I cannot support the death penalty. My primary reason is that it is a decision that cannot be reversed. Oops, "I made a mistake ... too late, there is no correction."
To be sure I do believe there are instances in which the criminal surely deserves the death penalty. Hells bells, in some instances where there is absolutely no doubt, and the crime is so heinous - skip the legalities and appeals and just shoot the criminal now. Or, in really bad cases, kill them in a way at least as bad as they killed someone else.
But... we are human. We make mistakes. And we cannot correct a death penalty mistake. I am not addressing any moral issues, (and I do think there are some), but just the fact that a death penalty verdict is not a correctable mistake.
This TED talk video puts it in perspective. Not an activist. Not a sensational case, just an average American juror dealing with the repercussions of voting to kill someone.
(click image to view)
What say you?
I completely agree,
Judges do make mistakes. It´s bad enough when an innocent person has to do prison for 10 years. But executing an innocent person can not be undone.
The death penalty does not make less crime. The whole of Europe, the UK an many other countries don´t have the death penalty and there is not more or less crime then in the US. So the capital punishment does not scare of potential hard core criminals.
In my eyes the death penalty is not a civilized option. And it saddens me to see the US still being on the list of countries together with Saudi Arbia, Iran and China executing people. The US should set an example of being a civilized country. Look at the list(Wiki). Does a country really want to be on in, together in line with dictatorships?
I agree with you peterstreep, I don't think it is a deterrent either.
As for whether it is civilized or not, I think that determination is decided by our choice of options. If someone demonstrates they cannot co-exist with the body of a society, then they must be removed from that society.
I completely agree, ga. There are those crimes where anything else wouldn't make sense, and I have another thought after reading these posts. Interestingly enough, I just viewed the classic movie: 12 Angry Men on Youtube, and it occurred to me: How good is the average American's ability to engage in critical thinking and examine the evidence without bias? How often do jurors fall to "group-think?" Just a thought.
You may have already seen this reply Tim, but it is a data set from the Innocence Project that may relate to your point about the perspective of "12 Angry Men" and the pitfalls that may befall jurors.
https://hubpages.com/politics/forum/342 … ost4064600
Damn sloppy of me. The title I mean.
"The Death Penalty, as a Discussion."
I'm of the same thought, though for years I did support it.
Hi, Hxprof, I fixed the link so you can now click the image to see the TED talk. I highly recommend it.
I also supported it for years Hxprof. It was news from the Innocence groups, (a couple different ones that pursued wrongful convictions), that finally changed my mind.
Although there were multiple death sentences overturned with DNA evidence, the final verdict for me was the realization that as humans, we would always have wrongful convictions - on every level, and all could be corrected, eventually, except for a death penalty.
I can't support killing one innocent person just to be sure we did kill one guilty person.
I can't support killing one innocent person just to be sure we did kill one guilty person.
I agree. I'm against the death penalty. I've been against it all my life.
Btw, here in PR the death penalty was abolished in 1929 and since 1952 it is prohibited (Bill of Rights of our Constitution).
However, it is applicable in some federal cases. But in all the federal cases that were seeking death penalty, Puerto Rican juries have rejected it.
"I can't support killing one innocent person just to be sure we did kill one guilty person."
There are other concerns you aren't addressing:
1) it isn't about killing a person as punishment (IMO); it's about preventing them from killing again. Keeping in mind that only the most heinous of crimes are given the death penalty, is making sure that one innocent person isn't killed worth giving up the lives of 2, or 10 or 30 more lives?
2) As you indicate, DNA has cleared a few that had received the death penalty. Does this mean that our convictions are getting better - that there are fewer mistaken convictions being made? It would seem so - the DNA that cleared those already convicted should also be used to prevent the conviction at all.
3) Is 40 or 50 years of prison life "cruel and unusual"? While it is pure opinion, I would rather be put to death than suffer that punishment - I find it exceedingly cruel to sentence someone, without possibility of ever being released, to be cruel in the extreme.
Just some thoughts to add to the equation and muddy the waters even more than they already are.
I used to not believe in the death penalty under any circumstances but I have changed my death penalty stance. There are crimes in which the death penalty should be applied such as rape, child molestation, & willful murder.
Grace, without addressing the specific crimes you mentioned, I agree there are crimes that deserve the death penalty. As mentioned to Wilderness, I can see crimes where the perpetrator should just be taken out and shot - forget the niceties. But only in cases where I can be infallibly sure of the guilt.
