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[P]
"I'm going to sleep well tonight..."

By tarpy in News
Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:26:39 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Even if the exercise of my power becomes my burden, I will bear it. ... I sought this office, and even in my final days of holding it, I can't shrink from the obligations to justice and fairness that it demands. ... I'm going to sleep well tonight knowing I made the right decision.
-Illinois Governor George Ryan announcing blanket commutation for all Illinois Death Row inmates.

For the first time in a very long time, I'm proud of the state (Illinois) I live in. I'm proud, not because of some fleeting sports championship, or some other silly thing, but because of the moral courage of its elected leader, Gov. George Ryan.

In the last forty-eight hours, Ryan (R-Kankakee) took the unprecedented steps of pardoning four death row inmates, and granting a blanket clemency to the remaining 164 inmates sentenced to death.


As a person who is fundamentally a mix of Republican and Libertarian ideology, I was long a proponent of the death penalty. Slowly, after many years of thought, and especially after reading about the injustices perpetuated in the cases of Rolando Cruz, Anthony Porter, and even more in the cases of the four just recently pardoned who literally had their "confessions" beaten out of them by Chicago cops, I came to the inescapable conclusion that the death penalty as instituted in the state of Illinois was fundamentally flawed, and the risk of executing an innocent was too great. In just my state alone, of the almost 180 men and woman who were sentenced to die since the re-instatement of the death penalty since 1972, at least thirteen men were provably innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted...one man, Cruz, had literally come within hours of his scheduled execution. As the Governor rightly pointed out this weekend, had he, in his earlier profession (he was a pharmacist before entering politics), had such a failure rate, his license would have long ago been suspended.

In an emotional pair of speeches this past weekend, Ryan, who was elected with a strong pro-death-penalty position, powerfully laid out his reasoning for his action. Having instituted a moratorium in 2000 after thirteen men had been exonerated for the crimes which had sent them to death row, Ryan convened a blue ribbon commission to study and recommend changes to the Illinois Capital System. After receiving their report, Ryan gave the Illinois Legislature three separate chances to pass meaningful reform. The Legislature didn't even attempt at passing token reforms. Late last year, Ryan announced he would have all capital cases in Illinois reviewed by a Clemency Board to see if any cases were worth of commutation. Further coupled with explosive allegations of systematic torture in a Chicago police district, Ryan, who leaves the governship on Monday, felt he had no choice but to stop what he called "the machinery of death". Evoking Lincoln, Ryan said that he would act "as friend to the friendless."

But that is not to say that you cannot infer ulterior motives to Ryan's actions. For most, if not all, of his term, Ryan has been mired in a corruption scandal that could possibly send him to Federal prison on corruption charges shortly. Many see in this a Clintonesque attempt at "securing" his legacy in history regardless of the outcome of "Licenses for bribes". To wit, one of the anti-death penalty activists in Illinois recently announced that he will nominate Ryan for the Noble Peace Prize next year.

To me, at least, what is most worrisome, even compared to the execution of an innocent man, is the near stampede by politicians of all political stripes in the state towards the microphones to denounce Ryan for his action. That the Republicans in this state are upset does not surprise me. The G.O.P. seems as beholden to the sacredness of capital punishment as the Democrats seem towards abortion. Rather, it is the shameless posturing of the state's Democratic leaders, from Governor-Elect Blagojevich on down that has left me jaw-agape in stunned disbelief.

Governor-Elect Blow-Dry, er, Blagojevich on the very eve of his inauguration has come out publicly denouncing the commutation and implying that he would seek to overturn it via some procedural way. Cook County State's Attorney (the Cook County/Chicago D.A.) Dick Devine said that by pardoning and commuting, "the governor has breached faith with the memory of the dead victims, their families and the people he was elected to serve," as if somehow executing an innocent man was "keeping the faith". Devine went even further, personally attacking the governor, and calling him nothing more than a "mere pharmacist". Hizzoner (Richard Daley), who was once State's Attorney for Cook County, even weighed in on the situation saying that a blanket commutation "troubled" him.

Pardon me for being slightly partisan here, but aren't these people, and by extension Democrats, supposed to be the party looking out for the downtrodden and those who have been railroaded by the system? When the hell did they give up their admirable social conscience to be the first to throw the switch? Seeing as how the death penalty (especially in Illinois) is predominately applied to minorities, they have a ready-made political winner on their hands. Instead of doing what is right, what is moral, and what would really make their base happy, they rush to execute before the Republicans do. It's not everyday when you get a moral good wrapped up in something that's good politics...why don't they take advantage of it?

What this means at the end of the day for the debate over the death penalty in this country I'm not sure. What I am sure is the actions taken over the last couple of days here in Illinois will be talked and debated over and over and over in the coming weeks and months. I can only hope and pray that other governors will have the courage that Ryan has shown. I'm firmly convinced that we're on the path to finally rid ourselves of this barbaric practice. But for now, like Ryan, I won't having any trouble going to bed tonight in a state where no one is under sentence of death. And that is a pretty good start to 2003.

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Poll
Why do you oppose the death penalty?
o The state should not murder 52%
o Too easy to execute an innocent 28%
o It's applied inconsistently 3%
o It's applied towards minorities disproportionaly 1%
o Rich people tend to have better counsel, and therefore don't get the death penalty 3%
o Too many crimes merit death 1%
o I don't, fry 'em all, and let God sort them out 9%

Votes: 274
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o pardoning four death row inmates
o granting a blanket clemency
o Republican
o Libertaria n
o Rolando Cruz
o Anthony Porter
o "Licenses for bribes"
o Also by tarpy


Display: Sort:
"I'm going to sleep well tonight..." | 343 comments (339 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Moral Courage (3.92 / 13) (#3)
by Lai Lai Boy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:07:34 AM EST

While I agree that the blanket pardon was the right thing to do, how is it courageous? The man is leaving office in 48 hours? If anything goes wrong he won't be taking the bullet, though it doesn't seem like a lot could go wrong. While it's the right action, I don't see how Ryan will get any flak for it one way or the other and thus, it can't really be courageous, no?

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

And he's not likely to find other work either. (4.33 / 4) (#67)
by ethereal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:42:55 AM EST

I agree that it was less courageous than, say, if he'd made this decision at the beginning of his term. Although he did institute the death penalty moratorium close to the beginning of his term, and he's had to live with the criticism of the clemency review process for the last several months of his term. But he's unlikely to go on to other political office, so from that perspective he doesn't have much to lose, and thus isn't risking much with this decision.

I suppose there might be "internal courage" - the courage to challenge one's own beliefs and change them when presented with new evidence. From that perspective, considering the difference from his opinions of four years ago, perhaps he's shown some courage.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

death penalty and governance (3.50 / 3) (#74)
by eudas on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:05:27 AM EST

  1. if he does get indicted for any of the corruption charges that other people seem to be mentioning about his administration, then maybe he's just making sure that he won't get the chair. (heh.)
  2. if he's leaving office soon, then (IMO) it's not very wise for a ruler to make a large change like this when he is going to be leaving power, because once he is out of power he has no control over what fate his decision suffers. in other words, he can't protect his program, so it'll be dismantled or weakened by his opponents once he's gone.
eudas
"Nothing is on fire, but the day is still young" -- Phil the Canuck
[ Parent ]
There's no "program" here (none / 0) (#265)
by parliboy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:57:02 PM EST

The guv is commuting all current death sentences to life without parole, along with kicking a few really nasty cock-ups to the curb.  He has this very unique power as a result of his postion, and all the bellyaching by the dissenters won't undo his actions, as this was legal.  Those people are pretty much spared.

There doesn't even exist the option of reprosecution to reestablish the death penalty, because when someone is retried in the US, you can't given them a more stiff penalty than they already had.  In fact, it's entirely risky to do so, because they could wind up with lesser sentences, and then get released. (off-topic: this is a possible result of the Wilbert Rideau retrial)

However, the guv's actions have no bearing on future actions, and the new guv will probably turn Illinois into the new Texas when it comes to bringing up new death row convicts.

----------
Eat at the Dissonance Diner.
[ Parent ]

Reasoning (4.27 / 22) (#4)
by jeroenb on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:56:49 AM EST

What always surprises me is that most Americans who oppose the death penalty do so because they feel the chances of executing an innocent man are too high. The rest of the western world opposes the death penalty for wholly different reasons (mostly, that capital punishment needlessly "hardens" citizens and murder is murder whether you're a government or not.)

two possible reasons (3.70 / 10) (#12)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:40:28 AM EST

1) We Americans like to see ourselves as fundamentally fair people. We're much more likely to be convinced that a system is unfair, rather than the punishment is immoral. Remember, something like 70% of Americans believe the death penalty is a-ok. You're more likely to win on the fairness side of things than on the "states shouldn't kill" line of reasoning.

2) We are a young country that still has a very rough sense of justice. I don't think that's a bad thing, I just think that there's still a part of the posse/wild-west mentality that is still rolling around in our collective psyche.




Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Australia... (3.71 / 7) (#20)
by sholden on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:31:25 AM EST

2) We are a young country that still has a very rough sense of justice. I don't think that's a bad thing, I just think that there's still a part of the posse/wild-west mentality that is still rolling around in our collective psyche.

We're younger, and we abolished the death penalty nation wide in 1985 (though in 1985 I think that only NSW still had the death penalty then, and only for crimes of piracy and treason, the last execution in NSW was in 1940, though the last nationwide was 1967).

We also have Ned Kelly, a bank robbing, police murdering outlaw as quite possibly our all time national hero, certainly more well known and liked than any of our prime ministers.

Of course he did reintroduce the idea of platemail armour which is just cool, but forgot about the legs and hence got a shotgun blast to them...


--
The world's dullest web page


[ Parent ]
Of course you don't like it, YOU'RE CRIMINALS (1.16 / 6) (#112)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:43:06 PM EST

Wasn't Australia started off as a place to dump criminals? Doesn't suprise me that the death penalty would make you blokes skittish.

[ Parent ]
Wasn't the USoA... (3.00 / 2) (#154)
by jman11 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:52:35 PM EST

The USoA was started as a place to scare all the religious extremists too.  No wonder they are into executing and torturing people.

[ Parent ]
Of course you don't like it, YOU'RE CRIMINALS (3.00 / 3) (#196)
by schwar on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:59:24 PM EST

Damn it you're right, we should hang our heads in shame!

I wish we were like the USA and used slaves rather than convicts to develop our colony, because that would be something to be proud of wouldnt it?

As if dispossessing the aboriginies isn't enough on the national conscience.

[ Parent ]
plenty of that mentality in the White House :) nt (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by ethereal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:36:54 AM EST


--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Value of a human life (3.16 / 18) (#13)
by Djinh on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:41:27 AM EST

The value of a human life seems to be less in the USA: The police regularly shoot unarmed and innocent people, I myself was faced with a shotgun when I once got out of my car to simply ask a policeman for directions, there's the death penalty, even people who appear quite normal seem to think it's perfectly allright to kill someone for tresspassing and bombing large amounts of non-combatants into oblivion is called "collateral damage" and has no consequences for the soldiers involved.

And all this is accepted as normal behaviour over there.

It seems to me there is something deeply wrong with society there.

--
We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

I disagree (2.71 / 7) (#19)
by StephenThompson on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:30:10 AM EST

Of the 15 countries I have been to, Americans seem to place a substantially higher value on life than many others. That is why criminals who hurt people are so very scorned.

[ Parent ]
Value? (3.66 / 6) (#22)
by Djinh on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:44:40 AM EST

How can you say Americans value human life?

If that is placing a high value on human life then I really don't want to know where you've been... Fortunately you haven't been to my country.

--
We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]
Funny (3.83 / 6) (#26)
by KittyFishnets on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 06:02:04 AM EST

Your first link, an article on civillian casualties, was written by an American.

The second link, a harsh (and graphic) collection of Gulf War photos, were taken by an American.

The third link is an opinion piece on the shooting of Amadou Ahmed Diallo. The shooting and the eventual trial were covered by all major American media. The acquittal of the officers involved was seen as a major failing of the justice system and resulted in a large protest and eventually the dismatling of the New York City Street Crime Unit.

The fourth link, again, is a front page news piece in all American media.

Seems to me that Americans are quite interested and concerned with regard to the value of human life.

(Your 5th link is a stupid Texas law. I can find you 20 stupider laws if you'd like.)

Dan

[ Parent ]

Not so funny (4.50 / 5) (#81)
by Djinh on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:59:55 AM EST

So please explain why, if Americans are so interested in and concerned with the value of human life, the article is about civillian casualties of American bombs, the Gulf war photos didn't make anyone think as America seems to want another war in Iraq no matter what and the next candidate for Illinois is already trying to find ways of turning back the clemency decision. And I challenge you to find any law that is more stupid than one saying it's ok to kill someone to protect mere property.

There are obviosly some people who care, and even some people who realise that a life isn't worth more just because someone holds a US passport.

However, you'll have a hard time convincing anyone that "valuing human life" is a major trait of the United States as state and as society.

Valuing human life is not about valuing your own life, or valuing life if it's convenient, or valuing life if it isn't about your car or your TV or your money.

Valuing life means you bloody well aim that bomb at what it should be aimed at, even if it's doubtful that the thing should be dropped at all. Valuing life means no governor has to give clemency to anyone to prevent them from being executed. Valuing life means it's not ok to kill someone, in any circumstances. Valuing human life means that if innocent people die in the precence of your army, you do not shove it under the rug, and you damn well find out what happened exactly and who failed and what you're going to do to make sure it never happens again.

Valuing human life means you value human life. Nothing, but certainly nothing less.

--
We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Nonsense (3.00 / 2) (#141)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:32:47 PM EST

Your point about civilian casualties is just plain silly as they are an unavoidable consequence of war. The Gulf War, the bombing of Serbia, and the war in Afghanistan each resulted in an extraordinarily low incidence of collateral damage when compared to any other modern war between industrialized nation states (including previous American wars). America spends vast amounts of money to equip its military with technology that significantly reduces civilian casualties. Of course our record is not perfect, but over the last two decades it is significantly better than the records of any other country involved in large scale martial conflict.

And as for killing people for property crimes, I would be absolutely furious if the government were to classify property crimes as a capital offense (for the record I am very strongly opposed to the death penalty in the first place), but that is not what is at issue here. You are bringing up legal protections for people who use deadly force to protect their life and/or property. That is something entirely different. Myself, I don't think I could bring myself to kill someone in the process of robbing me, but I find it totally unacceptable that the government would prosecute someone for doing so. I'm sorry, but someone acting in defense of their property (and in the course of a robbery it is impossible to rule out the possibility that their life is not in danger as well as their property) does not represent a threat to society sufficient to involve the criminal justice system. Broad self defense rights embody the belief that it is more important to protect individuals from the potential abuses of the state than it is to to protect criminals from an over zealous property owner.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Thank you (3.00 / 2) (#164)
by Djinh on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:38:01 PM EST

For illustrating my point.

--
We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]
meaning what exactly? (3.00 / 2) (#168)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:54:26 PM EST


---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Pfffft (3.00 / 2) (#172)
by Djinh on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:06:31 PM EST

Well, explaining away thousands of innocent civilian deaths as "plain silly" is a good illustration of my point that the US (the state and it's people) generally don't care for human lives.

No one believes anyone it trying to limit civilian casualties when they see the US drop daisy cutters and cluster bombs on villages and not punish those responsible.

You also completely miss my point about laws that legalise murder: Those laws say it's allright to kill someone if he tries to steal my property. This is idiotic and barbaric beyond belief.

What you do is come up with various stupid reasons why it's ok to kill people, and this illustrates my point nicely.

My point being that many if not most people in the US do not put much value on a human life.

--
We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]

Right back at you! (3.00 / 2) (#177)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:39:30 PM EST

A big pfffft to you too.

Well, explaining away thousands of innocent civilian deaths as "plain silly" is a good illustration of my point that the US (the state and it's people) generally don't care for human lives.

My point was that the US goes to great extremes to reduce the number of civilian casualties. The context of this discussion as established by the article is relative (comparing one nation to another), and relatively speaking no other country has done as much to reduce civilian casualties as the US has. Civilian casualties in WWII were measured in the millions. Civilian casualties in the Algerian/French conflict were measured in the hundreds of thousands. Civilian casualties in the Vietnam war (both with the French and with the US) were measured in the hundred of thousands (or millions depending on whose doing the counting). Civilian casualties in Iraq were counted at well under 10,000 and most estimates place the civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Bosnia well under 5000. Seems like a mighty fine improvement, or perhaps we should just go back to the good old days carpet bombing cities?

No one believes anyone it trying to limit civilian casualties when they see the US drop daisy cutters and cluster bombs on villages and not punish those responsible.

Considering that the US did neither, I have no idea what you are speaking of.

You also completely miss my point about laws that legalise murder: Those laws say it's allright to kill someone if he tries to steal my property. This is idiotic and barbaric beyond belief.

No, you're idiotic beyond belief (which is about as well substantiated and useful a comment as yours, which is to say not at all). I didn't miss your point at all, I pointed out that there is a perfectly good reason, other than valuing property above and beyond the sanctity of human life, for providing a broad affirmative defense based upon self defense.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
The US makes war in the first place (3.00 / 2) (#181)
by pathetic on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:01:54 PM EST

My point was that the US goes to great extremes to reduce the number of civilian casualties.

How about not starting pointless wars in the first place?.

Civilian casualties in the Vietnam war (both with the French and with the US) were measured in the hundred of thousands (or millions depending on whose doing the counting)

Come on. The historically accepted figure is 3 million dead Vietnamese vs. 50,000 dead US. The French were not responsible for many of those dead Vietnamese.

[ Parent ]

Re: The US makes war in the first place (3.00 / 2) (#189)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:53:46 PM EST

How about not starting pointless wars in the first place?.

I hardly think the US has been involved in pointless wars. Ill advised perhaps, but not pointless.

Come on. The historically accepted figure is 3 million dead Vietnamese vs. 50,000 dead US. The French were not responsible for many of those dead Vietnamese.

Come on yourself. As I said, it depends upon who is doing the counting, who they are counting as civilians, and what deaths get attributed to the war vs. its secondary consequences. Anyhow, my point was not to minimize the admittedly large number of civilian deaths that occurred as a result of the US actions in Vietnam. Actually, my point would have been better served by inflating that number.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
But what about (4.00 / 4) (#23)
by pathetic on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:48:53 AM EST

the many criminals who commit property offences and hurt nobody, but end up doing 20 years + in jail thanks to mandatory sentencing, such as the 3-strike law?

[ Parent ]
What country do you call home? (3.00 / 3) (#27)
by Demiurge on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 06:09:33 AM EST

Because I can assure you that with only 5 minutes of Googling, I can produce a bevy of shoddy links as repudable as the ones you cut and pasted into your comment further down detailing the offenses against mankind committed there.

[ Parent ]
Try Denmark (3.00 / 2) (#62)
by Hektor on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:29:00 AM EST

Then for kicks, try Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland.

I'm kinda curious what you'll dig up :-)

[ Parent ]

Iceland (3.00 / 2) (#98)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:07:33 PM EST

Are jailed criminals really allowed to go home for Christmas in Iceland?


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
Don't know about Iceland (3.00 / 2) (#162)
by zocky on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:33:05 PM EST

But AFAIK, letting convicts out for weekends is pretty common around Europe.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Home... (3.00 / 2) (#165)
by Djinh on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:39:11 PM EST

...is in The Netherlands.

--
We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]
Anything goes (2.09 / 11) (#14)
by ensignyu on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:43:10 AM EST

Perhaps in the U.S., people think that once you've been convicted, you give up all your rights. Until then, you have your right to a trial by jury, right to lawyer, Miranda rights, ... oh wait, all those might go away in the indefinate future.

[ Parent ]
No. (4.46 / 15) (#16)
by KittyFishnets on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:00:40 AM EST

You're an outsider looking in. Americans who oppose the death penalty do so for the exact same reasons as everyone else.

But Americans who speak against the death penalty are addressing an audience with different cultural and religious beliefs. Your "murder is murder" claim would get you nothing but scorn. You would quickly be dismissed as some anti-government conspiracy freak. Seen any UFOs lately?

The old approach, claiming that executions are cruel and unusual, has been so overdone that it is dismissed as "typical liberal bleeding-heart nonsense." As for a "hardens the population" claim, sorry, but that is backwards effective. The stereotypical American middle-aged man believes that the rest of the nation could do with some "toughening up." (Yes, I see the distinction. No, they usually won't.)

Truth is, pointing out the system's fallibility is one of the few arguments we can make that are not dismissed outright as emotional nonsense. Our only two effective arguments are the ones you continue to hear:

  1. The courts have executed men later found to be innocent.
  2. There is a staggering disparity in the severity of sentencing when the convicted is from a minority.
Racists will argue the second. Whatever. You aren't going to win that kind of mind without a lot of work.

But no one can deny the simple truth of the first statement. The only response is a weak "that's the price you pay."

Dan

[ Parent ]

Interesting point! (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by jeroenb on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:27:01 AM EST

I have to admit I hadn't looked at it that way, although I would expect that on a site such as K5, there would be some more room for the actual motivations (there probably is, but the writer of this story appears to be part of the group I described, also judging from the poll options.)

[ Parent ]
Very good (3.50 / 3) (#28)
by hugues on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:09:43 AM EST

I agree completely. Myself I oppose the death penalty at all levels, I even think that indefinite confinement to a tough prison is worse than death. However a lot of people everywhere (including in supposedly enlightened Europe) still think the death penalty is fine.

The argument of the unfairness of the sentence on minorities and the fact of the huge error rate (even in France, the last man to be guillotined apparently had a very weak case against him) ususally makes most people think.

[ Parent ]

Life in prison compared to execution (3.00 / 2) (#94)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:03:23 PM EST

The things that I think are better about life in prison are that you have the opportunity to come to terms with what you've done and get at peace with yourself.  Also, if you are later found innocent, you can be released.  If they've taken away 30 years of your life, it is still terrible, but at least you can get *something* back.

From what I've read, execution doesn't even have any budgetary benefits (although looking at it from that standpoint is pretty damn coldhearted).


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]

Thanks (1.12 / 8) (#99)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:11:03 PM EST

You're an outsider looking in. Americans who oppose the death penalty do so for the exact same reasons as everyone else. But Americans who speak against the death penalty are addressing an audience with different cultural and religious beliefs.

Thanks for publicly admitting that anti-death penalty propagandists are lying to the American people about their true motives.

[ Parent ]

Wrong (3.00 / 2) (#211)
by shinshin on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:55:33 AM EST

Do you really have such poor reading comprension skills, or are you deluded into thinking that K5 readers are gullible enough to fall for your intentionally falacious reasoning?

Thanks for publicly admitting that anti-death penalty propagandists are lying to the American people about their true motives.

Quite the opposite: their motives are what the claim (stop the death penalty). It is their primary reasons for thinking that it is an evil practice that they are not being up-front about.



____
We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]
As a non-American .... (3.91 / 12) (#24)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:06:21 AM EST

I think the risk of executing an innocent man, which is always going to be a factor, however good your legal system, is a a pretty big factor in my mind. I don't know about other countries, but here in the UK, restoration of the death penalty commands considerable public support, although it is a total non-issue amongst the political elite, and is therefore never going to happen. I wouldn't be surprised if this were also the case elsewhere in Europe. I suspect this is one of those cases where if it were a live issue, and the public therefore more educated, the majority would disappear.

Personally, my reason for opposing the death penalty is that it is an act of acute hubris, because it is irreversable. It rules out the possibility of redemption and the other things the condemned might have done with his life, as well as ruling out the possibility of error.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]

Logical Arguments (4.31 / 16) (#25)
by DarkZero on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:53:23 AM EST

The reason why the "killing an innocent man" argument is used is because it's a tangible, logical argument, rather than an emotional one.

"Murder is murder" is an emotional argument. Can you give me the statistics and historical evidence proving that capital punishment is a negative thing because it kills a human being? Of course not. You feel that it's murder, someone else feels that it's a just punishment, and there are no disputed facts or statistics between those two feelings. Similarly, the idea that capital punishment "needlessly hardens citizens" is purely emotional and intangible, even if it has some moral/ethical basis.

Now let's look at the argument that these Americans are using. If you claim that innocent people have been unjustly killed by the death penalty, you can back that up with facts, records, historical statistics, and often a concrete example of it having happened recently. It's one of the few logical, tangible arguments that you can make in a debate that usually amounts to "It gives me a good feeling" versus "It gives me a bad feeling" with empty, but exceptionally verbose arguments like "It's a (unprovable) deterrent to crime" or "It needlessly hardens citizens" thrown in so that it sounds like an adult discussion instead of whispered gossip or two schoolchildren arguing on a playground.

I assume that those emotional arguments are given more weight in Europe and the rest of the Western world because it's not really a major issue in those places and thus does not have to stand up to the scrutiny of perpetual political debate. Then again, that's just a rough idea that I formed from what the Europeans here have been saying, so I could certainly be way off.

[ Parent ]

Great post (3.50 / 6) (#59)
by CaptainZapp on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:18:50 AM EST

I assume that those emotional arguments are given more weight in Europe and the rest of the Western world because it's not really a major issue in those places and thus does not have to stand up to the scrutiny of perpetual political debate.

I think a major difference is in the judical systems. "An eye for an eye" seems to be more in line with the American approach, while Europe (in general, I'm not talking Turkish prisons here) has more a "reform the criminals" approach.

You see that very well in execution of drug laws. In most European countries you see more and more of a shift to tolerate marijuana and acceptance that heroin addiction is rather a medical problem and not a crime.

America seems to be of the opinion: He used pot, that's illegal, put him into the slammer for a couple years and impound the car.

Personally (as an European) I prefer the European approach, but wouldn't want to make a value judgement. (Alas I strongly oppose the death penalty...)

[ Parent ]

Good point (3.00 / 2) (#142)
by BCoates on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:34:38 PM EST

You're right, the idea of using the legal system to reform criminals is all but dead here in the US, imho.

America seems to be of the opinion: He used pot, that's illegal, put him into the slammer for a couple years and impound the car.

I think that's why drug decriminalization (which I would define as keeping drug dealing illegal, but punishing small-scale possesion/use with mandatory treatment at most) isn't terribly popular around here, despite few people believing the "drug war" is winnable anymore; I wouldn't be surprised if complete legalization of the drug trade happens here first. But that's somewhat more drastic, and will probably take a decade or more of drug policy failure to bring around.

--
Benjamin Coates

[ Parent ]

Turkey (3.00 / 2) (#153)
by jman11 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:48:11 PM EST


For all that can be said of Turkey, at least they abolished the death penalty.

[ Parent ]
Mommy and Daddy (3.00 / 2) (#215)
by DarkZero on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:09:12 AM EST

It's Mommy's calm, soothing voice vs. Daddy's belt across your ass. It's a debate that's momentarily resolved when applied to various subjects in various regions, but that will ultimately go on forever in one form or another.

[ Parent ]
Which is why... (3.00 / 7) (#68)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:44:36 AM EST

...America has a 'hard' population, and most of the rest of the world does not. And if you doubt that point, before you point to the fatties in the mid-West, try poking your nose into places like Idaho, Eastern Oregon, rural Colorado, Arkansas, Texas, and tell me that Americans aren't hard as nails. Also, your post suggests that hardening of a population is a bad thing. But notice how when push comes to shove (and it always comes to shove), the hardest people have a habit of coming out on top. When you see America behaving in a 'savage' manner by executing (guilty) criminals, what you are seeing is the remnant of a nation that kicked and scratched its way into existence. Americans (especially in the West) are aware of the hardships that built the place (it's hard to forget, being just a handful or two of generations old) and they behave accordingly. In other words, many Americans are living in a mild form of 'survival mode', where consideration of the merits of a child molester's pleas for mercy tend to get swept under the rug. I'm not advocating abbreviated justice, but I do think there is a rationale for the (albeit flawed) system of justice that currently sends the (guilty) criminals to death.

I also take great exception when America is maligned for capital punishment by people who engage in 'civilized' practices like torturing Geese for that putrid Jello that the French so covet.

