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Take a moment to vote for the Abolish the Death Penalty as an Idea for Change in America at (You will have to register at to vote.) If the idea becomes one of the top ten, will host an event in Washington, DC, where each of the 10 ideas will be presented to representatives of the media, the nonprofit community, and to relevant officials in the Obama Administration. After the announcement, will mobilize the full resources of their staff, their 1 million community members, and their extended network of bloggers to support a series of grassroots campaigns to turn each idea into reality.

Idea for Change

The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice.

It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In 2008, at least 2,390 people were executed in 25 countries around the world and 8,864 people were sentenced to death in 52 countries. Amnesty International reports that executions almost doubled in number from 1,252 in 2007. 95% of all known executions were carried out in only six countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Pakistan and Iraq.

In December 2007 and 2008 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted resolutions 62/149 and 63/168, calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. The United States of America voted against.

The United States of America is slowly turning against capital punishment. In recent years, it has been abolished in New Mexico, New Jersey and New York. Yet, 52 people were executed in 2009. It needs to stop, on a federal level, and in all states where capital punishment is still in practice.

Innocent people have been executed, including Todd Willingham in 2004.

The death penalty:

- denies the possibility of rehabilitation and reconciliation.

- promotes simplistic responses to complex human problems, rather than pursuing explanations that could inform positive strategies.

- prolongs the suffering of the murder victim’s family, and extends that suffering to the loved ones of the condemned prisoner.

- diverts resources and energy that could be better used to work against violent crime and assist those affected by it.

- is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it. It is an affront to human dignity.

- should be abolished in the USA.

The Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break is March 15-19, 2010 in Austin, Texas. Speakers include four innocent, exonerated former death row prisoners who together spent more than 30 years on death row for crimes they did not commit. The event is designed for young people, but it is also open to the general public.

Originally posted to Scott Cobb on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 03:40 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

      Nope.  I firmly believe in death for certain criminals, after they have completely exhuasted their full legal appeals process.  There are crimes that are just to bad to allow a person to continue living after being found guilty.  Child rape and first degree murder I feel fall into this category.

      "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan

      by erush1345 on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 06:42:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  U.S. Supreme Court banned DP for rape of a child (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sberel, erush1345

        It ruled by 5-4 in Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008) that the death penalty is unconstitutional as a punishment for the rape of a child.

        Barack Obama does agree with you though. He is quoted in this New York Times article saying,

        “I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime, and if a state makes a decision under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances, that the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution.” He added that the Supreme Court should have set conditions for imposing the death penalty for the crime, “but it basically had a blanket prohibition, and I disagree with the decision.”

        Thanks to the five who voted in the majority: Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen G. Breyer.

        The conservatives on the court who agreed with Obama's position and who voted in the minority were: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas.

        •  And thanks to my favorite, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the late Justice Brennen:

          «It is tempting to pretend that those on death row share a fate in no way connected to our own, that our treatment of them sounds no echoes beyond the chambers in which they die. Such an illusion is ultimately corrosive, for the reverberations of injustice are not so easily confined.»

          There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -- Mark Twain

          by southriver on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 09:28:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well, let's see.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        approximately 16,000 murders per year in the US, should produce about the same number of executions per year (with some fluctuations year to year, of course.)    And that doesn't even count the child rape and other types of cases in which you'd like to see the death penalty.  So, say about 50 executions per day in America, sound about right for you?

        We had 52 executions in 2009, up 15 over 2008, so we're moving in the direction you favor, although still a good ways to go to get to 50 a day.

        All in all, you'd probably be happier living in China, where they execute an estimated 1700 people a year.  

        There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -- Mark Twain

        by southriver on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 09:21:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

          I would never enjoy having that many people being put to death for their crimes.  But, I do see it as necessary and I'm not in a small fringe group.

          There is no rehabilitation for first degree murder or child rape.  Addressing the root causes for these crimes, that is something I, and hopefully everyone out there, am definately in support of.

          Trying to imply that I'm a in support of crap like China, who kills people just for disagreeing with the party line, that's just sick.

          "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan

          by erush1345 on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 09:27:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, something is sick, we agree on that. n/t (0+ / 0-)

            There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -- Mark Twain

            by southriver on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 09:29:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Lots of murderers have been rehabilitated... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            released and never killed again. The book by Joan Cheever, "Back from the Dead" examines what happened to the 589 people whose death sentences were commuted to lesser sentences in 1972 after the Supreme Court ruled that the then-death penalty was unconstitutional. From a review by David Dow:

            Of the 589 lottery winners, Cheever focused on 322 who had been released from prison. Of those, about one-third — 111 in all — ended up either back in prison or eligible to be returned to prison. Of the 111, 33 committed a fairly trivial probation violation (by, for example, accumulating unpaid parking tickets, or being at an establishment where alcohol was sold). A total of 42 committed nonviolent crimes like burglary. That leaves 36 out of the original 322 who went back to prison for a more violent offense. Of those, 29 committed armed robbery or aggravated assault. That leaves seven. Two were convicted of attempted murder. Two were convicted of manslaughter. Three were convicted of murder. Most people, I suspect, tend to think that murderers will surely murder again. Cheever’s story demonstrates the contrary.

  •  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is declarative only. It's not a legal document.

    "The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony." Susan Sontag

    by Shane Hensinger on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 03:45:17 PM PST

    •  So was the Declaration of Independence (6+ / 0-)

      But it had an enormous impact after it was signed.  Didn't it?

