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View Diary: Executing the Innocent (w/ action item) (71 comments)

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  •  No Smoking Gun (0+ / 0-)

    As for causality, this comes directly from Mocan's study:

    We find a significant relationship among the execution, removal, and commutation rates and the rate of homicide. Each additional execution decreases homicides by about five, and each additional commutation increases homicides by the same amount, while one additional removal from death row generates one additional homicide.

    As for Smoking Gun cases of wrongful execution, each case that you cited has never been conclusively proven to exonerate the defendants.

    Also, the only case that you claim is definitve, Cameron Todd Willingham, is based on a scientific study conducted by Dr. Gerald Hurst, a professional defense expert witness bought and paid for by the Innocence Project thirteen years after the fact. If the state needed to provide yet more countervailing evidence to discredit Hurst's conclusion it could easily buy its own expert witness to spin the story their way.

    What is lacking is the human equation in this horrible murder. Willingham had a long history of abuse against his family including beating his pregnant wife up until she miscarried. He also informed several friends that his daughters were hampering his lifestyle

    As his home was ablaze, Willingham was seen by neighbors and firefighters screaming about his car and pushing it away from the flames so it would not get scorched. He never made any attempt whatsoever to save his three daughters, including a two-year-old and one-year-old baby girl twins -- even when the neighbors screamed at him to go back in and get them.

    "Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

    by liquidman on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 06:08:34 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Relationships aren't causality (6+ / 0-)

      As for this...

      As for Smoking Gun cases of wrongful execution, each case that you cited has never been conclusively proven to exonerate the defendants.

      So you need conclusive proof to spare the life of a prisoner, but not to kill them? You've seriously jumped the shark.

      •  Heyyyyyy, Fonz (0+ / 0-)

        Cause and effect relationships -- heard of 'em?

        Until anti-death penalty advocates can point to an individual who has, without a doubt, been wrongly executed, the majority of citizens in the United States will not be persuaded.

        Neither will the majority of our Democratic candidates for president for that matter.  

        I'd rather jump Pinky Tuscadero.

        "Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

        by liquidman on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 07:05:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hey genius -- (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, sberel, rserven, 4Freedom

          Do you understand cause and effect relationships?

          Statistics 101: correlation and causation aren't the same. The argument you're advocating makes about as much sense as if I told you that everyone who ever slept prior to 1900 died, and that therefore sleep causes death. There's a pretty good correlation there, but I defy you to prove causation.

          Further, if the article's claim is so wonderful, identify for me each of the would-be victims allegedly saved from violent crime thanks to execution. If the causal relationship has been proven, that shouldn't be a difficult task.

          •  Insert Obscure Happy Days Reference Here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kingsmeg

            Have you actually read Mocan's study? It's not what I am advocating. It is what Mocan, a death penalty opponent, has concluded.

            The "relationship" pullquote comes from the abstract of the study which contains the fully fleshed out issue of causality in the body of the work.

            In addition, you claimed:

            Worse yet...there is absolutely no evidence that the death penalty has any deterrent effect whatsoever.

            I provided you with a fairly recent study that disagrees with your claim. That doesn't mean I agree with Mocan's theory. It does mean that someone out there has evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent.

            Does that make it truth?

            Similarly, you believe you have cases that show conclusively (see Willingham) that prisoners (or one prisoner) have been wrongfully executed. Yet you do not provide any rock solid proof as such.

            Does that make your belief truth?

            That is why I stated earlier that until death penalty advocates can show irrefutable evidence that someone in our country has been wrongfully executed, the majority of the American public will never get behind your argument. Call it despicable all you want, until you have that Smoking Gun, you will not win over non-members of the choir.

            That's the harsh reality.

            "Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

            by liquidman on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 07:39:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've read the study (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Canadian Reader, Kingsmeg, 4Freedom

              It's crap. Its methodology is weak. Its conclusions aren't supportable. In short, it's "evidence" in the same sense that those who advocate "abstinence only" sex education have "evidence" that their programs work.

