison should be punishment, and for the most abhorrid crimes, the death penalty (if used effectively) might prevent some rapes, murders, etc.

The death penalty might kill some innocent people. The whole crux of the debate is whether it is acceptable to kill innocence in an attempt to protect more innocence. How do you justify doing that?

CP us.gif
DreamPipEr
QUOTE(aevans176)
Our Supreme Court's history of protecting criminal activity via judicial activism (i.e. Miranda v Arizona or Mapp v Ohio) has inhibited the Justice system from making prison terms or the "system" a true deterrant. If a car thief, rapist, or murder knew that they'd be dealt with swift and harsh punishment, many of us would feel better about walking the streets at night. If technicalities protected more victims than they did criminals, chances are that the death penalty wouldn't be necessary. However, when a man w/ a history of sexual assaults is caught with a stolen car, but is let go due to a Supreme Court decision (umm... Miranda), we have a problem as a society.


To be clear are you stating that the courts are not meant to interpret the Constitution? Also are you stating that suspects, who may not be as educated as you and I, do not have a right to know their constitutional rights?

Also I am unclear as to your answer to the debate question below?
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?

QUOTE(Yogurt)
I have to side with Aevans on this one. "Justice delayed is justice denied" 
If the would-be perps knew that within 90 days or so they were going to get a warm and fuzzy feeling in their vein I would be willing to bet there would be a change in behavior. If not, it would irrefutably reduce recidivism. 
The scales are tiled heavily on the behalf of the defendants. If we refused to accept the risk of penalizing even one person by mistake, we could have no justice at all. 
So a person recants their testimony, how are we to know "oh this time he's really really telling the truth". The testified in open court under penalty of perjury. After 10 years of relentless pressure by those lawyers who believe no one should be held accountable for their actions, why should we be surprised if they change their stories?

The scales are tiled heavily to the defendants for a good reason. There are people prosecuting and convicting these people. People who make mistakes. People who have their own biases. So I guess for you the risk of executing an innocent is not so important. The law of averages. Who cares if someones mother/father/sister/soul mate is out there missing their loved one? Just another casualty of this so called justice.

As far as the those that lied under oath you fail to recognize that they were possibly coerced. The KEY witness was an illegal alien who hadn't been in the country long. Do you think he KNEW he could refuse? Why on earth are we sending people to death row when the only evidence is a HUMAN?

QUOTE(aevans176)
That being said, since the beginning of forensic evidence and modern science, how many people are even wrongfully convicted?

There is no definitive number number but it happens. The link in my original post gives some cases of possible and probable innocence in capital cases. The Innocence Project is a private organization dedicated to helping those where post conviction DNA testing can prove innocence. They don't deal with cases where DNA is not available. Sadly, DNA is not always available. Like in the Cruz case. This man was executed on witnesss testimony ONLY.


AuthorMusician
QUOTE
Oy. Wow, I'm extremely up in the air on this issue. I hate the idea of paying for a rapist's or murderer's food and necessities. On the other hand, "life in prison" isn't life in prison any more...So my thought is, okay, if we do away with the death penalty, the mandatory penalty for murderers is life [as in until you DIE] without parole. Having said that, jail should be hell, no reforming it, no making it more confortable for prisoners...If you murder somone and go to jail for life, you should be wishing for death every waking minute. So, yes, do away with it, and make mandatory life sentences for criminals.


CP, I'm going to go bleeding-heart on you, so fair warning mrsparkle.gif

Seems the notion of rehabilitation and reabsorption into society has gone away, flown the coop, taken a permanent vacation on Saturn. Not only should the death penalty be again banned, but the old bleeding-heart ideas need to be readdressed. I don't think anyone proved them wrong, and the alternative has demonstrated itself as a big, sucking spiral that's pushed our stats regarding incarcerated citizens way over the top for developed nations.

So, do away with the war on drugs. That will empty half the inmates, thus immediately taking away the overcrowding problem. Once that's done, then life in prison without parole can mean just that. But I'm against making prison a living hell. What good does that do? If any of these folks break out, they'll be very dangerous and probably armed, and what do they have to lose? Just blow everybody away for as long as can be sustained.

I say keep them all stoned and watching The Daily Show, Gilligan's Island reruns, Fantasia and Spinal Tap. Give 'em all beads to work and herbal tea to drink. Sell the beadwork to help defray costs. Bring in Dali Lama types to get them meditating while singing Bob Dylan songs. Let them start off-the-wall businesses selling whatever stuff they dream up while in the pot haze. Hey, it worked for Rolling Stone and Celestial Seasonings.

So if a stoner breaks out of prison, what do you suppose he will do? Go murder people or knock on the door to get back in for the free stash? I strongly suspect the latter. He probably broke out on accident, fell asleep in the laundry truck.

Granted, some will do crime just to do the time. There was a time that some did the crime to get health coverage. My answer to that is to make straight society so attractive and compelling that only the imbalanced ones go the slammer on purpose, and why wait for the crime? Just allow voluntary admittance, but once in, no going back.

So you get rehab to a drugged harmless state and reabsorption by allowing businesses to happen. The rest of society works hard to keep it as attractive and compelling a place as it can be.

I'm kidding. I must be kidding. But know what? This idea sure beats what we have now.
ConservPat
QUOTE
CP, I'm going to go bleeding-heart on you, so fair warning

Yeah, what else is new w00t.gif tongue.gif laugh.gif

QUOTE
Seems the notion of rehabilitation and reabsorption into society has gone away, flown the coop, taken a permanent vacation on Saturn. Not only should the death penalty be again banned, but the old bleeding-heart ideas need to be readdressed. I don't think anyone proved them wrong, and the alternative has demonstrated itself as a big, sucking spiral that's pushed our stats regarding incarcerated citizens way over the top for developed nations.

I hear you, but, rehabilitation to me takes away from what prison should be...punishment. You kill someone, you go to jail, you're punished, it sucks...You don't get a life lesson for killing someone. If someone killed someone close to me, I'm not going to feel as if justice is served if that person is giddy as a school-girl in some convention center jail doing arts and crafts with their new BFFs. If you commit a crime, you're punished for it, if we focus on rehabilitation, punishment is neglected and justice goes unserved. Where is the justice or balance in this scenario:
Guy kills mother of two. Guy is found guilty. Guy goes to jail. Guy learns how to sew, say please and thank you, aquires a taste for Vivaldi. Guy gets let out in 8 years. Guy moves into the same city as mother's family. Guy rejoins society.

Where exactly is the deterrent in that [exaggerated] situation? Why should someone get the CHANCE to live a normal life after KILLING someone and ruining others' lives? That isn't right and it certainly isn't just.

QUOTE
I say keep them all stoned and watching The Daily Show, Gilligan's Island reruns, Fantasia and Spinal Tap. Give 'em all beads to work and herbal tea to drink. Sell the beadwork to help defray costs. Bring in Dali Lama types to get them meditating while singing Bob Dylan songs. Let them start off-the-wall businesses selling whatever stuff they dream up while in the pot haze. Hey, it worked for Rolling Stone and Celestial Seasonings

I understand that this is partially satire. However, I can't possibly find a good reason for allowing someone to live a happy, normal life after he/she ends the life of one or more people and ruins the lives of many others. That isn't justice, and it isn't punishment.

