Yes, I'm in favour of Capital Punishment!

steveb

Joined Jul 3, 2008
2,436
What kind of restitution is adequate when you've been in prison for 15 years, your kids grew up hating you, your wife remarried, and your parents have died and you weren't there. You haven't had a job in 15 years, so you're going to have to start over at burger king and try to explain away the gap in employment. Some would prefer death to that. "oops" doesn't make that go away, just like it doesn't make a wrongful execution go away.
All good points, but ask yourself how many of these people kill themselves when they do get out of prison. The guy from my community got out after 5 years and was quite relieved and happy to be exonerated, despite still being very pissed off. He did get divorced, although his wife was always convinced of his innocence and told my wife so personally when he was locked away and considered guilty. He was able to make up for some lost time with his children who were very happy when he got out. He was also given some restitution in back pay, if I remember correctly.

You can also draw a direct parallel to people who are tried and found innocent. Often the stress of a drawn out trial results in divorce, loss of huge amounts of money in legal bills, and even loss of jobs etc. The bottom line is that the world is not a perfect place, and we just do the best we can. Perhaps the system we have now is the best we can do, or perhaps we can do just a little better with some small tweaks here or there. I'm just mentioning my opinion about one possible tweak that sits well in my mind. One never knows just how good an idea is unless it gets implemented and tested. The members here are generally familiar with that process.
 

loosewire

Joined Apr 25, 2008
1,686
Science has caught up with police work,lab techs are collecting evidence.
The system where there no easy way to get a reversal on a conviction.
The two schools of thought have collided,new evidence is not welcome.
New science says some people need a new trial,the old frame work says
there a high bar to meet. Reversals are set in stone. People with a record
is paying for crimes they got off on before.Its a catch -22 some people will
live others will dye. There are areas all across the world that people are killed
and no one talks,the killings go unsolved because of no witnesses. With a
crowd watching,some may enjoy watching,reward money don't get
witnesses.
 
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strantor

Joined Oct 3, 2010
5,637
Perhaps you would rather die than go through that, but I suspect that is not true of everyone. You would be vindicated to your kids, your wife, well, people go through divorces all the time. And if you haven't noticed, most of these guys are released with hundreds of thousands of dollars, in really bad cases it can be millions if the DA and police screw up badly enough.

Does it make up for the misery? Nope, but at least you're alive to be miserable, with a chance for improvements. Dead people don't have any options. Killing people also covers up those embarrassing mistakes and lets the incompetent repeat them on other innocents.
I had no idea it was that much.

You know, if the prison system wasn't so inefficient, I might not have a problem with a life scentence vise death penalty. The inmates don't do anything productive; we could have them out digging ditches. Being that their incarceration is supposed to be punitive, do they really deserve books, basketball at recess, cable TV, and air conditioning? If we would take that away, it would save us a lot of money. They could still benefit the world, but not in the system we have in place. And yes, all I'm concerned about is them benefitting us, and our tax money. Once you've killed someone, your life (or soul, rather) doesn't mean much to me anymore; we might as well be catering to cattle IMO. You might say "those are real people in there" well not to me.
 

GetDeviceInfo

Joined Jun 7, 2009
1,878
Personally, I believe there is room for capital punishment, I also believe that an option of euthanism be offered those serving life without parole. I'm just not sure that some of the local processes should be given that jurisdicition. If in our hearts we can accept 'collateral damage' without taking to the streets, then capital punishment is just.
 

mbohuntr

Joined Apr 6, 2009
432
I'm with Bill, if there is a doubt of guilt, let them serve life until there is a way to prove the case either way.( and make sure there are people working on it so the innocent do not rot behind bars) I'm also not a fan of putting drug users and petty criminals in with inmates who do not value life, and have little morality. Killing innocents ought to be a quick trip to the morgue. Drug convictions and lesser non violent offenses like grand theft should be given hard labor and restitution. Repeat molestors either surgically modified, or serve life. Putting a killer in for life gives them the hope they didn't give their victims. It's not revenge. it's the price of choosing to kill without just cause.
 

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,547
I don't think anyone thinks the system is even close to working. Like many things in life unintended consequences actually have the opposite effect than what people claim they are trying for.

The concept of punishment, for example, is flawed. Do you want to spend 100's of thousands of dollars "punishing" someone, or do you want them off the streets not endangering other people, and hopefully correcting the problems that put them there in the first place? The current system punishes them all right, they go in a little messed up and come out animals. Meanwhile we have the warm glow of knowing we have made them pay and pay, and who cares about consequences?

