Death Penalty

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For or against the death penalty

For
58
47%
Against
41
33%
Conditional (explain)
25
20%
 
Total votes : 124

Unread postby Kong Wen » Sun Dec 17, 2006 5:17 pm

Shikanosuke wrote:I actually think your making it alot more complicated than it actually is.

I'm not talking about how it is, I'm talking about how it should be. Join me in theorising capital punishment for a while. Before we can support or oppose something, we have to understand how it's supposed to work at a fundamental level (and if that's even possible).

Shikanosuke wrote:Laws are already in place. Though the system has many issues it works. I find it funny saying all this because I don't currently support the death penalty, but I don't think this is a valid argueing point.

This thread is 23 pages long. Everyone's chimed in with little one-liners stating that they agree or don't agree with the death penalty. I'm just changing the direction of the discussion. The legal/moral foundations of the death penalty are a perfectly valid question to raise.

The death penalty seems to be something that is unevenly applied, and has such an enormous history that it is worth trying to iron out what it means and what it's for. Before the first wave of prison reform (well... the invention of the penitentiary), execution was pretty much the default punishment for a huge variety of crimes. There were relatively few solid criteria in place to guide its use.

My questions, then, are very pertinent. If we are going to have a death penalty built into our legal/justice/penal system, what is the reason for it to be there? What are its guiding forces? What is the moral basis for deciding that we can indeed kill someone and have it be OK? With that established, we move to the more specific. Who has the moral authority to decide when the law is appropriate and when it is employed? [You'll note that I am not asking who currently has this authority—that would be pointless!] How do we invest these people with such an authority. Etc. Etc. Etc. The system needs to be interrogated if it's ever going to work in an even and "just" manner.

Shikanosuke wrote:(This is all speaking from an American stand point by the way, outside of the U.S. I have little idea how legal systems work.)

Well, there's no death penalty in Canada, so if it helps you, just pretend we're trying to figure out all of the logistical loopholes of getting one implemented. And doing it right, not just inheriting it as a default punishment for some vague category of "really bad crimes."
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Unread postby Kayzr » Sun Dec 17, 2006 7:27 pm

Kong Wen wrote:This is a good answer to my question, and I'm glad to see it coming from you since my question was, I think, in reply to one of your posts in the first place.

Still, I'd be interested in knowing who these lawmakers, philosophers, and theologians are whose burden it is to determine who deserves death. It's a giant responsibility, and if we're going to go about having state-sanctioned murders, then we should probably make sure there are some airtight criteria on the books. Should there just be some kind of democratic vote among all practising lawyers, philosophy professors, and ordained ministers of all state-recognised religions? Or is it just a select few who get to determine the exact law? Are these select few chosen by someone, or elected? Etc. Lots of big, interesting questions.


The lawmakers would have to be familiar with both sides of the issue, why capital punishment is good and why it's not good. I'm not talking about why the electorate thinks it's good or bad, but the moral and societal ramifications of using death as a penalty for crime. The voting public typically votes with passion and not rationale, so that when someone says, "I believe in the death penalty" you can be pretty certain that they haven't thought about it much. This kind of justice has to be given dispassionately when it's given at all, otherwise it's merely thinly-disguised vengeance of the sort that we see in law codes like Hammurabi's code of laws (i.e. and eye for an eye). So, a certain category of lawmakers, senior lawmakers or a specially-chosen grouping of them (like Supreme Court Justices). A good example is rabbinic courts, who had the power of life and death- which was rarely used because Jews considered the death penalty to be a *very* serious matter. Philosophers, priests, and so forth could be called in in an unofficial advisory capacity, given the level of allowable interaction between church and state in a given country.

Personally, I think that the death penalty is a valid form of punishment. But, I have very strong revulsions about it, too. One one hand, it rids society of brutal and violent persons, but it also means a number of implications: execution means that the current prison system is ineffective and not rehabilitative; it brutalizes society when the death penalty becomes merely an eye for an eye form of punishment (when the judges are seen as obligated to repay a death with a death, and so forth); the death penalty becomes a political issue rather than a dispassionate form of punishment for the *worst* offenders; execution itself being cruel or prolonged (think of the recent bungled lethal injection in Florida where it took the prisoner more than a half-hour to finally die after *two* injections); what remorse or penance has the prisoner shown? This is especially true in the U.S., a supposed "Christian" country- which has the most executions in the world. Does not Christianity teach forgiveness? Using the Old Testament to justify capital punishment and then saying you follow the New Testament, which replaces the Old, is contradictory and stupid. Clearly then, capital punishment cannot be justified on religious grounds from this perspective. Does it undermine society when a prisoner is not executed because s/he is truly remorseful (and not play-acting)? Many in American society claim high ideals of mercy, justice, and forgiveness, but they are not prepared to grant them to the prisoner, verily often a person who has paid many times over for the original crime in the form of isolation, degradation, violence, and so forth.

