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I was going to comment on this diary, but the comment grew enough that I figured a new diary would be the better mode.   So here you go:

Human beings are the most dangerous animal, by far.

When a human being is utterly broken and a proven man eater, it should be destroyed.   We don't think twice about this concept with chimps and lions and pit bulls and other similar cases when a face is torn off or a child mauled.

Money is the means by which human beings store and distribute the energy of life, attention, and presence.   A person standing at a machine for 10 hours earning a living is functionally imprisoned for those hours.

The expenditure of massive amounts of the life energy of non-broken humans to maintain the life of utterly broken and dangerous humans for 30, 40, 50 years or longer fails the moral test of proportionality.

Are there that many liberals who believe that Tim McVeigh should be in a cell somewhere?  Saddam Hussein?  Ted Bundy?  Adam Lanza?

OK you say, the moral case makes sense, but in the real world in which we live, the death penalty cannot be enforced in a moral way.   Mistakes are made, the expenses of maintaining the sanction cost more than the costs of housing the prisoners for life, and the penalty falls in unequal ways on unequal classes of person.   That is the essence of this diary.

To that I say:  you are substantively correct.   But the moral choice is not to abolish the penalty, but to drive to perfect it's use and lower its cost.

Texas and Alabama should not have the right to apply the death penalty: it should be a purely federal function because the right to life is a Constitutional right.

Having only a single procedure and apparatus, all by itself, solves innumerable problems of inequality and maladministration.  If a state wants to execute a prisoner, that prisoner should be remanded to the federal justice system straight away.

The moral standards to be eligible for the penalty can be arrived at in a reasonable way; crimes that involve multiple victims, crimes that are a second or greater offense, crimes that are fully and physically documented.   This necessarily excludes most run-of-the mill murder cases.    

The anti-death penalty diary linked above employs multiple sophisms.    Let’s look at a few:

- income inequality creates crime, so therefore, punishing criminals is automatically unequal, and thus immoral.   So why stop with the death penalty?    The same argument holds for everything from traffic stops to grand theft.    Brown people suffer more on every level in our society.    Do we work on improving that, or do we cease to apply sanctions on everyone to avoid over- sanctioning disadvantaged groups?    

- the massive amount of money spent running the current system costs more than imprisoning for life, and those  are “precocious dollars” that could otherwise help the poor.   So if the administration could be streamlined and less costly than life without parole,  the death penalty is then better for the poor?

-  the death penalty is pursued for atavistic reasons  “out of a need to indulge our most barbarian instincts of revenge and anger” and is thus irrational, IOW immoral.   So likewise, is any argument for the sanctity or specialness of human life invalid because of a need to indulge our religious or metaphysical instincts?

The diarist makes multiple mentions of the confusion/dichotomy/unexpectedness of liberal support for the death penalty.   He attempts to sustain an argument that such support is “a mile wide but an inch deep” , which basically plays into the conservative trope that liberals consider everyone children who would only make better choices if they knew what was good for them.  

This issue is a rock where the wave of liberal sensibility breaks; where the urge to active a desired end creates political costs that are too high.

Conservatives love strident anti-death penalty positioning.  They love it because they know progressives are by and large on the wrong side of the argument to great numbers of Americans.  We should not be on the wrong side in the first place, and we should seek to avoid giving the other side that potent example – that mirror image really- of intellectual hoop jumping in support of a desired ideological outcome.

This liberal deeply supports the death penalty but deeply deplores the way it’s administered.

Progressivism is the political orientation of those who favor progress toward better conditions in government and society.  I believe the proper progressive position would be to push to federalize, to limit to a narrow class of crimes and criminals, and to embrace the moral understanding that yes, some crimes are too heinous and some criminals too broken to allow their lives to continue at public expense.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 2-)
    Recommended by:
    OffTheHill, sandbox
    Hidden by:
    hnichols, mythatsme

    Out of my cold dead hands

    by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:35:28 AM PST

  •  Yes, yes, yes and yes. (13+ / 0-)
    Are there that many liberals who believe that Tim McVeigh should be in a cell somewhere?  Saddam Hussein?  Ted Bundy?  Adam Lanza?
  •  This liberal is strongly against the death penalty (11+ / 0-)

    It is nothing more than vengeance seeking.

    It will not bring back the victims nor serve as a deterrent to others.

    I also do not believe that "Rotting In a Cell" is the proper punishment.

    Punishment should reflect the crime.  Eye for an Eye is simple and Babylonian.

    Working every day to undo the damage you have caused... now that's a reasonable punishment.  Even if the perpetrator can never truly atone, it is a far better solution than "Off the Bastard".

    I strongly am against the death penalty.  It is the tool of a degenerate and brutal society that believes in simple solutions to problems that are far more complex.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:46:31 AM PST

    •  why do we destroy dangerous animals? (0+ / 0-)

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:49:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know, why do you? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        aitchdee, lyvwyr101, hnichols

        I mean, I'm certain that wolf is a trained killer of sheep, and will harm many, so therefore when it stepped outside it's protected area, it was VITAL for the guy with a gun, lying in wait, to shoot it.

        Shall we talk about human encroachment of habitats, destruction of prey population, animals specifically bred by humans to hurt and inflict pain?  Of course, humans are blameless and should immediately KILL the dangerous animal.

        I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

        by detroitmechworks on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:54:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Because animals can't transcend their nature. (5+ / 0-)

        If a dog is trained and conditioned to do nothing but kill, it does not have the sentience or will to overcome that training and conditioning. We do not see animals as capable of moral reasoning.

        Human beings, even the most depraved and disgusting among us, are capable of moral reasoning.

        Once we go down the path of deciding that some criminals are "animals"—subhuman—we pave the way for all sorts of trouble.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:58:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  their nature is to kill (0+ / 0-)

          as are the subjects we are talking about

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:18:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  and you complain about other diarist's sophistry! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alain2112

            I seek, always, soulful talk, for I believe that the healing possibilities of poetry are also available in ordinary, dinner-table conversation--if enough imagination is brought to bear upon it.

            by aitchdee on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:20:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The very foundation of reasoning from morality... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            aitchdee, lyvwyr101

            ...as you do here, is that humans are not simply creatures that follow their nature, but are capable of and responsible for the exercise of moral reasoning, such that they transcend or overcome their natural desires in following a higher law.

            A married man may have an incredible mutual attraction with another woman, and his nature (from an evolutionary standpoint) would be to sleep with her in order to spread his genetic material, but he is expected by moral law not to do so as it would be a betrayal of the vows he has made to his wife.

            The expectation of a capacity for moral reasoning is no less for the convicted criminal, even the most heinous one, than it is for the rest of us.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:25:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  WTF? (0+ / 0-)

              The expectation of a capacity for moral reasoning is no less for the convicted criminal, even the most heinous one, than it is for the rest of us.

              Out of my cold dead hands

              by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:12:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's what I wrote. (0+ / 0-)

                In other words, human beings should not be treated like animals.

                The dog that is trained and conditioned to do nothing but kill is put down, because it has no capacity for moral understanding of its actions and it is incapable of changing what it is.

                The criminal who has killed or violated others, even in the most brutal or heinous ways, is still capable of morally understanding what he or she has done, and still capable of at least some form or level of repentance; that is why we should not kill the criminal, but keep him or her alive.

                That is not to say that we should allow those who are guilty of heinous crimes to breathe the free air again; for many, their debt to society is too great for them to repay in their remaining years of life. But perhaps they may find some measure of moral or psychological redemption, or at least repentance for their actions.

                To deny them that opportunity and take their lives simply in the interest of saving money, as you suggest, takes us down a road at whose end all of us are judged not by our intrinsic humanity but by our net positive or negative contribution to a monetary economy. That is an odious end, in my opinion.