CP us.gif
moif
To some degree I agree with CP. Prison is meant to be a punishment and should not be a holiday camp.... but on the other hand, I don't see why life itself must be a punishment given that the actual punishment is the loss of liberty prison forces onto the criminal. I think how you treat other people says a lot about who you are.
If you treat people like animals then at heart, how are you any better than they?

I would argue that prisoners should be put to work and the profits they generate should go to their own upkeep thus keeping the burden of their lives off the taxpayers.
Any surplus profit they make could go to buying them certain 'luxuries', TV, books, magazines... stuff like that. I don't think prisoners should be allowed access to the internet though.

Those who refused to work would have to accept the most dire conditions but for those who wished to improve their lives within the system there should be the chance to better their lives.


QUOTE(Aevens176)
Ahh... in contrast to all the supporters of bigger prisons and hard labor when they've been imprisoned wrongfully?? I don't really think many men imprisoned wrongfully are big fans of the system at all.
Bah! I invite you to choose between death row and life imprisonment as an innocent man convicted by mistake.

NiteGuy
QUOTE(aevans176 @ Nov 22 2005, 04:20 PM)
QUOTE(moif @ Nov 22 2005, 05:07 PM)
There is not one single supporter of the death penalty who would continue to support execution by the state if they found themselves on death row, charged with a crime they hadn't committed.
*



Ahh... in contrast to all the supporters of bigger prisons and hard labor when they've been imprisoned wrongfully?? I don't really think many men imprisoned wrongfully are big fans of the system at all.

No, aevans, I don't imagine they are. However, if a mistake has been found to have been made after ten years, we can at least release the innocent person, offer him a sincere apology, and some cash to somewhat make up for the mistake. How do you propose making it up to someone you've already executed? Somehow, I don't think "oops" is gonna cover it.

QUOTE
That being said, since the beginning of forensic evidence and modern science, how many people are even wrongfully convicted?

Well, there are some crimes, like the one that started this thread, where forensic evidence is unavailable, or inconclusive in placing someone at a crime. That and the fact that, from the story we have from the witnesses in this case, one wasn't sure, but was pressured to identify the suspect by police. And this is what was taken to the courtroom. Eyewitness tesimony, as almost anyone will tell you, is the least reliable evidence of all. A life shouldn't hang in the balance because of it.

QUOTE
How can you quantify in US history the number of people that have been executed wrongfully?  How does that contrast to the large increase in crime since the inception of judicial activism in the 1960's?

And what exactly does one have to do with the other? Either innocent people are being incarcerated or executed wrongly, or they are not. The rise in crime overall, has nothing to do with this at all, except insofar as perhaps more mistakes are being made, by prosecuters who have to be seen as tough on crime, and prosecute on the thinnest of evidence, or no real evidence at all, to pad their records. And please.....Miranda as judicial activism? Try reading a law book.

QUOTE
The whole idea of "justice" is to protect victims and potential future victims by deterring those proned to criminal activity.
No question. Again, what does that have to do with imprisoning or executing innocent people? If you got the wrong guy to begin with, and the real "bad guy" is still roaming the streets, are the victims and potential victims really any safer? I would argue not.

QUOTE
Prison should be punishment, and for the most abhorrid crimes, the death penalty (if used effectively) might prevent some rapes, murders, etc.

You'd certainly think so, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, no study ever conducted has ever shown this to be the case. And it's not the length of time it takes to go from conviction to execution. It's because these folks don't think they are ever going to be caught. They all think they can outsmart the police.

So, if they think they aren't going to be caught to begin with, what makes you think that the Death Penalty is any kind of deterent? These guys don't believe they are even going to go to prison, much less the electric chair.
VDemosthenes
QUOTE(DreamPipEr @ Nov 22 2005, 12:44 PM)
Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.?  Why? 
*



Without hesitation. Of course, the death penalty must end. By executing countless upon thousands of people, we ourselves as a nation are not serving justice anymore, but a cruel obsession with blood and violence. America is letting itself slip into a position it may not be able to resurface from. The fact of the matter is, that no matter how many lives are ended, no matter how many countless of hours it takes to put a person on death row and no matter how many articles are written about such a person: that that person's death will never bring back the person or persons they would be executed for murdering.

A wise man once said "an eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind." I could never agree with any one sentiment more. By ending life, are we not just stripping away at our own self-worth. If, as a nation, we cherish life, how can we mourn one minute for the loss of one individual and then catcall and demand the sacrifice of their killer? Such hypocrisy. If we truly cherish life, we should be taking steps to preserve it, not take a life for "justice's" sake.

Justice should require a criminal to live out their lives in the present state of condition they are in when they arrive at the facility they are confined to-- to end their life only means further tragedy, the likes of which are hoped to be avoided by placing them in the state's custody. Whether government-regulated or not, the ending of a life is a murder. So to murder a murder simply adds another sin to a long list, and so, to spin-off a quote of another wise man... where does the buck stop?


quarkhead
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?

Yes, of course it does. And that is only one reason why the death penalty is wrong. I must say though, the question as worded is misleading. It's obvious from responses like Aevans,' where he talked about wanting to feel safe walking down the street, that we tend to conflate the "violent murderers" on death row with the general safety of the populace. In fact, the vast majority of murders, including the murders committed by people on death row, are personal and specific, not random and widespread. Inmates on death row are not generally people who will automatically kill anyone in their vicinity. With the exception of certain serial killers, most murderers are people who either kill someone specific for a specific reason, or who have a specific goal, and don't care who gets in their way. This is NOT a defense of murderers. I find the taking of human life to be an awful crime. It's just that society as a whole isn't really made any safer with these people in jail or executed. The type of people (for example) who walk into a store or climb a tower and start shooting random people fit a general profile. They tend to not have criminal records, and they certainly don't tend to be ex-cons out after a murder hitch.

To me, the death penalty is taking the easy way. It's us being controlled by our own fears. We support executions, we throw money into building more and more prisons, instead of doing the harder work of addressing our fears, and societally, addressing the root causes of crime. Basing our criminal justice system solely on punishment is very... Old Testament, I guess you could call it. Thinking of our problems in terms of redemption and rehabilitation is more New Testament, and that's how I tend to think of this issue.


Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why?

In addition to what I said above, I'll only add this: since we are often defined by the company we keep, here are the countries practicing the death penalty today:

AFGHANISTAN, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, BAHAMAS, BAHRAIN, BANGLADESH, BARBADOS, BELARUS, BELIZE, BOTSWANA, BURUNDI, CAMEROON, CHAD, CHINA, COMOROS, CONGO (Democratic Republic), CUBA, DOMINICA, EGYPT, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, ERITREA, ETHIOPIA, GABON, GHANA, GUATEMALA, GUINEA, GUYANA, INDIA, INDONESIA, IRAN, IRAQ, JAMAICA, JAPAN, JORDAN, KAZAKSTAN, KOREA (North), KOREA (South), KUWAIT, KYRGYZSTAN, LAOS, LEBANON, LESOTHO, LIBYA, MALAWI, MALAYSIA, MONGOLIA, NIGERIA, OMAN, PAKISTAN, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY, PHILIPPINES, QATAR, RWANDA, SAINT CHRISTOPHER & NEVIS, SAINT LUCIA, SAINT VINCENT & GRENADINES, SAUDI ARABIA, SIERRA LEONE, SINGAPORE, SOMALIA, SUDAN, SWAZILAND, SYRIA, TAIWAN, TAJIKISTAN, TANZANIA, THAILAND, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, UGANDA, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, UZBEKISTAN, VIET NAM, YEMEN, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE

The top four countries in terms of the number of executions are China, Iran, Vietnam, and the U.S.
Julian
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society?