And lest anyone misunderstand my comments, I want to say that I support the commutation of these sentences and in no way support capital punishment for people unless they are truly proven guilty by the standard of the law.
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[ Parent ]

Let me get this straight... (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by /dev/niall on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:11:06 PM EST

... you're saying people who eat foie gras can't express their opposition to capital punishment?

Also, the nation was largely kicked and scratched into existence by folks who came from other countries; The U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on gumption. There are plenty of other countries with sizable percentages of their populations that believe capital punishment to be a good thing, though you may not realize it by their liberal (by U.S. standards) governments or press.
--
"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot
[ Parent ]

Don't get your point... (2.50 / 3) (#102)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:15:48 PM EST

Also, the nation was largely kicked and scratched into existence by folks who came from other countries; The U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on gumption. Well, I never said they weren't. My point is that the grandparents and great-grandparents of people in my generation (~30 y.o.) were the people that actually settled the Western US. The fact that my grandfather's parents are from Belgium is pretty much beside the point, since it was the experience of building a farm on their land that made them 'hard' Americans. I've been to Belgium, and while it might be difficult to establish a farm there, it's a far cry from doing it in rural Washington State at the turn of the 20th century. There are plenty of other countries with sizable percentages of their populations that believe capital punishment to be a good thing, though you may not realize it by their liberal (by U.S. standards) governments or press. Fair enough. The general perception is that the US and a few 'savage' nations (e.g., Iran) are the last holdouts. If that's an incorrect perception, I wonder why.
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[ Parent ]

Please (3.50 / 3) (#149)
by jman11 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:11:57 PM EST

I forgot that the USoA was so hard and the rest of the world lives such easy and sheltered lives.  No other group of peoples have explored new lands or anything like that.  USoAians are unique in that their great grandparents did this.  Please come and invade the rest of the world and make us as hard as you.

Don't be so arrogant and realise that organising someone else to stab a man with a syringe while he's tied down is not a "hard" act.

Look at India, Australia, South America or Africa if you want tough farming land.  Yeah life can be tough, but the USoA doesn't have a monopoly on it.

[ Parent ]

It's pretty obvious... (3.00 / 2) (#198)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:04:36 AM EST

...you wouldn't understand unless you actually went to some of places that I mentioned above. The conquest of the western United States is one of man's great accomplishments. I only brought it up to explain why some Americans have a hard heart on certain social issues. My reasoning was that people in those regions have to be extremely tough. It's a bit of a 'nurture' argument, although you seem determined to contrue it from the 'nature' angle.

Frankly, you seem like a fucking tool either way. Your use of 'USoA' convinced me.
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[ Parent ]

Yeah, well (5.00 / 1) (#244)
by jman11 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:42:31 AM EST

I'm guessing you haven't been to most of the places I listed either.  Please pull your head out and realise there is a lot of unpleasant terrain and climate out there.  Australia is a perfect counter example: tough climate, no death penalty.

You are coming across as someone who has never left the USoA, if this is untrue I apologise, if not then it explains everything.

[ Parent ]

LOL (4.00 / 2) (#251)
by SPYvSPY on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 10:11:00 AM EST

I wasn't even born in the US. I've lived here most of my life, but certainly not all. I've been to tough places outside the US before. Are you seriously going to compare Australia to the USA? I mean, come on...get real. Australia has a fucking long way to go yet to be anything even remotely approaching the USA. That would be like you comparing yourself to Mohammed Ali. You clearly have a near-total lack of perspective.
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[ Parent ]

lord save us from the ignorant american (4.00 / 2) (#274)
by tarpy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:31:08 PM EST

What absolute tripe you're spouting.

No, the pioneers didn't have it easy, but the US certainly doesn't have a monopoly of having had it tough.

You clearly need to get out more.

And as for comparing Australia to the US, I don't think that's so far off base. Having been to it, and see what they started with, and what they have now, I think those people may have had it worse than many of the US ancestors.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

The comparison (4.00 / 1) (#275)
by jman11 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:36:14 PM EST

Is that both countries have some really rough terrain and had a recent move westwards across the continent and now only one has the death penalty.

The comparison is not unfair and you have provided nothing except vitriol to enforce your point.  

[ Parent ]

Not vitriol... (none / 0) (#317)
by SPYvSPY on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 09:31:30 AM EST

Do some homework about the expansion/conquest/settlement into the western USA. There is no precedent in history that I am aware of that compares. Even if there were a situation that was meaningfully analogous, the timing of the event in the USA, combined with the contemporary cultural and technological environment, combined with the political atmosphere and the terrain, and the nature and culture of the indigenous population, all make the expansion westward a totally unique event. It is *your* lack of understanding that makes you believe that there is any parallel to Australia (or anywhere else), which is a total joke.
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[ Parent ]

Genocide (none / 0) (#327)
by teeth on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 06:23:52 AM EST

The conquest of both America and Australia involved genocide and bondage.


Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

Yeah... (none / 0) (#329)
by SPYvSPY on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 10:17:22 AM EST

...and Native Americans killed a lot of Salmon. What's your fucking point?
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[ Parent ]

Comparisons (none / 0) (#330)
by teeth on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 12:20:08 PM EST

My point is that it is reasonable to compare Australia and America as having some degree of commonality in their histories from which they diverge


Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

No dice. (4.00 / 3) (#180)
by felixrayman on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:50:32 PM EST

try poking your nose into places like Idaho, Eastern Oregon, rural Colorado, Arkansas, Texas, and tell me that Americans aren't hard as nails. Also, your post suggests that hardening of a population is a bad thing. But notice how when push comes to shove (and it always comes to shove), the hardest people have a habit of coming out on top

Nonsense. If they came out on top, they wouldn't be living in places like Idaho, Eastern Oregon, rural Colorado, Arkansas and Texas.

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Froi gras tastes good... (3.00 / 2) (#202)
by jforan on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:19:14 AM EST

Stuff that corn down their throat.  If I were tortured and killed, I would at least hope that someone did it for their own culinary pleasure.

Yummie.

Jeff

I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]

Well (2.00 / 3) (#133)
by dipierro on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:03:57 PM EST

That probably has something to do with the ACLU, which can't make a Constitutional argument for the latter, but can make a Constitutional argument for the former.

And just like the good boys and girls we are, Americans tend to form their opinions based on those of the special-interest groups and political parties which they happen to become affiliated with.



[ Parent ]
I can explain that (3.00 / 2) (#221)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:38:48 AM EST

You'll be glad to know that there are lots of us (Americans) who oppose the death penalty on moral grounds. That said, every further argument helps in the fight against this barbaric practice, whether it's the issue of executing innocent people or the fact that it costs significantly more to execute a prisoner than to have them serve a life sentence.

The reason you so frequently hear these other arguments cited in discussions, rather than the moral argument (or -- more typically -- in addition to it, but with most time on them instead of it), is that despite what so many of us K5ers seem to think, it's extremely hard to talk someone 'round to your morality from theirs. Most people lack either the courage or strength required to truly examine and, where necessary, change their cherished beliefs (especially in the face of so much pro-death propaganda) and so it's usually best to argue tactically rather than strategically.



--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
What I don't understand (4.00 / 10) (#5)
by Betcour on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:57:11 AM EST

It is my understanding the the US constitution says that no "cruel and unusual punishments" should be inflicted. Yet somehow frying someone on an electric chair is legal ?

Due process (3.66 / 4) (#7)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:10:33 AM EST

Yes, because the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the chair is not C&UP provided the condemned has had due process of law.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]
Frying (2.66 / 6) (#9)
by Djinh on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:23:41 AM EST

So "No cruel and unjust punishment" means getting fried after the cops beat you to bloody pulp to make you confess?

--
We are the Euro. Resistance is futile. All your dollars will be assimilated.
[ Parent ]
Uh, no... (4.00 / 4) (#10)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:36:22 AM EST

wouldn't that be a violation of said pulpee's due process rights?

Whether or not we like it, the U.S. Constitution recognizes capital punishment as constitutional.

The Fifth Amendment states that a person cannot be deprived of life unless due process of law has been followed.

The Fourteenth Amendment reiterates that sentiment when it says, "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"

That been said, I'd be all for an amendment banning capital punishment.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Those amendments don't say that (2.00 / 3) (#65)
by ftobin on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:38:55 AM EST

Your logic is horrific.  The amendments you name certainly do not recognize capital punishment as constitutional.

P: Due process is followed
Q: A person can be deprived of life

The amendments you list state:

s1: ^p -> ^s

There is no inference to your conclusion:

s2: p -> q

s2 is the inverse of s1, and does not follow from the truth of s1.

[ Parent ]

Not just my logic, SCOTUS' logic (3.00 / 2) (#77)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:35:28 AM EST

Sorry, but you're wrong.

In any number of cases on point, SCOTUS has ruled that because the constitution explicity mentions capital punishment, the act of capital punishment is therefore constitutional.

Mathematical logic need not apply in the realm of laws.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

I'm no sure if you know, but... (3.33 / 4) (#11)
by ti dave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:38:19 AM EST

The method of execution varies from State to State, where it is allowed at all.

Not all States use the Electric Chair and I wouldn't be surprised if the Supreme Court decrees that Lethal Injection be the only legal method in a few years.

Watch for Ice!
[ Parent ]

That's certainly possible (3.33 / 4) (#15)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:43:41 AM EST

...and it makes a lot of sense to me. It 'seems' to be more humane, and that's what a lot of people would want to see.

Personally, I'd ask to be extradited to Utah, where, I believe, you can still be put up against a wall and shot. If I'm gonna go out, I'll go out making them watch me as I die.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

You probably already know this... (4.25 / 5) (#21)
by KittyFishnets on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:35:02 AM EST

Many state's execution chambers feature a witness gallery where interested parties (as defined by the state) can watch the condemned get offed. There have been many attempts over the years to televise executions.

A few years back there was a series of failures with Florida's electric chair. Instead of a quick zap, a couple of victims (most famously Allen Lee Davis) were slowly alive. In more than one instance (Pedro Medina and Jesse Tafero), the victim's head exploded in a fireball. I recall (but can't find a link to support) hearing that there was a panic in the gallery and someone was trampled attempting to flee the sight/smell.

Oh, and who can forget Attorney General Bob Butterworth's glib response to the media? "People who wish to commit murder, they better not do it in the state of Florida..." Or Governor "Jeb" Bush proclaiming that the eventual reinstatement of Florida's infamous electric chair was a "victory for justice."

D

[ Parent ]

Florida's chair (4.00 / 3) (#103)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:17:20 PM EST

It is actually known to Floridians as "Old Sparky".  Isn't that darling?


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
cruel AND unusual (3.00 / 4) (#32)
by godix on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:12:11 AM EST

What I always found odd about that statement was that it had to be both. It is perfectly reasonable to have a cruel punishment, provided it is not also an unusual one.



Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

[ Parent ]
No (3.14 / 7) (#46)
by Merk00 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:30:38 AM EST

The exact text of the eight amendment follows:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
That doesn't mean that a punishment needs to be both cruel and unusual to be banned, but that neither cruel nor unusual punishments shall be inflicted.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission
[ Parent ]

cultural context (4.00 / 5) (#51)
by adiffer on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:46:50 AM EST

The definition for what constitutes cruel and unusual tends to shift with time.  Hanging used to be considered acceptable.  Few would accept it today.  Given a bit of time, the slow frying death of the electric chair will probably become unacceptable too.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]
Death Penalty and 8th Amendment (3.66 / 6) (#54)
by Mouthpiece on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:58:21 AM EST

Betcour, is your question about the death penalty in general, or about certtain methods in particular?

Many states have moved to the "lethal injection" method precisely for the reason you observe - a concern that electrocution is inhumane.

However, the death penalty in general is not a violation of the 8th Amendment. At the time the Constitution was written, there was no suggestion among the drafters the death penalty was outside the power of the state. If there were, the Constitution would probably prohibit the death penalty expressly, as it does certain other punishments ("corruption of the blood," and so on.)

Right now in our society, improsionment is a pretty widely accepted method of punishment. The death penalty enjoyed the same public approval in the late 1700's. Only in the last few decades has there been a significant portion of the American public questioning it.

So - does electrocution violate the 8th Amendment? Possibly, in some circumstances. Does the death penalty? Not as we understand the 8th Amendment.

[ Parent ]

Read it closer (2.33 / 4) (#97)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:05:21 PM EST

Notice it says "cruel AND unusual". That means it has to be BOTH in order to be unconstitutional. It can be cruel as long as you do it often enough that it's not unusual.

[ Parent ]
Reasoning (3.00 / 2) (#166)
by Happy Monkey on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:44:47 PM EST

While it may seem like bad planning for them to have made it "cruel AND unusual", it does make sense for the times. One of the characteristics of many despots is the continual creation of crueler and more unusual punishments for dissidents. This is done to amuse and/or terrify the public, and the drafters of the Constitution didn't want a public that would be amused or a government that would terrify.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Right on Man (2.66 / 6) (#8)
by vile on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:17:22 AM EST

Ill. rocks in my mind at the moment.

He has listened to what many think... should the state murder people?

Most people don't care.

However, to stand up against this is something extraordinary. Most politicians just don't do it. And for that, Ill. Rocks.

+1 FP when it comes to vote. You got it.

~
The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
props to Ryan, not necessarily IL (none / 0) (#69)
by ethereal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:52:19 AM EST

Popular opinion in IL at the moment, with the exception of some academics and activits, seems to be pretty much against this action. If it were up to the people of IL or their elected representatives, this probably would not have occurred. Or at least that is the current spin from the press; I haven't actually seen a statewide poll that attempts to accurately measure the popular opinion on this issue.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Another (3.60 / 10) (#29)
by pathetic on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:22:39 AM EST

reason to oppose the death penalty, that isn't in the poll, is if you believe that spending the rest of your life in a high security prison is actually a worse punishment than a quick death. After all, if they are guilty, they'll be spending the rest of their life regetting it. Not to mention solitary confinement and prison rape.

Not that good (3.50 / 3) (#30)
by Platy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:07:54 AM EST

But this argument is not that good anymore if you note that most people sentenced to death still live 15 years or so in prison..
--
Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit, I.
[ Parent ]
Life w/o parole... (4.25 / 5) (#31)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:08:50 AM EST

... is a suitable punishment in my mind for those who are actually guilty. It would also benefit other prisoners who may have been improperly convicted but who were not sentenced to death. How?

Here in Pennsylvania, we have an iron-clad life without parole sentence available (in some states the death penalty is defended because "life" in "life sentence" often means "20 years"), while pro- and anti-DP advocates spend much of their time on Mumia Abu Jamal. Some say he was railroaded, others say he is a cold-blooded cop-killer. I heartily agree with both sides.

Mumia is not the ideal poster child, but because he is under a death sentence he gets attention. I know that some resources would go away without the limelight of the death penalty, but those left could focus on other questionable cases instead of having to triage DP cases first.

Meanwhile, prison rape is another thing humanitarians need to address, recognizing that it's not as easy as those of us outside the corrections community might think. A good first step is to not take it as a given, as I think you do, much less joke about it as has become common.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Well, you know... (3.16 / 6) (#40)
by DeadBaby on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:52:27 AM EST

Life in prison is probably better than what a lot of these people would have if they were free men. Which is a pretty good example of why crime in the US is so common but I guess that's a whole other debate.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
UKs crime rate higher than US (3.00 / 2) (#95)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:03:38 PM EST

Crime isn't that common in US, nowadays Britain actually has a higher crime rate than the USA. IMHO, one reason for UK's high crime is that they took away the rights of law abiding people to have guns and defend themselves. The other reason isn't PC to say but it rhymes with "passive immitation"

[ Parent ]
Largely because of property crimes (3.00 / 2) (#167)
by mickwd on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:51:00 PM EST

I believe the UK's overall crime rate may well be higher, but that is because of property crimes such as burglary and car theft.

The incidence of murder is much lower than in the US. One possible reason is that guns are so much harder to get hold of.

That said, there has been a huge increase in gun crime over the past 2-3 years, and it is now becoming a very important political issue. Much of the increasing gun violence appears to be drugs and gang-related. But you will find very few people who want the right to own guns to "defend themselves".

See this BBC article about a recent story on gun crime. Note the complete lack of debate about the population having guns with which to defend themselves - it simply isn't on the political agenda. Perhaps the reason why is given in these figures contained in the article:

  Gun-Related Murders per 100,000 Population:
    USA - 4.08
    Canada (1999) - 0.54
    England/Wales - 0.12
    Scotland (1999) - 0.12
    Japan (1998) - 0.04


[ Parent ]

I'm of Two Minds (3.33 / 9) (#33)
by Canthros on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:21:46 AM EST

I'm for capital punishment, and the blanket commutation bothers me, too. While I think it makes a great deal of sense to go about re-examining each and every case to determine if some measure of clemncy is warranted, I am bothered by the disregard the blanket declaration shows for due process.

It seems to me that a temporary commutation to allow the clemency investigations to be completed and make a proper determination would have been a better choice.

--
It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
RyoCokey

I see your point but... (3.66 / 4) (#50)
by /dev/niall on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:43:35 AM EST

While I think it makes a great deal of sense to go about re-examining each and every case to determine if some measure of clemncy is warranted, I am bothered by the disregard the blanket declaration shows for due process.

Sounds like he tried to go the procedural route and found it wasn't getting anywhere. I have a problem with the disregard for justice and human life shown by "due process". Just when were they planning on getting around to making sure those folks they were killing were actually guilty of the crimes they were accused of?

I would guess he didn't commute sentances temporarily because he knew the temporary orders would probably be overturned by another blanket order by a new administration.

Disclaimer: I am not for capital punishment.
--
"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot
[ Parent ]

But the process isn't broken (3.25 / 5) (#55)
by Canthros on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:13:34 AM EST

I think a temporary commutation would have caused a lot less heartburn, and would be less likely to be overturned for that exact reason. And it would still have insured that no-one got executed before their case had been re-examined.

The process isn't actually broken, though. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be striving to do a better job, but the issue may be as simple as making sure that juries convict based on evidentiary bases and not gut feelings. It's already weighted pretty heavily in favor of the defendant, and for good reason.

Completely overturning the previous sentences (even though we're talking a commutation and not, thank heaven, a complete pardon), sends the wrong message, and strikes me as much more of a political maneuvre than a genuine act.

--
It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
RyoCokey
[ Parent ]

Huh? (3.00 / 2) (#204)
by paine in the ass on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:23:08 AM EST

and would be less likely to be overturned

Who would overturn it? Maybe you don't understand that this is an exercise of the executive (isn't that ironic?) power which is intended to be a final check on corruption of the judicial power. There is no "overturning" here; you can't appeal a pardon or clemency and have someone thrown back into prison or onto death row.

And any process which can sentence an innocent man to death in the first place is broken to hell and back, no matter what arguments you want to make for it.


I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
[ Parent ]

Interestingly... (3.00 / 2) (#223)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:53:14 AM EST

The state attorney general says he's working for ways to do exactly that: Overturn this action by Gov. Ryan. Apparently with the approval and support of the incoming (Democratic!) governor. They admit they're not likely to succeed, granted.

--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
Say what?? (3.00 / 2) (#224)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 03:14:57 AM EST

But the process isn't broken
By what feat of mental gymnastics do you come to that conclusion? Gov. Ryan, who came in -- remember -- as a pro-death-penalty governor, has spent three years reviewing the system and concluded that it's so broken he has to take this sort of action. Independent review (e.g., by people not subject to the "yes but he's just trying to distract everyone's attention from his corruption charges" sophistry) says the same thing. Four cases (out of 160) were so bad they required outright pardons. That qualifies as spectacularly broken.

Moreover, based on how broken it is, I think you could make a real case that keeping those people standing on the gallows with the noose around their necks while the broken system is reviewed qualifies as cruel and unusual -- bad enough for the majority of them (I choose to believe) who really are guilty, but particularly egregious if there are more remaining innocents among them.

No, commuting those sentences to life imprisonment was the right thing to do. It settles the matter for those inmates. Life imprisonment isn't getting away with anything, remember. It's a hard, dangerous, ugly, restricted world in the maximum security wing. They're being punished, and more importantly they're being kept away from the rest of us so they can't kill/rape/murder/kidnap again. And those who are innocent may, someday, be free.



--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
doing the homework (4.00 / 5) (#52)
by adiffer on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:53:10 AM EST

Isn't that what the Governor has done by doing the research himself?  He made it pretty clear that he thinks the process is broken and there should be some reform so punishments can be applied farily.  

If the State Legislature and Judicial System won't adjust, he had little choice but to take the steps he took.  If they won't adjust, why should he trust others to do a better job than he did?

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]

Did he? (4.33 / 4) (#56)
by Canthros on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:13:38 AM EST

I have trouble believing that he's reviewed one-hundred-sixty-four judicial cases, especially since his background is as a pharmacist, and not a lawyer.

As for trusting the next round to do a better job: he's already got investigations going to review the cases involved, so I'd assume that those will continue after he's out of office unless special action is taken. Pardons look good from a PR stance. You might alienate a fairly small number of people (those victimised), but it will generally make you look like a caring and generous person to John Q. Public. And a temporary clemency would solve the problem as well as a permanent one, without having to circumvent justice to do so.

--
It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
RyoCokey
[ Parent ]

Hmm (3.00 / 2) (#143)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:36:26 PM EST

I have trouble believing that he's reviewed one-hundred-sixty-four judicial cases, especially since his background is as a pharmacist, and not a lawyer.

What about those cases where no exculpatory evidence exists? The justice system has been proven to result in an unacceptably high (4%-5%) rate of false convictions based upon only those cases in which exculpatory evidence(usually DNA) exists. Do you presume that the rate of false convictions is better in those cases in which there exists no evidence which could prove to be exculpatory? If so, on what basis?

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
I think I'm missing the connection (3.00 / 2) (#148)
by Canthros on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:05:18 PM EST

Between what I said and what you responded with.

Could you elucidate just a tad?

--
It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
RyoCokey
[ Parent ]

Sorry (none / 0) (#160)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:12:06 PM EST

If I understand your position correctly, you are arguing that the more appropriate course of action would have been to issue a temporary order of clemency and then to review each case individually. The problem with this position is that there might very well exist an innocent person on death row in Illinois where no evidence exists that can establish innocence. What will reviewing such a hypothetical case reveal? Absent exculpatory evidence, the review board would presumably reinstate the death penalty, but the real problem is that all guilty verdicts are justifiably suspect on the basis of the demonstrated failure rate.

Let's presume that among the class of death row inmates 6% are in fact innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. Thus far, it has been determined by means of exculpatory evidence that 4.???% of the class are innocent. Further, let's say that for the remaining 1.???% of the class of the wrongly convicted there exists no exculpatory evidence (e.g., DNA evidence is not available in many cases). What of them? What can the review board do in their cases?

The fundamental problem is that our justice system has been shown to have a high enough rate of failure that imposing a death penalty is unacceptable.  

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
I don't buy it (none / 0) (#256)
by adiffer on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:10:16 PM EST

Governors can tap a lot of talent due to their position.  I would be stunned if he didn't have lawyers helping him out.

-Dream Big.
--Grow Up.
[ Parent ]
One problem (1.80 / 15) (#34)
by Silent Chris on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:28:45 AM EST

What if some of those guys deserved death?  What if the majority of those guys deserved death?

I don't know the exact details of each case, but (for example) if your son or daughter was killed, chopped up and eaten by one of the people on death row, and they got clemency, wouldn't you feel like shit right now?

Would you like to die ? (3.40 / 5) (#35)
by drquick on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:37:33 AM EST

What if you found yourself in a group of people where (sic) "the majority deserves to die". You'd die!

The basic principle of western law - ever since the Roman Empire (excluding some dark middle age periods) - has been that no innocent person should be convicted.

[ Parent ]

Neither Moral Nor Brave.. (4.25 / 4) (#36)
by ignatiusst on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:40:18 AM EST

That is exactly the problem I have with this..

The governor is supposed to have acted morally and "brave" on this issue, but if he were either moral or brave, why did he wait until the last days of his tenure and grant the blanket pardon?

Why did he not, at the beginning of his tenure, begin evaluating each death-row case for merit. If there was a question (however small) of the convict's guilt, commute the sentence. If, on the other hand, the convict was (under Illinois law) deserving of death, then leave him on death row.

By granting the blanket commutation, the governor chose to disregard the will of the people of his state who have said that the appropriate penalty for some crimes is death. How is that moral? How is that brave?

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift
[ Parent ]

Apparently he did (4.44 / 9) (#44)
by Pac on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:24:56 AM EST

If I get the whole story right, he started by issuing a moratorium on executions in 2000, when it was found that 13 death row inmates had been wrongly convicted in a period when 12 other inmates were executed. hence his reference to a 50% error. He also tried to reform the state law to make the death penalty harder to get for prosecutors, but failed for three times (the State Congress refused to vote the propositions). Only when all hope was lost for a comprehensive revision of every case he decided to "pardon them all and let God sort them out later".

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
A possible reason (4.00 / 3) (#49)
by /dev/niall on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:38:09 AM EST

I know next to nothing about the governor, or his legal problems, but perhaps he has waited until his last few days for political purposes? Obviously he would be aware that such an act would cause a great deal of controversy, and would want to minimize the effect it would have on his administration's effectiveness.

I don't know about this man, so I can't guess as to his morals. What he did was certainly brave, regardless.
--
"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot
[ Parent ]

He did (none / 0) (#225)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 03:43:33 AM EST

Why did he not, at the beginning of his tenure, begin evaluating each death-row case for merit.
He did. What he found was appalling. Eventually, he issued the blanket clemency as his last act as governor because the review found such fundamental problems that it couldn't be sustained, and yet he was faced with an incoming governor who lacked his moral leadership on this issue.

Remember that life in a maximum security prison isn't getting away with anything. In fact, it's so awful that one of the inmates pleaded with him not to commute his sentence.

Yes, even as a fervent anti-death-penalty person, I will say: Some people deserve to die. I'll go further: Some people deserve to die a long, slow, humiliating, excruciating death. But we're not in a position to make that judgment. If you believe in God, trust in God; if you believe in karma, leave it to karma; if you don't believe in anything like that, well, you probably already accept that the world is imperfect, unfair, and unjust -- let's not make it worse.



--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
deserve death? (4.63 / 11) (#37)
by Burning Straw Man on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:43:00 AM EST

To quote Tolkien would surely affirm my status as a hopeless geek, but hey, here goes:
'Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.'
your son or daughter was killed, chopped up and eaten by one of the people on death row, and they got clemency, wouldn't you feel like shit right now?

I would feel like shit because my son or daughter was killed. It is not like the murderer is being released -- clemency in this case means they are still sentenced to life in prison without opportunity for parole.

It takes a pretty small person to point to a man, no matter his crimes, and sentence him to death in a cold, calculated manner. Not much of the civilized world still practices this barbarism, and it is a trait we have more in common with fundamentalist Islam regimes than modern, free society.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Deserve death for what? (2.75 / 4) (#38)
by DeadBaby on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:49:06 AM EST

Killing someone? Yea, that makes a lot of sense.

If the government could be tried for murder, it'd be convicted and executed. I'm sure everyone on death row who killed someone had very sound reasons in their own mind. I'm sure they felt what they were doing was just.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]

Death is too good... (4.57 / 7) (#41)
by thewookie on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:00:06 AM EST

Personally, If I had been affected in the way you had described I would want the perpetrator to be incarcerated for life in solitary confinement and spend the rest of their days contemplating the error of their ways, tormented by the knowledge that they would never be free again, never walk outside the walls of their prison again. IMHO death is too easy, you kill someone and there is no further punishment possible (unless you're some religious loon who believes in an afterlife or somesuch nonsense) - if it's revenge you're after permanent incarceration seems a far crueller way of dealing with these people. Furthermore, if you do realise you've got the wrong person, there's a way out - not so with the death penalty.

[ Parent ]
Deserving death in the hands of the State (4.14 / 7) (#48)
by Pac on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:37:32 AM EST

If my daughter was murdered as you describe I would like to personally kill the person who did it. Nothing short of opening his chest up with a blind hunting knife and taking his heart out with my hands would appease my desire for vengeance. The fact that I can't and wouldn't be able to do such a thing to another human being does not automatically means I willing to give the State the right to act as my proxy in the matter. I am not.