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:11:39 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  "Who knows what's in the mind of a pit bull?" (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Grizzard, aitchdee, lyvwyr101

            You said that, down thread. You can't have it both ways. You can't argue that animals are capable of self-awareness and moral responsibility just like humans to support your pro-death penalty view, and then turn around and say, no, actually they're just creatures of instinct who exist only kill when someone else approaches the argument from a different angle.

      •  Because (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lyvwyr101

        it's more convenient and cost-effective than rehabilitating them.

        Frankly, I don't always think it's the right way to go with animals, and convenience and cost-effectiveness should definitely not be a reason for having a death penalty for human beings.

        You hear about crazy, but it's rarer than you think. -Jon Stewart 1/10/2011

        Help Me Find Mister Boots

        by lcork on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:09:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Animals are not people. (0+ / 0-)

        We do not place the same value on an animal's life as a human's. We don't give them jury trials or attorneys, either. We are not willing to pay to maintain prisons and incarcerate and guard them. We don't think they are capable of repentance.

        Are you being silly?

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:57:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Another reason, maybe the most important (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Grizzard, lyvwyr101, Massconfusion

      I spent more than 20 years as a news reporter and covered a number of murder trials, as well as the crime scenes and investigations - and of course have read about or viewed documentaries about many others.
      The most striking thing to me is this: The more high-profile and shocking the case is, the more pressure there is on police to make an arrest. And the more pressure there is on prosecutors to secure a conviction. And the more pressure there is on jurors (yes, they do read and view about their cases inthe media) to vote guilty.
      That  means, it's more likely for police to fabricate evidence, or ignore exculpatory evidence to get an arrest.
      It means prosecutors are more likely to cut ethical corners in their interrogations, ignore exculpatory evidence, not share exculpatory evidence with the defense.
      It means investigators and medical examiners are more likely to fudge their findings and testimony to add a little more certainty.
      It means jurors are a little more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to prosecutors.

      And it is exactly those most high-profile, shocking cases where the prosecutors seek the death penalty.
      In short, there are a hundred reasons why death penalty cases are the MOST likely to result in a wrongful conviction.
      And I think that's really messed up. And I've seen it happen firsthand.

      •  Just one example - (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Grizzard, lyvwyr101, Massconfusion

        The Travis County, Texas, medical examiner was found to have been routinely giving false evidence in murder trials. He would talk to police, find out what their version of the murder was, then doctor his findings to fit the police scenario.
        In the Jack Warren Davis murder case, he testified that Warren's blood was found on and around the victim's body. But he never even tested the blood.
        Davis was granted a new trial and convicted  a second time and I'm certain he was guilty, but that forensic evidence could have certainly convicted an innocent man.

        •  Not only that (0+ / 0-)

          but there's the cash-cow dynamic to consider in this country--as well.

          Major problems with cops---prosecutors---judges---you name it: the entire criminal justice system could use a good enema: it needs a real cleaning out---so to speak.

          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 03:19:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  thats why capital punishment should be federal (0+ / 0-)

        only

        Out of my cold dead hands

        by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:14:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Total agreement. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Massconfusion

      Been a member of the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty for years---and it is tough fight--but I'm in it to win it.

      I do not believe in the death penalty---period.

      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 03:13:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think there is a progressive case for the (7+ / 0-)

    death penalty. I suppose you could argue the economic efficiency of putting a bullet in someone's head as opposed to imprisoning them for 40 years, but with the level of wrongful convictions, and the general idea of killing people on some moral authority being specious at best, I don't think it's 'progressive'.

    I see what you did there.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:47:43 AM PST

    •  40 years is a lot of dough (0+ / 0-)

      and I am only for the death penalty in a very narrow range of cases- far, far narrower than we allow today.

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:58:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I believe (0+ / 0-)

      And have expoused in the other diary that I believe the death penalty to be absolutely abused in this country.   I am in most ways morally opposed to it.

      However, I believe there are some cases wherein the death penalty is the most humane method of punishment possible.   In some cases, imprisoning those members in a life sentence is horrible for them.. and other inmates.   We end up with prison violence, where prisoners kill each other in order to avoid contact with those people.  

      In some cases, we end up with people who are so mentally tormented by their experiences that they have threatened to off themselves or may require isolated imprisonment.

      Being imprisoned in isolation to me is far more of a violation of basic human rights then recognizing the absolute tortured existance a very small number of people exist in that not only harms them, but everyone around them from being rehabilitated.

      Last year,  the # of death penalty deaths was terrible.   Imagine, instead, if that # was closer to 3.  Or 4.  I don't mean per state, I mean total.

      The death penalty is not a deterent.  It's over used.   But I do believe in some cases, it is the only truly humane option available.  

      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 01:21:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your comment (12+ / 0-)
    But the moral choice is not to abolish the penalty, but to drive to perfect it's use and lower its cost.
    Do you know what those things mean in application? "Lower its cost," in practice, means the deprivation of constitutional protections. It means less money for defense and less allowable appeals. The cost of the death penalty is necessary for protecting innocent people from dying. And we already spend too little money on the defense side as it is.

    And what you are suggesting initially is impossible. Perfect its use? We are human beings. The same human beings you are monsterizing in this diary are the human beings running the system. In order to "perfect" the death penalty, you must, among other things, do away with racism.

    I would be VERY interested in a practical, workable plan for doing that. I might even trade you my support for the death penalty if you were able to perfect the human condition.

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

    by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:48:01 AM PST

    •  you think I dont know what perfect means? (0+ / 0-)

      the goal of perfection can only be a goal....

      lower costs mean a single venue, a single set of procedures, far more restrictive standing rules.....

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:47:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So it's all right to kill the innocent (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ciganka, lyvwyr101, Massconfusion

        As long as we try really hard not to? That's an intriguing "moral" case you've got there, and one that I'm sure will prove very comforting to the friends and families of your acceptable losses.

      •  So your suggestion (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seancdaug, lyvwyr101

        is usurping federalism and eliminating state police power. Which is probably the most radical and unworkable solution ever imagined. Can't happen and won't happen.

        Far more restrictive standing rules? Can you explain this?

        Also, if you admit that perfection can "only" be a goal, then you're admitting that our system will never be perfect. Implicit in this admission is the conclusion that you think an imperfect system is acceptable. Which leads to the conclusion that you believe the transaction cost of unjust killing is acceptable?

        But I'm more concerned with the first point mentioned here. Aside from destroying the fundamental right of states to handle criminal issues, how are you going to restrict standing? I'm not sure you know what that means. A person suing on his own behalf would almost certainly have standing.

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

        by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:52:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  state power to kill (0+ / 0-)

          is not a power the constitution (IMO) should allow

           

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:19:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I would say that for any State or state (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lyvwyr101

            to execute people is barbaric.  Just moving it to the State, as in federal, level of power, does not make it any better.

            It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

            by ciganka on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:26:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  What? (0+ / 0-)

            So you support the power of the federal government to kill? But not the states?

            I think it's pretty well established that states have the Constitutional power to determine what is a crime and how they want to punish that crime.

            I'm not sure how one can get to the conclusion that the federal government has the power to kill but not the state governments.

            I agree that states should not have the power to kill under the constitution. I'm just not sure how you jump from that to allowing the federal government the same power. This is incomprehensible under all constitutional doctrine that I know of.

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

            by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:28:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  it's imperfect but we should make it faster? (0+ / 0-)

        we are creating a potential injustice that we cannot repair by any means...sorry but capital punishment is (just fucked) simply wrong.

      •  If you know what perfection means (0+ / 0-)

        then you must know that it is unattainable in any legal system.

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:00:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Un...no...I don't say that. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, MBNYC
    OK you say, the moral case makes sense, but...
  •  Are the four criminals you cite really beyond (5+ / 0-)

    redemption? I don't think so, and I'd be hard pressed to find a single example, beyond something out of Hollywood, that would meet some (arbitrary) standard of "broken". You make a well-balanced argument, but you haven't convinced me.