Then, there's the case of innocent people who have been wrongly convicted, sentenced to jail and, horrifically, executed. What does this say, when an innocent person is gassed, electrocuted, etc. for someone else's crime?
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Unread postby Kong Wen » Sun Dec 17, 2006 9:47 pm

Kayzr wrote:Personally, I think that the death penalty is a valid form of punishment. But, I have very strong revulsions about it, too. One one hand, it rids society of brutal and violent persons, but it also means a number of implications: execution means that the current prison system is ineffective and not rehabilitative; it brutalizes society when the death penalty becomes merely an eye for an eye form of punishment (when the judges are seen as obligated to repay a death with a death, and so forth); the death penalty becomes a political issue rather than a dispassionate form of punishment for the *worst* offenders; execution itself being cruel or prolonged (think of the recent bungled lethal injection in Florida where it took the prisoner more than a half-hour to finally die after *two* injections); what remorse or penance has the prisoner shown? This is especially true in the U.S., a supposed "Christian" country- which has the most executions in the world. Does not Christianity teach forgiveness? Using the Old Testament to justify capital punishment and then saying you follow the New Testament, which replaces the Old, is contradictory and stupid. Clearly then, capital punishment cannot be justified on religious grounds from this perspective. Does it undermine society when a prisoner is not executed because s/he is truly remorseful (and not play-acting)? Many in American society claim high ideals of mercy, justice, and forgiveness, but they are not prepared to grant them to the prisoner, verily often a person who has paid many times over for the original crime in the form of isolation, degradation, violence, and so forth.

You raise a number of interesting points here, and points that I think it is important for people to think about, whether they think they are for or against capital punishment. One of the reasons I am interested in theorising these issues is because I have just taken a PhD course on the American prison system, and I think many people are in the dark about the origins of the prison system, its purported intended purposes, and its means of propagation as a social discourse, etc. "Prison" as we know it is deeply rooted in the assumptions we make about society—what is right, what is wrong, how do we treat difference, how do we create difference, etc.—and it's too often the case that prison (and by extreme implication, execution) is just thought of as a way to get undesireables out of the way or to get back at them.
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Unread postby Kayzr » Sun Dec 17, 2006 11:11 pm

Kong Wen wrote:You raise a number of interesting points here, and points that I think it is important for people to think about, whether they think they are for or against capital punishment. One of the reasons I am interested in theorising these issues is because I have just taken a PhD course on the American prison system, and I think many people are in the dark about the origins of the prison system, its purported intended purposes, and its means of propagation as a social discourse, etc. "Prison" as we know it is deeply rooted in the assumptions we make about society—what is right, what is wrong, how do we treat difference, how do we create difference, etc.—and it's too often the case that prison (and by extreme implication, execution) is just thought of as a way to get undesireables out of the way or to get back at them.


I think that the death penalty is a perfectly useful theory. I call it a theory because it has a number of obvious flaws, some of which I mentioned above. Capital punishment hasn't been perfected yet, because it hasn't become an objective form of punishment. Juries convict, judges hand out the death sentence, and no one thinks anything of it. It's dangerous to society when execution becomes a means of removing its undesirable elements. I say undesirable and not dangerous. Dangerous members of society should, like dangerous animals, should be corralled and, if need be, put down.

Modern society seems to have this belief that criminals cannot reform. Also, that prison should be a place of punishment and confinement, not rehabilitation. What worse punishment can there be than not allowing someone the chance to reform and get better? That's worth than death.

I believe that execution serves as the supreme punishment and as a deterrent. The question is, how to make it practical and useful to society? And, how to properly apply it? As it is now, it is more convenient for society merely to kill someone off than to devote time and resources to their reformation. Morally, that is a crime. From the religious perspective, God is always willing to forgive a sinner, regardless of the crime- provided that the person is truly remorseful and willing to make restitution to the aggrieved. Americans pride themselves upon their religiosity but, hypocritically, are unwilling to apply this letter of God's law to criminals. Jesus ate and drank with criminals, prostitutes, publicans, and so forth, but Christians tend to be among the most obnoxious supporters of the death penalty and harsh sentencing.