              I made a case that there is ample doubt as to the guilt of several prisoners who were executed. So I ask you again: how certain do you need to be before you're willing to kill someone? If you care about evidence at all, you can't be 100% certain that these men were guilty. So how certain do you need to be? If you don't need to be 100% certain, then you are supporting the murder of some innocent people. And that makes you just exactly as bad as Jeremiah Denton.

              That is the harsh reality.

              •  Ouroboros - proving my point (0+ / 0-)

                If you can't even come remotely close to convincing me, a registered Liberal who constantly fights against the overwhelmingly Reds from Texas, you are not going to be able to convince the majority of Americans. You won't even begin to convince the leaders of our own party.

                If you want to win the argument of public opinion you don't want to go out trumpeting 100% conclusive proof of guilt before applying the death penalty.

                The American public does not care about that.

                You have to definitively prove that we have killed an innocent man - 100% conclusive proof.

                If you don't realize that that is where your argument will be won, then you will never see the permanent end of executions in the United States.

                That is the Harsh Realm.

                "Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

                by liquidman on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 07:57:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ridiculous (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Canadian Reader

                  And you still haven't answered the question. What harm does it do to leave someone in prison for the rest of his/her life if you're not 100% certain of guilt?

                  None.

                  But you say it's fine to kill 'em all anyway. And if there's any doubt at all, you are advocating the murder of some number of innocents. That is the point of this diary.

                  But you can't see the forest for the trees.

                  •  Your invective grows... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...with each post. Again, this is why you will never win a death penalty argument with those who do not agree with your position. Until you can convince those who do not side with you, the execution train will keep on rolling.

                    I have never, of course, said:

                    But you say it's fine to kill 'em all anyway.

                    You have no idea where my nuanced stance on the death penalty lies. In fact, one of my books has been praised by several death penalty opponents for helping get a young man off of Texas's death row.

                    "Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

                    by liquidman on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 09:04:12 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  My invective grows? (0+ / 0-)

                      If so, it's only because your reading comprehension shrinks.

                      I've posted ample evidence to doubt the certainty of guilt for several people who have been executed. I've presented a statistically incontrovertible argument that we're sentencing innocent people to die. Most importantly, I've shown exactly why Troy Davis is almost certainly innocent of the crimes for which he is going to be executed on Tuesday. All of that feeds my argument that if we're going to say the death penalty is ok, we have to be 100% certain the condemned is guilty.

                      In none of the cases I discussed here can anyone objective say that, but you still can't bring yourself to question whether that's acceptable. If that's the kind of respect you have for human life, I don't care where your "nuanced stance" lies.

                      But you're right about one thing: I'll never win an argument about the death penalty with someone like you. You still can't see the forest for the trees.

                      •  Ample evidence? (0+ / 0-)

                        I've posted ample evidence to doubt the certainty of guilt for several people who have been executed.

                        See below posts for easily researched refutations.

                        I've presented a statistically incontrovertible argument that we're sentencing innocent people to die.

                        You've listed a few names that the bought-and-paid for ADP organizations trumpet to its followers as being innocent when, in reality, they were not.

                        Most importantly, I've shown exactly why Troy Davis is almost certainly innocent of the crimes for which he is going to be executed on Tuesday.

                        Yet, just one day earlier you stated about this exact same case:

                        I don't know if Davis is truly innocent or not; I tend to suspect he is.

                        Will you be absolutely certain in a few hours?

                        I don't care where your "nuanced stance" lies.

                        Which is why, again, you will never win over the majority of the United States public with your incredibly narrow view. A large percentage of pro-death penalty supporters have much harsher views on who should be executed than I do -- including former president Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, former presidential candidate John Kerry, and more top Democratic leaders. And until you can win over a majority of the people, you will have a hard time eliminating capital punishment. Lost in the forest without a map and compass, if you will.

                        "Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

                        by liquidman on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 07:09:53 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Given your obvious bias... (0+ / 0-)

                          ...and the fact that your personal website suggests you have a financial stake in supporting the infallibility of the police and prosecutors, not to mention your callous disregard for rules of evidence and the possibility of killing innocent people, I'm not particularly inclined to care what you think.