My problem with the death penalty is not about the risk of killing innocent people, is about the risk of killing guilty people. We are way out of jungle by now. There is no reason to believe that an affluent and scientifically advanced civilization such as ours is incapable of finding better ways to deal with crime and criminals (oh, yes, I am also one of those misguided persons who believe in punishment as a mean, not an end).

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
Worth it? (4.00 / 1) (#120)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:16:39 PM EST

What if some of those guys deserved death? What if the majority of those guys deserved death?
That line of thinking doesn't exactly work if you disagree that anyone deserves death. But, disregarding that, I think I would definitely find it more just to have 150 or so inmates in jail for life, rather than executing them knowing that a few of them are likely to be innocent.
if your son or daughter was killed, chopped up and eaten by one of the people on death row, and they got clemency, wouldn't you feel like shit right now?
Yes, I would feel like shit, but if something like that happened to a loved one, I would probably be very glad if they tortured the person to death and tossed their body into the ocean. I'd probably be the last person you'd expect to have an objective and rational reaction to the situation, and understandably so.


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
Major Strawman (4.00 / 2) (#122)
by artsygeek on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:27:59 PM EST

When I hear the "What if someone did this to your (insert loved one here)" argument.  I find myself filled with rage at it, simply because it's so hackneyed and mindless.  It is such a weak strawman argument rife with emotion, that it doesn't hold up to REASON.  Not only that but, until something happens to a loved one you can't know how you'd feel.

  And of course, the counter argument is "Well, what if a loved one of yours was executed, perhaps for something (s)he didn't do?"  And that holds about as much water as a dam made of chickenwire, just like the other one.

[ Parent ]

Major probjem: (4.00 / 1) (#242)
by slippytoad on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:12:13 AM EST

What if some of those guys deserved death? What if the majority of those guys deserved death?

The major problem is that there was a very good chance that one or more of those guys didn't deserve death. Is it easy on your conscience to imagine the innocent being murdered by the state alongside the guilty? And not knowing which is which?
If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
[ Parent ]

Perfect (1.70 / 31) (#39)
by SwampGas on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:51:10 AM EST

I'm glad this person can sleep well at night....because now I can't.  Someday these convicted criminals could walk the streets again.

Once again, justice has NOT been served.

Don't bother rating this comment or replying unless you've had a friend or loved one murdered and have seen the filty scumbag walking the streets again...because if you haven't, then you don't understand.

Your mistaken (4.66 / 6) (#43)
by minerboy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:07:49 AM EST

My Brother in law (a prison guard) was killed during a prison escape attempt. The murderer, who was caught red handed, got life rather than death, because of a lousy small town DA, and a better up and coming public defender(who is now the DA by the way). The death penalty is the least equitably applied penalty in the country, when it should be the most. Ryan did the right thing - in my opinion



[ Parent ]
"Life" & death (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:26:10 AM EST

I have not shared your pain. I would certainly want such a person dead, but then again, our society and our system wisely prevents you or I from serving on juries where we have any significant stake, much less the lose of a loved one.

As someone who believes that the state does indeed have the right to take lives, I nonetheless prefer that it not exercise that right. In that vein it is a comfort that I live in a state where a life sentence without possibility of parole exists.

It would seem that Illinois is similar. The ABCNews report says:

Most of the 167 Illinois inmates will now serve life without parole. Ryan also reduced [sic] the sentences of three men; they could eventually be released.

Notice that only those three whose sentences were reduced to less than life "could eventually be released." (My "sic" is because obviously all 167 sentences were reduced.) What that says to me is that life without parole means life without parole.

Anti-death penalty advocates everywhere should support -- should first support -- strong life-without-parole punishments, not just because it increases the anti-death penalty poll numbers in states that have it, but because victims' families should know that those convicted of killing them will not be out on the street.

True, it may seem that there is more finality to an execution, but I would argue that few families find closure in it, and suffer through far more appeals and peri- and post-trial publicity than in non-death penalty cases. I for one have no objection to keeping 90-year-old murderers locked up. Nor in calmer moments do families of victims object to those few who are demonstrably not guilty going free. I would require that any time a DNA test frees someone, resources also go to comparing the crime-scene DNA to the ever-increasing database of convict DNA so that the headlines that trumpet the release of one subject of a family's formerly state-directed animosity can also cite the arrest of a more proper subject, the real culprit.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Anti-death penalty people should be pro-justice (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by Homburg on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:25:01 PM EST

Anti-death penalty advocates everywhere should support -- should first support -- strong life-without-parole punishments, not just because it increases the anti-death penalty poll numbers in states that have it, but because victims' families should know that those convicted of killing them will not be out on the street.
From a tactical point of view, maybe. But given that in general the case against the death penalty is a moral one, I think anti-death penalty advocates should be most concerned with producing a coherent moral theory of punishment, and I'm not sure life-without parole has any place in such a theory.

Why is it just to keep a 90 year-old, who is no danger to anyone and genuinely feels remorse for his crime, locked up? If it is just to salve the feelings of relatives of the victims, I don't think that cuts it as a moral argument. Providing some kind of retribution for victims of crime is probably one proper object of justice, but it can't be the whole, otherwise surely we would allow the victims or their families to play a role in sentencing, which I think most people would consider manifestly unjust.

What I want (and I think most anti-death penalty people want) is a sentencing regime that is as just as practically possible. Mandatory whole-life tariffs are too arbitary to be just; although less horrendous, they are just as unjust as the death penalty.

[ Parent ]

There's got to be some "ultimate" senten (5.00 / 1) (#110)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:37:19 PM EST

Otherwise we are just doing algebra. Does 30 years for murder mean that murder is only ten times as bad as three-year-penalty check fraud? Of course not. Even in the juvie systems, there are punishments until age 18 or 21 for severe cases, punishments that may be applied to 12-year-olds as well as 17-year-olds. This says that the crime being punished is somehow superlatively bad. Likewise we need a punishment that says what you did is bad enough to deserve ending forever your life as a free person.

Of course the word "possibility" in "without possibility of parole" is predicated on the non-exercise of executive power. The governor or president can release the 90-year-olds, and if in cases of guilty men it's politically unpopular to do so, I don't mind so much.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

What use? (none / 0) (#228)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 04:11:57 AM EST

I think you're entirely right we should work for justice. And I'm fervently opposed to the death penalty, on moral (first) and practical (second) grounds.
Why is it just to keep a 90 year-old, who is no danger to anyone and genuinely feels remorse for his crime, locked up?
I, too, think as someone else in this thread said: There has to be some form of "ultimate" sentence. There are some mistakes you can't undo. If you are playing stupidly with fireworks and blow off your hand, you have to live your life without that hand (at present). Feel silly about having done it? Too bad, can't be undone. If you kill someone in circumstances such that you get a life-without-parole sentence, you live your life in prison. Feel remorse for having done it? Too bad, can't be undone.

There's a "present" and "future" aspect to a genuine life-without-parole sentence. In the present, I believe we in society generally and the family (if any) of the victim specifically need to know that this person will never threaten us again. Right now, when the sentence is passed, I think we need to know that. In the future, well, your 90-year-old says he feels remorse, we think he feels remorse, we don't think he'll kill (or whatever) again, but it's a bit foolish to believe he "...is no danger to anyone..." Technology is a great equalizer. A 90-year-old is (nearly) as dangerous as an 18-year-old when holding a gun. Or a can of rat poison.

I'm not saying every murderer gets a mandatory life-without-parole sentence (I don't think the OP did, either). I'm just saying we should have it available. We should also preserve the option that the governor or President can release people if the specific, highly-unusual circumstances warrant it.



--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
sic? (1.00 / 1) (#137)
by dipierro on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:21:59 PM EST

My "sic" is because obviously all 167 sentences were reduced.

Hence the word "also."

"Most of the 167 Illinois inmates will now serve life without parole. Ryan also reduced the sentences of three men; they could eventually be released."



[ Parent ]
RTFA (4.33 / 3) (#73)
by chopper on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:02:15 AM EST

Someday these convicted criminals could walk the streets again.

seeing as how most of their sentences have been commuted to life without parole, i seriously doubt it.

otherwise, one got reduced to 40 years, and some others were exhonerated.

Don't bother rating this comment or replying unless you've had a friend or loved one murdered by the state for a crime they didn't commit... etc etc.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Wrong (1.00 / 2) (#191)
by SwampGas on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:21:51 PM EST

seeing as how most of their sentences have been commuted to life without parole, i seriously doubt it.

But I thought these criminals sentences were for DEATH?

If you can stop death, you can also grant parole later by another moron governor.

[ Parent ]

aw, fer cryin' out loud (1.00 / 1) (#252)
by chopper on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 10:21:12 AM EST

hell, there's a .001% chance that they might be able to escape, too. might as well kill 'em and reduce that number to zero.

so this is why we have the death penalty. i see.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Less of the emotional blackmail, please (4.33 / 3) (#91)
by Homburg on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:48:48 PM EST


Don't bother rating this comment or replying unless you've had a friend or loved one murdered and have seen the filty scumbag walking the streets again...because if you haven't, then you don't understand.

If, as you imply, a friend of yours was indeed murdered, that's tragic. I certainly wouldn't want to suggest I understand how that feels.

But justice is not served by concentrating on those who have a personal and emotional connection to the issue. Quite the contrary - only by appealing to public reasons that could be accepted by anyone can we ensure (to the extent we can ensure) that we are pursuing justice, rather than vengance or a (probably futile) attempt to acheive emotional closure.

[ Parent ]

Sorry, no (5.00 / 5) (#155)
by the on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:01:05 PM EST

Don't bother rating this comment or replying unless you've had a friend or loved one murdered...
People who've lost a friend or loved one as a result of murder are the very last people I want making decisions about our justice system. I'd rather the people who made those decisions were at least approximately rational agents and in my experience people who have lost a loved one are precisely the opposite.

--
The Definite Article
[ Parent ]
Do yourself a favor. (4.00 / 3) (#199)
by paine in the ass on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:08:45 AM EST

Read Ryan's speech, then comment.


I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
[ Parent ]
Hear hear! For the lazy... (none / 0) (#230)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:18:46 AM EST

...here are what I think are the relevant sections vis-a-vis SwampGas' post. Thanks, paine, for the link.

From Gov. Ryan's speech:

Having said that I want to share a story with you. I grew up in Kankakee which even today is still a small midwestern town, a place where people tend to know each other. Steve Small was a neighbor. I watched him grow up. He would baby-sit my young children -- which was not for the faint of heart since Lura Lynn and I had six children, five of them under the age of 3. He was a bright young man who helped run the family business. He got married and he and his wife had three children of their own. Lura Lynn was especially close to him and his family. We took comfort in knowing he was there for us and we for him. One September midnight he received a call at his home. There had been a break-in at the nearby house he was renovating. But as he left his house, he was seized at gunpoint by kidnappers. His captors buried him alive in a shallow hole. He suffocated to death before police could find him. His killer led investigators to where Steve's body was buried. The killer, Danny Edward, was also from my hometown. He now sits on death row. I also know his family. I share this story with you so that you know I do not come to this as a neophyte without having experienced a small bit of the bitter pill the survivors of murder must swallow.
and later
As I came closer to my decision, I knew that I was going to have to face the question of whether I believed so completely in the choice I wanted to make that I could face the prospect of even commuting the death sentence of Daniel Edwards -- the man who had killed a close family friend of mine. I discussed it with my wife, Lura Lynn, who has stood by me all these years. She was angry and disappointed at my decision, like many of the families of other victims will be.
But don't deny yourself the experience and education of reading the speech in full. Rarely have I been more affected by a political speech. Maybe because it wasn't a political speech -- the guy's career in politics proper is over and he knows it.

--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
When all else fails... (5.00 / 1) (#205)
by tarpy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:23:34 AM EST

...quote The West Wing.

My girlfriend after reading the above comment about "not replying" pointed me to an excellent scene in a recent WW which I had forgotten.

In discussing the President's possible response to a Dukakis style death penalty question and the evasion offered by Bartlett, Toby (the Communications Director, my favorite character) says: "I just mentioned your daughter being murdered and you're giving us an answer that's not only soporific, it's barely human! Yes, you'd want to see him put to death; yes, you'd want it to be cruel and unusual, which is why it's probably a good idea that fathers of murder victims don't have legal rights in these situations!"

'nuff said.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Definition of justice (4.00 / 1) (#240)
by slippytoad on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:07:50 AM EST

This is typical of the "victim's rights" mentality that has become the scourge of our justice system. When the only definition of justice is "that which will assuage the trampled feelings of the victim," we no longer have a justice system, we have a Revenge System. It's a tough old world and it's sad that some of us have to go before others. Yet a system that addresses this by arbitrarily sucking innocents into its wheels and grinding them to death along with the guilty isn't of much use to anyone, and causes more misery and suffering than it remedies. One mistake would be enough. Thirteen is inexcusable. Would you have such a tone of pure moral outrage if you were the friends or family of one of those thirteen who have been exonerated?
If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
[ Parent ]
Opposition to the death penalty for another reason (3.88 / 17) (#42)
by Mohammed Niyal Sayeed on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:00:54 AM EST

I am an American citizen who opposes the death penalty, but not because it's necessarily cruel, unusual, unevenly applied, or even occasionally just plain wrongly applied to people who did not commit the crime for which they were executed, though these are all arguably very good reasons for such an opposition.

I oppose the death penalty because it costs more to execute someone that it does to imprison them for the remainder of their life. I find the flagrant wasting of MY money, as well as the money of all other taxpayers, in order to satiate victim's desires' for revenge extremely offensive. If they crave another death that much, let them violate the law and kill the individual(s) in question themselves, then face the penalty of law for doing such. To have the state execute someone is to guarantee that the person will have numerous appeals, even up to a federal level, all of which are paid for by, once again, the taxpayers. Isn't the justice system already wasting enough time and money? Do we really need to encourage it to waste more? I think not.


--
"You need to get your own point, then we can have an elaborate dance fight." - jmzero

+5 until para. 2 sentence 2 (3.66 / 4) (#47)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:31:59 AM EST

The state tells the victims who to blame, and this may be due to shoddy law enforcement work. They do not make the ultimate decisions about how to proceed, their perceived bloodthirst should be last in line to be criticized after ambitious DA's. See my other replies for the argument that, in line with your first paragraph, families often suffer less in a life-without-parole prosecution.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
What? (2.66 / 4) (#57)
by Canthros on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:15:26 AM EST

I oppose the death penalty because it costs more to execute someone that it does to imprison them for the remainder of their life.
[Emphasis mine] Err... it does? You have numbers to back that up?

--
It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
RyoCokey
[ Parent ]
Probably correct (4.00 / 3) (#66)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:39:18 AM EST

Connecticut may do a study soon, but the argument is that the number of automatic and allowed appeals for the death penalty -- for which the prosecution at least, and often the defense is at taxpayer expense -- and the long pre-execution imprisonment while the appeals are exhausted, is more costly than just putting someone away for the rest of their natural lives. Non-death penalty convictions can get appealed too; but short of numbers otherwise, I sympathize with the argument that imposing the death penalty is the more expensive means of removing a criminal from society, as well as the argument that it is much harder to undo in cases where there is legitimate new evidence. After all the economics are done, though, I would argue that the state has a legitimate right to impose the death penalty on the people's behalf, but that the people may decide they are too good to exercise that right.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
Cost stats (3.16 / 6) (#71)
by Mohammed Niyal Sayeed on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:56:50 AM EST

Sure do... Here's an Amnesty Internation piece on the cost, here's reference to the Iowa Legislative Fiscal Bureau stats; another reference in a Memphis newsweekly, Indiana costs information, all sorts of references from an Alaska.edu site, a reference to statistics from an article in Scientific American (sadly the original article isn't online anymore), a more reputable source, and even more links to more info.


--
"You need to get your own point, then we can have an elaborate dance fight." - jmzero

[ Parent ]
cost of trial or cost of execution (4.00 / 4) (#82)
by bigdavex on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:01:04 PM EST

Here is an excerpt from the Indiana link:
(2) Additionally, Indiana now has the option of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (LIWP). Most of Indiana's LIWP inmates are housed in the State Prison and the Pendleton Correctional Facility at an approximate cost of $17,000 per year. I believe a detailed cost analysis would show the prosecution of a death penalty case creates too much economic hardship on smaller counties. The average person sentenced to death is on death row for 13 years. In FY 98 the State reimbursed counties $799,000 for the cost of defending indigent defendants (our Public Defense Fund reimburses counties 50% of the defense cost only; Criminal Rule 24, adopted in 1990, requires the payment of $70 per hour to Public Defender's in a death penalty case). It is almost impossible to determine the additional hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by Prosecutors, the Attorney General's Office or the Supreme Court. I believe the more prudent use of the limited resources would be to concentrate more funding toward rehabilitation of those entering the criminal justice system for the first time. It would reduce recidivism and comply with the philosophy of reformation inherent in Art. 1, Sec 18.
To be clear, carrying out a trial with the death sentence on the table is more expensive. This is not a comparison of the cost of the actual execution versus incarcaration.
Would the defendents receive a less vigorous defence if the death sentence is not considered? It's a troubling thought regardless.

[ Parent ]
Look at the big picture. (2.50 / 3) (#125)
by Dephex Twin on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:35:32 PM EST

There's no good reason to nitpick where the amounts of money go.  I don't think anyone should feel it is somehow misleading that this statistic includes court costs.  It doesn't matter if the actual cost of purely the execution itself is less than the life in prison.  The court stuff goes with it, every time.


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
Economic model? (3.00 / 2) (#140)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:26:54 PM EST

First, we need to include the cost of prosecuting and, if at taxpayer expense, defending a capital case. Make sure to include the cost of capital prosecutions that result in life imprisonment or lesser sentences. Then compare the cost of incarceration -- for a lifetime for those so sentenced, and usually for a lifetime for the apparent majority of death-sentenced inmates who die before the state gets around to killing them.

Ah, but economic models usually must include pushback. Cutting tax rates reduces tax funds collected, right? Not always; tax cuts can lead to economic expansion and thus more gross tax receipts. This obviously breaks down at the margins -- cutting taxe rates to zero will stimulate the private sector, but will never result in more tax money being collected! In this case the margin is all we have.

So, will eliminating the death penalty result in more murderers filling our jails, both those not executed and those not deterred because the former were not executed? Non-death penalty states do not seem to see higher murder rates, other things equal; and the death row component is such a small portion of the prison population that it would hardly seem to matter. If anything literal death rows can probably be converted to space for more prisoners at less per-prisoner and overall expense than their maintenaince currently.

Overall I think any comprehensive and intellectually honest study will find that life costs less than death. But it is up to us anti-DP advocates not to be whiney sissies: Support life-without-parole with teeth in your state and recognize that society -- we -- have an interest in punishing evil acts.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Even playing field (2.00 / 3) (#127)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:41:47 PM EST

The first bite of the apple is so often likely to be disparate according to the class of the accused (I wouldn't want a $70/hr lawyer to defend me for jaywalking, much less in a capital case) that the appeals are where the action is. No death penalty means Mumia Abu Jamal doesn't get attention while someone deserving stagnates under a life sentence.

(MAJ killed a Philly cop in 1981 and is supported by clueless Hollywood types and by folks who basically say 'he didn't kill that white cop, but wouldn't it be good if he'd got a few more'; he was framed for a crime he actually did commit by folks who saw a black radical and wanted him dead before they heard anything about killing a cop.)
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Not less vigorous, but less drawn out (3.00 / 2) (#232)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:25:22 AM EST

Would the defendents receive a less vigorous defence if the death sentence is not considered?
They get additional appeals specifically based on the fact they're going to be killed by the state, so we're being extra sure of guilt. This is as much a part of the cost of the execution as paying for the electricity for the chair. So yes, in addition to being immoral and risky, it's also much more expensive.

--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
separate arguments (none / 0) (#250)
by bigdavex on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:53:57 AM EST

They get additional appeals specifically based on the fact they're going to be killed by the state, so we're being extra sure of guilt. This is as much a part of the cost of the execution as paying for the electricity for the chair. So yes, in addition to being immoral and risky, it's also much more expensive.
In order to accept this argument, I have to accept imprisoning innocent men for life. This isn't moral.

I think it's a clearer discussion if we separate the costs of determining guilt and punishing guilt. At least be explicit about this inclusion when making the claim that death penalty is more exensive.

[ Parent ]

DP appeals not only -- even primary -- avenue (none / 0) (#324)
by Gromit on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 01:31:32 AM EST

In order to accept this argument, I have to accept imprisoning innocent men for life. This isn't moral.
No, sorry, IANAL and I described DP appeals quite badly -- being extra sure of the circumstances of the crime, not so much guilt. They're mostly about mitigating the sentence (to life imprisonment or even less). Even absent that process (for instance, someone sentenced to life imprisonment today), an innocent person can still use new evidence and/or techniques (such as DNA) to get their case re-examined. In the U.S., cases where the decision is "guilty" can be re-opened and re-examined if there is sufficient cause, regardless of whether they're DP cases. If someone turns out to be innocent, he/she can be released.

And of course, gotta say it: If we as the state kill the person first, whether they're proven innocent later does them no good.



--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
Well, more costly in USA (3.00 / 2) (#238)
by Rande on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:27:08 AM EST

I believe in certain countries where they don't make quite so certain that the person is really guilty, it can be cheaper.
I heard that South Africa it's quite cheap because execution is carried out 48 hours after sentencing, and hence not a lot of time for lawyers to make money. (This may be erroneous or out of date).

[ Parent ]
Cost (none / 0) (#288)
by drsmithy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:48:59 PM EST

The fact capital punishment costs more is more of an indictment on the legal system than a reason not to have it. There is no logical way someone being killed via the death penalty should cost the state more than imprisoning them for life. It simply makes no sense, unless you believe someone facing capital punishment should be allowed more leeway and legal rights that someone facing life imprisonment (or to go to extremes, something simple like shoplifting).

In a fair and just system, the rights and avenues of appeal of all alleged offenders should be identical - whether they are facing the pointy end of a lethal injection or a speeding fine.

For the record, I have as yet been unable to make a conscientious decision on capial punishment. On the one hand, I strongly believe that certain types of criminals do not deserve any form of understanding, forgiveness or support from the state. On the other hand there is the problem of wrongful convictions (for whatever reason). I do not, however, support or believe in the use of capital punishment as either a form of revenge or deterrent. If ever used, the reasoning should be along the lines of "this person presents too much possible danger to society to keep around" or "it will cost us money to keep this person around and they simply don't deserve it".

[ Parent ]

Egads. (4.00 / 1) (#309)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 01:02:00 AM EST

So we can sum this up with "I am against the state executing a man because it wastes my time and money"?

What a frightening moral code that you must hold.

Toodles
DLS
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
[ Parent ]

How many innocent lifes are a guilty one worth? (4.00 / 16) (#53)
by Pac on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:54:18 AM EST

Ryan's answer is clear: none.

His critics are quick to forget we are talking about a state judicial machine that was showed to have an error margin of at least 50% (in 2000, when it was found that 13 death row inmates had been wrongly convicted in a period when 12 other inmates were executed).

So, if you find it hard to accept that someone guilty of cruelly murdering a whole family including a baby and a dog is now going to spend his life in jail instead of dying in the chair, start by answering how many more innocent men should be killed so that the State can kill this one certain murderer. One? One and a half? Two? Any number?

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


Rank stupidity among pro-deathpenalty people... (2.66 / 4) (#63)
by Kintanon on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:29:51 AM EST

I keep having pro-DP people give big long arguments built entirely on the principle that it is WORSE to be executed than to live your life in a samll concrete box. Personally I would be much more afraid of the concept of lifetime incarceration than a swift death.
The only rational argument FOR the deathpenalty is that it costs so much to house a prisoner for life, but then it turns out the government spends damn near as much on each execution as it takes to house the prisoner!
Another argument might be deterrent, but how can you deter anyone if the executions are just some vaguely talked about non-occurence? Public hangings are a deterrent. Closed door electrocutions/lethal injections are not.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

I don't see it is a harshness competition (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by Pac on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:57:10 AM EST

For me a death sentence is just something too final for humans to handle.

Take for instance the dozens of cases now being reviewed with new DNA methods. Some people are being freed after 30 years of wrongful incarceration. Some people, on the other hand, are only having their names cleaned, because the same State that wrongfully executed them is now unable to resurrect them.

If you are serving life in jail, many things can happens. You can be proved innocent by a new method or new evidence. A new treatment can be discovered that wipe the "criminal lobes" of the brain and turn you into a new citizen again. We may need volunteer asteroid miners. None of these options will have meaning if you are death.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
Actually, it costs more (3.00 / 2) (#233)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:28:27 AM EST

The only rational argument FOR the deathpenalty is that it costs so much to house a prisoner for life, but then it turns out the government spends damn near as much on each execution as it takes to house the prisoner!
Actually, it costs more to impose the death penalty than a life sentence. Usually 3-6 times as much.

--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
Not 50% (3.00 / 3) (#75)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:22:25 AM EST

Twelve people were to die in a certain year; that is, some percentage of all of those on death row, typically (as in this case) less than 10% in a given year. But in any given year, nearer 100% of all death penalty convicts are working to avoid the needle.

Add those 13 released with the 167 whose death sentences were just commuted, and you find 13 out of 180 -- just over 7 percent -- who have had their convictions overturned, and none in the time since. Seven percent should give us pause, so we need not overstate things at by grabbing irrelevant numbers. Five, three, or one percent should give us pause, for that matter, which is why imposing the death penalty is something we should just decide we aren't going to do.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

You got it wrong (4.00 / 3) (#115)
by Pac on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:00:27 PM EST

The Post has it clearer than elsewhere: "studies showed that since Illinois reinstated the death penalty in 1977, 12 death row inmates had been executed but 13 had been exonerated". The 50% figure here means that for every criminal Illinois executed since 1977 there was also an innocent waiting to be executed in the dead row. Of the present 167 we know nothing, we can only suppose almost 90 of those may also be innocent.

There is also the small problem of the Chicago Police Department's violent-crimes detective unit torturing suspects for confessions for twenty years before someone took notice. Ryan recently fully pardoned four men who were convicted based on confession extracted this way.

And if we look at the larger picture, one should consider the racial bias. Amnesty International has a good report on it.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
Sensationalist and meaningless... (3.50 / 3) (#124)
by bobpence on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:32:15 PM EST

... and ultimately harmful to the cause of eliminating the death penalty. 'Of about 200 death row inmates between 1977 and 2000, 12 were executed, 13 were found to be improperly convicted, 42 had green eyes...' Irrelevent. The exonerations were mostly in a compressed time period, so you could change from 50% to 80% if you try hard enough. The number exonerated is only significant in relation to the total number on death row -- all or almost all of whom wish to prove their innocence, whether or not it is factually true. That said, I repeat that even seven percent is alarming and justification to stop using capital punishment. But we need to be sober enough to realize that the social contract calls for punishing the guilty and defending society as a whole. From bad cops? Yes. From rapist-murderers? Also yes.

As far as the racial component, one of the most interesting studies I ever saw I included in a report in junior high school over fifteen years ago: In Florida, according to data already a few years old, the disparity was not nearly as significant between black and white perps as between black and white victims.

That is, if you killed a white person, you were more likely to get convicted and get the death penalty than if you killed a black person, regardless of your own race. (There was a lesser perp-race component which, in combination with the victim-race component, meant that blacks who kill whites should kiss their ass goodbye but whites who kill blacks are pretty much free to go.) I would think minorities would be more insulted by the idea that killing them is less likely to carry punishment than the idea that killers among them are more likely to be punished.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

We agree in principle, if not in form (4.00 / 3) (#136)
by Pac on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:16:52 PM EST

I wholeheartedly support the idea of punishing the guilty and defending society as a whole. Not for a moment I thought most of the criminals spared from the chair in Illinois (or even all of them) should go free. They should remain incarcerated until society is convinced they present no harm anymore (if this day comes).