But ... we haven't reached that " infallibly sure" state yet. As humans we still make mistakes. The overturned convictions are proof of that. Hell, I was even wrong once. It was back in '78. I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken. ;-)
Because a death penalty action cannot be corrected, if I can't support it for all I can't support it for any.
It looks like we have found one we disagree on Wilderness.
I can understand that one aspect of a death penalty is to protect society from the criminal, but I also think the "punishment" aspect is there too. If it wasn't there wouldn't be degrees of consideration of whether the death penalty was applicable.
Such as; a criminal kills two other criminals in cold blood vs. a criminal that kills two kids in cold blood. I suspect that a study would show that the child killer is more likely to get the death penalty. Isn't that a punishment component?
Your question concerning the value of one innocent life vs. 30 innocents is, by my thinking, a purely individual moral one. Put it another way, in any set of circumstances, is it acceptable to kill one innocent person to save 10 innocent ones? If your answer would be yes, then couldn't that logic be compared to the practice of human sacrifice?
To your DNA and better convictions point, you seem to be ignoring one of your favorite observations, (one that I agree with) - the reality of human nature. Purposely malicious convictions, self-interest driven convictions, test error & device error supported convictions. I think there can be a long list of ways an innocent person can be wrongly convicted - even in this age of DNA and video evidence.
Now, is 40 or 50 years cruel and unusual punishment? I think so too, but I believe that as a possibly correctable choice, it is the only one we have. However, that thought comes with a caveat. I do believe there are criminal acts where the perpetrators should just be taken out back and shot - no appeals, no last meal, nothing. I also believe there is no way we can always, (the key word is "always"), be sure we are right in deciding guilt.
Your points have merit - for you, but for me, until we can be 100% sure of every death penalty conviction, (not we think we are 100% sure), then I can't support an uncorrectable action.
It's a tough call, yes. But I do think we're on the right track with better prosecution and defense methods (not the court games, but collection of evidence such as DNA. With our requirement that a really heinous crime was committed before applying the penalty (your tale of the criminal killing innocent children rather than additional criminals is a simple, if simplistic, example). But the Charles Manson case, or the Las Vegas shooter, the murderers in the mass killings at our schools; these are cut and dried cases where there is no doubt of guilt, and they are cases where the killer cannot be allowed loose in our society. Ever, IMO.
I do not think that endless years of repeated trials does any good, though, and is harmful to society and to the justice system.
I agree with your comment Wilderness. And I think I can use part of it to illustrate my position.
"But the Charles Manson case, or the Las Vegas shooter, the murderers in the mass killings at our schools; these are cut and dried cases where there is no doubt of guilt, and they are cases where the killer cannot be allowed loose in our society."
If I could support the death penalty I would recommend it for your mentioned examples. But what about examples that are less clear, less concretely proven, yet do meet the minimum bar for a death penalty sentence?
Without the certainty of your examples, and understanding that the threshold is "beyond a reasonable doubt." I cannot support an uncorrectable action when there is still the possibility of any doubt.
So, if I can't support it for some cases, then I can't support it for any cases. Even the ones I feel sure deserve it.
"But what about examples that are less clear, less concretely proven, yet do meet the minimum bar for a death penalty sentence? "
In my simple mind and experience, there just aren't any such examples in modern America. I'm sure that a case could be faked up to end with an innocent person being condemned to death; I'm just as sure that it could (and would) be accomplished in a different manner as "necessary".
I think we've gotten to the point that we aren't applying that penalty until it IS a case like Manson or the Las Vegas shooting. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I'm seeing - judges aren't just taking the "guilty" verdict of a jury as sufficient any more. And I'm OK with that - as you point out it is final, with no chance or correcting anything (as if 40 years behind bars could EVER be "corrected").
Unless I misunderstood what you meant, you have sure surprised me bud.
I was sure you would have heard of headlines like these, they are what changed my mind.
Innocent Man Who Spent Over a Decade on Florida’s Death Row is Exonerated
"Facing Exculpatory DNA Evidence and Multiple Confessions by Another Suspect, Prosecutors Agree to Dismiss All Charges on Eve of Clemente Aguirre’s Second Death Penalty Trial"
Sorry for the "cut & paste" but here are some important facts. In particular, note the "red" facts.
