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View Diary: Why The Death Penalty Should Matter to Progressives (298 comments)

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  •  In a small # of cases... (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know if there is a choice.   I say this because I believe that the death penalty is astonishingly over used, and people go to the death penalty who should not.   I believe that to be unthinkable.

    That having been said, I believe there are a small number of cases in which the death penalty is the only truly humane option for the prisoner and for the other inmates.

    I think in the end the solution is to take some of this power away from the states and move it to a federal issue.  

    Serial murderers, egregious crimes of violence, and mass killers would be the definition of the rule.

    I say this because I think there is a point where some people stop being.. people.   Something in them has gone so wrong that they are a threat not just to society as a whole, but to the successful rehabilitation of another prisoner.   It's true that they can likely never be rehabilitated, but their existence in a prison is bad for other prisoners.

    I think of Jeffrey Dahmer with that.. 18 dead that we know of, but it was the way in which they died.  When mixed with prison population, other prisoners ended up killing him.

    Several reported that just his existence in the same prison with them obstructed their ability to think.. numerous inmates reported nightmares, sickness, uneasiness.   Was having him in the same prison as them fair.. to the other prisoners?   I don't know.

    The state, in the end, does several things that are not necessarily moral.. this is the weird thing conservatives seem to miss when they demand a totally moral government.  

    We should work as hard as we can to completely minimize the number of death penalty cases and those on death row, many of which may find rehabilitation or at least a long life doing something as an example.

    But for that select few, I tend to think keeping them alive may be far more inhumane then letting them go.  To them and society as a whole.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:55:50 AM PST

    •  Interesting argument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmservo433

      I think you may be on to something, too, but I worry about the practicality of it all. Despite a bunch of us going on about the inherent morality (or lack thereof) of state-sanctioned execution, Grizzard spends much of his actual diary grounded in the real world. Intellectually, your argument makes sense (sometimes execution is more humane than the alternatives), but it seems just as open to race and class-based abuse as what we have now, if not more so.

      •  What stands out to me (0+ / 0-)

        Is that almost all of your serial killers and mass murderers have been white.   Timothy McVeigh.  Ted Bundy.  Etc.

        Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

        by Chris Reeves on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:08:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  the problem (4+ / 0-)

      With the "just for the worst criminals" approach is that every ambitious prosecutor and elected Judge wants to believe they are prosecuting the next Ted Bundy, the next Tim McVeigh.  They will seek out cases they can portray this way, and inevitably expand the definition of the "worst" criminals will be expanded into areas not intended.

      Alternatively when a gruesome crime happens, the police will be very very eager to make an arrest, and often fixate on innocent people in the wrong place or "suspicious" for other reasons, and some poor innocent sap gets pinned for the crime.

      I rarely make slippery slope arguments, but this is the real experience of the death penalty.  The incentives for the officials involved are toward death.

      •  I think this is why (0+ / 0-)

        As I say, you'd have to get an outside prosecution (federal) to really address those, it ends the local politics.  

        I think the difficulty with this, for me, is that there is no "perfect" argument either pro or con.

        Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

        by Chris Reeves on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:42:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What settles it for me (0+ / 0-)

          Is that I can find no evidence of any real advantages to capital punishment.  It doesn't seem to have a deterrent effect, it doesn't save money, it doesn't speed victim family healing, what exactly is it accomplishing for all its risks and downsides?  

          •  And thus I go back to Dahmer (0+ / 0-)

            This is where I go back to cases where someone (a serial murderer) has been imprisoned with others.. and in the end, we put convicts in a position where instead of rehabilitation, numerous members were party to another crime, breaking the grounds for rehabilitating their lives and making them recidivists before they get out.

            Part of the responsibility of a justice system is to provide the opportunity for rehabilitation; there are some, and like I said, I believe that number to be very small, who's existence within a prison system deters rehabilitation.

            Society joked when people like Dahmer went to prison and we said "oh, someone will take care of him.." well, that did happen.   And does that make it a better system?   In the case of say, Timothy McVeigh, had he went to prison, the odds of him being killed in prison were high.

            Like I said, I get all of the arguments against, and a part of me believes most of them.   But there are some cases where an individual to me is beyond rehabilitation, has stopped really being human, and their existance is a harm to others trying to be rehabilitated.

            I don't think the death penalty is a deterent, definitely not to those criminals.  Part of the reason why the death penalty costs so much is the # of appeals because so many cases are on the line.   I don't remember a vast # of appeals for Ted Bundy or McVeigh.  In both of those cases, they were self-admitted mass murderers..

            Maybe there should be a "super exception"... like I said, I don't think there is a great answer for this.

            Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

            by Chris Reeves on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:01:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Someone like that is by definition not sane (0+ / 0-)

              even if they may present a facade of rationality.

              So the proper place would be an extreme high security mental hospital.

              If it's
              Not your body,
              Then it's
              Not your choice
              And it's
              None of your damn business!

              by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:50:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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