In the end, my point is that the system has too many moving parts (bad defence attorneys, torturing cops, race bias, gender bias, class bias). The mean time between failure in any known judicial system is too low by any meaningful standard. So, final solutions should be avoided at all costs.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
And he's correct... (3.00 / 2) (#209)
by MalTheElder on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:49:01 AM EST

...according to the reasoning of the Founding Revolutionaries.

Our legal system was designed to maximize the likelihood of never convicting the innocent, at the known and accepted risk of letting the guilty go free.  Better to avoid one wrongly executed (or otherwise penalized) person, though many deserving punishment also avoid it.

Maybe the alleged 'liberals' and 'conservatives' should all shut up now.  BTW, since when do conservatives want to dismantle the Constitution.

Ranting and raving,
  Chuck

[ Parent ]

re (3.00 / 2) (#216)
by dh003i on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:15:40 AM EST

Maybe the alleged 'liberals' and 'conservatives' should all shut up now.  BTW, since when do conservatives want to dismantle the Constitution.

Like Liberals, the Constitution means nothing to Conservatives when it doesn't agree with their political agenda.  It would be fine if they wanted to change the constitution (by Amendments) to suit their beliefs, but they know that won't happen, so simply ignore the constitution or try to twist its meaning to their own ends.

The Constitution means less than a flying fuck to Liberals and Conservatives.  

Social Security is a pyramid scam.
[ Parent ]

Rehabilition? Yes. Security? Yes. Punishment? NO. (3.45 / 11) (#58)
by otisaardvark on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:16:11 AM EST

Locking up those with histories of violence might be the right thing to do by society because it makes it safer for us all, whilst giving the perpetrator the opportunity to reform his or her ways.

We have this right as a SOCIETY. What right do we have to judge what constitutes a fair PUNISHMENT for a crime?

Morality is by nature individualistic. What is right can only be determined at a personal level - never by majority consensus.

Revenge, retribution and vengeance bring out the worst in our society. Everyone feels immense sympathy for victims, but no-one has any right to PUNISH anyone else.

lots of press for the victims yesterday... (4.46 / 15) (#60)
by ethereal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:25:06 AM EST

Or rather, the victims' families; almost all of the victims of the inmates in question are, of course, dead already. The states attorneys are understandably angry, because an indictment of the Illinois criminal justice system is first and foremost an indictment of their failure to truly pursue justice rather than vengeance. They are happy to be on camera with various relatives of victims, complaining about the brutality of the crimes in question. Their general arguments fall into two categories:

  1. "Reopening this debate is just like having X killed a second time." The argument is that by even raising the issue of clemency for a particular prisoner, the family has been forced to relive their loss, and thus somehow the Governor is doing this just to turn the screws on the victims. I can appreciate this viewpoint, although I do not think that the purely emotional pain of the family is enough reason to avoid a review of the justness of a death sentence for the convicted killer. Someone's life, even the life of a convicted killer, is worth more than someone else's emotional pain, especially since that other person could just turn off the TV, etc., and ignore the clemency review.
  2. "Without the death sentence, we will never have closure." I can't condone this perspective at all - if it takes more killing to make your loved one's death somehow OK, then I think you need to reevaluate your outlook on life. It's interesting how many people in the heartland of a supposedly Christian nation retain such an Old-Testament view of justice. I'm not even a Christian, and I can see that killing is not the right answer to killing (although life in prison without parole may very well be).
  3. I liked - there was one other argument that I heard this morning to the effect of "The governor promised not to do blanket clemency, and he betrayed us." IIRC, he never stated he would not allow clemency for all, although he did state at a few points that it was unlikely. So perhaps he didn't set expectations properly, or perhaps he meant to do this all the time and just wanted to put off the firestorm of controversy until the last days of his term.

There is the viewpoint that Ryan is using this to distract away from his ongoing scandals and almost certain future stay in a Federal prison. But when you think about it, there are a lot less controversial topics he could have addressed that still would have gained him a notation in the history books. Out of all of the potential scandal distractions out there, the death penalty is one of the worst alternatives he could have chosen. So from that perspective, I believe that he actually does feel strongly on the topic and is carrying out this action based on true convictions rather than political expediency. I think the comments that he is "just a pharmacist" are completely vile; apparently it takes someone with a real job to attempt the justice that our normally elected lawyers are loath to contemplate?

My only worry is that his action, so unilateral and so unexpected, may actually set back the cause of death penalty opponents. Although the legislature had not acted in the past, the incoming Democratically-controlled legislature had promised to take up the reforms that the previous General Assembly did not. I worry that they may now not act in order to avoid prolonging any contention over the entire issue. Ryan may have helped to win this battle and emboldened new death penalty opponents around the world, but he may have given up strategic political position for death penalty opponents in Illinois for the time being.

I'm not surprised that Gov-elect Blagojevich has his finger in the political wind on this one; that was the format of his entire campaign. I listened to all the debates and didn't here a specific budgetary proposal or new policy proposal from him at all. As far as I can tell, he ran on a platform of promises, ending Republican control of the state, and not being Gov. George Ryan (a platform which was humorously also shared by the Republican candidate for governor, Jim Ryan (no relation, as he continued to point out throughout the campaign :) At one point, all of his billboards just said "Jim" for governor, apparently to avoid any possible confusion with the current Gov. Ryan. ). Anyway, don't blame me, I voted for Kodos (Libertarian Cal Skinner).

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

damn typo - I "lied", not "liked&qu (3.00 / 2) (#70)
by ethereal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:53:17 AM EST


--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Federal Prison...? (3.33 / 4) (#78)
by Kintanon on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:42:38 AM EST

If *I* were about to go to Federal Prison I think I'd be looking for a way to get all the Deathrow inmates on my side too... I mean really, who's going to fuck with the guy that jut pardoned a bunch of deathrow prisoners?

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

We're talking Club Fed, not Oz. (4.00 / 3) (#106)
by ethereal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:28:49 PM EST

I don't think any of Ryan's future fellow inmates will have much in common with the folks on death row. He would likely end up in a white-collar prison. Really, I expect there to be charges against him within a month or two - the investigation is getting pretty close to the top, one of those guys is going to give him up sooner or later.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

White collar criminals. (4.33 / 4) (#113)
by Kintanon on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:49:03 PM EST

There is actually a big push from a lot of directions to do away with the "Club Fed" style prisons for white collar criminals and put them into the mainstream prison population. I'm for it because it means the conditions for the mainstream prisoners will get slightly less brutal because a few people with money and lawyers will be able to stand up for themselves, even if they are prisoners, and because it will mean white collar criminals get approximately the same punishment everyone else gets. I mean, how is stealing a 20,000$ car different from embezzling 20,000$ from your company?

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

sounds good to me. (4.00 / 3) (#128)
by ethereal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:48:27 PM EST

For that matter, I'll go back to my Enron argument: how many people's retirements do you have to destroy before it adds up to killing one person? 1000? 100000? 1000000?

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Damn straight. (4.00 / 3) (#130)
by Kintanon on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:57:24 PM EST

Every one of those bastards should be rotting in a real Federal Prison for that crap. Any 19yr old who stole enough cars to reach numbers like that would have life without parole in a lot of states.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Seems different to me (2.50 / 3) (#134)
by BCoates on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:06:10 PM EST

I mean, how is stealing a 20,000$ car different from embezzling 20,000$ from your company?

Well, for most people losing your car is proportionally a lot more financial damage than a company losing $20k.

Stealing a car should also be punished more seriously because it's easier; there's a basic trust in society involved in using a car (and leaving it somewhere where it could be stolen) that is exploited by and damaged by car theft; sort of the same reasoning that makes cattle rustling a capital offense.

--
Benjamin Coates

[ Parent ]

More immediate consequence. (none / 0) (#318)
by Kintanon on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 09:36:55 AM EST

It's only percieved that way because there is an immediate realization of the consequence of having your car stolen. But you may not know that the "restructuring" that results in you losing your job is a result of the money embezzled by the CFO of your employer. The result is certainly just as damaging as having your car stolen, but the cause and effect are seperated by a couple of layers so people don't see the crimes as equally damaging.
You are certainly abusing more trust by stealing from your company than by stealing a random car.

Kintanon

[ Parent ]

Another IL libertarian?!?!?! <g> (3.50 / 3) (#79)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:45:28 AM EST

Anyway, don't blame me, I voted for Kodos (Libertarian Cal Skinner).

It's funny, the only reason I voted FOR Madigan (over the LP candidate) was that I felt it was so important to NOT allow Birkett into the AG's seat considering his gleefully putting men on death row he knew to be innocent.

And to see good old Joe shooting his mouth off about the clemency, I am firmly convinced that having Madigan as AG here in another hour or so is at least better than Birkett.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

If you're libertarian (2.00 / 5) (#90)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:47:32 PM EST

Why do you oppose the death penalty? Libertarians have no problem with the government getting involved to protect people from those who initiate force. The whole "executions are murder" argument is ludicrous, if executions are murder, then imprisonment is kidnapping.



[ Parent ]

Party politics (3.50 / 3) (#93)
by Happy Monkey on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:00:32 PM EST

Only by extreme coincidence or lack of thought do the views of a person and a political party coincide 100%.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Libertarian and DP (3.50 / 3) (#96)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:05:09 PM EST

I'm not sure that if one is a Libertarian then one must be pro-death penalty.

In fact, in searching the LP's site there seems to be no official position as of yet. A poll was taken in April of '99, where it seemed to be a toss up of the membership.

Why do I oppose it? A number of reasons:

  1. It's too easy to make a mistake for which you cannot correct once the sentence has been carried out
  2. Vestiges of my Catholic upbringing...I'm now pro-life and anti-death penalty, a position many many Catholics find themselves in.
  3. It bothers me the sheer number of capital crimes that are on the book. In certain circumstances you can risk the death penalty for selling certain quantities of drugs within so many feet of a school (the anti-drug-kingpin law).
  4. And it seems to me that there is a valid argument to be made that those with a lot of money can afford to hire counsel that will, for lack of a better term, get them off, or at least avoid the death penalty. That offends my fundamental sense of fairness.



Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]
At least you're consistent (1.50 / 6) (#109)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:34:27 PM EST

It's too easy to make a mistake for which you cannot correct once the sentence has been carried out

Actually you can never correct a mistake no matter the sentence. Once a person has served 10 years, they can never get those years of their life back. You're essentially just taking away 20% or 40% of their lifespan by mistake instead of 100%. It's a difference of degree only.

Vestiges of my Catholic upbringing...I'm now pro-life and anti-death penalty, a position many many Catholics find themselves in.

At least you're consistent. I really can't understand the people who have no problem butchering babies, but cry rivers for serial psyopaths who leave a trail of dismembered corpses in their wake.

It bothers me the sheer number of capital crimes that are on the book. In certain circumstances you can risk the death penalty for selling certain quantities of drugs within so many feet of a school (the anti-drug-kingpin law).

You probably have a point here. Seems like politicians will justify any abuse of government power "for the children"

And it seems to me that there is a valid argument to be made that those with a lot of money can afford to hire counsel that will, for lack of a better term, get them off, or at least avoid the death penalty. That offends my fundamental sense of fairness.

Then outlaw lawyers. Because that same unfairness is present for all punishments not just the death penalty. Look at OJ Simpson.

[ Parent ]

several reasons for me (4.33 / 4) (#105)
by ethereal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:24:56 PM EST

First off, while the government should protect people from criminals, protection does not require execution. Life in prison without possibility of parole would work just as well at preventing future crimes, and possibly be even more of a punishment.

Second, the cost of an execution is tremendously high. This is an unnecessary cost being borne by the citizenry which they should not have to countenance.

Third, capital punishment will permanently deprive the accused of their liberties, leaving us with no way to try to fix the situation if it turns out they were innocent. I don't think that the nonexistent advantages of capital punishment are enough to counterbalance such a chance. For the people to ultimately remove an individual's chances to experience liberty, even if extremely unlikely, seems to be the opposite of libertarian philosophy to me.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Not very liberal (none / 0) (#282)
by teeth on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:29:05 PM EST

"The whole "executions are murder" argument is ludicrous, if executions are murder, then imprisonment is kidnapping.

As a libertarian(no capatalisation), pinko, anarcho-syndicalist I despair...

Executions are murder and imprisonment is much like kidnapping; both take that which is another's.

Ostracism and withdrawal of society (banishment) is the libertarian way.


Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

Not very liberal (none / 0) (#283)
by teeth on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:29:31 PM EST

"The whole "executions are murder" argument is ludicrous, if executions are murder, then imprisonment is kidnapping.

As a libertarian(no capatalisation), pinko, anarcho-syndicalist I despair...

Executions are murder and imprisonment is much like kidnapping; both take that which is another's.

Ostracism and withdrawal of society (banishment) is the libertarian way.


Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

Ryan's a crook (3.00 / 9) (#61)
by AgentGray on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:25:42 AM EST

I don't oppose the death penalty.

While what he did, blah, blah, blah....

I voted for him, and to me it seems like he went against everything in his campaign platform. Look at his stances on abortion, taxes, and even captial punishment right now compared to what they were before he was in office.

Of course, "licenses for bribes" wasn't even the beginning. Over 50 people who worked under him while he was secretary of state have been charged and many have been convicted. What's he going say? He knew nothing? Right.

Anyway...the article was well written, but the poll has to be the worst I've ever seen in making those who don't oppose the penalty seem like idiots. I took offense to it. Where's the poll for "Why I believe in the penalty"?

And yes, someday God is "...going to sort it all out" -(Revelation 20)

representative democracy (4.00 / 4) (#76)
by boxed on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:25:16 AM EST

Representative democracy is what this is called. You choose this guy to vote in your place because you don't have the time or energy to get into all the issues. Now, he has seen the reality of the matter, reviewed all the facts and then he reversed his opinion on this matter. This is, in theory, what YOU would do had you gone through all the facts and experiences he has. That's the whole point of a representative democracy!

[ Parent ]
I see and agree (3.00 / 3) (#108)
by AgentGray on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:31:32 PM EST

However,

I voted for him because he represented my views. Being governor he has the ability to fix problems he may see. By granting clemency to ALL of the convicts he is saying to me that NONE of the justice system works, not just the capital punishment part. Why not grant clemency to all the others who have been convicted of other crimes.

The same argument can be applied here. Who has the right to put a person in prison for life...maybe that part of the system is screwed up. Maybe they should have only got 20-30 instead of life.

Of course, in today's society in the U.S. you can get 20 years for embezzelment and 4-10 for murder...

[ Parent ]
the difference (2.00 / 3) (#146)
by dipierro on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:55:44 PM EST

By granting clemency to ALL of the convicts he is saying to me that NONE of the justice system works, not just the capital punishment part. Why not grant clemency to all the others who have been convicted of other crimes.

He didn't let the death row convicts go, he merely changed their sentence to life in prison. Essentially he granted a permanent moratorium (yes, it's an oxymoron) on executing these individuals. He's not saying they were wrongly convicted, just that they might have been, and since he's going out of office before he has a chance to personally see to it that these people are not executed before being proven guilty, and since he fears that the next Governor might execute these people before they are proven guilty, the only moral decision for him to make was to commute their sentences.



[ Parent ]
Poll (3.00 / 2) (#80)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:50:55 AM EST

Sorry, I should have said "If you don't support the DP, why don't you?" I really wasn't trying to make the other side look silly or stupid.

While I am no longer in favor of the death penalty, I know, having made them myself, that there are some compelling arguments for it. That being said, most of the time, the argument seems to me more about vengance than justice.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

be ashamed (1.50 / 5) (#89)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:40:45 PM EST

Pretty damn biased poll. You should be ashamed of yourself.

[ Parent ]
Ultimately... (4.00 / 8) (#83)
by jd on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:04:04 PM EST

The grief/pain of a victim is something only the victim can resolve. Nothing external is going to make a difference. If the families can't sort out their own grief, over sometimes decades, then you need to start asking if they even want to.

Sure, they suffered. Lots of people suffer in life. Some "let it go" (say, by working a recovery program). Some utilize their anger by helping neighborhood watch schemes, providing resources to other victims, or other similar pro-active ways of dealing with pain.

But to demand that someone should die? Someone who may well have been tortured into confessing to something they might not have done?

The families of the exonerated prisoners are convinced of these men's guilt. Never mind the police brutality and legal botch-ups. Worse, they are convinced not just that these people should be in jail, but should be dead. Don't be surprised if we haven't seen the end of this story, when one of those families decides that they will be Judge, Jury and Executioner.

Barbaric (3.00 / 18) (#84)
by jope on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:08:54 PM EST

Death penalty is an indication of barbarism. Why do you US people not also quarter, break on the weel, burn at the stake? I am sure the mob would love it, it would bring votes, and it would be some change to gassing, frying on the electric chair or giving a lethal injection. In principle I would not care about whatever barbaric bullshit is going on in the US any more than about what happened in, say, Irak, but unfortunately the US insists on exporting and imposing its barbarism to the rest of the world, cynically using the terms "human rights", "moral", and "good vs evil" all the time. It is good to see though, that there is a minority of people who oppose this and other barbarisms.

Cruel and unusual... (3.00 / 2) (#116)
by fractal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:07:24 PM EST

Though some people view it as an impediment to effective crime-fighting, the US constitution specifically prohibits "cruel and unusual" punishment. Hence, no breaking on the wheel, no burning, no drawing & quartering.

John Ashcroft probably hates that.

frctl~
Long ago, before volcanic eruptions were invented, lava had to be carried down the mountainside in buckets and poured over sleeping villagers. This took time.
[ Parent ]

But anal gang rape is OK... (3.00 / 2) (#157)
by the on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:05:22 PM EST

I guess it's too common to be unusual

--
The Definite Article
[ Parent ]
ot question (3.00 / 2) (#151)
by BCoates on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:22:09 PM EST

Irak

Is this a serious transliteration or tranzi 'leetspeak like "Amerika"?

I keep seeing it in contexts where it's not clear which.

--
Benjamin Coates

[ Parent ]

ot question (3.00 / 2) (#219)
by macpeep on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:33:21 AM EST

"Irak" is the correct spelling of "Iraq" in several languages.

[ Parent ]
Dear sir: (5.00 / 2) (#311)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 02:04:14 AM EST

You are an idiot who apparently has no grasp of semantics and a tenuous understanding of American politics, at best. Please save us from your tired anti-American drivel until you can actually formulate a solid, well-reasoned argument. Until then, I kindly suggest that you refrain from arguing amongst the adults.

Cheers
DLS
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
[ Parent ]

Death penalty not relevant. (4.38 / 13) (#86)
by duffbeer703 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:11:12 PM EST

While everyone is harping on the death penalty issue, the real problem is even more insidious.

The police have and continue to systematically trample on the rights of innocent people. Do you think false confessions are sought after for death-penalty cases only?

The are thousands of people in prison, on probation, or struggling to pay fines as a direct result of corrupt Chicago cops and the Cook County District Attorney's office.


Not just the Police (5.00 / 1) (#245)
by pyro9 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:57:59 AM EST

The problem goes much deeper than just the police. Prosecutors are deeply involved as well.

It seems today that police and prosecutors have shifted away from justice against the guilty to simply getting as many convictions as possable with the heaviest sentence possable without regard for guilt, innocence, or even appropriatness of the charges.

By appropriateness, I mean that in cases where the facts of a case are not really in dispute (or even all that disputable), defendants end up charged with much more serious crimes where the definition of the charge does not match what the prosecution has alleged to have happened.

Increasingly, intent is being made irrelevant. At one time we understood that intent was an important part of criminal law, and that if intent is not considered, we will end up removing harmless people from society. That destroys the entire philosophical and ethical justification of imprisonment!

This includes the current trend of trying minors as adults. The entire point of a juvinile justice system is the theory that a minor has a diminished potential capacity of reasoning and moral/ethical/legal judgement compared to an adult. I fail to see how the severity of a crime alters that level of judgement (in some sense, the severity of the crime demonstrates the reduced capacity).

Crime is rampant in prisons. On one hand, that's not very surprising considering the number of criminals in prison (though, unfortunatly, that number is not 100%). On the other hand, it is an environment that is (supposedly) fully controlled by government authorities. One would think that with total control it would be possible to keep crime to levels lower than that in open society.

We as a society continue to claim that prison is supposed to have a corrective or rehabilitative quality. Given that it does little or nothing to restore the victim to his/her state before the crime is committed (restitution is rarely considered as part of a sentence), and that the recidivism rate is approaching 100%, one might think we'd be trying something different, but we aren't.

So called scientific evidence has little to do with science. Sure, the techniques come from science, but the conclusions drawn from the results are bad science indeed. We'd all like to think that 'scientific evidence' is handled like it is on CSI, but that seems to not be the case. For example, it came out in O.J.'s trial that the FBI crime lab will VOTE on interpretation of ambiguous results at the end of the day. BIG HINT, there is no voting in science! Ambiguous results are INCONCLUSIVE. I'm all for convicting criminals, but all this is going to do is convict innocents and provide reasonable doubt for the guilty.

Jury of your peers has become meaningless. Apparently the term now means any registered voter who couldn't get out of it.

The public defender system is a bad joke. In general, public defenders have an impossible case load. In some places, public defense is handled by drafting any attourny who practices in the region. Your public defendor for a capital trial may not even normally practice criminal law.

The real importance of the O.J. trial seems to have escaped the media. Based on the outcome and your opinion of O.J.'s guilt, you may draw one of two conclusions:

  1. Given enough money for trial, you can get away with murder, even in the face of scientific evidence.
  2. In a high profile case, a prosecutor will bring millions of dollars in resources including shoddy 'scientific evidense' to bear against you. You'll have to spend millions to successfully defend yourself. Better hope you're independantly wealthy or you can get a book deal out of it (or both)

</rant>


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
You got it. (none / 0) (#269)
by duffbeer703 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:38:15 PM EST

The prosecutors, while they do their work in a moral and ethical vacuum, are generally directly accountable to the people.

Crime is prison is often fueled by gangs who use beating and rape to exert control over weaker inmates and drugs, both of which are allowed in or sold by prison guards.

The United States has always been a paradoxical society. The founding fathers were champions of personal freedom while supporting or owning slaves.

Today we have a public who doesn't want to surrender individual rights, yet support and demand "get tough on criminal" policies that put millions of people behind bars for arbitrary periods of time. In New York you can kick a dog and get 2 years in prison, but if you crack someones skull you may get 6 months and 1500 hrs of community service.

The justice system is tainted and exists today to further it's own interests. Correction Officer's unions oppose the lowering of jail sentences, companies get rich with cheap labor, and lives are destroyed for minor offenses every day. It's truly depressing.

[ Parent ]

Proportionality of death penalty. (2.37 / 16) (#88)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:38:09 PM EST

Seeing as how the death penalty (especially in Illinois) is predominately applied to minorities,

I can't speak to Illinois specifically, but nationally, this is factually incorrect. Although more minorities get the death penalty in whites, it is less than the proportion of crimes committed. To put it another way, if a white and minority both commit the same crime, the white person is MORE likely to get the death penalty.

We need to fix the societal problems that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country. Lets be honest, its not all minorities, not asians, nor indians, mainly illegal mexicans and blacks.

Just because members of one race commit more crimes does that mean you can't punish them? Seriously if you follow this logic to its conclusion, once the death penalty is gone, then life in prison will be declared racist, because more minorities will be serving life terms. I guess the only acceptable solution will be to just open up the prisons and free all the murderers and rapists and thieves. That's the only way you're going to get exactly equal punishments for all races.

I'd like to see a source (3.80 / 5) (#101)
by phybre187 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:14:52 PM EST

First of all, I live in IL. The death penalty in this state *is* predominantly applied to minorities. And I'd love to know how you arrive at the conclusion that a white person is more likely to be sentenced to death than a minority, from a national standpoint.

Seriously if you follow this logic to its conclusion, once the death penalty is gone, then life in prison will be declared racist, because more minorities will be serving life terms. I guess the only acceptable solution will be to just open up the prisons [...]

I agree. And here's why:

In 1971, prisoners at Attica in New York State rebelled against horrible prison conditions. (Conditions overall are worse today.) The suppression of that rebellion is still the bloodiest day of battle between Americans on American soil since the Civil War: thirty-seven people were killed. At that time, there were fewer than thirteen thousand prisoners in the whole New York prison system; today there are about seventy-five thousand. And the population of the state hasn't risen 5 percent.

Across the country, more than 2 million people are in prison. And in California - which we tend to think of as a trendsetter for the rest of the country - 40 percent of African American males between the ages of seventeen and twenty-seven, the most vital years of their lives, are either in prison or under some form of community supervision or probation. What's the reason behind this? It's a means of controlling a major segment of the population. But what does it do to the people?

And what does it mean that we've got politicians like New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who insists on sending people to jail for what he calls "quality of life" crimes? What does it mean when 70 percent of young-adult African American males have arrest records? What does it mean when so many of these African Americans have had frightening and damaging experiences with the police? We say we're "the land of the free and the home of the brave," yet we have a prison system unrivaled in the so-called democratic societies, and probably in any society on the planet today. And we're Lord High Executioner.

In the 1960s, South Africa was the world's leading executioner for postjudicial convictions, executing about three hundred people every year - nearly one each day. Most years, all of those executed were black, with the occasional exception of a white who had been convicted of being part of the African National Congress's resistance to apartheid. Back then, the principal argument we made in this country against the death penalty was "We don't want to be like South Africa." Part of the reason that argument worked is that the civil-rights movement was ascendant. Another is that people recognized that our executions were racist: For instance, 89 percent of the executions for rape, from the time statistics began to be collected until the Supreme Court abolished executions for rape, were of African American men. And although we don't know the race of all the victims, because those statistics weren't kept, those whose race we have been able to determine were all white. The imposition of the death penalty was - and remains - blatantly racist.

Now South Africa has abolished the death penalty; its constitution prohibits it. Prior to that, its supreme court found the death penalty to be a violation of international and domestic laws. Yet we come on like gangbusters for capital punishment. George W. Bush executed more people than any other governor in the history of the United States.
Bonus points to anyone who can tell me where it comes from.

[ Parent ]
Ramsey Clark (none / 0) (#145)
by MrAcheson on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:44:45 PM EST

Your quote is by Ramsey Clark from an interview by Derrick Jensen in The Sun.  

Clarks answer to the problem of huge percentages of African-Americans in prisons by saying this is caused by government corruption and an attempt to control a huge segment of the African-American population as was the case in South Africa.  Is this the case?  I would present a different view.

The highest per capita and per area crime rates are found in low income urban neighboorhoods.  It follows that these high crime areas are policed the most vigorously (because thats where the most severe crime problem is and where police manpower can be the most effective) and therefore produce the most criminal cases and court convictions.  Who lives in these areas?  In most cities these high crime areas are African-American neighboorhoods or other minority neighborhoods.  Of course the presence of racist cops doesn't help either.  

This is a symptom of the out of control crime found in many African American neighborhoods not of some racist conspiracy by the government like South Africa.  If this is just conspiracy then I challenge you to take a long walk alone in your closest poor minority neighboorhood at night.

BTW the governor of Texas cannot commute death sentences by his/her authority alone.  The governor of Texas also is limited to one stay of execution for a given case.  Texas's governorship is one of the weakest in the nation, even if he had wanted to GWB would not have be able to grant a blanket clemency in Texas.  Bush was heavily criticised when Texas executed a retarded man, but he had no way of changing it because Anne Richards had already issued the stay of execution for that case before he took office.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Okay (5.00 / 2) (#231)
by phybre187 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:23:53 AM EST

If this is just conspiracy then I challenge you to take a long walk alone in your closest poor minority neighboorhood at night.

I don't suggest that there is any conspiracy. Nor do I think Clark is suggesting one. Conspiracy demands that people... you know... conspire to do something. Clark is suggesting that the election of one racist official after another has made the system so hostile to minorities that they've become impoverished and criminal as a direct result. I do take walks in poor and "bad" minority neighborhoods. As Clarke said, "What does it mean when 70 percent of young-adult African American males have arrest records? What does it mean when so many of these African Americans have had frightening and damaging experiences with the police?" It means that these people have learned not to trust authority figures, and, by proxy, anyone who isn't a perceived "victim of the system". And, as you yourself point out, "the presence of racist cops doesn't help either."

