Skip to main content

In conversation with most people who identify as liberals or progressives, I will generally find agreement on most issues. One topic remains disconcerting, though, and that is the continued liberal support for the death penalty. On this very site, a number of people believe that the death penalty is a good idea in the abstract. One of my professors, Dr. David R. Dow, believes that support for the death penalty may be a mile wide, but it is just an inch deep. I believe this conclusion is especially true for people who identify with liberal causes. For most of these people, support for the death penalty in the abstract is the result of too little thought on the issue and a less than concrete understanding of the underlying issues.

I am here to present a compelling case to the progressive base - the death penalty should be your concern for a number of reasons. It hits on many of the major issues that progressives find important - racism, poverty, state police power, and perhaps most importantly, income inequality.

Consider it a compliment that I come to this community with arguments that strike at the soul in addition to those that strike only in the checkbook. If I were writing this diary for Redstate or FreeRepublic, I wouldn't go much further than telling the story of how the death penalty costs the state of North Carolina roughly $11 million more per year or how the savings in Florida might be as much as $50 million per year if the death penalty was itself sent to the gallows. But this community is better than that. We're concerned about fiscal issues, but I believe that people here are capable of parsing political problems in a more evolved manner. We will touch on the economics in a minute, but first, we must diagnose the humanitarian problems with the death penalty as it is currently applied.

Sister Helen Prejean remains one of the top death penalty abolitionists in the world, and her work has touched on the themes that I will mention here. You can't get through one of her lectures without discovering that the death penalty intersects directly with themes of race and poverty. Prejean stumbled into death penalty advocacy while living with the poor in a New Orleans housing project. She was often asked why she spent time working on the death penalty when so many poor people - and non-killers - needed her help. Her answer is eloquent and packed with uncomfortable truth:
"You don't have to start working on the death penalty. Just start working on poverty and you will eventually find your way there."
Sister Helen quickly discovered what many people within the industry have noted - you are practically exempt from the death penalty if you make more than $50,000. The reasons for this are obvious by those who have spent time in the "justice" systems of states like Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and Virginia. People are usually sentenced to death not because of their particularly ugly qualities in comparison with other killers. And they are sentenced to death not because of the particularly ugly nature of their crimes when compared to other criminals. Instead, they are put to death most often because their trial lawyer was so bad that he made mistakes that even a highly skilled appellate and post-conviction attorney cannot fix. The majority of people who receive the death penalty have been represented by court-appointed attorneys who lack the time, motivation, financial resources, skill, or experience to handle capital cases. In most instances, there is some confluence of the above-listed factors that keeps court-appointed attorneys from doing even a passable job.

In Texas, court-appointed attorneys have slept through the trials of their clients. One particularly egregious example occurred when an attorney slept as the prosecutor suggested to the jury that a gay defendant needed death because prison is more like a vacation to someone who is gay. In another case, a defendant lost his appeal in which the court asked whether his lawyer had slept through any of the important parts of the trial. The system is designed in a way that disallows later appeals if an attorney fails to raise certain objections at trial. In essence, many states assign unqualified attorneys to clients, then punish those clients on appeal for the mistakes made by the poorly paid and poorly vetted attorneys. It is a sick system of Screw You Twice that we inflict only on those people so indigent that they cannot afford their own lawyers.

"sending a homosexual to the penitentiary certainly
                isn't a very bad punishment for a homosexual."
                                        -  From the prosecutor's closing arguments
Faced with the Gideon v. Wainwright Supreme Court mandate that requires states to provide attorneys for clients, many states fail in their sixth amendment duty by constructing a public defense system that all but ensures the impossibility of a fair trial. Faced with clear statistics supporting the effectiveness of public defender offices in defending clients, these states shop for their public defense at the Family Dollar, spending as little as possible on independent attorneys who have been lucky enough to maintain a relationship with the judge who will handle the case. As you might guess, these lawyers have a disturbing conflict of interest - do they serve their client with vigor or do they handle the case in a convenient way for the judge, ensuring additional future assignments?

Though I do not purport to speak for the entire progressive movement, I understand it to advocate for government systems that protect those who cannot protect themselves. Nowhere in government are the poor more oppressed than in death penalty litigation. Yet when polling asks whether people support the death penalty in the abstract, the numbers consistently sit in the 60-percent range. How can this be? This indicates a host of crossover liberal support.

Sister Helen has been adamant in noting that the death penalty is a problem that's about more than just poverty. She describes it as a bandaid or perhaps a cotton swab. Pull back the scab and you will find some of America's most insidious problems hiding underneath. She notes three - the previously mentioned themes of poverty, the soon-to-be-discussed themes of racism, and the ways in which the death penalty teaches society to respond to problems with violent solutions.

In death penalty conversations that I've had with my "tough on crime" friends, I often bring up race. If the death penalty were a cheeseburger, race would be the onion. And I'm not talking about large, o-shaped onions. I am talking about the small, diced onions that you might get on your burger at McDonald's. Even a person's best efforts to remove those onions will still leave a distinct taste. Similarly, any attempt to remove race from death penalty discussions is dubious at best. Talk about it or don't; I don't care. Regardless of your choice, race and its remnants will still be there.

These people often point out to me the very true fact that on death row, there are roughly the same number of black people and white people. Though a black person is still more likely to be sentenced to death for a murder than his white counterpart, the real racial issues arise when we discuss the victims. I explain this through what I call the water glass theory. This theory is designed to describe how to value various victims.

If you start out with two murderers - a black man and a white man - the jury might value those two people at different levels prior to the murder. Perhaps the black man earns eight ounces worth of value, while the white man earns ten ounces worth of value. When a person makes the choice to go so far outside of the bounds of society that they kill, we pour out that person's life. We look at them as something less than human, and they all end up at zero ounces in the end. For victims, though, the story is very different.

The statistics suggest that for every two ounces of value we assign to a black victim, we assign ten ounces of value to the white victim. And those glasses are not poured out, either. People who kill white victims are roughly four times more likely to be sentenced to death than a a person who kills a black victim. Sadly, the death penalty exposes the absolute worst in our human nature - we value some lives more than others, and those "some" lives are more often white.

Dr. Dow described the phenomenon in relatively chilling terms - if you are going to kill someone and you don't want to get the death penalty, make sure the person you kill is black. I would extend that one further - given how victim impact statements come into play, you might want to make sure the person you kill has no family or tie to society. Are you a white person making $100,000? Kill a homeless black man and the chances of you being strapped to a gurney are roughly proportional to the chances of me playing center field for the Tampa Bay Rays.

We have here a case of systemic racism. The structure itself is designed to feed the racist impulses of the people who power the system. Is every DA, judge, and jury member a racist? Probably not, though quite a few certainly are. But our system - one where rules on pre-emptory strikes are not enforced and where black murder defendants face the possibility of death in front of twelve white jurors - is designed for racially disparate outcomes. Perhaps more chilling is the power this has been given by the Supreme Court, which has held that evidence of racism in the system is not evidence of racism in a specific case. If you are a defendant who claims his death sentence was racially motivated, you better have an email on file from the district attorney admitting that he wants the death penalty because you are black. In one case described in Dr. Dow's book, an appellate attorney for the state mocked the conversation of two black men, one of whom was mentally retarded. In an open Texas court, that fine representative of the state read a transcript with his best impersonation of what a black retarded man might sound like. That defendant had no luck in proving that his sentence was racially discriminatory.

The death penalty also aids in the creation of a culture where violence is the proper way to respond to disputes. Sure - our laws say that killing is wrong in some circumstances. But many of our state governments - and our military and federal government - say that it's alright to take a human life if that taking can be justified in some way. This is revenge parading as justice, and it's a critical factor in the establishment of a society that sees many more murders that its western counterparts.

The final issue is one of the most important. Here, I argue that the death penalty actually contributes to increased crime. This is because the death penalty adds to income inequality, and income inequality is one of the leading contributors to both violent crime and property crime.

Search the annals of this website and you will find a few central themes in many of its works. One is income inequality - the continued widening gap between the rich and the poor. What many don't know is that this factor is highly correlated to high crime rates around the world. When people have no hope, they have very little to lose. When that happens, the social controls that make laws more effective are broken. When the threads that connect people to society are shredded, they have less respect for society and its laws. This combination of a lack of respect for society's laws and a person having little to lose creates a scenario where more robberies and other crimes take place. Most murders happen as the person attempts to commit a different serious crime.

How does the death penalty contribute to income inequality? If you have read that the death penalty costs much more than imprisoning a person for life, then you might have had a question - where does all this money go? Is it really that expensive to put a needle in a person's arm? The answer is no, it's not. The money is sunk into appeals, habeus corpus petitions and reviews, and other judicial processes. When the state attempts to take a life, the stakes are incredibly high - so much so that the constitution provides additional legal protections for the accused. Many of the dollars used in these cases are going into the hands of defense attorneys, judges, investigators, and expert witnesses. These dollars are going to DNA companies and ballistics companies. These are precious dollars - millions, in fact - funneled directly from the state into the hands of businesses and already wealthy professionals. In the vast majority of capital cases, states are funding both sides of the trial though state funding for defense, as mentioned earlier, is wholly inadequate.

Think of what could be done with these dollars? Most propose that those dollars be put back into law enforcement, but that, too, is a wildly inefficient way to prevent crime and stop the murders that put people in capital trials. What if Florida had an extra 51 million dollars per year to pour into public services for the poor? What if Texas had extra money to pay its teachers or extra money for new schools? What if we could fund hunger-eradication programs to help poor students get the food that their brains need in order to process the information in school? What if we invested in social services that monitored at-risk children in abusive homes, pulling those kids out of their situations before they suffered life-altering trauma that might later result in a horrible decision? You don't have to be creative to figure out ways that we might invest those dollars to support the downtrodden, thus closing the income gap that serves a precipitating factor for crime.

Yet here we are, mindlessly pursuing the death penalty out of a need to indulge our most barbarian instincts of revenge and anger. Sure, that societal anger might be justified. But decisions made for payback are rarely rational or beneficial. Take the case of the man who approaches a car that won't turn off its high beams. In a fit of anger, the first driver turns on his own high beams as he passes the second car. This does nothing good, and in fact, his blinding of the second driver increases the chances of a dangerous accident by some multiple. That's what we do with the death penalty. Our anger drives us to irrational places, and we pursue an option that leaves society significantly worse off.

The death penalty is an issue of progressive concern. It touches all of the major areas that progressives like to write and speak about. If Dr. Dow is right that support for the death penalty is one mile wide and one inch deep, then perhaps progressives will re-evaluate their own support for an racist institution that vests too much power in the state to kill a sub-class of people that end up being disproportionately poor, mentally disturbed, and brown.

Originally posted to Coby DuBose on Criminal Injustice, Race, and Poverty on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 10:42 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Do progressives really support the death penalty? (20+ / 0-)

    I mean, insofar as it's even possible to talk about "progressives" as a unified front, I was still operating under the idea that it was one of those ideas that is generally opposed, but often ignored as something of a third rail. Like gun control during any period of time not immediately following a well-publicized mass shooting.

    As an ideological issue, I'm opposed to any similarly irreversible punishment until you can convince me that our judicial system is perfect. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is perhaps a necessary trade-off for normal criminal justice, but it's not good enough when you're talking about a punishment that can never be reconsidered or taken back. If you throw someone in jail for life, only to exonerate them thirty years later, you've committed an injustice, but at least you can, at bare minimum, apologize and attempt to set things right. If they've already been dead for three decades, what does that make you but a (legally justified) murderer yourself?

    As a practical issue, it's equally difficult to justify the death penalty. Any system of checks designed to ensure that the innocent are not accidentally killed render the whole process more expensive than simply throwing the supposed criminal in jail for the next sixty years. And if you remove those checks, I strongly suspect you'll find the "mile wide, inch deep" support for the death penalty dissipate very quickly, indeed. A few high-publicity "accidental" executions, and you have public outrage on your hands.

    There's no practical purpose for the death penalty other than a primeval, "eye for an eye" sense of justice that ill suits a supposedly modern liberal democracy. It's a bloodthirsty practice prone to abuse, and the fact that it isn't a massive point of public shame for America is hugely disappointing.

    •  Support for the death penalty (27+ / 0-)

      is above 60% right now, and this is the lowest it's been in 5 decades. Given the huge number of Catholic Republicans who are categorically against it, there must be a huge portion of people who identify as Democrats who support the death penalty.

      Of course, the polling is a bit screwy. If you change the polling to ask the death penalty question in conjunction with life w/o parole, the polling for the death penalty gets a bit worse.

      The fact that California of all places wouldn't abolish the death penalty this fall shows that there are tons of people who pull the left lever on many issues but are not willing to shake the death penalty.

      There are many, many reasons why the death penalty is wrong. I've written on them before. This one's to tie it in with liberal causes.

      The most important reason is one you've mentioned before. I describe it this way - we overestimate the moral distance between the people who run the machine and the people who we put through the machine. Murderers aren't so low than they've lost all humanity. And we aren't so pure that we are able to put together a system that's worthy of killing. If you could eliminate flaws in the system so that it was fair, then maybe you could justify the death penalty. But that would require you to fix human failings - racism, general mistakes, etc. - and that can't be done. People are flawed, and that's a huge part of why we can't vest this sort of power in them OR in government.

      It's not a "do they deserve to die?" inquiry. It's a "do we deserve to kill?" inquiry.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 11:44:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fair enough (12+ / 0-)

        I don't think all, or even necessarily most, Democrats would identify themselves as progressive, though. We're not a majority, so I don't really have a problem accepting that there's enough room within the ~40% anti-death penalty number you cite to accommodate the majority of the progressive movement along with other groups (like Catholic Republicans) opposed to execution. That said, it's not like I can provide any support for that, so take it all with a very large grain of salt.

        I can't agree with you more on this, though:

        It's not a "do they deserve to die?" inquiry. It's a "do we deserve to kill?" inquiry.
        In fact, I may need to crib that from you in the future.
        •  i have seen support for it right here at dkos (12+ / 0-)

          there was a diary touting it just the other day.  even some of the most strident self-proclaimed leftier-than-thou types here support it or are unsure.

          we've got a damn long way to go to finally end the practice of state-sanctioned, cold-blooded murder.

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:25:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I do in fact support the death penalty (5+ / 0-)

            and I am a liberal.

            But there are some criminal impulses for which no rehabilitation works.


            The alternative?

            Give the criminal a safe, warm, well-fed, properly medically-cared for life at taxpayer expense for 50 or 60 years (e.g. Charles Manson). Not cost-effective. Also, you have the notoriety of Manson reappearing for parole hearings at regular intervals. He becomes a celebrated figure, rather than merely a murdering scumbag.

            I'm not normally in favor of Cheney-like policies, but I do think we'd do well to reconsider how high we blow up the balloons around celebrity criminals, and how much we buy into the sensationalization of horror by our MSM.

            We'd be a better country if the names of those killed by the shooters at Columbine and Clackamas, Aurora and Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and the UT Austin tower, were better known than the names of the shooters.

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:43:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did you read the diary? (10+ / 0-)

              If so, how did you skip over the multiple paragraphs that correct your false assumption that the death penalty is cost-effective?

              It's MUCH more expensive than life imprisonment.

              "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

              by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:47:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  that's cool (0+ / 0-)

                political resistance makes it expensive, and so the expense is cited as the reason it should be resisted.

                Out of my cold dead hands

                by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:04:30 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  huh? (7+ / 0-)

                  Political resistance makes administering the death penalty expensive?

                  No, due process rights of defendants, and the increased security we provide death row inmates is what makes it expensive. And rightly so.

                  Ultimately the number of death penalty cases are small enough that cost should not be the determining factor in policy, particularly one that is so central to issues of morality and justice.

                  •  I'm not sure that's true (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    OffTheHill, aitchdee, Cedwyn, Munchkn

                    In many states, we are talking about many tens of millions of dollars per year. That's a tremendous amount of the state budget.

                    I don't necessarily think that cost should be the central determinant, either. But the money is significant.

                    "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                    by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:14:18 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  some data (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      I think we agree that cost isn't the main determinant, but here's some data I found:

                      Since 1976, CA has spent $4b on death penalty criminals, including $1b in incarceration cost (at least some of which would still exist). That's $111 million/year, 0.01% of the state budget (in 2012).

                      Texas has 304 inmates on death row. Each defendant costs $2.3 million over the course of the case. That's only $699 million, which to be generous, let's split over only a decade, and ignore that the cost to incarcerate would not be $0. At $69 million/year, that's 0.03% of their total state budget.

                      If we as a society decided the death penalty was vital, cost would not be a reason not to implement it. Particularly when it is money spent on justice (whether it's actually achieving that is a separate question, all I'm addressing here is the cost question).

                      •  Those numbers are true (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        But it would be foolish to suggest that the $500 million we spend on the death penalty every year across this country could not make a difference.

                        We live in a country where 15 million people are certified "hungry." And one where we are currently engaged in a fight to retain funding for critical social services. To dismiss the potential practical impact of hundreds of millions of dollars per year is absurd.

                        This is especially true when most evidence suggests that we get no extra benefit for our $500million/year that's spent on the death penalty. That's a lot of money to pay for undermining our international reputation.

                        "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                        by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:49:48 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  seems a bit naive (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          to think that any savings from abolition of the death penalty would go anywhere but back into the criminal justice system or into the pockets of taxpayers.

                          And the international reputation point is a horrible one politically. Enough of this country doesn't care, or is proud of the international community's shock at our CJS that their scorn is for many an argument in support of the death penalty. Moreover, if we were right on the morality, who gives a damn what the international community thinks?

                          Anyway, I do appreciate both your diary, the discussion herein, and the other. Thanks for the thoughtfulness.

                        •  Grizzard, did you fact check the cost studies? (0+ / 0-)

                          If not, what makes you think you have a clue?

                        •  Grizzard, none of it is true (0+ / 0-)

                          Fact check.

                          Death Penalty Costs: California


                          Contrary to consistent urban legend, an academic review, by a neutral academic, found that the verifiable costs in the oft quoted "Texas cost study" actually found the death penalty was cheaper than a life sentence. (1)

                          I have told the Dallas Morning News, for many years, to stop using their totally inaccurate cost review. They still use it. They found that it costs $2.3 million per average death penalty case (for 5 cases), more than 3 times more expensive than a $750,000 life sentence. (C. Hoppe, "Executions Cost Texas Millions," The Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992, 1A)

                          Problem is that they looked at the pre trial, trial, incarceration and appellate costs of the death penalty, but only the incarceration costs of life WITH PAROLE ELIGIBILITY.

                          That study looked a 5 death row cases. Texas has had over 1000 since 1973.

                          1) p154-156

                •  No. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Munchkn, Panama Pete

                  Not even close. Protecting constitutional due process rights is expensive. Appellate lawyers are expensive. Post-conviction reviews are expensive. It has nothing to do with political resistance. These are (poor) safeguards designed to ensure that you are not executed next year for the murder some other guy might commit tomorrow.

                  "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                  by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:12:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Death Penalty: Saving Money (0+ / 0-)

                    Could all jurisdictions save money by using the death penalty, as opposed to life without parole?

                    Of course.

                    The Virginia Example

                    Virginia executes within 7.1 years of sentencing, on average, and has executed 72% of those so sentenced (108 out of 149), within the modern death penalty era, post Gregg v Georgia (1976) (1).

                    All states could do that, or similar, and save money over LWOP.

                    1) (1) Execution rate in Va. prompts dispute / Law defended, but some wonder if errors are made
                    FRANK GREEN, Richmond Post-Dispatch, December 4, 2011 Page: A1 Section: News Edition: Final

                    The revised link is not accessible, by me or the reporter, whose email is

                    •  Even one wrongly executed person is too many (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      The problem is that the "errors" are SO irrevocable.

                      And the more tightly you control the costs, the higher the likelihood of such "errors".

                      Or to put it bluntly, judicial murders.

                      If it's
                      Not your body,
                      Then it's
                      Not your choice
                      And it's
                      None of your damn business!

                      by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:08:22 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The evidence doesn't reveal that as (0+ / 0-)

                        with Virginia.

                        Innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

                        Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

                        1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

                        2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

                        3) LIFE: MUCH PREFERRED OVER EXECUTION
                        99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"

                        •  Useless, worthless links (0+ / 0-)

                          propping up a circular argument.

                          Find a NEUTRAL source that supports your position, or be prepared to have people ignore you (when they don't ridicule you).

                          If it's
                          Not your body,
                          Then it's
                          Not your choice
                          And it's
                          None of your damn business!

                          by TheOtherMaven on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 01:07:38 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Relibale, confirmable links (0+ / 0-)

                            which provide additonal links for even more fact checking, which I welcome.