I don't have answers, but if this were a machine and an engineer were working on it it would be scrapped, and attempts made to do it right with a total redesign.

The first answer seems simple, separation, don't house kids in for a joy ride with thugs and worse. Separate non violent types from the violent, and that doesn't mean walls inside one building, there needs to be some distance.

Another possibility is true restitution, but that would be pretty hard to do.

On a separate note, there are people who are messed up (and know it) that they need special circumstances. Pedophiles come to mind. We need to be able to set up communities that will firewall people like that from society. I would even suggest allowing an individual to voluntarily commit himself to such a community. Until medical science comes up with better answers I don't see a solution. I don't think prison is always the answer though.

But bringing it back on subject, we can keep someone from ever killing again, it is simple and 100% effective.
 

mbohuntr

Joined Apr 6, 2009
432
I'm sure the prison guards would enjoy their jobs more if the inmates were simply trying to escape rather than kill their jailers...:D
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
8,676
The name for that philosophy is kill them all and let God sort them out, a major hallmark of most totalitarian governments. I would like to think the USA is better than that. In theory it is stated that 9 guilty men go free rather than one innocent convicted. Add the death penalty to that and it becomes much darker in dimension, and the USA hasn't been doing to well. This from someone who supports the death penalty, I just feel it is important to get the right ones instead of spray and pray.
I've lived in several of those totalitarian government countries and watched the brutal 'state' justice handed out there. 'Spray and Pray' would be a giant improvement in those places.

My point is the 'guilt' problem in the death penalty is being reduced to the point were it's rare that actual innocence is a possibility for todays proper handled capital punishment cases.
 

Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,547
Ah, but we aren't talking there, we're talking here. Instead of becoming a system over there, why not fix here?

People get a government as good as they demand and as bad as they will accept.
 

steveb

Joined Jul 3, 2008
2,436
My point is the 'guilt' problem in the death penalty is being reduced to the point were it's rare that actual innocence is a possibility for todays proper handled capital punishment cases.
Not everyone agrees with you about that. Do you have a basis to make that statement?

It seems to me there is evidence that clear cases of an innocent person being executed occurs every 2 to 4 years. And, most estimates say over 1 % or those executed are innocent, but the upper limit is never quantified. Do you have hard data that shows recent changes have reduced this number? I see no actions that have occurred that would make me think the system is getting better, and have not seen any data to shows an unexpected trend.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/523

"Once a defendant has been found guilty at trial, the presumption of innocence is shed and replaced with a presumption of guilt. The appeals process is not directly concerned with whether the jury made a mistake in its verdict, but rather focuses on the procedures which were followed in the trial leading up to that verdict. Most states have stringent time limits on presenting the court with new evidence of one's innocence."

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/executed-possibly-innocent

"There is no way to tell how many of the over 1,000 people executed since 1976 may also have been innocent. Courts do not generally entertain claims of innocence when the defendant is dead. Defense attorneys move on to other cases where clients' lives can still be saved. Some cases with strong evidence of innocence include:"

Carlos DeLuna Texas Conviction: 1983, Executed: 1989
Ruben Cantu Texas Convicted: 1985, Executed: 1993
Larry Griffin Missouri Conviction: 1981, Executed: 1995
Joseph O'Dell Virginia Conviction: 1986, Executed: 1997
David Spence Texas Conviction: 1984, Executed: 1997
Leo Jones Florida Convicted: 1981, Executed: 1998
Gary Graham Texas Convicted: 1981, Executed: 2000,
Claude Jones Texas Convicted 1989, Executed 2000
Cameron Willingham Texas Convicted: 1992, Executed: 2004
 

JoeJester

Joined Apr 26, 2005
4,390
"There is no way to tell how many of the over 1,000 people executed since 1976 may also have been innocent. Courts do not generally entertain claims of innocence when the defendant is dead. Defense attorneys move on to other cases where clients' lives can still be saved."

There's more to gain, politically, by not identifying those innocents who were put to death than by allowing the "possibility of innocents" to be numerically larger than necessary. It plays better to the emotional side of humans.

A review of that website's press releases would indicate their agenda.
 

steveb

Joined Jul 3, 2008
2,436
A review of that website's press releases would indicate their agenda.
Is there an agenda and a bias? Yes, of course. There usually is bias one way or another. But are you disputing the estimates of number of innocent people executed by mistake? Or the number of people released after being on death-row? That's the issue. Make an argument based on facts, not innuendo.