BTW the governor of Texas cannot commute death sentences by his/her authority alone.

Yes, grasshopper. That is known as "red tape". You and I both know that if preventing any particular execution or batch of executions had become necessary for GWB's political survival, it would have happened. That's what good old boy networks are for. Especially in Texas. Dubbya was in a position where he could have essentially done anything he wanted. Especially if it was being demanded of him by an important cross section of the unwashed masses. Did the execution of that retarded man keep him out of the White House? 'Course not. Because his position made it easy for him to claim his hands were tied. Isn't that convenient?

[ Parent ]
Yup (2.00 / 2) (#246)
by MrAcheson on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:05:01 AM EST

Yes because its pure concidence that Clark talks about Apartheid South Africa's deliberate execution of blacks and dissidents and America's high execution rates for blacks in the same paragraph.  Why didn't he invoke Hitler and Nazi Germany while he was at it?  They executed minorities and dissidents too after all.

GWB did not have absolute control of Texas as you seem to imply.  In fact IIRC during his time there he was working with a Democrat majority legislature.  In order to get the ability you are dismissing as trivial, he would have had to get a legislature made up of the opposing party to pass a law (or even better repeal old regulations) to give him a huge increase in his current powers in this area.  Would you vote for that if you were a Texas Democrat?  I doubt it.  The truth is that claims or no, his hands were tied by Texas law.  

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Not True (5.00 / 4) (#263)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:31:20 PM EST

In order to get the ability you are dismissing as trivial, he would have had to get a legislature made up of the opposing party to pass a law (or even better repeal old regulations) to give him a huge increase in his current powers in this area.  Would you vote for that if you were a Texas Democrat?  I doubt it.  The truth is that claims or no, his hands were tied by Texas law.

The Governor of Texas can grant one 30 day stay of execution on his own, but must have a case recommended to him by the state's Board of Pardons and Paroles in order to grant clemency or commute a sentence. The catch is, the Board of Pardons and Paroles is composed entirely of the Governor's political appointees. To maintain that the Governor's hands are tied and that he is helpless to to exercise his Constitutional power of clemency is exceedingly disingenuous.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Where do you get your data? (1.33 / 3) (#104)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:22:57 PM EST

We need to fix the societal problems that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country. Lets be honest, its not all minorities, not asians, nor indians, mainly illegal mexicans and blacks.

Incorrect, most criminal activity is commited by white men, most convicted persons are minorities.

To put it another way, if a white and minority both commit the same crime, the white person is MORE likely to get the death penalty.

Do you just make shit up as you go along?

We need to fix the societal problems that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country. Lets be honest, its not all minorities, not asians, nor indians, mainly illegal mexicans and blacks.

In China town it's the chinese gangs, in west indian areas it's the west indians, in a ceo boardroom it's a white guy etc etc etc. You're talking out of your ass, as usual. Crime is proportional to the area and group.

I'd really love to see you comment in public real life forums and such. You'll be laughed at so hard I'm sure there will be some that start having seizures.

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

Here's the sources. (4.28 / 7) (#119)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:16:15 PM EST

Do you just make shit up as you go along?

Nope, here's the info

The federal study augmented data in an earlier, September 12, 2000 report, but reached similar conclusions. The broader pool found that federal prosecutors brought cases against 973 defendants in the 1995 to July 2000 period in which the facts would have supported a capital charge. Of these defendants, 17 percent (166) were white, 42 percent (408) were black, and 36 percent (350) were Hispanic. So, in this pool, blacks and Hispanics were "overrepresented" and whites "underrepresented" compared with their respective makeups in the general population.

But, out of this pool, capital charges were actually brought less frequently against blacks (79 percent of the time) and Hispanics (56 percent of the time) than against whites (81 percent of the time). Finally, the report found that the attorney general approved seeking the death penalty for only a modest 17 percent of the black defendants (71 out of 408), and a paltry 9 percent of the Hispanic defendants (32 out of 350), versus a whopping 27 percent of white defendants (44 out of 166).

http://www.cnn.com/2001/LAW/06/06/justice.death.garza.02/

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/6/6/164856.shtml

http://www.nationalreview.com/contributors/clegg061101.shtml

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/nation/933945

http://www.usembassy.de/policy/capitalpunishment/ashcroft.htm



[ Parent ]

Here you go let me help you out (2.66 / 3) (#126)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:35:42 PM EST

The fact is that capital criminals don't look like America, and no one should expect them to. No one is surprised to find more men than women in this class. Nor is it a shock to find that this group contains more twenty-year-olds than septuagenarians. And if -- as the left tirelessly maintains -- poverty breeds crime, and if -- as it tiresomely maintains -- the poor are disproportionately minority, then it must follow -- as the left entirely denies -- that minorities will be "overrepresented" among criminals.

"We did note a slight statistical disparity [favoring white defendants] in the treatment of plea agreements," Ashcroft said. "

Finally, it must be noted that, even if a disproportionate number of African Americans are executed, the beneficiaries of the executions are likely to be disproportionately black, too.

If the death penalty deters murderers, then it serves the interests of the overwhelming majority of (law abiding) African Americans more handily than the interests of all those rich whites in their gated communities.

The majority of the 20 inmates currently on federal death row are minorities.

Bush supports the death penalty; Texas executed 152 people while he was governor.

I'm also directing the National Institute of Justice to study the effectiveness of federal, state and local law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of murder in America, and whether there is sufficient accountability for murder, the most heinous of crimes. By understanding more about past practices in these areas, we may have an opportunity to improve our performance in the future.

Can't wait to see that, if we ever do get to see it.

Those from all the links you provided. Basically what it says is that as someone above has said there is a different problem. It also doesn't say how they got the statistics pass the numbers in the system. Which basically means we have to wait for the last report. I bet you 100 dollars right here that we never get to see that report and if we do it'll show the gross discrimination and brutality that goes on behind the scenes.

So umm again you are still talking out of your ass up until this point. Making conclusions on what the Ashcroft/Reno study comes up with is nonsense especially since anyone will tell you, the study can't be complete and this is why it's a Reno/Ashcroft thing. Reno started the study and Ashcroft tries to act as if they had anything to do with it besides reporting numbers. Reno was doing a decisive study and I wonder why we are still waiting for the rest of it. Soooo ummm tell me something that I don't know?

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

The key word in this study is federal ... (5.00 / 3) (#129)
by antc on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:49:48 PM EST

A tiny, tiny minority of death penalty cases are tried in federal court. Just think about the numbers you site. Only 973 federal cases in the 5 year period studied had facts that could possibly support a death penalty charge. The CNN article says straight out that most of these cases are related to international drug trafficking. What percentage of all potentially capital crimes in the US do you think are related to major drug trafficking?

Remeber Federal != National.

[ Parent ]

Not very relevant (2.66 / 3) (#132)
by dipierro on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:00:29 PM EST

In the "1995 to July 2000 period" we had a different Attorney General appointed by a different President from a different party. Without looking at the specifics of the data (what were these "capital charges") there's not really much that can be concluded. It's certainly not fair to say that "if a white and minority both commit the same crime, the white person is MORE likely to get the death penalty."

All of this of course is irrelevant to the point that tarpy was making, which is "Seeing as how the death penalty (especially in Illinois) is predominately applied to minorities, they have a ready-made political winner on their hands."



[ Parent ]
entirely relevant (2.80 / 5) (#135)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:09:09 PM EST

Seeing as how the death penalty (especially in Illinois) is predominately applied to minorities, they have a ready-made political winner on their hands."

I don't know what you're talking about, it's entirely relevant. If minorities are committing more death penalty eligible crimes, then obviously there are going to be more minorities sentenced to death. You can find disparities between any group, 20 year olds are more likely to commit crimes then 30 year olds. Men are far more likely to commit crimes than women. Do we claim the death penalty discriminates against men? Obviously not, because men are commiting the crimes and deserve the penalty.

[ Parent ]

You argue (5.00 / 1) (#139)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:25:03 PM EST

I don't know what you're talking about, it's entirely relevant. If minorities are committing more death penalty eligible crimes, then obviously there are going to be more minorities sentenced to death. You can find disparities between any group, 20 year olds are more likely to commit crimes then 30 year olds. Men are far more likely to commit crimes than women. Do we claim the death penalty discriminates against men? Obviously not, because men are commiting the crimes and deserve the penalty.

When in a glass house don't throw stones; you're argument is the typical lets disregard the actual problem and look at the output.  That is not how you look at problems in societal structures. You look at the causes of the problem and again as someone previously said there is a different problem which can provide your numbers, statistics, etc. Don't you get it?!

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

What I'm talking about (3.66 / 3) (#144)
by dipierro on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:42:44 PM EST

I don't know what you're talking about, it's entirely relevant. If minorities are committing more death penalty eligible crimes, then obviously there are going to be more minorities sentenced to death.

Why do you believe that minorities are committing more death penalty eligible crimes? Your evidence has only shown that minorities are charged with more death penalty eligible crimes. Even if you show that minorities are convicted of more death penalty eligible crimes, you still haven't shown that minorities commit more death penalty eligible crimes. And even if you show that minorities commit more death penalty eligible crimes, you still haven't shown that "if a white and minority both commit the same crime, the white person is MORE likely to get the death penalty."

But as for why your comment is irrelevant, let's go back to the original statement.

Seeing as how the death penalty (especially in Illinois) is predominately applied to minorities, they have a ready-made political winner on their hands.

The comment was about how to win a political race. Your strawman argument then proceeded to make an argument that because more minorities are given the death penalty, obviously they are the victims of racism. This argument was easily shot down, since it is not a logical argument, but no one actually made that argument! You then went on to make an untrue statement that "if a white and minority both commit the same crime, the white person is MORE likely to get the death penalty" and you showed evidence for that statement by showing mostly irrelevant and wholly incomplete statistics.



[ Parent ]
Thats the point. They can't prove it. (2.00 / 4) (#150)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:19:45 PM EST

Even if you show that minorities are convicted of more death penalty eligible crimes, you still haven't shown that minorities commit more death penalty eligible crimes. And even if you show that minorities commit more death penalty eligible crimes, you still haven't shown that "if a white and minority both commit the same crime, the white person is MORE likely to get the death penalty."

That's the god damn point. It's impossible to prove a negative. The burden of proof lies on the person making the claim, yet all these stories do is spout the same propaganda that minorities are overrepresented in death penalty sentencing. My point is that overrepresentation itself IS NOT ipso facto proof of racism. Minorities are also overrepresented in committing the crimes, so obviously they'll be overrepresented in the punishments. Whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty. I bring this up, not because I want to make minorities look bad for committing so many crimes, but because I get quite angry and the constant accusation that all whites are horribly evil oppressors meting out unfair punishments to minorities. This report shows that if anything, whites are more likely to get the death penalty than minorities in proportion to the crimes, probably because many prosecutors hesitate to seek the death penalty for minorities when they'd have no problem seeking it for whites. Why isn't anyone concerned about racial bias against whites since that's the only data actually supported by studies. Oh I forgot, discriminating against people because of their race is wrong, unless they're white, that's just affirmative action.

[ Parent ]

more strawmen (1.00 / 1) (#247)
by dipierro on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:16:10 AM EST

That's the god damn point. It's impossible to prove a negative.

Actually it's not impossible to prove a negative. It's just harder.

The burden of proof lies on the person making the claim, yet all these stories do is spout the same propaganda that minorities are overrepresented in death penalty sentencing.

All which stories?

My point is that overrepresentation itself IS NOT ipso facto proof of racism.

I agree. So what? No one claimed it was.

I bring this up, not because I want to make minorities look bad for committing so many crimes, but because I get quite angry and the constant accusation that all whites are horribly evil oppressors meting out unfair punishments to minorities.

Constant accusation? Who accused all whiles of being horribly evil oppressors meting out unfair punishments to minorities? No one.

This report shows that if anything, whites are more likely to get the death penalty than minorities in proportion to the crimes, probably because many prosecutors hesitate to seek the death penalty for minorities when they'd have no problem seeking it for whites.

No, it doesn't. It doesn't contain nearly enough data to prove anything. Further it only contains data regarding a single Attorney General.

Why isn't anyone concerned about racial bias against whites since that's the only data [sic] actually supported by studies.

That's the only conclusion actually supported by the short summary released by a newpaper covering a study performed by a racist Justice Department.

Oh I forgot, discriminating against people because of their race is wrong, unless they're white, that's just affirmative action.

You apparently don't understand what the term affirmative action means.



[ Parent ]
affirmative action (2.60 / 5) (#272)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:04:56 PM EST

You apparently don't understand what the term affirmative action means

What about the Michigan case before the US Supreme Court right now? They have a 150 point admissions system. A perfect SAT is worth 12 points. Perfect essay is worth 4 points. Being a minority is worth 20 points. Does giving people 20 extra points solely because of their race constitute racial discrimination? Think about that, the best possible score on the SAT plus the best possible essay still isn't enough to put you on equal footing with a minority. If that's not discrimination I don't know what is.

When the US got rid of segregation, it was because they decided that separate but equal was impossible, you can't have two separate systems and still have equal opportunity. Affirmative action creates a segregated and inherently unequal admissions policy.

[ Parent ]

It is discrimination (2.50 / 2) (#316)
by dipierro on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 09:24:36 AM EST

but it's not what affirmative action means.

[ Parent ]
Sorta (5.00 / 5) (#121)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:24:55 PM EST

Actually more white people have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 than have all other racial groups combined, but that is as it should be since more capital offenses are committed by whites than any other racial group. The strongest evidence for racial bias in the application of capital punishment relates not to who is executed, but the race of the victim. Since 1976 there have been 12 executions where the victim was black and the perpetrator was white. On the other hand, there have been 176 executions where the victim was white and the perpetrator was black. Keep in mind that over half of the homicides each year involve black victims in spite of the fact that blacks represent a mere 12% of the population.

Sources:

The 1994 Congressional report Racial Disparities in Federal Death Penalty Prosecutions 1988-1994.

The Death Penalty Information Centers summary page on the racial composition of the death row inmates and the their victims.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
mitigating vs aggravating factors determine senten (1.00 / 2) (#285)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:33:26 PM EST

Keep in mind that over half of the homicides each year involve black victims in spite of the fact that blacks represent a mere 12% of the population.

Capital punishments are usually assigned after weighing mitigating and aggravating factors involved in the crime. I think its fair to say that most minority criminals live in poor areas and know mostly other minorities, therefore when they commit a crime against another minority, it's someone they know and there are likely to be mitigating factors involved in the crime. When the minority attacks a stranger, to rape a white woman or rob a white shop owner, there are likely to be aggravating factors. This is another example of what I'm talking about, you take a statistical inequality and try to use it as ipso facto proof of racism.

[ Parent ]

Huh? (4.50 / 2) (#292)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 07:59:56 PM EST

Capital punishments are usually assigned after weighing mitigating and aggravating factors involved in the crime.

Trust me, I don't need your assistance in understanding the legal system.

When the minority attacks a stranger, to rape a white woman or rob a white shop owner, there are likely to be aggravating factors.

I was tempted to interject in your favor in the thread discussing your putative racism. Needless to say, I am now quite glad I did not.

This is another example of what I'm talking about, you take a statistical inequality and try to use it as ipso facto proof of racism.

Bullshit! I did absolutely nothing of the sort. You might try disengaging what little bit of a brain you've got from the "all Rush, all the time" channel and actually bother to read what was written, as opposed to simply projecting your little pet issue.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
National Crime Victimization Survey (1.00 / 3) (#297)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:35:50 PM EST

I did read what you posted. You said
"Since 1976 there have been 12 executions where the victim was black and the perpetrator was white. On the other hand, there have been 176 executions where the victim was white and the perpetrator was black."

I pointed out that simply pointing to statistics does not constitution proof of racial discrimination. Agravating factors are more likely when the person killed is a stranger. In response you've lowered the debate to personal attacks and name calling.

I was tempted to interject in your favor in the thread discussing your putative racism. Needless to say, I am now quite glad I did not.

Because pointing out that crimes like rape and armed robbery are aggravating factors in a homicide makes me racist?

I should have also pointed out that according to the DOJ National Crime Victimization Survey, blacks are 10 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites then the reverse. In light of this, the sentencing appears proportional.

Since 1972, the U.S. Department of Justice has conducted a National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to determine the frequency of certain crimes. One category is interracial crimes. Its most recent publication (1997), "Criminal Victimization in the U.S.," reports on data collected in 1994. In that year, there were about 1,700,000 interracial crimes, of which 1,276,030 involved whites and blacks. In 90 percent of the cases, a white was the victim and a black was the perpetrator, while in 10 percent of the cases it was the reverse.

Another finding of the NCVS report is that of the 2,025,464 violent crimes committed by blacks in 1994, 1,140,670 were against whites - that's slightly over 56 percent. Whites committed 5,114,692 violent crimes; 135,360, or 2.6 percent were against blacks.

In 1997, there were 2,336 whites charged with anti-black crimes and 718 blacks charged with anti-white crimes, so-called hate crimes. Although the absolute number of white offenders was larger, the black rate per 100,000 of the population was greater, making blacks twice as likely to commit hate crimes.

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=3691

[ Parent ]

Look Closer (5.00 / 1) (#306)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 12:22:43 AM EST

I pointed out that simply pointing to statistics does not constitution proof of racial discrimination.

And I never claimed it did.

I should have also pointed out that according to the DOJ National Crime Victimization Survey, blacks are 10 times more likely to commit a violent crime against whites then the reverse. In light of this, the sentencing appears proportional.

Not all violent crimes are capital crimes. Try again. The minimal requirements of the data set you should be looking for includes:

  • the total number of prosecutions for capital crimes and the corresponding conviction rate
  • the total number of cases in which the prosecution seeks the death penalty and the corresponding conviction rate
  • the total number of death penalty sentences

Each should be broken down according to:
  • the race, age, and sex of the perpetrator
  • the race, age, and sex of the victim
  • the jurisdiction in which the conviction was obtained

Preferably, it should include the years 1976 forward.

Oh, and by the way, just thought I'd let you know that modstorming -- especially those comments you reply to -- is considered to be pretty poor form around here.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Thanks for clarification (1.00 / 4) (#313)
by Godel on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 03:46:56 AM EST

Oh, and by the way, just thought I'd let you know that modstorming -- especially those comments you reply to -- is considered to be pretty poor form around here

Thanks, I had no idea, all I do is follow the examples I see other users set. redwolfb14 has given me zeros and 1s on posts of mine he responded to because he disagrees. I figured if a trusted user does that it must be acceptable. If that's not the case I'm glad to follow whatever conventions there are.

[ Parent ]

Yes (1.00 / 3) (#314)
by Godel on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 03:58:32 AM EST

That's the point. It's the burden of those claiming racial discrimination to come up with those figures. Unless I'm misten, the burden of proof usually lies upon the person making the claim. I don't think it's fair that people are allowed to toss around the hateful and divisive claim that the death penalty is racist without backing it up with statistics like you mentioned.

[ Parent ]
Your stats are misleading (5.00 / 1) (#322)
by felixrayman on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 11:21:51 PM EST

Actually more white people have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 than have all other racial groups combined, but that is as it should be since more capital offenses are committed by whites than any other racial group.

This is false. Blacks commit well over 50% of all homicides. According to the Department of Justices statistics, in 2000 blacks were responsible for 9,316 homicides, whites were responsible for 7,880 homicides, with the underachieving 'other' responsible for just 466 homicides. Note that 'white' in these statistics includes Hispanic offenders. The numbers are similar for previous years. The figures are shocking considering that blacks only make up ~12% of the general population.

Since 1976 there have been 12 executions where the victim was black and the perpetrator was white. On the other hand, there have been 176 executions where the victim was white and the perpetrator was black.

Tell the whole story. Whites (including Hispanics) who murder blacks account for about 2.5% of all homicides depending on the year. In the stats you are looking at they account for 1.7% of executions which is within error limits for such a small sample size.

Personally, rather than asking why we don't bump up the percentage of whites we execute by 0.8% or so, I think the question we should be asking is "Why does 12% of the population commit 55% of the murders?" Poverty certainly is no excuse, there are far more whites living in poverty than blacks.

Keep in mind that over half of the homicides each year involve black victims in spite of the fact that blacks represent a mere 12% of the population.

Tell the whole story. Blacks commit more than 50% of all homicides and the vast majority of their victims are black. That's why more than 50% of all homicide victims are black.

You can find a more rigorous mathematical treatment of the subject here . (Summary: in Pennsylvania the death penalty is racist against blacks, in the south it is racist against whites, everywhere else it's basically fair ).

Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

[ Parent ]
Thanks... (none / 0) (#331)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 02:36:37 PM EST

...for the corrections and the link.

I think the question we should be asking is "Why does 12% of the population commit 55% of the murders?"

Agreed. I never intended to assert that the racial bias angle on the death penalty demonstrates the existence of clearly prejudicial intent. Rather, I merely wished to point out that there is some merit to examining the disproportionate effects of death penalty (and the whole of the criminal justice system) upon the black population. I know I wasn't all that clear, so the fault here is mine.

As for why the black population is so disproportionately disposed to criminal behavior, I think it has something to do with the vicious circle of expansive criminalization, institutionalization, poverty, and the breakdown of family and community structures. Not too specific, I know, but the issue seems to be richly overdetermined.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Whats a Zero rating and who gives them? (1.50 / 2) (#131)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:57:38 PM EST

NT

[ Parent ]
Zeros (4.00 / 1) (#159)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:10:18 PM EST

are given by 'trusted users'. You (and anyone else) can become one by getting enough of your comments rated 3.50+ (or so). The algorithm is known only by the k5 cabal but that's the gist of it.

I see your comment has three zero ratings. Trusted user guidelines specifically advise zeros to be given out only to comments that have 'no content', mostly spam, flames and pure trolls. I cannot fathom how your comment could be construed to be any of those. Even if someone thinks it's a troll, you represent facts and back them up later when someone asks for links.

Obvious and blatant trusted user abuse, and I would report this to rusty, if I were you. The pinko-liberal politically-correct racial apologists whose one-dimensional worldview your comment threatened need to lose their trusted user status. Not that there's anything wrong in being a PLPCRA, but abusing the trusted user system in such a flagrant way is inexcusable.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
This is why he gets a 0 rating (2.66 / 3) (#174)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:18:06 PM EST

We need to fix the societal problems that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country. Lets be honest, its not all minorities, not asians, nor indians, mainly illegal mexicans and blacks.

That is blindingly racist and stupid statement to make. Illegal mexicans and blacks? Mexicans aren't Hispanic which is what was found in the Ashcroft report and illegal blacks? That deserves more than a 0 and if I could of given it a -5 I would of. He can complain to whoever he wants. As for factual data I'd really love to see the sources. The links that he provides talks about Ashcroft's report on the study Reno started sometime ago. Even Ashcroft admits to whites being given more plea bargains and anyone in the know, knows the study is bunk until it's finished. This is not the case and I think that the 2 other people including myself who gave a zero rating understand that. Just because you don't doesn't make the 0 rating an abuse. We are trusted users for a reason. Obviously if 3 people see the need for a zero rating there is probably a need for a zero rating you forcing a rating of 5 makes no diffrence.

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

Ahem (none / 0) (#186)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:35:44 PM EST

godix has already given you some of the points I was about to make. Disagreeing extremely strongly with someone on a point doesn't make the comment worthy of a zero. Key to 0s is 'content-free', which the original comment obviously was not judging from how a constructive discussion started from it.

You have to remember, a successful application of zeros is meant to censor the comment (it becomes invisible to 'normal' users), so you have a powerful weapon in your hands and should use due caution in its application. BTW, that's why I rated the comments at 5, to offset your undue punishment. And this is covered by k5 rules, unlike your application of zeros.

(copy-pasted from here)
Also don't go around given people 1's because you disagree with them which is what Godel does.

Umm, that's exactly what you are doing, rating someone a zero for disagreement. 'Don't do as I do, do as I say'.

I'm glad you know the study Godel referenced is bunk, as obviously I'm not 'in the know'. They could replace all those peer-reviewers in scientific journals with you. Your argument against Godel's comment is bogus, too: so what if whites get more plea bargains; correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation.

Just because 3 people see the need for a zero rating doesn't necessarily tell anything about the comment, only about the sensibilities of the raters. Yes, you are trusted users for a reason: you post opinions that are popular here and therefore reflect the general populus of this site. Unpopular, politically incorrect and painful facts don't get voted up; they get zerod on k5.

As for solutions to the problems the parent comment alluded to, yes, we need to 'fix the societal problems that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country'. But before that we need to not be offended by facts about the demographics of the people committing the vast majority of violent crimes. Only then can we really know what to fix.

Of course, if we could get over this 'race this race that' discussion altogether, I'd be so much happier. But when the far right and far left both use their own propaganda to incite hatred in everybody regardless of their political standing or race, I don't see it happening any time soon.

--
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell


[ Parent ]
jebus (none / 0) (#188)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:52:10 PM EST

You have to remember, a successful application of zeros is meant to censor the comment (it becomes invisible to 'normal' users), so you have a powerful weapon in your hands and should use due caution in its application. BTW, that's why I rated the comments at 5, to offset your undue punishment. And this is covered by k5 rules, unlike your application of zeros.

Thats the point, to censor and make invisible trollish, silly comments. I might strongly disagree with someone, I've done so many times before it doesn't mean I rate them zero. This post deserved a zero because it's blindingly ignorant filled.

Umm, that's exactly what you are doing, rating someone a zero for disagreement. 'Don't do as I do, do as I say'.

I don't disagree, there is nothing to disagree with the statements made are factually incorrect.

I'm glad you know the study Godel referenced is bunk, as obviously I'm not 'in the know'. They could replace all those peer-reviewers in scientific journals with you.

You haven't actually read the Ashcroft report or know anything about the Reno study; do you?

Unpopular, politically incorrect and painful facts don't get voted up; they get zerod on k5.

List the facts, because I see none. I also see nothing but trollish comments that have been rated 0.

As for solutions to the problems the parent comment alluded to, yes, we need to 'fix the societal problems that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country'.

What societal problems, that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country? How do you exactly know this; again another incorrect statement. Lets say that is correct what societal problems would be fixed? Huh?

Of course, if we could get over this 'race this race that' discussion altogether, I'd be so much happier. But when the far right and far left both use their own propaganda to incite hatred in everybody regardless of their political standing or race, I don't see it happening any time soon.

Thats obviously not a jab at me but if it is I'd sure love to know how I'm far on either side. All I said is that what Godel said is simply not factual. It's still not factual and no one has proven any of his statements thus far, not even himself. It's highly offensive and deserves a zero, you are free to disagree with me but provide facts don't argue from heresay.

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

Indeed (none / 0) (#192)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:24:36 PM EST

'What societal problems, that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country?'

I was directly quoting you, that's why I put the little ' ' signs there. You might've missed them. I wasn't the one making that statement, you were. So you are basically interrogating yourself here. How quaint.

And no, the last paragraph was not a 'stab at you' (notice the quote marks). Get over yourself. And thank you for giving me the permission to disagree with you, I appreciate it.

This is going nowhere so I'm stopping here.

My bodyweight is muscle and cock MMM
Tenured K5 uberdouchebag Herr mirleid
Meatgazer Frau gr3y


[ Parent ]
That's not my intention (1.00 / 2) (#193)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:55:22 PM EST

That is blindingly racist and stupid statement to make. Illegal mexicans and blacks?

No, pointing out facts is not racist. The reason I felt it was necessary to specify which minorities are committing the crimes out of proportion was to disprove the notion that the disproportional punishments are due to racism by whites. I guess whites are horribly evil and racist against mexicans with whom they share european ancestry and culture, then when it comes to asians, they don't discriminate at all? Maybe we should look at some other factors instead of blindly accusing people of racism, because unless you take an honest look and understand the problem, you'll never fix it. My problem is that whenever you make an accusation of systematic racial bias against minorities, what you're really doing is saying, most whites are horrible unfair evil racists. This is highly offensive to me. It's funny how the double standards work, saying "most blacks are criminals" would be considered racist, but saying "most whites are racists" is perfectly acceptable and would get you approving nods.

