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adultswim
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^
In that case I would question the world's "top psychologist" because obviously this person is insane.

[Edited on December 30, 2010 at 1:33 PM. Reason : .]

12/30/2010 1:30:33 PM

disco_stu
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"The death penalty is murder, it is never ok ever under any circumstance."


Morality judgment call. My morality suggests otherwise. That's pretty much where the debate ends.

12/30/2010 1:48:06 PM

Kurtis636
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Maybe they're just evil. Fully cognizant of what they are doing, aware that it is wrong, but don't care. Evil isn't crazy, it's just evil.

I think the death penalty should be used very sparingly, the number of innocent people exonerated because of DNA evidence should give people pause before issuing a death sentence. Our justice system gets stuff wrong all the damned time, there are a lot of reasons behind that, and that's a subject for another thread, but suffice it to say that it should take absolute proof before we even consider killing someone.

That said, I can easily see times when it should be used. There are people who should not be allowed to mix with the rest of civilization, there are people who cannot be reformed, people who will continue to commit acts of violence even in a life imprisonment, solitary confinement situation. Those people should be eliminated before they do more damage.

12/30/2010 1:48:15 PM

adultswim
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^
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

12/30/2010 1:53:59 PM

Kurtis636
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Yes, I'm aware that I'm a sociopath. What does that have to do with the argument.

Since antisocial personality disorders are incurable, at least based on biology, there's not a whole lot of point in talking about it. I for one don't think they are solvable problems, you will never fix a true psychopath or sociopath. You are better off either isolating or eliminating him. Furthermore, as the wikipedia entry correctly states, pretty much the entire criminal population could be diagnosed with ASPD, so true psychopaths/sociopaths are much, much rarer.

12/30/2010 2:13:24 PM

adultswim
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It's not an easy subject to tackle, and I haven't come to any full conclusions about it myself, but I don't think it's right to kill someone for being mentally imbalanced. Isolation and attempted treatment are preferable to me over execution.

12/30/2010 2:24:42 PM

Kurtis636
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I'm not a big believer in ASPD. I think it's a cop out for those who choose not to care about right an wrong. Those who are truly pychopaths and can't be cured should either be isolated or executed. Thing is, they tend to continue being violent even in isolation, attacking jailers, doctors, etc. Sometimes I think you have to cut your losses as a society and as a species.

It's not an easy subject to tackle, but that's where I come down on it.

12/30/2010 2:29:43 PM

rbrthwrd
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Quote :
"That's pretty much where the debate ends."

Only for mouth breathing simpletons, morality is certainly something that can be discussed and debated.

Quote :
"if ever there is a serial-killing baby-raper who gets his kicks by stringing up the remains of his victims in front of their grandparent's houses, video tapes the actions and sells the tapes on the internet before turning himself in with a full confession verified by the top psychologist in the world as being of sound mind...

I will remember your post here and its ridiculousness. I myself settle for much less when it comes to the death penalty, but that is my own opinion."

I would probably want that guy to be ass-raped until he bled to death and then shot for good measure, but that doesn't mean that I would actually condone or endorse it nor does it make it moral. If you and I got into an argument and you frustrated me enough I may want to hit you in the mouth, but that wouldn't make it moral. Simply wanting something doesn't make something moral; that is the problem with GrumpGO's counter-argument that if anything bad ever happened to you then you will change your opinion on the death penalty.

[Edited on December 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM. Reason : .]

12/30/2010 3:36:44 PM

EuroTitToss
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"mouth breathing simpletons"

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"murderous liar"

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"mentally deficient"

12/30/2010 3:49:02 PM

0EPII1
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^ I am all of those since I would like serial killing baby rapists to be executed.

12/30/2010 3:58:10 PM

McDanger
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^ Why? Honest question.

12/30/2010 6:39:56 PM

1337 b4k4
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^ Because life sentences aren't for life? Because it's wrong to force the victims to then pay for the health and care of the scum for the rest of his or her natural life?

12/30/2010 7:02:06 PM

McDanger
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Quote :
"Because life sentences aren't for life?"


This is a separate issue don't you think? I'm more interested in the principles that would lead someone to that position, not the material constraints.

Quote :
"Because it's wrong to force the victims to then pay for the health and care of the scum for the rest of his or her natural life?"


The victims "pay" for the execution too. Given the uncertain nature of our legal process this may be necessary, though; not to mention, ethical (unless we're comfortable killing while claiming killing is wrong).

This view of crime doesn't strike me as interested in addressing the causes, just in eradicating the symptoms.

12/30/2010 7:41:52 PM

1337 b4k4
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Quote :
"This is a separate issue don't you think?"


Not really. It all depends on what your view of the primary goals of criminal justice are. If one of the primary goals is the removal of dangerous people who have proven themselves incapable of living in society, and you accept that some people will need to be removed for life then it's not unreasonable to decide that if a life sentence doesn't actually mean life, then one solution is to simply shorten their life.

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"The victims "pay" for the execution too."


Oddly enough, I doubt you'd find many that object to that, but even if you did, I expect you'd find plenty of people willing to donate both the bullet and the time.

Quote :
"Given the uncertain nature of our legal process this may be necessary, though; not to mention, ethical"


Absolutely, ultimately my support for the death penalty is tempered by the fallibility of both our government as a whole and the justice system in particular. That said, even with the fallibility of our legal system, there are times when we are sure beyond all doubt, and there's no reason for the death penalty to not be an option in those cases.

Quote :
"unless we're comfortable killing while claiming killing is wrong"


Killing is not wrong. Killing without very good reason is. We also recognize varying degrees of wrongness based on the circumstances. It's also worth noting that holding people against their will is wrong, yet that is the primary method of the criminal justice system.

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"This view of crime doesn't strike me as interested in addressing the causes, just in eradicating the symptoms.
"


You can do both. There are some who aren't worth using your resources to address the cause, as those resources would save others.

12/30/2010 8:56:37 PM

EuroTitToss
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Let me ask a question. Is it wrong to kidnap someone and hold them against their will for years?

12/31/2010 7:18:21 AM

McDanger
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"There are some who aren't worth using your resources to address the cause, as those resources would save others."