I'm asking for data (even biased data) that supports the above claim that our system is now significantly reducing the number of mistakes made. I don't see the evidence, but I would very much like to be convinced otherwise, even by biased data.

There is something wrong with the system when,

"A total of 69 people have been released from death row since 1973 after evidence of their innocence emerged."

"Twenty-one condemned inmates have been released since 1993,"

And there are 9 cases that are generally believed to have overwhelming evidence, that there no good basis for a verdict of "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt".

That sounds like a very bad "filter" to me. There have been a little over 1000 executions, in the US, in recent decades, and we have at least 50 to 100 clear cases of screw-ups. What's the policy - "Let a bunch in and will figure out the facts later, and if 1% get killed by mistake, then so be it."?
 
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JoeJester

Joined Apr 26, 2005
4,390
Only capital crimes are eligible for the death penalty. There are multiple reviews for each case prior to the execution, except in rare cases like McVeigh.

If the process were "found gulty and executed within moments of that announcement" I would be against such a process. The appeals process can drag on for many years, and each opportunity, evidence is introduced and/or reexamined. The justice system is a decision by committee, called jurors, multiple judges, up to the Supreme Court.

Can mistakes be made? Sure.

The one bias that is not factored into the death penalty cases is those capital crimes that would be subject to the death penalty yet that the state doesn't have a death penalty, as they chose to punish by life imprisonment. That opens a whole new area of potential innocents.

If your looking for a zero defect system, that will never happen as long as there are humans involved. Even with the multiple reviews, some innocents may be executed. Why their potential "saviors" didn't appear earlier in the process is a question for their saviors.
 

steveb

Joined Jul 3, 2008
2,436
If your looking for a zero defect system, that will never happen as long as there are humans involved.
Why would you suggest that I was looking for that?

I was looking for support for the statement from nsaspook, which surprised me. He said,

"My point is the 'guilt' problem in the death penalty is being reduced to the point were it's rare that actual innocence is a possibility for todays proper handled capital punishment cases."

He's acknowledging there has been a problem in the past, which seem to agree with the reference (albeit, a biased reference) I pointed to above. So, what is the basis to say things are better now, as he claimed?

I'm not saying he's wrong, but I'm surprised and would like to know if there is evidence to support the claim.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
8,676
Why would you suggest that I was looking for that?

I was looking for support for the statement from nsaspook, which surprised me. He said,

"My point is the 'guilt' problem in the death penalty is being reduced to the point were it's rare that actual innocence is a possibility for todays proper handled capital punishment cases."

He's acknowledging there has been a problem in the past, which seem to agree with the reference (albeit, a biased reference) I pointed to above. So, what is the basis to say things are better now, as he claimed?

I'm not saying he's wrong, but I'm surprised and would like to know if there is evidence to support the claim.
A small point, I did say "Actual innocence" not "Factual innocence" because there is a difference.

My information comes from the http://www.innocenceproject.org/ database. Eyewitness misidentification/False Confessions / Admissions / Jailhouse informants are the major causes of wrongful conviction. As the science improves it reduces the importance of human interaction and people expect to see hard evidence instead of a 'he said' to convict where death is a possibility. There has been several high profile cases of crimes where a not guilty verdict was given because of the lack or mistrust of science based evidence.

http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/The_Innocent_and_the_Death_Penalty.php
 

JoeJester

Joined Apr 26, 2005
4,390
The evidence is all the capital crimes that would be subject to the death penalty that only a handfull over the last 40 years resulted in innocents being set free and those that did go free, were compensated. The compensation portion is debatable as far as if it were fair as that is highly subjective based on personal biases.

The innocents that have yet to be freed are those who were killed by those committing murder. Their families live with only the memories and thoughts of what could have been with respect to their lost loved ones.

The political agenda is to remove the death penalty by showing the a number of innocents being released and the potential innocents being added for good measure.

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm has the crime rates since 1960. Look at murder, the one crime I certainly agree the death penalty applies. Juxtapose those innocents against the number of murders since 1960 or 1972 if you prefer, to keep congruent with the other data, those 9 cases of potentially wrongful death seems low. If the superlawyers were really concerned, they would push for compensation to their surviving relatives to be compensated. From 1960 through 2010 there have been 894,429 murders in the U.S. From 1972 to 2010 there were 754,369.

http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/pdf/t2522008.pdf has the statistics on opposing the death penalty

And then there are cases of people seemed guilty yet not convicted of murder ... OJ comes to mind. I think the system works. It's not 100% but it's improving as the science improves.
 