                            You criticise with words, only, and no evidence to confirm any of your complaints, because all youre comments are, factually, unsupportable.

                            It is better to be  a serious perosn within this debate, providing confirmable facts with research and links to offer more support, as I have done and which your method rejects.

              •  Grizzard: what makes you think (0+ / 0-)

                it's better to keep people locked up for 50 or 60 years at taxpayer expense, and often in better conditions than those taxpayers -- who have NOT committed "Helter Skelter" type crimes -- can afford for themselves?

                Being a rapist is a choice. It should be a very costly one IMO.
                Being a mass murderer is a choice. It MUST be made a very costly one.
                Being a serial killer is a choice. It MUST be made a MOST costly one.

                To the criminal, not the society on which the criminal preys.

                Do you see where I'm coming from?

                The cost is currently skewed away from the predator and onto the (surviving) victims.

                I don't believe the death penalty is a deterrent except in the case of the convicted criminal. Once sentence is carried out THAT criminal will not recidivate. Happens every time and is the only sure guarantee of that outcome.

                LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:12:27 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I still don't think you understand (6+ / 0-)

                  Let's make this clear again: Taxpayers bear more costs in administering the death penalty than in administering a life sentence. From your comments, it seems that you're not grasping this concept.

                  And frankly, in the age of maximum security prisons, we can design and execute a system where a "predator" is unable to kill again. It's just not that hard. We do it with death penalty inmates, who have no physical human contact whatsoever.

                  "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                  by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:19:25 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  That point is an outright lie (0+ / 0-)

                    "And frankly, in the age of maximum security prisons, we can design and execute a system where a "predator" is unable to kill again. It's just not that hard. We do it with death penalty inmates, who have no physical human contact whatsoever."

                    Bullshit do you have any ideas how many murders are committed in prison each year? Even ignoring criminal on criminal murders. How many prison workers can killed injured and abused because of the prisoners can NOT be controlled?

                    •  Sure (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Cedwyn, Munchkn, Panama Pete

                      How many death row inmates have committed murders while on death row in the last ten years?

                      Can you answer that? The answer is none.

                      The fact that people kill people in prison is irrelevant. In a system with no death penalty, the highest risk offenders would be housed like we currently house death row inmates.

                      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:38:24 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  So your trying to imply that (0+ / 0-)

                        There are no crimes being committed by people who are currently spending time on death row? really? :)

                        Meanwhile elsewhere you decry the cost of capital punishment yet here you are supporting a major cost center. You think its cheap to keep people in that kind of lockup?

                        Dont ya think that takes away the whole you know argument about capital punishment being too expensive?

                        Do you actually think it would be cheaper to keep people in solitary like that their whole life than to execute them sometime during their incarceration?

                        Or is the cost capital punishment just a red herring?

                        Little over 10 years but


                        I cant be arsed to spend more than trying to investigate a fact that is not central to this argument.

                        Either way the point stands that even people on deathrow commit crimes. There is no lockup that can prevent this.

                        •  You are assuming that the difference (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Panama Pete

                          between death row incarceration and general population incarceration makes up a significant portion of the difference in the cost of the death penalty versus life in prison?

                          That's just not accurate. The bulk of the costs have to do with the many extra layers of the justice system we are forced to use when we try to kill a person. Five, six, seven additional appeals. 2x the hours for prosecutors and defense attorneys. Court-appointed attorneys for appeals and court-appointed attorneys for habeus reviews in many states. This is where the money is spent. It is a bit more expensive to put a person in death row-style lockup. But your assumption that this makes up a substantial chunk of the money is false.

                          And I don't dispute that people on death row "commit crimes." If you consider illegal possession of a prohibited item in a correctional facility to be a crime. But death row inmates do not kill people while they're on death row.

                          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                          by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:42:03 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Easily disprovable from an anti deathpentalty (0+ / 0-)

                            source even.
                            Californians and federal taxpayers have paid more than a quarter of a billion dollars for each of the state's 11 executions, and that it costs $90,000 more a year to house one inmate on death row, where each person has a private cell and extra guards, than in general prison population."

                            The housing is a MASSIVE cost. Yes the other things are a costs as well. I am not discounting them. But the housing is a significant portion of it.


                            "But death row inmates do not kill people while they're on death row." I disproved that statement in the above quote. Read the link. Its rare but it still happens.

                          •  fuck the money (0+ / 0-)

                            the system is not perfect.  mistakes happen.  and death is a damn permanent consequence of a mistake.

                            until the system is foolproof, we have no business killing people over crimes.  and since any human system can never, ever be foolproof and 100% guaranteed error-free, we should never, ever be employing the death penalty.

                            get around that.

                            Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

                            by Cedwyn on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:06:29 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Grizzard, think about what you are saying (0+ / 0-)

                        Let's presume you actually fact checked and that it is true that over the last ten years no death row murderer has murdered additional people while on death row. Good news.

                        But, lifers in prison have, both in prison and after escape.

                        Therefore, you provide more evidence that the death penalty is a better protector of innocent lives, as I have already established.

                        No, the fact the people do murder people in prison or after escape or after improper releases does mattter, a great deal.

                        Remember the lifer, in North Carolina, I believe, who said if you don't sentnce me to death I will murder, again. He got a life sentence and murdered, again, finally, receiving a death sentnece?

                        Or the Texas 7, who escaped murdering Officer Aubrey Hawkins.

                        "He was the kind of father that all the kids in our neighborhood wanted to be around.  The love and relationship between Aubrey and Andrew is indescribable.  It was a relationship that most parents could only dream of having.  The 9-year-old little boy was Aubrey's pride and joy.  They were "buddies".  It breaks my heart that Aubrey will never get to see Andrew grow up to be the man he always taught him to be.  Aubrey was the kind of son who worried about his mom living alone.  He always looked out for her and made sure she was safe.  He truly loved her from the bottom of his heart.  Aubrey was a loving and devoted husband.  He was my best friend.  He made me laugh when nobody else could.  His face would "light-up" every time I walked into a room.  Never again will I hear him come home and yell throughout the house . . . "Where's my girl?"  Never again will I feel his big arms wrapped around me and his kiss on my forehead."

                    •  That's not really a relevant number (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Cedwyn, Grizzard, Munchkn

                      The last year I could find any numbers for was 2005, when it was 4 in 100,000. But that number is effectively meaningless without context. How many of those were carried out by a person on death row? There's even some indication that there's an inverse relationship between the severity of the original crime and the likelihood of the prisoner being involved in violent prison crime. See for a summary and some references.

                      Which means that it's a non sequitur, unless you're actually arguing that we should kill everyone, just to be sure.

                      •  Very close (0+ / 0-)

                        to asking my commenters not to feed the troll. After reviewing some of this commenter's comments on welfare and especially George Zimmermann, it appears that he has a history of being firebombed with HRs.

                        "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                        by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:54:24 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You do know what a troll is right? (0+ / 1-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Hidden by:

                          So you read over  500 of my comments to find a few HR's? lol and instead of bothering to you know.... make a sound arguments you break down and HR comments and yell "OMGZ donts responds to people they disagree with meh".  Very convincing arguments lol. I think you may need to try a bit harder if you dont want to simply preach to the choir.

                          Lets hope for your sake you dont ever have to make a public argument in your professional life, you'll get eaten alive.

                          •  No (0+ / 0-)

                            You don't make your first comment calling a person a "douche."

                            That's why you're a troll.

                            "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                            by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:51:07 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Apparnetly you do not know what the word (0+ / 0-)

                            troll actually means.


                            Call me an ass if you want but troll simply does not fit.

                          •  I don't know whether or not you're a troll.... (0+ / 0-)

                            ....but I HR'ed your "douche" comment because it was ad hominem and over the top.

                            Disagree with the diarist to your heart's content but do try to keep it classy. That doesn't mean hurling personal insults.

                            See the children of the earth who wake to find the table bare, See the gentry in the country riding out to take the air. ~~Gordon Lightfoot, "Don Quixote"

                            by Panama Pete on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:27:03 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You have a fair point (0+ / 0-)

                            And I really do not mind the HR. My other response probably does qualify for A HR, but that does not itself make it wrong.

                            The author started himself with an insult to everyone who disagrees with him and as such I felt no need to keep it class with said author personally.

                            Implying you know more than anyone who disagrees with you is douchy :) I have no problem pointing that out even if it is "HR" worthy lol.

                            The authors response to arguments than that continue to follow the holly than art tho style of communication. The exact style I was pointing out.

                          •  Grizzard has been fooled (0+ / 0-)

                            It appears he, simply and blindly, accepted anti death penalty claimes without fact checking.

                            He has just been deceived and so trusted the info that he won't fact check it.

                            Sadly, this is very common.

                          •  "Don't trust your lyin' eyes," right? n/t (0+ / 0-)
                          •  sean, let's just say that fact checking is an (0+ / 0-)

                            excellent idea, but more so required within any contentious public policy debate.

                          •  millions of dollars here, thousands there (0+ / 0-)

                            the only relevant number in this debate is 1:  one innocent man put to death is too many.

                            Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

                            by Cedwyn on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:08:06 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  The op (0+ / 0-)

                        was arguing in essence that we can make it so that criminals are essentially not a threat if we merely housed them properly.

                        That point is simply bullshit. Even in the most restrictive environments that are legally allowable the inmates do harm to others.

                        •  You cite nothing to support this (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          I've told you that no death row inmates have killed other inmates in the last decade. We have more than 3,000 people on death row.

                          Yet you incomprehensibly repeat things that aren't true. Earlier you cited general population murders as support for the idea that we wouldn't be able to keep people from killing other people in prison. I'll concede that point - yes, guy, if we place people who would otherwise be on death row in the general population of a typical prison, people will die.

                          But you're arguing against air there. We have a model for a type of arrangement that would keep people from killing other people in prison. It's called our current death row.

                          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

                          by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:45:35 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Grizzard, reasoning matters (0+ / 0-)

                            Living murderers are infiniteley more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.

                            Innocents are protected more with the death penalty than with life without parole, in, three ways.

                            Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

                            1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

                            2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

                          •  Yes, Mr. Sharp, reasoning *does* matter (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            Living murderers are similarly infinitely more likely to cure cancer, star in a Broadway musical, and be successfully elected as a Republican congressman from Kansas. Because, obviously, the dead murderer is, well, dead, and has a 0% likelihood of doing any of those things. But what is the real likelihood that someone convicted of homicide and sentenced accordingly (LWOP, let's say) is likely to be let out or escape to kill again? Well, they're not going to be let out, certainly. So how many murderers have escaped from maximum security and killed again? Vanishingly close to zero, as it happens.

                            So that's not a valid argument, that's a BS grasp towards an emotional reaction that makes it a little hard to take you seriously. For all of your exhortations not to be fooled by the evidence, your case seems to rest on a surprisingly flimsy facade of dubious studies (Louis "common sense trumps evidence" Pojman), non-sequiturs ("the recidivism rate is too high," when no one ever suggested the alternative to execution is letting murderers roam free), and self-references where you repeat your same fallacies ad nauseum. My favorite so far is the rhetorical sleight of hand in your "response" to Radelet/Lacock where you make the curious argument that because a survey study cannot prove that there is 0% added deterrence to execution over life imprisonment, then it's irresponsible not to execute people. It's odd how that same logic  seems so alien to you when talking about the 0.4% error rate in convictions (a number which can itself be called in question given the strong disinclination to overturn a death penalty conviction once the sentence has been carried out). I also really appreciate the random link to Denis Prager and, which really adds the hint of authoritative social science to your argument that you seldom get outside of Fox and Friends.

                            Your case, in which the evidence is supposed to speak for itself, is a beast feeding on its own tail. While I give you credit for at least engaging with the opposing argument, you do so with limited intellectual rigor, and the reliable sources you do cite exhibit the same failings. To present your conclusions as the inevitable result of logical reasoning is gutsy, to be sure, but saying it doesn't make it so.

                          •  sean, interesting, but the discussion is only (0+ / 0-)

                            about whether murderers should live or die and the risk to innocents.

                            That was the context.

                            I don't know of any states that are not currently considering allowing lifers to be subject to early release, based upon cost reductions.

                            And lifers have been released and have murdered again, so your claim that this certainly will not happen has been disproven, already.

                            You should not invent things. You should research and fact check/

                            You are simly unaware.

                            My arguments are solid and you did not rebut them.


                            My many responses to Radelet were unrebutted by you, because you could not.


                            Soley with regard to deterrence, it is unrebutted that all prospects of a negative outcome deter some.

                            Truly, the only remaining issue is does the death penalty deter more than life without parole.

                            Hugo Adam Bedau, the recently deceased grandfather of modern anti death penalty academics, accepted it as a given that the death penalty deterred some, but that he didn't believe it deterred more than a life sentence.

                            As reviewed, the evidence is much stronger that it is an enhanced deterrent over life, than it is not.

                            I presented quite a bit of evidence for that, not of which you rebutted.

                          •  In all sincerity, thank you for the discussion (0+ / 0-)

                            You don't, it appears, understand the distinction between an assertion and evidence, because your "evidence" for enhanced deterrence consistently falls back on a basic link that does not actually appear to exist: that, given the choice between DP and LWOP, prisoners prefer the latter does not directly speak to the deterrence value of either. That's a link that needs to be proved independently. You also invoke a series of false premises and baseless scare tactics (if we don't execute a murderer, that means we must inevitably release him/her to kill again), some of which you didn't even bother trying to link together properly initially.

                            I begin to feel that I made a mistake in treating you as a serious participant in a legitimate debate to begin with. I do appreciate your willingness to at least deal in facts and figures, but your misrepresentation and misuse of them is instructive. I've written several lengthy responses to you, on a point-by-point basis, already, and you've clearly selectively ignored vast chunks of them. It's been an interesting discussion, but I see no reason to think anything further can be said or accomplished.

                          •  small sample - repeat murderers (0+ / 0-)

                            John McRae -- Michigan/Florida. Life for murder of 8-year-old boy. Pedophile. Paroled 1971. Convicted of another murder of a boy after parole, in Michigan 1998. Charges pending on 2 other counts in Florida.
                            John Miller -- California. Killed an infant 1957, convicted of murder, 1958. Paroled 1975. Killed his parents 1975. Life term 1975.  
                            Michael Lawrence -- Florida. Killed robbery victim. Life term, 1976. Paroled 1985. Killed robbery victim. Condemned 1990.  
                            Donald Dillbeck -- Florida. Killed policeman in 1979. Escaped from prison in 1990, kidnapped and killed female motorist after escape. Condemned 1991.
                            Edward Kennedy -- Florida. Killed motel clerk. Sentenced to Life. Escaped 1981. Killed policeman and male civilian after prison break. Executed 1992.
                            Dawud Mu'Min -- Virginia. Killed cab driver in holdup. Sentenced 1973. Escaped 1988. Raped/killed woman 1988. Condemned 1989. Executed 1997.
                            Viva Nash -- Utah/Arizona. Two terms of life for murder in Utah, 1978. Escaped in 1982. Murdered again. Condemned in Arizona, 1983.
                            Randy Greenawalt -- Escaped from Prison in 1978, while serving a life sentence for a 1974 murder. He then murdered a family of 4 people, shotgunning them to death, including a toddler.  
                            Norman Parker -- Florida/D.C. Life term in Florida for murder, 1966. Escaped 1978. Life on another count of murder in 1979.
                            Winford Stokes -- Missouri. Ruled insane on two counts of murder 1969. Escaped from asylum, 1978. Murdered again. Executed for this murder, 1990.
                            Charles Crawford -- Missouri. Life term in 1965 for murder. Paroled 1990. Convicted of murder again in 1994.  
                            Jack Ferrell -- Florida. Committed Murdered 1981. 15 years to life, 1982. Paroled 1987. Murdered again 1992. Condemned 1993.
                            Timothy Buss -- Murdered five-year-old girl. Sentenced to 25 years in 1981. Paroled 1993. Murdered 10-year-old boy. Condemned 1996.  
                            Martsay Bolder -- Missouri. Serving a sentence of life for first-degree murder in 1973. Murdered prison cellmate 1979.  
                            Henry Brisbon, Illinois. Murdered 2 in robbery. Sentenced to 1000- 3000 years. Killed inmate in prison 1982. Sentenced to DP. Commuted by Governor Ryan.  
                            Randolph Dial -- Oklahoma. Life for murder 1986. Escaped from prison with deputy warden's wife as kidnap victim. 1989. Still at large. Warden's wife never found.  
                            Arthur J. Bomar, Jr. -- released from prison in Nevada on parole in 1990. Bomar had served 11 years of a murder sentence for killing a man over an argument about a parking space. Six years later in Pennsylvania, Bomar brutally kidnapped, raped and murdered George Mason University star athlete Aimee Willard.  
                            Dwain Little -- Oregon. Raped/Stabbed 16-year-old girl. Life term 1966. Paroled 1974. Returned as Parole Violator 1975. Again Released 1977. Then shot family of 4. Three consecutive life terms for rape and murder 1980.  

                          •  Troll. Member of Justice for All, a death penalty (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Grizzard, Cedwyn

                            ...promotion society.

                            9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

                            by varro on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:35:40 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Nope, seancdaug. I'd change the US Code a lot (0+ / 0-)

                        if I were in charge.

                        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:26:07 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  O112358: right now on the FP is a diary (0+ / 0-)

                      bewailing the cruelty inflicted on Luis Felipe, the King of the Bloods, because he's confined to a Supermax for life.

                      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                      by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:10:46 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No, because he's under SEVERE solitary confinement (0+ / 0-)

                        and it is slowly driving him insane.

                        SEVERE solitary confinement does that. This has been known for decades, if not a century or two.

                        When we have finally shredded what's left of his mind, what will we do with him? Just leave him to rot?

                        Do you think that inflicting permanent incurable insanity is a "humane" punishment for even the most vicious and depraved criminal?

                        If it's
                        Not your body,
                        Then it's
                        Not your choice
                        And it's
                        None of your damn business!

                        by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:16:23 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I think the death penalty is cleaner and gives (0+ / 0-)

                          the victim / survivors a more humane closure.

                          There. I said it.

                          Some acts take a person out of the human race because they make the choice to act that way. Charles Manson comes to mind as one who's lived off the California taxpayer for more than four decades.

                          Many such alleged humans -- Vernon Howells comes to mind, along with Harris, Klebold, Cho, Lanza, and a host of their shoot-em-up cohort -- cheat justice by suiciding, often taking innocents or their own victims -- Howells killed how many Branch Davidians in that fire in Waco? -- along when they die. Nobody in their right mind claims to be the one guy in the world who can correctly interpret the word of God -- and that applies to the WBC the same as the current and immediately past Popes, just like it applies equally to Paul who wrote all those books of the New Testament trying to outright overturn the words of Jesus, as well as to Osama bin Laden or to Al-awlaki claiming their interpretation of the Quran trumps Mohammed.

                          Suicide is different. As somebody who's lost someone close to suicide, I know that it often leaves behind a world of anger and hurt and frustration -- but I also know that for the person who takes that way out of the world of anger and hurt and frustration they cannot escape, it is the only mercy they can find. Hard as that is on those they leave to wonder and rage and mourn ... they deserve that mercy themselves; and many of them extend that mercy by not going on a rampage to emphasize their suicide.

                           Therefore I don't lump suicide in with the kind of insanity Adam Lanza showed or the horror perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh, for example.

                          McVeigh's action took him out of the human race by his own choice; to make sure that he never ever had a chance to repeat his act was society's duty to itself.

                          I think this claptrap about humane execution, and how every method discovered can be dissected down to reveal some hidden cruelty, is

                          Go back to hangings as standard execution. If you want to try to make it a deterrent, have them in the public square of the county seat. But don't make them into circuses, and don't record the names of the criminals as if they deserve some twisted kind of hero worship.  Treat them as the common vermin they are instead of celebrating their criminal works; twisted minds will not find that fate so alluring.

                          LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                          by BlackSheep1 on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 10:21:07 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't thin Grizzrd is lying, he just doesn't (0+ / 0-)

                      know any better.

                      He has judt blindly accepted all the anti death penalty nonsnese, without fact checking it.

                      I think this applies in his case:

                      “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation”   Herbert Spencer

                  •  Bullshit. Ever been to prison? No? well let me be (0+ / 0-)

                    the one to clue you in...
                       I did three years for a marijuana conviction.
                       General population means everyone is tossed in together. There is no differentiating from one type of crime from another, as a matter of fact it is considered a type of discrimination.
                       One of the idiots I had for a cellmate was guess what? Cut loose from death row, his sentence commuted to life without parole.
                       I once asked if he was guilty, "oh fuck yeah" was his reply. I asked if given the same circumstance would he do it again, "oh fuck yeah" was his reply.
                       Yeah, I felt real safe and secure...
                       You have no idea what becomes of these murderers once they're put away, none. Super max prisons is what you're imagining these guys to end up in, that simply is not the case. In most instances they are in with everyone else, including the poor schmuck in on a pot charge.
                       So it's okay to just shove them off into the system and let those within it deal with it?