                          I understand the arguments in favor of the death penalty quite well, and if you want to make a case for executing people who have committed particularly heinous crimes and for whom there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever as to their guilt, you may have a point. But for every case you've "refuted" here, you rely on what the cops and DA's say, though they would never admit to screwing up in a case where someone innocent was executed. You probably think Chris Ochoa should have been put to death, too, given that he confessed to the murder for which he was convicted and sentenced to death. But his confession was coerced, and in a fairly routine manner.

                          This diary wasn't about winning over the majority of Americans to my perspective. The majority is frequently wrong anyway -- how else do you explain a majority of voters giving Bush a second term? It was about trying to save the life of one man, who will be put to death tomorrow despite the fact that there is no physical evidence against him and most of the witnesses against him have been discredited. If you walked into court with the evidence we now have, you wouldn't even get a conviction, let alone a death sentence, but you want him killed because he missed a filing deadline. In my book, that makes you a lousy human being. Now, I'm sure you'll whine about that being a personal attack, and I'm sure you'll keep complaining about my warped ideology, but I posted this diary in several different places, and the only person who has had any complaint about it is an individual with a financial stake in the credibility of the police and prosecutors. Given that there are so many pro-death penalty folks reading it, I find that very telling.

                          •  Dig deeper (0+ / 0-)

                            the fact that your personal website suggests you have a financial stake in supporting the infallibility of the police and prosecutors

                            On the contrary, several of my books have taken various police forces to task for coercement, planting of evidence, frame-up jobs, etc.

                            My first book has an entire section devoted to police corruption.

                            My third book squarely put the blame for a shoddy case on the shoulders of the Austin police department on a capital murder case.

                            My fourth book also laid blame on the shoulders of the Houston police department as well as the Harris County District Attorney's office for poor performance and shoddy dealmaking.

                            Furthermore, one of my books was read by and influenced a presiding judge in a case where a young man has been removed from death row.

                            if you want to make a case for executing people who have committed particularly heinous crimes and for whom there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever as to their guilt, you may have a point.

                            Yet, I take it you would not agree with death in such instances due to your firm stance against the death penalty?

                            You probably think Chris Ochoa should have been put to death, too, given that he confessed to the murder for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.

                            Unfortunately, you are mistaken. I wrote extensively about Christopher Ochoa in one of my books as an example of a wrongful conviction that placed someone on death row.

                            In my book, that makes you a lousy human being. Now, I'm sure you'll whine about that being a personal attack

                            I could care less. I choose not to use such methods when engaging in discourse.

                            I posted this diary in several different places, the only person who has had any complaint about it is an individual with a financial stake in the credibility of the police and prosecutors.

                            The true crime genre has numerous books written about wrongful executions, police corruption, coerced confessions, police abuse, etc. Three of my books have contained such material. Needless to say, police officers and DAs are not happy when I come calling.

                            As for being the lone dissenting voice here, that's understandable. But I think I am in good company with the likes of the Clintons, Edwards, Gore, Bradley, Gephardt, Dean, Clark, Obama, Kerry, and nearly 60% of all Democrats.

                            Given that there are so many pro-death penalty folks reading it, I find that very telling.

                            Again, you are incorrect. I conduct polls with my readers and have found nearly a 50/50 split in regard to their opinion on the death penalty.

                            "Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

                            by liquidman on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 10:15:43 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Again, your reading comprehension is appalling (0+ / 0-)

                            When I note that there are many pro-death penalty folks reading what I write, and you tell me I'm incorrect because you've "found nearly a 50/50 split in regard to their opinion on the death penalty," I can only conclude that you either are incapable of understanding what I've written or you simply don't care that you may actually be wrong. Either way, I'm done wasting my time on you.

            •  I recc'd this (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Canadian Reader, 4Freedom

              for stating the 'harsh reality', as you put it:  anti-death penalty advocates need the smoking gun, the (middle-class to rich, and white) man exonerated beyond any possible doubt in such a way that even a pinhead can understand that an innocent white man was executed.

              But there's a problem: rich white men usually don't get executed in the first place.

              Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

              by Kingsmeg on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 07:53:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  This... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, sberel, rserven

          Until anti-death penalty advocates can point to an individual who has, without a doubt, been wrongly executed, the majority of citizens in the United States will not be persuaded.