    •  tookie williams (5+ / 0-)

      "redemption is tailor-made for the wicked."

      if our penal system spent half as much effort on rehabilitation as they do punishment, we'd see ginormous improvements in recidivism and umpteen other things.

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

      by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:06:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  times arrow (0+ / 0-)

      the shit cannot be put back in the horse.  there is no possible redemption for a Lanza or a McVeigh - do  you suppose they will find a cure for cancer or something if somehow "rehabilitated" ?

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:48:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So what does killing them accomplish? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rigcath, tegrat, lyvwyr101, mythatsme

        Others have poked holes in your (mostly practical, not moral case), so what good does killing them do? As you say, "the shit cannot be put back in the horse": no one is being unkilled by executing Timothy McVeigh. So what's the rationale for not offering the possibility of redemption? Is a mass-murderer like McVeigh ever likely to achieve it? Probably not, but there's absolutely no harm in trying.

        •  its expensive as hell to keep them in a cage (0+ / 0-)

          THAT is the moral argument

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:20:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If your only moral argument... (5+ / 0-)

            ...is really that the cost of keeping them alive exceeds the cost of killing them, how does your logic not then justify the killing of other non-criminal people whose economic cost to society exceeds their economic contribution to society?

            If your moral reasoning is based only on a pure cost-benefit economic analysis, it leads us down an extremely troubling path.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:29:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  people die every single day over $$ (0+ / 0-)

              we already make all kinds of choices in those regards....

              one moral value is proportionality- not the only one- but its important.

              Out of my cold dead hands

              by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:03:47 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  And those of us who are progressive... (0+ / 0-)

                ...are working towards a world in which nobody dies over a lack of money, in which every one of us has the opportunity to provide for ourselves and our families.

                Your argument that the morality of the death penalty is justified in part because criminals are supposedly too expensive to keep alive leads us in the opposite direction.

                "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                by JamesGG on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:15:07 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Let's see if I can explain this for the 10th time (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lcork, seancdaug, tegrat, lyvwyr101

            the death penalty is more expensive than life in prison.

            What about this is so difficult to fathom?

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

            by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:38:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If the death penalty was less (0+ / 0-)

              expensive than life in prison, would you then be OK with it?

              •  No (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                seancdaug, lyvwyr101

                But that's not the point. I've laid out the reasons why I think the death penalty is wrong. This one is just the most practical and most bi-partisan.

                I've stated before that I think this is probably not the route that an abolitionist should take as his primary argument. Because it will be countered by people like this diarist, who believe that the solution is then to "make it cheaper!"

                Anyone who works closely with this stuff knows that the mantra of "make it cheaper" would manifest itself in fewer constitutional protections for the accused. The states already woefully underspend on indigent defense, and they have shown a willingness to tear up the Constitution (6th amendment) in the name of cost-effectiveness. No reason to expect anything different here.

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

                by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:19:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  That depends on how you achieve that, surely? n/t (0+ / 0-)
            •  the expense can and should be dramatically cut (0+ / 0-)

              that's part of the argument.

              Out of my cold dead hands

              by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:04:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You've stated this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lyvwyr101

                But you've yet to describe how you would "dramatically cut" costs. I know why the death penalty costs so much. So I know that any cost-cutting measures would be, in effect, constitutional protection-cutting measures.

                As a previous commenter made clear to you - your goals of making the death penalty cheaper and making it less fallible are mutually exclusive. The very things that keep innocent people from being killed are the things that drive the cost.

                A question for you, because your thoughts on this seem to be from helicopter level - how much experience do you have on the ground with this issue? Do you work in the criminal justice system?

                Because almost everything I've seen you suggest (especially asking states to forfeit policing power) are so impractical that they cannot be considered real solutions.

                I'd point you to the Supreme Court case Coleman v. Thompson, where Sandra Day O'Connor starter her opinion with the phrase, "This is a case about federalism." The court decided by a 6-3 count (not really close in Supreme Court terms) that the federal court could not hear an issue on appeal because the defendant's lawyer had failed to raise that issue in a state court.

                The defendant's lawyer missed a filing deadline by one day, and thus the defendant did not technically exhaust all of his state appeals. The federal court would not even consider one issue on appeal because it did not want to disrupt the ability of states and their courts to decide what to do with criminals.

                Given that ruling - the court overwhelming found that it wouldn't even allow an appeal in those circumstances, how would you ever think that a court would allow the federal government to take over the death penalty enforcement of state crimes?

                Or are you just proposing the death penalty for federal crimes?

                After reading a lot of your stuff, I gather a decent lack of understanding about the practical aspects of the system. No disrespect intended; just my opinion.

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

                by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:28:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  uniformity,standing, and one forum (0+ / 0-)

                  rather than hundreds or thousands would make it far less costly.

                  Out of my cold dead hands

                  by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:41:12 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You do realize there are reasons why we have (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    seancdaug, lyvwyr101

                    multiple levels of review, right? Because courts and judges make mistakes.

                    You responded to a relatively long and detailed explanation with one incoherent sentence that addressed none of what I mentioned. That tells me all that I need to know about your position here, and it will allow me to bow out of this discussion without wasting any more of my time.

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

                    by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:57:15 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  yeah, lets cut out the middleman and go straight (0+ / 0-)

                to the gibbet...those judges and lawyers are too damn expensive.

            •  It is more expensive (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lyvwyr101

              Because we assign the death penalty WAY to frequently.  It is handed out too frequently as though it means something.  Doing so devalues human life.

              It also devalues the purpose (in my mind).  The death penalty is not a matter of deterrent.  It's terrible at that.  Therefore, the more we hand it out, the more appeals, the higher the cost, etc.

              In the cases which I believe the author highlighted, or at least the cases I would highlight, you have only one category really: admitted serial or mass murderers.  

              The reasoning is simple: there is no rehabilitative act that can recover them, and admitted them to a prison population slows the potential for rehabilitation amongst other prisoners, and directly encourages immediate recidivism by encouraging them to commit a capital crime against a fellow prisoner.

              And in that environment, you are basically sentencing someone to a cruel and unusual penalty, death at the hands of inmates.  

              And I am not OK with that.

              Should we have the death penalty?  Only in a very, very limited situation.
              Do we overuse it: yes.

              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 01:29:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  That's not morality (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tegrat, lyvwyr101, mythatsme

            You are seriously making the argument that money is equivalent to morality? If do, more power to you, but I don't think there's much hope of it gaining any traction as a "progressive" argument. At best, you have a pragmatic argument, not a anything resembling a moral one.

            In reality, you don't even have that, because it's demonstrably more expensive to kill them. Yes, I know you said you want to change that, but you've not explained how. In practice, your two goals of eliminating unjust executions and reducing costs have proven mutually exclusive. You reduce costs by reducing the checks in place to prevent misapplication.

            So if your "moral argument" is that life imprisonment is too expensive, then the logical extension is that accidentally killing a few innocents is preferable to paying for a functional judiciary. Which I, personally, would characterize not only as non-moral, but immoral.

            •  why is theft immoral ? (0+ / 0-)

              Out of my cold dead hands

              by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:05:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Seriously? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lyvwyr101

                As a moral position, the prohibition on thievery can be justified any number of ways. But, for me, it comes down to the fact that my possessions were, in some fashion, earned by me. The expectation is that I put in some sort of work or other expense (time, money, friendship, political connections, relation to a rich person, etc.) and, in exchange for that expense, I receive an object with the expectation that I will keep it. Money is, at absolute most, an abstraction of that original exchange, and more often than not, a distraction from it. The crime is not that "someone stole my hard earned money," the crime is that someone violated the basic expectation of fairness and equability that allows society to function.

                And as a moral argument, that's still weak sauce. John Locke formulated the phrase "life, liberty, and property" in that specific order. Life is more important than liberty. Liberty is more important than property. When Thomas Jefferson cribbed heavily from Locke in composing the Declaration of Independence, he let "property" slip off the list entirely, replacing it with the (IMO, more precise) "pursuit of happiness." So consider me, and the entire social philosophy of the United States, profoundly unswayed by an argument that places property (i.e., money) ahead of life.