                    "It's a dog eat dog world out there, and I am wearing Milkbone underwear." Norm Peterson

                    by playtonjr on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:23:53 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Well, by your standard, killing criminals is not a (0+ / 0-)

              penalty so much as a deviant disposal system.  IN that case, I would support it.
              I am against calling death by any means a "penalty".

            •  I also support the death penalty. Its odd to me (0+ / 0-)

              the liberal support of guns and their use here on this site while you're busy pointing out anomalies in the traditional progressive point of view.
                 In so many of the gun deaths deemed justifiable are cases of a thief simply stealing something and being caught by a legally toting gun owner. Whereas these used to be a matter of "fuck it, call the law", now they've become deadly confrontations ending in homicide.
                 I am not claiming that all cases are cases of mere thefts confronted, so hold up with the demands for links, stats, ect. What I am saying is that many of these once petty cases are now determined to be so abhorrent or threatening by some legal gun carrying citizens to allow them to be cop, judge, prosecutor,  jury, and executioner  in an instant and in which they are being exonerated on a wholesale level . We have allowed one person to determine ones guilt and allowed them to be the executioner at the same time.
                 But that seems to be okay...
                 Now, as for the legally defined death penalty; I agree wholeheartedly that many many mistakes have been made and many people were found later to be innocent that had received the death penalty.
                 I even personally know two people that were freed from death row because of their innocence.
                 What I have noticed as a common thread in all of the death penalty exoneration's that I have seen is simply the age of the cases themselves. Many, if not most are being found innocent due to changes in the way evidence is processed, and the technological advances in criminal forensics that were unavailable at the time the cases actually occurred was collected.
                 The same DNA tests unavailable at the time that freed so many is now being rightfully used to convict so many now. If it's good enough to free the innocent then it seems to reason that it is also good enough to convict the guilty.
                 The day that my daughters killer was scheduled to be sentenced I was reading news up until time to leave the house. I had just pulled up a story about the stabbing of two corrections officers just north of my location but I didn't read it.
                 I went to court that day thinking that if they gave this murderer of two innocent people life without parole that this fool will be in prison in general population with the kid who stole a car, the guy who owed child support, the petty thief, the drug dealer- how does that equate to justice to all of them and their keepers?
                 Life without parole means just that, life in prison. Is it justice to foist these dangerous evil fucks upon the rest of the population? On the corrections officers? Their location doesn't change in any degree the threat they pose to others but it does make their possible prey so much more susceptible to them, they cannot escape nor defend themselves.
                 So I went to court that day, the jury found him guilty and he received two death sentences. I  didn't decide that, the jury did- in accordance to law. Remember, it is the law, period.
                  I got home from court that day relieved that he didn't escape justice by some bullshit like jury nullification, or a slick ass high priced lawyer. The law says that executing him was justice and the jury agreed. Okay.
                  It's the law, justice was served. Not my law. Not my wanting vengeance. The law.
                 And here is what the story read that was still up on my screen when I got home that day:

              A convicted murderer described as “a really difficult prisoner” stabbed a 24-year-old corrections officer to death Sunday night at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City, authorities said.
              Corrections Officer Ruben Thomas died after he was stabbed with a shank at 10:24 p.m. while on duty, the Florida Department of Corrections said Monday.

              Thomas, who was engaged and had a young daughter, was taken to Shands Lake Shore Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
              Franklin, 37, was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 after he was convicted of first-degree murder in the shotgun shooting of a Bethune-Cookman College student in Daytona Beach.

              Franklin also has been convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer, escape and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

                 What if that were your 24 year old son? Murdered for doing his job?
                This is exactly why I support the death penalty, I don't give a damn about the cost- the cost of "people" so inherently evil upon society is by far much greater. The price my family has payed is far beyond your taxpayer dollars can possibly calculate. Its so easy to think that its all over when someone like this is licked away, but is it? Would you want your son, your father, your brother to be the cellmate of someone like this? The evil doesn't just stop at the prison gate.
                 Friday night we got a phone call that my father in law was burned severely over a half of his body. A 85 year old man in a motorized wheelchair. He is barely clinging to life and is given about zero chance of surviving.
                 Got a call from arson investigators today- it is now suspected that he was intentionally set on fire and left to die for the $700-800 he may have had on him Friday night.
                 What kind of evil does it require to set an elderly defenseless wheelchair bound man on fire for $700-800?
                 The kind of evil that deserves no place among the living. The kind that needs immediate execution upon the finding of guilt.

              "It's a dog eat dog world out there, and I am wearing Milkbone underwear." Norm Peterson

              by playtonjr on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:09:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, life in prison IS cost effective (0+ / 0-)

              It's much less expensive than the death penalty.

              Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

              by splashy on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:03:27 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Question, though....has Manson... (0+ / 0-)

              ...harmed anyone since he was locked up?

              I agree that there are some people who even will kill or order killings in prison, and my few exceptions to abolition might involve them, but that could also be mostly prevented by putting people attempting to be involved in further crime in more restrictive custody.

              9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

              by varro on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:29:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed Cedwyn nt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
          •  Yes... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            we've got a damn long way to go to finally end the practice of state-sanctioned, cold-blooded murder.
            I'm glad you said it - and said much better than I could.

            Me, I'm opposed to the death penalty, no matter what. There's no "unless" about it; i.e., "unless there's absolute proof of guilt"... "unless the crime is so horrible, the criminal deserves to die" ..."unless it's somebody like Hitler."

            Huh uh. Either you think it's right for the state to people to death or you think it's wrong - morally, religiously, ethically...I don't know what. Just wrong.

            Assuming there's a fair trial, then life in prison, no chance of getting out. That's it for me.

            Of course, the prison system needs major reformation, but that's another story and an uphill battle.

      •  catholic support? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seancdaug, Scientician, Dobber, Munchkn

        Have you seen strong polling to support the assertion that Catholics are overwhelmingly against it? I know it's in their faith, but there are an awful lot of Catholics who ignore the "pro-life" part of Catholicism if it doesn't involve other womens' bodies.

        I'd love to see some data, and thanks for opening this discussion.

        •  An article from NPR last year says the opposite (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OffTheHill, tytalus, Munchkn

          Granted, I don't necessarily expect that all Catholics will march in lockstep with the Vatican, but I was a little shocked that, according to this write-up:

          Internal polling by supporters of the initiative found that the strongest support for the death penalty in California, if broken down by religion, was among Catholics.
          No crosstabs or anything, but assuming that the polling is correct, it seems you may have a point. To say the least.
        •  Catholics can support the death penaly & (0+ / 0-)

          remain Catholics in good standing.

          The New Testament death penalty support is overwhelming.

          There is a 2000 year record of Catholic Saints, Popes, Doctors of the Church, religious leaders, biblical scholars and theologians speaking in favor of the death penalty, a record of scholarship, in breadth and depth, which overwhelms any position to the contrary.

          The very recent changes (EV,1995 & CCC, final amendment 2003) in the Catholic position are based upon a wrongly considered prudential judgement which finds that "defense of society", a utilitarian/secular concern, not a moral or theological one, very rarely, if ever, requires execution.

          This change in teaching is based upon the Church's switch to utilitarianism - defense of society - when the teachings have been and must be based upon justice, biblical and theological teachings and tradition - all of which conflict with the newest teachings based upon utility -- as utility and justice may, often, have conflicts.

          In addition, the evidence is overwhelming that execution offers greater defense of society than does a life sentence. Dead unjust aggressors are infinitely less likely to harm and murder, again than are living unjust aggressors.

          Living unjust aggressors murder and harm in prison, after escape and after improper release. The cases are well known and are daily occurrences.

          It is a mystery why the Church chose a utilitarian/secular prudential judgement over eternal teachings based upon justice and chose to spare more murderers at the cost of more innocent deaths, but that is, precisely what She has done.

          It is also a mystery why the Church didn't review the available evidence, that execution offers a greater defense of society. There is no evidence that She did.

          Thankfully, as the recent Church's teaching is a prudential judgement, such means that any Catholic can support more executions and remain a Catholic in good standing.

      •  Polling Errors: LWOP vs The Death Penalty (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Both Gallup and Quinnipiac have this poll (as others), with similar problems.

        Let's look at the Quinnipiac question:

        "42. Which punishment do you prefer for people convicted of murder, the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole?" (1)

        and the response:

        48% prefer the death penalty, 43% prefer Life without parole (3)

        First, the question has a problem.

        There is no such sanction as life in prison "with no chance of parole." All sanctions can be changed, to the benefit of the inmate, by legislative action, in addition to the executive branch having the ability to commute, pardon or parole any inmate, regardless of sentence, as with Illinois, whereby death row was vacated by the arbitrary actions of Governor Ryan. This question error, obviously, may skew the results of the poll, by implying a benefit to a life sentence which does not exist.

        It's as wrong headed as saying there is such a sentence as the "death penalty with no chance of release".

        Secondly, this is a PREFERENCE poll, not an EXCLUSION poll.

        Representatives of Gallup and Quinnipiac (among others), wrongly, enter their personal opinions into the fray, have found that this poll reflects lower support for the death penalty. Untrue. Nor does it show lower support (43%) for LWOP, either, as is obvious.

        The 48% who prefer the death penalty are not rejecting a life sentence and the 43% who prefer a life sentence are not rejecting a death sentence.

        I use this clear example. Which do you prefer, vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

        48% prefer vanilla ice cream, 43% prefer chocolate. No one wants to exclude either flavor. 100% wanting to retain both vanilla and chocolate. 9% have no preference of one over the other.

        Just as 48% prefer the death penalty and 43% prefer a life sentence, with 83% wanting to retain both sanctions (2), with only 16% rejecting the death penalty in all cases . 9% can't make up their mind (1).

        Put it another way, the 83% who support the death penalty still reside within the 48% who prefer the death penalty and within the 43% who prefer LWOP, just as the 16% who always oppose the death penalty reside within the 43% who prefer LWOP. Very obvious.

        As 83% in Ct support the death penalty, it is likely those same 83% also support LWOP, as well. In other words, 83% in Ct support the system that Ct has now, the option of selecting either the death penalty or LWOP, in death penalty eligible trials.

        (1) "Death Penalty Support Remains Very High: USA & The World"

        (3) RELEASE, March 10, 2011 - "Death Penalty Support At New High In Connecticut, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters High On Medical Marijuana, Sunday Liquor Sales"

        Within poll number 43 and the TREND within poll 43,

        NOTE: In 2011, the Quinnipiac Poll (2) finds 83% support the death penalty, that percentage is the combination of (a) death penalty support for all murderers (10%) and (b) (it depends upon the circumstances) crimes (73%). Only 16% oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, as per question and answer number 43, from the March 10, 2011 (1).

        82% support and 16% opposition, is the average of polling since 2000, using those same combinations.

      •  I don't think most of the Catholic Republicans... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ....aren't the same cafeteria Catholics that pro-choice Democrats are - Scalia and Thomas are not orthodox Catholics in the eyes of Rome with their reversal of the standard American Catholic ignoring Rome regarding birth control and abortion.

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:27:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  80% death penalty support (0+ / 0-)

        and has been for some time, with repeated polls, by different polling groups and with different protocols.

        US Death Penalty Support at 80%; World Support Remains High

    •  I'm in the "mile-wide, inch-deep" group.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ....while I would probably want to see the worst of the murderers executed, I realize it's just repulsion at the idea of murder, and that society would be all right with the person locked up for the rest of their life.  Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, and the worst of the serial killers and sociopathic criminals have not been able to continue their crimes in prison.

      The only question is what happens when someone kills while imprisoned?  

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:25:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i'll tell you why people are hesitant (3+ / 0-)

    because the percentage of US citizens killed by our government is nothing compared to the percentage of US citizens killed by other US citizens

    the death penalty isn't the most merciful and kind response, but i don't think people are feeling like being merciful and kind when they have to worry their whole lives about either being killed or some loved one being killed in this country

    progress is one step at a time.  maybe when we figure out how to stop kids from being mass murdered, people will be more open to being kind and merciful to killers

    •  Surely that's a false dichotomy, though (16+ / 0-)

      The issue isn't that psychotic monsters like, say, Adam Lanza, don't deserve to die. You may or may not believe that, but it's a personal decision. The question is whether or not it's right or just for government to enforce execution as a punishment. And the bitter irony of all this is that execution has traditionally (at least in America) been most strongly promoted by conservatives, who have spent the past three and a half decades telling us how "government is the problem" and cannot, under any circumstances, be trusted.

      That's not even ludicrous; it's bat%!$@ insane. The government can't be trusted with your tax dollars, but it can be trusted with your life?! If Grizzard is right, and this really doesn't matter to progressives, that's inexcusable. We should be beating conservatives upside the head with the bloodthirsty hypocrisy of reliably GOP states like Texas and Virginia 24/7.

      We can progress towards multiple goals at the same time. The idea that "kids being mass murdered" gives us license to murder people ourselves is disgusting. And while we should absolutely do everything reasonable to reduce "the percentage of US citizens killed by other US citizens," the idea that it in any way excuses execution is ridiculous. If people aren't ashamed of that, then they should be.

      •  I wrote in a paper once (18+ / 0-)

        that the ultimate irony of the death penalty is that we vest power in the state to kill people yet won't vest the power in the state to remove children from disturbingly abusive homes that cause the sort of trauma that leads to future murder.

        You're 10000% right - many on the right will not trust the government to hand out food stamps but they trust the government to make the biggest decision of them all - who lives and who dies. It's maddening.

        "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

        by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:39:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually we do (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sandbox, misslegalbeagle, wlkx

          we do vest the power in the state to remove children from abusive homes. Here in Oregon we have Child Protective services and a foster child program. admittedly it doesn't take in everybody uin every circymstances but we do try and take care of our children.

          Don't bother arguing with me about the death penalty, I'm already against it, although just on the basis of pure practicality---it costs too much and it takes too long.

          But we do try and take care of our children

          Happy just to be alive

          by exlrrp on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:52:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I guess I should have been more clear (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            4Freedom, DaNang65, wlkx, Munchkn, mindara

            I meant we don't vest the power in the state to remove children from abusive homes BEFORE that abuse manifests itself in some traumatic experience. I'm talking about those seriously at-risk homes, where an addicted parent with personality disorder chases the child around with a butcher knife (one of these experiences almost always lurks in the history of a death penalty defendant).

            It's controversial, yes - removing a kid from an impoverished home where the parent is off the rails. But so is killing that kid 20 years later.

            "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

            by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:47:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  the Brits had a good system, exlrrp: (0+ / 0-)

            they had a 3 week period from pronunciation of sentence of death to execution. Not nearly so costly nor exhaustive as the US system, which Dorothy L Sayers, a fine British writer, once described as "lasting so many years nobody cared anymore."

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:46:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Perfect (5+ / 0-)

              So you're advocating for the restriction of constitutional rights. I'm glad we at least know where each other stands.

              Do you know how inarguably unworkable the three week solution is? You'd allow no time for constitutionally protected appeals, investigations, or anything else.

              Under your suggestion, we would have executed dozens more innocent people than we have already executed. And this is supposed to be the right solution? Making it even HARDER to correct our mistakes?

              "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

              by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:56:04 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I submit that we have a corrupt system that (0+ / 0-)

                should be changed.

                I do, however, believe some of those changes should be toward protecting our innocent and our indigent.

                LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:18:07 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Grizzard, this works (0+ / 0-)

                Virginia executes within 7.1 years of sentencing, on average, and has executed 72% of those so sentenced (108 out of 149), within the modern death penalty era, post Gregg v Georgia (1976).

                3-4 years for state appeals, 3-4 years for federal appeals.

                All states could do that, or similar, and save money over LWOP.

            •  Appeals muust take longer (0+ / 0-)

              Based upon direct appeals and the writ, which should be handled at the same time, as well as going through both state and federal systems, which review the state death penalty cases, it cannot be any shorter than 6-8 years, in my opinion - 3-4 years for both the state and federal judiciary.

              The best state, now, is Virginia, which executes within 7.1 years and has executed 72% of those so sentenced, a protocol that all other states could achieve. If Virginia can do it, any state can.

              WITH THE HUGE CAVEAT OF THE JUDICARY IN DIFFERENT JURISDICTIONS, meaning than many in the judiciary feel it is their obligation to stop executions, regardless of the law.

            •  Go re-read Sayers' "Strong Poison" (0+ / 0-)

              and reflect that in that very book the British system you're so proud of almost murdered an innocent woman.

              If it's
              Not your body,
              Then it's
              Not your choice
              And it's
              None of your damn business!

              by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:23:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  sean, "trusting in government" (0+ / 0-)

        I think the "don't trust the government" folks don't trust the government to keep murderers from murdering us again.

        Why? Well because, very often they don't.

        The government has allowed at least 14,000 murderers to murder, again, just since 1973.

        Somewhere between 40,000-200,000 innocents have been murdered by those known criminals, who did so while under the government supervison of parole and probation or other early releases, just since 1973.

        I think there is a point to not trusting the government, here, which may make some folks more prone to supporting the death penalty.

        Then, what does the government do for the murderers on death row?

        Often, government allows murderers to live very long lives, with very expensive appeals. Often, just another wasteful government program that should, with some responsibility, be made much more efficient in all jurisdicitions, just like countless other government programs should be.

        •  Batshit insanity posing as "logic" (0+ / 0-)

          The cognitive dissonance is blatantly obvious to anyone who doesn't have their mind hermetically sealed to any arguments whatsoever against the death penalty.

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:25:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (9+ / 0-)

      Nobody wants to address public violence because they're too busy trying to figure out how to address private violence?

      It's all one picture. Either human life is sacred and inviolable or it isn't. If we, through our government, accept and promote the idea that some life isn't inviolable and its sacredness is contingent, we should expect a society that reflects that attitude.

      "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

      by 2020adam on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:43:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I tend to agree with this (16+ / 0-)

        We keep some ugly company with our use of the death penalty - the Ugandas, Irans, South Koreas, Chinas of the world. It's funny - we consider England, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, et al to be our comparables. But when it comes to crime (especially punishment), our comps are those countries we like to demagogue against so hard.

        Lots of people talk about our "culture" of violence being a part of the crime problem. If that's true, and it's a contributor, then it starts at the top. The state says ceremonial, premeditated killing is ok, so long as the person you are killing has done something wrong and is deemed sub-human. This gives authority to those people with really bad judgment who do their killing to people they view as sub-human and people they think have done something wrong.

        "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

        by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:49:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't care if killing killers (17+ / 0-)

      makes people feel better. The justice system isn't about retribution, it's about...well, justice. That's precisely why we don't put the victims or victims' families in charge of criminal trials.

      •  I'm not sure how to put this in writing, without (21+ / 0-)

        stepping on family members' rights of privacy, and those of some friends. A child, who would now be thirty-seven, was murdered. A friend's brother, a week before his wedding, was murdered in front of his fiance in a botched hold-up. There were a few others, but those two were when I was relatively young, were first blows. There are several different organizations of families of murder victims against the death penalty. I looked for a specific link but there are too many. Google that, "Families of Murdered Victims Against the Death Penalty" and you will see. It still hurts, it will always hurt, but as one of my loved ones said, "Killing another will not bring my son back." Aside from the pain of another life lost, it should be about justice, not revenge, not retribution. It should be about rehabilitation; if that's not possible, care in a facility until a natural death. We should not further violence. My soul has been violated permanently by those deaths, and harm done to others I love that was as heinous and damaging. I apologize if this rambles, but it is a hard subject for me, one I rarely discuss in public because too few understand. That may be fortunate in a way, because it means many haven't lost someone they love to murder. Death is never easy, but a death like this is particularly hard. Do not add to pain; proving murder is wrong by murdering another is crazy. We have progressed, we should have progressed, way past that.

        I hope your diary reaches more and convinces them this is poor judgment and action.

        "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

        by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:15:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This comment deserves more Recs. (6+ / 0-)

          Thank you for sharing, despite your pain; your reaction is courageous and enlightening.

          Join us at RASA: Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment. (Repeal will not ban guns, just help regulate them.)

          by Sharon Wraight on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:48:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you (6+ / 0-)

          Your comment is courageous. I wouldn't want to claim that I understand what it is like to be in the position of a victim's family member. And for those people, I understand the impulse and the desire to "kill you back." I respect even more those people who have had family and friends murdered and do not want to exact revenge.

