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Tortured Reasoning

I've always been in favor of the death penalty. I believe that it is Constitutional; the Constitution explicitly describes circumstances where it can be applied. Had the Founding Fathers wanted to ban it outright, then they would not have put limits on it.

That being said, I've never been a fan of "torture porn" variants of the death penalty. I've seen so many talk about how certain criminals deserve a slow, painful, poetic form of execution. Arsonists burned alive, rapists impaled, and whatnot.

If we, as a society, are going to kill someone, if we are going to decide that certain people simply can not be allowed to continue to live as retribution for their crimes against us as a society, then we ought to do it as efficiently, as mercifully as possible. And as a society, we've constantly evolved our method of execution. The current preferred form -- lethal injection -- is pretty darned close to ideal. One drug first, to put the condemned to sleep; then another to stop their heart. Apart from the initial pain of the needle -- and as an eight-gallon-plus blood donor, it's really not that bad -- it's pretty painless.

I reject the "torture porn." I don't want Osama Bin Laden dropped into the middle of Manhattan or crushed under millions of tons of rubble or burned alive. (I wouldn't mind his corpse being buried inside a pigskin, but that's mainly for the deterrent effect on his followers. And I wouldn't object to him knowing about that before his death -- I don't want his death to be painful, but I'm not above a bit of psychological discomfort before he goes.)

No, the torture pornographers are usually located on the extreme right -- or, occasionally, the mainstream left.

Such as, say, the long-time Democratic Mayor of Boston, Hizzoner Thomas M. "Mumbles" Menino.

The current case that has Mumbles so worked up is the murder of a pizza delivery guy. The scumbags allegedly ordered a pizza to a vacant house, then killed him, robbed him of the pizza and a few dollars, then fled in his car.

The suspects have been caught, will be tried, and if convicted face a maximum of life without parole -- Massachusetts has no death penalty.

I can understand, a bit, the passion Menino expressed. I recall in the 1988 presidential campaign, when CNN's Bernard Shaw asked Democratic nominee (and Massachusetts governor) Michael Dukakis if his opposition to the death penalty would be changed if his wife was raped and murdered. Dukakis gave the politically-correct, bloodless answer: no.

Dukakis, quite frankly, blew it. What he should have said was "hell, yes, I'd want the bastard killed. I'd want him killed in the slowest, most painful way possible. I'd want revenge for what he did to my wife. But that's why we have a justice system, and not a vengeance system. Other cultures, other nations let the victims -- or their heirs -- decide the fate of the guilty. Not us. We understand that crimes are committed both against individuals and society, and it is society's role to take the burden off the victims -- who have already suffered enough -- and impose justice. To punish the guilty and protect the innocent. So yes, I would as the one who suffered the loss of my wife, would want revenge, but society would be there to step in and protect me from the consequences of my own fury."

And now we have another Boston liberal Democrat (but I repeat myself) talking about the death penalty. But Mumbles overshoots in the other direction. Where Dukakis was almost inhumanly detached, Menino was all too human.

And both betrayed their utter ignorance in both human nature and the nature of capital punishment. The primary purpose of it is not to punish past crimes, but prevent future ones. It is to both protect society from the criminal striking again, but to remind others that this could be their fate as well.

The example I always cite is, again, from Massachusetts. Joseph Druce was tried and convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. While in prison, he stalked and murdered another inmate -- a convicted pedophile priest. The death of Father Geoghan was no great loss, but it simply wasn't Druce's place to impose his own justice. And while Druce's chosen victim was exceptionally unsympathetic, the next time it could be a guard.

So Druce, while serving the greatest penalty Massachusetts can impose, committed yet another premeditated murder. As punishment, the commonwealth gave him several weeks of regular trips out of prison for trial, convicted him, gave him another sentence of life without parole, and sent him right back to the same cell where he was before.

Also known as "square one."

So the next time Druce decides he needs another change of scenery, all he has to do is kill someone else. After all, why shouldn't he? Massachusetts has already done its worst. To trot out one of my favorite aphorisms, "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," and Druce literally has nothing left to lose. He has absolutely no incentive to behave himself.