Yes, I think it does. Perhaps I feel this way because miscarriages of justice seem to get more press and media attention here in the UK than they do in the USA. We have our cases of convicted IRA bombers who were later exonerated because the forensic evidence was pretty much cobbled together.

These cases have been exhaustively covered in the press here, but were for many years officially defended more because of bloody-minded denial of any errors (deliberate or accidental) made by police or prosecutors, or because of the political pressure to be seen to catch, prosecute and convict, or just because of embarrassment at not wanting to be seen to have messed up on high-profile cases, as all murders are here. Murder cases in the UK are rarer than in the USA, and any such case that is vaguely out of the ordinary usually gets national press attention.

So, I think the public here is a lot more used to the idea here that police and prosecutors are not infalllible, even when, at the time, the case appears to be open-and-shut.

That said, there is still majority public support in favour of bringing capital punishment back in the UK, though this diminishes to a minority in deliberative polls that explore the arguments, rather than just ask people in the street "should we bring back the death penalty?".

By contrast, the US media - especially broadcast media - seems to treat court cases as final, and appeals as a defence device to draw out the process as long as possible. I can't think of a single widely-publicised American murder case in the last 30 years which has been reviewed and overturned. It just doesn't seem to interest anyone - even the few sympathetic film or TV portrayals are fictional, as if to say "yes, but this never really happens".

This seems to chime with a much wider unwillingness to question all kinds of public institutions - almost all political debate in favour of reform is aimed at party politicians or more social institutions, like welfare. I rarely hear anyone - here or elsewhere - saying anything about the legal, justice, prison or police (or military) systems that suggests they need institutional reform, rather than just reform around them (e.g. legislative support or public funding) to make their jobs easier.

Corruption in such institutions is sometimes mentioned, but incompetence hardly ever is, except for the common assumption that public defenders are useless, which I bet is every bit as much of a sweeping generalisation. It's as if anyone wearing a gown, a badge or a uniform suddenly loses their human capacity to make mistakes in the eyes of the American public.

Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?

Yes. Even life with parole, after maybe 30 or 40 years are served (depending on the age at which the offence was committed), with harsh parole conditions, is preferable to killing the innocent because arrest, prosecution and conviction was easier - less time-consuming, faster, more expedient - than thorough investigation in the first place.

Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why?

I think that the planned killing of an innocent victim on the assumption that they did something to deserve it is pretty much tantamount to murder itself. In the USA, the State is the people, so such erroneous executions (theoretically at least) turn all citizens of executing states into the worst kind of murderer - cold, calculating, with plenty of time to reconsider, with no visible sign of remorse, and unyielding in the assertion that the right to murder someone else is reserved soleely to themselves in future.

I think that the risk of executing the innocent is the most compelling argument, and the most pragmatic, against the death penalty. (The UK death penalty was revoked after further evidence made it clear that an executed prisoner was in fact innocent, and has been the key factor in keeping it off the statue books ever since - at least, until we signed the European Declaration of Human Rights, which bars all signatories from using the death penalty. If this argument is good enough for MPs, it's good enough for me.)

But there are other arguments against it. I don't find the idea of deterrance compelling (for the penal system as a whole, not just capital punishment), because I think the ideas that criminals only commit crimes after rationally carrying out a cost-benfit and risk analysis is dramaticlaly flawed. I think the vast majority of crimes (of all kinds) are completely opportunistic and spontaneous - most violent crime is carried out under the influence of drug or alcohol, after all. Consequences are just not considered in such situations. Or, they are planned in meticulous detail to avoid detection let alone prosecution, conviction and sentencing.

Police effectiveness - i.e. a high chance of getting caught - I can see that as a deterrant, but the chance that I might be executed if the crime was detected at all (let's say, the body was discovered, if I'd killed someone), and if there was sufficient evidence to charge me, and if that evidence was enough to warrant a prosecution, and if the presentation of that evidence by the prosecution was sufficient to convicne a jury to convict, and if my defence team were not able to introduce reasonable doubt into their minds so they wouldn't convict, and if the evidence as presented in court was enough to convince them that not only was I guilty, but was deserving of the death penalty... that's a hell of a lot of 'if's I have to be convinced of during my meticulous planning in advance to think that the venture is not worth it in the first place.

Assuming, through all of this, that my moral compass is sufficiently corrupted in the first place that I no longer think of myself as someone who would never kill anyone unless my own live was in the gravest possible danger...

So I don't see any sensible way that the sentence alone can ever be a deterrant to anyone sane. (And the insane don't have full control of themselves anyway, that's why it's a mitigating defence and we don't execute them.)

As for punishment? Well, I don't really believe in an afterlife, so 90 days of prison and then oblivion - even some kind of afterlife punishment I can't see, have no influence over, and will never be totally convinced even exists until after my own death even if it does actually exist - seems to me like a good deal compared to a life sentence, with or without parole. Given that cruel or unusual punishment is also (IMO) a good principle, my instincts for revenge can't be sated by making execution itself more painful or drawn out. So from this perspective, I think life imprionsment is rather worse punishment than the death penalty, since we all die eventually anyway, and most of the things we think of as worthwhile things to do in life require non-incarceration.

I don't think any convicted lifer should spend less than 30 years in prison, and the likes of mass murderers should indeed get life without parole. But I think it's important to remember that even while on parole, a lifer is never free in the same way the rest of us are - they can't live where they want, work how they want, or do most of the things we take for granted. This is only right, I think - the punishment lasts for life, even if the physical incarceration doesn't, and even if they've been rehabilitated fro a terrible mistake they made in their youth while drugged or drunk or both. If the mistake was terrible enough, being forced to live with it might be even worse for them than being forced to die for it.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE
AFGHANISTAN, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, BAHAMAS, BAHRAIN, BANGLADESH, BARBADOS, BELARUS, BELIZE, BOTSWANA, BURUNDI, CAMEROON, CHAD, CHINA, COMOROS, CONGO (Democratic Republic), CUBA, DOMINICA, EGYPT, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, ERITREA, ETHIOPIA, GABON, GHANA, GUATEMALA, GUINEA, GUYANA, INDIA, INDONESIA, IRAN, IRAQ, JAMAICA, JAPAN, JORDAN, KAZAKSTAN, KOREA (North), KOREA (South), KUWAIT, KYRGYZSTAN, LAOS, LEBANON, LESOTHO, LIBYA, MALAWI, MALAYSIA, MONGOLIA, NIGERIA, OMAN, PAKISTAN, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY, PHILIPPINES, QATAR, RWANDA, SAINT CHRISTOPHER & NEVIS, SAINT LUCIA, SAINT VINCENT & GRENADINES, SAUDI ARABIA, SIERRA LEONE, SINGAPORE, SOMALIA, SUDAN, SWAZILAND, SYRIA, TAIWAN, TAJIKISTAN, TANZANIA, THAILAND, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, UGANDA, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, UZBEKISTAN, VIET NAM, YEMEN, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE

The top four countries in terms of the number of executions are China, Iran, Vietnam, and the U.S.