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steveb

Joined Jul 3, 2008
2,436
A small point, I did say "Actual innocence" not "Factual innocence" because there is a difference.

My information comes from the http://www.innocenceproject.org/ database. Eyewitness misidentification/False Confessions / Admissions / Jailhouse informants are the major causes of wrongful conviction. As the science improves it reduces the importance of human interaction and people expect to see hard evidence instead of a 'he said' to convict where death is a possibility. There has been several high profile cases of crimes where a not guilty verdict was given because of the lack or mistrust of science based evidence.

http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/The_Innocent_and_the_Death_Penalty.php
Thank you very much! That is good information, and gives some hope for improvements in the future. I didn't see any evidence that the possible improvements that could be implemented, have have been implemented, or are in the process of being implemented on a large scale. Maybe it's in there and I missed it. I'll keep reading.

For example, the studies which show how to conduct lineups with less false identifications is wonderful, but then there is the following quote.

"Although hundreds of controlled laboratory studies have consistently found that sequential lineup procedures result in a substantial reduction of mistaken identifications, many police departments have been hesitant to change their procedures based on laboratory findings alone. Critics of the sequential method argue that any loss in accurate identifications is too costly and that lab studies cannot be as easily applied to real-world scenarios. Today’s findings, which were based on real-world experiences in four separate jurisdictions, show these arguments to be unfounded"

So, I agree the potential is there to make improvements, and hopefully they will happen over time. Still, I feel (my opinion) there will always be cases that just fall short of the threshold of guilty beyond reasonable doubt, but slip through the system as a guilty verdict. This will happen because, although processes may be improved, the standard of guilt (the bar) remains fixed. The improvements we can expect are not likely to cause a clear bifurcation into "clearly innocent" and "clearly guilty", and the continuous uncertainty scale will still be there. So, unless you have a different standard for capital punishment, innocent people will be executed in the future.

If, in fact, the future will see better ability to make very certain convictions, that only strengthens my argument that perhaps a better system should have a higher standard of guilt for capital punishment. Those marginal cases can then remain as a life sentence in prison. It's just an idea I like and feel strongly about, but I'm not stupid enough to believe such a change could ever happen in our society.

I want to be clear that I'm not against the idea of "Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" in general, but only in the cases of capital punishment. Even if we do make major strides in determining guilt to higher and higher accuracy, the standard has too much practical value for me to feel good about sacrificing it. That's all I'll say about it because I don't want to monopolize this good thread with a single offbeat idea, and there's not much more I can add of substance anyway. I will continue to read your very interesting reference, and I thank you again for providing it.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
434
one also has to take into account the fact that whatever the evidence may be, the final decision is made by people. The jury is selected on certain basis and their own prior experiences will play a heavy role in how they approach the evidence. Human nature is such that only a rare individual can remove themselves from the circumstance and be completely impartial, and this all happens on subconscious level. The very fact that we are human makes the system flawed. The scientific evidence is just as unreliable - anyone remembers recent flawed pathology reports... As long as humans are involved, mistakes will happen. As such, capital punishment is not a solution. As someone said, death is a release, not a punishment...

p.s. there is an excellent book by Victor Hugo "Last Day of a Condemned Man," will make you thin twice if you are pro-death penalty
 
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Wendy

Joined Mar 24, 2008
22,547
Yeah, and then there are the stories of some of the victims. I could live without the death penalty except some people will keep repeating the horror stories for their length of their life. Again, I don't view it as a punishment, it is to prevent repeat offenders.
 

justtrying

Joined Mar 9, 2011
434
And then there are the families who forgive the criminal. Mark Stroman's case comes to mind.

Are we willing to accept a justice system that knowingly puts an innocent person at risk of being executed? After all it is a job of the prosecutor to obtain a conviction no matter what the case is and the result will depend on how good of a job the two fighting sides do.

What about the jury - Troy Davis was executed a few days ago. The jury convicted him on the basis of personal testimonies which later were proven to be false and given under pressure from the police. How are the jurors to deal with this situation now - they sent an innocent man to death because they believed what others were telling them. I would have some severe issues with this.

I think if there are issues with criminals serving life sentences re-offending, may be looking up some stats in countries like Canada (a lot of serial killers here) in terms of prison escape rate etc. might put the mind at ease. May be world would be better off if Pickton was dead, but what is the point, the man is sick and it will not bring anyone back to life. Plus, maybe he will talk eventually.
 
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