Mumbles Menino simply can't get that. Michael Dukakis couldn't get that. And their inability to do so has caused so much harm in those who chose to entrust them with power.


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Comments (37)

Massachusetts politicians a... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Massachusetts politicians are too cowardly to impose a death penalty. Instead they just run a crappy prison system and have the criminals like Druce do what they don't have the nerve to do legally.

Druce needs some Paul Kerse... (Below threshold)
914:

Druce needs some Paul Kersey type justice.

"...we ought to do it as ef... (Below threshold)
Don L:

"...we ought to do it as efficiently, as mercifully as possible."

How about we do the compassionate thing and follow what Obama insists we do with those babies that escape the abortionist's attempts at murder -just withold all hydration and nutrients and let them slowly die?

It sounds civil to Obama -a compassionate constitutionally trained law expert -it must be okay for all of us.

Meh. The death pen... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:


Meh. The death penalty is arguably the only sure cure for recividism yet devised.

That aside, i would argue that someone who murders and rapes the 80-year old woman, who molests and kills the young girl--you can add your own variants here--has abrogated his/her right to exist on the planet. Rehab for this scum is a total waste of time, imho.

One of the things seldom mentioned, tho' is that the death penalty is as much revenge as punishment for an act so despicable as to demand eradication from the earth. No problem with that from this corner, and I couldn't care less who's offended by it.

You forgot Alec Baldwin who... (Below threshold)
retired military:

You forgot Alec Baldwin who wanted Henry Hyde and his family stoned to death just for impeaching Clinton.

"You forgot Alec Baldwin... (Below threshold)
914:

"You forgot Alec Baldwin who wanted Henry Hyde and his family stoned to death just for impeaching Clinton."


Can we imagine the rioting if Barry was impeached as he so richly deserves? The mideast/south-pacific would be in an uproar

"The primary purpose of [ca... (Below threshold)
Walter Cronanty:

"The primary purpose of [capital punishment] is not to punish past crimes, but prevent future ones. It is to both protect society from the criminal striking again, but to remind others that this could be their fate as well." I disagree in the following sense. It seems to me that there are three primary purposes for capital punishment. The two you state (protection and deterence) PLUS punishment. The victim's family/friends and society as a whole must believe that the government's "justice system" will, in fact, provide some sort of "rough justice" commensurate with the crime. This brings into play the fact that retribution, or state-sanctioned revenge, if you will, must be had.
You recognize this fact above in this statement: "...it is society's role to take the burden off the victims -- who have already suffered enough -- and impose justice." If society as a whole begins to believe that those found guilty of a crime will not "pay" or receive "justice" for their crimes, then vigilantes are justified. On the other end of the spectrum, if the punishment is way over the top, say stoning a man for being a homosexual, then rebellion becomes justified. Thus, the idea of "punishment for past crimes"-or-"retribution"-or-"revenge" plays an important part in state imposed punishment, co-equal with protection and deterence.

Maybe we should have a nati... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Maybe we should have a national registry. You register as supporting either capital punishment or life in prison - were "life" means just that. If you support life in prison, each year you get a bill for your 'share' of prisoner maintenance.

Nice article JT.A ... (Below threshold)
ChiefMinion:

Nice article JT.

A couple of points. As a previous poster points out, punishment is a big component of the death penalty. It is after all, capital punishment. It is retribution for some members of the victims families. Some of them do find closure in knowing that the murdering scum has assumed room temperature, been sent to his maker, etc. It's the only retribution they are going to get.

I have two issues with capital punishment at this point. First, there is a small segment of our society (mostly judges, priests, and lawyers) who are too caught up in the method of punishment. Will the condemned feel any pain? For Pete's sake, I stubbed my toe walking into the kitchen this morning and felt more pain than these murdering scum have to deal with in the moment of their doom. And yes, I suspect a lot of this "concern" is just another way the opponents of capital punishment are attempting to thwart the will of the rest of us.

My other big issue is with lethal injection itself. It's too easy, not for the condemned, but for us. They just go to sleep. At the moment of execution, it's no longer about the perpetrator, but about the rest of us.