      "You have no interest in helping me do my job and I have no interest in helping you do yours" - Rep Geoff Simpson to wingnut radio host.

      by slippytoad on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 03:50:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Constitution is a legal document. (0+ / 0-)

      One more quote from Justice Brennen:


      «One area of law more than any other besmirches the constitutional vision of human dignity ... The barbaric death penalty violates our Constitution. Even the most vile murderer does not release the state from its obligation to respect dignity, for the state does not honor the victim by emulating his murderer. Capital punishment's fatal flaw is that it treats people as objects to be toyed with and discarded ... One day the Court will outlaw the death penalty. Permanently.»

      There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -- Mark Twain

      by southriver on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 09:42:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I always think of it (2+ / 0-)

    as an issue of fairness. Out of the thousands of murders committed each year in the USA, we pick out a very small number of the convicted and kill them. Either execute ALL murderers or NONE. Justice requires equal penalties for equal crimes.

    •  But there is no fairness. Almost all of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the people sentenced to death in this country had woefully inadequate, and often incompetent (in DP cases) legal representation.

      Abolition is my choice.  

      In about 10 minutes, a new diary series called "Criminal Injustice" will debut on DKos.  It will appear every Wednesday at 6 p.m. Central time.  Tonight's debut will touch on - but not focus on - the death penalty.  It will give an overview of inequities in the criminal legal system in the United States.  

      Subsequent diaries will go into greater depth on various issues.  

      Teach us to listen to sounds larger than our own heartbeat; that endure longer than our own weeping in the dark. - Lillian Smith

      by RadioGirl on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 03:56:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As Justice Brennen said: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anne Elk

      «When a country of more than 200 million people inflicts an unusually severe punishment no more than 50 times a year, the inference is strong that the punishment is not being regularly and fairly applied.»

      Today we're a nation of 300 million, but the fairness of our "justice" system has not increased by 50% over that period.

      There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -- Mark Twain

      by southriver on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 09:31:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Conflict I have with some death penalty opponents (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is that they also don't believe that life in prison with no possibility of parole/release is right either.

    I disagree. I think some crimes are so heinous that those who commit them have basically relinquished their right to live in society. Period.

    For such monsters, I am not interested in rehabilitation or reconciliation either. Not only does the risk of recidivism alone dictate against it but I certainly don't have a problem with plain old punishment for punishment's sake either --- meaning, sometimes one just has to do hard time and it's not about whether an incarceration program will "fix" the person.

    "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist" --- President Barack Obama, 1-20-2009.

    by tier1express on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 03:55:58 PM PST

    •  And so we spend (0+ / 0-)

      4 or 5 times as much to care for old men in comas to satisfy your lust for fairness. Any absolute system is abhorrent to justice.

    •  Why not argue each on its own merits? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      1.  Either the death penalty is, or is not, a good thing.
      1.  Likewise, either LWOP is, or is not, a good thing.

      But to say, I'm for the death penalty because otherwise I'd have to deal with those arguments against LWOP....

      There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. -- Mark Twain

      by southriver on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 09:36:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not my point. (0+ / 0-)

        My point is that some people don't subscribe to the idea of punishment and sequestration of criminals from society at all and think that any sentence not aimed at rehab/reconciliation is pointless and inhumane.

        And no, what you state above wasn't my argument.

        I'm fine with both DP and TRUE LWOP actually if they are administered in a just fashion. I don't have an ideological objection to either and would actually tilt toward DP if the historical administration of capital punishment did not have a disturbing racial component historically and those on death row were allowed the full measure of available science to prove/disprove innocence while their cases were still being adjudicated.

        "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist" --- President Barack Obama, 1-20-2009.

        by tier1express on Thu Feb 25, 2010 at 12:34:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am very against the death penalty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flaming Liberal for Jesus

    In fact, Ron Carlson is the brother of one of Karla Faye Tucker's victims. He is very against the death penalty, and even worked hard to spare Karla Faye. Here is a short You Tube video worth listening to for the short time:

    "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" - Dorothy Day

    by joedemocrat on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 04:00:00 PM PST

  •  It's not just for murder anymore. (4+ / 0-)

    Bill Clinton's  "60 New Death Penalties,' enacted in the 1994 Omnibus crime bill and celebrated in the 1996 democratic Platform, allow for Federal executions for offenses as trivial as growing a field of hemp.

    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.

    by ben masel on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 04:37:15 PM PST

  •  I oppose the death penalty, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Obama does not. It is one area where we disagree. I believe his opinion is deeply considered and sincere, and doubt he will reconsider based on a petition.

    Incidentally, this does not weaken my support for Obama and his policies overall. I wish more people here would be rational about these kind of things, and not have absolutist up or down votes on politicians based on a single issue. I recognize that my opinion is a minority one in the United States, and that is not likely to change in my lifetime.

    Nonetheless, I support efforts like this and have voted for the Idea for Change.

    Life is complicated, politics is complicated, and pluralism is complicated. We should all be able to reconcile holding on to our convictions, with a respect for the democratic process and a recognition that we may not always prevail on many issues on which we are in the minority.

    Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

    by RandomActsOfReason on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 04:40:40 PM PST

  •  I will never support the death penalty... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...for one simple reason:

    No government should have the authority to kill its citizens.

    "Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state"--Noam Chomsky

    by mojada on Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 06:29:20 PM PST

  •  Death Penalty costs too much (0+ / 0-)

    If you do not oppose it on moral grounds, you should oppose the millions it costs to kill someone.

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