DNA Exonerations in the United States
1989: The first DNA exoneration took place
364 DNA exonerees to date
37: States where exonerations have been won
14: Average number of years served
5,061: Total number of years served
26.5: Average age at the time of wrongful conviction
43: Average age at exoneration
20 of 364 people served time on death row
41 of 364 pled guilty to crimes they did not commit
70%: Involved eyewitness misidentification
41% of these cases were a cross-racial misidentification
32% of these cases involved multiple misidentifications of the same person
27% of these cases involved misidentification through the use of a composite sketch
44%: Involved misapplication of forensic science
28%: Involved false confessions
49% of the false confessors were 21 years old or younger at the time of arrest
33% of the false confessors were 18 years old or younger at the time of arrest
10% of the false confessors had mental health or mental capacity issues
17%: Involved informants
264: DNA exonerees compensated
187: DNA exonerations worked on by the Innocence Project
Now, if one doesn't think wrongful convictions, of any sort, (innocent, accidental, or malfeasant), )are a frequent occurrence, consider two of the above facts. Innocent people have served over 5000 years of wrongful conviction sentences, and at least 20 innocent lives have been spared from death penalty executions.
Exactly. Human imperfection won that case for me.
I believe in the death penalty in limited cases, but I don't think it should be applied as retribution.
It can be a mercy for some (those who commit incredibly heinous crimes, such as the woman convicted of killing all her children in Texas, years ago, in a bout of what may have been post partem depression.) I know if I had done such and then later realized my crime, I'd commit suicide if not put to death.
It can be a way of protecting society, with career and violent criminals who murder wantonly, with no remorse.
However, I am against it in cases of years and years of appeals with evidence of changed behavior and changed perspective. You'd be murdering a person who is no longer the individual who committed the crime.
So, although I don't like it and would probably never advocate for it were I in any way the victim I can see justification; in limited cases.
I understand what you are saying Live to Learn, but you are trying to take my seat on the fence. And that isn't allowed on a death sentence decision.
You are either for it, (even if only in very select circumstances), or you are against it in all circumstances. Make a decision.
As repeatedly noted, I also think there are crimes that merit a death penalty - as long as it can be proven to be an absolute certainty that the verdict is correct. Overturned convictions prove we are not there yet.
You are totally wrong in that. A pro, no matter what, stance does little to address problems. It puts people in jeopardy of dying when wrongfully accused. A con, no matter what, stance ignores the harsh reality that some people are, quite simply, monsters; and greatly enjoy being such.
I understand you to be saying you are for the death penalty in some instances, and against it in others.
It sounds like you are saying yes, execute the monsters, but no death sentence for semi-monsters. Like yes to the kid killers, but no to the criminal killers.
This is the law as we currently apply it, and yet, there have still been wrongful convictions discovered and overturned.
I am not trying to be cute or pick at your comment, just noting how I read your response. If I got it wrong, then I hope you will correct me. But, going with that perception I have this:
For clarity, I absolutely do agree there are "monsters" that should be executed. I am not one of those all-life-is-sacred folks. I do believe there are people that forfeit their Right to life in a society by their actions. So that isn't why I am against the death penalty.
If you support the death penalty for those you see as proven monsters, then I would ask this rhetorical question: "Where is your bar for "proven?"
The Vegas and school shooters are easy ones, the proof is they are caught in the act. But what about the monsters that aren't caught in the act. The ones where there seems to be enough evidence to label them monsters without reasonable doubt? Those are the ones where later overturned convictions have proven that "reasonable doubt" is not a foolproof standard.
To one of your points, and at least from my perspective, an anti-death penalty position is not ignoring the monsters we have, and will always have, it is simply a position that says the risk of executing an innocent person, in order to ensure we can execute a monster, is not an acceptable risk.
Put the monster away for life. It satisfies all the goals of a death penalty, except one; removal from society - the protection aspect, and removal of liberty - the punishment aspect. The only goal it doesn't fill is the one of revenge and retribution.
It doesn't satisfy the "eye for an eye" demand of the aggrieved.
So I am willing to forego that final satisfaction for the reward of the opportunity to correct a wrongful conviction. You can release someone from a life sentence, but you can't make someone undead.
As a final note. I am not arguing that your position is wrong. I am not challenging you, I am just arguing why I think we should not have a death penalty.
Look. A proven monster doesn't include most any scenario you've put forth. And, maybe there are no 'proven' monsters'. I'm a firm believer that, in most cases, crime could have been averted had circumstances been different. Had people made a difference at key moments in the lives of those who offend. I do believe most are born with the capacity for good, but society and circumstances create validity and opportunity for bad.