Given our current poor (yet constantly and rapidly expanding) understanding of cognitive defects, disorders, and treatments, we'd do much better to wait for rehabilitation options (at least from an ethical standpoint).

Again the question is how far you're willing to let your government go; should they be able to execute citizens? I think no -- they should have the ability to remove people from society (as in prisons) when they are a credible and legitimate threat (breaking laws is the relevant flag fro this), but they shouldn't have the ability to kill us off.

We're the only industrialized nation to do this, and we also have shitloads of violent (including gun-related) crime; I think it's time we started addressing the real problem which is our over-competitive, aggressive, violent culture. There's no credible arguments or evidence that I'm aware of supporting the death penalty. The best (and only) reason seems to be revenge and emotional closure for victims, which is not a very worthy cause.

[Edited on December 31, 2010 at 12:32 PM. Reason : .]

12/31/2010 12:31:39 PM

GrumpyGOP
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"We're the only industrialized nation to do this"


Hidenori Ogata and Kazuo Shinozawa would be very surprised to hear this, given that they were both executed by Japan not six months ago.

Meanwhile China has the world's second largest economy and executes the shit out of people.

Quote :
"I think it's time we started addressing the real problem which is our over-competitive, aggressive, violent culture."


I'd love to see some credible arguments for this claim as well.

12/31/2010 12:58:48 PM

disco_stu
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"Only for mouth breathing simpletons, morality is certainly something that can be discussed and debated."


Perhaps better would have been to say, "Objective discussion ends here, begin subjective declarations on what is and is not moral."

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" If you and I got into an argument and you frustrated me enough I may want to hit you in the mouth, but that wouldn't make it moral."


It also doesn't make it not moral. Just retribution is moral in my book. Humanity cannot exist as an organization if there is no punishment for wrongdoing.

Quote :
" There's no credible arguments or evidence that I'm aware of supporting the death penalty. The best (and only) reason seems to be revenge and emotional closure for victims, which is not a very worthy cause."


Retribution is not strictly for the victims. Death is simply the maximum punishment available. It is strictly moral for a punishment to fit the crime. Some people feel that certain crimes deserve death.

Also, the recidivism rate for captial offenders is zero.

[Edited on December 31, 2010 at 1:43 PM. Reason : .]

12/31/2010 1:42:54 PM

d357r0y3r
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I think the morality of the death penalty can be discussed objectively. If a victim could have known prior to their death that they would, with 100% certainty, be murdered by some individual, they would be morally obligated to flee or incapacitate that individual. Most people agree that killing in self defense is appropriate, when necessary. If we can say that the victim would have been justified in killing his attacker, how can we come to the conclusion that, once the murder is a success, the criminal is no longer deserving of death? Retribution is not morally wrong, as it simply fulfills the moral obligation that the victim was not able to fulfill themselves.

The problem, of course, is that we depend on the state to determine who is guilty and who is innocent. I can't say for sure what "absolute proof" would consist of, but I can tell you that if I watched a loved one being murdered before my eyes, and I had a loaded gun, the murderer would receive a bullet to the head, and I would be justified in delivering it.

12/31/2010 3:55:15 PM

McDanger
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"Hidenori Ogata and Kazuo Shinozawa would be very surprised to hear this, given that they were both executed by Japan not six months ago."


Was unaware. Exclude Japan I guess?

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"Meanwhile China has the world's second largest economy and executes the shit out of people."


Oh boy! Another thing China and us agree on with respect to human rights!

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"Humanity cannot exist as an organization if there is no punishment for wrongdoing."


Why not? I think punishment serves a role too, but I'm curious for hearing why you think punishment is essential, because the death penalty probably does not serve these ends effectively.

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"It is strictly moral for a punishment to fit the crime. Some people feel that certain crimes deserve death."


The question isn't about what "some people feel", it's about what societal rules we should adopt.

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"Also, the recidivism rate for captial offenders is zero."


Likewise there's no correction or reparation for the innocent in those ranks

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"If we can say that the victim would have been justified in killing his attacker, how can we come to the conclusion that, once the murder is a success, the criminal is no longer deserving of death?"


Because nobody is being protected anymore in the slaying? If the police found out about the murder ahead of time (and could pre-empt it), they would arrest the man (not kill him on the spot).

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"Retribution is not morally wrong, as it simply fulfills the moral obligation that the victim was not able to fulfill themselves."


You have a bizarre picture of causality or a moral sense that doesn't find it relevant.

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"I can't say for sure what "absolute proof" would consist of, but I can tell you that if I watched a loved one being murdered before my eyes, and I had a loaded gun, the murderer would receive a bullet to the head, and I would be justified in delivering it."


There's a good reason we don't just allow citizens to dole out legal punishments willy-nilly.

12/31/2010 6:31:38 PM

rbrthwrd
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for those in favor of the death penalty for reasons of moral "obligation" (as it is being discussed), do you also support vigilantism in cases where the judicial system fails. do you find it morally acceptable to kill someone if, in your opinion, the judicial system fails? Is it moral to kill someone if they are prosecuted in a state that does not allow the death penalty? (i.e. Is the State the only entity with the power to kill criminals, do the courts have absolute power?)

12/31/2010 6:45:25 PM

disco_stu
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^^Well, you have to admit it's not responsible to make a blanket statement like "we're the only industrial nation that...." when several industrial nations are given as examples. You can waive them off as barbaric too, but your ability to dodge admitting a mistake is breathtaking.

Quote :
"Why not? I think punishment serves a role too, but I'm curious for hearing why you think punishment is essential, because the death penalty probably does not serve these ends effectively."


Because if wrongdoing goes unpunished then more innocent people will suffer. See Northern Mexico or Somalia as an example.

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"The question isn't about what "some people feel", it's about what societal rules we should adopt. "


And a conglomeration of personal feelings is how society comes to conclude what rules we should adopt. Discourse like this is part of that.

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"Likewise there's no correction or reparation for the innocent in those ranks"

I was just giving another example of the utility of the death penalty when someone (don't feel like looking up) said that there were no other reasons. Of course some innocent people will be killed. Some innocent people are killed in prison. Should we abandon prisons?