                All of which, again, ignores the rather basic contention that, as has been said repeatedly, the death penalty is more expensive that life imprisonment, and the only way to change that is to further erode protections that prevent the unjustified killing of the innocent. I would suggest that your moral argument is either not fully reasoned through, or in direct violation of the guiding philosophy of the nation.

          •  That's not a moral argument at all (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            seancdaug, lyvwyr101

            that's an economic argument, and a flawed one.  The death penalty is far more expensive to carry out.

            You hear about crazy, but it's rarer than you think. -Jon Stewart 1/10/2011

            Help Me Find Mister Boots

            by lcork on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:15:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  It is not a deterrent (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lyvwyr101

          But a sentence to a death penalty allows them a different level of prison maintenance that removes them from the mix of general population constitutionally.

          If you don't, you are asking them to go into general population.. and other prisoners will kill them.   See: Jeffrey Dahmer.

          By doing that you not only sentence him to a cruel & unusual death by whatever means other inmates come up with.. often beatings or knifings with crudely made weapons, but you also set back the potential rehabilitation of every member of the prison in which that individual is housed.

          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 01:26:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That seems easy enough to fix (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lyvwyr101

            What do we do with death row when/if we abolish the death penalty? Why does the idea that we shouldn't kill prisoners logically extend to the idea that we should unleash them on the general population? Why wouldn't existing security levels (minimum, maximum, etc.) be extended or adapted to deal with individuals deemed too dangerous to interact with other prisoners, many of whom are not on death row, anyway (see Charles Manson)?

            •  The heartless truth? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              seancdaug, lyvwyr101

              Creating a multi-level prison system only further corrupts the idea of rehabilitation.   We end up creating a prison where we determine a large block of people can never be rehabilitated, and we curse them with that by linking them in with others who will also view as "never can be rehabbed", and that category becomes drastically over-used.

              I realize that is also a slippery slope, but some have pointed out those who have committed more than one murder who, given enough time were able to absolutely come to terms with the nature of their life and reform.   For them, a life in prison in a mixed population is their only real shot for redemption.  

              But some people do not fit into that category.  Even more cruel, sometimes society knows that if you put people in that category in mixed population, they will get killed.  And we are seemingly "OK" with that.. in fact, we mock that fact.  "Prison justice" it's often called.   But what does it really do?

              In the case of Manson, you have to realize that Manson's setup, if he had ever challenged might be considered the equivelent of cruel & unusual, as treatment of an individual to put them in a different confinement from all other prisoners or to mandate a seemingly permanent solitary confinement has been found to fall into that cruel & unusual category, humans require more interaction than that in order to prevent them from going nutty.   (which Manson, in prison, if he wasn't nutty absolutely did go nuts).

              I don't know if it is in the best interest of society to torture people for years on end in that kind of imprisonment.. frankly, I'm a little concerned that level of torture is far more egregious than ending their existence.

              If we've determined someone can never interact with others again, than I don't know what a fitting option is that isn't the same as torture.

              I don't have a good answer for this.   I am very conflicted about this.   I think we drastically over use it.   But I think in some cases we will be forced to either torture someone for years on end by putting them in a hole where they cannot interact, or we end their existence.  And I'm not sure which one I have more comfort with.

              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 02:14:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's fair, and I understand your case (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tmservo433, lyvwyr101

                I don't really have a good solution for it, either. But, for me, it's more important to recognize the inherent fallibility of human-run systems. As such, since we cannot eliminate it with 100% certainty, we must accept the probability that innocents will be executed. And that, in mind, is unacceptable. As cruel and unusual as sticking someone in solitary confinement for life may be, it doesn't hold a candle to the act of snuffing out the life of someone who has done nothing to deserve it. Even if they are both cruel and unusual punishment (an open question, admittedly), the latter is far worse than the former, IMO.

                That said, we already do have a multi-level prison system. It may not be perfect, but I don't really accept that abolishing the death penalty is going to make matters worse. So I can, at least, compartmentalize the problems, since one does not (or should not) directly impact the other.

                Sometimes I muse on the idea of a "voluntary" death sentence, where the prisoner is able to choose execution instead of life (or extremely extended) imprisonment. It's not perfect, but at least it would seem to strike a balance between the two extremes. It inevitably runs aground on the idea that I can come up with no way to realistically structure such a system that isn't wide open to abuse.

                •  This is fitting (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  seancdaug, lyvwyr101

                  I think if you look at that, it's really what happens in some cases.   Ted Bundy had openly said that he wanted his life to be over.  In his case, he once escaped from custody and cried that he wished he had been shot in the escape.

                  He was later put into prison with others where he was gang-raped by other inmates who viewed his crimes so horrible they "thought he had it coming".

                  I don't know how to feel about that, as an advocate in all my life against sex crimes knowing that some people who are in this elite category are basically let for a life long of torture, sexual abuse, etc. in a prison system..

                  Bundy basically begged off his attorneys and went through rapid trials to get it over with.. he had not only confessed but helped to try to capture someone else, and told his prosecutors that even being alive while he was being tormented with a deep desire to kill again was brutal, unlivable.

                  I don't know how to deal with that.  McVeigh had the same problem.

                  I think we abuse the death penalty on people who have committed a murder, or even many who may be able to be reformed.   But there are those who all we can offer them is torture or an end.

                  I don't know the answer.   But I look at what happened with Bundy, with him begging to be let go, and with McVeigh who scared other prisoners as well as being afraid of them and I think: is it fair at all for us to torture those people by keeping them alive to be publically hated/tormented by their peers?   Is that more cruel & unusual?

                  I don't have the answer.   The problem is, I don't think anyone does.

                  I think the fact that we overuse the death penalty to the degree that we do prevents a really honest debate about a deeper issue: are there some individuals who deserve society's mercy by being let go as the most humane option?

                  But because of the way we treat the death penalty, like a slaughtermill, we can't discuss that fine point.. because we don't get there.  

                  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 02:38:52 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I agree totally- (0+ / 0-)

          but unfortunately we live in a country where punishment provides the cash that keeps the system up and running.

          A moral stand won't fill anyone's pockets---- and it is not convenient either.

          Surely---you can see---clearly---that it lacks for appeal.

          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 03:37:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Define "redemption." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tegrat, lyvwyr101

      Is this about some sort of moral or psychological redemption, or is it about redemption or absolution in the eyes of the law?

      I oppose the death penalty as a matter of pragmatics as well as principle, but any view of "redemption" that would have seen Timothy McVeigh breathing air again as a free man is odious to me on a moral level. For some people, their acts are so heinous that it is impossible for them to pay their debt to society in one lifetime; they should be imprisoned for life without parole.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:03:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm definitely not talking about setting them free (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seancdaug, lyvwyr101

        Certainly there are individuals who should never walk freely in society. Beyond redemption, to me, means incpable of any contribution of significance to society in any way shape or form (granted, another rather arbitrary distinction). All I really mean to say is that you would be hard pressed to find a human being that has absolutely zero value. To me none of the four criminals cited meet that standard (arbitrary as it is).

    •  Beyond redemption is a difficult question (0+ / 0-)

      That is something we may never know.  We have to remember, though, Sadam Hussein was not a US death penalty, and in that case, he was a war criminal tried under those terms, his death wasn't a criminal result, it was the result of a succession of government.

      Whether or not anyone wants to admit it, as long as he was alive, he existed as a figurehead for a potential return to a government method they were trying to reset.   This is the same argument made with someone like Bin Laden, who was responsible for far fewer deaths.

      In the case of others, we have to remember that part of the factor is what happens otherwise.  If you mix McVeigh, who admitted to his crimes and said he believed they were all deserved in an attempt to overthrow the government, into a prison all you are doing is asking other prisoners to kill him - which they would have done.  In that environment, have you done more harm to their chance at rehabilitation or have you conducted a good deed by allowing him to live?