IMHO, capital punishment should be by hanging, firing squad, etc. and be public, very public. I want to be shocked, maybe even feel a little twinge of horror when it happens. You see I'm as much in favor of capital punishment as anyone, but I never want to become comfortable with the idea. I want to have to think about whether the punishment fits the crime every single time I watch the body hit the end of the rope. A society condemning and taking the life of one of its own is a big deal. It should never do such a thing without some introspection.

Lethal injection is too much like euthanizing an old pet. I worry that people won't give it the proper reverence. (Wacko alert!) I fear that tyranny can become comfortable with it.

If my brother Matt had kept... (Below threshold)

If my brother Matt had kept his mouth shut, that sucker Willie Bennett would have got the death penalty, if we had a death penalty in Massachusetts.

"I want to have to think... (Below threshold)
914:

"I want to have to think about whether the punishment fits the crime every single time I watch the body hit the end of the rope."


Yes, that is what I was thinking when Saddam said "allah akbar" then dropped like a bag of shit to his doom.

I continue to have serious ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

I continue to have serious moral problems with both the death penalty and abortion. And the best army I feel is one strong enough to deter war, to prevent war in the first place. Mark me down as prolife.

I am against the death pena... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I am against the death penalty. Counter inituitively, it has not been shown as a deterrent, for the states that have it, and even worse because of the large number of wrongful convictions that have occurred in what Raymond Dodge, a retired police chief from Marlboro, New Hampshire, called "the inherently flawed judicial system."

As Dodge said last week, "We can certainly release an innocent person from jail. What we cannot do is release an innocent person from the grave."


Jay, this seems to be lively issue in your state of New Hampshire, with the strong possibility a commission will recommend overturning the death penalty?

The Constitutionality of th... (Below threshold)
oldpuppymax:

The Constitutionality of the death penalty can not even be ARGUED by any but the most intellectually dishonest....you know, LEFTISTS!! But of course the killing of BABIES is perfectly acceptable. Too many might turn out to become republicans.

I can tell you as a fact th... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

I can tell you as a fact that every time the death penalty is enacted, at least one person is deterred.

oddpuppymax and SCIwuzzy, u... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

oddpuppymax and SCIwuzzy, unlike most leftists I'm against abortion too, but would permit it under exceptional circumstances, just as in as capital punishment, I would permit it under exceptional circumstances. Keith Humphries compromise on Killing People seems reasonable,

I do not categorically oppose capital punishment in all circumstances.To update Hannah Arendt, Tim McVeigh and Osama Bin Laden don't care to share planet Earth with me. I feel the same about them. The existing research literature supporting capital punishment is, to be polite, limited and shaky. Yet there may be particular calculating and vicious crimes that warrant execution, I might execute hitmen who kill witnesses, for example, if there were good reason to believe that such a sanction would improve public safety.

My bad, Harold Pollack wrot... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

My bad, Harold Pollack wrote the above post on the hyperlink.

I wish we didn't need the d... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I wish we didn't need the death penalty. But let's be honest. Every scumbag that commits a premeditated murder knows if they are caught they could be sentenced to death. So, I look at it like they played the odds and lost. An innocent person(s) is dead, a family is in chaos, so the penalty must be carried out. I do think we should shorten the waiting period. It isn't fair to the loved ones of the murderers victim. They need closure. ww

I continue to h... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

I continue to have serious moral problems with both the death penalty and abortion.

Totally different things. There is the small matter of guilt buried in there.

Counter inituitively, it has not been shown as a deterrent, ...

Of course the death penalty is a massive deterrent, if ...uh...executed properly, which is to say, swiftly and surely.

Singapore and Malaysia logically should have huge drug problems, owing to their status as the natural and obvious transit point for heroin from the Golden Triangle. But they don't. Why? Because if they catch anyone with dealer-weight drugs - they don't care who, male, female, local, foreigner, Asian, Australian, European, American, whatever - they hang him in short order, sure as God made green apples.

I'm not advocating Singaporean and Malaysian jurisprudence across the board, but their experience proves unequivocally that the death penalty is a deterrent. What we do, on the other hand, is not.

and even worse because of the large number of wrongful convictions that have occurred in what Raymond Dodge, a retired police chief from Marlboro, New Hampshire, called "the inherently flawed judicial system."