Quote :
"or those in favor of the death penalty for reasons of moral "obligation" (as it is being discussed), do you also support vigilantism in cases where the judicial system fails. do you find it morally acceptable to kill someone if, in your opinion, the judicial system fails? Is it moral to kill someone if they are prosecuted in a state that does not allow the death penalty? (i.e. Is the State the only entity with the power to kill criminals, do the courts have absolute power?)"


Absolutely. If a government fails to be just, it is moral for its citizens to be just in defiance of the government. This obviously isn't the preferred solution, since it's prone to all sorts of problems, but generally speaking it is moral.

[Edited on January 1, 2011 at 5:38 PM. Reason : .]

1/1/2011 5:37:07 PM

rbrthwrd
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Who is allowed to kill the criminal? Can anyone do it, or just the family?

Is the result the only thing at issue, or is the intention behind the killing important? For example, let's say that someone commits a murder in new york and is put in prison. If he were killed in prison would that be a just murder if it was in no way a retaliatory action for his crime? Do you have to want revenge for the killing to be just?

As a follow up to the first question; if the family of the victim does not want the death penalty is the state still under an obligation to seek it?

1/1/2011 5:46:17 PM

GrumpyGOP
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Well, if China's not a good example, I could point to India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.

So instead of "The only industrialized country" maybe you should run with "the only white people."

1/1/2011 6:35:38 PM

rbrthwrd
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_of_capital_punishment_by_nation

1/1/2011 7:01:24 PM

disco_stu
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Quote :
"Who is allowed to kill the criminal? Can anyone do it, or just the family?

Is the result the only thing at issue, or is the intention behind the killing important? For example, let's say that someone commits a murder in new york and is put in prison. If he were killed in prison would that be a just murder if it was in no way a retaliatory action for his crime? Do you have to want revenge for the killing to be just?

As a follow up to the first question; if the family of the victim does not want the death penalty is the state still under an obligation to seek it?"


The reason for the killing is most certainly the determining factor to whether a killing is just. A murderer gets hit by a bus. It's not justice. It's just circumstance.

The same axe murderer gets killed in prison. This time it depends on the killer's reasoning. Did murderer deserved to die, is that why the killer did so? Or was he just angry that he looked at him the wrong way? It's not justice if the reason is not to punish for the crime against humanity.

I'm also not saying that a vigilante should not be put to justice himself for breaking the law. I don't think a just killing is a capital offense, nor even one that should be punished with jail time, but as long as you live in our country you are subject to our laws, whether your actions are moral though currently illegal.

I honestly think it would be impossible to determine whether the prisoner in your example actual was doling out justice or not. Nor would I be prepared to officially change our laws to permit vigilantism. I also wouldn't lose any sleep if a vigilante was acquitted by jury nullification.

^Quite a lot of industrialized nations on that list, eh?

1/1/2011 9:22:07 PM

McDanger
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Quote :
"Well, you have to admit it's not responsible to make a blanket statement like "we're the only industrial nation that...." when several industrial nations are given as examples. You can waive them off as barbaric too, but your ability to dodge admitting a mistake is breathtaking."


No, I made a mistake. Japan is like the only decent member of the death penalty club, though, except perhaps Egypt and India. (Maybe Qatar, Lebanon, and UAE aren't so bad either? I dunno.)

Either way practically nobody with modern living standards practices this anymore.

Quote :
"Because if wrongdoing goes unpunished then more innocent people will suffer. See Northern Mexico or Somalia as an example."


The death penalty is not the only possible punishment.

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"And a conglomeration of personal feelings is how society comes to conclude what rules we should adopt. Discourse like this is part of that."


Yes, but simply codifying personal reactions and intuitions into public policies is naive. Just because most people would want bloody revenge does not mean the death penalty is something we should adopt.

Quote :
"I was just giving another example of the utility of the death penalty when someone (don't feel like looking up) said that there were no other reasons. Of course some innocent people will be killed. Some innocent people are killed in prison. Should we abandon prisons?"


No, but we should probably improve the conditions within them. This is a separate issue altogether, though, as getting raped by other inmates and guards is not really an essential part of corrections.

Quote :
"So instead of "The only industrialized country" maybe you should run with "the only white people.""


Yeah I was being a bit Eurocentric there. Either way I'm not really willing to adopt Pakistan's ideals of criminal treatment.

1/1/2011 9:24:17 PM

disco_stu
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"Either way practically nobody with modern living standards practices this anymore."


Just say Europe doesn't do it any more and get over with it.

Quote :
"The death penalty is not the only possible punishment."

Certainly not, but for certain crimes it is the just punishment. The punishment fitting the crime is the only moral way to assign punishment. We have a Constitutional Amendment because of this concept.

Quote :
"Yes, but simply codifying personal reactions and intuitions into public policies is naive. Just because most people would want bloody revenge does not mean the death penalty is something we should adopt."

Absolutely. Which is why we're discussing this right now. We are social creatures after all.

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"No, but we should probably improve the conditions within them. This is a separate issue altogether, though, as getting raped by other inmates and guards is not really an essential part of corrections."

Just as we should constantly improve the criminal justice system to further mitigate the innocent claimed by it. My point is only that innocent people are killed by our justice system aside from the death penalty. If the reason "if one innocent person is killed" is good enough reason to abolish the death penalty, then our entire prison system should be dismantled. As you say, it's a pretty good reason to work to improve it, rather than abolish it.

1/1/2011 10:06:42 PM

McDanger
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Quote :
"Certainly not, but for certain crimes it is the just punishment. The punishment fitting the crime is the only moral way to assign punishment. We have a Constitutional Amendment because of this concept."


But you're offering no argument for it being just; on what basis is it just? What properties of it hook into justice? What does the death penalty accomplish that makes it (1) the most just; (2) uniquely so?

Quote :
"My point is only that innocent people are killed by our justice system aside from the death penalty. If the reason "if one innocent person is killed" is good enough reason to abolish the death penalty, then our entire prison system should be dismantled. As you say, it's a pretty good reason to work to improve it, rather than abolish it."