      In those cases, there is no real clear cut answer.

      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 01:24:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry, but I don't make moral opinions (11+ / 0-)

    based on what the majority of Americans believe. If everyone did that there would never be any progress, ever.

    The death penalty is morally wrong. That you think humans are monsters because they are capable of murder, and that means it's okay for the state to commit murder in retribution is mind-boggling.

    And good luck administering the death penalty properly. Humans are error prone, and as long as we have the ability to put people to death, we will have the ability to make mistakes when we do so.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:50:56 AM PST

  •  speak for your own damn self (11+ / 0-)
    When a human being is utterly broken and a proven man eater, it should be destroyed.   We don't think twice about this concept with chimps and lions and pit bulls and other similar cases when a face is torn off or a child mauled.
    the hell "we" don't.

    speaking of sophisms,

    OK you say, the moral case makes sense, but in the real world in which we live, the death penalty cannot be enforced in a moral way.   Mistakes are made, the expenses of maintaining the sanction cost more than the costs of housing the prisoners for life, and the penalty falls in unequal ways on unequal classes of person.   That is the essence of this diary.

    To that I say:  you are substantively correct.   But the moral choice is not to abolish the penalty, but to drive to perfect it's use and lower its cost.

    and how many innocent people will be put to death in the meantime?  how many millions wasted while this all gets sorted?  if you truly believe the former, proposing the latter is absurd.
    Having only a single procedure and apparatus, all by itself, solves innumerable problems of inequality and maladministration.  If a state wants to execute a prisoner, that prisoner should be remanded to the federal justice system straight away.
    could you drop the plunger yourself?  would you carry out the government's order to commit cold-blooded murder?

    no?  then you really don't support the death penalty.

    income inequality creates crime, so therefore, punishing criminals is automatically unequal, and thus immoral.   So why stop with the death penalty?    The same argument holds for everything from traffic stops to grand theft.    Brown people suffer more on every level in our society.    Do we work on improving that, or do we cease to apply sanctions on everyone to avoid over- sanctioning disadvantaged groups?  

    now this is where your solution to make improvements makes sense, because yes, you are right that the inequity needs to be addressed at all levels.

    but death is permanent, yo.  at least someone railroaded into prison on a trumped-up case can get out someday.  unless the law and our system is guaranteed 100% corruption- and flaw-free, the death penalty is wrong.

    the massive amount of money spent running the current system costs more than imprisoning for life, and those  are “precocious dollars” that could otherwise help the poor.   So if the administration could be streamlined and less costly than life without parole,  the death penalty is then better for the poor?
    this is just patent nonsense.  study after study after study has indicated that death penalty cases cost way, way more than life sentences.  the appeals are pushed to the very last, at great expense to the state/courts.
    the death penalty is pursued for atavistic reasons  “out of a need to indulge our most barbarian instincts of revenge and anger” and is thus irrational, IOW immoral.   So likewise, is any argument for the sanctity or specialness of human life invalid because of a need to indulge our religious or metaphysical instincts?
    if i could suss what your point was here, i'd smack it down, too.
    Conservatives love strident anti-death penalty positioning.  They love it because they know progressives are by and large on the wrong side of the argument to great numbers of Americans.  We should not be on the wrong side in the first place, and we should seek to avoid giving the other side that potent example – that mirror image really- of intellectual hoop jumping in support of a desired ideological outcome.
    LOL

    opponents of the death penalty are not on the wrong side of this one, and history will vindicate that.

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

    by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:53:14 AM PST

    •  you smacked nothing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OffTheHill

      and misused the definition of murder.

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:51:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LOL (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lyvwyr101, mythatsme

        okay, technically murder is "unlawful" killing, but really...the solution to murder is more killing?

        and are "murder" and "killing" really so different in spirit in the context of capital punishment?  is one any more the cold-blooded taking of a life than the other?

        and really, seriously:  could you do the deed yourself?

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

        by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:44:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  duty (0+ / 0-)

          I would not seek, nor in any way enjoy doing the job, but like any other dirty job, someone has to do it, so I guess I could.  

          that's a pretty big technicality.

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:06:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  really? you could take a life in cold blood? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lyvwyr101

            what if the state got it wrong and the person is later exonerated?  could you live with that?

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

            by Cedwyn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:21:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  if the system were correct (0+ / 0-)

              the chances would be vanishingly low.

              surgeons kill people by mistake every day.  they keep going anyway....

              Out of my cold dead hands

              by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:44:16 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  How do you support that claim? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lyvwyr101

                "Vanishingly low"? Based on what reasoning? Because you certainly haven't provided anything other than a vague promise to "drive" towards perfection. And that's a fairly empty promise when, as has been revealed in numerous comments so far, you don't even seem to understand the system as it exists. Which is true, at least, if you seriously think that apply the death penalty only in really bad cases is a substantive reform proposal.

                •  can you read? (0+ / 0-)

                  substantive reform proposal:

                  - federalize all capital cases and remove capital cases from the states

                  - narrow the standing rules for those cases to fitting cases

                  - create a trained and more efficient process to handle the cases  

                  result: lower cost, removed incentives toward local perversion of justice= vanishingly small screw-ups

                  Out of my cold dead hands

                  by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:34:55 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Really? Beacuse the feds never make mistakes and (0+ / 0-)

                    you still have good old Anton Scalia on the SC with his lovely ruling that proof of innocence is not cause enough to overturn a death penalty conviction...not even to afford the accused a new trial. Based on actual innocence! What's your "Federal" solution for that?

                    "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 03:55:42 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  so "no proposal" (0+ / 0-)

                      becomes, "your proposal sucks"

                      progress !

                      Out of my cold dead hands

                      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:54:32 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  "Create a more efficient process" isn't a proposal (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mindara

                        Neither is "narrow the standing rules." Those are statements of intents. Describe what your actual proposals are, and there might be a discussion to be had here. How will your narrow the standing rules in such a way that is different from the status quo? What will you do to improve efficiency? You can't just will an outcome into existence.

                      •  Way to avoid the Supreme Court question I posed... (0+ / 0-)

                        The feds are human too...they make mistakes and the SC is the last option for those who have been wrongly convicted and their current stance that actual proof of innocence is not enough to overturn a death penalty conviction is something that cannot be ignored if you are going to defend and advocate for the death penalty. Do you not get the fact that INNOCENT people have been executed?? And as long as human beings are involved in the process of investigating and prosecuting other human beings mistakes will be made. How anyone can find that is an acceptable risk when it comes to taking the life of another human being is beyond me.

                        "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 09:57:00 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

      •  Homicide is homicide, plain and simple. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        The manner of death on the death certificate of a person executed by the state or the Federal gov't is Homicide, the same manner of death that is on my 12 year old cousin's death certificate. Homicide by definition is murder. And when you try to justify your positiion "morally" by basing it on flawed (very, very flawed) economic reasons, maybe you also need to understand what "morality" means as well.

        "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 03:51:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  humanity will expire (0+ / 0-)

      before capital punishment will

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:00:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You haven't made a moral case for it. (10+ / 0-)

    What you have written includes no justification for the death penalty at all. You offer a brief critique of some of the objections to the policy, but you don't present any reasons for why the death penalty produces something desirable or morally right.

    It's not enough merely to cite the names of monsters such as Tim McVeigh, Saddam Hussein, Ted Bundy and Adam Lanza. There are at least a couple winners of the Nobel Peace Prize who have achieved higher body counts through repetitive criminal acts. It's almost impossible to be objective in deciding who should receive the death penalty and who shouldn't.

    My own opinion is that there is no discernible good that comes from pursuing or implementing the death penalty. Providing someone (you?) with the satisfaction that revenge has been achieved doesn't count as a benefit. Meanwhile, there are many consequences of it that are discernibly bad.

