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View Diary: The Forgotten Price of the Death Penalty (25 comments)

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  •  Well, if you let only people on the jury that (7+ / 0-)

    will kill, then you certainly increase the odds of a killing.  In a realistic sense, a person who gets off the jury because they won't kill enables the jury to kill.  Who knows whether you would have been seated on the jury anyway, but I've picked death penalty juries and seen what is left over when the good people beg off.

    . On ne gagne que les combats que l'on mène

    by NearlyNormal on Sun May 05, 2013 at 09:30:49 PM PDT

    •  The judicial system, itself, (6+ / 0-)

      of selecting death penalty juries makes a mockery of due process when good people are eliminated merely for speaking their consciences.  The result, as you say, is inevitably a jury composed of those who are attitudinally accepting of the death penalty as a punishment.

      From Trop v. Dulles: One of the most important functions any jury can perform in making selection of punishment is to maintain a link between contemporary community values and the penal system, a link without which the determination of punishment could hardly reflect the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.
      How is a society to progress when the judicial system, itself, inhibits that progress and tilts the jury to its own desired outcome?

      It's a relief to see many state legislatures considering abolition of the death penalty these days, even if their primary motive is to eliminate expense.  It's an advantageous time to support state legislatures in those efforts.  The judicial system is stuck, spinning its wheels.

    •  I agree with dharmafarmer. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hnichols, Orakio, Avila

      When you go into the jury selection process, the onus of telling the truth becomes very real. It isn't 'begging off' as far as I am concerned. When you morally object to the death penalty, lying is probably another choice you rarely make. Getting the kind of questionnaire Orakio describes is intimidating.

      I have wondered how to respond honestly to a questionnaire without lying or getting kicked off. Having been open and vocal about my objection to the DP since the 80's, lying is not an option for that reason as well. Remember when you were taught as a child the difference between 'can I' and 'may I'.? If the word is could you, my answer is yes. Would you is no.

      The other piece of this is the issue of a juror's mental health. Given the lousy state of our mental health care, plenty of people who need it aren't getting any. My mother in law, very frail in her 70's, could not get off being a juror in an ugly murder trial, even for medical conditions cited by her physician. I've been an RN (BSN) since '77 and also have a BS in Sociology. Very familiar with the elderly and aging. I will always be convinced that experience contributed significantly to the decline in her quality of life for the rest of it.

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Mon May 06, 2013 at 07:54:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Intimidating isn't really the right word (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hnichols, Ginny in CO, Avila

        The questionnaire was, for lack of a better word, awe-inspiring. It was the mental equivalent of a blow to the solar plexus, not a mere promise of danger. It was entirely too real to process, except in little chunks and circling passes of thought, until I got to the ugly, nasty core of it: I was being asked to command the murder of someone.

        •  Well, in defense of my early and life long (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orakio

          love of words and definitions.

          in·tim·i·date  (n-tm-dt)
          1. To make timid; fill with fear.
          2. To coerce or inhibit by or as if by threats.

          Synonyms: intimidate, browbeat, bulldoze, cow2, bully1, bludgeon
          These verbs all mean to frighten into submission, compliance, or acquiescence. Intimidate implies the presence or operation of a fear-inspiring force: "It [atomic energy] may intimidate the human race into bringing order into its international affairs" (Albert Einstein).
          Browbeat suggests the persistent application of highhanded, disdainful, or imperious tactics: browbeating a witness.
          Bulldoze connotes the leveling of all spirit of opposition: was bulldozed into hiring an unacceptable candidate.
          Cow implies bringing out an abject state of timorousness and often demoralization: a dog that was cowed by abuse.
          To bully is to intimidate through blustering, domineering, or threatening behavior: workers who were bullied into accepting a poor contract.
          Bludgeon suggests the use of grossly aggressive or combative methods: had to be bludgeoned into fulfilling his duties.

          This illustrates what I like to throw at folks who want the definition of marriage to be cast in titanium. Definitions change and I think intimidation has been diluted. Since I tend to be wary of overstatement, that may have been why I chose it. Blow to the solar plexus is metaphorically better, immediately brought to mind my experiences with it. The case I had a questionnaire for was robbery with no physical injuries. After filling it all out, I was dismissed before even getting to the court room. Intimidating.

          Cedwyn's comment below is exactly what I have suggested.

          i love asking death penalty supporters if they could flip the switch themselves.  most of them say no
          Every juror who votes yes for the DP should have to answer the question "Would you be willing to volunteer"? Even people who live in states that use injection have found the experience a blow to the solar plexus.

          PS, you're very welcome.

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Mon May 06, 2013 at 10:00:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I pretty deliberately wrote that as tamely as I (0+ / 0-)

        could.  If you don't believe in the death penalty being on the jury is a way to stop, or at least delay, it and spare one person's life.  If one's conscience is too tender for that, then so be it.

        . On ne gagne que les combats que l'on mène

        by NearlyNormal on Mon May 06, 2013 at 12:16:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You say you've picked death penalty juries, so you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ginny in CO

          know that jurors who say they can't even consider the death penalty are automatically struck for cause.  We may not agree with that, but that's how it is.  Are you saying that potential jurors who oppose the death penalty (as I do) should lie when asked if they can consider it?

          I could make a case for lying as a form of civil disobedience, but I don't really believe it.  The legal and moral implications of saying you will consider it when that is not true are pretty serious.

          •  No, I'm not saying they should lie (0+ / 0-)

            If your conscience is too tender to consider the death penalty when someone's life is at stake, then you should pat yourself on the back for the firmness of your convictions and leave others to kill the guy.  That way you won't have any moral problems.  Death Penalty cases are fraught with moral problems for everyone involved and it is no doubt comforting to be so sure of yourself that you can walk away with your head held high while the State kills someone in your name.

            See, its not the opposition to the DP that strikes you from the jury, its the failure be able to force yourself to consider it in the particular case.

            . On ne gagne que les combats que l'on mène

            by NearlyNormal on Mon May 06, 2013 at 12:54:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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