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View Diary: Open thread for night owls: Executing the innocent (267 comments)

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  •  My wife and I signed these... (15+ / 0-) documents with the full knowledge that if one of us were murdered the other would be in the position of possibly testifying in a penalty phase of a trial to the effect that the murdered spouse was opposed to capital punishment in all cases. We did not hesitate.

    Of course, I have the same reptile brain penchant for vengeance as anyone else. But that doesn't mean I have to indulge it.  And opposing the death penalty in all instances doesn't mean I have to be forgiving of a murderer. If I know he's locked up forever, I can live with that.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:31:07 PM PST

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    •  I had a much less nuanced view of capital (0+ / 0-)

      punishment before I was asked to actually sit down and tell the DA what I wanted to happen as a victim's family member. Sometimes what you think will happen when confronted with certain events isn't the same as what actually happens. I'm just sayin'. It's nice that you think that this is how you'd react. It's in fact how I thought I'd react (it's how I did react, although primarily because I can separate my desire for personal vengeance from the necessity for the state to implement that vengeance).

      But check out this site:

      Isn't technology wonderful?

      •  There is absolutely no argument that can be... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deoliver47, p gorden lippy

        ...made against this:

        Sometimes what you think will happen when confronted with certain events isn't the same as what actually happens.

        And nobody, I suspect, will dispute - regarding the Web site you've linked - that greed and marketing know no boundaries in our society.

        Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:45:23 PM PST

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        •  So, periodically I get to look at an item of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          third Party please

          clothing marked with the handprints of the person who bludgeoned my helpless grandparent, who used to feed me carrots, to death with a blunt instrument. And, I do foolishly look. And when a TV program about the murder comes on Discovery Channel, it's hard not to watch. Or maybe this murderer has updated his site on date-an-inmate:

          You think about it over and over. You search the web. You think about getting in touch, to ask, "Why did you do that? Why?" You wonder, "is a life sentence really a life sentence?" You look at your mom, who is still seeing a therapist, even after so many years. You wonder, if the murderer were dead, would that help her? Your uncle? Your grandmother?

          And it's not as simple as it was before it touches your own life.

          •  I'm really sorry for your loss, and for the... (5+ / 0-)

            ...effect its had on the rest of your family.

            And I can tell you without hesitation that if someone murdered a member of my family, I would want them dead. I'd probably want to do it myself. And I'd probably be horribly torn up inside knowing I couldn't, or I might even do something incredibly stupid and try to, obviously right now I don't know.

            But it seems to me, right now anyway, that that violent urge is part of the tragedy.

            •  a good way to put it (5+ / 0-)

              "that violent urge is part of the tragedy."

              It's probably a normal part of the tragedy and the tremendous grief that comes with it to what somebody to pay.

              But as a nation of laws, we don't allow the victims to determine guilt or punishment. And the law should not be used as an instrument of vengeance. If the day ever comes that one of my loved ones is murdered, it might very well be the case that I want the perpetrator dead. But I'm happy I reside in a place where that won't be an option.

              "I don't want to give 'em the keys back, they don't know how to drive!" President Obama

              by vadasz on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:40:49 AM PST

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          •  Murder Victims Families for Human Rights (4+ / 0-)

            No one can imagine the horror you have experienced, unless they too have had to deal with such a tragedy. However, this organization is made up of the family members of murder victims, and is centered upon recovery and living with the loss and horror, rather than the hatred and need for vengeance which is sponsored by the criminal "justice" system.


            MVFHR members support each other and seek ethical, civilized punishment for the perpetrators of the crimes that robbed them of their loved ones. They seek healthy ways of living with grief. I hope you will take a look at their website and consider their messages and the strategies they have created to cope with their unimaginable losses.

            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 Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 06:11:28 AM PST

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      •  This part of the capital punishment (4+ / 0-)

        ...discussion always bugs me.  You know, the, "well, how would you feel if it were your loved one?", question.  I feel like it's irrelevant.  If someone I loved were murdered in some horrible way I can guarantee that I'd be having fantasies of revenge, longing to vent my pain and anger at the person who caused it.  That's probably very typical, but so what?

        What the state (i.e. us) decides to do with violent criminals should be based on something other than "how would you feel if it were you?".  Granted, society needs to feel some vindication when criminals are punished.  It's a necessary part of the equation that allows us to surrender control to a justice system rather than simply carrying out vigilante "justice" ourselves.  However, the primary goals of a justice system are protecting society from dangerous people and providing an aversive deterrent to anti-social/criminal behavior, not exacting revenge on criminals to satisfy a grieving family.  

        In my view we should never allow the state to exact the ultimate and irreversible penalty of death simply because the state (like any other human institution) is incapable of perfect justice.  It's fallible.  We cannot know that all verdicts are correct or that all sentences are just.  Death is irreversible and, in a sense, perfect.  We imperfect human beings should not be using it to punish people for crimes.

        "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

        by Triscula on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 07:02:57 AM PST

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    •  In fact, I think restricting the impulses of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the reptile brain is the whole point of the justice system. It's a waste of time and money if the purpose is to indulge our every vengeful thought.

      Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

      by susanala on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 08:00:03 AM PST

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      •  Well, the criminal justice system is very flawed (0+ / 0-)

        not only in its treatment of persons convicted of crimes, it is pretty awful in terms of helping victims, and victims' families, through a process that starts with a crime, but can last for the entire lifetimes of many innocent persons after the crime is committed. And for the most part, victims and their families are a lot more innocent than those convicted of crimes against them.

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