Prisons are justified because the consequences of letting dangerous anti-social maniacs run amok are too grave. They're so grave that few people dispute the essential nature of the institutions, even given their inherent shortcomings, human mechanism design nightmares, and necessary evils (in a sense). Death is part of prison only to the extent that they are mismanaged; well-managed prisons minimize death. The death, though inevitable in some statistical sense, is justifiable to the extent that prisons are effective in maintaining the health of society.

Unless the death penalty uniquely serves society in a way that less severe punishments do not, the inevitable innocent death that arises due to it is less morally justifiable.

1/1/2011 11:36:37 PM

rbrthwrd
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Quote :
"^Quite a lot of industrialized nations on that list, eh?"

none that anyone would hold up as an example for human rights

Quote :
"Certainly not, but for certain crimes it is the just punishment. The punishment fitting the crime is the only moral way to assign punishment. We have a Constitutional Amendment because of this concept."

could you expand on this? it screams circular logic to me, but i may just not be seeing your point

[Edited on January 2, 2011 at 12:05 AM. Reason : .]

1/2/2011 12:03:39 AM

eleusis
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if you see the death sentence as such an atrocity, then how can you justify a sentence of life without the possibility of parole as not being a death sentence? I personally see lethal injection as a lot simpler than death by broomstick up the ass (Jeffrey Dahmer) or death by cancer after the D student prison doctors cut off your jaw and feed you through a tube (John Gotti).

1/2/2011 12:07:07 AM

rbrthwrd
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go back and read what mcdanger wrote about improving prisons

1/2/2011 12:09:25 AM

eleusis
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Prison conditions aren't what cause violent inmates to pummel each other. The only way to keep them safe from each other is to put all inmates in solitary confinement, and that's a torture worse than death.

1/2/2011 2:02:11 AM

1337 b4k4
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Quote :
"What does the death penalty accomplish that makes it (1) the most just; (2) uniquely so?"


Guaranteed no repeat offending?

1/2/2011 10:00:11 AM

disco_stu
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I agree with elusis on this point. A life sentence is effectively a death penalty and perhaps even more cruel.

Quote :
"What properties of it hook into justice? What does the death penalty accomplish that makes it (1) the most just; (2) uniquely so?"


What argument can be made for any punishment fitting any crime? It's fairly arbitrary and defined by societal norms. How do we know a small fine is an appropriate punishment for a minor offense? The death penalty is the only way to revoke the right of life that all people have innately but give up when they commit offenses against the right of life of others.

1/2/2011 10:35:11 AM

McDanger
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Quote :
"Guaranteed no repeat offending?"


It's also guaranteed to intentionally kill innocents. It's also guaranteed not to be reversible in the case of mistake, and it's not the unique option to prevent repeat offenses. Using the messed up state of prisons to justify the death penalty is more an argument to improve prisons.

Quote :
"I agree with elusis on this point. A life sentence is effectively a death penalty and perhaps even more cruel."


It's only "effectively" a death penalty insofar as you ignore all differences between the two. Life sentences are reversible as new evidence (or political circumstances, in cases) becomes available. Also you prevent the government from the tricky business of executing its own citizens. Also you avoid killing people in cases where it fails to serve an identified purpose. It's up to you to identify that purpose, whatever it is, but the ends the death penalty serve must justify it. In other words, it needs to be outrageously effective (at whatever you're claiming it's effective for) in order to be justified (and it's up to you to explain the effectiveness of punishments, under your view).

Prison is cruel, as you point out, but justifiable insofar as you must keep violent offenders separated from society (the benefit is so obvious that the cruelty of prison is justified). Nobody has justified the death penalty yet; the most compelling justification so far has been that our prisons are messed up, and rather than fixing them we should simply kill people instead.

Quote :
"What argument can be made for any punishment fitting any crime? It's fairly arbitrary and defined by societal norms."


A moment ago you were telling me the death penalty is THE "just punishment" for certain crimes; now you're telling me the assignment of a punishment is arbitrary and defined by social norms. I'm going to need to ask you to define "just", or at least to sketch for me how it interacts with the world, in your view, because I have no idea how to make sense of what you're saying anymore.

Quote :
"How do we know a small fine is an appropriate punishment for a minor offense?"


Punishments in general serve a few purposes. They can serve as a deterrent, for instance. Or they could serve to help offset the cost of the infraction itself, if any such cost was incurred. There are plenty of reasonable measurements and purposes relevant to punishments; the reason why so many people oppose the death penalty is because it's not a very effective punishment from the standpoint of social intervention. If intervening on our citizens with our legal system is justified by the positive benefits of such an intervention (such as jailing a serial killer, lowering violent crime), then it's justified based solely on the consequences. You need to demonstrate that the consequences of the death penalty are "worth it" in a societal sense. Otherwise, other punishments will do, because they are more effective AND more ethical.

Of course, to determine this, you're going to have to bite the bullet and commit to some notion of justice or other and explain how punishments can serve it. So far you've basically argued: "The death penalty is obviously just because some people want it for some crimes, and punishments are all arbitrary anyway so people feeling like this makes it right." Even if I were a supporter of the death penalty I would not accept that argument.

Quote :
"The death penalty is the only way to revoke the right of life that all people have innately but give up when they commit offenses against the right of life of others."


A moment ago you claimed that life in prison was "effectively" the death penalty. Now you're arguing the death penalty is the "only way" to revoke the right of life. You're going to have to commit to one position or the other.

You have revealed that revenge/payback is a function of punishment, for you, though, so at least you're part of the way to answering one of the essential notions you're trading on loosely here.

1/2/2011 11:23:28 AM

disco_stu
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Quote :
"A moment ago you were telling me the death penalty is THE "just punishment" for certain crimes; now you're telling me the assignment of a punishment is arbitrary and defined by social norms. I'm going to need to ask you to define "just", or at least to sketch for me how it interacts with the world, in your view, because I have no idea how to make sense of what you're saying anymore."


Just = appropriate response to wrongdoing agreed upon by societal norms. Personal definitions for what is just and what isn't will of course vary from person to person. I say quite arbitrarily that an aggravate sexual assailant deserves to die and you would say also quite arbitrarily otherwise. Whatever we end up with in our laws represents a loose agreement between us, subject to change as society changes, if necessary.

