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Money Well Spent

Here in New Hampshire, we haven't had an execution in about 70 years. We still have the death penalty on the books, though, and right now two cases are working their way through the system that could end up putting the defendants on death row.

New Hampshire's capital punishment law only applies in certain circumstances, but we happen to have one of each right now. James Brooks is accused of commissioning the murder of a handyman he suspected had stolen from him, and Michael Addison faces charges he shot and killed a Manchester police officer.

It's expensive, though -- our Attorney General is hitting up the legislature for additional money to prosecute the cases. If Ms. Ayotte gets her funds, the tab for these two cases will be close to $1 million.

It's a hell of a lot, but I think it'll be worth it. Especially if it means that we won't be taking the chance of inflicting our problems (and our scumbags) on other states, like Massachusetts does.

Here in New Hampshire, we believe in taking out our own garbage. It's that kind of attitude that played a part in CQ Press naming us both the safest and most livable state.

And I think I can safely promise that should Mr. Brooks and/or Mr. Addison be convicted, they will not be released any time soon.


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Comments (17)

I always liked Ron White's ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

I always liked Ron White's comment about the death penalty. "I'm from Texas, not only do we have the death penalty, we USE IT!

Every time there is a vote on the death penalty, a MAJORITY of voters support it. However, the minority has managed to obstruct and delay it's implimentation to the point that the death penalty (at least in Kalifornia) is a farce. The average is 24 YEARS from sentence to execution. The current method of execution is on hold. The THEORY being that the condemned suffer "cruel and unusual punishment". Oh, and how do death penalty opponents support this THEORY with FACT? Easy answer, they don't. It's a THEORY they have. And the liberal judges buy into it. There are supposed to be "deadlines" when things are supposed to be done in each phase of a death penalty case, and none of those are ever met. Lawyers and judges wonder why people have little or no respect for their profession. A sentence of 20 years in prison doesn't mean "20 years". Life in prison doesn't mean "Life". If someone does manage to get "life without parole", there WILL BE a group advocating that person's release. If anyone dies on death row right now, it will probably be from natural causes.

Oh, and speaking of the dea... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Oh, and speaking of the death penalty, look whose penalty just got overturned.

In a major victory for world-famous death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, a federal appeals court today refused to reinstate his death sentence for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Abu-Jamal must be sentenced to life in prison or get a chance with a new Philadelphia jury, which would decide anew whether he should get life in prison or be sentenced - again - to death.
At the same time, the judges upheld his first-degree murder conviction, rejecting Abu-Jamal's claim that he deserves an entirely new trial and a chance to prove his innocence.

27 YEARS and he's still alive. You'll note that he's facing "life in prison" if the state does not set a new penalty trial. LEGAL TRANSLATION:
He'll be eligible for parole.

We've been somewhat fortuna... (Below threshold)

We've been somewhat fortunate here in Texas earlier this year when we had two death row inmates commit suicide in their cells within a week of each other.

Of course, one of them had already been on death row for 23 years, and the other for only 7 years.

God Bless Danny Faulkner an... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

God Bless Danny Faulkner and his family.

Mumia was caught at the scene, with the murder weapon in his hand. Why should a murderer have rights, and not the victim or his family?

FRY MUMIA, today, tonight whenever. I'll bring the charcoal, lighter fluid, ribs and marshmallows.

You'd a) eat ribs and marsh... (Below threshold)
matthew:

You'd a) eat ribs and marshmallows together after b) cooking them over the burning corpse of a guy that's been in jail for that long? Yuck city, dude.

I'd have a party outside th... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

I'd have a party outside the gates of whatever prison that typical black person has been confined.

I wouldnt waste good charcoal on him, it has some value. He has none, except as a rallying centerpiece to libs that think its OK to kill babies and cops, but not murderers.

Question: Is the quoted pri... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Question: Is the quoted price tag of $1 million for the initial trials only, or does it include the cost of the appeals all the way up the line?


It costs more to execute so... (Below threshold)
matthew:

It costs more to execute somebody in the United States than to imprison them for the rest of their natural lives. How can conservatives in good conscience support the death penalty when it's an ineffective deterrent and a waste of their tax dollars?

(The back-asswards Biblical notion of justice-as-revenge is the answer, obviously, but why won't more people just come out and say it and have a debate on those terms rather than pretending to be criminologists?)