    *** All our work toward economic and social justice won't matter the slightest bit unless we start reversing global warming right now. ***

    by CupaJoe on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:01:19 AM PST

    •  proportionality (0+ / 0-)

      is the moral argument.

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:52:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So we follow the code of Leviticus 24:19-20 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lyvwyr101
        19. And a man who inflicts an injury upon his fellow man just as he did, so shall be done to him [namely,]

        20. fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Just as he inflicted an injury upon a person, so shall it be inflicted upon him.

        That isn't a moral foundation I'm comfortable with.

        Now, if you could make the case that the death penalty results in fewer starving children, or fewer wars, or fewer murders (and that all of those results are morally good), then you'd be making a moral case for the death penalty. But as far as I know, evidence says the death penalty doesn't achieve things like that.

        *** All our work toward economic and social justice won't matter the slightest bit unless we start reversing global warming right now. ***

        by CupaJoe on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:10:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  me neither (0+ / 0-)

          Now, if you could make the case that the death penalty results in fewer starving children, or fewer wars, or fewer murders (and that all of those results are morally good), then you'd be making a moral case for the death penalty.

          You just made my case, thank you.

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:21:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, "an eye for an eye" is a moral argument (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lyvwyr101

        It's just not one that most people are comfortable with in the abstract, and is one of those things that civilization is supposed to get us away from, as a species.

        •  my argument has zero vengence content (0+ / 0-)

          I reject the concept 100%- there is no moral basis for it.

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:10:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Er, I didn't mention vengeance (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lyvwyr101

            "An eye for an eye" is not intended as a statement of vengeance, and it was not originally formulated as such. It is an example of proportional punishment: "the idea that the punishment of an offender should fit the crime." If you take my eye, is it not appropriate that I take yours in return?

            The problem is, while it may not be intended as a statement of vengeance, taken to extremes, there's little practical difference between proportionality and vengeance. If you seek a true, 1:1 relationship between the crime and its legal punishment, then you are inevitably giving the legal system the right to do things that would, under any other circumstance, be unacceptable. So it's fairly well understood that there are limits to proportionality, as a legal philosophy. We don't rape rapists. We don't torture torturers. And, as I have argued, it's equally wrong to kill killers. They may deserve it, and it may even be "fair" to the convicted when judged in a strictly proportional manner, but it's still a bridge too far, too easily abused, and not worth the cost necessary to get it right.

  •  I find it confusing that… (5+ / 0-)

    man hasn't absolutely proven to all, including those like myself who have little moral qualms about the concept, beyond a shadow of a doubt his complete inability to administer the death penalty (play God) without in the end screwing up and executing innocent people – totally and completely unacceptable. Sorry, I just lose patience with the rest of the arguments.

    I voted for the UPPITY ONE

    by qua on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:11:39 AM PST

    •  Medicine (0+ / 0-)

      He has also shown the same with medical practice.  People will die by medical mistake, without fail.   Yet we persist.
       

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:11:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I mentioned earlier (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lyvwyr101, denise b

        Medical malpractice is, in the vast, vast majority of situations, truly accidental. Doctors do not intend to kill people. When they do, it's a very serious matter, but it's equivalent to the difference between murder and accidental manslaughter. Both are worthy of punishment, perhaps, but the former is almost incomprehensibly worse than the latter.

        And so it is here. No one is ever "accidentally" executed. Nobody goes onto death row to get a root canal and winds up with a lethal injection. The government has extensively argued that the person being executed has committed a crime to which the only appropriate response is death. That they believed they were correct is no excuse, any more than I would get (or deserve) leniency for murdering someone I wrongly believed was sleeping with my wife. "I'm sorry, your honor, but I think you reduce my sentence because I didn't realize he was a eunuch" is not a winning legal argument, nor should it be. If anything, it makes the whole mess all the more unforgivable.

  •  "Chimps and lions and pit bulls" (8+ / 0-)

    do not have, under the guiding legal and philosophical documents of our nation, a right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. The idea that executing humans is acceptable because it's acceptable to put down a rabid dog is so absurd that I can't believe you're putting it forward as a serious argument. Despite what you might see over at ICanHasCheezburger.com, cats do not have a right to trial by a jury of their peers, and that fact has no material bearing on the rights of homo sapiens.

    I'm also not sure what you're trying to say with your reference to money. Is it that a person serving an extended (or life) sentence may as well not be living because s/he isn't earning? If so, that's... diseased, frankly, and to a level that I suspect would make even the most ardent, "pro-business" Republican or robber baron of old blush. Or is it that it's unreasonable to expect the criminal justice system to employ people to run the prisons? That's less objectionable, I suppose, but equally absurd. The same logic could be applied to generate moral outrage against any profession on the very same grounds. Similarly, even I accepted this is an issue of morality (and, honestly, I don't: I think it's flat-out insane), I could just as easily turn your own argument around and argue that "the moral choice is not to reduce the number of people working the prison system, but to drive to perfect it's use and lower its cost." Fully automated prisons, perhaps. If you don't mean either of my above readings, what do you mean?

    On the subject of your "perfect its use and lower its cost" argument, fine. Except that there are situations where the perfect really should be the enemy of the good. There are times when the total number of "acceptable losses" are zero. And this is pretty clearly one of those cases. The Constitution clearly and straightforwardly protects the right of individual life and liberty. The only times in which we, as a society, allow these rights to be taken away are when that person is guilty of a crime.

    State-sanctioned execution is quite obviously a removal of a person's right to life, a right that can never be restored once removed. So you had better have a damned good justification for that removal in the first place. The moment your system fails, and an innocent man or woman is killed, you no longer have the moral protection that you were just seeking justice. You failed in the single most important piece of due diligence imaginable, and you have violated an innocent person's unalienable rights in a way that can never be rectified. That makes you, simply put, a monster, no matter how well-meaning your intentions.

    So there's no "drive to perfect" anything. You make it perfect, and maybe then you'll convince me. Even if you do, it's entirely contingent. The moment it becomes clear that someone was wrongly executed, even in light of your "perfect" system, that entire system is invalid, and you have made monsters out of yourself and everyone who supported you. Are you that sure that the system is perfectible? Would you stake your own life on it, in the same way that you stake others' lives on it?

    Finally, on the issue of sophistry, you've made a good job of completely misrepresenting the anti-execution argument. Point by point:

    • The major difference between arguing that income inequality and its effect on the justice system should make us reconsider execution versus any other form of punishment currently practiced is that the former is irreversible. If you incarcerate someone for five years and then discover you were wrong to do so, you can release him or her and at least attempt to redress that initial injustice. How do you intend to resurrect the innocent dead person you wrongly executed?
    • If my aunt was a man, wouldn't she be my uncle? A nice hypothetical, but you're stuck in the realm of the hypothetical. Furthermore, you're advocating two goals that have traditionally been mutually exclusive. On one hand, you want you want to reduce the cases where the death penalty is misapplied. Traditionally, you do that by improving the trial process and giving the accused greater opportunity to appeal his or her sentence. That comes at a cost which directly contradicts your second goal, to reduce cost. Again, resolve that apparent contradiction in a non-abstract way and we'll talk. Until then, it's not a argument.

    Finally, who cares what conservatives think? Am I supposed to be ashamed that I hold an opinion out of the current political mainstream? Did you happen to live through the 1980s? Or 2001 through 2008? I do think that progressives, and the American public at large, is wrong to support the death penalty. Saying that I shouldn't do so because it's politically unpopular is no different than saying I should abandon my belief in single payer health insurance because Rasmussen has done a couple of polls recently that indicate a plurality of Americans do not want such a system. If my opinions were mainstream, I wouldn't have to argue for them.

    •  ha ! (0+ / 0-)

      that someone was wrongly executed, even in light of your "perfect" system, that entire system is invalid.

      really?   then close all the hospitals, because sometimes people die from medical mistakes.  