The function of the justice system is to minimize the amount of terror in society. Not eliminate it - that is an unattainable ideal - but minimize it. That means terrorizing criminals. By Dodge's logic, no one should ever be incarcerated either, because each such sentence could also be a mistake, and prisoners are murdered by other prisoners all the time. Grownups will appreciate that to make decisions is to make mistakes, and that the only way not to make a mistake is ...not to make any decisions. Yet crime necessitates making judgments about criminals' fates.

As Dodge said last week, "We can certainly release an innocent person from jail. What we cannot do is release an innocent person from the grave."

True enough. Now let's consider the other half of this argument. "What we cannot do is release an innocent person from the grave" also applies to the victims of crime who are in the grave. What do you tell the families of innocent persons who were murdered by criminals you failed to execute for their previous crimes?

oddpuppymax and SCIwuzzy, unlike most leftists I'm against abortion too, but would permit it under exceptional circumstances, just as in as capital punishment, I would permit it under exceptional circumstances.

Then you're for the death penalty. If you're for it under any circumstances whatsoever, then you're for it. Now we're just arguing about what circumstances are appropriate.

I appreciate your honesty in admitting this, but one thing about liberals that annoys me is this desire to have it both ways, viz., they're against the death penalty, but for it under some circumstances. Let me turn your argument around on you: how do you know you're not executing an innocent person? You cannot release an innocent person from the grave. You will have his blood on your hands.

I'll answer my own question: you're willing to take the chance on a mistake, because you think that the proposed course of action is in society's interest. I agree.

Yet there may be particular calculating and vicious crimes that warrant execution, I might execute hitmen who kill witnesses, for example, if there were good reason to believe that such a sanction would improve public safety.

You need to think more clearly about this. Above you made the "executing the innocent person" argument. OK. I don't buy it, but fair enough. It's a valid argument. Now you're considering the heinousness of the crime, but that has no bearing on the guilt or innocence of the person accused of the crime. A person could be accused of an especially heinous crime and still be innocent, although you'd support his execution. Sorry, Steve, but one of your positions has to go: they're mutually exclusive. You can't have it both ways.

Next stop: only executing those we're really sure about. But who would those be? How would we determine such? Maybe by vote of twelve jurors, something like that?

(Sorry for the length.)

Jay Guevara. I suggest that... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay Guevara. I suggest that capital punishment has to meet three criteria: a revolting heinous crime, say a massacre of two/three or more people, plus the culprit(s) have had to have previous terrible records of say multiple convictions, and there is absolutely no doubt what so ever of their guilt. Reserve it for the unequivocal monsters. By using it less we value it more as the ultimate punishment to be used only in very rare but gruesome cases such as this one in Connecticut.

say a massacre ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

say a massacre of two/three or more people

So how do you write the law? Murder of multiple people? What about the guy who shoots at someone - say a member of a rival gang - and kills him and also someone standing behind him by the bullet passing through the first clown?

Under the felony murder doctrine, any death caused by a perpetrator during or in the furtherance of an inherently dangerous felony - even if the death was accidental - is murder. So we execute this gang member? I would, but then I'd execute him for the first murder; would you? He now qualifies under your suggestion: he murdered two people.

Or suppose a malefactor is in the process of massacring people - say he has two victims on the floor of a 7-11. He shoots one in the back of the head, but the gun jams when he attempts to shoot the second, who then jumps up, runs from the store, and is killed by a passing car. Is the malefactor eligible?

Or a criminal shoots two people, kills one outright, but the second one, gravely wounded. dies on the operating table from an operation that did not go well. His defender blames the surgeon. Execute the criminal? Yes or no?

I could come up with a thousand scenarios like this that would make you squirm in your present position. The point is that there are always shades of gray, wobblers, and at some point one has to draw the line. I propose to draw that line so that criminals bear the brunt of uncertainty. If they hadn't engaged in their nefarious activity in the first place, they wouldn't have to worry about the death penalty. Which, of course, is the whole point.

there is absolutely no doubt what so ever of their guilt

May I move to your planet, where there is any decision whatsoever that admits of no doubt? Please? It sounds great. Much better than this one. Maybe we could check for cloven hooves on the accused.