Quote :
"A moment ago you claimed that life in prison was "effectively" the death penalty. Now you're arguing the death penalty is the "only way" to revoke the right of life. You're going to have to commit to one position or the other."


"Effectively" is the key word here; even if living the rest of your life in prison may suck and be cruel, you still got to live more seconds than you deserved to. It's obviously a good point that a life sentence gives opportunity to overturn the conviction. More compelling of a reason to improve the justice system. More innocent people suffer the rest of their lives and then die in prison than are executed. Again, if this is a reason for aboloshing the death penalty, then it is just as good of a reason to abolish prisons all together.

Quote :
" If intervening on our citizens with our legal system is justified by the positive benefits of such an intervention (such as jailing a serial killer, lowering violent crime), then it's justified based solely on the consequences. You need to demonstrate that the consequences of the death penalty are "worth it" in a societal sense. Otherwise, other punishments will do, because they are more effective AND more ethical."


How is executing a killer not the most effective way to lower violent crime? He or she will have absolutely no chance to do any more damage to society. I don't think it's necessary to demonstrate that it is more ethical to justify it's use. A person deserving of the death penalty does not deserve ethical treatment because they have demonstrated that they are unwilling to provide it to the rest of humanity. They lose their rights (or at least they should).

Additionally, how is any punishment ethical? Is it ever ethical to kidnap and imprison someone or take money against their will? Its ethic is purely derived from its benefit to society, not apart from it in a vacuum.

The death penalty provides at least the same amount of deterrence as life imprisonment (not much). The death penalty provides the maximum amount of incapacitation. It is an appropriate punishment for the worst crimes. It doesn't provide any type of compensation for the victim, but neither does imprisonment. The benefit to society is that the abomination to society is gone forever.

[Edited on January 2, 2011 at 6:22 PM. Reason : its it's]

1/2/2011 6:21:03 PM

rbrthwrd
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Quote :
"Just = appropriate response to wrongdoing agreed upon by societal norms. Personal definitions for what is just and what isn't will of course vary from person to person. I say quite arbitrarily that an aggravate sexual assailant deserves to die and you would say also quite arbitrarily otherwise. Whatever we end up with in our laws represents a loose agreement between us, subject to change as society changes, if necessary.
"

so since 66% of people in this state are opposed to the death penalty then it is against our agreed upon societal norms and is unjust and the law should be subject to change. seems pretty clear cut via your definition of just.

1/2/2011 6:41:35 PM

GrumpyGOP
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Quote :
"none that anyone would hold up as an example for human rights"


Please. The only way you get away with this is if you say that nobody would hold up any country with the death penalty as an example for human rights, which makes the whole point moot.

Japan is not normally brought up as a horrible violator of human rights (at least since about 1945...). Nor is India. Nor are South Korea, Chile, Peru, and Brazil (at least not since the decline of various dictatorships, but pretty much everybody has had a couple of those).

Meanwhile you've got a number of countries on the "no death penalty list" that are widely regarded as having a pretty loose definition of human rights. Russia stands out in particular (it's not an execution if you never get a trial and/or are Chechen!) Then you've got the laughable claim of "abolished in practice" in Myanmar. Frankly I think the Turks remain pretty serious human rights abuses, especially for somebody that wants to get into the EU, but I wouldn't press the point. Serbia abolished the death penalty in 1995 and then gleefully used it on who-knows-how-many Kosovar civilians. And so on and so forth.

What I'm getting it as that there's not much point in this line of argument that death-penalty opponents often take, which I call the "you know them by the company they keep" argument. My side has assholes that murder people, and so does yours.

---

Quote :
"so since 66% of people in this state are opposed to the death penalty then it is against our agreed upon societal norms and is unjust and the law should be subject to change"


Is that according to the poll supplanter showed, which was full of qualifiers like "untill the SBI gets fixed" and "or weren't sure if it was a good idea"?

1/2/2011 7:00:46 PM

rbrthwrd
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if you think it should be replaced with life in prison and don't think it makes sense financially then you don't support it, there was no other qualifier on that. by the proposed definition of something being just, it is not just.

now we can start a semantics argument, but i think its a silly definition of something being just so you would probably just be arguing with yourself.

[Edited on January 2, 2011 at 7:08 PM. Reason : woops, 64% not 66%]

1/2/2011 7:07:44 PM

McDanger
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Quote :
"Just = appropriate response to wrongdoing agreed upon by societal norms. Personal definitions for what is just and what isn't will of course vary from person to person. I say quite arbitrarily that an aggravate sexual assailant deserves to die and you would say also quite arbitrarily otherwise. Whatever we end up with in our laws represents a loose agreement between us, subject to change as society changes, if necessary."


You might view justice as arbitrary because it's a human idea, but everything we deal with is a human idea and so I reject the notion that this is the basis of justice's supposed arbitrariness. There are a variety of statistics one could roll into a theory of justice, things that justice should be sensitive to.

If you think that group utility or individual rights should be protected by justice, for instance, then your view is not necessarily arbitrary; it's a view that defines justice with an eye towards consequences.

I think that violent sexual offenders should be put to death only if the benefits to society justify such an extreme act. Given that there are other punishments that work better than the death penalty (for group utility, for respecting the rights of citizens, as a deterrent, for restricting the power of the government over citizens), I don't think we should be using it (even if it's super cool to fantasize about gruesomely slaughtering "bad people").

Quote :
"How is executing a killer not the most effective way to lower violent crime?"


Executing poor people would perhaps be better.

Quote :
"He or she will have absolutely no chance to do any more damage to society. I don't think it's necessary to demonstrate that it is more ethical to justify it's use. A person deserving of the death penalty does not deserve ethical treatment because they have demonstrated that they are unwilling to provide it to the rest of humanity. They lose their rights (or at least they should)."


They don't have the opportunity to damage society in prison either; that's partially the point of prison, to keep violent offenders separated from society. The death penalty is not reversible, so given the incredibly faulty legal system that we have (not only evidence handling but also our fucked up incentives for prosecutors to win at all costs), which is faulty far beyond any intrinsic noise, we should not be executing people.