The above is precisely the type of statement that drives me crazy when discussing this issue. Hm….Do you think, just maybe, the Congo which is essentially ruled by various military factions and sometimes summary-style executions, might have a higher execution rate that they aknowledge? North Korea detains 100,000+ people on starvation rations in forced labor concentration camps. Think they are forethcoming about their execution rates since they even deny the existence of those camps (which fortunately modern technology has offered video proof of)? In fact, China is suspected to execute around 10,000 people every year, of which they own up to around 3,000. Last year we executed 59, of which all were granted due process after due process upon appeal after appeal. Maybe there is just a wee bit of a difference?

For that matter, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore do not belong in the same category as the Congo, Sudan, and Syria either. Good grief. wacko.gif

Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? Is life, without parole, a viable alternative? This pretty much comes down to the feelings one has about execution in general (not only for the potentially innocent). Is the risk of sending someone innocent to life in prison outweigh the benefits? Most people who are against execution are against it for the proven guilty, too. From my perspective, I don't see much more benefit to executing a killer as opposed to keeping them locked away for life. Litigation is outrageous and after the redundant appeals process is finished for such cases, execution is more expensive than life in prison.

Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why? I think the states should decide this one (as they do).
quarkhead
QUOTE(MrsPigpen)
The above is precisely the type of statement that drives me crazy when discussing this issue. Hm….Do you think, just maybe, the Congo which is essentially ruled by various military factions and sometimes summary-style executions, might have a higher execution rate that they aknowledge? North Korea detains 100,000+ people on starvation rations in forced labor concentration camps. Think they are forethcoming about their execution rates since they even deny the existence of those camps (which fortunately modern technology has offered video proof of)? In fact, China is suspected to execute around 10,000 people every year, of which they own up to around 3,000. Last year we executed 59, of which all were granted due process after due process upon appeal after appeal. Maybe there is just a wee bit of a difference?

For that matter, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore do not belong in the same category as the Congo, Sudan, and Syria either. Good grief.


It's not my intention to cause you any mental disorders. cool.gif

It's true that some of those countries likely under-report the number of executions in their countries. Amnesty International, the source for this list, says as much. And surely, in the US there is a "better" due process than in many of the listed nations. There are many differences between these nations. However, there is one way in which they are the same, one way in which they do belong on this list together: they all practice executions as part of a legal process, as part of their criminal justice code.

As far as belonging in the same category goes, if the category is executions, and our contestant picks "executions for 1000, Alex," Alex may read the following: "These six countries all practice the death penalty as part of their criminal justice code." Our contestant says, "What are Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Congo, Sudan, and Syria?" That would be a correct answer. You may not like the fact that the US and Iran are on the same list. But this list is not a list of countries who practice extra-legal executions, it is a list of countries who have the death penalty codified in their criminal codes.
Bikerdad
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? I don't mean to be rude, so please don't take this the wrong way, but this is a stupid question followed by a lot of stupid answers. It is a morally relevant question, but since neither the question, nor any of the answers deem to actually quantify the risks and benefits in any meaningful way, the question is remarkably flawed. Of course, I've undoubtedly foisted more than a few "less than optimal" question on AD over the years as well, so please bear with me.

The top spot for "less than optimal" answer goes to this gem:
QUOTE
By executing countless upon thousands of people, we ourselves as a nation are not serving justice anymore, but a cruel obsession with blood and violence.
I'll simply note that the opening post in the topic gave us a count, less than a thousand, over the last 40 years. As obsessions go, that's remarkably weak.

This answer, however, illustrates the weakness of virtually all the answers, the numerous anti-death penalty and the few pro-death penalty. Long on emotion, short on facts.

What are the facts? Lets stick with just murderers and rapists. How many are there each year? How many potential recipients of the death penalty who get out of prison rape or murder subsequent to their release? How many PRDPs escape from prison and go on to rape or murder? (We know that it HAS happened before.) How many innocent folks wrongfully convicted of petty crimes have been murdered or raped in prison? How many guards in prison face death at the hands of the lifers?

Granting that innocents have been executed in the past, how many have been, and how likely (something that can be measured statistically by assigning probabilities to each step in the process) is it to happen today? Is it more or less likely to happen? What accounts for any changes in the probabilities?

As an individual, are you more likely to be murdered, or more likely to be sent to the chair as an innocent? Even assuming that ALL of the executions over the last forty years have been innocents (an extremely unlikely occurence we can agree), you're statistically far more likely to have been murdered rather than a victim of the state. And that's just considering murder, not taking rape into account.

Where do we draw the line? How is it any less egregious to imprison an innocent for 10, 20, maybe even as long as 80 years (or more depending on future medical advances) than it is to execute them? They cannot get those years back, and the imprisonment does nothing to bring back the dead victim. An innocent has been wrongfully punished by the state, and y'all seem willing to accept that. Where do you draw the line, and on what basis? Can you quantify your line?

Now, having railed against "stupid answers" short on facts, I'm going to finally offer an answer of my own rather than more questions, and yup, it will also be "stupid", because I'm lazy this morning.

Our system was structured from the gitgo to minimize the risk of punishing an innocent. Trial by jury, presumption of innocence, no self incrimination, etc. I believe that our system has only improved over time, further decreasing the risk. I also know that the system can never be perfect. I consider the risk of executing an innocent to be less than the benefits of permanently removing the far greater numbers of guilty perps from society. I know that our system can be improved, with more decrease in the risk to the innocents. Automatic review of DNA evidence (where available) in "pre DNA testing" cases, regardless of procedural bullhockey, is one improvement that should be implemented immediately.

Every day, most of us take the risk of killing another person, or perhaps even an entire family, when we step into our cars. Rarely are we in pursuit of socially noble goals such as justice and civil tranquility, but rather with base motives of entertainment or greed or lust.

And yet, some here claim the moral high ground by opposing the death penalty? How many hundreds, thousands even, have died so far this year in your state in traffic accidents? On roads built with your tax dollars? Are we culpable in those deaths, because we paid for the roads?

In the real world, rather than utopia, the perfect is the enemy of the good...
whyshouldi
Bikerdad wrote;
QUOTE
Every day, most of us take the risk of killing another person, or perhaps even an entire family, when we step into our cars. Rarely are we in pursuit of socially noble goals such as justice and civil tranquility, but rather with base motives of entertainment or greed or lust.


While I agree with a majority of your post about this issue following a path based more on emotion then fact, I would like to access one of your points for my post. I think humanity on a whole does not understand enough to have tranquility. It could be a fact based issue and that we lack enough to have said tranquility.

I do agree with the idea that our justice system is not fool proof, and this of course will mean innocents being incarcerated and sentenced to death. No individual has to take responsibility for this act of “murder” because it’s a system that does such, and not enough people are being killed at a time to make it more of a blip on the radar overall to society too.

So is it an eye for an eye or two wrongs don’t make a right, or that such little trinkets of wisdom don’t really apply.

On one side we imprison such people for acts society at large deems horrible, then we as a society agree to commit overall that same act. Regardless of the image it takes on, the death penalty is the act of humans killing humans. Does that make it wrong? I think its just an issue of popular opinion like most things, in some mid east nations, the death penalty is still done by decapitation, and I do not hear many complaints from those that live in such nations.