I don't see how supplying pertinent factual data to refute an erroneous accusation is a troll. But I'm sure you're alot smarter than I am.

[ Parent ]

FYI: Mojo Algorithm (1.00 / 1) (#264)
by zaphos on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:43:47 PM EST

The algorithm is known only by the k5 cabal but that's the gist of it.
If you're curious and can read perl, just download Scoop and examine the algorithm yourself. It isn't top-secret, but it's a little difficult to explain.

In a nutshell, it's a weighted average of the ratings of your previous X comments over the previous Y days (most recent comments weigh more). Also, you must have more than Z rated comments. Ratings on comments where the story was dumped don't count, and whether or not ratings count in the diaries is configurable.

Hmm. Let's see. Did I miss anything? That's all I remember. Examine the code yourself if you want the exact algor.

--
So few people seem to realize that what seems fascinating and meaningful to them is utterly meaningless and dull for the listener. -rusty
[ Parent ]

0's (1.50 / 2) (#169)
by godix on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 06:10:29 PM EST

are an indication that some trusted users probably shouldn't be trusted. Don't worry, anymore all a 0 really means is that someone a lot dumber than you didn't like what you said. If it helps I gave you a 5 to offset the 0's.


Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

[ Parent ]
Heh (3.50 / 4) (#176)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:24:56 PM EST

are an indication that some trusted users probably shouldn't be trusted. Don't worry, anymore all a 0 really means is that someone a lot dumber than you didn't like what you said. If it helps I gave you a 5 to offset the 0's.

Gotta love that mentality. 0's are there for a reason, don't want a zero? Don't make dumb and trollish statements, which have zero factual backup and is just general spouting off. Also don't go around given people 1's because you disagree with them which is what Godel does. This is why he isn't a trusted user and the 2 people including myself that rated him zero are. If rating him 5+ makes you feel better go ahead but my rating of zero will remain.

Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

Why don't you go read the TU link I provided? (none / 0) (#178)
by godix on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:20:41 PM EST

"If rating him 5+ makes you feel better go ahead but my rating of zero will remain."

I never asked you to change yours, I was just explaining to Godel that the 0 ratings meant someone a lot dumber than him didn't like what he said. Your reply to me boils down to 'I'm a TU therefore I'm better than him and I'm gonna get my revenge for his 1 ratings' and your reply to MotorMachineMercenary boils down to 'I didn't like what he said'. Thank you for helping prove my point. If you actually read the link I made you'd realize that neither is justification for a 0 as ratings are theoreticaly meant to be.


Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

[ Parent ]

Interesting (4.50 / 2) (#179)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:28:30 PM EST

Please use your "zero" rating with care! It is only for use on comments that are wholly content-free. If you think the poster is clueless, or an idiot, or you just don't agree with them, that is not grounds for a zero rating. Zero is for comments that are offensive, script-generated, or otherwise content-free and intended solely to annoy and/or abuse other readers.

Well that says it all for me, illegal mexicans and blacks commit most of the crime? That's not highly offensive and not required especially if it's not true which would then make it content-free and intended solely to annoy/and or abuse other readers otherwise troll material. Which is exactly what it is. Can't you read?
Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

*SIGH* (3.50 / 2) (#182)
by godix on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:02:20 PM EST

"illegal mexicans and blacks commit most of the crime?"

Blacks do commit more crime per capita than whites. The reasons behind this can be argued indefinately, but it is indeed a fact. Go look at any prison, holding cell, or courtroom for proof. You should learn to deal with reality; not get offended, annoyed, or abused by it. Godel posted something that was on topic, fairly accurate, and seems to be his honest opinion. That deserves, at worst, a 1.

Incidently, I find it very difficult to see how someone posting their honest opinion can be considered a troll. For that reason alone I offset the 0 you got. Please don't take my 5 as indication that I think you are anything but an ignorant person who doesn't know how to interact in online discussions. I do find it interesting that under your reasoning you did deserve that 0 though.....


Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

[ Parent ]

Huh? (4.00 / 1) (#183)
by Psycho Les on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:08:19 PM EST

Go look at any prison, holding cell, or courtroom for proof

proof of what?

[ Parent ]

Deep Breath (4.33 / 3) (#185)
by redwolfb14 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:29:41 PM EST

Blacks do commit more crime per capita than whites. Thats you first sentence and you already lose the fact that he said "Illegal Mexicans and Blacks". When discussing something like race or culture if you want to make you point you make it tactfully. First are foremost you don't spread non-factual statements that disparage someones race or culture. The simple fact and reality is that Mexicans and Blacks might "commit more crime per capita" but it doesn't make the statement

To put it another way, if a white and minority both commit the same crime, the white person is MORE likely to get the death penalty.

anymore true does it? That is wrong and non factual add to that the fact that he uses the word Illegal Mexican as if mexicans are just sitting there jumping over the border getting ready to commit crime by just being here and then blacks.

We need to fix the societal problems that are causing minorities to commit crimes at a rate vastly out of proportion to the rest of the country. Lets be honest, its not all minorities, not asians, nor indians, mainly illegal mexicans and blacks.

That is wholly incorrect. PERIOD, There is zero factual data to back that up and then not only that but he singles out these "illegal mexicans and blacks" As if they are the only ones commiting crime. It's like he watches too much tv or something, maybe too many discovery specials on jail. Like I said before go to China Town and you will see Chinese in Central bookings etc etc. That is the way it works.

It's mind boggling how minorities could be vastly out of proportion with the rest of the country when simply wall st proves that criminals aren't only minority. Enron, WorldCom and I can go on for a while, are white executives. That easily shoots down that statement. The ignorance is just so abounding that it's nothing more than garbage. How many of those criminals who commited crimes some people would love to kill them for are given the Death Penalty?  They steal billions of dollar (peoples savings, 401k's, retirement funds) and get federal prison OR a slap on the wrist and heavy fines, a minority robs a liquor store or has a suspended license and gets hit with 3 strikes your out they get the death penalty. Not to mention the rogue police dept's who beat confessions out of people. This has been proven time and time again. How often have you seen a white man getting a confession beaten out of him?

So you as well are now talking out of your ass it would do you good to actually review some of the capital crime cases and then speak. Rather than just assuming you understand what the reality of these situations are. Just because you see blacks/mexicans etc etc in jail doesn't mean the crime fits the punishment. It merely means there is a problem along the lines of justice.

Incidently, I find it very difficult to see how someone posting their honest opinion can be considered a troll. For that reason alone I offset the 0 you got. Please don't take my 5 as indication that I think you are anything but an ignorant person who doesn't know how to interact in online discussions. I do find it interesting that under your reasoning you did deserve that 0 though.....

There is a major difference between opinion and fact. An opinion is "I think that based on the facts this is that and that is whatever". An opinion is not "Lets be honest it's not asian or indian but Illegal Mexicans and black" that is simply untrue.

I don't need you to offset the 0 that I got because all I speak is what the truth of the matter is. Your 5 isn't doing me any favors, it changes nothing for me. It's funny you consider me ignorant but are the one speaking from a point of ignorance also under my reasoning in my last post "Felixrayman" is breaking trusted user guidelines and I'll report it. It's that simple.
Say what you want because I already have.
[ Parent ]

So... (4.00 / 1) (#200)
by paine in the ass on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:13:51 AM EST

If someone spammed k5 with comments that were ads and all the TUs 0'd them, would you claim that was an improper use of the 0 just because we don't agree with that person's advertising?

And for the record I gae a zero to the comment which started this thread because it was, IMO, content-free.


I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
[ Parent ]

Errors (1.58 / 12) (#92)
by Godel on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 12:49:56 PM EST

Yes any system can have errors. To err is human, but you lose innocent lives either way. I think when you err on the side of leniency you actually lose more lives. Sure these specific criminals won't get paroled, but in order to make room for them in the prisons, other criminals almost as bad will get out and statistically, they will murder again. Go open a newspaper, they're filled with stories of recently released murderers/rapists who killed again.

Ironically, Gov Ryan's abuse of executive pardons will likely result in MORE innocent people dying, not less. What a tragedy.

so... (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:13:10 PM EST

We shouldn't do what's right because we're afraid of hard choices ahead?

Look, we all know the criminal justice system is flawed. Hell this gives us a good chance at reforming stupid drug laws...

Is it really that much of a streach to say, "well you can either keep this five time murderer behind bars, or you can keep this non-violent drug mule locked up."

I know what I'd vote for.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Nonsense (3.33 / 3) (#111)
by dipierro on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:37:50 PM EST

There are plenty of non-violent drug offenders to parole before you parole a murderer.

[ Parent ]
Not all innocents are created equal (4.50 / 4) (#117)
by cr8dle2grave on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:10:34 PM EST

Deeply ingrained in our legal tradition (judicial and legislative) is the notion that ethical transgressions committed by the state are more egregious than are equivalent offenses committed by individuals. When an innocent is killed by a criminal, as horrible and unfortunate as that may be, it does not represent the same affront to fundamental liberties as it does when the perpetrated by the state. The state must be judged within the ethical context of the categorical imperative because, unlike in the case of individuals, it is truly capable of categorical actions.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
I'm Pro Death Penalty (3.25 / 4) (#107)
by CENGEL3 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:29:33 PM EST

But not in the way it is currently applied.

In general, I think there is an absolute need to retain the death penalty as the ultimate sanction for people who already have nothing left to loose.

I mean what do you do to a person who is already serving life (or a very long) term in prison and then goes out and kills some-one else (either by escaping which HAS happaned or even while in prison which also HAS happaned)?  What difference would another conviction mean to them? It's not like thier going to care if thier corpse serves a second life sentence after they've died in prison.

In fact, I'm not only in favor of a death penalty in those instances I'm in favor of making it an excruciatingly painfull death... so there is some real deterence.

I'm not in favor of applying the death penalty as it is so often done based on a single incidence of crime, mostly due to the fact that there IS a possibility of convicting an innocent person.
If a person repeats a crime after already having been convicted of one then that possibility drops dramaticly.

I have no moral qualms about seeing some-one who is a serial killer, seriel rapist, etc get killed.
They deserve no more mercy then they showed to thier victems. I do have moral qualms about the possibility that an inoccent person could be mistakenly convicted of such a crime. Going to prison would be a horrible enough situation for such a person, but at least there the possibility for being later exhonerated still exists.

deterrence? (3.66 / 3) (#114)
by dipierro on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:50:41 PM EST

I mean what do you do to a person who is already serving life (or a very long) term in prison and then goes out and kills some-one else (either by escaping which HAS happaned or even while in prison which also HAS happaned)? What difference would another conviction mean to them? It's not like thier going to care if thier corpse serves a second life sentence after they've died in prison.

Are you arguing about using the death penalty as a deterrent in these situations, or as using it to remove a danger to society? While I could see an extremely limited number of situation where someone is such a menace to society that even life imprisionment does not protect us enough, I have to disagree that there is any deterrent effect at work here. Anyone who escapes from prison or kills someone in prison is already risking being killed while committing the act. I don't think the additional risk of being killed by the death penalty is going to change anyone's actions.

In fact, I'm not only in favor of a death penalty in those instances I'm in favor of making it an excruciatingly painfull death... so there is some real deterence.

Fortunately the Supreme Court Justices agree that that would violate the 8th Amendment.



[ Parent ]
Perhaps you are right on that (none / 0) (#257)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:29:21 PM EST

Perhaps you have a point there. Perhaps those people are so far gone already that even the prospect of a gruesome death would no longer be a deterence.

However, in cases like that I think the death penalty really is the only viable option. I mean simply locking them up again is not a solution... they've already demonstrated that they have both the intent and capability to continue to wreck havoc even after being incarcerated.

       

[ Parent ]

Human rights. (4.66 / 3) (#152)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:25:00 PM EST

Read them, it will make you good.

One of the higest tests a civilized society has to pass is to defend the most fundamental rights of even the most despicable individuals.

By doing so you are not protecting the rights of the criminal exclusively, you are protecting the rights of every single person that leaves under the same legal regime.

European? Say no to software patents.
[ Parent ]

If being civilized (5.00 / 1) (#259)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:38:54 PM EST

If being civilized means allowing remorseless violent felons to continue to victemize people just so the rest of society can feel good about itself and how moraly superior it is.... I'll take barbarism any day.

[ Parent ]
You did not do what I recommended. (none / 0) (#299)
by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:40:21 PM EST

And as such deserve 0 and to sit in the corner with your face towards the wall.

1.- Somebody locked out for life can not victimize anybody.

2.- The act of keeping alive a despicable criminal has nothing to do with feeling well. As you and many other people probe, there is an innate repugnance about not carrying out vengeance and retribution. Nevertheless a punishment that relies in the absolute unfalibility of the obvious imperfect judicial system can't be fair or just. Also civilized societes recognize basic rights for all individuals, no matter how disposable one thinks they may be.

3.- The original comment to which I replied was mentioning specifically torture previous to execution. That my dear burro is barbaric and violates the most basic human rights that decent people hold dear to their hearts and that gives us hope that one day ther will be no people that are more equal than others.

4.- There is no 4, but it is a nice number.

European? Say no to software patents.
[ Parent ]

Ah, but you missed their main point (none / 0) (#302)
by carbon on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 10:28:33 PM EST

Somebody locked out for life can not victimize anybody.

They can if they escape. That's the point of the parent post.


Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
another view (4.00 / 1) (#170)
by Rhodes on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 06:54:46 PM EST

People should not be killed, especially by the State. Convince me that human is not a person, and the human should die. For example, serial killers who have no remorse nor shame about their actions are no longer people.

[ Parent ]
Not Sure (none / 0) (#261)
by CENGEL3 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:58:10 PM EST

I'm not sure but I think in most states the jury who convicts the criminal actualy has to reccomend the death penalty in order for it to be an option in sentacing.

I would imagine that most people on a jury reccomending the death penalty would have to be convinced that the person had no remorse or shame and would likely commit the act again if given the opportunity before handing out that sort of sentancing reccomendation.

Perhaps the problem isn't with the penalty per say but the politicized nature of our legal system where prosecuters are valued based upon thier conviction rate and defense attornys on their aquital rate... rather then the truth of guilt or innocence.

I've always been intrigued with the idea of allowing the jury a more direct role in conducting the trial.... I mean these people are charged with determining some-ones guilt or innocence.... why shouldn't they be allowed to question witnesses directly or even call thier own witnesses? Just some thoughts.

[ Parent ]

Well, I'm glad SOMEBODY in politics (3.00 / 1) (#118)
by artsygeek on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:13:48 PM EST

Well I'm glad somebody in political office works on at least one hot-button issue with his conscience as a factor in his decision. (Sure, plenty of folks by conscience feel that something is right or wrong, but few will act on that feeling, or will act strongly)...

two problems (3.00 / 1) (#123)
by ChannelX on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 02:29:00 PM EST

One: the Illinois constitution doesnt give the Governor the power to give clemency in a blanket manner. It has to be case-by-base.

Two: if Joe Birkett is correct some of the people he pardonded weren't even sentenced yet (he said this on WLS this morning).

Case by Case (none / 0) (#138)
by tarpy on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:23:22 PM EST

That's why the governor had the clemency hearings. I'm willing to be the $35 or so in my wallet that Ryan made sure this was perfectly legal.

"WLS this morning": Don and Roma, or Jay and Ilene? Just trying to figure out if he was going to the favorable or unfavorable hosts. Lord knows Don (who I listen to on the drive in during the AM) has been railing against this ever since the clemency hearings.

You know, it's funny, one of the things I really love on WLS is the Roe and Gary show (to which I am listening now). One of the funniest thing is Roe's imitation of the Chicago lawyer/DA/Cop. Especially when the cop is going to be giving someone a 'tune-up'. But, when you think about it, especially coupled with the allegations against Cmdr. Burge and how some of those confessions played in the convictions of these men, maybe it isn't so funny anymore.

(Side note to all you WLS listeners out there, what happened to Greg and Yvonne? I liked them, and could care less that they're moving Sean Hannity into their slot)


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

the show.. (none / 0) (#206)
by ChannelX on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:32:55 AM EST

I'm referring to was Jay/Eileen. He was their first guest (and was for Deborah Rowe tonight).

I'm also wondering about Greg and Yvonne. I'd bet that they told WLS to stuff it when they were going to be moved to the 10-12 slot after Hannity. WLS really screwed them too since they just moved to the Chicago area.

According to what Deborah Rowe just said they made the decision to leave.

[ Parent ]

wow (none / 0) (#249)
by tarpy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:28:35 AM EST

I would have really thought he would have gone to Don, as Don has been railing against Ryan for months, and would have been more favorable. I can't imagine that Jay would have been anything other than a hostile audience.

That was one, where, to quote Gary Meier, it would have been much more fun for Jay to have "gone off his meds" before talking to Joe B.

Sad about G/Y, I really liked them. Have to say that by listening to them and hearing them talk about their particular relationship and its circumstances I learned a lot.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

youre kidding right? (none / 0) (#276)
by ChannelX on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:44:26 PM EST

Jay Marvin pretty much hates George Ryan ;)

[ Parent ]
I know... (none / 0) (#308)
by tarpy on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 12:45:19 AM EST

No denying that, but Jay has always struck me as someone who hates injustice and the little guy getting screwed more. Although as a side note, I moved from Chicago to San Jose in June 2000. Jay was really left-wing then. I moved back to Chicago in March of 2002, and Jay had made a very very noticable shift rightward, almost to the point where I'd say he's just right of center now.

As as side note, it might not be all that strange to see Jay and Ryan agreeing; lord knows this subject can create some strange bedfellows. I knew I was entering the twilight zone when I saw Katrina vanden Heuvel on some show, and found myself aggressively agreeing with the points she was making. For me, that was almost an out-of-body experience.

I noticed that on today's on-air promos for Chicago PM (an excellent program I tend to hear all of due to my commute home), Jay was remarking that he felt Ryan should have been thrown to the lions.

Dammit, I want a K5 get together at the next Roe and Gary remote! <g>


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

So one single man decided... (2.20 / 10) (#147)
by What She Said on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:05:10 PM EST

...that he knew better than all the juries selected in these cases, and more than all the judges who pronounced sentence in them.

Wonderful. What good are trials-by-jury if one man can just wave his hand and decide to change the outcomes even though he has not sat through said trials nor gone through each judgement on a case-by-case basis?

What a destruction of justice.

It's one-way (4.00 / 2) (#158)
by Happy Monkey on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:07:36 PM EST

A fundamental precept of the US justice system is that it is better for 100 guilty men to go free than for one innocent men to be punished. The system is intended to give people every possible way out. What the one single man did was to lower punishments decided by judge and jury. Even if he wanted to, he could not have increased their sentences, so one 'good' that trials by jury are for is to acquit innocent people.

Second, the general commutation was not a rejudging of all of the cases, it was a recall of a defective death-penalty justice system. How many innocents must die before a car or a toy is recalled? Even the worst product recalls have a much lower death rate than death row's wrongful execution rate. In this case, the product was death penalties; too many innocents were assigned them, so there was a mass recall.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
What do you mean? (4.00 / 2) (#161)
by DeadBaby on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:18:57 PM EST

They're still gulity. The jury's verdict stands. All that is being changed is the punishment.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
Well... (4.50 / 4) (#187)
by Hizonner on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:48:06 PM EST

... you could reasonably argue that a governor shouldn't have any power over criminal justice or sentencing. Given Gray Davis' actions here in California, I think you might even sell me on that idea, provided that the deal also took away the governor's power to deny paroles. Of course, my ideal would be to have the governor able to decrease, but never increase, sentences, since that would be in better accord with my view of what's moral. Obviously we disagree on that point.

However, regardless of our opinions, until such a change is made, the governor in Illinois does have the power to issue pardons and commute sentences. It's not something he just "decided" to take; it's an authority given to him by law. It's his job to set aside sentences that he believes to be unjust, and there's no limit on the reasons he may use. The law specifically says that he can set aside the decisions of courts, and the reason for that law is that courts are not perfect, and that sometimes it's a good idea to have one man, or many, who can rectify their errors.

When the law gives an official the power to act according to his conscience, when things are specifically set up to make his conscience an arbiter, it is his duty to follow his conscience. It may not be a good thing, but if you don't like it, you need to change the system, not complain about the man.

[ Parent ]

Since cops beat the confessions out of them (3.00 / 2) (#213)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:00:45 AM EST

And falsified evidence otherwise. The jury was given misinformation in many cases.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
that's part of his job (4.33 / 3) (#217)
by khallow on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:23:07 AM EST

Wonderful. What good are trials-by-jury if one man can just wave his hand and decide to change the outcomes even though he has not sat through said trials nor gone through each judgement on a case-by-case basis?

Well, if those trials-by-jury were all fatally (in the truest sense of the word) flawed, then why shouldn't he? It is part of the governor's job to second-guess juries and the justice system. That's why he has the power (granted in the state constitution) to pardon and commute sentences.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

The American nation was built on people... (3.00 / 2) (#156)
by the on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:04:37 PM EST

...resisting the absolute power of State yet how many people would like to put the absolute power over life and death put into the hands of the State?

--
The Definite Article
I want to trust in my state (3.66 / 3) (#163)
by coljac on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:37:00 PM EST

My vision for the country I live in is that no matter what happens, even if you do something abominable, the state will look out for your wellbeing. If you have no money, the state will feed and clothe you. If you are sick, the state will provide you basic medical care. Even if you get into trouble overseas, the state should intervene on your behalf. Once we're at this point, then I think we can start the discussion on what other services the state should provide. Naturally, the death penalty destroys this vision instantly for me.

Of course, all the other arguments against the death penalty are very valid but don't you think that the following kind of makes sense for the country you would want to live in?

  1. The state and its agents cannot and will not kill you or anyone.
  2. The state will grant you other basic rights and freedoms (it won't arbitrarily lock you up or censor you).
  3. The state will look after your physical wellbeing (i.e. I can turn to the state for help if I am poor or sick).
  4. (and on) The formulation of laws; the collective defense; provision for other services such as education; and so on.
The idea of the state marching one of its citizens down a corridor for destruction is ghastly to me. The fact that some awful scumbags get to live in jail at the state's expense seems a reasonable price to pay to have a state you can trust with your life, and is in any case unavoidable unless you make the death penalty ubiquitous.

I'm against the death penalty even if it were error free, but for an interesting read check out the novel The Truth Machine which explores a society in which a perfect lie detector is created, thus enabling instant trials and executions with no fear of mistakes (the "Swift and Sure Anti-Crime Bill").

Great article, interesting topic.

Coljac



---
Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey

A contradiction? (2.00 / 3) (#194)
by skim123 on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:32:41 PM EST

My vision for the country I live in is that no matter what happens, even if you do something abominable, the state will look out for your wellbeing. If you have no money, the state will feed and clothe you. If you are sick, the state will provide you basic medical care. Even if you get into trouble overseas, the state should intervene on your behalf. Once we're at this point, then I think we can start the discussion on what other services the state should provide. Naturally, the death penalty destroys this vision instantly for me.
And if someone rapes me, ties me up, and then makes me watch while he rapes my wife, dog, and little girl, before slowly murdering them all, and then cuts off my genitalia and makes me sing a song for him, what should the state do for me once they catch this sick fuck? Let him live out his life in a nice little jail cell where he gets cable TV, exercise, three square meals, medical attention when needed, and smokes? How in the world is the state watching out for me then?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
And ? (4.00 / 4) (#207)
by rigorist on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:33:51 AM EST

And will his death undo all that?

And even better, how will the state killing _someone else_ undo all that?

[ Parent ]

Just what is your point? (5.00 / 1) (#255)
by coljac on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 11:54:34 AM EST

That's a truly gruesome scenario you've described there. Certainly, the fellow you describe deserves a terrible punishment. Perhaps he even deserves death. Do I deny that there are people alive that we are better off without? Absolutely not.

But is the sceanrio you described typical of all death penalty cases? Is the suspect always caught red-handed splattered in the blood of his victims? Of course not. If the guilt or innocence of the perpetrators was never in doubt, then we wouldn't be having this discussion. But of course, it is very much in doubt in many cases. And there are many other problems with the death penalty, which Gov. Ryan so accurately pointed out.

And don't give me that "nice little jail cell" bullshit, perhaps a maximum security prison may not be "a fate worse that death" as some would wish, but it's hardly a vacation on the Riviera. That's life in prison, forever, locked in a cell with other murderous scum. Some people value their freedom above their life. How about you?

Finally, how does the death or survival of the murderer help you, as the victim, at all? Perhaps you would lust for vengeance - who wouldn't? - but that's not the state's job, to provide vengeance.



---
Whether or not life is discovered there I think Jupiter should be declared an enemy planet. - Jack Handey
[ Parent ]

Requires a free society (none / 0) (#294)
by holdfast on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:10:41 PM EST

Such things are only available where the rights of the individual are greater than the rights of the politician, rich man, corporation and secret policeman.
When you accused of being a communist or socialist or just stupid for wanting these things, you can be sure that the accuser has not read and understood your constitution or the works of Thomas Payne...
You will be a lot closer to some of these wishes in Europe. I suspect that Sweden is probably best. We are not too bad in the UK as long as you are not an illegal immigrant. We still have a bit of work to do improving on our attitude towards and treatment of them.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
Moral Courage? (4.00 / 5) (#171)
by lukateake on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:05:44 PM EST

Yes, good-old Gov. George Ryan dispensing blanket clemency and pardons. Why you ask? Because in about six months he's going to need one, too!

Moral courage? Please. This guy's campaign took more than $600K in bribe money from unqualified (READ: "dangerous-behind-the-wheel") people who illegally received Commercial Driver Licenses from his Secretary of State office.

Those drivers have been involved in numerous accidents on America's highways including one in Wisconsin that killed six children.

And George "Moral Courage" Ryan's response to the ongoing investigation that has indicted more than 50 of his subordinates: "My conscious is clear."

Clear or not, they're coming for you, Secretary of State "Official A."

Shut up. (3.50 / 3) (#195)
by paine in the ass on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:50:18 PM EST

Please. I beg you. I get the impression that you're the kind of person who, had Ryan, say, single-handedly disarmed North Korea and Iraq, found a clean-burning renewable fuel that also provides 100% of all needed vitamins and minerals when ingested by humans, and negotiated peace between the world's religions, your post would have had exactly the same content. So please, shut up and crawl back under your rock.


I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
[ Parent ]
I am truly disapointed (1.80 / 10) (#173)
by techwolf on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:07:45 PM EST

in Illinois, The government and the people on K5.

I really do belive that the Death penalty is not just good but great and would like to see it carried out more than it is currently. I give thanks and Kudos to Texas for slowly increasing the number of executions each year on the sly, and yes I do belive that one or two innocents would be an acceptable loss even if one of them was myself.


"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

How am I supposed to believe that? (3.00 / 1) (#184)
by tetsuwan on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:11:48 PM EST

"... and yes I do belive that one or two innocents would be an acceptable loss even if one of them was myself."

Yeah, I can see you spending the last 20 years of your life on death row and not whining.

[ Parent ]
YTBT (1.00 / 1) (#190)
by Psycho Les on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:06:52 PM EST

HTH HAND

[ Parent ]
You have no right to quote Jefferson (3.50 / 2) (#210)
by MalTheElder on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:53:47 AM EST

According to the reasoning of the Founding Revolutionaries, our system is intended to maximize the likelihood of *never* convicting the innocent, at the known and accepted risk of letting the guilty go free.  Better to avoid one wrongly executed (or otherwise penalized) person, though many deserving punishment also avoid it.  They had too much experience with the alternative.

Maybe the alleged 'liberals' and 'conservatives' should all shut up now, as well as those of you who never bother to learn something about the debates and arguments of the 1776 Revolutionaries before quoting them.