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:54:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not equivalent, and you know it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lyvwyr101, hnichols, denise b

        Most medical procedures are undertaken with the consent of the patient, which changes the situation considerably. The patient is (or should be, anyway) aware that there is risk involved. And when a hospital ends up killing more people than it helps, that hospital is shut down. Quickly.

        But this is silly, since I already referenced this in the message you're responding. There are, again, times when the perfect should be the enemy of the good. Which means that there are other times when it should not. There's a cost/benefit analysis, and it justifies your silly example because, a) more good is done by the hospital system than bad, and b) the express purposes of the medical profession is not to deny people of their natural rights as codified in the founding documents of our nation.

        A primary anti-execution argument is that it does little to no demonstrable good that couldn't be achieved more easily and less controversially with other forms of punishment. Your attempt to refute this on moral grounds consisted of nothing more than rattling off a list of serial killer names. Which, suffice it to say, is a bit of a weak argument. Meanwhile, the entire point of the death penalty is that it intentionally removes an individual right. Since our entire society is structured around recognition of the right to life, the situations where it's okay to do that are hugely proscribed.

        Arguing that it's okay to execute a few innocents as long as we get it mostly right doesn't fly. This is too serious a matter, in the same way that the government doesn't get to force you to incriminate yourself (in contravention of the Bill of Rights) just because they're pretty sure you're guilty, anyway, or force you to garrison soldiers in your living room just because the hotels are too expensive.

        •  dance around (0+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          Hidden by:
          mythatsme

          my argument all you want, but its simple

          money=life

          life in prison= very expensive

          takers of life should not take more life.

          what don't you get ?

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:12:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  See here is where your article breaks down (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            seancdaug, lyvwyr101

            You conveniently get out of the huge problem (for your argument) by stating, without any support, that we will "make the death penalty cheaper."

            Which cannot be practically done under our constitution, as I have pointed out to you.

            And without your easy out (the unsubstantiated claim that we can magically snap our fingers and make the death penalty cheaper without changing the entire foundation of our country), your argument beats itself to death. Because if:

            money=life

            and life in prison = very expensive

            and death penalty = even more expensive

            and your argument is that "takes of life should not take more life (money)," then the death penalty would necessarily be a worse result than life in prison under the assumptions you have laid out here.

            Which leaves the ball in your court - in order to show that your argument "works" (if we accept your argument), you have to prove that you can make the death penalty cheaper than life in prison. Given that the death penalty is about twice as expensive right now, you have a lot of work to do. And I'd like to see you do it without destroying the constitution of the United States if you can.

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

            by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:34:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think it's pretty clear I disagree with you (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lyvwyr101, mythatsme

            But I'm seriously wondering, did you honestly believe that any argument boiling down to "money=life" was going to gain any traction as a "progressive" case (moral or otherwise) for execution? Because any conflation of liberty with property to that extreme is so far right wing that I can't imagine Rush Limbaugh being able to spout it off with a straight face.

            But, that aside, I'll tell you (again) what I don't get.

            • Life in prison is expensive. The death penalty is more expensive. Doesn't that make it worse. then?
            • Why is it necessary to kill a person to prevent them from killing again? If it is, why is it inappropriate to "drive to perfect it's[sic] use" in such a way that we don't have to kill people to protect other people? Why is "we'll work on that, I promise" an valid excuse for your argument, but unacceptable for mine?

            What don't you get?

          •  You are not debating (0+ / 0-)

            You just ignored all seancdaug's well-articulated points; why should anyone waste his breath arguing with you?

            We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

            by denise b on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:06:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  This: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            seancdaug
            money=life
            It is just too disgusting to disucss.

            "This isn't America" - Zenkai Girl

            by mythatsme on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:05:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  No, the first moral choice (5+ / 0-)

    is realizing that no human system is failsafe. Therefore, no systemic action should be sanctioned that can't be undone.

    If you can construct a perfect system of justice, we can have this conversation. Until then, we will inevitably execute the innocent along with the guilty.

    They're not "assault weapons"; just call them "Freedom Sparklers".

    by MBNYC on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:19:47 AM PST

    •  we can do far, far better (0+ / 0-)

      with a single, federal death penalty with narrow rules and highly trained people, limited costs, etc.

      the number of people who should get the penalty is very small- the current system is effed on all levels

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:23:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        seancdaug, lyvwyr101

        we could just realize that the state should not have the power to put its own citizens to death, because if that power exists, it can and likely will be used unjustly.

        I'm a New Yorker, I watched the 9/11 attacks, and not on television either. I understand the desire for vengeance. But I also see little reason to assume it can be channeled in a way that completely, 100% avoids mistakes.

        They're not "assault weapons"; just call them "Freedom Sparklers".

        by MBNYC on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:31:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Abolish the death penalty. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seancdaug, Flying Goat, lyvwyr101, mindara

    For everybody and anybody.

  •  There are billions of dollars wasted in the prison (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, lyvwyr101

    industrial complex that have nothing to  do with the death penalty.  Focusing on getting rid of unnecessary and unnecessarily lengthy incarceration would save so much money that no one would even worry about the cost of imprisonment for life those you would choose to "streamline" towards death.  

  •  Sorry, but this argument is ridiculous: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rigcath, a2nite, lyvwyr101

    "When a human being is utterly broken and a proven man eater, it should be destroyed.   We don't think twice about this concept with chimps and lions and pit bulls and other similar cases when a face is torn off or a child mauled."

    Chimps and lions and pit bulls do not have higher reasoning skills. They lack the ability to reflect on past actions or fully appreciate the future consequences of current ones. They also (except for chimps) lack self-awareness (i.e. the Mirror Test) and possess a rudimentary theory of mind -- if at all. What we do with a dangerous animal has no bearing on the death penalty argument.

    "But the moral choice is not to abolish the penalty, but to drive to perfect it's use and lower its cost."

    Why not, instead, put this energy into creating a society in which violent crime will be rare, or even unheard of? This seems like a far better use of our time and creativity, than in trying to create a more streamlined system for killing people.

    Let's make 2013 the year we take back our planet.

    by Eowyn9 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:38:56 AM PST

    •  self-awareness changes what exactly? (0+ / 0-)

      and further, who knows what's in the mind of a pitbull or a lion?  

      Out of my cold dead hands

      by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:57:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Presumably, if I possess self-awareness, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lyvwyr101

        I can recognize that I committed a particular action. Furthermore, I can take steps to ensure that I will not repeat that action in the future. (For example, if I am a human being prone to becoming violently angry, I can take an anger management or meditation course.)

        Self-awareness is not sufficient, I think, for moral responsibility (I would state that higher reasoning, an awareness of time -- past and future -- and theory of mind are also needed) but it is necessary.

        Who knows what's in the mind of a pitbull or a lion?
        Indeed, who does? They don't possess language and as such we can't communicate with them. However, we can communicate with our fellow human beings, including those accused of murder.

        Any thoughts on my other question?

        Why not, instead, put this energy into creating a society in which violent crime will be rare, or even unheard of?

        Let's make 2013 the year we take back our planet.

        by Eowyn9 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:01:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the self-awreness of unfixable broken minds (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sandbox

          is valuable in what way?

          Out of my cold dead hands

          by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:24:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  By what standard is a mind "unfixable"? (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Grizzard, Flying Goat, lyvwyr101, denise b

            Are you God?

            Or do you know someone who has the ability to read others' minds?

            Even if they did, how could they know that a particular mind was "unfixable?"

            Frankly, any of us -- under the right set of circumstances -- could commit a murder. Yes, anyone right here posting on this site. If we were hungry or scared or intimidated or desperate or angry or despairing enough... Human nature, throughout history, has made that very clear.

            And yet each of us is also capable of the most loving, inspiring, incredible acts as well. There is no such thing as an "unfixable" person.

            We need to create a system in which people do not murder, because there is no need or incentive to.