So maybe overall, like my opinion on tranquility and humanities lack of knowledge to actually obtain such if such is possible, maybe overall people really don’t understand why things like the death penalty come about. Being it’s a human institution of emotional origin, maybe lack of understanding of our species does not help resolve the social conflict over such.
Ted
QUOTE(DreamPipEr @ Nov 22 2005, 01:44 PM)
Since 1976 there has been 997 executions in the United States.    There are several cases of possibly innocent people being sent to their deaths for crimes they didn’t commit.   According to the Death Penalty Information Center:  
QUOTE
There is no way to tell how many of the approximately 1,000 people executed since 1976 may also have been innocent. Courts do not generally entertain claims of innocence when the defendant is dead. Defense attorneys move on to other cases where clients' lives can still be saved. source

Recently, evidence has been uncovered that there is another case of possible (or probable) innocence. Ruben Cantu was executed in 1993 and now the key eyewitness (one of the victims) and his co-defendant have recanted their testimony. The Prosecutor also admits he shouldn’t have sought the death penalty when the only evidence was an eye witness.
story here



and here

Questions for Debate:

Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society? Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?

Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why?

*



I have no great love for the death penalty. There may be some reasons to keep it for the worst crimes buy I would settle for life without parole in most cases.

Problem is you usually don’t get that choice. Usually it’s the death penalty or the possibility the person could be released someday and I am against that. Too many “reformed” killers have killed again.
Cephus
QUOTE(Wertz @ Nov 22 2005, 06:55 PM)
Application of the death penalty is killing a human being.
Every act of killing a human being is wrong.
Therefore, application of the death penalty is wrong.


Says who? Would it have been wrong to kill Hitler? Is it wrong to defend yourself? It's logically fallacious to assume that every act of killing is wrong becasue there's no objective definition of "wrong". Just because you don't like it doesn't make it wrong.

So we're back to the logical fallacies.
Vermillion
For somebody who calls all responses in the thread stupid and then rails against posts being 'long on emotion and short on facts', you are certainly very guilty of the same crimes.

Firstly, lets stick to murder. Rape is not a capital crime, and if you think about it logically for a moment, I am sure you will discover the very simple practical reason why this is so.

Anyways:


QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Dec 1 2005, 12:06 PM)
Where do we draw the line?  How is it any less egregious to imprison an innocent for 10, 20, maybe even as long as 80 years (or more depending on future medical advances) than it is to execute them?  They cannot get those years back, and the imprisonment does nothing to bring back the dead victim.  An innocent has been wrongfully punished by the state, and y'all seem willing to accept that. 


Thats just absurd. By that logic, an innocent man being sentenced to 10 hours of community service is EXACTLYT the same as an innocent man being killed. After all, they will never get those 10 hours back, right? And an innocent was wrongly punished by the state...

Obviously imprisonment of an innocent is enormously different than the killing of an innocent. The error can be corrected, and some kind of restitution can be made. The person released from prison, I am sure would be quite glad they were not put to death, I am sure they could see a difference even if you cannot.


QUOTE
Our system was structured from the gitgo to minimize the risk of punishing an innocent.  Trial by jury, presumption of innocence, no self incrimination, etc.  I believe that our system has only improved over time, further decreasing the risk. 


True enough, but obviously the risk is not zero, given the number of death row convictions overturned after investigation into the cases by third parties.

QUOTE
I also know that the system can never be perfect.  I consider the risk of executing an innocent to be less than the benefits of permanently removing the far greater numbers of guilty perps from society. 


The state has executed 1000 people in 40 years, hardly a vast number of perps removed from society. And I believe that the moment the state kills an innocent man, it has commited murder.

Why do you think every first world nation on the planet but the US has eliminated Capitol punishment? If it is such a deterrent, why is the US the state with the largest number of murders per capita of any first world nation?

How can you presume that the death penalty is handled fairly and equitably in the US when 11% of the population of the country (blacks) represent 58% of those executed?


If your problem is with the short sentences of murderers, then fix that. Change the system so that a life sentence is a life sentence. Killing is just uncessesary.


Bikerdad
QUOTE(Vermillion @ Jan 17 2006, 08:11 PM)
For somebody who calls all responses in the thread stupid and then rails against posts being 'long on emotion and short on facts', you are certainly very guilty of the same crimes.

Well, I did warn you. whistling.gif

I'm going to finally offer an answer of my own rather than more questions, and yup, it will also be "stupid", because I'm lazy this morning.

QUOTE
Firstly, lets stick to murder. Rape is not a capital crime, and if you think about it logically for a moment, I am sure you will discover the very simple practical reason why this is so.
Please, enlighten us.

QUOTE
Anyways:
QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Dec 1 2005, 12:06 PM)
Where do we draw the line?  ...  An innocent has been wrongfully punished by the state, and y'all seem willing to accept that. 


Thats just absurd. By that logic, an innocent man being sentenced to 10 hours of community service is EXACTLYT the same as an innocent man being killed. After all, they will never get those 10 hours back, right? And an innocent was wrongly punished by the state...
Of course its absurd, which is my point. Based on your logic, why is it acceptable to imprison an innocent any period of time? Injustice is injustice is injustice.

QUOTE
Obviously imprisonment of an innocent is enormously different than the killing of an innocent. The error can be corrected, and some kind of restitution can be made. The person released from prison, I am sure would be quite glad they were not put to death, I am sure they could see a difference even if you cannot.
What of the innocent who's been beaten by other inmates, raped and perhaps even killed? While nobody here is able to point to any wrongfully executed prisoners in the last 30 years, we can clearly identify prisoners who have been murdered behind bars. If even one of them was innocent, then we as a society are responsible for that death. In 2002, there were 68 prison homicides and 482 suicides in local and state prisons alone. Anybody want to venture a guess as to whether any of those suicides were innocents? How about whether or not wrongful imprisonment and the conditions within the jails contributed to their suicide? Given that non-capital cases don't receive the same level of scrutiny, these guys are even more likely to be innocent. The logic of "any innocent wrongfully put to death" would demand that we not imprison anyone. More inmates have suicided or been murdered in the last 5 years than all the executions in the US over the last 40 years.

QUOTE
And I believe that the moment the state kills an innocent man, it has commited murder.
It is murder only if the agents of the state know at the time that he is innocent.

QUOTE
Why do you think every first world nation on the planet but the US has eliminated Capitol punishment?
Because they're idiots. Girlie-men. And they're paying the price now. The likelihood of being a victim of a violent crime is now higher in more than half the "first world" nations than it is in the US. Page 17 - Victimisation Risk

QUOTE
If it is such a deterrent, why is the US the state with the largest number of murders per capita of any first world nation?
According to the Scottish governmnt: 2000-2002 Murder Rater per million: USA = 55.4 Belgium = 71.1 Estonia = 103.3 Lithuania = 104.5 Russia = 223.6 you were saying? We won't even bother with the higher and climbing rates of violent crimes in most of the rest of the "first world" nations.

QUOTE
How can you presume that the death penalty is handled fairly and equitably in the US when 11% of the population of the country (blacks) represent 58% of those executed?
I realize that from a collectivist victim perspective, an imbalance such as that must ipso facto, mean that the system is biased. Me, I don't reach such a conclusion. As far as I'm concerned, each and every case is separate and distinct.

QUOTE
If your problem is with the short sentences of murderers, then fix that. Change the system so that a life sentence is a life sentence. Killing is just uncessesary.
Well, let's get right on that Constitutional Amendment, because that's what it will take.