Ranting and raving,
  Chuck

[ Parent ]

Re: I am truly disapointed (4.00 / 2) (#212)
by ibloodlore on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:56:52 AM EST

Och, who's talking about you. Let's see how you feel when your innocent girlfriend, wife, mother, father, brother, whatever, dies on the gurney. Let's see how you feel when you're the one who actually served as the alibi, knowing he/she was with you the time of the crime, yet could't get through to a bunch of jurors just like you.

Let's see how you feel the second that cold, limegreen, deadly poison snuffs a person you love, adore, and know is innocent.

You, personally, might want to endure all this, and more, I don't. And I feel with the families who had to. Here, in Nazi Germany, in China, or in Afghanistan. Ain't too many countries around anymore who kill their own. Let's hope Illinios wasn't the last time we can lean back, and say with pride, that we, truly, and indeed, are a country of the brave, free, and humane.

[ Parent ]

2004 Presidential Nominations (2.00 / 3) (#175)
by opendna on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:20:55 PM EST

Republicans: Illinois Governor George Ryan

Democrats: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

I haven't picked my favorites for the Libertarians and the Greens yet.



Poll Option: (3.66 / 3) (#197)
by Pinkerton Floyd on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:03:34 AM EST

  • Opposed for Religous Reasons

Should be listed, I think, since I object on the basis that I am Catholic, and we belive that taking of life is wrong no matter who does it.

Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun.

hrmmm (3.00 / 2) (#201)
by tarpy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:14:56 AM EST

I'm Catholic (ok, well recovering Catholic), but I would say that the reason that we oppose it is not because the Holy Father says so, but rather that we have a sense that all life (whether the unborn or the murderer) is sacred and deserves protection.




Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

And we do not disagree (3.00 / 2) (#218)
by Pinkerton Floyd on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:31:22 AM EST

Jesus bade us to keep the commandments.  "Thou shalt not kill" comes to mind.

It is important to remember that the Holy Father sits in the chair of St. Peter, and is his appostollic succesor, charged by Jesus to tend his flock.  So if you are Catholic, you know that the Pope is protected from formally teaching error.  What's your problem with the Pope?

Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun.
[ Parent ]

Da Pope (none / 0) (#248)
by tarpy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:24:36 AM EST

So if you are Catholic, you know that the Pope is protected from formally teaching error. What's your problem with the Pope?

My problem is too long for this thread. <g>

Let's just say that I would be called a cafeteria Catholic. There are some things that the Church is right-on about (pro-life, anti-death penalty, strong anti-communism stance, etc). And a lot of things I find incredibly stupid (birth control although NOT abortion).

Furthermore, the Vatican's reaction to the Priest sex scandal has further damaged my view of the Church. Bernard Cardinal Law and many of his fellow leaders seemed more content on saving their own asses than doing what they knew to be right. It will take me a long time before I can forgive a church, that when confronted with irrefutable proof of such heinous acts DID NOTHING.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

How odd. (none / 0) (#258)
by Pinkerton Floyd on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:30:16 PM EST

The Pope took a very strong stance against this, as did the American College of Cardinals.  The only stipulation was one to protect due process - what's wrong with that?  Should we instead act like the Red Queen?  
'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first--verdict afterwards.'

Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun.
[ Parent ]

uh no (none / 0) (#268)
by tarpy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:35:50 PM EST

They only took the stance after we all found out what had been going on for decades. Re-assigning priests, hushing things up, etc.

Their response was, to be charitable, a day late and a dollar short.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

What would you prefer? (none / 0) (#286)
by Pinkerton Floyd on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:43:06 PM EST

pre-emtive executions?  Are you aware that every other religion in this country has the exact same problem we do?  In fact, here in Illinois where I live there are far more baptists and protestants on the hook for this sort of thing than Catholics, but thanks to our historical prejudice against Catholicism in the country, you don't hear about that.  We are not alone in this, and the response the church is making to this is reasonable.

Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun.
[ Parent ]

But I was/am Catholic (none / 0) (#307)
by tarpy on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 12:38:44 AM EST

And that means it's MY responsibility to make sure MY house is in order.

What was it Jesus said about the speck and the plank? I'm concerned about the plank in our eye.




Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Cafeteria Catholicism and Contraception (none / 0) (#304)
by Verax on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 12:15:44 AM EST

Let's just say that I would be called a cafeteria Catholic.
In my opinion, that is a truly unfortunate phrase. I think it reflects the frustrations of those who believe themselves to be in full communion with the Church toward those who seem to reject truth without taking a closer look. Of course, this betrays a lack of charity on the part of those casually using the phrase.

If something honestly does not make sense, how can anyone, in good conscience, pretend that it does? That would be dishonest. However, if it does not make sense, we are obligated to look further in to the matter.

I have been anxious about many matters where the Church's position seemed unreasonable. However, on closer examination of the facts and the Church's reasoning, I have found (often to my surprise) that the Church's position is slightly different from what I thought it was, and is also eminently reasonable.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has been a tremendous help (The online version seems to lack the thorough index that the hardcopy version has). I read it cover-to-cover before converting, because I'd lived a life of science and wasn't about to "buy into" anything that had hidden nonsensical baggage. It took over a year, and a lot of side research, but I did not join up until everything in that book seemed reasonable.

Please don't give up. Wormwood (of The Screwtape Letters and his buddies are tireless little buggers who have a slippery way with logic. Errors in reasoning crop up more often than we think. Some one-on-one time with a C++ compiler gives me an easy reminder. :) I'd guess that Wormwood puts more effort into matters of theology than matters of the Standard Template Library.

There are some things that the Church is right-on about (pro-life, anti-death penalty, strong anti-communism stance, etc). And a lot of things I find incredibly stupid (birth control although NOT abortion).
This was as stumbling block for me as well. However, in preparation for marriage, I read an excellent book called " The Good News about Sex and Marriage: Answers to your honest questions about Catholic teaching." by Christopher West. This was the first truly clean explanations that I had encountered. Afterward, I was left not only with a clear understanding of the Church's position and the reason for it, but also with much more respect and admiration for both marriage and for the Mass.

If you happen across this book, please take a look; I think you will be pleasantly surprised and more at peace.



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Clarification and clarification? (3.00 / 2) (#229)
by Verax on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:06:12 AM EST

I would add that "all life ... is sacred and deserves protection" is close, but there are some important distinctions:

  1. Human life is different from animal life. (please pardon me for splitting hairs; I just wouldn't want people to start thinking that a lion is guilty of murder for eating a gazelle. :)
  2. The innocence of the life matters a great deal (abortion and infanticide are very different from killing in response to a clear, present, and unavoidable threat to life and limb.)
  3. Unintentional killing is very much different from intentional killing. (For instance, someone dying of terminal cancer has the right to be kept comfortable via medication. If the dosage needed jeopardizes their life, that is ok, and is entirely different from intended "euthanasia", which is a deliberate killing.)

A legitimate government has the authority to kill, if done for legitimate reasons. So the death penalty is not prohibited by Catholic teaching per se. However, in the United States, there is no need for it because we can effectively keep violent criminals separated from society for as long as they live.

By the way, what do you mean by "recovering Catholic"? I hear this phrase from time to time, but have not had the chance to ask what it means. Does that mean you have experienced some degree of separation from the Church and are now coming back?



----------------------------------------------
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
[ Parent ]
Recovering.. (none / 0) (#266)
by petis on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:10:20 PM EST

> By the way, what do you mean by "recovering Catholic"?

I don't know, but it sure sounds like "sober alcoholic". ;)

[ Parent ]

Typically (none / 0) (#287)
by Pinkerton Floyd on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:46:40 PM EST

it's someone who has either renounced their faith, turning away from the teachings of the church.  See also, "sinner", "heritic", etc.

Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun.
[ Parent ]

From this day forward . . . (long but important) (3.50 / 3) (#203)
by rigorist on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:20:12 AM EST

Probably some of the most thoughtful and profound words ever written by the late Justice Blackmun.  Callins v. James, 510 U.S. 1141 (1994) (Blackmun, J., dissenting)

On February 23, 1994, at approximately 1:00 a.m., Bruce Edwin Callins will be executed by the State of Texas. Intravenous tubes attached to his arms will carry the instrument of death, a toxic fluid designed specifically for the purpose of killing human beings. The witnesses, standing a few feet away, will behold Callins, no longer a defendant, an appellant, or a petitioner, but a man, strapped to a gurney, and seconds away from extinction.

  Within days, or perhaps hours, the memory of Callins will begin to fade. The wheels of justice will churn again, and somewhere another jury or another judge will have the unenviable task of determining whether some human being is to live or die. We hope, of course, that the defendant whose life is at risk will be represented by competent counsel - someone who is inspired by the awareness that a less-than-vigorous defense truly could have fatal consequences for the defendant. We hope that the attorney will investigate all aspects of the case, follow all evidentiary and procedural rules, and appear before a judge who is still committed to the protection of defendants' rights - even now, as the prospect of meaningful judicial oversight has diminished. In the same vein, we hope that the prosecution, in urging the penalty of death, will have exercised its discretion wisely, free from bias, prejudice, or political motive, and will be humbled, rather than emboldened, by the awesome authority conferred by the State.

But even if we can feel confident that these actors will fulfill their roles to the best of their human ability, our collective conscience will remain uneasy. Twenty years have passed since this Court declared that the death penalty must be imposed fairly, and with reasonable consistency, or not at all, see Furman v. Georgia,  408 U.S. 238  (1972), and, despite the effort of the States and courts to devise legal formulas and procedural rules to meet this daunting challenge, the death penalty remains fraught with arbitrariness, discrimination, caprice, and mistake. This is not to say that the problems with the death penalty today are identical to those that were present 20 years ago. Rather, the problems that were pursued down one hole with procedural rules and verbal formulas have come to the surface somewhere else, just as virulent and pernicious as they were in their original form. Experience has taught us that the constitutional goal of eliminating arbitrariness and discrimination from the administration of death, see Furman v. Georgia, supra, can never be achieved without compromising an equally essential component of fundamental fairness - individualized sentencing. See Lockett v. Ohio,  438 U.S. 586  (1978).

* * *

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. For more than 20 years, I have endeavored - indeed, I have struggled - along with a majority of this Court, to develop procedural and substantive rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor. 1  Rather than continue to coddle the Court's delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved and the need for regulation eviscerated, I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed. It is virtually self-evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional deficiencies. The basic question - does the system accurately and consistently determine which defendants "deserve" to die? - cannot be answered in the affirmative. It is not simply that this Court has allowed vague aggravating circumstances to be employed, see, e.g., Arave v. Creech, ___ U.S. ___ (1993), relevant mitigating evidence to be disregarded, see, e.g., Johnson v. Texas, ___ U.S. ___ (1993), and vital judicial review to be blocked, see, e.g., Coleman v. Thompson, 501 U.S. ___ (1991). The problem is that the inevitability of factual, legal, and moral error gives us a system that we know must wrongly kill some defendants, a system that fails to deliver the fair, consistent, and reliable sentences of death required by the Constitution.

 

Pro-DP in theory, but difficult in practice (4.00 / 4) (#208)
by dh003i on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:37:32 AM EST

In theory, I am most definately pro death-penalty.  Murderers, rapists, child-molestors, terrorists, torturers, and criminals who repeat other serious violent crimes:  execute them.  I'm not going to bother justifying this, beyond saying that with these people dead, the world is a safer place.  A dead rapist poses a 0% risk of raping anyone again.  A rapist alive but imprisoned for life poses a risk greater than 0%.

However, in reality, it's a little more complicated, because people aren't perfect.  There are these annoying things called wrongful convictions.  Unless you can guarantee that there is a 0% chance we will execute an innocent man, supporting the death penalty in reality is immoral and unacceptable.  Nothing justifies wrongfully taking the life of an innocent person:  that's an action we can't take back or compensate the person for.  Because the death penalty is final, any error is unacceptable.  And the simple fact is, there is going to be error.

If we're going to execute someone, there should be no rational doubt what-so-ever as to their guilt (i.e., aliens did it may be doubt, but isn't rational doubt).  There needs to be irrefutable and concrete proof proving this person did it.  Either a piece of proof, or several pieces of proof, which completely rule out the possibility that this person is innocent; i.e., if the crime was recorded by a cam-corder.

Social Security is a pyramid scam.

Does anyone recall... (4.00 / 4) (#214)
by MalTheElder on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 01:02:44 AM EST

...when Dubya was still running (?) Texas.  His AG explained why their state *knowingly* and *deliberately* executed a man who was in fact innocent (not just 'not guilty').  The explanation:  the needs of the system to duly complete the execution took precedence over an innocent life.

The state---at any level---should *never* have the power to take a life.  No *one* is responsible for mistakes such as the one described.  Authority wothout responsibility *always* leads to abuse of power, and to tyranny.

Now go read the debates of the American Revolutionaries and find out why they set the system up to favor incorrectly freeing the guilty over incorrectly convicting the innocent.

BTW, for those who think 'not guilty' equals 'innocent', it ain't so.  'Not guilty' means that guilt was not proven by the prosecution.  It does not specify the person(s) didn't do whatever; just that the state could not adequately prove it.  'Innocent' means that in fact the accused really, honest-to-whatever, did not do that of which they are accused.  Very different concepts, and an important disctinction, since it is almost impossible to prove innocence, even if it's the truth.

'Night, all!
  Chuck


Not Proven (3.00 / 2) (#234)
by NotQuiteSoProsperous on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:43:53 AM EST

An interesting aside to your view that "Not guilty" and "Innocent" are different things. In Scottish Law there is a third verdict apart from the usual guilty/not guilty. A case can be declared "Not Proven" which formalises the notion of innocent and not guilty being different things. It only gets used rarely and is quite controversial and in some ways its easy to see why. Sure, the accused doesnt go to prison, but the law is basically saying "You did it, we know you did, but we can't prove it". You get all the perks of being a convicted felon, except people think you got away without any punishment. Its a strange notion when its formalised as it is in Scotland which is why it doesnt appear very often in verdicts. I think its dangerously close to removing the idea of innocent until proven guilty which is something I hope will remain central to any modern legal system.

Incidentally this is just a peculiarity of Scottish law and doesnt exist in England. Even though the UK is one country we still have some leftovers from when it wasnt quite so united.

[ Parent ]
Not quite.... (4.00 / 1) (#254)
by hughk on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 11:41:55 AM EST

"You did it, we know you did, but we can't prove it"
Actually, it is more like "We think you did it", that is the the accused is still acknowledged to be possibly still innocent. However, it leaves things open in case the Procurator (is US terms, the DA) can come up with new evidence and it can count against you if you appear again in court but otherwise, it isn't really a criminal record as such.

[ Parent ]
Can you give me a reference on that? (4.00 / 4) (#236)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:54:05 AM EST

I'd like to know more about this AG's statement. I find it almost impossible to believe such a statement exists, and this from someone who can believe almost anything bad about Bush and the people he surrounds himself with. If it does exist, and the practice and statement date from a time Bush was governor of Texas, I'd kinda like to make sure lots of people know about it before the 2004 election. Not that it'll matter; I think the entire country must be drugged or something (based on the 2002 election). ;-)

--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
David Wayne Spence? (none / 0) (#262)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:58:37 PM EST

I presume you are speaking of the Spence case? If so, you're characterization is highly inflammatory and factually incorrect. The AG made no such statement that I am aware of and, while Spence was definitely convicted on the basis of shoddy evidence, it simply isn't true that he was known to be innocent.

That said, the Texas criminal justice system is without question the absolute worst in the entire country. The structural safeguards are routinely ignored, their public defender system is so defective and under funded that it raises serious constitutional issues, the District Attorney's offices in many districts have repeatedly engaged in behavior that pushes envelope of legality and severely undermines the credibility of the system, and the whole of the state judiciary is hopelessly corrupted by a reckless political populism best characterized as a "kill them all and let God sort 'em out" mentality.

I would prefer to face criminal charges in any number of third world countries before Texas.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
But, Do they deserve it? (1.71 / 7) (#220)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:01:16 AM EST

What about Daniel Westerfield and Alejandro Avila who recently raped and murdered two innocent 7 and 5 year old girls respectively. Did you hear the heartbreaking 911 call from the guy who found Samantha Runion's naked body left by the road?

I'm sorry but I think someone capable of committing crimes like those has forfeited their right to live among us. By giving the most severe punishment possible to those who take innocent life, we affirm that innocent life has the highest possible value.



Yes, they do; no, we shouldn't (4.00 / 5) (#237)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:14:18 AM EST

I'm sorry but I think someone capable of committing crimes like those has forfeited their right to live among us.
Two things about the above:
  • Regardless of the death penalty, they do forfeit their right to live among us. That's what prisons are primarily for: Not punishment, but isolation.
  • You're on very, very dangerous ground when you say "..someone capable of committing..." rather than "...someone who has committed..." It's worth while watching one's language on topics like this.
Do they deserve to die? In San Mateo county, California, a man kidnapped a woman, held her for several days while raping her intermittently, and cut off her hands. She lived. I think, maybe, I can imagine the pain and violation of being raped. I can't imagine the pain of having your hands cut off, I can't imagine the horror of living with the daily reminder of what this man did (which I bet outweighs even the incredible difficulty of suddenly having to live without your hands as an adult), and I can't imagine how sick he must be -- morally sick, psychologically sick, whatever. Does he deserve to die? If he was even vaguely aware of what he was doing, then of course he does. He deserves to die in the most horrible way we can find. Flaying, I understand, is a particularly horrible death. Sounds too good for him, if (again) he had any idea what he was doing, and it seems he did. (I wish I could find a citation on the case. I do think I recall that he wasn't considered insane, though how the act itself didn't ipso facto qualify, I don't know.)

But do we as a society deserve to become torturers and killers? To satisfy our bloodlust? No, we're better than that -- or rather I hope we are -- and we deserve to be the very best of what we can be. Satisfying our bloodlust is not that. So there is a discrepancy between what these people deserve and what we do. That discrepancy is there to keep us human and decent, not to let them off easy.

(This is all aside from the practical problems -- accidentally killing innocents, the higher costs of the death penalty vs. life imprisonment, etc.)



--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
false reasoning (2.57 / 7) (#239)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:29:49 AM EST

But do we as a society deserve to become torturers and killers? To satisfy our bloodlust? No, we're better than that -- or rather I hope we are

This is extremely flimsy and ARBITRARY reasoning. Do we as a society deserve to become kidnappers and imprisoners? Because that's how you could describe putting people in prison. Many philosophers have viewed freedom as more important than life, so it could be argued that depriving someone of their freedoms for life is more cruel than giving them a quick death. Btw, where did you get torture from? This argument is about the death penalty not torture. If you don't feel your argument is persuasive enough without clouding the issue with torture, that says alot.

Who says its about bloodlust? I view child killers like Westerfield in the same way I'd view an animal that has rabies. It's a shame what happened to them, but for the good of all, they no longer belong on this world. We should wish them good luck in the next and send them there promptly.

Do you lock up an animal with rabies and let it live out its life slavering in a cage, or do you humanely put it out of it's misery.

[ Parent ]

I don't think so (4.00 / 1) (#241)
by Gromit on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:08:31 AM EST

Although we disagree, I don't think my reasoning can accurately be called false.
Do we as a society deserve to become kidnappers and imprisoners? Because that's how you could describe putting people in prison. Many philosophers have viewed freedom as more important than life, so it could be argued that depriving someone of their freedoms for life is more cruel than giving them a quick death.
A reasonable point, although not persuasive (for me). We imprison people because it's the least we can do to be safe. If we don't put them away, they may well go out and kill someone else. (We also put them away because in some cases the fear of prison has a deterrent effect, something not proven for the death penalty -- apparently, it can't improve on the deterrent effect of spending one's life in a 5x12 room.) Further, in theory, while we keep ourselves safe from them we also try to "reform" them (even if we don't intend to ever let them out), although in practice I understand this essentially doesn't happen any more (if it ever really did).

But as I'm also in favor of legalizing suicide (with some pretty strict controls and competency measures), it's easy to see how that could go hand-in-hand with life-imprisonment-without-parole. Those who feel it's worse than death would have an option. I think it would be best if no one really brought it up with them at the time, though, as that could be coercive. If everyone knows it's legal, there's no reason to push it.

Btw, where did you get torture from? This argument is about the death penalty not torture. If you don't feel your argument is persuasive enough without clouding the issue with torture, that says alot.
I suggest reading again (and being less quick to jump and belittle next time if you want to be taken seriously). I was referring to my own example of flaying alive. That said, some high courts have held that the earlier ways we used (hanging, and especially gas) were "cruel and unusual," which I think you could interpret as torture.
Do you lock up an animal with rabies and let it live out its life slavering in a cage, or do you humanely put it out of it's misery.
This is an interesting argument in favor of euthanasia for the terminally ill, but not relevant to the incarceration of a mentally competent murderer. Now, if you want to go down the road of claiming that all of these worst murderers (the ones we currently use the death penalty on, in theory) are, ipso facto, insane, and then further go down the road of saying we should humanely put insane people out of their misery, we'll part company even more than we already have.

--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
I think so (2.40 / 5) (#243)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:25:00 AM EST

Although we disagree, I don't think my reasoning can accurately be called false.

The strawman of tossing in torture, when the argument is about the death penalty is the false reasoning I was referring to.

We also put them away because in some cases the fear of prison has a deterrent effect, something not proven for the death penalty -- apparently

Gee I wonder why. The death penalty in states like California takes about 30+ years before it's implemented, most people on death row are more likely to die of natural causes than to be executed. This is a horrible system, because from what I've read, death row accomodations are actually better than being part of the main prison population. Now if a death sentence meant a year or two max, and some quick but fair appeals, you would see an enormous deterrent effect.

This is an interesting argument in favor of euthanasia for the terminally ill

No it has nothing to do with mental illness. Its simply a case of protecting the innocent. When someone has proven they are a danger to innocent life, you take away their ability to ever harm innocents again. The fact is, even if someone is serving a life sentence, you can't guarantee they won't kill again. They could escape like happened in Texas. They could kill a guard, or a fellow inmate. There is only one way to guarantee they won't kill again.

[ Parent ]

Something to think about: (5.00 / 3) (#267)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:26:37 PM EST

Now if a death sentence meant a year or two max, and some quick but fair appeals, you would see an enormous deterrent effect.

Do you realize that you are advocating a policy that, were it enacted in 1976 when the death penalty was reinstated, would have thus far resulted in the deaths of over 100 people who have been irrefutably proven innocent of crimes they were convicted of? Take a moment to look over the biographies of the 123 innocent people located at the Innocence Project's website. Each and every one of those men were saved from execution by DNA evidence after sitting on death row for more than two years, and most of those men were convicted at a time when DNA evidence was not even available. They would all have been innocent casualties of your jihad.

Imagine yourself explaining to the friends and families of those men that the wrongful execution of their loved one was an unfortunate, but necessary sacrifice in the pursuit of justice. Imagine yourself counseling the men themselves to take solace in the fact that, while their deaths at the hands of the state may be unjust, they are dying for the greater good. Imagine, if you can, trying to make a child understand how it is that the world is now a better place because their Father was killed for something he didn't even do.

Given what is known about the criminal justice system's false conviction rate, your advocacy is morally reprehensible.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Something to think about (2.33 / 3) (#277)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:53:23 PM EST

Far more people are killed per year by repeat offenders released from prison than the few innocent. I'm sorry but all human systems will result in error. The goal, to me, is saving the maximum number of innocent lives.

Given what is known about the criminal justice system's recidivism rate, your advocacy is morally reprehensible.

[ Parent ]

I agree (1.00 / 3) (#284)
by Keeteel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:30:21 PM EST

I completely agree with your arguements, people here are trying to defend the system and argue the principal is wrong. The principal of the death penalty is necessary, important, justified, and makes the our system of justice work. The system is failing as you mentioned, we need to improve the system to make sure we're not killing innocent lives, and secondly speed up the executions of these murderers and rapists who have no business belonging in our society when they have chosen to violate the law knowing full well the penalty. We cannot allow a murderer to sit for 30 years in jail, raping other inmates, enjoying life behind bars, after he's found guilty and has his one appeal he should be executed the same day as he is found guilty beyond doubt after his appeal. Take him to a lethal injection room right behind the court and take care of it right then and there. Like I said, once the system is improved enough so we can confirm these people as being murderers, they need to be removed from the human population immediately. It'll bring closure to the families, justice to the victim, security to society, and prevention of crime.

[ Parent ]
Fine.... (5.00 / 2) (#291)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 07:47:34 PM EST

So long as you are clear on the consequences of your position; supporting the death penalty necessarily entails murdering innocent people. Since you are so willing to countenance the murder of innocents by the state, I dearly hope that your life is among those sacrificed in the name of your perverse sense of justice.

Far more people are killed per year by repeat offenders released from prison than the few innocent.

Indeed. And automobile accidents result in innocent deaths on a scale many orders of magnitude greater than all crimes combined. What would your overbrimming sense of righteous indignation have us do with that?

Given what is known about the criminal justice system's recidivism rate, your advocacy is morally reprehensible.

A murderer kills in his own name and shoulders the majority of that burden himself, the state murders in my name and I will not willingly be party to the pointless and unnecessary execution of the innocent.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Fine..... (1.00 / 6) (#293)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:00:32 PM EST

I dearly hope that your life is among those sacrificed in the name of your perverse sense of justice.

And I dearly hope your wife and family are gang raped and murdered by a criminal that was not executed and paroled because of your perverse sense of justice.

What point do crappy statements like yours serve?

[ Parent ]

The point (5.00 / 1) (#295)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:12:14 PM EST

What point do crappy statements like yours serve?

You support the execution of innocent people in the name of convenience, expediency, and the greater good, so you should be more than willing to happily sacrifice your life to greater good, no? Or do you only support the executions of innocents other than yourself?

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
The point sucks (1.00 / 3) (#298)
by Godel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:38:28 PM EST

If it happened I would accept it as a necessary price of keeping people safe, but it's one thing to accept errors will happen and another to hope for them. That's what I find sadistic and sick.

[ Parent ]
I wish it... (5.00 / 1) (#301)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:54:58 PM EST

...only upon you and others who endorse the system that allows it. Think of it as a form of "you reap what you sow."

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
parole (5.00 / 1) (#303)
by Burning Straw Man on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 11:37:18 PM EST

murdered by a criminal that was not executed and paroled

if a criminal is up for a crime for which the current sentence would be execution, the sentence most people suggest is life in prison without possibility of parole.

still, then your statement could become "murdered by a criminal that was not executed and escaped from prison", and your point would still remain.
--
your straw man is on fire...
[ Parent ]

Show me the evidence, then (none / 0) (#325)
by Gromit on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 01:44:30 AM EST

Now if a death sentence meant a year or two max, and some quick but fair appeals, you would see an enormous deterrent effect.
Big statement. Any evidence to support it? It's just conjecture and hyperbole otherwise.
...from what I've read, death row accomodations are actually better than being part of the main prison population.
Yeah, life in a 5x12 cell is a cakewalk. If it's actually better than being in the general prison population, that says something about our prisons that we should deal with, but is otherwise off-topic.

Your "protecting the innocents" point combined with your two years or so limit before execution seems unexamined. You make sure they can't kill innocents again, while ensuring we do. I find that repugnant.



--
"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
Re: false reasoning (none / 0) (#290)
by mmsmatt on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 07:25:41 PM EST

Daniel Westerfield does not deserve to be humanely put of his misery.

But my opinion won't matter at all when his day comes. He'll get an IV full of sodium flouride or whatever, and that's after he's already out cold on anasthesia.

A much better end than his victim.

[ Parent ]

...forfeited their right to live among us... (none / 0) (#328)
by teeth on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 06:28:55 AM EST

...but not to live.


Copyright is for protection against publishers
[ Parent ]

Really? (4.00 / 4) (#222)
by Pseudoephedrine on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:46:37 AM EST

I'm a libertarian myself, and I've always considered myself anti-death penalty since becoming one.

In my mind, the fundamental right that each individual has to life is not something the state can mess with. I am fine with police officers say, shooting an armed criminal attacking them because there is an issue of immediate self-defense there. However, once the threat is no longer immediate, the self-defense argument is no longer valid, and therefore, there are no grounds to remove the right to life.