          ...is as despicable as Jeremiah Denton's argument.

          I ask you again: how certain do you have to be to be willing to execute someone? Do you have to be 100% certain? Apparently not in your case. 99%? That leaves a 1% chance for error. Translated over the 1000-plus prisoners already executed and the 6000-plus currently on death row, that translates statistically to 70 people already killed or sentenced to die who are innocent. Are you ok with killing 70 innocent people? Is that justice to you?

          What if you think 95% certainty is ok? Now we're talking about 350 innocents. Are you ok with killing 350 people who didn't do anything wrong? Don't you think that's murder?

          Explain to all of us, please, why you don't think 100% absolute certainty of guilt is required before an execution.

          •  The harsh reality (0+ / 0-)

            is indeed harsh, but it's not his fault for stating it.  However, given that he's admitted he is pro-death penalty and believes it's a deterrent, we could be excused if we jumped to the obvious conclusion.

            Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

            by Kingsmeg on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 07:55:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Your conclusion would be wrong (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nowhere Man

              given that he... believes it's a deterrent

              I never made that claim nor do I believe it.

              wiscmass stated that there is no evidence out there that the DP is a deterrent. I pointed him in the direction of someone out there who thinks it is. It is the same as wiscmass linking to a few Innocence Project articles on alleged wrongful executions and expecting everyone to believe it is evidence.

              Gerald Hurst is as believable, or not, as Naci Mocan.

              "Turn on to politics, or politics will turn on you." - Ralph Nader

              by liquidman on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:04:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Then why exactly (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Nowhere Man

                are you pro-death penalty, if you don't mind my asking?

                Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

                by Kingsmeg on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:12:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  First of all... (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Canadian Reader, sberel, Kingsmeg

                ...Mocan didn't prove any causal relationship. Secondly, do you know how the Innocence Project works? They don't just go around working to free everyone on death row. If you want their help, you have to convince them first that you're innocent.

                As for how the judicial system works, well, it's a little twisted that to get around the procedural barriers necessary to present new evidence or test old evidence to prove one's innocence once one has been convicted, one must first present clear evidence that one is innocent.

                Finally, can anyone please explain to me how executing a man who is probably innocent advances the cause of justice? How letting him stay alive, even if behind bars, would be a perversion of justice?

            •  Missing the forest for the trees (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Canadian Reader, sberel

              If you kill someone who has done nothing wrong, it's murder. So shouldn't you be absolutely positive of guilt if you're going to execute someone?

              The criminal justice system convicts and sentences to death thousands of people not on the basis of "beyond any doubt," but "beyond reasonable doubt." But what exactly constitutes "reasonable"?

              Is it "reasonable" that in a case like Troy Davis', where the witnesses whose testimony sent him to death row have been discredited, where there was no physical evidence linking the condemned to the crime, that he should be convicted and sentenced to his death? Any "reasonable" person would say it's not. So why kill him?

              Now, is it "reasonable" to believe that in a system with approximately a 10% error rate that we're going to be killing some innocent people? Can any "reasonable" person say no?

              Suppose you were arrested tomorrow for a murder. Suppose several witnesses say you actually committed the crime, but you really didn't. Suppose one of the witnesses against you is the person who actually committed the crime, and therefore has a great motive to frame you. Suppose there is no physical evidence to link you to the crime. Suppose you get convicted. Suppose several years later, the vast majority of the witnesses against you recant their testimony or are proven to have been lying, and there is still no physical evidence to indicate your guilt.

              Should we put you to death?

              There's the forest.

              •  I personally think (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sberel, wiscmass

                the error rate is much greater than 10%.  It might in fact be considerably less for death penalty cases because people get some legal help.  For an innocent man, ultimately he might be better off getting the death penalty as a sentence than 'just' life in prison, where nobody cares enough to help him with appeals.

                This is drawn from my personal experiences with the much more liberal Canadian justice system, where I've won every single case in which I was guilty, and lost every case in which I was innocent.  I'm talking traffic tickets and such, of course, but I'm not exactly thrilled with the accuracy of the system.

                Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

                by Kingsmeg on Sat Jul 14, 2007 at 08:35:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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