Now, my point in all this is, again: Where do we draw the line? How does the moral indignation that motivates "potential innocent" death penalty opposition square with knowingly subjecting innocents to degrading conditions in prison where they're more likely to be victims?
Sevac
Bikerdad, I wonder how long it took you to pull out these statistics. Then it amazes me, in what way you use it to prove your point.

On page 17 of the statistic you used not all of the European countries are shown, yet you assume that:
QUOTE
"The likelihood of being a victim of a violent crime is now higher in more than half the "first world" nations than it is in the US."

Since one is talking about the death penalty, one should refer to sources that are in relevance to the topic, homicides for that matter.

Then you use a different statistic which indicates a lower murder rate in the US than European countries. On Page 10 of the one you first used a similar category shows this:
Homicides (as this is the crime one is most likely to be punished by death) per 100.000 population:
EU average: 1.59
USA ave.: 5.56

Nice pick of peaches.
---
Interesting:
Washington DC: 42.87 vs Moscow: 18.38. (Homicides to 100.000 people)

I see a correlation between the capital's homicide rate and the foreign policy that the country pursues. whistling.gif

QUOTE
Because they're idiots. Girlie-men. And they're paying the price now.

Thank you for that constructive argument. I love it.

QUOTE
Based on your logic, why is it acceptable to imprison an innocent any period of time? Injustice is injustice is injustice.

It is not acceptable to imprison innocent, nor was that stated anywhere in this thread.
Every system is flawed to a certain degree. True. But as Dr. Zoidberg already said:
QUOTE
Obviously imprisonment of an innocent is enormously different than the killing of an innocent. The error can be corrected, and some kind of restitution can be made.


If you cannot follow the logic why this circumstance makes the death penalty and imprisonment of innocent two different categories, I cannot help you.
Bikerdad
QUOTE(Sevac @ Jan 18 2006, 05:19 AM)
Bikerdad, I wonder how long it took you to pull out these statistics. Then it amazes me, in what way you use it to prove your point.

On page 17 of the statistic you used not all of the European countries are shown, yet you assume that:
QUOTE
"The likelihood of being a victim of a violent crime is now higher in more than half the "first world" nations than it is in the US."

Since one is talking about the death penalty, one should refer to sources that are in relevance to the topic, homicides for that matter.

Then you use a different statistic which indicates a lower murder rate in the US than European countries. On Page 10 of the one you first used a similar category shows this:
Homicides (as this is the crime one is most likely to be punished by death) per 100.000 population:
EU average: 1.59
USA ave.: 5.56

Nice pick of peaches.
---


Just to remind you, the specific point I was responding to was this:
QUOTE
If it is such a deterrent, why is the US the state with the largest number of murders per capita of any first world nation
I didn't include South Africa, with a homicide rate almost 14 times the US rate, for this reason, "is it a first world nation anymore?" Furthermore, whether or not Lithuania and Estonia are "first world" nations could be debated, (arguably, they are moving towards such status, unlike SA) but I don't think anybody on this board will dispute that Belgium qualifies. Which means that Vermillion's statement is counterfactual.

QUOTE
Interesting:
Washington DC: 42.87 vs Moscow: 18.38. (Homicides to 100.000 people)

I see a correlation between the capital's homicide rate and the foreign policy that the country pursues.  whistling.gif
herring

QUOTE
QUOTE
Because they're idiots. Girlie-men. And they're paying the price now.

Thank you for that constructive argument. I love it.
Well, what more can you expect from a moral neanderthal in the thrall of a "cruel obsession with blood and violence."

QUOTE
QUOTE
Based on your logic, why is it acceptable to imprison an innocent any period of time? Injustice is injustice is injustice.

It is not acceptable to imprison innocent, nor was that stated anywhere in this thread. Every system is flawed to a certain degree. True. But as Dr. Zoidberg already said:
QUOTE
Obviously imprisonment of an innocent is enormously different than the killing of an innocent. The error can be corrected, and some kind of restitution can be made.
As a practical matter, it is acceptable, because it will be allowed until the error is discovered.

QUOTE
If you cannot follow the logic why this circumstance makes the death penalty and imprisonment of innocent two different categories, I cannot help you.
I follow the logic, I simply find it to be flawed because it makes an artificial distinction. The innocent who dies in prison, whether by accident, natural causes, medical malpractice, his own hand, or murder is just as dead, just as innocent, and just as beyond any restitution as an innocent who is executed. On average, more people die in prison every year than have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated. They are more likely to be innocent than death row inmates, more numerous than death row inmantes, and yet they are dead as a result of the actions of the state.

Until someone can make a internally coherent argument as to why these far more numerous deaths are somehow "more acceptable" than state executions of innocents, abolition of the death penalty on the basis of "we might make a mistake" gets no traction. And yes, as a practical matter, they are "more acceptable", because nobody has bothered to suggest that we eliminate imprisonment because of some potential innocents.

Finally, don't lose any sleep over your inability to help me.
Doclotus
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society?
Yes, without question, and it is the number one reason I'm opposed to the death penalty as it is applied today.

Conceptually I don't have a problem with capital punishment when it fits the crime and the guilt is unequivocal. Heck, I'd be a fan of a bullet to the head of child molesters if they are caught in the act. It believe it should be reserved for extreme crimes, however, where rehabilitation is irrelevant (which is sadly the case for all but a few examples today) and the guilt is irrefutable. Today, "reasonable doubt" as a standard has suffered mightily. Justice to the highest bidder is likely the reason for that, however.

The problem I have is how the law is applied today. Innocent people have and will be executed under this policy, and that is the greatest injustice our society can inflict on its citizens.

Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?
Yes. While its certainly a costlier solution conceptually, I'd prefer that society have a chance to make amends if someone should be convicted wrongfully.

Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.? Why?
I agree with Mrs. P on this one, I believe such a decision should reside with the states, as it currently does. If I had a vote in North Carolina on the matter, I would support restricting the death penalty in extreme cases, where reasonable doubt was replaced by a higher standard of guilt in order to sentence someone to death.
Vermillion
QUOTE(Bikerdad)
QUOTE
Firstly, lets stick to murder. Rape is not a capital crime, and if you think about it logically for a moment, I am sure you will discover the very simple practical reason why this is so.
Please, enlighten us.


This one is just basic common sense. Think on it, why is no crime except murder a valid crime for any kind of capital punishment?

QUOTE
QUOTE
Thats just absurd. By that logic, an innocent man being sentenced to 10 hours of community service is EXACTLY the same as an innocent man being killed. After all, they will never get those 10 hours back, right? And an innocent was wrongly punished by the state...
Of course its absurd, which is my point. Based on your logic, why is it acceptable to imprison an innocent any period of time? Injustice is injustice is injustice.


Injustice is injustice is injustice? Are you sure? Are you positive about your argument there? There are no degrees of grey or levels of injustice, just black and white? You genuinely cannot see any distinction between say a child taking another child's candy, and the holocaust? You are quite sure that 'an injustice is an injustice'?

Don't be silly. One ends in the death of a innocent man, for which there is no coming back. The other ends in an innocent man being set free, and restitution paid to him for the time taken. I tell you what, ask any of the men set free after serving time in prison for a crime they did not commit, and ask THEM if they can see a difference between them walking free, and if they had been killed by the state. You might be staggered to find out they think there is QUITE a difference. As Sevac said, if you seriously, genuinely cannot understand the vast difference between an innocent man being convicted then freed, and an innocent man being killed then exonerated post-mortem, then you have larger problems.