          I'm often disturbed by the use of victim impact statements for two reasons. First, I think it creates an equal protection-type issue in valuing lives over others. Should we really choose a punishment because one victim had a family and one did not? What makes one life more valuable than another?

          Second, it's because of the utter insanity implicated in victim impact statements. In order to "prove" that the death penalty is the proper punishment, we put a dead person's family up there to talk about how losing that dead person has caused irreparable harm and devastation to the family. We use evidence of the loss of life's devastation to then justify taking another life.

          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

          by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:57:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks. I had to step away from the diary; (0+ / 0-)

            still upsetting. I suppose it always will be. I greatly appreciate you putting up this diary and fighting for these people.

            "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

            by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:52:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  95% of those families support the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

          Victims' Families for Death Penalty Repeal: More Hurt For Victims

          •  Crass and inappropriate. Have you no decency, sir? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Not quite HR'able, IMO, but I'm in awe of how you can simply drop in and respond to someone who has made a heartfelt statement of belief and essentially say, "no, you're wrong and people disagree with you." And your reasoning is absurd. This:

            Instead of being divisive and hurtful, why can't VFADP just say, "we oppose the death penalty, but respect your right to support the death penalty in your case."?
            Doesn't even make sense. "Why can't Mothers Against Drunk Driving just say, 'we oppose DUIs, but respect your right to down a dozen Jägerbombs before getting behind the wheel'?" "Why can't the antiwar movement just say, 'we oppose the war in Iraq, but respect your right to wage it'?" I'm so very, very sorry the big bad activist group hurt your feelings, but that you have the temerity to claim insult immediately after making the bald, and entirely unsupported (your footnote is an elaboration, not an explanation) and inflammatory claim that "the majority of VFADP members are not survivors of crimes which are death penalty eligible" reveals you as a hypocrite of the worst order. That's an ad hominem attack, and it's an order of magnitude worse than any imagined injustice delivered by VFADP against death penalty supporters.

            You are not an unintelligent person, clearly. You have given this a lot of thought and done a lot of research. But your argument is not as comprehensive or convincing as you continue to insist that it is, and your response here lacks even basic human decency. Given your lack of a history here, I can only assume that you are a troll and have little actual interest in a real discussion or doing much of anything other than dumping the same sequence of links multiple times without comment or response. You should be, but probably aren't, ashamed of yourself.

            •  He has no decency; he's a lobbyist... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...a lobbyist for Justice for All, a Texas pro-death-penalty group.

              9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

              by varro on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:42:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  sean, it makes complete sense. (0+ / 0-)

              I have run this by a number of pro death penalty vicitm survivors and they agree with it 100%.

              They undersand, perfectly, that some murder victimm survivors don't approve of the death penalty, but don't understand whay they won't just work against it in their cases, but instead want to ender it for other survivors who find the death penalty just.

              That seems really easy for anyone to undertstand.

              You just seem to be trying harder and harder to not understand the very clear.

              I have been quite willing to discuss all of these issues and have been very clear, so again, sadly, you spout nonsense which has no factual support - very troll like, I would say.

              •  Oh, grow up (0+ / 0-)

                They are an advocacy group. Advocacy groups, you know, advocate. Why shouldn't I take moral offense at your refusal to limit your pro-DP advocacy to "your cases," then? Or why MADD refuses to limit their anti-DUI advocacy to "their cases"? No, I don't believe for a moment that you don't understand why this is inappropriate, and the fact that you won't admit it, well, I don't know what to say to that.

                And the fact that you feel morally justified to question their sincerity and claim that they are misrepresenting their stories all while claiming that they are being insensitive to your feelings? There are literally no words for the hypocrisy of that.

                I'm glad you've "run it by a number of pro death neatly victim survivors" and found people to agree with you. Apparently they are crass and insensitive, too. That you are clearly incapable of distinguishing (or unwilling to distinguish) between a direct character attack ("I think you're lying about being related to a DP victim") and a political view that differs from yours ("I don't believe that the DP should be permissible") is absurd. The fact that you felt that this was an reasonable and sensitive response in context is beyond the pale.

                •  sean, of course (0+ / 0-)

                  but I am speaking of murder vicitms survivors to murder vicitm survivors.

                  Why some survivors want to hurt other survivors is a sad mystery to me.

                  The anti death penalty survivors can simply work against the death penalty in their cases and allow other survivors, who find the death penalty just, to have that punishment in their case.

                  But no, some extremely small percentage of anti death penalty murder survivors must harm, even more, those survivors who find the death penalty just.

                  I am not at all surprised by this, but I do think it is a sad cruely, again, endorsed and organized by the anti death penalty folks.

                  Same ole, same ole.

          •  Do not dare to speak for family members of (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            murder victims. I am one and I can guarantee you that I know a hell of alot more of them than you do and I can tell you, you are wrong.

            "On this train, dreams will not be thwarted, on this train faith will be rewarded" The Boss

            by mindara on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:07:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, mindara, I am not wrong (0+ / 0-)

              I am very sorry for your loss.

              If you wish to attempt to disprove my anecdotal evidence, from both the 9/11 murders and the Oklahoma City bombing cases, you are most welcome to present your evidence. I would like to see it.

              It is possible you know more murder victim survivors than I do, but certainly, it is not guaranteed, but that is not the point and does not contradict my position.

              What is your real name and the name of your murdered family member?

        •  cv, I do understand exactly where you are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          coming from. I am a family member of a murder victim, my 12 year old cousin was murdered almost 35 years ago when I was only 13. It is something that alters your entire being and your entire world irrevocably. My cousin's murderer was arrested the day after the murder and tried and convicted a year later. The evidence against him, even in pre-DNA 1978, was overwhelming and beyond any shadow of a doubt. The murder occurred two weeks before the death penalty was reinstated in my homestate of Maryland so it was not an option for the judge. And I am thankful, everyday, for that. In my pain and rage at the time I would have wanted to pull the switch on the electric chair myself. And I recognized (even then) that the death penalty was venegance, not justice.

          The murderer was sentenced to 2 consecutive life terms. And last May, almost 34 years after that horrible summer day in 1978, I got a call from the Maryland Department of Corrections informing me that he had died of natural causes. While, yes, there is a definite weight that I no longer carry now that he is dead, the peace that I feel is in no small part because I had long ago let go of the desire for venegance. I am 1000% against the death penalty. Venegance should never take the place of justice. And there is no moral argument that can be made in favor of the death penalty.

          I am very sorry for your losses, thank you for being willing to share, I think it's very important that we do.    

          "On this train, dreams will not be thwarted, on this train faith will be rewarded" The Boss

          by mindara on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:05:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  cv lurking (0+ / 0-)

          You write: "proving murder is wrong by murdering another is crazy."

          Thank goodness we do not do that.

          There is a very common anti death penalty slogan:

           "Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong?"

          We don't. Even with no sanction, most folks know that committing murder is wrong.

          We execute guilty murderers who have murdered innocent people.

          The difference between crime and punishment, guilty murderers and their innocent victims is very clear to most.

          The moral confusion exists when people blindly accept the amoral or immoral position that all killing is equal.

          The anti death penalty folks are just looking at an act --  "killing" --  and saying all killings are the same. Only an amoral person would equate acts, without considering the purpose behind them.

          For those, like some anti death penalty folks,  who believe all killing is morally equivalent, they would equate the slaughter of 6 million innocent Jews and 6-7 million additional innocents with the execution of those guilty murderers committing that slaughter. They would also equate the rape and murder of children with the execution of the rapist/murderer.

          This is what the anti death penalty folks do, morally equate killing (murder) with the punishment for that murder, another killing (execution).

          For such anti death penalty folks to be consistent, they must also equate holding people against their will (illegal kidnapping) with the sanction for it, the holding people against their will (legal incarceration) or the taking money away from people (illegal robbery) with a sanction for that, taking money away from people (legal restitution).

          Most folks understand the moral differences.

          Some anti death penalty folks are either incapable of knowing the moral differences between crime and punishment, guilty criminals and their innocent victims, or they are knowingly using a dishonest slogan by equating  killing (murder) with killing (execution).

          Either way, it's time to stop it.  It is just too grotesque a tool.

    •  The idea that opposition to the death penalty (12+ / 0-)

      is a mere matter of being "kind and merciful to killers" pretty much ignores the litany of injustice and inequality that this diarist has been patiently laying out. Because, just for starters, not everyone sentenced to death is actually a killer in the first place.

      Just take the question of inept court-appointed lawyers. In how many instances here has the defendant received the death penalty not only because their lawyer failed to secure them a lesser sentence, but because their lawyer failed to secure an acquittal for a crime that person didn't commit?

      One of the many things that brings me up short on the death penalty is, what if the jury is wrong? What if their prejudices -- or simply the vastly unequal sophistication of the DA and defnese lawyer's court strategy -- sends that person to death row, despite solid evidence of wrongdoing? There's no do-over for a case where a person is wrongly put to death, after the surfacing of new DNA evidence or what have you.

      This is pretty much what led the Republican then-governor of Illinois, George Ryan, to suspend the application of the death penalty there in 2000. I'm not sure that Ryan was anyone's idea of a liberal bleeding heart. He simply had a perspective upon the death penalty that allowed him to see precisely how capricious the system was.

      Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

      by Dale on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:58:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely (10+ / 0-)

        Ryan was blown away by the fact that Illinois was batting under .500 on executions during a period of time - 11 executions and 12 exonerations from death row.

        The sad thing is that it took the hard work of a bunch of journalism students from Northwestern to get the ball rolling on that. The system HAD failed. Those 12 men would have been killed if not for some smart students turning a passing interest into a passionate investigation.

        "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

        by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:01:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No Grizzard (0+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          Hidden by:

          Illinois had sentenced 300 to death.

          If 12 of those were found to be actually innocent, that would be 4%, not 50%.

          Do you have some proof that 12 were found actually innocent?

          •  Hide Rating for a blatant lie (0+ / 0-)

            I will listen to a lot, but not blatant misdirection.


            I said more exonerations than executions. The responder here is seeking to intentionally mislead my readership, and in the process undermine my credibility.

            "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

            by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:58:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Grizzard, such false outrage, ugh (0+ / 0-)

              50% of what?

              The error rate of sentencing actually innocent people to death , in Ilinois, was, possibly, as high as 4%, if we accept your 12 exonerated number.


              Of those 100% were released.

              11 executed is also about 4% of those  sentenced to death.

              How is 11 executed 50% of those 12 exonerated?

              How is 12 exonerated 50% of the 11 executed?

              I guess if you wish to be silly and add 11 and 12 and then divide it by either 11 or 12 and get about 50%, that would work, but is kind of well, nonsense.

              Come on, this is supposed to be a serious debate.

              •  Blood Pudding recipe (0+ / 0-)


                    1 quart pig's blood
                    12 ounces bread crumbs
                    1/2 lb. suet
                    Salt and pepper, to taste
                    1 quart milk
                    1 cup cooked barley
                    1 cup dry rolled oats
                    1 ounce ground mint

                Mix all ingredients together in a bowl; pour into a large kettle or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Pour into a wide shallow bowl and season again if necessary. Chill thoroughly, until firm. When cold it may be cut into slices and fried.

                If it's
                Not your body,
                Then it's
                Not your choice
                And it's
                None of your damn business!

                by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:31:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  I am and have been anti-death penalty (21+ / 0-)

    for as long as I can remember.

    I do not support it because I believe (morally) that it reduces us (as a society) to killers.

    I do not support it (from a purely economic standpoint) because the mandatory appellate process (which is, unfortunately, largely a legal sham, but which I absolutely support as a lawyer) is enormously expensive.  How much more useful would those dollars be paying for better legal representation in the first place or, certainly, better conditions for those in prison.

    I am a Christian.  I have sung in many choirs with a full and devout heart.  In one such choir in which I sang was the mother of one of Ted Bundy's victims.  It was his teeth marks on her murdered daughter's breast that eventually lead to his conviction.  

    This fact, and the fact that when Ted Bundy escaped he murdered other people (including a child) tested my convictions about the death penalty.

    But only briefly.

    The death penalty is not a deterrent to anything.  It's wrong; it's immoral. It serves no purpose.

    And it reduces all of is in its execution.

    Be sure you put your feet in the right place; then stand firm. ~ Abraham Lincoln

    by noweasels on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:17:12 AM PST

    •  I don't understand these absolute (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misslegalbeagle, bluelaser2

      statements like "it's wrong or immoral" in all circumstances. It's just your opinion, like it's my opinion that executing Ted Bundy is moral and right. What evidence do you have that executing Bundy is immoral?

      •  Not all opinions need be explicitly identified (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        misslegalbeagle, Munchkn

        A statement of moral principle can, under normal circumstances, be assumed to be a statement of opinion.

      •  xians who propose to put value on all life (10+ / 0-)

        can make a moral argument about taking it away unnecessarily. Not that it requires xianity to argue based on ethics. This society is supposedly based on secular value placed on life (Declaration of Independence for example). If we do believe this as a society...

        We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness seems proper to demand a good reason to take away a life, and some monstrous fellow locked up in a cage doesn't present much of a need to me. Do we not trust our justice and prison systems that much to contain them? I could understand, if murderers breaking out of prison was a regular occurrence.

        What's the moral or ethical argument for killing captive murderers?

        There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

        by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:49:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you. We are no longer in a primitive (6+ / 0-)

          society where the means are not available to properly hold law-breakers and sociopaths.

          "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

          by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:19:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes we are wtf world are you living in? (0+ / 0-)

            Do you have any idea how much terrible shit happens to prison workers  each year? Do you know how many prisoners escape and or get released to only commit terrible acts again?

            We have absolutely zero ability to properly hold law-breakers and sociopaths.

            •  Do you? (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tytalus, cv lurking gf, Zinman, mindara

              The total recidivism rate in the United States in 2005 was approximately ~60%. Oddly, that number is substantially higher than other countries that do not practice the death penalty, and place a greater focus on rehabilitation than isolation, but that's neither here nor there. There was no breakdown I could find for violent crime in general, but the two lowest recidivism rates were rape (2.5%) and homicide (1.2%). That's certainly not a great number (nothing over 0% would be), but it indicates that the panic over recidivism may be overblown.

              And the number of escaped prisoners? Very small, especially in the federal system. Most of those are in work-release programs (and thus probably not there for violent crimes), and the majority of those are recaptured within 24 hours, before they have the opportunity to commit further crimes. I was able to dig up the numbers for Florida in 2005-06, which indicates that that 122 prisoners escaped that year, all from non-secure or minimum security environments, and all but 10 of them were subsequently recaptured (see Again, that's not perfect, but it's far from catastrophic, and it certainly suggests nothing of a society with "absolutely zero ability to properly hold law-breakers and sociopaths"

              •  Thank you. I just asked the poster if he/she (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                could cite his source too. I hadn't heard that escapees and former convicts were major problems, aside from the inability for former convicts to get jobs.

                "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

                by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:00:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  122 is not small (0+ / 0-)

                122 in Florida alone for 1 year is significant.

                I imagine that part of the low recidivism rates for those crimes may have something to do with the length of the sentences in the first place.....Hard to commit new crimes when you get sentenced to 40 years in prison. A person is much less a threat at 65 than at 25 (I imagine). either way kinda interesting

                Yes I did use hyperbole this was in reaction to the hyperbole of the post I was responding to.

                Implying that prisoners are somehow housed in "properly"  controlled environments is extravagantly naive.

                Even in jail many people are a threat. A threat to civilians, a threat to jail staff and a threat to other prisoners.

                •  The vast majority of those were recaptured, though (0+ / 0-)

                  Before they could commit any further crimes. And none were perpetrators of violent crime in the first place, so it hardly matters to any discussion of the effectiveness of keeping people convicted of homicide locked up tight. Your perceived risk is hypothetical and not, as it happens, supported by the evidence. That makes it a pretty poor rationale for killing anyone, IMO.

                  •  Correcting myself (0+ / 0-)

                    I probably shouldn't state that none were perpetrators of violent crime. More correctly, I should say none were found guilty of a crime that led to high-security imprisonment as a sentence. The idea that low security imprisonment is easier to escape from should be self-evident, and is the reason we have higher-security alternatives when needed.

                    •  Perhaps in Florida (0+ / 0-)



                      There are a significant number of those listed which were violent criminals who did escape.  These were "famous" escapes. I am sure there are other non famous ones.

                      I will gladly admit that the rates are lowish.

                      I however will also stand by my belief that these rates are not small enough to stand idly by and simply state that they are "properly" controlled.

            •  Yeah, I do. I worked in the justice system (0+ / 0-)

              for a few years. I've known police, convicts, guards. I've sat at trials for family and friends who were witnesses for murders and rapes (you do understand what being a witness for both of those is, right?). Please show the statistics of escapees and released people versus the amount who sit in prison. I would interested in reading your sources.

              "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

              by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:56:36 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  My sources are not (0+ / 0-)

                significantly different than the one seancdaug  posted.  But here is a differant one as well


                Just famous ones. The difference is the interpretation of the numbers. .

                I do not find 122 small for one state.

                I do not think prison is a safe controlled environment.

                I do not think prisoners even if prison are prevented from committing the most heinous of crimes.

                It is rather notorious situation we have that many street gangs are actively run by members who are in prison.

                If we as you said had the means to properly house these criminals....non of these facts would be true.

                •  I went through that list, and no where is (0+ / 0-)

                  there a report of 122 escapees in one state, in the U.S., even over a period of 10 years. Do you have another source? Regarding street gangs, there's a good book about a program changing the behavior of street gangs.

                  We have the largest population of inmates in first world nations; in fact, we have the largest population of almost any nation.Proper housing is not a consideration, as you point out.  We seem to focus on punishment rather than rehabilitation, and reintegrating former convicts into society.

                  However, this diary is about a specific area of the justice system, the death penalty, and I'm sure the diarist would like us to discuss his topic. Why don't you research this and write a diary? I think a quite lively discussion, and a necessary one, would ensue.

                  "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

                  by cv lurking gf on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:30:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  the cost ! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the use of so much more of other people's life's energy to hold them in that cage for all of those years.

          Why should those people toil to keep a killer in a cage?

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:08:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not unalienable (0+ / 0-)

          We take freedom away by incarcerating wrongdoes, just as we take away life.

          We have the right to pursue happiness. Attaining it is up to our own efforts.

      •  Answer (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Grizzard, DaNang65, quill, tytalus, Munchkn

        The immorality of the death penalty stems not from the people put to death but the process itself, the lack of redeeming features and utility to it.  

        It achieves nothing worthwhile, and has many risks and harms.  You never just kill Ted Bundy, but every other poor shlub who some ambitious prosecutor can convince is as bad as him.  

        •  Justice is the goal of the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

          just as it is for all sanctions.

          Is their a greater human goal than justice?


          1) Immanuel Kant: "If an offender has committed murder, he must die. In this case, no possible substitute can satisfy justice. For there is no parallel between death and even the most miserable life, so that there is no equality of crime and retribution unless the perpetrator is judicially put to death.". "A society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken somebody else's life is simply immoral."

          2) Pope Pius XII; "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.

          3) Theodore Roosevelt: " . . . among the very rare occasions when anything governmental or official caused me to lose sleep were times when I had to listen to some poor mother making a plea for a criminal so wicked, so utterly brutal and depraved, that it would have been a crime on my part to remit his punishment.".

          4) John Murray: "Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life." "... it is this same atrophy of moral fiber that appears in the plea for the abolition of the death penalty." "It is the sanctity of life that validates the death penalty for the crime of murder. It is the sense of this sanctity that constrains the demand for the infliction of this penalty. The deeper our regard for life the firmer will be our hold upon the penal sanction which the violation of that sanctity merit." (Page 122 of Principles of Conduct).

          5) John Locke: "A criminal who, having renounced reason... hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or tyger, one of those wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security." And upon this is grounded the great law of Nature, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." Second Treatise of Civil Government.

          6) Billy Graham: "God will not tolerate sin. He condemns it and demands payment for it. God could not remain a righteous God and compromise with sin. His holiness and His justice demand the death penalty." ( "The Power of the Cross," published in the Apr. 2007 issue of Decision magazine ).

          7) Jean-Jacques Rousseau: "In killing the criminal, we destroy not so much a citizen as an enemy. The trial and judgments are proofs that he has broken the Social Contract, and so is no longer a member of the State." (The Social Contract).

          8) Saint (& Pope) Pius V: "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

          "Killing Equals Killing: The Amoral Confusion of Death Penalty Opponents"

          "The Death Penalty: Neither Hatred nor Revenge"

          "Moral/ethical Death Penalty Support: Christian and secular Scholars"

          "The Death Penalty: Not a Human Rights Violation"

      •  "Thou Shalt Not Kill" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rigcath, winsock, noweasels

        works for me.

        Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Monkeys kill people too, if they have guns.

        by DaNang65 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:02:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Jesus and the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

      God/Jesus: ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.’ Matthew 15:4

      This is a New Testament command, which references several of the same commands from God, in the same circumstance, from the OT.

      Jesus: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Jesus) replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43

      It is not the nature of our deaths, but the state of salvation at the time of death which is most important.

      Jesus: “So Pilate said to (Jesus), “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered (him), “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.” John 19:10-11

      The power to execute comes directly from God.

      Jesus: “You have heard the ancients were told, ˜YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court”. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca”, shall be guilty before the supreme court and whoever shall say, “You fool”, shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.” Matthew 5:17-22.

      Fiery hell is a considerable more severe sanction than any earthly death.

      The Holy Spirit,  God, through the power and justice of the Holy Spirit, executed both Ananias and his wife, Saphira. Their crime? Lying to the Holy Spirit – to God – through Peter. Acts 5:1-11.

      No trial, no appeals, just death on the spot.

      God: “You shall not accept indemnity in place of the life of a murderer who deserves the death penalty; he must be put to death.” Numbers 35:31 (NAB) full context

      For murder, there is no mitigation from a death sentence.

      God: Genesis 9:5-6, from the 1764 Quaker Bible, the only Quaker bible.

      5 And I will certainly require the Blood of your Lives, and that from the Paw of any Beast: from the Hand likewise of Man, even of any one’s Brother, will I require the Life of a Man.

      6 He that sheds Man’s Blood, shall have his own shed by Man; because in the Likeness of God he made Mankind.

      Of all the versions/translations, this may be the most unequivocal - Murder requires execution of the murderer. It is a command. The Noahic covenant if for all persons and all times.


      "All interpretations, contrary to the biblical support of capital punishment, are false. Interpreters ought to listen to the Bible’s own agenda, rather than to squeeze from it implications for their own agenda. As the ancient rabbis taught, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your Creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33.). Part of Synopsis of Professor Lloyd R. Bailey’s book Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says, Abingdon Press, 1987.

      Saint (& Pope) Pius V, "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

      Pope Pius XII: "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.

      "Moral/ethical Death Penalty Support: Christian and secular Scholars"

      Christianity and the death penalty

      Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty,

      •  Oh so now you use the bible to justify the (0+ / 0-)

        intentional and deliberate taking of another human being's life? That is your religious point of view and you are free to hold that point of view, but you are not free to use your religious beliefs to try and dictate the law. Not everyone and not every christian have the same religious beliefs as you.

        The bible is so chock full of hypocrisy, left, right and center, and you can cherry pick all you like, but you lose all credibility in this particular discussion by trying to justify the death penalty as "moral and christian".

        "On this train, dreams will not be thwarted, on this train faith will be rewarded" The Boss

        by mindara on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:26:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And besides, the Bible was used to justify SLAVERY (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and I don't think even mr sharp believes that it should be so (ab)used.

          If it's
          Not your body,
          Then it's
          Not your choice
          And it's
          None of your damn business!

          by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:35:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As well as polygamy, honor killings, stonings.... (0+ / 0-)

            The list just goes on and on and on...cherry picking and hypocrisy, kind of like how the GOP only defends parts of the Constitution and pisses all over the rest of it. Sigh...another year, same old shit :)

            "On this train, dreams will not be thwarted, on this train faith will be rewarded" The Boss

            by mindara on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 03:55:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  No Christian justification necessary (0+ / 0-)

          for me. Nor attempting to replace civil law with theology.

          I was, as you could see, responding to another post.

          It is important for some folks and the evidence is overwhelming for Christian support of the death penalty.

          Those were the only points.

          No credibility lost here. Just a recognition of the facts with evidence. Important to combine those two.

  •  I don't think formal maximum sentences should... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dpc, lyvwyr101, Flying Goat, theboz

    go beyond a few decades. If someone proves to be a continuing danger at that point, they can continue to be kept away. But the idea that there's anything gained from a societal or personal standpoint after a few decades is nonsense. Extra time is simply gratuitous. It doesn't deter anyone who was somehow willing to accept losing 25 years of their life but not 35. Nothing extra is learned from the experience. Hope and humanity are simply stolen because we like big numbers and extra everything.

    "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

    by 2020adam on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:49:55 AM PST

    •  Indeterminate sentences suck (4+ / 0-)

      for a variety of reasons.
      I think society has the right to put someone way for life without parole as a prtective measure for society. I think there are people who deserve the maximum, the Aurora shooter comes to mind.
      The 21 year sentence off Brevik  in Norway for murdering 73 children, hunting them down and murdering as many as he could, is a flatout travesty of justice. And don't tell me they can keep him in longer---that a mounts to an inderminate sentence.  You'll see the SOB walking around again and he has NEVER recanted or charged his thinking.

      I think life without parole is the sufficent alternative for the death penalty and furthermore if youre really intent on ending the death penalty in the US, its the only viable alternative Americns will accept. A couple of decades for mass murderers will never fly here in the US

      Happy just to be alive

      by exlrrp on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:06:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A bit of a digression, but... (5+ / 0-)

        I'm not a fan of "without parole," frankly. A criminal justice system serves two purposes, IMO: protection of the innocent, and rehabilitation of the guilty. The former takes precedence over the latter, granted, but, ideologically speaking, I do not believe it is ever appropriate for the courts to write off the possibility that the guilty can be rehabilitated.

        That doesn't mean it will always work, of course. There are certainly people out there who can never be made to feel remorse for their actions. In those cases, a life sentence may be understandable, even if I'd argue that it's still problematic, for the same reason you suggest: it's indeterminate. Quantify the punishment, even if you ultimately end up with a number that is functionally equivalent to a life sentence (100+ years). But, regardless, don't close the door on the possibility that the criminal can be returned as a functioning participant in society. Establish a way to judge that, and be as stringent as you'd like. Even if it winds up as little more than a symbolic gesture, that symbolism is important.

        •  Sorry, I don't think so (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sandbox, misslegalbeagle, O112358

          First I think that life without parole is the only alternative youre going to put to the American people that they'll listen to. I'm really sure that going back to indeterminate sentences---which were found unwieldy--- is not going to woo the American people away from the death sentence.

          Punishment should be drastic and in extreme cases, final. When youve done something so far beyond the pale---like Breivik or Holmes, whatever benefit society might get from a reformed mass murderer does not outweigh the potential threat. throw their sorry asses in jail and throw away the key! is it tough on them? Good!

          I have come to finally reject the death penalty because I think spending the rest of your life locked up with the worlds worst assholes is a worse punishment than a quick and merciful death. It wold be so for me.  I think you can convince the Americn people of that. I don't think youre going to convince them to get rid of the death penalty by saying really bad people might be walkig around society again.

          Happy just to be alive

          by exlrrp on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:40:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a weak argument, though (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cv lurking gf, 4Freedom

            "People won't accept it" isn't much of a case. People, it was said, wouldn't accept torture as a military tactic. Until the previous administration illustrated that a lot of people did accept it, under the right circumstances with the right (wrong) arguments. Lots of countries that no longer utilize the death sentence or life without parole and no longer do so once treated public executions as popular social events. Public opinion can and does change. If a particular idea I happen to support is politically unpopular, all that tells me is that more campaigning is in order.

            In terms of the moral argument, though, I strongly maintain that the entire basis of a criminal justice system in a free society depends on the possibility of rehabilitation. To decide that a person is irredeemable in advance of even making that attempt is intellectually unsupportable. But then, I don't think protecting the innocent is the point, even if it's the most commonly stated justification. Even you frame it all in light of what is "worse punishment" (and I do agree with you in your evaluation). The problem is that punishment should not actually be a primary goal of criminal justice. It should never be treated as anything more than a means to the two legitimate ends of such a system: protection of the innocent and rehabilitation of the guilty. If a person is a continuing threat to society after however many years, then keep them imprisoned. But make that decision after those years have passed, based on evidence, not preemptive based on the very sort of retributive "justice" that's more common to barbarism than a supposedly modern, liberal civilization,

          •  exlrrp, murderers disagree with you (0+ / 0-)

            about 99.7% of whom prefer life over death.

            99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"

    •  life sentences (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      do send a message about the crime, which matters.

      I would agree tho that it makes little odds to a particular criminal, and that he won't (probably) gain from 35 rather than 25 inside.  So, say LIFE and yet have as good a parole system as you can set up?

      •  That should be quantifiable (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You're getting to the idea of punishment as deterrence, right? The problem is that it's not actually clear that execution is effective as a deterrent. Circumstantially, it does not appear to be the case that jurisdictions with a tendency towards execution see less violent crime than anywhere else. And some studies have been performed indicating that whie certainty of punishment has a deterrent effect (how likely is someone to get away with a crime), severity of punishment (how badly will said person be punished if s/he is caught) has only a marginal effect at best. See, if you're interested.

        •  I am not in favour of execution EVER (0+ / 0-)

          so not sure what your point is

          If you say taking a life = we will lock the taker up for X years, you lose the law+order lobby.  Make it = lock up the taker for life, and gloss over the parole, you get more public support - and you probably don't actually put the man away for more than X.  The perpetrator has to face the possibility of life inside.

          And I agree, certainty of punishment matters.  Most killers are caught here  in the UK - but then we have a smaller number to catch than you.  

          Last execution in the 1960s but don't underestimate the huge popular support for hanging, alas. Against the law, and forbidden (in effect) by the EU.

          •  Agreeing with you, actually (0+ / 0-)

            Call it a meditation on a theme. I didn't mean to sound like I was taking issue.

            The only real issue I have with life imprisonment is semantic. For a variety of reasons, I would rather all sentences be strictly defined in number of years. If it's necessary to lock someone up for the rest of his or her life, then choose a sufficiently high number (130+ years, or whatever). And while I think the possibility of parole is important, I don't think it needs to be emphasized, necessarily. I just don't want that option removed entirely.

  •  The death penalty is (15+ / 0-)

    one of the few issues where I just can't be flexible or open-minded. Deliberately ending another human's life is an absolute, moral wrong, whether it's done by a private citizen or by the state. We can go back and forth about the relative economic costs of death row and life imprisonment, or about the relative perfection or imperfection of the justice system--ultimately, however, the state simply does not have the moral authority to decide between life and death.

    •  I don't understand why it is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misslegalbeagle, bluelaser2

      morally wrong for a pre-meditated murderer like Brevik to receive the death penalty.

      The diary above cites the cost to the justice system of carrying out the death penalty, racial and economic circumstances of those sentenced, the quality of legal counsel for the defense--all relevant points. However none of this applies to Brevik's case, other than maybe the cost to the system.

      IMO it is morally wrong not to give Brevik the death penalty--the dead victims, their families and friends, and Norweigan society deserves to see just revenge carried out in this case.  

      •  This is the exception that proves the rule. (5+ / 0-)

        Brevik is far from typical. If you look at the people presently on death row in the US, very very few of the cases are as clear. Or as notorious. That's why there are so many exonerations. And that's why there's a risk  of executing somebody who's innocent.

        •  Not by any means an exception (0+ / 0-)

          You cant turn on the TV or go to a general news website without reading about some crazy bastard doing some super crazy super evil thing.

          The news is filled with examples of CLEAR cases of people committing these acts.

          In-fact most of these people don't get death sentences.  The rate of these clear examples of terrible terrible people doing terrible actions is much higher than that of death sentences.

      •  Interesting (6+ / 0-)

        you're classifying vengeance as moral.

        There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

        by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:53:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Have you suffered from a murder? (6+ / 0-)

        I have encountered a few, very few, who do want revenge, but most, including me, feel it only adds to the pain. I would hesitate to respond so to another who has lost someone to murder, but I do not want those who have not to take up the cause without knowing or understanding my feelings. I believe most other families of murder victims feel the same.

        "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

        by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:27:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My family sort of has (4+ / 0-)

          It was a drunk driver who was on drugs and driving angry.  He got away with it.  For me, his death would not be as satisfying as a way of forcing empathy on him where he completely understands how we feel.

          •  That's part of my argument against the death (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            4Freedom, mindara

            penalty. I want the time so that the murderer may one day understand the pain we suffer. I'm sorry about the accident. From a similar experience, I'll say the driver is probably either suffering more from guilt, or living a fractured life blocking the memory and responsibility.

            Peace to you.

            "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

            by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:52:08 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  In our society, the victim of a crime (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cv lurking gf

          doesn't get to determine the penalty--although they can certainly have an opinion.  Society, thru the justice system, makes that determination.

          •  Actually, when I went to court for the accident (0+ / 0-)

            that cut off my foot, the prosecutor asked if I wanted the driver to do time and how long if so, as that was possible within the guidelines.

            "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

            by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:50:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I have. And I reject the death penalty (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cv lurking gf, Zinman, mindara

          and torture.

          I've also been raped.

          Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

          by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:01:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's not always about revenge or vengeance with (0+ / 0-)

          the families of murder victims.
             Sometimes it's as simple as seeing and hearing the evidence brought forth during the course of the trial that proves beyond any inkling of any doubt that the defendant exceeds the evil you have perceived them to be and puts them in the realm of epitomizing all that is evil.
             I had to hear testimony about how the fuck that killed my kid made sure to place 2 x 4's beneath all exit doorknobs to ensure that no one in the house got out alive. That no one escaped. I saw the police photographs depicting this fact. That piece of shit had no idea of who was in the house, how many, if there were children inside, ect but was going in to kill whoever he found inside. That was his intent and that"s what he ultimately did.
             He got away with 7 other murders prior to this one and it was a double homicide- 9 people that I'm aware of. 9. Think he'll stop there, at 9? Think prison will magically transform him into something resembling a normal person? Think those within the prison system, inmates and guards alike should be subjected to such wanton evil violence from him?
             I don't.
             The law clearly states he can and will be executed, I have no problem with that. I am not a vengeful person, I just happened to have to sit through six weeks of hearing nothing but the details of one evil motherfuckers pathetic ass life and base my judgement on that. As did the jury that convicted and recommended that he be executed in accordance to law.
             As i stated a moment ago, now we're dealing with the possibility that my father in law was set on fire Friday night intentionally for the money in his pocket. A 85 paraplegic set on fire to rob him of $700-800- he's alive but the intent was to burn him to death.
             So, what do we do with someone who commits such an atrocity?
              I see no redeeming qualities in anyone dousing a wheelchair bound disabled elderly person in flammable liquid and setting them ablaze. None. I apologize to no one for thinking that such garbage be forever removed from the likes of humanity because quite frankly they do not deserve to be among us.

          "It's a dog eat dog world out there, and I am wearing Milkbone underwear." Norm Peterson

          by playtonjr on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:19:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry for your pain (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cv lurking gf, Zinman

            And this is the reason why victims and victims' families are not the ones who execute "justice" on behalf of society. You're in no position to act rationally, and no one would expect you to.

            "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

            by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:35:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nor would I want that responsibility. I left that (0+ / 0-)

              in the hands of the jury who used present law to decide to execute him.
                 Not my decision to make. Am I glad that is the one they made? Oh hell yes.
                 Now I know this evil piece of shit has no chance to further his body count upon other inmates or staff within the prison system. Death row is single cell and he has no chance whatsoever of killing another person, damn right I'm cool with that.
                 What I wouldn't have been cool with is life without parole,ie, a lifetime to prey upon other inmates and staff.

              "It's a dog eat dog world out there, and I am wearing Milkbone underwear." Norm Peterson

              by playtonjr on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:54:53 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  cv lurking - murder victims feelings (0+ / 0-)

          I have spoken to many murder victim survivors.

          Likely, what I have heard the most is that the execution of the murderer means that the murderer can never harm, again.

          The harm inflicted was so horrendous that they murderer should be given no chance to harm, again.

          In other words, compassion.

          Undoubtedly, revenge is a part of it for some folks, but in these cases it can only be just revenge, for them, because it is based upon the due proces of law, wheeby the system determines what the just sanction is, a state sanction just retribution, a just and proportional sanction under law, removed from revenge, because the family members do not determine the sanction or the infliction of it.

          Based upon a very limited amount of anecdotal evidence, it appears that death penalty support by family members who lost a loved one to capital murder is about 95%.

      •  it is morally wrong (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        4Freedom, Scientician, rigcath, Munchkn, Zinman

        because the evidence of bias and corruption in our legal system is too copious to ignore.

        if we are not 100% certain that everyone gets a fair trial every time and that guilt is 100% known every time, we should not be employing the death penalty at any time.

        Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

        by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:31:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  "Just revenge" is not a single concept. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melfunction, Munchkn, mindara

        And a just criminal justice system is not empowered to exact revenge, however appropriate everyone may feel it to be. The same logic is applied to free speech issues: groups like the ACLU have, on occasion, defended organizations like the KKK on the principle that you must protect the right of free speech even when you find the speech itself morally indefensible. It's important not to invest the judiciary with the power to exact revenge, because revenge is a highly personal, and variable, matter. Brevik's victims may well deserve revenge, but the criminal justice system only has the power to ensure that justice is served (Brevik never hurts anyone again). It has no power to satisfy anyone's desire for revenge.

        Which is simply a longer-winded way of saying that it's not about what Brevik (or anyone else) does or not deserve. It's about what it is appropriate for the judicial system/government/society.

    •  That's where I come from on this issue (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, seancdaug, 4Freedom, Munchkn, mindara
      Deliberately ending another human's life is an absolute, moral wrong, whether it's done by a private citizen or by the state.
    •  self defense? (0+ / 0-)

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:12:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  State sanctioned killing is an assertion that the (13+ / 0-)

    state is superior to the individual person. It is, of course, entirely consistent with a Constitution which initially made legal the buying and selling of humans and which still denies children, as the property of their parents, their human rights.
    Legislative efforts to define the moment of human existence and to deny the bodily integrity of the female person are also consistent with the claim to authority under the umbrella of the "rule of law."
    That the law is inevitably just is a convenient fiction, allowing law makers to deny responsibility for the abusive behavior it "demands." The law, like money, has long been used as an instrument of subordination and subjugation. We should not be surprised that authoritarians, such as Justice Anthony Kennedy, are enthusiastic proponents of the rule of law. It lets them threaten and order killing without being responsible or shouldering the obligation for the deed. Just like Pontius Pilate, the proponents of the rule of law can wash their hands.
    Why do the majority of the people go along? Habit and tradition likely have much to do with it. Also, there's the "let George do it" syndrom of assigning the dirty work to someone else. Not to mention that killing killers satisfies a primitive inclination towards revenge.
    And, finally, there's the fact that some things are worse than death. Everyobdy dies, eventually. Dying sooner rather than later doesn't seem so bad, compared to a lifetime of abuse, which our death-addled culture seems to accept with considerable equanimity.

    The real moral failing, as I see it, is in ordering someone to kill another in cold blood. The official executioner is the icon of the culture of obedience. And the culture of obedience is where evil resides. Obedience is a virtue, but exacting it is perverse.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:11:51 AM PST

  •  Two weeks ago a nice young man... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, aseth, misslegalbeagle

    college student...left his job at a community center to go home for the evening.  Four young toughs confronted him in the parking lot and he gave them everything he had...a billfold containing $10 and his half-eaten sandwich.   They told him to get back into his auto and he apparently froze in fear.  So, because he "dis-obeyed me" one of the toughs shot the young man in the head and killed him.  As the story unfolded, the toughs had unsuccessfully stalked several other victims earlier.  

    I think all four ought to be fried in hot oil.  I do not care about their upbringing or psychological problems or economic status.  

    Economics aside, the world is better off if some people no longer walk it.    

    The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

    by Persiflage on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:25:20 AM PST

    •  Well then you and I disagree (6+ / 0-)

      and I'll take it from your statement about "fried in hot oil" that you're against the Constitution of these United States of America.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:51:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, I'm not...but you can think anything you like (0+ / 0-)

        if it makes you feel good.  I have zero compassion for people who commit horrific, senseless crimes and for psychopaths who wreak havoc on society at large...but usually on women and children.

        And yes, you and I disagree.  I would have to view each situation on it's various circumstances to say we disagree completely, but broadly...yes, we disagree.

        The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

        by Persiflage on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:41:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  And once these poster boys (7+ / 0-)

      for the death penalty are finished off, there are thousands more where the cases are not so clear, where the justice system fails, and where very few people ever hear about it or pay attention. Once society decides to kill its people some standard must be established for it, and at that point people start slipping through the cracks. And that's where we are now.

      It's already gotten bad enough for some states to put a moratorium on it after seeing that they'd probably already killed some innocent people, while other states just try to bury the evidence and go on killing.

      There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

      by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:59:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I'm sure that's so... (0+ / 0-)

        and our justice system is a reflection of the dysfunction in our government.  When police can pepper spray people who are peacefully assembled..or do cavity searches...and so on...things are out of hand.  Other than doing the best we can at the polling booth, how do you suggest we change things?