Realistically, doubt attaches to every case. Every one. Even if the accused confesses, is his confession valid? People confess all the time to crimes they didn't commit, and defense attorneys maintain every day that confessions were coerced. And what about state of mind? Did the accused have mens rea? Did he have the capacity to form intent? Doubt. Doubt, my friend, is our constant companion in this life. Accept it.

By using it less we value it more as the ultimate punishment to be used only in very rare but gruesome cases such as this one in Connecticut.

Wouldn't a very rare use of the death penalty constitute an "unusual punishment," per the Eight Amendment?

You specify the absence of doubt to salve your guilty conscience. Fundamentally, you agree with me, but are trying not to.

Embrace the truth: some people should - and indeed, must - die for their actions, in the interests of society.

It's that simple.

And, of course, I haven't e... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

And, of course, I haven't even touched on two other compelling arguments for the death penalty: its utility in getting co-defendants to roll on each other tout suite, and the case of murder by those already incarcerated for life, who have only one thing to lose.

Face it. Your position is intellectually untenable.

By using it les... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

By using it less we value it more

Great. So you value the death penalty? Say the words. "I value the death penalty as a force for justice and protecting society."

Jay Guevara, Okay, I will a... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay Guevara, Okay, I will agree with you for the sake of argument. but is it that simple. Are you at the same time willing in the interests of society to give the same punishment/ to the policemen and prosecutors who have knowlingly put innocent men on death row. I don't think so.

The issue here isn't capital punishment; it's a trial process too open to bullsh*t, and the fetishization of "finality of verdict." If only 1% of our prison inmates are factually innocent - which seems to me like a ludicrously optimistic estimate, given how many convicts have been exonerated by DNA testing - we have 17,000 people behind bars at any one time for crimes they didn't commit.

I am aware of only one jurisdiction in the United States that maintains a team of investigators dedicated to developing new evidence to overturn guilty verdicts (and pleas). That's a crime. And it's also a crime that Gov. Rick Perry's role in allowing the execution of an innocent man seems very unlikely to damage his political future in Texas.


to give the same p... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:
to give the same punishment/ to the policemen and prosecutors who have knowlingly put innocent men on death row.

Knowingly? Knowing the accused was innocent?

Absolutely. I'll pull the switch myself.

Let me turn around the trad... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Let me turn around the traditional aphorism that it's better to let ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished.

Would it still hold if it were 100 guilty men? One thousand? One million?

At some point, if one is intellectually honest, one admits that at some point one accepts the possibility of an innocent man suffering punishment that his actions did not warrant.

I'm not trigger-happy, but trying to introduce an element of intellectual maturity into the debate. The only way to ensure that one never makes a flawed decision is...not to make any decisions at all.

Okay, I will agree... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:
Okay, I will agree with you for the sake of argument

No. Not for the sake of argument. Do you agree with me or not?

Jay Guevera, at least you a... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay Guevera, at least you aware of the flaws in the system. I suppose the best we can hope for is competency and honesty, and say thank God for DNA testing, instead of just relying on testimony from dubious medical experts

Flawed trials lead to death chamber
Bush confident in system rife with problems'..(great)


Dr. Ralph Erdmann,, who frequently testified in capital cases, pleaded no contest in 1994 to seven felonies tied to falsified evidence and botched autopsies, and surrendered his medical license. He once claimed to have examined organs that had been removed in surgery years before the victim's death. He also claimed to have examined a woman's brain but there was no incision in her head.

A special investigator appointed to examine the allegations against Erdmann concluded that "if the prosecution theory was that death was caused by a Martian death ray, then that was what Dr. Erdmann reported."

Erdmann testified in six cases where defendants have been executed under Bush.

But Texas is improving, specifically

Dallas County's DA office has more exonerations than any other jurisdiction in the nation since state law began allowing post-conviction testing in 2001. (the only one in the country I believe, which tells you something). In that time, more than 40 cases have received post-conviction DNA evidence analysis and the results have stunned the nation--to date, 19 cases were found to have wrongful convictions, and under DA Watkins' leadership ten innocent men have walked free.

after spending decades behind bars.