Plenty of people aren't willing to prove ethical treatment to the rest of humanity. In fact, many CEO's and corporations who you desperately want to de-regulate could give a fuck about providing ethical treatment to anybody, yet you're not clamoring for them to be executed (because they're following legal channels, as if this necessarily tracks ethical considerations). It's my position that unless somebody is an immediate threat that they have not forfeited their right to life in the least, and that any ethical government respects its citizens' right to life no matter what infractions they may have committed. If they are neutralized as a threat, then punishment need not excessively neutralize the individual, so to speak. It really depends on what you think the purpose of punishment is, which you have not addressed. It makes this discussion extremely murky.

Quote :
"Additionally, how is any punishment ethical? Is it ever ethical to kidnap and imprison someone or take money against their will? Its ethic is purely derived from its benefit to society, not apart from it in a vacuum."


Taxation is not punishment; you should start another thread if you want to argue this, and we can go at it there instead. Talking about this here would cause a derail, but I'm really tired of libertarians presupposing positions that require an argument, and then failing to ever provide adequate argumentation.

If you had read anything I posted up to this point though, I claimed that imprisonment is justified in terms of its overall benefits to society. If the death penalty had the same sort of demonstrable benefit then it might be justifiable too, but as I've argued, it accomplishes less than imprisonment.

Quote :
"The death penalty provides at least the same amount of deterrence as life imprisonment (not much). The death penalty provides the maximum amount of incapacitation. It is an appropriate punishment for the worst crimes. It doesn't provide any type of compensation for the victim, but neither does imprisonment. The benefit to society is that the abomination to society is gone forever."


You do realize why this is not an argument, right?

Quote :
"What I'm getting it as that there's not much point in this line of argument that death-penalty opponents often take, which I call the "you know them by the company they keep" argument. My side has assholes that murder people, and so does yours. "


Yeah but you're the only one that imagines this as a viable excuse. This kind of apologism always troubles me about you. You don't hold the knife but you keep professing that your friend should continue gutting people because it's all the rage.

1/3/2011 12:01:19 PM

Pupils DiL8t
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"So you wouldn't kill a person in self-defense? You've got a gun and I come at you with a knife, you just let me stab you? What if it's your wife/kid/girlfriend/whoever I'm coming after? What if I'm going to rape them? You don't pull the trigger?"


I assume that, given the chance, you would shoot at their kneecaps and immobilize them, as opposed to initially aiming for their face, chest or stomach.

1/3/2011 10:46:58 PM

GrumpyGOP
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As I understand it, in this and many other states it is currently illegal to shoot to maim as opposed to shooting to kill.

To say nothing of the difficulty in shooting a kneecap, and to say even more nothing about how little doing so would do if they were also armed, and to say less than nothing about the good and cogent reasons a person might have for not wanting someone walking around plotting revenge against the guy that shot them.

Quote :
"Yeah but you're the only one that imagines this as a viable excuse."


It's not an excuse or a reason for using the death penalty. It's one a reason why "But China and Sudan do it too, you're like them!" is a fucking red herring. I did not bring it up until people started claiming that we were the only executing country that was industrialized/at all well-regarded towards human rights, which is not true and would be irrelevant in any case. There is no moral benefit to be gathered here from associating with one group of countries and not the other, unless you want to boil it down exclusive to "Associating with countries with the death penalty is bad because the death penalty is bad," in which case all of the other stuff is -- again -- irrelevant.

[Edited on January 3, 2011 at 11:34 PM. Reason : ]

1/3/2011 11:34:06 PM

McDanger
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Quote :
"As I understand it, in this and many other states it is currently illegal to shoot to maim as opposed to shooting to kill.

To say nothing of the difficulty in shooting a kneecap, and to say even more nothing about how little doing so would do if they were also armed, and to say less than nothing about the good and cogent reasons a person might have for not wanting someone walking around plotting revenge against the guy that shot them."


This is a silly argument anyway because killing for the immediate need of self-defense is different than killing someone who has been neutralized as a threat to society. I think we can all agree it's unreasonable when people get on someone's jock for killing a potentially violent intruder, especially when kids are in the house. It's way too natural to chimp out in those circumstances, the liability is really on the intruder here.

Quote :
"did not bring it up until people started claiming that we were the only executing country that was industrialized/at all well-regarded towards human rights, which is not true and would be irrelevant in any case. There is no moral benefit to be gathered here from associating with one group of countries and not the other, unless you want to boil it down exclusive to "Associating with countries with the death penalty is bad because the death penalty is bad," in which case all of the other stuff is -- again -- irrelevant."


I guess it's irrelevant altogether given how we have reversed every one of our ideals with respect to human rights in the last decade.

1/3/2011 11:45:17 PM

GrumpyGOP
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Quote :
"This is a silly argument anyway because killing for the immediate need of self-defense is different than killing someone who has been neutralized as a threat to society."


Again, I was just responding to something that someone else had said, which seemed to suggest that somebody should just shoot to maim.

And while I agree that there is a difference in the circumstances, there are two points (which of course have already been made but which you appear to be ignoring here:

1) A person in jail is not necessarily neutralized as a threat to society. Famous examples proving as much exist. Lately in the news we've heard some about Billy the Kid, who killed officers while escaping. Sure, we have better technology now to keep them in jail, but by the same token we have better technology to make sure we don't convict or execute innocent people.

2) Allowing for killing in immediate self-defense allows for a situation in which killing is acceptable, which in turn demolishes any argument based on the idea that "killing is always wrong." I find especially interesting your mention of situations "when kids are in the house," which seems to broaden the acceptability of killing even more. Killing to protect yourself is fairly understandable, and killing to protect kids even more so.

1/4/2011 12:26:30 AM

McDanger
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Quote :
"Again, I was just responding to something that someone else had said, which seemed to suggest that somebody should just shoot to maim."


I know, I just wanted to interject and stop that entire wasted line of argument. What is and isn't appropriate in home defense scenarios should be roped off from this discussion because it'll horribly derail it. Instead what should be discussed is whether or not killing is ever justified as self-defense if you think that's relevant to this debate. All that's really needed is existence; arguing out individual cases is going to be a waste.