Your whole "what if they get murdered in prison" concept is a total non sequitor. Anybody murdered in prison is tragic, and murder charges are filed against the perpetrator. Since the vast majority of people in prison are NOT serving life sentences and would face release one day, then most of those killed in prison are on finite confinement, and thus it is tragic that they were killed. What does that have to do with anything? I agree, deaths in prison are a problem, so clean up your prisons. That has no relevance to the issue at hand.


QUOTE
QUOTE
Why do you think every first world nation on the planet but the US has eliminated Capitol punishment?
Because they're idiots. Girlie-men. And they're paying the price now. The likelihood of being a victim of a violent crime is now higher in more than half the "first world" nations than it is in the US.

Ah, the classic "We are right because we are the US, and the rest of the world is NOT the US so they are clearly wrong" argument. How I love to see THAT old gem get dragged up. So let me be clear, when confronted with the fact that the rest of the first world has abolished the death penalty except the states, your argument is "The rest of the world are wimps, only the US is a REAL man..."

Oh, and as for violent crime rates, firstly they are hotly contested, I can show you plenty of studies that disagree, but there is no need as your point is TOTALLY irrelevant, seeing as how the US does not have the death penalty for non-lethal violent crime.

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QUOTE
If it is such a deterrent, why is the US the state with the largest number of murders per capita of any first world nation?
According to the Scottish governmnt: 2000-2002 Murder Rater per million: USA = 55.4 Belgium = 71.1 Estonia = 103.3 Lithuania = 104.5 Russia = 223.6[/url] you were saying?


Where the devil did you find those stats? Belgium? Belgium is not even in the top 60 countries in the world for murders. How can Belgium have 71 murders per million population, when last year it only had 164 murders TOTAL?

In fact, while I can find a dozen different sites on the web that seem quite concurrent on murder rates, none come close to what you listed above, Try this for a far more reasonable listing:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/cri_mur_percap


But lets keep going shall we? While on the subject of deterrence, surely those states which have the death penalty must have lower murder rates than those who do, right?

No, states without the death penalty consistently have murder rates far below the national average. Oh well.

"I have inquired for most of my adult life about studies that might show that the death penalty is a deterrent, and I have not seen any research that would substantiate that point.
-- Attorney General Janet Reno"


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QUOTE
How can you presume that the death penalty is handled fairly and equitably in the US when 11% of the population of the country (blacks) represent 58% of those executed?
I realize that from a collectivist victim perspective, an imbalance such as that must ipso facto, mean that the system is biased. Me, I don't reach such a conclusion. As far as I'm concerned, each and every case is separate and distinct.


I will have to remember that argument, it is a great rationalisation to allow you to ignore statistics which blatantly disagree with your position. A total cop out mind you... Sadly this massive flaw in the US legal system is not one that will go away by ignoring it...


So, given the fact that deterrence has no effect, do you have any positive arguments as to why the death penalty is worth keeping even if it kills innocent people?

Positive arguments besides your classic: "Its what a REAL man would do..."
Ted
QUOTE
Vermillion
So, given the fact that deterrence has no effect, do you have any positive arguments as to why the death penalty is worth keeping even if it kills innocent people?


It’s worth keeping because it saves the lives of far more people than it can possibly kill by mistake. As a society we continue to pour violent criminals back onto the street with disastrous results. IMO we could do away with the death penalty if we could just agree on keeping these people off the street. Even with recidivism as low as 1.2% that still means lots of dead innocent people. Until we can deal with this hidden cost IMO we need the death penalty to prevent release of dangerous murderers.

Man murdered woman who befriended him after prior murder conviction
James Hubbard was sentenced to death in 1977 for the murder of a Tuscaloosa woman who befriended him after he was released from prison. Hubbard had served a 20 year sentence for a murder conviction, and called police to report a shooting on January 10, 1977. He said Lillian Montgomery, whom he was living with, had shot herself at her home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She died as the result of three gunshot wounds, one to the face, one to the head, and one to the shoulder, a difficult accomplishment as a suicide. Hubbard first went to prison in 1957 for a second-degree murder conviction in the death of David Dockery in Tuscaloosa County. He was released in 1976 and killed again the next year. His second victim, 62-year-old store owner Lillian Montgomery, was shot three times and robbed of her gold and diamond wristwatch and about $500 in cash and checks. She had befriended Hubbard and "sponsored" him to gain his release in 1976. Hubbard had moved into her home next door to the store she ran on U.S. Highway 82, according to court records. In a police statement, Hubbard said he had been drinking whiskey with Montgomery and claimed she committed suicide. Prosecutors introduced evidence that she couldn't have fired the fatal shots on Jan. 10, 1977. Hubbard was twice convicted in her death. An appeals court overturned the first conviction. But he was again sentenced to death at retrial and in 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review it. The victim's son, Jimmy Montgomery, 66, a Tuscaloosa businessman, said he and his sister plan to attend the execution. "I hope it will be over," Montgomery said. "He shot her with a pistol I'd given her."

http://www.prodeathpenalty.com/repeat_murder.htm

http://detnews.com/specialreports/2002/jail/a01-458845.htm

http://www.sgc.wa.gov/PUBS/Recidivism2002/..._Report2002.pdf

http://members.aol.com/dpen98/parole.htm
NUMBER OF VIOLENT CRIMES COMMITTED IN THE PAST

The released prisoners had been arrested in the past for more than 1.3 million offenses. Of those, 214,778 were violent crimes, including more than 12,000 homicides, nearly 9,000 rapes, 5,600 kidnappings, and 84,000 robberies. When combined with the number of new arrest charges, these releasees had been arrested and charged with approximately 1.7 million offenses, an average of 15.3 charges each since their first adult arrest.6
Korimyr the Rat
QUOTE(DreamPipEr @ Nov 22 2005, 11:44 AM)
Does the risk of executing an innocent person outweigh the benefits of permanently removing violent murderers from society?


I do not think so; something most people seem to forget is that at any point where armed police are involved and the range of possible penalties for a crime includes being confined with violent criminals, there is a very real possibility of innocent people being killed.

There's simply no way for the law to be enforced without exposing innocent people to the risk of being killed, either by law enforcement personnel or by people in the care of law enforcement.

QUOTE(DreamPipEr)
Is life, without parole, a viable alternative?


Again, I do not think so. Both penalties involve destroying the life of the convicted-- if anything, life without parole is crueller because it involves a longer term of punishment and because death row inmates are generally better protected than their peers in General Population.

QUOTE(DreamPipEr)
Should we end the death penalty in the U.S.?  Why? 


We could, but I don't see any overwhelming reason to do so. I am personally in favor of maintaining the death penalty, because if we decide that another human being is too dangerous to be released back into society, we should take the necessary steps to ensure that it never occurs.

And, quite frankly, I am far more concerned with the atrocities that we tolerate-- encourage-- inside of our prisons. We're awfully fond of saying that "two wrongs don't make a right", but we're also awfully smug about the treatment that rapists and child molestors receive in prison.

QUOTE(aevans176 @ Nov 22 2005, 02:43 PM)
I believe that the death penalty is not used enough, and hence not a true deterrant.


I might agree with you here, except that the reason that the death penalty-- or even prison sentences-- are not used often enough is that we do not prosecute enough criminals. Simply, enough people commit crimes and get away with them that it is not difficult for the average criminal to believe that they'll never get caught.