Clearly, no case can then be made for the death penalty from the point of religion. So, the case for the death penalty has to be made from the point of, say, a surgeon, who carefully cuts out and disposes of the diseased portions of the body. This isn't a case of good or evil, but merely the most direct course in dealing with the worst, most violent criminals.
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Unread postby dirtybird » Tue Apr 17, 2007 12:37 am

i personally think no one deserves to die.
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Unread postby FuguNabe » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:16 am

A death for causing death(s). Death for serial rapist. Literal lifetime sentence for rapist. Death for illegal drug dealing on both small and large scale. I'm definately a believer of capital punishment (especially rifle range execution or hanging). Great way to get rid of idiots who do the wrong thing that moronic enough to get caught. IMO it would examplifies for people to think about their action a bit more and maintain control of the more wholesome remains of the population. Why not?
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Unread postby Kong Wen » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:17 am

FuguNabe wrote:Why not?

Because it's murder?
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Unread postby FuguNabe » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:39 am

Kong Wen wrote:
FuguNabe wrote:Why not?

Because it's murder?


Shoving them in jail don't do much to make them better people. Not to mention likely a waste of where your tax goes. jail should reserved to those with small crimes. Anyhow a large percentage that comes out from jail will just go back to crime life again due to their record disallowing them to lead normal life. For some of these guys there's no such thing as rehabilitation because that's all they know and it's in their nature. Would you hire someone to work for you with harsh criminal history?

Death penalty I think is perfectly fine. No I don't think it's 'murder' considering they broke the law for their selfish reasons and dumb enough to get caught. There's law to abide by hence I think capital punishment examplifies for people to think hard about breaking the law. Call it murder if you want but to me it's poetic justice for their crime.
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Unread postby Frank » Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:44 am

FuguNabe wrote:Shoving them in jail don't do much to make them better people.


But that's not the intended purpose of jail. Jail is intended to keep criminals off the streets and away from harming innocent people.

It's also a deterrent, and, in my mind, is a much more effective deterrent to crime than the death penalty. I don't honestly believe that a person that is truly insane or depraved enough to want to actually take away someone's life would be able to fully understand the ramifications of their actions, and wouldn't comprehend the kind of repercussions they would go through.

Besides, if you actually want to punish these guys... isn't spending an entire lifetime in prison much more effective than the death penalty?

FuguNabe wrote:Not to mention likely a waste of where your tax goes.


You'd be surprised, actually, that death penalty costs much more than imprisoning criminals.

* At the trial level, death penalty cases are estimated to generate roughly $470,000 inadditional costs to the prosecution and defense over the cost of trying the same case as an aggravated murder without the death penalty and costs of $47,000 to $70,000 for court personnel.

* On direct appeal, the cost of appellate defense averages $100,000 more in death penalty cases, than in non-death penalty murder cases.

* Personal restraint petitions filed in death penalty cases on average cost an additional$137,000 in public defense costs.


A New Jersey Policy Perspectives report concluded that the state's death penalty has cost taxpayers $253 million since 1983, a figure that is over and above the costs that would have been incurred had the state utilized a sentence of life without parole instead of death. The study examined the costs of death penalty cases to prosecutor offices, public defender offices, courts, and correctional facilities. The report's authors said that the cost estimate is "very conservative" because other significant costs uniquely associated with the death penalty were not available. "From a strictly financial perspective, it is hard to reach a conclusion other than this: New Jersey taxpayers over the last 23 years have paid more than a quarter billion dollars on a capital punishment system that has executed no one," the report concluded.


* Death penalty trials cost an average of 48% more than the average cost of trials in which prosecutors seek life imprisonment.


Source: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article ... al%20facts

Death penalty I think is perfectly fine. No I don't think it's 'murder' considering they broke the law for their selfish reasons and dumb enough to get caught. There's law to abide by hence I think capital punishment examplifies for people to think hard about breaking the law. Call it murder if you want but to me it's poetic justice for their crime.


So murder isn't being called "murder" because the murdered was a murderer? I'm sorry, but I don't entirely follow. I don't care about the justifications, or lack thereof, behind it: murder is still murder. And whether or not it is warranted, killing someone that has done the same to another person isn't justified simply because they "deserve" it for their own misdeeds. I hate to beat the dead horse by using this phrase, but two wrongs don't make a right here.
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Unread postby FuguNabe » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:19 am

^ Hmmm if death penalty cost more than keeping them in jail then I personally think it's worth it to keep them permanently off the street. It's a good means to population control IMO. It does bug me that it cost more. I mean it's only a single damn bullet ne... hahaha. Just kidding.

Like I said before I don't think death penalty on criminals = murder. Murder afterall means the unlawful killing of someone. If the law itself use capital punishment then how can that be murder? It's justified by law. Crime and punishment. Please understand the word 'murder' before you even come into this argument.
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