Too late GianiD, you already said you want to eat marshmallows and ribs cooked over the roasting corpse of Mumia. Indirect cannibalism is still cannibalism. :)

matthew, I've written exten... (Below threshold)

matthew, I've written extensively about why I support the death penalty. Short version: cuts down on on recidivism, and "life without parole" simply means that for the rest of their life, you have a prisoner who literally has nothing to lose no matter what they do.

One Mass. lifer killed another inmate, and was put on trial for it. That meant that for a couple of months, he got regular trips from prison to court and back again, and in the end he was given a second life without parole sentence. In other words, he was given a change of scenery for a while as a reward for killing another prisoner.

The same thing would happen if he'd killed a guard.

J.

"How can conservatives in g... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"How can conservatives in good conscience support the death penalty when it's an ineffective deterrent and a waste of their tax dollars?"

Ineffective deterrent? How many executed killers went out and killed again? How many paroled killers went out and killed again? As Rosie would say "Google it".

Waste of tax dollars? That's not the fault of conservatives. It's the game being played by liberals. Drive the cost up by mutiple and frevolious appeals so that you can then argue that it's not 'cost effective'.

My all-time favorite was: "Your Honor, our client deserves a new trial because we, his attorneys of record, are incompetent. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. If we had been competent, at the very least he'd be serving a life sentence." BTW those two attorneys who said they were "incompetent"? They are still representing dead row inmates.

Isn't this a great country?

Mathhew, you've proven onc... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

Mathhew, you've proven once again why libs cant be trusted. Take Reading Comprehenion 101.

How many billions are spent murdering innocent babies? Will any lib stand up and protest that waste of tax money?

Whether or not particular m... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Whether or not particular murderers get out of jail and commit murder again is a separate (though related) question from whether capital punishment deters people from committing murder (or treason, or whatever else criminals are being murdered for these days). Unless you take a close look at crime rates on a state to state basis, you can't claim to understand whether or not more or less people are killed as a result of capital punishment being enforced. If it turns out that (making up numbers for argument's sake) 1 in every 50 murderers murders again in the event they are released from prison, and that state also has a higher murder rate as such, then capital punishment could be revisited from a purely practical (though certainly not moral) standpoint. However, if 1 in every 50 murderers in another state kills again, but that state does not have capital punishment and has a murder rate far lower than other states that do have capital punishment, then further thought needs to be given to the issue. It is, in fact, an academic problem, not a gut instinct, bumper-sticker debate. (Jay Tea realizes this; GarandFan and GianiD obviously do not.) For starters, why is Toronto, with all of its gangs and guns and lack of death penalty, so much safer than major U.S. cities in states that do execute certain criminals? One could argue that it would be even safer were we to start killing very bad people, but it's not just Toronto: London, Paris, Tokyo, Seoul... murder rates are so much lower in these places than, say, Houston or Miami.

Furthermore, Wikipedia (where facts go to die, yeah, yeah) tells me that of the 67% of capital convictions in America that are overturned, 7% of those were actually acquitted. Now that's not an awful lot of people, but a system that clearly has holes that would allow an innocent person to be fucking killed is uncivilized--meaning, not fit for our civilization. Not good enough. Wrong.

GarandFan, you think that a) capital punishment should be enforced; and b) appeals should be somehow limited? Kill 'em before any competing evidence surfaces, eh? You can always move to Saudi Arabia or Iran if that's the sort of "justice" system that appeals to you...

Jay, I think prisoners who in your view should be executed should be locked up and not allowed to interact with any other people for the rest of their lives. (Perhaps not even a possibility, but in theory, surely a punishment worse than death, which should appeal to those of you who believe that the judicial system ought to inflict harm upon criminals and not merely operate in the best interests of public safety.) It would be cheaper, safer for the other inmates/guards, and at least as effective a deterrent.

And all of this should be beside the point if you're a Christian (and I'm not, but most of you are). What would Jesus do? What are we supposed to do to sinners? Love them? Or inject them with poison and let their victims' families watch them die? Really, is there a more perverse feature of your society if you take anything that Jesus said seriously? (There are better reasons for me to oppose the death penalty, but that should be enough for people that kneel in front of Him and tell Him how awesome He is every Sunday.)

Matthew, state to state com... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Matthew, state to state comparisons have been done, and those studies conclude that there is a measurable deterrent effect to the death penalty.