Do I agree with you Guevera? I think you are putting the cart before the horse. In the real world, get a decent or better justice system, with proper safeguards, better neutral state experts, less coercion of "eye-witness" testiminies, no beatings for false confessions, and rule out unreliable prison snitches. As Kleiman says less bu** sh**, then I would consider having capital punishment, but until then, no.

Jay Guevera, at... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Jay Guevera, at least you aware of the flaws in the system.

Yes, I am. It turns many too many criminals loose. I agree with you entirely.

instead of just relying on testimony from dubious medical experts

A liberal questioning experts? Judgment Day must be nigh.

He once claimed to have examined organs that had been removed in surgery years before the victim's death. He also claimed to have examined a woman's brain but there was no incision in her head.

What does he say about "global warming?"

In the real world, get a decent or better justice system, with proper safeguards, better neutral state experts, less coercion of "eye-witness" testiminies, no beatings for false confessions, and rule out unreliable prison snitches.

So...we should move to another planet? Newsflash: humans have ...uh...human failings. Humans will always have human failings. There will never be "New Socialist Man." Man is imperfect. Always has been, always will be. Accept it.

But let us suppose that accused suspects, who have had the benefit of "proper safeguards, better neutral state experts, less coercion of 'eye-witness' testimonies, no beatings for false confessions, and rule out unreliable prison snitches, come to visit your family late one night ...to thank you, so you and your loved ones can accept their thanks personally. You'd look forward to that, right?

Bottom line: why do you and your fellow liberals/ communists/socialists/ Democrats/ progressives identify with, and advocate the cause of, criminals over productive, law-abiding members of society? I'd really like to know this.

You say you would ag... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

You say you would agree, if we had a "decent" justice system, with "proper" safeguards, "better" neutral state experts, "less" coercion of 'eye-witness' testimonies, "no beatings" for "false" confessions, and rule out "unreliable" prison snitches.

By now, you know the drill.

Tell me by what operational criterion we would recognize a "decent" justice system.

Tell me how we would recognize "proper" safeguards.

Tell me how we would recognize "better" state experts.

Tell me how we would recognize less coercion of eye-witness testimonies.

Tell me how we would know we had "no beatings" for "false" confessions.

Tell me how we would distinguish reliable from "unreliable" prison snitches.

Do I agree with you Guevera?

You do, and you know you do, but you can't bring yourself to admit it. So you attempt to hide behind rhetorical questions, and then dissembling. Your position is intellectually untenable. It's been stomped and left for dead. Admit it. Embrace it. You agree with my analysis, as hateful as you find it. No one ever said the truth would be pretty. We only said it would be the truth.

The fundamental immorality ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

The fundamental immorality of your position is this: you consciously or unconsciously think that you can afford magnanimity toward vicious criminals because you and your loved ones won't encounter them. Sure, turn them loose. Those criminals will only attack, rob, and murder the poor, and the black, while you can stay in your white middle-class enclave, perhaps behind gates, and cluck your tongue about miscarriages of justice suffered by "those people."

Adopt a more moral stance. Would you welcome one of these poor, maligned innocent unfortunates to stay under your roof, under which your wife and family sleep?

Let me spare you some embarrassment. No. You would not. Yet you are happy to turn them loose on someone else's wife and family, so that you can strike a pose and preen about your morality, safe from their predations.

I put myself in the place of the potential future victims. If I would not want to accept that risk for my loved ones, I don't want anyone to have to accept it for theirs.

It's a policy I commend to you. It's a moral one. Yours is not.

Jay Guevara, you are intere... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay Guevara, you are interested in this area so I recommend this interview. It will only take a few minutes. Yes, sure absolutely, get the hardened violent criminals off the street. "Right now we are imprisoning a lot of people we are mad at, we only ought to be imprison people we are afraid of".
The end game is we all want less crime yes, but our current policy isn't working.

"deciding what we are not going to tolerate and enforce it...and it ougnt to matter a little bit we punish the right person...