            We need to create a system that focuses on bringing out the best in people, not the worst.

            Let's make 2013 the year we take back our planet.

            by Eowyn9 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:38:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I dont propose death penatly for "a" murder (0+ / 0-)

              read the post- I suggest that only multiple slayings or heinous single slayings should be eligible.

              Are you saying psychotic sociopathy cannot be established?

              Out of my cold dead hands

              by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:15:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You don't know much about death penalty law? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                seancdaug, lyvwyr101

                Do you?

                You realize that what you're suggesting is basically the system now, right? "Heinous single slayings," that is. The death penalty cannot be imposed without aggravating factors being present (these are the things that the state has determined makes a murder "heinous."

                How exactly is your proposal different? Aside from you being the single arbitor of what constitutes a heinous slaying?

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

                by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:36:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  who says I am the arbiter ? (0+ / 0-)

                  and I said the goal of progressives should be to improve the system.

                  federalize it (states run elections, but civil rights laws trump)

                  narrow the standing rules (cases without doubt)

                  narrow the process (trial, appeal, application for cert, that's it)

                  yes, it CAN be done far cheaper, far surer, and far faster, without ANY constitutional degradation, because it cant get much worse than it is right now....

                  Out of my cold dead hands

                  by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:48:21 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Abolishing it *is* improving it (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lyvwyr101

                    "It cant get much worse" is not an argument. First, yes, it can. Ask 1910s Russia, or 1920s Germany. It can always get worse. Second, that implies that any change is inherently a good one. In which case, demanding that all executions be held on Wednesday morning before The Price is Right by an ex-heavyweight boxer and ice cream truck driver named Brutus would be a meaningful reform. Saying "it can't get much worse" is fine as a conversation starter. But if your supporting argument ends there, as it seems to have done, you've got a problem.

                    And, as I've mentioned before, you've got a weird ideological basis for your pro-death penalty stance, at least insofar as you want progressives to adopt it. "Life=money" is very hard to envision as an argument bound to win over a movement that closely aligned itself with Occupy Wall Street, celebrates a self-described socialist as its champion in the Senate, and has spent a decade or more decrying the corrosive influence of money on politics. If that's your argument, I think you may need to go a little deeper and explain why we should consider "property" equivalent to, if not more important than, "life" and "liberty." Because that's not the self-evident argument you seem to think it is.

              •  Because we're just giving them out like candy now? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lyvwyr101

                Do you seriously suggest that restricting execution to "only multiple slayings or heinous single slayings" is functionally any g-d damned different than what we have today? Even Texas has far, far more people incarcerated for homicide outside of death row than on it. So your big reform, your "drive to perfect it's[sic] use and lower its cost" is to... do exactly what we're doing today. The same system that costs substantially more than life imprisonment, has been shown to target lower income and minority groups in an almost systematic fashion, and has led to the unjust killing of a number of wrongly convicted individual? That's the one, right? All based on the tried and true legal yard stick of, in essence, "I'll know it when I see it"?

              •  Established by whom? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Massconfusion, seancdaug

                We've had psychiatrists tell courts that people were unreformable psychopaths when they weren't even guilty. No, we cannot say beyond doubt who is or isn't a psychopath. "Experts" do not always agree. There is no blood test for it.

                We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

                by denise b on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:14:39 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  thank you for the discussion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bluelaser2

    It's clear that many people here would rather congratulate themselves on a "morally superior position" (the fact that you have 0 tips and 1 rec on a well thought out diary that contributes a great deal to this discussion bears that out). So I commend the diary for your willingness to engage those who seem to be more interested in calling you an immoral idiot than engaging on the substance of the points.

    Bravo.

    •  Except that it's not actually "well thought out" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Grizzard, Flying Goat, lyvwyr101

      He deliberately misrepresents the opposing position, cherry picks his subsequent responses, and, most importantly, doesn't even deliver what he promises in his title. There are about two sentences that speak to the actual morality of the death penalty, with the majority of the diary dedicated to practical (if demonstrably incorrect) arguments about cost, administration, and political viability. Any argument that ends with an admonition that people shouldn't believe something because it isn't "electable" can hardly be described as excessively concerned with issues of morality.

      •  "well thought out" is a value judgement (0+ / 0-)

        My point is not about the brilliance of the argument, but the courage of the diarist, clearly willing to endure the predictable slings and arrows of the members of this community most interested in proving themselves more liberal than the rest, as some sort of badge of superiority.

        I disagree with your characterizations of his arguments, I believe the diarist frames the questions of cost and administration in moral terms, and more compellingly than I thought possible.

        After all, to the specific issue of cost, what's a trivial amount in a state budget (administering the DP costs Texas ~0.03% of their state budget) should not be a serious consideration when we're dealing with central issues of justice.

        The diarist's point is that questions of cost are not fundamental to the moral question, and on that point, I agree wholeheartedly.

  •  I'm not an 'all life is holy' type of person. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grizzard, Flying Goat, mindara, lyvwyr101

    And while I think in the abstract that a death penalty could make sense in some extremely limited number of cases, such as people who kill or attempt to kill others, or order their deaths while already serving lifetime sentences, I think the proven reality on the ground is that our 'justice system' is incapable of doing so, and I don't see any chance that it will manage to become so at any point in my lifetime, so I tend to think there should be a moratorium on executions, which, given how little things change, would seem likely to exist essentially forever.

  •  there are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lyvwyr101

    a few different reasons for punishment, such as a deterrent, rehabilitation, prevention of future harm, and retribution-vengeance reasons.

    From what I've seen about this, it seems to me that to the extent any of them apply to the death penalty, they also apply to life in prison.

  •  There is no excuse for the death penalty (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mindara, Massconfusion, mythatsme

    The State does not have the right to kill people. As far as fixing the system, you can't. Prosecutors get reelected by killing people. They will do whatever it takes to keep their job, even if it means killing innocent people. There is no way in hell a true progressive could support the death penalty. It is the worst abuse of power there is.

    This is so bad I'm considering an H/R. You can't kill incarcerated humans that are no longer a threat to society. It is barbaric and inhuman.

  •  There is no more heinous a murderer than the man (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denise b, Massconfusion, seancdaug

    who murdered my 12 year old cousin almost 35 years ago. I was 13 years old at the time and have spent the vast majority of my life wrestling with the morality of the death penalty.I am thankful every day that at the time of my cousin's murder, the death penalty was not in effect in my home state of Maryland (It was reinstated 2 weeks later). I have no doubt that he would have received a death sentence if it had been, the trial judge made that crystal clear at the sentencing hearing. And he would have been executed and at the time, I would have relished that. But that is venegance, not justice. And venegance is ALL the death penalty is about.

    I got the call from the Maryland Department of Corrections last May that my cousin's murderer had died of natural causes after spending 34 years in prison. THAT I can live with. We have the capability of safely incarcerating dangerous criminals in our prisons and protecting society from them. THAT is the moral thing to do. State (or Federal) sanctioned homicide is still homicide and to try to justify that on a flat out untrue economic theory isn't progressive or moral.  

    "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 04:26:38 PM PST

  •  yes, there are: (4+ / 0-)
    Are there that many liberals who believe that Tim McVeigh should be in a cell somewhere?  Saddam Hussein?  Ted Bundy?  Adam Lanza?
    I am so much opposed to the death penalty that I have included a reference to it in my will. If I am ever murdered, I instruct the prosecutor, judge and jury that I do not want them to support capital punishment for my killer. That wish, of course, has no force of law.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

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

  •  We are out of step (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mythatsme

    with the entire civilized world on this. That in itself should tell us something important.

    Innocent people get convicted. I have additional reasons for opposing the death penalty, but that one is sufficient all by itself.

    Are there that many liberals who believe that Tim McVeigh should be in a cell somewhere?  Saddam Hussein?  Ted Bundy?  Adam Lanza?
    Yes.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:51:37 PM PST

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