        The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

        by Persiflage on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:47:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  To the extent that the gov't (0+ / 0-)

          is dysfunctional, and applying pressure to the politicians in office proves insufficient, the polling booth seems to be our method for changing things.

          There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

          by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:06:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  hmm (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seancdaug, mindara

      And how will you know the police got the right four guys, and not just any four guys they don't like and wanted to get off the street?

      Even if they confess, police are notoriously good at wringing false confessions out of suspects, particularly by threatening them with the death penalty unless they confess!

      See here.

    •  Retribution (0+ / 0-)

      I'm shocked by cold-blooded murder you just described, but what you suggested as a punishment for the murderer and his accomplices (only one of them actually killed the college kid, right?) is, frankly, horrifying. Thankfully, criminal justice system isn't and shouldn't be based on this kind of anger and retribution - ie, frying people in hot oil with no regard for their humanity.

      "In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction." -Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

      by rigcath on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:50:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What humanity? (0+ / 0-)

        They lost theirs when they stalked and then pulled the trigger.  

        The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

        by Persiflage on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 04:50:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The only time (18+ / 0-)

    it is acceptable to take a life is when it is done in direct, timely defense of another: an innocent person will die if you do not act.
    I oppose the death penalty in all circumstances.

    "Everything I do is blown out of proportion. It really hurts my feelings." - Paris Hilton

    by kestrel9000 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:59:52 AM PST

  •  State sanctioned revenge that has swept up (10+ / 0-)

    innocent people.

    Not in my name, ever, and we will not be worthy of being called a civilized society as long as it still is sanctioned.

    We are all too eager to exact vengeance, yet are unwilling to spend the money to ensure that we have the right person, to provide them with the best defense money can buy and then be humane where inhumanity has been perpetrated.

    I do stand resolute in removing the violent from society, at the same time fixing the foundations of that violence.

    I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.…We're better than this. We must do better. Cmdr Scott Kelley

    by wretchedhive on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:38:43 AM PST

  •  I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases. (18+ / 0-)

    And I have defended a death penalty case. But when I've written about this punishment here, there's always been a cadre of people who argued for it.  These arguments always have a very high level of abstraction, and the supposedly illuminating examples are always people like Hitler or OBL.  

    Problem is there are more than 3,000 people on death row in the US and very few of their cases are clear. At all. Many are a complete mess: highly disadvantaged defendants (the poor, minorities, mental health issues, developmental disabilities), terribly conducted trials (bad lawyering on both sides), unreliable testimony (jail house snitches, testimony by potentially charged people, grudges), false confessions (like the Central Park Jogger case), the list goes on and on. Most people here would be offended if they received this kind of trial for a parking ticket. They'd say their due process rights were violated. But the philosophical abstractions about death and taking life seems to overwhelm the commonsensical in this discussion: nobody wants to kill an innocent person. And when you have trials like most on death row, that risk is quite high.


    •  The Death Penalty in reality operates much (10+ / 0-)

      differently than it operates in most people's heads.

      Perhaps in some parallel universe, the death penalty works, and it's administered in a fair way.

      In these United States, though, it's a process where only the poor are killed, where a person's inability to retain counsel is what sends him to the gurney, and where corruption underlies nearly every part of the process.

      In reality, we parse out justice using impermissible factors and we kill the people that society failed a dozen times along the way. And to make matters worse, we do it in a way that's cruel and ceremonial. Men executed at 11PM because some minute legal technicality kept their appeal from being heard. Or worse, a court not even reviewing their appeal before handing down a boilerplate ruling (I'm looking at you, 5th Circuit COA).

      We use a chemical combination that vets won't even use on dogs. And the people in charge of providing this "justice" are so calloused toward life that having them in charge is downright scary. One assistant AG from Texas spoke to my class and claimed that last-minute appeals from death row inmates were "in a way disrespectful." I can't think of anything more human than a person doing everything in his power to save or prolong his own life. But there I sat, listening to a man who kills people for a living, talking about the "dishonor" in filing an execution day appeal (and making that argument in the classroom of a professor who files those appeals).

      The death penalty is out of sight, out of mind for most people. And my theory is that when they vote "yes" for it, they're supporting the cleaned-up version they have created in their minds. Black and white notions of good and evil - where the killer must be a "bad guy" and the state full of "good guys." All people who kill have done something immeasurably horrible, but in 90%+ of the cases that end in the death penalty, we are dealing with a killer who was psychologically damaged by no fault of his own at a very early age. Does this excuse his actions? No. But it does help explain them. And if we have created a society and an economic system where it is so easy for young children to be raised in those devastating environments, then we have to admit that our system must accept a small portion of the blame.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:02:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you, Grizzard, for what you do. (5+ / 0-)

        I'm in complete agreement with you on this. I have advocated for death row inmates, because I believe the death penalty to be wrong. There is actually an international network of people who do such advocacy for American inmates.

        For many around the world, our use of the death penalty is a horror they feel they must weigh in on. I'm grateful that they do this.

        The sooner this nation can restore the sanction on the death penalty, the better.

        Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.,

        by 4Freedom on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:54:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder (4+ / 0-)

        If like how "24" fucked with many people's perception of the utility of torture, if "Law and Order" doesn't portray a mystical vision of prosecutors.  Jack and his cadre of ADAs aren't perfect, but they make sound and defendable decisions based on the evidence at hand, they are attentive and concerned with justice, and none of them seems ever willing to roast someone who may not deserve it just to further their careers.  When evidence shows someone is not guilty, they release them and drop charges.

        Their defendants also always seem to have able lawyers (even the public defenders are quick witted and eager to exploit every advantage in service of their clients, know their briefs and can cite relevant case law from memory).

        It's a nice fantasy, but like you say, the reality of prosecutors is that some of them are fucking assholes who don't actually care that a defendant might be innocent.  

        •  Even worse, the reality is that many (5+ / 0-)

          defense attorneys don't care either.

          "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

          by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:06:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  All true (4+ / 0-)

          and I think it goes one further. Sure, there are some bad guys as DAs (and some decent ones). But we also provide incentives and empower this mindset. DAs who are elected get rewarded for conviction numbers because the public is either stupid or doesn't know/care. We have designed a system where a DA might actually be hurt politically by acting in the right and reasonable way. It doesn't help that certain types of people self-select into DA jobs. By certain types, I mean a lot of power-hungry types.

          It should be stated that I don't believe all DAs are ugly, stupid, and corrupt. But you'd have to be blind to ignore that these qualities describe a large number.

          "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

          by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:10:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Grizzard, did you fact check the vet claims? (0+ / 0-)

        Veterinary Claims a Distortion of Reality: Human Lethal Injection

  •  i believe society has a right to assign the death (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    penalty to certain people who commit certain acts...i don't have a moral problem with this

    Howard Fineman needs to have a chat with Chris Cilizza about Grecian Formula and its effects on punditry

    by memofromturner on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:27:37 AM PST

    •  Just make sure that you know (7+ / 0-)

      that this means you support a system that is, in practice, racist, prone to mistakes, and calloused toward life. By empowering the death penalty machine as it is run by modern human beings on this day, you are guaranteeing the loss of additional innocent life.

      If you are morally comfortable with this, then that's your right.

      I'm not concerned with a person's idealistic views on what rights he believes society has. I'm concerned with the death penalty in all of its realistic glory. And I think you should be aware that your quixotic notions of society's rights to kill are not implicated in the modern day death penalty.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:05:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you do this every time you vote (0+ / 0-)
        you support a system that is, in practice, racist, prone to mistakes, and calloused toward life.
        By empowering the death penalty machine as it is run by modern human beings on this day, you are guaranteeing the loss of additional innocent life.
        i'm doing this by disagreeing with you? huh...
        And I think you should be aware that your quixotic notions of society's rights to kill are not implicated in the modern day death penalty.
        this needs a re-write

        Howard Fineman needs to have a chat with Chris Cilizza about Grecian Formula and its effects on punditry

        by memofromturner on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:45:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  How about declaring an evil person outlaw (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    --which originally meant "outside the law's protection"?

    Which means the victim's relatives/friends can choose to forgive him or not.  They make the decision on whether he lies or dies.

    We execute people because some people deserve to die.  If you look at that rape case in India, the rapists/murderers deserve to die screaming in agony.   No parent should have to tolerate the continued existence of someone who treated their daughter in this matter.  

    Society delivers justice in exchange for people not pursuing private vengance.

    And India is not the exception -- California has kept several heinous serial killers alive for decades on appeal.
    Look at the Wikipedia entries for serial rapists/murderers Randy Steven Kraft and William Bonin --who not only raped young boys  but also sadistically tortured them in horrible ways  before murdering them.

    There is no question that the justice system in places like Texas has been badly broken in the past , may still be broken in some places and needs to be fixed.   But the need to ensure the innocent are not sent to prison or Death Row does not mean we should let evil live.

    We should emulate India in moving to ensure justice is not only severe --but that it is swift as well.    The Colorado Theater murderer James Holmes should be tried swiftly , his appeals expedited and then, if found guilty , executed instead of being maintained for decades by the taxpayers.  To deter any other such vicious scum.

    •  No human being (7+ / 0-)

      deserves to die screaming in agony. Sorry. We differ on that. If that makes you someone I have to defeat politically, then so be it.

      There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

      by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:20:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow. I was talking with a friend last night (5+ / 0-)

      about some problems at work. The head of a department wanted to move her assistant to a smaller room, almost a closet. His rationale was that when he was at that level he had a miserable little space. He sent that by email, so she could not respond as she wanted. She wants to tell him to behave as an adult, that just because he suffered as an undergrad is not justification that undergrads should suffer similarly now. I realize this sounds petty when we're discussing life. It's applicable. When another is murdered, say, an eight year old strangled, the throat partially cut by the tool used - to use violence as punishment, even to a lesser amount, reveals a stunted personality, one in need of counseling on how to live among others. To believe that it should be used merits self examination. I think we need to truly consider our motivations. Are we really reflecting our own beliefs? Please let the killing stop, whether on the street or officially sanctioned.

      "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

      by cv lurking gf on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:45:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The death penalty as a deterrent (8+ / 0-)

      That is rich.

      And debunked, repeatedly.

      I also can't imagine what could go wrong with a court that's mandated to "expedite" appeals.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:50:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  uhm (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Munchkn, mindara
      To deter any other such vicious scum.
      Most mass killers seem to want to be killed by police during their crimes, and often commit suicide once they run low on ammo or victims.  What makes you think there is any possibility of deterring such people?  They're almost by definition, not sane, so they don't respond predictably to incentives and disincentives like you might imagine.   For all we know, some of them might relish the death penalty.  The death penalty didn't seem to dissuade Tim McVeigh, who seemed to think himself a martyr for his cause.

      Yeah, and the "swifter" you make the process the more innocent people you'll put to death unjustly.

  •  So-the state (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, seancdaug, 4Freedom, Munchkn, mindara

    and the business community realize a profit from the death-penalty?

    What a surprise.


    I have long been opposed to the death-penalty---and would love to see it thrown out---as it is in most civilized nations.

    The Onion says----scholars have discovered---the Mayan word for "Apocalypse" in fact---translates more accurately as: "Time of pale obese gun monsters."

    by lyvwyr101 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:46:54 AM PST

  •  In a small # of cases... (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know if there is a choice.   I say this because I believe that the death penalty is astonishingly over used, and people go to the death penalty who should not.   I believe that to be unthinkable.

    That having been said, I believe there are a small number of cases in which the death penalty is the only truly humane option for the prisoner and for the other inmates.

    I think in the end the solution is to take some of this power away from the states and move it to a federal issue.  

    Serial murderers, egregious crimes of violence, and mass killers would be the definition of the rule.

    I say this because I think there is a point where some people stop being.. people.   Something in them has gone so wrong that they are a threat not just to society as a whole, but to the successful rehabilitation of another prisoner.   It's true that they can likely never be rehabilitated, but their existence in a prison is bad for other prisoners.

    I think of Jeffrey Dahmer with that.. 18 dead that we know of, but it was the way in which they died.  When mixed with prison population, other prisoners ended up killing him.

    Several reported that just his existence in the same prison with them obstructed their ability to think.. numerous inmates reported nightmares, sickness, uneasiness.   Was having him in the same prison as them fair.. to the other prisoners?   I don't know.

    The state, in the end, does several things that are not necessarily moral.. this is the weird thing conservatives seem to miss when they demand a totally moral government.  

    We should work as hard as we can to completely minimize the number of death penalty cases and those on death row, many of which may find rehabilitation or at least a long life doing something as an example.

    But for that select few, I tend to think keeping them alive may be far more inhumane then letting them go.  To them and society as a whole.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:55:50 AM PST

    •  Interesting argument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think you may be on to something, too, but I worry about the practicality of it all. Despite a bunch of us going on about the inherent morality (or lack thereof) of state-sanctioned execution, Grizzard spends much of his actual diary grounded in the real world. Intellectually, your argument makes sense (sometimes execution is more humane than the alternatives), but it seems just as open to race and class-based abuse as what we have now, if not more so.

      •  What stands out to me (0+ / 0-)

        Is that almost all of your serial killers and mass murderers have been white.   Timothy McVeigh.  Ted Bundy.  Etc.

        Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

        by Chris Reeves on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:08:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  the problem (4+ / 0-)

      With the "just for the worst criminals" approach is that every ambitious prosecutor and elected Judge wants to believe they are prosecuting the next Ted Bundy, the next Tim McVeigh.  They will seek out cases they can portray this way, and inevitably expand the definition of the "worst" criminals will be expanded into areas not intended.

      Alternatively when a gruesome crime happens, the police will be very very eager to make an arrest, and often fixate on innocent people in the wrong place or "suspicious" for other reasons, and some poor innocent sap gets pinned for the crime.

      I rarely make slippery slope arguments, but this is the real experience of the death penalty.  The incentives for the officials involved are toward death.

      •  I think this is why (0+ / 0-)

        As I say, you'd have to get an outside prosecution (federal) to really address those, it ends the local politics.  

        I think the difficulty with this, for me, is that there is no "perfect" argument either pro or con.

        Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

        by Chris Reeves on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:42:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What settles it for me (0+ / 0-)

          Is that I can find no evidence of any real advantages to capital punishment.  It doesn't seem to have a deterrent effect, it doesn't save money, it doesn't speed victim family healing, what exactly is it accomplishing for all its risks and downsides?  

          •  And thus I go back to Dahmer (0+ / 0-)

            This is where I go back to cases where someone (a serial murderer) has been imprisoned with others.. and in the end, we put convicts in a position where instead of rehabilitation, numerous members were party to another crime, breaking the grounds for rehabilitating their lives and making them recidivists before they get out.

            Part of the responsibility of a justice system is to provide the opportunity for rehabilitation; there are some, and like I said, I believe that number to be very small, who's existence within a prison system deters rehabilitation.

            Society joked when people like Dahmer went to prison and we said "oh, someone will take care of him.." well, that did happen.   And does that make it a better system?   In the case of say, Timothy McVeigh, had he went to prison, the odds of him being killed in prison were high.

            Like I said, I get all of the arguments against, and a part of me believes most of them.   But there are some cases where an individual to me is beyond rehabilitation, has stopped really being human, and their existance is a harm to others trying to be rehabilitated.

            I don't think the death penalty is a deterent, definitely not to those criminals.  Part of the reason why the death penalty costs so much is the # of appeals because so many cases are on the line.   I don't remember a vast # of appeals for Ted Bundy or McVeigh.  In both of those cases, they were self-admitted mass murderers..

            Maybe there should be a "super exception"... like I said, I don't think there is a great answer for this.

            Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

            by Chris Reeves on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:01:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Someone like that is by definition not sane (0+ / 0-)

              even if they may present a facade of rationality.

              So the proper place would be an extreme high security mental hospital.

              If it's
              Not your body,
              Then it's
              Not your choice
              And it's
              None of your damn business!

              by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:50:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, lu3, 4Freedom, Munchkn
    "a mile wide, and an inch deep"
    I have never heard it put better than that, thank you.

    The 60% surprises me because it sounds very low.

    In the UK, where the death penalty was abolished decades ago, public opinion generally runs about 80% in favour of it's return.

    The UK Parliament usually has a free vote on the matter about every ten years. That vote, a combination of the entire political spectrum generally goes 80% the other way.

    MPs always justify their refusal to bow to public opinion by suggesting that we send them to parliament to make "informed decisions".

    They are correct, we do, and they vote down Capital Punishment every time, by a very wide margin.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:15:20 AM PST

    •  That 60%~ (5+ / 0-)

      is the result of a LOT of hard work. If you click on the Gallup link attached to that stat, you will see that we only got to 60% after a long period of decline in support. We are at a low point right now.

      It's only reached this point, in my view, because of three types of situations. First, there's stuff like Illinois, where they suspended the death penalty after the governor learned that during one period, the state had executed 11 people and let 12 people off of death row. That's a batting average under .500. This is a very high profile and powerful way to show the failings of the system.

      Second, there are cases like that of Carla Faye Tucker, who was a highly sympathetic and high-profile death row inmate. She was killed in a highly calloused way - with GWB laughing during her clemency hearing - and she was a born-again Christian.

      Third, all of the reports of us killing people like Rick Ray Rector have changed public opinion. This is the guy who Clinton used politically. He had a VERY low IQ and was famous for not eating his pie with his meal every night. While on death row, he claimed he wanted to save it for the next morning. After his last meal, he neglected to eat his pie, presumably "leaving it for tomorrow." Many believe he couldn't comprehend that he was about to be killed. And some of us have a problem with killing a person who is so mentally retarded that he can't understand you when you say, "Tonight, you will die."

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:24:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Opinion is quite evenly split in the UK (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm not sure where you're getting that 80% figure from, but I've seen several polls in the past few years that have shown opinion quite evenly split.

      For example there was poll done by YouGov last year that asked 'Would you support the death penalty for killing a police officer' and even for killing a police officer people were narrowly 44-42 against.

      YouGov did a special poll of under-25s and asked the same question. They found young people 61-22 against, so opposition will only grow in years to come.

      If I can shoot rabbits, then I can shoot fascists- Manic Street Preachers

      by Liberal Of Limeyland on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:00:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  US Support is really at 80% (0+ / 0-)

      When polls ask about truly death penalty eligible crimes, support is at 80%.

      US Death Penalty Support at 80%; World Support Remains High

  •  Trade the Death Penalty for Abortion and (0+ / 0-)

    let's go to Mars or save the planet something...

    Ride for the High Country

    by The Ex Cowboy on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:20:49 AM PST

  •  Thank you for this diary (6+ / 0-)

    I have always felt that the death penalty is barbaric, and that we as a society are better than this.  Thankfully, I live in Wisconsin where the death penalty still is banned.  I'm sure we have citizens and legislators who would like to implement it, but so far we have managed to resist going down that road.

    You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. - Wayne Gretsky

    by lu3 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:42:54 AM PST

  •  Very well-researched and articulated. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, mindara

    I was on the other side of this issue for years, but my mind was changed by--of all people--one of my close friends, who is a conservative Catholic Republican. He's insufferable on most issues of the day, but on this one, he turned me around, and I'm glad that he did.

    18, FL-07 (school), MD-07 (home). UCF sophomore, politically ambitious, vocally liberal--what else could you need to know?

    by tqycolumbia on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:20:30 AM PST

  •  the one argument for: plea leverage (0+ / 0-)

    I oppose it in all cases. But the one compelling argument I've heard for preserving it is the leverage it gives prosecutors. Now perhaps the danger of this leverage being misused to coerce confessions that result in life without parole sentences (and I'd wager there are a lot more innocent men with that sentence, about whom there is no "innocence project" than there are on death row).

    But it does seem to me that there is real value in having a bargaining chip to both encourage rapid resolution, and to encourage individuals to testify against their co-conspirators.

    I have not seen an argument against the death penalty that has addressed this concern. Perhaps that's because it is so obviously secondary to the moral issues involved, but the morality (as seen in the comments here) is not as cut and dried as the anti-death penalty absolutists (like myself) wish it were.

    •  Is plea leverage really an absolute good, though? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      4Freedom, Scientician, OffTheHill, mindara

      You even hint at it yourself when you point out that such leverage can be misused to coerce confessions. Why is it inherently more important to give prosecutors greater leverage, especially at the expense of the defendant? Personally, I'd think the opposite is the case, given that the ideological basis for our criminal justice system is "innocent until proven guilty."

      But even beyond that, I don't think it needs to be addressed because, as defined here, it's too nebulous. A similar argument could be made for repealing Amendment VIII. And, as with cruel and unusual punishment, once you address the reasons why prohibiting such activity is desirable, you've essentially already answered the question of why it's acceptable to reduce prosecution leverage.