You make an invalid leap of logic when you state:

Furthermore, Wikipedia (where facts go to die, yeah, yeah) tells me that of the 67% of capital convictions in America that are overturned, 7% of those were actually acquitted. Now that's not an awful lot of people, but a system that clearly has holes that would allow an innocent person to be fucking killed is uncivilized--meaning, not fit for our civilization.

Your conclusion is invalid because acquittal does not mean innocent.

matthew, do you honestly th... (Below threshold)

matthew, do you honestly think the ACLU would stand by and let your hypothetical "locked up and not allowed to interact with any other people for the rest of their lives" stand without being challenged? It's utterly untenable. Hell, I can shoot it down on a couple of grounds -- "cruel and unusual" and "right to access to counsel."

The case I alluded to above was that of Joseph Druce murdering John Geoghan. Feel free to Google that one up -- for all your studies and statistics and theories, that's one clear-cut and indisputable case of a man serving life without parole very carefully plotting and carrying out a murder while behind bars, while serving "life without parole."

In Druce's case, perhaps the threat of the death penalty might have deterred him from killing Geoghan. Or maybe not. But there was absolutely nothing deterring him -- there was literally nothing the state could do that it wasn't already doing to him. His "ultimate" sentence, ironically, gave him the ultimate freedom -- he could do whatever he wished without fear of consequences.

This time, it was a convicted pedophile priest that was murdered. No great loss to society. Hell, I'm tempted to send Druce a thank-you card.

Next time, it could be a guard. Or a visitor. Or an attorney. (OK, maybe that wouldn't be such a great loss, either.)

And if Druce kills again, so what? What can be done to him?

Not a goddamned thing.

J.

I think many of the states ... (Below threshold)

I think many of the states who retain the death penalty have it about right now. It never made sense to have the ultimate punishment for rape, kidnapping, or armed robbery - all that did was tell the bad guys to eliminate witnesses.

Most states follow something close to this formula: multiple homicides, extreme cruelty, murder in commission of rape, kidnapping, or armed robbery, murder of an on-duty police officer, firefighter, or prison guard.

The central question about the death penalty should never be deterrent effect. We don't set penalties for that reason, but rather to redress the offense. The question ought only be, "Is it just?"

I realize that "acquitted" ... (Below threshold)
matthew:

I realize that "acquitted" and "innocent" are not equivalent, SPQR, but as far as the law is concerned, they are. If a cop/judge/prosecutor/jury fucks up and lets a murderer back out onto the streets, and that murderer kills a bus full of nuns, the blood is on his/her hands, obviously, but also on the incompetent people responsible for ensuring the public safety.

I think, Jim, that from a criminological standpoint, one would be remiss to totally discount the wider social implications of enforced punitive measures. Else, to whom does it fall upon to address disproportionate crime rates between the U.S. and nations with comparable standards of living? Surely this can't be shrugged off; and surely whether or not a punishment is just must take into account whether or not justice is being maximized for the broader good, and not merely... the victim? (I'm unclear what you mean by "just", I guess.)

Besides all this, there is a more obvious gap in my "logic" that I was waiting for someone to point out--that it's impossible (as far as I know) to show that the death penalty might raise homicide rates. Comparing Miami to Toronto or Tokyo doesn't make any sense. The insanely high murder rates in major U.S. cities doesn't follow from whether or not Very Bad People are killed for their crimes. Criminologists basically agree that it's a much more difficult problem to address. Radical social stratification that follows from a widening gap between rich and poor; a culture that embraces violence; widespread drug abuse amongst the lower classes (urban and rural)...

I'm not making a "liberal" argument. It's straight-up empiricism. Giuliani reduced homicide rates in NYC not only through tougher enforcement, but also through thoughtful efforts at addressing the social conditions that foster murderous mentalities. It worked.

So you're right, Jim, that justice is paramount. I don't know why, though, a heinous deed necessarily requires a heinous punishment--shouldn't the system be designed to minimize the number of heinous acts, and not inflicting equally heinous harm upon those whom we presently believe to be guilty?

That ignores the question of whether or not we have the moral authority to execute people in the first place--a separate issue, though as a Kantian humanist, I know where I stand. I also know where Christians are meant to stand...

I realize that "ac... (Below threshold)
SPQR:
I realize that "acquitted" and "innocent" are not equivalent, SPQR, but as far as the law is concerned, they are.

No, matthew, the law does not consider them equivalent either.

More importantly, confusing the distinction is a favored tactic of death penalty opponents.




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