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Do you support the death penalty?

  • Yes, unequivocally.

    Votes: 11 40.7%
  • Yes, but with reservations (explain)

    Votes: 9 33.3%
  • Undecided

    Votes: 1 3.7%
  • No

    Votes: 3 11.1%
  • Other (explain)

    Votes: 3 11.1%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've bounced back and forth on this subject for several years.

Philosophically, I cannot say that I am totally against the use of the death penalty. But I wonder if there is any practical method of doling out punishment to the right people for the right crimes. For instance, the racial biases in our current legal and prison systems raise serious concerns about the even distribution of punishment.

I guess that's not really much of a straightforward answer. But it's the best I have.

What say you, people of the SV.
 

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No person has the right to take another's life.

Also, some people have forfeit their the right to live in some ridiculous ways.


....so, pretty much rock and a hard place
 

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My father has worked for Texas Department of Corrections for nearly 25 years now. He started out as a guard, worked his way into the HVAC maintenance division, and then became head of the maintenance division at the Dayton unit. He retired a few years ago, but went back as an "underling" because he was bored.

He's seen a lot of inmates, from those that were turned around the moment they entered to those that aren't worth the cost of putting a 9mm round through their heads.

Hearing his stories, along with my own personal convictions, I'm not necessarily "for" whacking a murderer. I *am*, though, perfectly happy with giving the convict a dose of his/her own medicine.

Back in the 90's, when I was in high school, a book entitled The Legion of the Damned was published.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legion_of_the_Damned_(novel)

In it, convicts that committed murder were punished with their own crime. If they survived the punishment, they had paid their price, and were released. If they died, then they died. What came next in the story is immaterial here.

One of the convicts played a big role in the story because he survived, after a fashion. Anyway, he was convicted of murdering a gas station attendant with a fire arm. So, they strung him against a wall, his arms and legs chained in place, such that he was "spread eagle". The entry wound locations on his victim were marked on his body, and then the model of weapon he used was mounted in a robotic arm that sited in on those shots...and fired three bullets into this body. WHILE HE WAS AWAKE.

Sounds like a GREAT use of cruel and unusual to me.


To ich--

*No* person? If I'm being attacked, and my attacker intends to kill me, am I not justified in killing him to stop him? Or must I just fight back just *enough* to stop him? Who is to say what is *enough*? When he stops attacking? When he succeeds in killing me?

And then how about our service men? Are those of us that have killed murderers? Should we be executed after the battles, much like the "Octopods" were in Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series?

Unequivocal statements like yours very rarely hold water when challenged by *real life* situations.
 

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The death penalty appears to be meted out disproportionally to minorities, disproportionally to minority criminals with white victims, disproportionally to people whose lives have been shi++y to begin with and disproportionally to criminals in places like Harris Co. TX.

The death penalty does NOT seem to be an effective deterrent. Texas has both the most executions and the most convictions with death penalty. Harris County has had a large number of murders during the last decade. At some point, if the death penalty were effective, that'd peter out, wouldn't it?

If you recall the Republican presidential primary debates where Rick Perry (BTW, it was WEIRD to see him at Monza yesterday, wudn't it?) participated, his claim to be tough on murderers was insanely polular. So there's a political advantage to being pro-death penalty.

If somebody killed a member of my family, I'd have no trouble blowing him away, if it were in my power. For a while. Eventually, I might just want to put that ugliness out of my mind. As a society though, we have other interests to vindicate, beyond revenge. And (as I know from experience) the justice system, especially the criminal justice system, is not 100% reliable in delivering fair and reality-based outcomes. So I can't support the death penalty.

EDIT: I actually know how to spell "disproportionally." But I seemed to have had a persistent problem typing it this AM. I would never have made it as a secretary. I'm very grateful I had this lawyer thing to fall back on.:rolleyes:
 

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Hell Yay!
 

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I think it should become a mandatory sentence, in the right circumstances. If it was completely spelled-out what crimes would receive it, one would have a difficult time saying it was racially, or economically biased.

Any death penalty case should be a 100% slam dunk through objective evidence (i.e. DNA, fingerprints, surveillance camera footage, etc). Circumstantial cases, or those relying on eye-witness testimony, would not make the grade. I'm all for killing the killers, but certainly don't want to execute the wrong person.
 

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I voted Yes with reservations.

I think it should be mandatory if the crime meets certain criteria, but otherwise never used. This takes out any type of bias based on race, gender, nationality, or whatever else you want to throw out there.

The two criteria I think should need to be met before the needle comes out are;

1) A heinous violent crime
A) Violent sexual crimes against minors
B) Multiple premeditated murder.

2) A conviction with absolute proof, no doubt whatsoever of guilt.
A) No reliance on eyewitness testimony
B) Must have DNA, surveillance footage, fingerprints, confession.