But, the death penalty is not something I would take off the table. Because I know I'm an optimist and people have proven a capacity for evil. And I know if you give in to an urge for a heinous act, if you enjoy it and make clear you are unrepentant, you will probably give in to the urge again at any opportunity.
It should not be the burden of society, in a misguided belief that it is civilized, to pretend that a serial killer can be rehabilitated. That, to me, is the primary goal of incarceration. To help people understand the wrong done. To give them 'time out' so to speak; to consider their behavior and think on how to adjust it.
But, I did read the average IQ of a person in prison is around 85. So, that makes my thoughts, again, optimistic.
I do understand your point Live to Learn, but have to ask if you think a life sentence is intended to offer a chance for rehabilitation?
Although rehabilitation should be the goal of non-life sentences, I believe none-life prison sentences are primarily given as punishment. Life sentences are given to protect society by removing a threat.
Good can be done by those in for life. I read an article about a man on death row for 25 years who had done tremendous work hoping to educate kids on the evils of crime. Which is why I am against long term application of the death penalty. This guy is not the same guy initially convicted.
So, although I am not for the death penalty in many, if not most, cases. I do not support abandoning that form of punishment entirely. I believe some cases can warrant it.
GA, I think that perhaps this is the first time we agree on something. I fully agree with what you are saying, and Peterstreep has covered the main points I would have made.
However, taking the issue to an extreme, I assume you heard earlier this week of the fat rat in distress being rescued by German Officials and safely released back into the sewers.
A close friend of mine commented that this action of 'compassion for an animal in distress, considering rats are vermin and we normally try to eradicate them, shows mans humanity at its best. I happen to agree with him, although I am sure there are many who wouldn't.
If you didn't see this news story, this video shows the distressed rat being rescued:
Fat Rat Saved from Manhole by German Animal Rescue: https://youtu.be/OCTZrc8D8hU
Holy cow Arthur, what a pause you gave me trying to connect your "fat rat" comment with the topic of the death penalty. But, I get your point, and I didn't sprain anything getting there.
Even though we seem to agree, it may be for different reasons. My opposition has nothing to do with compassion about taking a human life. My problem with it is the very real possibility of taking a life in error.
If, and that is an if I cannot see being validated, the death penalty was applied to positively without a doubt confirmed guilty parties. I would support it. I do think there are humans among us, that by their actions forfeit their Right to life among citizens of a society.
But I cannot see a level of positivity of guilt--as long as human judgment is involved--that would allow me to support it.
I would rather let 20 monsters live than falsely execute one innocent man.
However, I do appreciate that we did find something we could agree on. Even if our reasons don't mesh. Except that I can agree that we, (as man), can astound all our critics with exhibits of simple acts of compassion. That too is in our nature, and it is a good thing.
Although our base viewpoints may be coming from opposite sides, we may not differ in some of our views on this subject that greatly!
Regardless to my personal views, the overriding factor for me is (as you said) "I would rather let 20 monsters live than falsely execute one innocent man.
Notwithstanding the above; I would go as far as saying (similar to your statement) "there are humans among us, that by their actions [don't deserve to live]". However, even if guilt can be proven without any doubt, I can't (personally) support the death penalty (for any reason); and for that reason I am grateful to live in a country where capital punishment has been abolished (so its not an issue here in Britain).
As regards 'Forgiveness' and 'Compassion'; I find it harder to forgive than show compassion; and in my view 'compassion' should only be given (or at least considered) where there is genuine 'remorse'.
Hello, again Arthur. This was just a discussion. I may disagree with a rational, (such as a sanctity of life argument), and I may argue against such a rational, but I would not argue that my view is right and yours, (generic), is wrong. I may certainly say my perspective is the more rational one, but I would not carry that thought to the point of declaring you, (again, generic), are wrong. This issue is a personal one and there is no authoritative right or wrong view.
As for forgiveness vs.compassion, oddly I find forgiveness easier to give because it benefits me. Holding a grudge, (or anger), is more harmful to the one holding it than to the one it is against. Light;y put, I am a lazy and selfish person. I will not waste the energy it takes to remain angry, and I will not willfully subject myself to the anguish of being pissed, (feeling aggrieved). The compassion part comes naturally, it is a human trait. And my faults certainly testify that I am human. ;-)
I fully agree with you on all the above points you make.
In me finding it difficult to forget and forgive is no more than a personality trait; no one's perfect.
I hope we find common ground of agreement on future topics; it does make a refreshing change.
by danielleantosz 10 years ago
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