My mistake, here is the cor... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

My mistake, here is the correct link for the Kleiman interview.
What do you think?

The problem with the death ... (Below threshold)
olsoljer:

The problem with the death penalty is, it is done behind closed doors, and often late at night. Kind of like a dirty little secret. To serve as a deterrent, it should be done publically, during the day, on a weekend. If done properly, hanging snaps the neck, and the results are quite obvious.

The crime was committed against the public

The trial is open to the public.

The public has the right to see the sentence carried out.

914, Yes, I was thinking ab... (Below threshold)
ChiefMinion:

914, Yes, I was thinking about it when Sadam dropped through the trap. I was thinking "Perfect".

Why wasn't his execution in the public square so the relatives (those still alive) of his victims could cheer/jeer as they saw fit?

Yes, sure absol... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Yes, sure absolutely, get the hardened violent criminals off the street. "Right now we are imprisoning a lot of people we are mad at, we only ought to be imprison people we are afraid of".

I couldn't agree more. It's beside the question of the death penalty, of course, since by definition it is/would be applied only hardened, violent criminals - those who had intentionally murdered someone else. That qualifies as a hardened, violent criminal, doesn't it?

The end game is we all want less crime yes, but our current policy isn't working.

Let us part agreeing on that (although it too is beside the question of the death penalty). The question is what to do about it.

"deciding what we are not going to tolerate and enforce it...

I agree with this too. I'd say we've already decided, through the criminal law statutes, what we are not going to tolerate. Enforcement is iffy. Punishment is iffier still. Those are the weak links.

and it ougnt to matter a little bit we punish the right person

I agree with this too, although once again, it is beside the question of the death penalty, which is concerned with how we punish criminals, not how we decide whom to punish.

It comes down to this:

1. Society needs to punish malefactors in a swift and sure fashion to have any deterrent effect.
2. Some crimes are so heinous that they warrant the ultimate sanction. (We may disagree on which, exactly, but we've agreed above that such crimes exist.)
3. Our system is broken because punishment (forget rehabilitation - for embezzlers and such, sure; for murderers, no) is neither swift nor sure.

Excessive hand-wringing over the fates of violent criminals takes place before the public, in the media. No one worries about the fates of the innocent people who were their victims, or those who will be their victims if they should be released again.

Re justice, swift and sure, consider the case of Hawley Harvey Crippen, in 1910. Here's the timeline:

31 January 1910 - Crippen's wife disappears.
13 July 1910 - remains of Crippen's wife discovered
16 July 1910 - warrant issued for Crippen's arrest
31 July 1910 - Crippen tracked down in Canada and arrested
21 August 1910 (approximately) - Crippen extradited from Canada
18 October 1910 - Crippen's trial begins (on Tuesday)
24 October 1910 - Crippen's trial ends (on the following Monday)
24 October 1910, 12:00 - Jury begins deliberation
24 October 1910, 12:27 - Jury convicts Crippen
24 October 1910, 12:28 - Crippen sentenced to death
5 November 1910 - Crippen's appeal heard and dismissed
23 November 1910 - Crippen hanged in Pentonville Prison

Now what effect would you think that timeline would have on someone contemplating murdering his wife?

Let's consider that lethal ... (Below threshold)

Let's consider that lethal injection is to make the public at large and the witnesses at hand more comfortable, not the prisoner. I submit to you that DEAD IS DEAD, whether it be from a needle or a rope or 6 rifle bullets to the heart.

Let's not pretend that sending the condemned off in a gentle 'he just went to sleep' fashion isn't what it is: the willful taking of a human life, sanctioned by the state. Administering a lethal injection has exactly the same effect as pulling the trap door on the gallows: it results in the death of the prisoner.

There's no way to know, but I would bet that the man who gets the needle is just as upset about the situation as the man who gets the rope. Can you really imagine that the prisoner's last thought was 'well, this needle makes it not so bad... and, they really do mean well'?

I support capital punishment, and it should not be administered in a cruel or unusual manner. I do not consider hanging or the firing squad to be either. I do consider lethal injection to be a feelgood measure for US, not the prisoner.

Dead is dead. Let's not pretend we can sugar coat it.




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