Just my $.02
 

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"Death penalty paradox:
If you support the death penalty and an innocent man is put to death.
Then you have murdered that man.
You have committed murder.
Should you be put to death?"
from: Penn & Teller's Bull****

I dont support the death penalty because our courts are not perfect
 

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"Death penalty paradox:
If you support the death penalty and an innocent man is put to death.
Then you have murdered that man.
You have committed murder.
Should you be put to death?"
from: Penn & Teller's Bull****

I dont support the death penalty because our courts are not perfect
There is only a paradox if the death penalty is mandatory for murder, which it is not anywhere in the US
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I voted Yes with reservations.

I think it should be mandatory if the crime meets certain criteria, but otherwise never used. This takes out any type of bias based on race, gender, nationality, or whatever else you want to throw out there.

The two criteria I think should need to be met before the needle comes out are;

1) A heinous violent crime
A) Violent sexual crimes against minors
B) Multiple premeditated murder.

2) A conviction with absolute proof, no doubt whatsoever of guilt.
A) No reliance on eyewitness testimony
B) Must have DNA, surveillance footage, fingerprints, confession.

Just my $.02
The problem is that racial bias can still become a problem even with standardized mandatory sentences.

For instance, it has been shown that black people are more likely to be convicted of a certain crime given similar evidence than a white person. In that case, even though punishment may be standardized, the burden of evidence required for a conviction is uneven.
 

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Then the racial bias is in the jury trial system, not the sentencing phase. That's an entirely different subject.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Then the racial bias is in the jury trial system, not the sentencing phase. That's an entirely different subject.
That is true. But sentencing is directly connected to conviction.

In other words, if one group is more likely to be convicted of a crime purely because they are a member of said group, that group will have a greater probability of being subject to the sentence from the crime.

In other other words, it might be wise to discontinue the death penalty until we can fix the racial biases both in the sentencing as well as the conviction process.
 

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I think if you reread my post and Philbert's above where we qualify our approval of the death penalty, you would have to agree, under those circumstances, the application of it is based completely on the facts of the case and removes any bias. I'm of the opinion it would also reduce the number of death penalty sentences, and might perhaps allow them to carried out quicker, due to the reduction of appeals.
 

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I think if you reread my post and Philbert's above where we qualify our approval of the death penalty, you would have to agree, under those circumstances, the application of it is based completely on the facts of the case and removes any bias. I'm of the opinion it would also reduce the number of death penalty sentences, and might perhaps allow them to carried out quicker, due to the reduction of appeals.
Even if you rely "only" on the facts, there is still bias no matter what; we're human. And "facts" aren't always reliable.

It doesn't happen often, I'm with AoW on this one.
 

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Our system is not perfect when it comes to convictions but it is pretty darn good. It will never be perfect but that is no reason to remove the penalties for committing crimes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'd suggest watching a documentary called Into the Abyss. It's a very even handed take on the issue.

Here is another documentary by the same filmmaker, Werner Herzog.


Even if it doesn't change your mind it's a very visceral, haunting experience watching a a condemned person.
 

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To ich--

*No* person? If I'm being attacked, and my attacker intends to kill me, am I not justified in killing him to stop him? Or must I just fight back just *enough* to stop him? Who is to say what is *enough*? When he stops attacking? When he succeeds in killing me?

And then how about our service men? Are those of us that have killed murderers?
No. I very much believe self defense is a right everyone has, if it results in death, that is unfortunate, but not always avoidable.

Similar to soldiers in combat, self defense is not premeditated, or done for some petty reason. While it could be argued the person directing said army usually is at fault in some way, it's not directly the fault of a soldier that they were in a position where taking a human's life was necessary.
 

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Tell that to the family that lost a husband/father/son due to being executed wrongly.
I have no problem with that. I would rather execute 1 in 1000 innocent people than let 999 guilty ones go and have them end up killing who knows how many more innocent people. Without perfect knowledge, we have to play the odds. It would suck big time if it happened to me or my family and I would probably flip my lid as well but that doesnt mean I cant see the big picture. And when we find out that we executed an innocent person, we better do everything we can to compensate that family. Its never enough but we should do what we can to try to make it right.
 

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That is true. But sentencing is directly connected to conviction.

In other words, if one group is more likely to be convicted of a crime purely because they are a member of said group, that group will have a greater probability of being subject to the sentence from the crime.

In other other words, it might be wise to discontinue the death penalty until we can fix the racial biases both in the sentencing as well as the conviction process.
Are you suggesting that we should stop the punishments for crimes because there is a disproportionately large amount of high school drop outs in prison? We should stop imprisoning them until more Harvard grads wind up in the clink?

I whole heatedly disagree with that. If more of one particular group of people commit a certain crime, I could care less. As long as when a person from a different group commits the same crime and gets the same punishment, there is no bias.
 
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