As well, the presumption of innocence is important. To me, the death penalty is far too final - if someone is killed, then later found to be innocent, then we ourselves have committed a grievous, but just as importantly _irreversible_ crime against that individual. We know that such errors exist, especially as police technology becomes better at solving crimes and less likely to simply pick up the nearest black male and blame him. As a result, I think the moral value of X innocent lives saved from death is greater than the economic value of finding alternatives to the death penalty and putting them into practice.
"We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of human ideals" -Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The system may not be perfect, the principal is. (1.00 / 10) (#281)
by Keeteel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:24:54 PM EST

The death penalty is necessary for a civilized society to function, we cannot justify allowing killers to continue to live when they have chosen the path of sin. You're right, the system may not be perfect, I agree, but it's the best one on earth. We need to work together to fix the system instead of dimissing it an allowing murderers to walk free killing more people in jail, killing our children when they break out, and walking with a sense of their freedom. We humans have the responsibility as a society to impose judgements upon those who deviate from society's norms. While God will have final judgement, we can speed that process up regarding people who would seek to do the same to you and your family. The principal of the death penalty is justified, the system needs fixing. But our society will fall apart with out the death penalty.

[ Parent ]
How Like Christ You Are (5.00 / 4) (#296)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:25:10 PM EST

The death penalty is necessary for a civilized society to function, we cannot justify allowing killers to continue to live when they have chosen the path of sin.

Indeed. Like Jesus stoned that vile whoring slut Magdalene, we should all let loose the stones we hold in our hands.

You sir are a disgrace to your religion.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
political leadership (3.33 / 6) (#226)
by tincat2 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 03:50:18 AM EST

first instance of real leadership i've seen since carter tried to stop doing business with corrupt and tyrannical regimes.every rationale for the death penalty has been discounted save one-vengence; and that belongs to the Lord,according to the good judeo-christian majority of our republic.whats'up with the bloodlust that seems to rise so readily to the surface whenever an excuse appears or is fabricated.we may annihilate many thousands of iraqis before lunch one day soon.the question of guilt or innocence will be buried beneath the cries for justice(read:our right to be secure as the primary consumers of the world's resources and to be unimpeded in our efforts to make every corner of the earth safe for the predations of the avaricious among us).at bottom,gov.ryan was confronted with the question of whether the chance of killing even one innocent person was to be ignored so as to satisfy a need for revenge-he stepped up and i applaud him.

typo (2.33 / 3) (#227)
by tincat2 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 04:00:56 AM EST

vengeance-spelling's bad enuff around here without my adding my own errors.

[ Parent ]
It's not even vengeance (none / 0) (#260)
by the on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:44:46 PM EST

People like killing people regardless of the reason. (And not just people, they like to kill anything that moves.) You don't have to be an expert in human history to see that. The problem for most people is that they're not allowed to express that desire in a civilized society. But when someone commits a crime that gives people the excuse they want to indulge their bloodlust under the thin veneer of it being in some dubious cause, vengeance.

--
The Definite Article
[ Parent ]
yes (none / 0) (#271)
by tincat2 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 03:44:56 PM EST

of course, you are right.many has been the time i have observed guys literally salivating at the prospect of opening day of deer hunting season; not in anticipation of securing a supply of meat, but at the thought of "busting"(hitting with a rifle shot in as gory and spectacular manner as possible) a prime buck(alpha male).this sport often is conducted from the front seat of an off-road vehicle(if not always the actual shot, many times the chase).often the carcasses(minus any trophy racks)are distributed amongst the extended families of the hunters who are meanwhile back out on and off road again in search of a higher score kill.the only word i can explain this behavior to myself with is unevolved.and i am afraid that as a society that is the adjective which best suits our comportment.it seems that with every advantage(technological,economic,educational,etc.) we now possess as the world's only true superpower,we simply are not up to it.and i should say that those who hold power are not up to it, but who is it that continues to accept the hegemony these cretins have usurped-why it's us.we shrink from the name-callers and allow ourselves to be shouted down in any "debate" over the latest proposed travesty involving most often the ascendancy of the rich over the poor.even our churches seem to be on board with a we can have it our way,just pay your tithes and show up on sunday.in the earliest days of christianity,people died,not to lower the price of oil so the church building fund would go farther, but because they believed that one man had delivered to them the truth,a fundamental part of which was forgiveness. i just read an article in the washington post about a man whose girl friend of 4 months had been brutally murdered by one of the beneficiaries of gov. ryan's clemency in 1989. he is still carrying the torch after all this time.a born-again christian who has managed no successful romances in the interim,he,when told of gov.ryan's statement that there is no other reason for capital punishment than revenge,said well,YEAH! the issue just expands on and on,so i should probably give it a rest before i am all over the lot here; i don't know that i have the answer,only a little understanding,i hope.

[ Parent ]
Rrrrrright. (1.00 / 3) (#280)
by Keeteel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:21:46 PM EST

Or could it be God gave us power over the animals? Could it be animals are not on the same level as humans and people like myself enjoy the taste of their flesh? It has nothing to do with being unevolved or primitive, I like deer meet, I like the challenge of hunting, and it's my right to do so. Further, we have to keep the animal population under control to preven them from wrecking havoc on the environment, there's not enough predators to keep them in balance so we have to do so. There's nothing primitive about hunting, it's a fun, respected and enjoyable sport that tests man's ability to become one with nature. Perhaps you should try it sometime, it's quite fun and enjoyable. Many years ago I went hunting with two of my co-workers, tired of using rifles which were little challenge we tranqed a elk to slow it down then chased it, eventually killed it with nothing but machetes (big knives) while it fought (and sucessfully impaled one of my co-worker's legs before it fell.) That was the test of our ability to become men, to walk the earth as God's chosen people to bring balance and order to life.

Humans are the most evolved creatures, how you can dismiss something as wonderful as hunting for my own food because I like the sport and love the taste of flesh? You're not a man till you've killed you own food in the realm of nature.

[ Parent ]
Most Evolved??? (none / 0) (#305)
by the on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 12:22:43 AM EST

What does that mean? As far as we know every single organism on Earth, from humans to E. Coli, has an ancestry that is exactly the same length.

--
The Definite Article
[ Parent ]
I'm no expert on religion but... (none / 0) (#333)
by melia on Fri Jan 17, 2003 at 03:41:47 PM EST

Or could it be God gave us power over the animals?

I'm pretty sure the Bible says something more in the region of "looking after them" rather than having power over them.

eventually killed it with nothing but machetes (big knives) while it fought

There's something very wrong with that. You're causing something unneccessary pain.

Just my opinion, but i find that reprehensible.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

Read closer (none / 0) (#337)
by TheSleeper on Thu Jan 23, 2003 at 11:29:32 PM EST

You know, I have no problem with deer hunting. Though I've never killed a deer, I've recently spent some time in a stand, hoping to do just that. I'll probably give it another go in the future.

But what tincat2 seemed to be calling unevolved was not deer hunting in general, but rather the particular attitude with which some people he knew were pursuing it. And if I'm reading him right, well, I agree with him. Killing for the meat, or as a way of better knowing nature or even for the sport of it is one thing. Killing in hopes of making a bloody spectacle with which to regale your buddies is something else entirely. It has more in common with gladiators killing each other in an arena than with any real sport.

[ Parent ]

Sounds like the Senator in "Interface" (3.00 / 2) (#235)
by Gndlf on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:50:14 AM EST

Did anyone else wonder if the Governor have read Neal Stephenson's "Interface"? Sounds like something the old senator could have done.

BTW: "Interface" was written by Stephenson and J. Frederick George, and published under the pseudonym "Stephen Bury".

Yeah, it's easy to guess the end, but it's a good book anyway.

Former DRC Employee (4.50 / 2) (#253)
by ONU CS Geek on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 11:24:57 AM EST

I've worked in my state Department of [Rehab and] Corrections as an educational assistant for a summer.  It was an internship, and I'll never forget  anything about it.  Prisons are eerie places--and if you guessed it, it's in there: rape, murders, stabbings (which is why I left--and have the wounds to prove it), and gangs.  It truly is a dog-eat-dog world inside of there--survivial of the fittest, and truly a world that I do not wish upon my worst enemy.

With that said, even as a victim of crime, I do not condone state-sponsored killing.    As many of you've noticed from my screen name, I'm a graduate of Ohio Northern University, home of the infamous Victor Streib, who helps on the Death Penalty Project in the Petit College of Law.  

The world has enough killing...why should the state be killing more?

an eye for an eye... (1.18 / 11) (#279)
by Keeteel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:11:29 PM EST

While you may have rejected the teachings of God, most of the country hasn't. Most people in America believe in an eye for an eye as given to us by our creator. Regardless, tell me a better, more objective and fair system a civilized society could impose other than an eye for an eye? There's no redtape, there's no politics, it's straight forward and more than we could ever ask for. People who don't commit crimes and are good people see it as a necessity for our civilized society to function. If you kill someone, you yourself deserve to be killed so the family of the people you killed can have a sense of closure. Outside of them, the person you killed deserves justice, and letting you live and enjoy activities even as low as breathing air, which the victim can no longer do, is unfair and not justice.

The state works on a mandate from the people, and civilized society has dictated through out teachings through God that an eye for an eye is the most fair and objective system we could ever impose. Tell me how one who kills children deserves to sit in prison, studying, claiming to find jesus in mockery and disgust to the victims he or she killed, learning, breathing, enjoying food, or raping other prisoners so they can get their jollies in jail. No, I don't agree, the death penalty must stay for our society to have a sense of justice and fair spread of law. If you choose to live the life of crime, and stay in our country where you know the penalty is death, you deserve death. There's no other way to justify it. Like I said - good people do not live the life of crime, do not try to defend killers and rapists who would have you and your family killed while you seek to defend them with these systems of justice when you've never experienced a family member being raped or murdered. Once that happens, you'll understand why it is necessary an eye for an eye exists.

Sure the system isn't perfect, but the principal is. We should fix the system and up hold the principal of an eye for an eye.

[ Parent ]
And a principal for a principle (none / 0) (#336)
by Silver222 on Mon Jan 20, 2003 at 07:34:16 PM EST

Principal is not the same as Principle.

Learn to use a fucking dictionary.  God obviously didn't teach you how to spell.

[ Parent ]

What about grace? (none / 0) (#340)
by bigchris on Fri Jan 24, 2003 at 08:39:30 AM EST

If what you say is true (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, etc) and you beleive in God, then each one of is in big trouble because according to God, there are no good people!

You seem to beleive in the Bible, (I'm a Christian also), so you might have read Romans, where Paul says "For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks are under the power of sin as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God" [Romans 3:9b-11]. He's writing that we are all under the wrath of God. You can see this when he writes "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin". [Romans 3:21]

Well, I beleive firmly in Paul's teachings, and he follows up this by saying:

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who beleive. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith". [Romans 3:21-25a]

In other words Christians have been saved by Jesus death on the cross and they are justified by grace.

In light of this, how can you say "We should fix the system and up hold the principal of an eye for an eye"?

---
I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
[ Parent ]

These stones hold anguish... (4.00 / 1) (#312)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 02:18:22 AM EST

...and the memories of these walls are long. Pain seeps through the sordid cracks littered throughout the raw cinderblock cells, a history of misery etched in blood and tears and ragged, dirty fingernails.

Hmph. Got metaphysical there for a second. Apologies. But I was trying to make a point. While I am loathe to admit to such things as ghosts and the supernatural, prisons are indeed eerie fucking places. I think it's the way that one subconciously thinks about the feet that have walked the halls, the injustices carried out, while being in physical confrontation with human nature at its absolute worse, a madness most likely instigated by being trapped within these haunted corridors. An unsettling experience, to say the least.
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
[ Parent ]

Not just death is wrong, but false imprisonment. (4.25 / 4) (#270)
by expro on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 03:10:01 PM EST

Death sentances that were wrongly handed out get people all riled up, but the justice system itself is the culprit, not the death penalty.

A friend of mine who successfully prosecuted for a number of years (and put deserving people on death row -- those whom he had no qualms executing himself if it were to fall to him) stopped and went after a different profession because the proscribed approach of the office left him feeling very guilty himself. He told me several things.

1. It is common in prosecutorial circles to cite the mark of good prosecutors as those who can get someone convicted regardless of his actual innocence or guilt. There is more to it than morbid humor. There is no big personal reward for just punishments that fit the crime. The reward would be one for society.

2. He practiced, not in what I would consider the worst part of the country, and I believe he said that he believed that there was probably a 30% conviction rate of innocents who just had suspicious circumstances and bad background. You can especially easily go to to prison for knowing the wrong friends. While he had no crystal ball, neither does anyone else, and I would not be suprised if the error rate were that high, and at least he knew of many questionable practices that he was powerless to alter.

3. Often getting a conviction (murder or otherwise) had everything to do with the prosecutors political career. Successfully identifying that the accused was innocent never had any reward, nor did failing to prosecute someone just because the real culprit had never been found. The public defenders never had the resources, incentives, or advantages of the prosecutors.

Though I would consider it a huge breach of public trust, I have yet to hear of huge punishments falling on a prosecutor or police who put someone away who was not clearly guilty (definitions again), short of blatant fraud in the manufacture of evidence.

I fail to see the huge difference between putting someone in prison for a significant portion of his life, destroying the continuity and momentum of his life and subjecting him to prison, and killing him.

I am not sure that the accuracy of the justice system can be improved. I generally favor decriminalizing more things that are, at their core, victimless or where the negative effects of enforcement outweigh the positive effects. Obviously identifying those areas would be contentious, but I don't know another good solution.

I applaud this governor especially for freeing those who were not obviously guilty. But it is likely a small irregularity in the history of the state and not likely to last.



for all those that flamed me last time (3.20 / 10) (#273)
by techwolf on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:26:08 PM EST

you say it is so horrible to kill someone and I disagree...fine thats our right to disagree. but I'll tell you what i'll help get rid of the death penalty (I'm very much in favor of it) if you stop whining and help install really harsh hard labor camps. I'm talking about making inmates grow thier own food and dig ditches all day. you know one guy digs a ditch from gravel and the next guy fills it in so the guy behind him can repeat the whole thing again and again and again. If you make inmates tired enough (18 hour work days) they will A) be too damn tired to cause trouble and B) have a better work ethic once they get out , after all a 8 hour day will seem like paradise

I think that if you make prison camps bad enough then people won't look at it like a fucking vaction, and yes I grew up in a bad hood and many people there would take a "prison vaction" when they tired of working for a living. Afterall everything is taken care of for them they don't have to work at all, just sit and play cards or watch TV. or we can just contract out the guarding and detaining of of our law breakers to a country that knows how to make things really harsh and bad...like china, hell we already sent all our manufacturing over there.

(dons flame suit) ok flame on K5


"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

Well said (1.50 / 6) (#278)
by Keeteel on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:59:52 PM EST

Though I disagree that it should be used to replace the death penalty, I believe any civilized society owes enough respect to its citizens to enforce an eye for an eye (no politics or idealogies can interfer with getting what you deserve.) On the other hand, I like your idea and feel you're really on to something. Not only could it help the country in building a better place to live for people who don't break the law, it'll keep these people in place who feel anarchy is acceptable, or that they don't agree with a law therefore should break it. I think all crimes that involve jail should be converted to a labor camp program, if they don't like it, tuff, don't do the crime. It'll prevent crime and clean up the country. I would also say we should offer these labor camps as a form of a job for many people who are leeching government unemployment, or wellfare. Let it be a system where crminals are forced in to it, and volutenteers can make their money (and respect in society.) Plus teens need to go through a program like this - kids these days are lazy, unmotivated, and lack discipline. A program like this should be mandatory for 3 months over summer vacation for kids after Sophmore year in highschool. This country needs displine and a program like this will do it.

Well said indeed. Further I'd say implement this as a mandatory drug rehabilitation program, all this counseling about a drug abuser's feelings and emotions - why they feel they need to escape and wreck havoc on society is post-modern nonsense that has put us in this situation to begin with. For example, heroin junkies, if they get caught, detox them by putting them in a labor camp and making them use their bodies for a month to clean themselves up. They'll forced to be focused on the job at hand so their mind can't wander to doing more crack, and they'll be too tired to feel the withdrawl effects. If they try to escape or leave they'll simply be detained, chained and be forced to continue on working. If they're bad the choice is between isolated dark isolation where they can deal with nothing but the pain of the withdrawl - or working in a group with support from other druggies and criminals, where they can focus on getting the job done and being too tired to care about their drugs. Same with potheads, cokeheads, and all the other deviants. A program like this could do so much for our society.

[ Parent ]
"rehab"? (5.00 / 1) (#335)
by NightHwk1 on Sat Jan 18, 2003 at 12:06:38 PM EST

First, marijuana and cocaine use rarely requires going into rehab. Marijuana is not physically addicting, and coke isn't much worse than drinking coffee several times a day.

What would be the point of locking these people up and forcing them into unpaid manual labor? They are not criminals, the only people who they are possibly harming are themselves.

Obviously, you have never known anyone with a heroin problem. Making them use their bodies in the way you mentioned would probably not be the ideal way to get through withdrawal.

In fact, many heroin users do want to lose the habit, but it's extremely difficult. Imagine you tried to stop smoking a pack or two of cigarettes per day, but with severe muscle pain, burning skin, and sickness. Just one hit to make everything normal again.

Drugs are a health problem, not a criminal one.

[ Parent ]

Ahem (none / 0) (#319)
by Betcour on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 10:58:22 AM EST

think that if you make prison camps bad enough then people won't look at it like a fucking vaction

I've never met anybody who thought prison was like "a fucking vacation". Far from it.

[ Parent ]
Heard of a chain gang? (none / 0) (#342)
by pantoja on Sun Mar 16, 2003 at 11:27:48 AM EST

A) Look into some of the US Southern prison systems and maybe you will find your desired labor-camp situations. B) Eye for an eye is ca-ca. I can't believe that family members who watch the execution of someone who murdered their loved one really feel 'better' when leaving the viewing, or any time afterwards. I don't think that an additional death will heal the pain of missing a family member on a daily basis. Upon accidentally finding an old possession of your loved one,or seeing a street they used to walk down, your pain is not quelled and you are not satisfied by knowing their killer is also dead. If you can think in a more sophisticated manner, that is.

[ Parent ]
The Death Penalty (5.00 / 2) (#289)
by inertia on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 07:10:58 PM EST

seems to initiate "discussions" where half of the posters find it necessary to start off their posts with something to the effect of "the death penalty is evil because God deemed murder unacceptable," OR "the death penalty is good because God/Buddha/kangaroos declared an 'eye for an eye' to be the ultimate justice." Please, please leave theology out of these discussions. It just dumbs down the content until there's a flame war about who's god is better. If you believe something because of your religion, the statements you make supporting it should be analytical and intelligent, just like you would support your opinion on, say, foreign policy issues. Keep the debate respectable and intelligent.

Religion is the base of morality (1.00 / 1) (#321)
by Eric Green on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 10:07:01 PM EST

All discussions of moral issues are, at their base, religious arguments, where each person arguing takes certain items as articles of faith. For example, it may be a person's belief that it is okay to kill one person in order to deter other people from committing the same crime.This is a religious belief. There is no natural law that says it's okay to kill one person in order to deter other people from committing the same type of crime. This is an article of religious faith, and can only be argued in religious terms.

Of course, what years of research have shown is that the death penalty does NOT deter crime, because murders are either crimes of rage or crimes committed by narcisistic people who think they won't get caught and punished, thus making the above argument rather moot, but you get the gist.

Even if you argue that we should use logic and science, even logic and science at their core rely on certain articles of faith, such as the faith that we are not participants in a giant version of The Sims and thus the world around us exists as more than just bits in some other race's computer. Belief in a physical reality is a faith, because you cannot "prove" that reality exists. You either accept that as a matter of faith, or you check into the nearest mental hospital, but it all boils down to faith in the end.

In the end, any moral argument boils down to a religious faith at its very basis, much like arguments about economic policy often rely on religious beliefs about the proper organization of an economy. I had a Libertarian once tell me that taxes were inherently evil because taking the product of a man's work away from him was stealing. This was his religious belief, based on his religion's (Liberianism's) unique notion of the term "stealing", and you cannot address this issue unless you address the religious beliefs that underly it, even when the religion is something as whacky as Libertarianism :-).
--
You are feeling sleepy... you are feeling verrry sleepy...
[ Parent ]

Religion can not be the foundation of morality... (none / 0) (#323)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 01:10:11 AM EST

I was convinced of this by a book called Ethics Without God by Kai Nielsen. Check it out.

One of the more basic arguments is that one must have a prior conception of morality when considering the claims of moral authority made by various gods and to which god you will listen. That is the super sort form of just one consideration.



[ Parent ]

His definition of religion can. (none / 0) (#334)
by subversion on Sat Jan 18, 2003 at 05:08:11 AM EST

The original poster made the point that morality is a fundamentally religious belief; i.e. a belief held on faith, on internal principles, and not on a provable external basis.

You can't prove murder is wrong.  You simply have to believe it.  As such, all moral beliefs are religious.  However, its very easy to hold a religious belief without having an organized religion to support it (just look at Linux zealots!).

If you disagree, reply, don't moderate.
[ Parent ]

Theology (none / 0) (#339)
by bigchris on Fri Jan 24, 2003 at 08:11:43 AM EST

So you are saying that someone shouldn't state their beliefs because it will "dumb down" the conversation? On whose say so?

Basically you're saying "shut up all those who beleive in God, you have nothing to contribute. I won't listen to what you have to say because it makes me uncomfortable or you have nothing to contribute".

The problem here is that you aren't being very tolerant. Instead of engaging with someone who says something like this, and attempting to prove them wrong you are trying to gag them.

I find it interesting you say Please, please leave theology out of these discussions. It just dumbs down the content until there's a flame war about who's god is better and in the next breath say If you believe something because of your religion, the statements you make supporting it should be analytical and intelligent, just like you would support your opinion on, say, foreign policy issues.

Which is it to be? Would you prefer they don't talk about theology (in other words their whole belief system), or would you prefer they talk about theology and back it up?

If you want posters to back up their argument, and they state "the death penalty is evil because God deemed murder unacceptable", then that is their reasoning and this is a valid argument. It may not be sound (I beleive it is, but that's my opinion), but at least from here you may want to consider engaging them in discussion.

---
I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
[ Parent ]

America is not a civilised nation (2.71 / 7) (#300)
by sgp on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:06:45 PM EST

While the state is a murderer, America can not claim to be a civilised nation.

I could continue about Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea, maybe even mentioning Vietnam, but I won't get in to American hypocrisy here.

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Let's not address American hypocrisy. (3.00 / 2) (#315)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 08:59:47 AM EST

Instead, please address British hypocrisy, or French hyprocrisy, or German hypocrisy.

The nature of the modern state, any state, is one steeped in hypocrisy. Our politicians no longer represent us, and cannot be trusted to carry out the whims of the people, or to even try and promote some form of "common good" (such a nebulous statement these days, eh?).

As far as America not being a civilized nation for allowing capital punishment to exist, I kindly suggest that you consult the definition of "civilized" and then proceed to study American culture and society, instead of reciting the same, tired (and rather idiotic) party line repeated by all the other teenage pseudo-intellectuals. Even though I am against the death penalty, I am willing to admit that a strong argument and moral case can be made for the institution of such practices.

I suggest reading a few books on ethics and morality (and perhaps some poly-sci texts as well) instead of pulling all your opinions from the Guardian website (fine publication that it is). Think before you write next time.

Cheers
DLS
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.
[ Parent ]

Just in case you read this... (none / 0) (#343)
by sgp on Wed May 14, 2003 at 09:21:39 PM EST

I wish I was still a teenager - I'm flattered!... yes, we're all hypocritical (you and me included). Something as obvious as "you kill mine, I kill you" takes the intellectual capacity of a domestic cat. You are free to call me simplistic, but who makes the executioner pay for his crime? I'd call it simple logic, not simplicity.

There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

[ Parent ]

All Europeans are idiots. (4.11 / 9) (#310)
by Dirty Liberal Scumbag on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 01:55:29 AM EST

I am, of course, incorrect and making an utterly false blanket statement. But this is the only conclusion I could come to if I took the opinions of the European k5'ers here as the opinion of the majority of Europe.

Don't get me wrong. Criticism of the US and its policies is absolutely fine, and accepted. It is only through rational discourse representing all views in the spectrum can an agreeable solution be presented, after all. However, I have read too many posts here speaking of the barbarism of America, and of its people and "their" acceptance of the death penalty.

Well, shut up, the lot of you. "Americans" support capital punishment just as much as they support abortion and racial profiling. Some do, some don't, but the opinions are split enough that no one side has the majority. That's why the death penalty is such a hot button issue, prompting a response and opinion from nearly everyone. Calling Americans "barbaric" for supporting the death penalty is semantically incorrect.

If anything, the smug superiority exhibited by many of the Western European posters is rather frightening. If I didn't know any better, the blanket assumptions that these folks make about their countrymen would lead me to believe that their respective states have brainwashed the population into accepting their party lines with absolutely no room for argument. In that light, America looks pretty good all of a sudden, doesn't it? At least here we have voices for differing opinions.

Personally, I'm against capital punishment, but solid, valid arguments (and therefore a moral case) can be made for the death sentence, despite how much YOU Europeans (HA! SUBTLE USE OF IRONY! HAR HAR) would like to ignore them. As such, it is an issue that needs to be addressed and discussed, and waving it away as another "barbaric American practice" just shows how intellectually stunted the lot of you are.

Toodles
DLS
---

I am now whatever you wish me to be to excuse your awesomeness.

Thank you (1.00 / 1) (#320)
by LuYu on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 12:12:42 PM EST

Thank you for giving the Europeans the tounge lashing they deserve. I would like to further point out that most of this "barbarism" has its roots in European culture. Extremism in the US (like Puritanism, fundamentalism, and authoritarian governments) has its roots in European monarchies. Europeans brought slavery and genocide to the Americas (not to mention pestilence). Now that they have finished unloading all of these treasures, they would accuse their spawn of being uncouth in order to make themselves feel less morally wretched.

Inhabitants of a continent where people did not bathe until two decades ago should not accuse others of barbarism.



----------

"I will believe you are not an animal when you do not eat, sleep, urinate, or defecate for one month."

[ Parent ]
No, thank *you* (none / 0) (#338)
by bigchris on Fri Jan 24, 2003 at 07:56:28 AM EST

Thank you for enlightening me about extremism. You sure told those smelly Europeans where to go!

---
I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
[ Parent ]
execution as an avenue for redemption for killers (3.00 / 1) (#326)
by padlock on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 03:03:17 AM EST

I am against the death penalty and don't really believe in an afterlife, but here's an argument:

If you are a killer, and the state executes you, then you aren't so bad--you exist in an environment which supports killing. You are no worse a person than the elected governor of the state in which you are incarcerated.

Unfortunately this argument lies very close to:

Killing isn't so bad. The governor does it.

hmmm, interesting (none / 0) (#332)
by tweetsygalore on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 07:18:22 PM EST

i didn't know that Governor Ryan used to be a pharmacist. and interesting analogy he made about his hypothetical pharmaceutical failure rate. later, C
After each perceived security crisis ended, the United States has remorsefully realised that the abrogation of civil liberties was unnecessary. But it has proven unable to prevent itself from repeating the error when the next crisis comes along. --- Justice William Brennan
An unusual view (none / 0) (#341)
by HollyHopDrive on Sat Feb 08, 2003 at 07:43:08 AM EST

The death penalty should exist. But it should never be implemented.

The crimes of murder and rape are so heinous that anybody who commits them deserves to die, and should know that they deserve to die. That's why the state ought to let its citizens know that a killer or a rapist deserves such a penalty, by having it technically punishable by death.

At the same time, executions should never take place, for all the reasons given in all these posts; the state should not kill, we cannot risk executing an innocent, etc...I don't need to repeat them. The penalty itself should exist, however (solely in theory), to demonstrate exactly what such criminals deserve, even if we have not the right to administer it.


I make too much sense to be on the Internet.

"I'm going to sleep well tonight..." | 343 comments (339 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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