Quote :
"1) A person in jail is not necessarily neutralized as a threat to society. Famous examples proving as much exist. Lately in the news we've heard some about Billy the Kid, who killed officers while escaping. Sure, we have better technology now to keep them in jail, but by the same token we have better technology to make sure we don't convict or execute innocent people."


You pretty much defeat your own point here by admitting that improving technology helps reduce the number of escapes. Worrying about that stuff is beyond paranoid, and advocating a general policy of killing predicated upon that fear is irrational.

While technology will continue to improve with respect to evidence handling as well, gathering evidence to prove guilt is a much different problem fundamentally than keeping people contained in a compound. It's rife with inherently noisy subsystems; crappy incentives for law enforcement (with plenty of hooks for special political interests) AND all of the traditional problems of data-handling and analysis.

Quote :
"2) Allowing for killing in immediate self-defense allows for a situation in which killing is acceptable, which in turn demolishes any argument based on the idea that "killing is always wrong." I find especially interesting your mention of situations "when kids are in the house," which seems to broaden the acceptability of killing even more. Killing to protect yourself is fairly understandable, and killing to protect kids even more so."


Good thing killing ISN'T always wrong. Just because it's right for immediate, personal self-defense in a restricted set of cases does not imply that it's right for criminal punishment, however. The death penalty has to be justified independently, not on the basis of some analogy to personal defense. If it's to be justified, it has to be justified in terms of its positive benefits, appropriate in nature for a punishment to produce and rendered to society as a whole.

Your position on this honestly confuses me. As a conservative I figured you'd appreciate the notion of weighing the pros versus the cons (conservatives seem to pride themselves on their self-perceived ability to do this), and as a Christian I figured you'd realize the high value of human life and the seriousness of taking it. There needs to be overwhelming benefits to society for the death penalty to be worth it, because (potentially innocent, if that matters to you) human life is at stake.

Edit: Furthermore, it allows a legal apparatus for the government to kill you. This can be (and is) abused in countless ways.

[Edited on January 4, 2011 at 12:52 AM. Reason : .]

1/4/2011 12:46:05 AM

GrumpyGOP
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Quote :
"You pretty much defeat your own point here by admitting that improving technology helps reduce the number of escapes."


There is probably a hypothetical point at which technology can obviate what I perceive as death penalty's role, but we aren't there yet.

Quote :
"The death penalty has to be justified independently, not on the basis of some analogy to personal defense."


Not entirely, but that isn't to say the analogy is moot. We agree that we can kill a bad guy to save a good guy from certain horrible fates. Whether we're talking about immediate self defense or capital punishment, the issue involves an element of the odds game. As far as that goes it's an issue of what odds we're willing to accept. I don't think the difference is too broad, either.

Then there's the issue of whether you should kill when you have a legitimate alternative. Obviously I don't think we have one in many cases.

Quote :
"As a conservative I figured you'd appreciate the notion of weighing the pros versus the cons (conservatives seem to pride themselves on their self-perceived ability to do this), and as a Christian I figured you'd realize the high value of human life and the seriousness of taking it. There needs to be overwhelming benefits to society for the death penalty to be worth it, because (potentially innocent, if that matters to you) human life is at stake."


1) I try very hard to weigh pros and cons and I think I do a decent job of it.

2) Christianity doesn't enter into my thoughts on public policy. Unless I'm mistaken the Eastern Orthodox Church is opposed to the death penalty.

3) The value of human life is my primary concern here. From where I'm sitting right now we can save more innocent lives by killing certain bad guys than we will lose them by accidentally executing non-bad guys.

In this state and country today we have tolerably decent safeguards against wrongful execution, or the ability to attain those safeguards quickly and easily. We don't have tolerably decent safeguards against things like escapes, in-prison murders, and homicidal criminal organizations being operated from within prisons, nor do we have the ability to attain those easily.

Quote :
"Furthermore, it allows a legal apparatus for the government to kill you. This can be (and is) abused in countless ways."


Government doesn't need a legal apparatus to do that, would retain legal apparatus to do so even if you abolished the death penalty, and I vote for my government but I don't vote for the heads of Cosa Nostra, the Manson family, or Madre Salvatrucha.

1/4/2011 2:24:59 AM

McDanger
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Quote :
"There is probably a hypothetical point at which technology can obviate what I perceive as death penalty's role, but we aren't there yet."


We'll never be there until you tell me what the role is, and how the effects of this role can be measured statistically. Again, it has not served as an effective deterrent, and does not seem to decrease the amount of violence in the states where it's used beneath the amount of violence in states where it's not used. In other words, there's no evidence to suggest the death penalty accomplishes anything, especially on the scale it's practiced.

Until you define a role for it or explain to me what it does societally (in a vaguely mechanistic sense), then I have no idea how to evaluate this claim. All we have is a "well then, just in case they really did commit the crime, they NEVER WILL BE ABLE TO AGAIN" which is flawed for several independent reasons which have been brought up over and over again.

Your position seems rooted solely in fear and seems to gain its intuition from personal ones. This is a really disastrous way to determine what's right for society.

Quote :
"Not entirely, but that isn't to say the analogy is moot. We agree that we can kill a bad guy to save a good guy from certain horrible fates. Whether we're talking about immediate self defense or capital punishment, the issue involves an element of the odds game. As far as that goes it's an issue of what odds we're willing to accept. I don't think the difference is too broad, either."


Preventing someone's death here and now is different. You have strong, incontrovertible evidence that something bad's going to happen (someone has a gun drawn or whatever, or in another way makes their immediate intentions clear). Everybody knows that direct, immediate physical confrontation changes the way we operate due to emotional and stress factors. This is why I don't blame someone for killing an intruder in their house; at extreme points we act according to self-interest, because in many ways we're programmed that way. Emotions run high due to the release of various chemicals (due to the context) and decision-making reflexes change drastically.

Executing a prisoner is a completely different game. What is the odds a murderer on a life-sentence escapes from prison and kills again, anyway? I wonder if it even eclipses the number of people wrongfully executed; it would be worth looking up.

Quote :
"Then there's the issue of whether you should kill when you have a legitimate alternative. Obviously I don't think we have one in many cases."