There are several reasons for this, but I think that goes beyond the scope of this thread.
Ted
QUOTE
Vermillion
The state has executed 1000 people in 40 years, hardly a vast number of perps removed from society. And I believe that the moment the state kills an innocent man, it has commited murder.

Why do you think every first world nation on the planet but the US has eliminated Capitol punishment? If it is such a deterrent, why is the US the state with the largest number of murders per capita of any first world nation?


Every nation has NOT eliminated capital punishment . “Between 1946 and 2003, Japanese courts sentenced 766 people to death, 608 of whom were executed.”Largely because capital punishment has been abolished in Europe, Americans are used to thinking of their country’s retention of the death penalty as unique among the democratic nations of the world. But the advanced industrial democracy of Japan regularly sentences convicted murderers to die as well. And Japan is not the only democracy in East Asia to retain capital punishment — South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia do so as well.

http://www.policyreview.org/aug05/lane.html


And I am sure that if you check the numbers you will find that paroled killers have killed again and killed far more people than have or will ever be killed by “mistake”. Unless we can get life without parole for murder I still favor the death penalty.

According to a December 2001 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Criminal Justice Statistics, of those sentenced to be executed 64 percent had a prior felony conviction. Eight percent had been convicted of a prior homicide. About 4 in 10 had an existing criminal justice status at the time of their capital offense, including 18 percent who had been on parole; 10 percent on probation; and about 11 percent who had charges pending, had been escapees, or had committed the capital offense while incarcerated. Approximately 1 in 6 offenders imprisoned since 1988 had received two or more death sentences.
A 2003 study by Emory University and Clemson University Professors Hashem Dezhbakhsh, Paul Rubin, Joanna Shepherd stated, "Our results suggest that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect." (Emphasis added.)
These are facts you will not find repeated in the mainstream media
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadA...le.asp?ID=20541


QUOTE
How can you presume that the death penalty is handled fairly and equitably in the US when 11% of the population of the country (blacks) represent 58% of those executed?


This is a silly statement sir. Obviously blacks commit more crimes which carry the death penalty as a consequence. I do agree that the statistics indicate that blacks seem to be given the death penalty more often for similar crimes but the difference is much smaller.
Vermillion
QUOTE(Ted @ Feb 1 2006, 05:41 PM)
Every nation has NOT eliminated capital punishment . “[u]Between 1946 and 2003, Japanese courts sentenced 766 people to death, 608 of whom were executed.”


Firstly, that statistic is a bit deceptive. Yes they have executed 608 people since 1945, which sounds like a lot. However 92% of those happened before 1965. In the last 20 years, Japan has executed a total of 34 people.

While I agree with your correction, the United States is NOT the only first world country to have the death penalty, Japan does, your attempt to equate the numbers was deceptive at best.

That does not alter the fact that the rest of the first world seems to have done away with it entirely. Of course Bikerdad claims thats because all the rest of the first world are not 'real men'. Only the US (and Japan) are 'manly' enough to put people to death.


QUOTE
And I am  sure that if you check the numbers you will find that paroled killers have killed again and killed far more people than have or will ever be killed by “mistake”.    Unless we can get life without parole for murder I still favor the death penalty. 


Three problems.
Firstly, even is your being 'sure' of something does reflect reality, if paroled killers are killing again, then change THE PAROLE SYSTEM. Killing people because the US juscice parole system is faulty seems a touch absurd, does it not?
Secondly, as I have said repeatedly, if you cannot tell the diference between individuals killing innocent people, and the state killing innocent people, then you have other problems.
Thirdly, as has been said before, I have no problem with a genuine life sentnce being a life sentence. It works in Canada, where somebody can be declared a 'fangerous offender' and are not up for release. You said it yourself, establish the possibility of life without parole. No need at all for the state to kill.

QUOTE
QUOTE
How can you presume that the death penalty is handled fairly and equitably in the US when 11% of the population of the country (blacks) represent 58% of those executed?


This is a silly statement sir. Obviously blacks commit more crimes which carry the death penalty as a consequence. I do agree that the statistics indicate that blacks seem to be given the death penalty more often for similar crimes but the difference is much smaller.


Its a silly statement? I guarentee you that it is less silly than your opposing assertion that 'obviously' blacks commit more death penalty crimes. Your belief does not make things fact sir.

But even besides that silly assertion you have admitted that blacks are given the death penalty more often (an 'admission' in line with a half dozen studies on the subject), which means the death penalty is being pplied in a racially unfair manner, meaning the govrnment is killing blacks unfairly. Add that to the issue of inncoents being killed, and how can you possibly still agree with executions?
Ted
QUOTE
Vermillion
Three problems.
Firstly, even is your being 'sure' of something does reflect reality, if paroled killers are killing again, then change THE PAROLE SYSTEM. Killing people because the US juscice parole system is faulty seems a touch absurd, does it not?
Secondly, as I have said repeatedly, if you cannot tell the diference between individuals killing innocent people, and the state killing innocent people, then you have other problems.
Thirdly, as has been said before, I have no problem with a genuine life sentnce being a life sentence. It works in Canada, where somebody can be declared a 'fangerous offender' and are not up for release. You said it yourself, establish the possibility of life without parole. No need at all for the state to kill.


As I have said I agree with you. I would prefer “real” life but that is not the reality in most states and until they make that change you are left with one or the other. If the idiots in the Legislatures cannot address the question then the data shows we are better off executing killers even if there is a small risk of killing an innocent person.
This country is full of similar problems. We pour criminals back on the street who have committed gun and other violent crimes. This often leads, eventually to murder. The system stinks.

Abolitionists have pointed to the fact that states with the highest execution rates have the highest murder rates, whereas proponents have suggested that high murder rates had forced the adoption of execution. On March 1, 1847 the State of Michigan became the first English-speaking territory in the world to abolish the death penalty. It may be no accident that Detroit rivals Washington, DC as the city with the highest murder rate among American cities having a population over half-a-million. Texas, the state with the highest number of executions, dropped from being the state with the second highest murder rate to the 15th in the 1990s after beginning lethal injection in 1982. Thousands of murders are committed yearly by murderers released from prison -- a problem which could be eliminated by ensuring that convicted murderers are never released from prison.
In the early 1960s the vast majority of murder victims were acquainted with the murderer, but by the year 2000 nearly half of murder victims were strangers. This may undermine the argument that murders are impulsive crimes of passion wherein the threat of execution is not a deterrent. Murderers who kill their victim during a pre-meditated rape or robbery may well have enough familiarity with the criminal justice system to realize that the chance of escaping by killing a victim-witness may be worth the risk if execution upon capture is unlikely. Persons already habituated to prison life may not regard possible return to prison as much of a deterrent. If this argument is true, then humanitarian abolitionists must reconcile the 100,000 lives of American homicide victims who might have survived the 1963-1997 period against the lives of murderers who were not executed.

QUOTE
Its a silly statement? I guarentee you that it is less silly than your opposing assertion that 'obviously' blacks commit more death penalty crimes. Your belief does not make things fact sir.


I have data – Do you have different data? Please post it sir. I have your opinion

In 2002 blacks were 7 times more likely to commit homicide and 6 times more likely to be victims of homicide than whites. The rate of homicide victimization for 2002 can be summarized by race & gender:
http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/murder.html#world
MURDER VICTIMS, 2002
VICTIM PER 100,000
Black male 100
White male 13
Black female 11
White female
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