      •  but the downside (0+ / 0-)

        I agree and acknowledge the concerns about abuse from police and prosecutors. But you have not addressed the other side of it, that there is some value in having leverage over defendants, to encourage testimony, to reduce court costs, to reduce the stress on the victims of their crimes.

        Now that must be weighed against the downsides, but I don't think it can be ignored either.

    •  Plea leverage (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seancdaug, OffTheHill, mindara

      Is frequently abused, and the existence of the death penalty, even if rarely used will result in more false confessions and innocent people sentenced to life behind bars for crimes they didn't commit, because they feared the death penalty more than a life sentence.

      •  not what frequently means (0+ / 0-)

        If the plural of anecdote is not data, certainly one anecdote is not either.

        Yes, we can all point to the relatively rare (compared to the total number of cases in the CJS) cases of misconduct. But I'd guess (completely pulled out of my butt, but I'd love data) that far more guilty people have been convicted on testimony secured from pleas than innocent people have plead guilty to crimes they did not commit.

  •  I'm someone who's baby sister was a victim (13+ / 0-)

    of a violent crime. A crime that I'm certain calls for the Death Penalty for her killer/s.

    She was murdered in 2001 and her killer remains unknown. Her killer began by beating her within an inch of her life and then tied 2 concrete blocks around her neck and tossed her into the Intercoastal Waterway while she was still breathing. She drowned and her body floated to the surface two days later. We may never have gotten her body back if not for that. She was a mother, a daughter, and my sister. She was someone who was loved very much by numerous people in her life. In my opinion, it rarely gets worse than that as far as violence goes. With that being said, I'm still against the Death Penalty being used against her killer. And there's always chance that the person charged may not be guilty of the crime.

    The Death Penalty is often used as revenge for the family and a feeling of moral superiority for the State at large. The Death Penalty normally doesn't work as a preventive measure either, which was it's intended purpose to start with. It's an excercise in bad policy and has only gotten slightly better with the use of DNA evidence. And how many innocent people were executed under our system before DNA was used? Too many I'm sure. 180+ have already been released from Death Row that are now considered innocent. And if only one of those were executed, then we have failed ourselves, and we've become something much worse in the end. Executing innocent people makes us no better as a nation than the killers that are known to be guilty. Somehow I can't get past that point myself. Even without that fact I strive to be better than that as a person. That's why I'm against the Death Penalty. Trying to explain that to my family and friends has been difficult to say the least. Even my Liberal/Progressive family and friends. That won't stop me from trying though. Thanks Grizzard.

    I don't have to be nice to people that are destroying my nation.

    by draa on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:33:30 AM PST

  •  The Moral Case For the Death Penalty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was going to comment on this here, but I posted a new diary instead.

    Out of my cold dead hands

    by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:37:07 AM PST

  •  Great diary, thanks. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seancdaug, mindara

    And thanks for highlighting the work of Sister Helen Prejean, on whom the 1990s movie with Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, "Dead Man Walking," was based. (I was just talking it up in another thread.)

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:31:25 AM PST

  •  Another if not THE reason to oppose (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, terrypinder, Munchkn

    As a life long progressive I waffled one way and then the other regarding the death penalty.  My epiphany came in 1989 as I watched the pro-death penalty demonstrators at Ted Bundy's execution.  That is when I came to realize that the evil inherent in the death penalty had nothing to do with the person being executed but with its affect on society and the kind of world progressives strive for.  Years later I discovered someone who elegantly stated my thinking.

    Bill Wiseman was a state representative in Oklahoma when the death penalty was restored and pushed for a "humane" method of execution which lead to Oklahoma becoming the first state using lethal injection.  Later in life he became an Anglican priest and an opponent of the death penalty.  I think he best expresses the reason why all progressives should oppose the death penalty in all cases.

    "I'm opposed to the death penalty because of what it does to us - not what it does to the person who dies," Wiseman says. "That's what it's all about. How it changes and identifies us as a society when we make a corporate decision to take a life. All that stuff about how it's incompetent or unfair, that's all very interesting, but it's not the point. The point is, we must not do this because it eats away at our soul."

  •  Against Catholic doctrine (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But opposing the death penalty doesn't get the GOP voters.

    And the data on reliability is abysmal. It isn't fair, and it doesn't work to deter crime.

    So tell me, why does it exist?

  •  Conflicted on this at time. Agree with the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    arguments in theory.  And think of the innocents who have been killed mistakenly or deliberately with the death penalty.  And know I don't want to take this risk of laws that will ever possibly do harm to an innocent.

    And then sometimes I think of Ted Bundy who escaped to just kill again, the firefighers killed by a murderer who was later released and on parole, and the men who violently attacked the woman in India recently and I can sometimes feel that the death penalty may actually be an act of mercy for society as a whole to cleanse itself of those who would, if they could, just do more harm.

    Norway, however, seems more civilized.

  •  Grizzard, first, you must fact check (0+ / 0-)

    Look at this like a legal case and discovery must be done.

    You cannot, simply, accept the standard anti death penalty nonsnense as if it were true.

    1) Race

    2) Cost

    3) Innocent lives


    Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

    a) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

    b) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

    99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"

    4) Death Penalty Support

    US Death Penalty Support at 80%; World Support Remains High

    •  I've fact-checked (5+ / 0-)

      I've studied under one of the country's experts on the death penalty. And I've worked with immensely talented people who deal with the death penalty every single day.

      I didn't wake up and discover the death penalty this morning. And you'll have to forgive me if I trust Dr. David Dow, he of Yale Law School and Rice University, Yale professor Stephen Bright, and a host of other skilled practitioners over the cut and pasted quotations from a blog site of a person I've never met.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:54:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Grizzard, they are, simply, wrong (0+ / 0-)

        No one but you can overcome blind obedience to error.

        That is why I said treat it as discovery. You must check everything.

        I hope you do  that.

        I used to be anti death penalty.

        The reality is that anti death penalty positions are either false or the pro death penalty positions are stronger.

      •  Grizzard, to be clear (0+ / 0-)

        I am not asking you to accept anything on faith. I am saying that you should not.

        I am saying fact check all information from both sides of this debate, including what Dow and Bright say.

        All I am asking for is a balanced field of consideration.

        That cannot occur without fact checking both sides.

        Based upon my factual rebuttal of most if not all of your points, and your non factual rebuttal of my comments, I can only hope that you will have the personal desire to fact check the anti death penalty material, just as I expect you to do for my side of the debate.

        The fact that you just try a personal denigration of my positions doesn't bode well for your objectivity. Only you can change that calculus.

        I fact checked all the material. So could you, if you had a desire to do so.

    •  those are nice links but (0+ / 0-)

      any chance you have another source?

      just a little bit bored.

      by terrypinder on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:11:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some valuable information there (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Especially in the race and cost categories, although I'd hesitate to call it especially conclusive. In particular, I think the problem with the argument that the death penalty is effectively race blind doesn't do enough to address context. Legally, the death penalty is not appropriate in all murder cases, and the African American murder rate is arguably itself a product of systemic bias. But I don't dismiss it out of hand, and I appreciate the citations there, especially.

      Your cost analysis is interesting, but it doesn't necessarily seem to contradict the point Grizzard has been making in these comments. The greater expense of execution, you say, is associated with the existence and maintenance of death row, and you argue that death row itself is unnecessary, that prisoners slated for execution can be maintained in normal Level IV or higher security conditions, coupled with the idea that if people were executed more quickly, it would cost less to maintain them during their incarceration (I'm summarizing, but please do correct me if I'm misunderstanding or misrepresenting your argument). But I'm not actually sure you bother to make an argument for that first case explicitly, and I'm not sure I accept the latter as a desirable goal in the first place. What you blithely pass off as "responsible death penalty protocol," I would argue is irresponsible and insufficient to prevent abuse. And you make a number of blanket claims that seem, at best, highly questionable:

      If we calculated the cost savings by having the death penalty, of a plea bargain to LWOP, only possible with the death penalty, such would be the cost of trial and appeals of a LWOPcase, deducted as a cost credit  to the death penalty side of the ledger and would result in a lesser net cost per death penalty case.

      This would reduce the average cost of a death penalty case by approximately $100,000.

      Do you have a reference for this figure? You may do, but I didn't catch it at first. Granting it, though, it strikes me as a bit close to sophistry, since you could just as easily make the argument that, absent the specter of the death penalty, plea bargains down from LWOP would provide similar savings. Indeed, you appear to make a similar argument when you argue that...
      The 2/3 of cases that do not receive the death penalty, in a death penalty trial, will still have appeals, but, most likely, not as extensive as cases receiving the death penalty. If these cases were given LWOP, then the appeals, incarceration and geriatric care costs will transferred to the LWOP side of the ledger.
      Why is this the case? The implication here seems to be that a defendant will appeal a case just to be disagreeable (or is it a money-related issue?). I'm not sure I'd just accept that, in the absence of the death penalty as an available sentence, everyone who would have fought their death penalty sentence will fight their LWOP sentence with just as much fervor. Even if it is true, I don't think the claim can be taken for granted.

      And, with due respect, I have even more significant issues with your "Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty" article.

      1. The idea that there have been no proven executed innocents in the US since the 1930s is sophistry, IMO: once a sentence has been completed and the convicted person is dead, there is little reason to, or system in place, to overturn that decision and exonerate the person. Most appeals are instigated by the convicted, and the convicted clearly is in no position to do so after he's been executed. So that figure is, at best, unreliable.
      2. A ridiculous non sequitur. There is an obvious difference between someone dying while serving their sentence, and someone being killed as a result of their sentence. The former is unfortunate, but not, by any reasonable measure, the state's fault. It may or may not have been preventable, but it was not by design or desire of the state. The latter is a deliberate act for which the state is responsible. Surely you can see the difference?
      3. I've actually referenced the same studies elsewhere today. But I don't see how it's particularly relevant. The argument isn't between killing them or releasing it, it's between killing them or keeping them locked up. Recidivism rates are only relevant if we're talking about escaped murderers (i.e., people who would have been imprisoned for homicide beforehand, as opposed to some lesser charge), and that number is vanishingly small, if not zero. I fail to understand why you bothered to bring it up.
      4. The inherent tension in your case is that you're arguing both that the DP system is acceptable because of the small-to-nonexistent false positive rate. But then you seem to be pushing for an extension of the death penalty to additional cases, and a streamlining of the process for existing ones. There seems to be, at the very minimum, a potential conflict between these two arguments that I think needs to be addressed.
      5. Pojman's article, which forms the entirety of your point here, is fraught with problems. I could go into extreme detail, but the most compelling issue is that he openly bases his case on "common sense" (concluding paragraph, pg. 281). But he spends much of the article excusing the fact that reality does not seem to conform to his "common sense" understanding (pg. 280), and, indeed, real studies have been performed indicating that the death penalty does not serve as an effective deterrent. There is no clear correlation between states that employ the DP frequently and homicide rates, a large majority of criminologists argue that it does not do so (Radelet, Lecock, 2009), and it may be that, after a point, increasing the severity of punishment ceases to have any significant deterrence effect at all (Wright, 2010). Pojman's thesis, that we don't need statistical evidence (i.e., proof) to justify the use of the death penalty as a deterrent because, well, we have common sense that tells us otherwise is ludicrous on its face, and I cannot begin to fathom how anyone in a supposedly "reality-based community" can take it seriously. When your theory doesn't correspond to reality, it's exceedingly rare that reality is at fault.
      6. The first arrow in your quiver, here, is again seemingly in contradiction with your earlier push for an expanded and streamlined process. "Enhanced due process" is precisely the problem that leads, say, California to spend so much on their death row inmates. Ultimately, the only effective way to reduce costs is to reduce or eliminate those enhancements. And your second point is another meaningless truism that doesn't, ultimately, even hold up to real world scrutiny. The recidivism rate of LWOP convicts is limited, exclusively, to those who have escaped from prison. And the number of such people who have done that are, ultimately, so small as to be considered a rounding error, albeit a potentially tragic one.
      7. This is a false dichotomy that borders on the insulting. This is fundamentally just as dishonest and misleading a statement as the ones you criticized pollsters for upthread (and I recommended that comment). Your contention that the relationship between sparing murderers and sparing innocents is fixed (or that it even exists in the here and now) is not proven, and this is pure, and dishonest, sophistry.

      That convicts prefer life imprisonment to death is undoubtedly true, but meaningless in light of the fact that the anti-DP argument is less about the murderer wants and more about what's appropriate for society. And your claim regarding support for the death penalty may similarly be true, but it is again, meaningless. Popularity is a pretty meaningless guideline for establishing policy, and, besides, it says nothing about the depth of support, which was Grizzard's point to begin with. I'm not sure I'm convinced by it, myself, but this doesn't refute it.

      •  Thanks Sean. My replies. (0+ / 0-)

        --  I have contradicted Grizzard, specifically, on the cost issue. He was simply dead wrong, likely, because he doesn't fact check.  I reviewed many death penalty costs studies within my responses, hereto.

        --  The $100,000 LWOP plea cost credit is simply a rough estimate based on many of the cost studies I review (whch are linked, herein). I should have cited that. Thanks for bringing that up.

        -- If not a plea bargain, wherein the criminal has waived appeals, then a LWOP sentence, at trial, will always result in appeals. It is not a matter of being disagreeable, which these murderers are, but of trying to get out of their sentence. We pay for it, so they use it. Why wouldn't they? It's a win win for them.

        1)    I am unaware of any proven case of an innocent executed since the 1930's. It is hardly sophistry. It is true. I revealed in detail the many claims of innocents executed, with claims often continuing for decades. Read them.

        Facts matter. That is an important fact.

        2) We disagree. The issue is innocents dying because of faults within the criminal justice system and that such are irreversible.

        Innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

        3) If death of innocents matters, it matters in all cases.  We simply have a different perspective. The recidivism rate includes those who repeat murders in prion ans well as out of it.

        The reality of this statistice is that if more murderers are executed, fewer innocrents will be murdered by repeat murderers.

        4) Virginia has executed 72% of those so sentneced and has done so within 7.1 years on average, between sentncing and exeution. No innocents executed.

        No tension, there.

        5) Clearly you did not read my essays on deterrence.  No, my point is much more conclusive than Pojman's, because I factually support that the death penalty IS a greater deterrent than life. As much as I like Pojman, his point was solid, but weaker than it need be.

        My rebuttal to Radelet and Lacock was in those links.

        "Deterrence & the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"

        6) The Virginia example, as well as others, find death as cheaper than life in some jurisdicitons, somethng that could be duplicated in all juridsictions.

        Do you have any evidence that the death penalty costs what you think it does in Ca or that the death penalty is more expensive than a life sentnece in Ca? I say, likely, not.

        Death Penalty Costs: California

        All states are considering early release of prisoners, or are doing so, already, inclusive of those serving LWOP, as a means of saving costs.

        7) I am not following you, here. I am not sure to what you are referring.

        Please expand.


        Based upon your comments, you didn't understod my point about 99.7% of murderers preferring death.

        It is based within the evidence for deterrence. If 99.7% of known murderer prefer life over death, what would more reaonable folks, potential murderers, much more prefer? Why, as all of us, life of course. So, of course execution is a greater deterrent than is life. What we fear the most deters the most. What we prefer more, deters less.

        Populatarity is most definitely, important. We life in a democratic republic and the voice of the people is supposed to mean something and it should.

        If we are going to discuss polls, lets be as accurate as we can be.

        Those were the points.

        •  Thank you for your response. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          If not a plea bargain, wherein the criminal has waived appeals, then a LWOP sentence, at trial, will always result in appeals. It is not a matter of being disagreeable, which these murderers are, but of trying to get out of their sentence. We pay for it, so they use it. Why wouldn't they? It's a win win for them.
          Of course. But where I fail to follow you is in your assertion that plea bargaining is possible only when starting from a position of the death penalty. That's not self-evident, and, I would argue, it's not even especially logical. Other than that, the appeals process is functionally similar for both DP and LWOP cases, with the same mechanisms for automatic appeals. It's not clear what distinction you're trying to make.
          1. The problem is that there is little process, incentive, and arguably even great disincentive, to overturn a DP sentence once carried out. So while I accept that the vast majority of cases were properly decided, I lack the certainty of your "0%" claim. And that's key, because, as I have stated elsewhere, the difference between 100% accuracy and 99% accuracy makes a world of difference when dealing with human life.
          2. Yes, we do disagree. And, more to the point, your argument that innocents are more at risk without the death penalty does not seem to me to be sufficiently supported by your evidence, particularly because you conflate too many issues that don't appear to have a logical connection to each other. Recidivism rates are only material if you posit a situation where the alternative is between executing and (eventually) releasing a prisoner. Which is, frankly, nonsensical, and nobody is arguing that.
          3. Overall prison violence rates are not especially instructive, because not all prisoners are murderers. The death row violence rate is, by all accounts, considerably less than the violence rate in the general prison population, owing to increased security. That being said, according the BJS, states with the death penalty tend to have considerably higher rates of prison violence (4.25/100,000 versus 0.92/100,000). The "repeat murderer" issue is, by and large, a phantom, and one that can be dealt with effectively without the death penalty.
          4. That Virginia's "expedited" process has not failed it so far does not make it a reliable or trustworthy system, in the same way that just because I haven't died of lung cancer yet doesn't make cigarettes healthy. In the abstract, this is fairly meaningless: the question is, what, specifically, in the lengthier process employed by states like California is wasteful or unnecessary, and why?
          5. I've addressed your response to Radelet/Lecock elsewhere, but, in brief, I don't find it convincing. You are arguing against a unprovable hypothetical: that Radelet/Lecock don't prove that the DP doesn't have a deterrent effect. In essence, that you can't be certain that murder rates wouldn't have been higher without the deterring effect of DP sentences. That's true, but irrelevant: you can't prove a negative. And Radelet/Lecock don't make the attempt: theirs' is a study concerned with the public policy implications of DP sentencing and its effectiveness at reducing violent crime/murder rates, which is what "deterrence" actually means at a non-individual level. Your assertion that "any deterrence is significant" (which you don't actually prove, but I'll grant you that I cannot disprove) is true only in a vacuum, where there are no other considerations, moral or practical concerning the death penalty. Since Radelet/Lecock's study doesn't exist in that Platonic Ideal world, your response is unconvincing.
          6. See my response to #4. In any case, what you are arguing for here is manifestly not the status quo (at least, not outside of Virginia), so your reliance on the 80% support figure that presupposes the current status quo is questionable.
          7. Looking at it again, it appears the article I was responding to has two #6s. This was my response to the second one. If that doesn't clear it up, then my point is that neither van den Haag, Black, or Bedau speak for anyone but themselves. Your response is a straw man that ignores the fact that the dichotomy presented (saving innocents versus not executing murderers) is very much at the crux of the matter and not accepted by all, or even particularly well supported by the evidence. This is a character assassination intended to discredit an argument that should rightly stand or fail on its own merits.

          Also, that's not proper reasoning. That people prefer LWOP over execution does not directly speak to either's effectiveness as a deterrent, since it's equally possible to argue a "worst of all worlds" situation, where both sentences are sufficiently undesirable that the both are roughly equally deterrents. It's only when you force someone to chose between the two (remove all other possibilities) that a clear preference for one over the other manifests itself. In fact, that's pretty much what every significant study of deterrence has found (including Radelet/Lecock) and the broad consensus among criminologists.

          And popularity is, in fact, meaningless on the ground. "Majority rules" is important at broader levels, but when arguing an individual belief or position, it should not typically be treated as relevant or meaningful. Any number of things which we now find unacceptable were once broadly popular (slavery, totalitarianism, disco, etc.). They got from there to here because a minority began advocating against them, and eventually swayed the public away from them. And given that the diary itself recognizes that the public is still in favor of the death penalty, it's hard not to read this as an argumentum ad populum fallacy.

          •  Sean and thank you for your responses. My replies (0+ / 0-)

            -- if we are looking at only the costs of only the death penalty and LWOP, then there is ONLY a plea bargain is to LWOP. No one is suggesting, nationally, a replacement of the death penalty with anything but LWOP, because everyone knows it is the only thing that may succeed. Therefore a cost comparions can only include a plea to LWOP with credit to the death penalty. There cannot be a cost savings for a plea to less than LWOP because that is not in the mix. It is self evident, throughout all of my cost reviews, just as it is within the national debate.

            -- I never stated that no innocents were executed, I have never stated that, not have I ever believed that.  I stated there is no proof of it, because I am trying to avoid speculation. I think we are on the same page, here.

            -- Functionally the appeals process may be similar, but reality finds them quite different. As SCOTUS has stated, the death penalty has super due process. LWOP doesn't even come close. There is not the same mechanism for automatic appeals.