I have no idea why you think that, though, as you've presented one flawed argument and a bunch of non-arguments. We know the death penalty is ineffective in the ways that people originally imagined it working; so you need to figure out for us what it's supposed to accomplish and how we can measure that.

Until then, I have no idea what you mean to say when you "don't think" we have an alternative. With respect to what?

Quote :
"1) I try very hard to weigh pros and cons and I think I do a decent job of it."


I disagree, because you haven't made it clear which basis you're weighing pros and cons on. Since I have no idea where your values are (you obviously only care about "harm" in strangely restricted cases), I have no idea to tell whether or not you weigh "pros" and "cons", and if you do, what you think you mean by it.

Quote :
"2) Christianity doesn't enter into my thoughts on public policy. Unless I'm mistaken the Eastern Orthodox Church is opposed to the death penalty."


So your views on the value of human life are unaffected by your Christianity?

Quote :
"3) The value of human life is my primary concern here. From where I'm sitting right now we can save more innocent lives by killing certain bad guys than we will lose them by accidentally executing non-bad guys."


But this is demonstrably untrue; the death penalty doesn't serve as a deterrent. Furthermore, it would have to save more lives due to escapees on life-sentences causing mayhem than accidental executions. I find this really unlikely but it's something I need to research, so I can't say either way at the moment. Seeing as how you appear ignorant about the basic statistics regarding the death penalty that everybody already knows, then I doubt you know either.

So from where you sit (knowing nothing), you think a thing. Cool. Unless you give me more theoretical information and then more empirical information to fill it in, you haven't said anything other than "blah blah bad guys, good guys, kill the bad guys" which is 1500 B.C. mentality.

Furthermore you should change your view of criminals if you think that criminals are "bad guys" in some traditional, conventional sense. This shows that your views of morality, ethics, and public policy have nothing to do with psychological and neurological reality.

1/5/2011 1:44:50 PM

GrumpyGOP
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Quote :
""well then, just in case they really did commit the crime, they NEVER WILL BE ABLE TO AGAIN""


This is pretty much it, minus the ridiculous "just in case," which implies that we're correct in our convictions a minority of the time.

A dead person cannot commit more crimes, and it is for this reason that I've always said the death penalty should be targeted at certain kinds of offenders who are most likely to continue committing serious crimes.

Fear doesn't enter into it. The statistical likelihood of me or someone close to me being killed in a violent crime is statistically negligible. I'm just trying to do simple math. Are there bad people who want to do more bad things? If we try to kill those bad people, will we have ended up killing fewer innocent people than would have died if we let the bad people live?

Quote :
"What is the odds a murderer on a life-sentence escapes from prison and kills again, anyway? I wonder if it even eclipses the number of people wrongfully executed; it would be worth looking up.
"


The difficulty here lies in knowing the number of people wrongfully executed. Obviously if we knew that figure (or even something close to it) this debate might take a different tack.

But escapes do happen, and there have been prominent cases of them that involve multiple homicides. Those four guys in Colorado spring to mind and the most prominent recent example.

But it's not just escapes, mind you. It is generally known that members of criminal organizations still participate in those groups from jail. The higher ups order murders. The lower guys murder other people in jail. And so forth. Talk about "solitary confinement" all you want but right now we can't even keep Charles Manson, arguably the most notorious orchestrator of murder in jail today, from sneaking a cell phone into his cell.

Quote :
"Everybody knows that direct, immediate physical confrontation changes the way we operate due to emotional and stress factors."


Emotions and stress are valid excuses in this situation, but not in the situation where someone has a loved one who has been murdered? Emotion and stress can last a long time, my friend...

Quote :
"I disagree, because you haven't made it clear which basis you're weighing pros and cons on. "


I've made it abundantly clear. Saving innocent people is a pro. Letting them die is a con. Killing non-innocent people is neither (well, OK, it's kind of a pro but not in a way that I consider for these arguments).

Quote :
"So your views on the value of human life are unaffected by your Christianity?"


For purposes of policy considerations? Yes. The short reason being that if we don't assume human life to have some intrinsic value then the whole enterprise seems like sort of a waste of time.

Quote :
"But this is demonstrably untrue; the death penalty doesn't serve as a deterrent."


This is one of those statements that is true in a broad statistical sense but not true in what could be a very meaningful anecdotal sense. We discussed earlier in this thread incidents of fugitives laying down their gun rather than firing on police because of they knew the likely consequence of shooting a cop. Does that make a statistically significant deterrent? Of course not. Does that make a very, very meaningful deterrent for the cop who didn't get shot? You're god damn right it does.

But it doesn't matter, I didn't say anything about deterrents. It isn't a deterrent in the sense you mean, and I've never claimed it was. I've never even said the "other deterrent" was a reason for supporting the death penalty, because it's not.

A dead bad guy cannot do more bad things. That's the reason.

Quote :
"Furthermore, it would have to save more lives due to escapees on life-sentences causing mayhem than accidental executions. I find this really unlikely but it's something I need to research, so I can't say either way at the moment."


I said it already in this post but I'll reiterate. You can research it until the cows come but you're not going to find a meaningful answer without a vast legal investigative team. The simple reality is that we don't put a lot of effort into investigating the innocence of a guy who's already dead. Meaning that once they're executed, nobody is really trying to figure out of they were really innocent or not. Meaning in turn that all you have to go on is people who are exonerated before they're executed, which doesn't really work out because they are also examples of the system working -- we didn't executed them.

Quote :
"Furthermore you should change your view of criminals if you think that criminals are "bad guys" in some traditional, conventional sense. This shows that your views of morality, ethics, and public policy have nothing to do with psychological and neurological reality."


Whether they have a disorder stemming from their brain's genetic architecture or from various life experiences is immaterial. My only question is, are they a serious threat to society? Given the opportunity are they likely to hurt other people? If yes, I don't care if they're retarded or schizophrenic or if their step dad had boundary issues. I'm not interested in helping or rehabilitating people damaged in that way if it puts other people at risk.

1/5/2011 5:13:31 PM

Str8BacardiL
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keep death penalty legal

provide better counsel for death penalty defendants

do not use in cases where actual innocence is in question

profit

1/6/2011 7:50:18 PM

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