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View Diary: Troy Davis, a defender's perspective (99 comments)

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  •  Maybe the numbers are getting better (6+ / 0-)

    The pro-death penalty numbers have been declining, although possibly plateauing since 2000.  So, my premise that getting people to pay attention to the details of this flawed system wasn't working may be incorrect.  The numbers of people opposed has almost doubled since the mid-90s.  We'll have to see if the trends pick up again.

    Personally, I don't understand why life imprisonment isn't enough to satisfy the folks in favor of the death penalty.

    •  encouraging (12+ / 0-)

      I don't know if this still applies, but even when support for the d.p. was rampant, the wording of the polls made a big difference (no surprise). When people were given the option of life without parole, support for death waned considerably.

      I think a lot of people who won't accept LWOP as an alternative believe that prison is not painful enough. They obviously never visited a maximum security prison....

      Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die." The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill, 1911

      by Joe Hills Ghost on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 09:39:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't LWOP cheaper, too? (7+ / 0-)

        I always wondered if that could be a strong argument - it's actually cheaper to house someone for decades than to pay for all of the appeal process of a death penalty case.  The arguments about the risk of accidentally executing an innocent person end up subsumed within the economic argument.

        Of course, the potential response to that is that we should just cut off the appeal process at some arbitrary point, although I'd hope that argument wouldn't ever gain much traction.

        •  Yes, it is. There's a wealth of information (8+ / 0-)

          at the Death Penalty Information Center website:

        •  Yes. (10+ / 0-)

          LWOP is considerably cheaper. Even with a lot of the hidden costs of the death penalty never making it into the equation.

          Ironically,the attempts to speed the appeal process end up with monsters like AEDPA (the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996) which strips away many appeal issues and rights but also creates such a terrible procedural swamp, it takes years and repeated attempts by appellate courts to try to sort it out. Unfortunately, they eventually manage to do so, to their own satisfaction, anyway...

          Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die." The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill, 1911

          by Joe Hills Ghost on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 10:33:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cost really shouldn't be the issue (5+ / 0-)

          It's probably cheaper, but that shouldn't really be our concern. It would be cheaper to allow the police to make summary executions, or to abolish the right to counsel. Now, I doubt those things would ever happen, but the point is to do justice, not to save a few bucks, in the grand scheme of things.

          •  It isn't, really. (10+ / 0-)

            The only reason we bring up cost is to deflect the argument that we hear so often: I don't want my hard-earned taxes wasted on keeping that bastard alive. Less hard-earned taxes are expended on LWOP than on death. And yes, a Chinese system would be cheaper--just take the condemned out to a killing field and shoot him in the head. But thankfully, our system hasn't eroded that far.

            And of course you're right. The point is, or at least it should be, to do justice.  I'll tell you from an up-front, very close view of the whole thing--it doesn't.

            Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die." The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill, 1911

            by Joe Hills Ghost on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 11:36:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It's an argument that has appeal (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Hills Ghost, Pozzo, Matt Z, kyril, DawnN

            My point is that we haven't particularly moved the debate much by relying on appeals to the collective conscience.  The debate has been going on for decades and more than 60% of Americans still support the death penalty.  Life without parole is less expensive and still provides for compliance with all constitutional safeguards.  You can't say the same thing about summary execution.

            You can also still make all the same arguments about the racial disparity, chance of executing someone innocent, etc., but it's put in context to which people can relate, i.e., keeping an eye on the pocketbook.

            •  fair enough (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Darmok, kyril

              While this is fairly widespread belief that it's cheaper to execute instead of "Giving them three squares, tv, weightrooms, medical care etc for the next 40 years" I don't think it's really one that provides the basis for support for the D.P. I think you can win this argument and it won't advance the anti DP cause significantly.

              •  Maybe (6+ / 0-)

                It is an argument that it out there, but I don't know if it's been made forcefully.  Subject to the information I cited elsewhere that suggests that maybe pro-death penalty is declining, I'm just saying that maybe we need to mix it up and/or take a slightly different tack.  

                The other problem - pointed out by the diarist - is that we're talking about some pretty awful people on death row.  Anyone familiar with criminal justice issues knows that landmark cases don't usually involve the innocent; the Mirandas of the real world are usually highly unsympathetic folks.  People have a hard time looking beyond this.  So, if we continue to try to sway the death penalty argument by trying to stir up public support based on an occasionally sympathetic inmate, we may be waiting a long time.

                I'd love to think that Americans would naturally gravitate to doing what's right, but this is just one example where we obviously haven't so responded.  My point is to mix a bit of morality with the pragmatic.

    •  Check out these numbers from Nov 2010: (10+ / 0-)

      (Nov. 16, 2010, Washington, D.C.)  The Death Penalty Information Center released the results of one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted of Americans’ views on the death penalty. A national poll of 1,500 registered voters conducted by Lake Research Partners shows growing support for alternatives to the death penalty compared with previous polls. A clear majority of voters (61%) would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder, including life with no possibility of parole and with restitution to the victim’s family (39%), life with no possibility of parole (13%), or life with the possibility of parole (9%).

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