             2 and 3) you must be confusing something here.  The death penalty protects innocent lives better, in three ways, than does LWOP. Two are uncontradicted. 1) Enhanced due process -  The death penalty has greater due process protections than all other sanctions, therefore, innocents are better protected. 2) Enhanced Incapacitation --  Executed murderers do not harm and murder, again, living murderers do. This has nothing to do with releasing prisoners, I am comparing execution and LWOP, as I stated. It is no phantom, but an obvious truism. 3) Enhanced deterrence -  the evidence ways in favor of enhanced deterrence.

            4) Virgina has shown itself to be trustworthy and very efficient. A good example for all jurisdictions.

             5) No one can prove there is no deterrent effect. But we do know that all prospects of a negative outcome deter some. It is a truism.  True not in a vacuum but in reality. Clearly,  you have read none of the deterrence material. As I repeatedly stated, you can't rely on murder rates. I believe all deterrence is significant, as I stated and reviewed in detail, with my rebuke to radelet.   It appears that you are unconvinced either because you did not read my entire piece or you misunderstood it, as your comments seem to indicate, one or the other.

            SEE DETERRENCE at bottom

             6) The 80% death penalty support figure is from multiple polls from multiple polling groups at many different times, with different methodologies, so I don't know what you are talking about.

             7. It is a true and accurate reflection of the academic leadership within the anti death penalty movement, so it is important to have in the debate, as an historical fact.  - no matter the cost in innocent lives, they wish to end the death penalty. It is not character assassination. Maybe character suicide. It is their admitted position.
            You have not rebutted my three points on the death penalty being a greater protector of innocent lives. Nor do I think you, factually or logically, can.

            ---  You're dead wrong. A preference poll is not an exclusion poll. You are simply making up the exclusion part, out of thin air. My ice cream analogy is rock solid and you cannot rebut it and have made no effort to do so, because you cannot.

            We're talking polling here and, of course, popularity is of major importance in polls. *8% support the death penalty for truly death penalty eligible crimes, from multiple polling groups over many years. You just don't like it. Ok by me.

  •  I'm against the death penalty in all cases (0+ / 0-)

    thank you for writing this.

    (my reasons are not religious. I'm an atheist.)

    just a little bit bored.

    by terrypinder on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:10:39 PM PST

  •  I waffle - Rage and Reason battle in me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I know, intellectually, that the way the death penalty is exercised is racist, it impoverishes already-poor states, and it deters nothing (Look at all the mass killers who "execute" themselves immediately after the rampage - does that deter anybody?). So many of the red states have halted investigations into executions you know they're terrified that the truth of them executing innocent people (mostly poor and black) will come out.

    But some crimes are more equal than others. The justice system is anything but, for POC or for women (and especially for WOC), and that leads to rage and frustration with the system. If rape was treated like a real crime (don't talk to me of Phillip Garrido, I start ranting) and they actually kept some of these shits in jail where they belong, they couldn't go free to commit more and worse crimes. (Many of these multi-murderers have a background that includes some variation on "Oh yeah, 10 years ago he spent 3 months in jail for rape.")

    In the end, though? I kind of have to side with Anthony Hopkins, who during his press tour for Silence of the Lambs, was asked for his opinion about the death penalty. His reply was logic itself: "When you get right down to it, that's destroying evidence in a case, isn't it?"

  •  gun control, ending death penalty, social justice (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are all about the value of a human being and represent our vision for a civil society. For me, ending death penalty is part of the package, part of our attempt to change the discussion in this country, change the values in this country to promote a society that shows more empathy and has a deeper social economic understanding of our high crime rate. It is part of the Democratic package "Forward" against the GOPs "Backward" to the 50ties or even the middle ages. You are right, it should be next to be lifted up to the national podium. Maybe after gun control? I am all for it! And this can be won. This country is ready.

  •  i support the death penalty ... (0+ / 0-)

    To me, the above logic was more introspection than about the person who committed the crime.

    I believe that death penalty is warranted and should be awarded in the 'rarest of rare' crimes. Like gang rape (that happened in India) or serial killer or someone who shoots down 20/70 people. The right to live in a society is not absolute and comes with a basic fig-leaf of responsibility - the responsibility of not acting like an animal.

    The issue that i see in USA - the southern states is that death penalty is handed out like candy in a fair. In India, once the lower court awards death penalty, the same is MANDATORILY reviewed by the high court of the state and the supreme court. In addition, the state's interior ministry, the central homeland security dept, the prime minister and then the President of India - all of them have to GREEN light the execution and deny the mercy petition. That's why India might be handing a few hundred death penalties every year but there are only 29 cases of execution awaiting prisoners waiting for the President of India's mercy petition outlook. The last execution was the terrorist who was part of 10 people who killed 170 people in Mumbai. The execution prior to that happened in 2004 where a night watchman raped and killed a mentally retarted child. These are 'rarest of rare' and those deserve death penalty ...

    •  What you have described is exactly what we have he (0+ / 0-)

      Death penalty inmates get mandatory high court review in their state. They get clemency hearings and the opportunity to petition the governor for a pardon. They get appeals to federal courts and they can petition the Supreme Court of the United States.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:00:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's not just the courts/chance ... (0+ / 0-)

        1. In India, the highest court has to sign-off on the execution. So, the district court sentences death and the High Court (equivalent to State Supreme Court) and the Suprement Court of India (equivalent to SCOTUS) have to MANDATORILY sign-off on the sentence

        2. In addition, the political process has to sign-off as well with at least 4 levels of politicians having to sign-off on the death penalty.

        Of the 29 awaiting the president's final decision are the following: killer of Rajiv Gandhi, ex-PM. Murugan is awaiting the president's decision on the gallows while his wife who was a co-conspirator was pardoned by the Supreme Court and her sentence reduced to life without parole because she was pregnant at the time of arrest. The mastermind of the Parliament attacks in 2001 (that's like the guy who plans an attack on Congress resulting in 10 deaths) is awaiting a final decision. Just this week, the Supreme Court reduced death and made it a life sentence for a guy who raped a pregnant woman and killed her mother-in-law because he was drunk at the time of committing crime and saw fit to be lenient.

        That's why i am comfortable with a system with checks and balances and has mandatory reviews. I am appalled that the Norway killer is sitting and complaining about not having toiletries, gym access after the way he killed 77 people.

  •  liberal support for the death penalty? (0+ / 0-)


    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:50:43 PM PST

    •  About ten inches above (0+ / 0-)

      your comment, for starters.

      "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

      by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:01:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i mean where are the major voices (0+ / 0-)

        in liberal/progressive politics out there fighting FOR the death penalty.

        who are they?

        there are individual liberals who support the death penalty, and individual liberals who want to make all abortions illegal, and individual liberals who believe all kinds of things.  but I could not characterize the whole of liberalism or progressivism by those people when in general the liberal position is anti death penalty and pro choice.

        "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."

        by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 07:11:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  'Sleeping attorney' case isn't what it seems (0+ / 0-)

    'Sleeping attorney' case isn't what it seems
     Austin American Statesman
     by Dudley Sharp

     The headlines proclaim that defense attorney Joe Cannon slept through significant portions of his client's, Calvin Burdine's, death penalty trial.

    But did he?

    Why did it take 11 years to bring this claim forward? Why did Calvine Burdine not make a sworn statement that he observed his own defense attorney sleeping? And why did Burdine hire that very same attorney for his direct appeal after he received a death sentence?

     Why did the state argue that the attorney was sleeping, but that there was not sufficient error to overturn the case? Because law requires that both the superior appellate courts and the state accept the federal district court's finding of fact that Cannon was asleep, even if they do not believe he was.

     There is often much more to the story than what appears in the headlines and this is no different.

     On June 3 (2002), the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear this case, meaning that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' 9-5 decision to overturn the case stands.

     A three-judge panel within the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals first heard Burdine's appeal. Quoted below is the 2-judge majority opinion. Following each quote is (my) response.

     "Burdine was represented at trial -- and, at his request, on direct appeal -- by court-appointed counsel, Joe Cannon. . . . Burdine filed a second state habeas application later that month, nearly 11 years after trial, claiming for the first time denial of assistance of counsel because Cannon repeatedly dozed and/or slept at trial."

     Why wait 11 years to file such a claim? Why wait one minute? Why hire your sleeping trial attorney to be your appellate attorney after said sleeping attorney got you a death sentence?

     " . . . the claim was not raised until over 10 years after trial, after it was first raised by another death row inmate."

     It appears that Burdine and his attorneys may not have gotten the idea about the sleeping lawyer claim until after another inmate came up with it. Just a coincidence?

     " . . . we (the Fifth Circuit) are bound by the state habeas court's finding that Cannon slept during trial, even though (Cannon) testified at the state habeas evidentiary hearing that he had not slept; that, instead, he often kept his eyes closed and might nod his head while thinking or concentrating, and that it was possible for someone observing him to think he was sleeping."

     Cannon gives a plausible explanation for his perceived sleeping and such would explain why many did not observe Cannon sleeping. The
     attorney had a history of closing his eyes, often, which many knew about.

     The Harris County attorney who handled the appeal for the state agreed that such was true, but never introduced that evidence and testimony into appeal. (my) position is that the state should have presented the most obvious explanation which would account for Cannon's appearance of sleeping, but which would be evidence that Cannon was not sleeping.

     Had the state presented that evidence, we cannot predict what impact that would have had on U.S. District Judge David Hitner, who made the finding of fact that Cannon was sleeping.

     Not even Burdine, who sat right next to Cannon throughout the trial, ever made a sworn claim to have observed his own attorney sleeping.

     " . . . we (the Fifth Circuit) are troubled, to say the least, by wide-ranging abuses that can result where, as here, a criminal defendant sits next to counsel during trial; makes no mention then of counsel sleeping during trial; requests that the same counsel represent him on direct appeal; and then, over 10 years after trial, claims ineffective assistance because counsel slept during trial, despite defendant never, by affidavit or testimony, stating under oath that counsel engaged in such conduct."

     Three possibilities exist.

    One, Burdine never observed Cannon sleeping and simply made the issue up because another inmate raised such on appeal.

    Two, Burdine did observe Cannon sleeping and decided that a sleeping attorney at trial and using that same lawyer on appeal was the best way to prolong his life by later using such as an appellate issue later.
    Three, Burdine didn't mind that he received the death penalty while his attorney slept through significant portions of the trial -- he liked his sleeping lawyer so much that he hired him for his appeal.

     Also, the two judges on the panel reviewed the trial transcript during the alleged periods of sleeping. They found no reversible error where Cannon failed to object to testimony or the state's presentation.

     If Cannon slept through significant portions of Burdine's trial, should the case have been overturned? The 5th Y.S. Circuit Court of Appeals answered that question "Yes," and the Supreme Court accepted it. But, did Cannon sleep through significant portions, or any portion, of the trial?

     Remember, the state had to accept that Cannon was sleeping, after Hitner's ruling, even if it disagreed with the ruling. So all the state's arguments had to be based upon challenging the overturning of the case because Cannon slept, even if the state didn't believe that he had.

    •  Um, what? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sure you felt that this was somehow relevant enough to the current discussion that it needing bringing up, but would you care to provide some commentary to explain its relevancy for people who aren't you? Because other than the fact that Burdine was a death sentence case, I'm not sure how this applies to anything. While it certainly smells of shenanigans, there's nothing that intrinsically ties it to the death penalty (it would have been equally plausible, and the result equally silly, had Burdine not been up for the death sentence).

      In other words, yes, it very likely sucks. But to argue that this is evidence in support of the death penalty (presumably that Burdine should have been executed after 7 years, going by your repeated reference to Virginia, and not had a chance to file this appeal) is not exactly self-evident. Or even logical. It speaks to a flaw in the appeals system, and almost certainly should be addressed on that level, lest it be abused by criminals who don't happen to be on death row.

      •  The "sleeping lawyer" was in the article. (0+ / 0-)

        Did you read the article?

        •  I did not make the connection, I admit (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Grizzard's article didn't list the name, and I missed it when rescanning the article early.

          That said, I'm still not sure it proves very much. The very fact that this could be argued convincingly enough to ensure the conviction was overturned indicates something is, at the least, questionable about the judicial procedure that led to it in the first place. That prosecutors were not able to prove their argument indicates a flaw (admittedly more likely with the system as opposed to the people) that does little to assure me of the infallibility of the death penalty sentencing process. But I do apologize, sincerely, for not making the connection and failing to see the relevance.

          •  sean, it proves there is at least two perspectives (0+ / 0-)

            on the case and gives readers a broader picture and can be helpful for a fuller understanding of any given issue.

            Often, in such debates, that is good enough.

            No problem.

            •  It's a valid correction (0+ / 0-)

              It just doesn't, IMO, engender faith in the criminal justice system's ability to make the decision to end a person's life. But I readily admit that isn't the original point either you or Grizzard were attempting to make, and I likely wouldn't have made it unbidden.

  •  I thought that liberals and progressives (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Tended to not support the death penalty. That's part of being a liberal/progressive, IMHO.

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:01:38 PM PST

  •  Violence begets violence. A state which (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grizzard, seancdaug, mindara

    allows violence in so many cases begets a violent society. It's not so much about what execution does to the criminal, but what the violence of it does to our society.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:02:21 PM PST

  •  I am actually glad our friend Dudley Sharp (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mindara, terrypinder

    is here. My research shows he has stalked the comments sections of Dr. Dow's articles quite often, and he's made himself visible on many quality writings against the death penalty that he finds threatening. If this diary caused him to make his first 22 Daily Kos comments with his deceptive talking points, then this diary must be doing something right.

    Thanks for taking some time out from stalking Professor Dow's work to comment on mine, Dudley.

    "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

    by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:30:41 PM PST

  •  Grizzard, did you read your own links? (0+ / 0-)

    You wrote:

    "People who kill white victims are roughly four times more likely to be sentenced to death than a a person who kills a black victim."

    No. Your linked article says:

    "the data showed that the odds of receiving a death sentence in cases where the victim was white were 2.96 times as high as the odds in cases with black victims."

    You were wrong on two important and obvious points.

    2.96 would be, roughly, 3 times, not 4.

    Even worse, you said "four times more likely"

    It is not by a times more likely, but by odds of 2.96  times more likely.

    You reflect the same misunderstanding as taught by, virtually, all law schools, with regard to the McCleskey v Georgia case, even though some know better.

    Odds multipliers are totally different than "times". An odds multiplier of 2.96 in North Carolina could mean, virtually, no discernible difference or a difference so small that it is random chance, alone, with no implication of any racial bias.

    Please review:

    McCleskey v Kemp, the infamous race based death penalty case decided by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

    The US Supreme Court misunderstood the math involved. They ignorantly wrote: "defendants charged with killing white victims were 4.3 times as likely to receive a death sentence as defendants charged with killing blacks."

    Totally inaccurate. It was by odds of 4.3 times, or an odds multiplier of 4.3, which can mean variables as low as 2-4%, as opposed to the 330% difference represented by 4.3 times. SCOTUS blew it big time on this.

    These two articles, below, give a good explanation of a core problem with David Baldus, in the McCleskey case and another of his reviews. I am unaware of Baldus making any efforts to correct these misconceptions, over the many years that he should have.

    A) "The Math Behind Race, Crime and Sentencing Statistics"
    By John Allen Paulos, Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1998

    B) See “The Odds of Execution” within “How numbers are tricking you”, by Arnold Barnett, MIT Technology Review October, 1994

    Baldus' database and work in McCleskey was quite poor.

    Read Federal District Court Judge Forrester's rejection of Baldus' database for McCleskey.

    A more thorough review is provided by Joseph Katz, who did the methodological review of the Baldus database, which was rife with errors and problems. I have it, if you care to research.

  •  There is no justice, there's Just Us. (0+ / 0-)

    What are we?
    What do we want to be?

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 02:05:21 AM PST

  •  DETERRENCE Issues (0+ / 0-)

    Death is feared more than life. Life is preferred over death, not just with potential murderers, but with all of us, save for the determined suicidal.

    All prospects of a negative outcome deter some. It is a trusim.

    The question is not does the death penalty deter some. It does, just as all sanctions do.

    The only remaining question is "Does the death penalty provide an enhanced deterrent greater than life without parole?"

    The evidence is stronger that it does than it does not.

    99.7% of murderers tells us "Give me life, not execution"

    --  Of course the Death Penalty Deters
      See sections C and D within
    The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives



    --  Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

    --  "Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"

  •  Grizzard, time to start thinking, not just blindly (0+ / 0-)


    "Sister Helen has been adamant in noting that the death penalty is a problem . . .  She notes three - the previously mentioned themes of poverty, the soon-to-be-discussed themes of racism, and the ways in which the death penalty teaches society to respond to problems with violent solutions."

    1) Overwelmingly, the poor do not commit capital murder, only a very small percentage do. There is zero excuse for those that do.

    2) Of those murdered, most victims are poor.

    3) White murderers are twice as likely to be executed as are black murderers.

    4) Other racism claims debunked:



    Kent Scheidegger, Rebutting the Myths About Race and the Death Penalty, 10 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 147 (2012).

    5) execution is ONLY a solution when the question is "What is the just sanction for some murders." I support giving the jury the right to consider two options for some murders, either life without parole or execution.

    Holding people against their will (incarceration) is also a violent response. Many anti death penalty folks have been working for some time to ban LWOP, using the same game plan. Some, as within these blog comments, would have us ban LWOP, as well.

    •  Sister Helen Prejean: A Critical Review (0+ / 0-)


      Did she consider the mental suffering of a parent who lost their innocent daughter to a rape/murder or, possibly, the mental (and physical) suffering of that girl, as she was being raped and murdered?

      Of course she considered it and she made her choice - the murderer.

      " . . .makes you realize the Dead Man Walking truly belongs on the shelf in the library in the Fiction category."

      "Being devout Catholics, 'the norm' would be to look to the church for support and healing. Again, this need for spiritual stability was stolen by Sister Prejean." (2)

      The parents of rape/torture/murder victim Loretta Bourque, a Dead Man Walking Case

      "I wouldn't have had as much trouble with (Prejean's) views if she would have told the truth . . ." " . . . (Sr. Prejean) based her book on what was in I guess a defense file and what (rapist/murderer) Robert Willie telling her." " . . . she's trying to mislead people in the book. And that's something that she's going have to work out with herself." "(Sr. Prejean's) certainly not after giving anybody spiritual advice to try to save their soul." (2)

      Case Detective Michael Vernado, in the rape/torture/murder of Faith Hathaway, a Dead Man Walking Case

      Book Review: "Sister Prejean's Lack of Credibility: Review of "The Death of Innocents", by Thomas M. McKenna (New Oxford Review, 12/05). www(DOT)

      "The book is moreover riddled with factual errors and misrepresentations."

      "Williams had confessed to repeatedly stabbing his victim, Sonya Knippers."

      "This DNA test was performed by an independent lab in Dallas, which concluded that there was a one in nearly four billion chance that the blood could have been someone's other than Williams's."

      " . . . despite repeated claims that (Prejean) cares about crime victims, implies that the victim's husband was a more likely suspect but was overlooked because the authorities wanted to convict a black man."

      " . . . a Federal District Court . . . stated that 'the evidence against Williams was overwhelming.' " "The same court also did "not find any evidence of racial bias specific to this case."

      (1) Prejean: Death penalty is torture, online, October 1, 2012,

      (2) "Sister Helen Prejean & the death penalty: A Critical Review"

  •  Grizzard and disinformation (0+ / 0-)

    Grizzard writes:

    "Dr. Dow described the phenomenon in relatively chilling terms - if you are going to kill someone and you don't want to get the death penalty, make sure the person you kill is black. I would extend that one further - given how victim impact statements come into play, you might want to make sure the person you kill has no family or tie to society. Are you a white person making $100,000? Kill a homeless black man and the chances of you being strapped to a gurney are roughly proportional to the chances of me playing center field for the Tampa Bay Rays."

    My guess is that Grizzard has no clue and just parrots Dow, without thinking or reasearching.

    Overwhelmingly, murders with black victims, just as with all victims, are not death penalty eligible.

    Likely, only about 10% of all murders may be death penalty elgibile. Because of cirmcumsatances, which are death penalty eligibile, whites are more likley to be vicitms in death penalty eligibie murders.

    "Just" murdering a homless man and "just' murdering anyone, with no additional aggravating factors, is a murder which is NOT death penalty eligible, regardless of the income of the murderer.

    Based upon the law, the chances of being executed for "just"murdering a homeless man are zero, slightly lower than the chances of becoming an outfielder for the Rays.

    I would say that Grizzard was being intentionally deceptive, but based upon his writings, he just doesn't know any better.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site