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I'm just not that advanced, or evolved or unemotional.  I'm a total caveman; I eat meat and live in a ground floor apartment that resembles a cave in both available light and cleanliness.  I've had my skull described as concrete, granite or thick.  It took me two weeks to realize one of my college roommates had broken up with his girlfriend.  I do laundry, but the concept of lights and darks continues to escape me to this day.

In short, I guess I might not be as high-minded as some others here.  That might explain my thoughts on the death penalty.

On an intellectual level, I really understand the arguments against the death penalty.  The problem is that I can't react solely an intellectual level when presented with certain crimes or people.  Tim McVeigh?  Sorry, he needed to die.  Mass murder, knowing there were children in the building and not caring?  Time to go.  Osama bin Laden?  A close friend of mine lost a family member on the second plane.  I'll cheer the day Osama dies, hoping that we as a nation get an opportunity to sing him to the noose.  A 2000lb JDAM just won't be slow enough for me.  These are emotional responses.

Then there's this guy, which got me started on this morbid topic.  William Garner, 37 now, was nineteen years old

on January 26, 1992, Garner took Addie Mack's address and apartment keys from her purse while Mack was being treated at a local hospital emergency room. Then, he went to Mack's home to, in his words, "take her things."

Garner admitted stealing a television, a VCR, a telephone and a radio boom box from the apartment while running into one of the six children, ages 8 to 13, who were sleeping in the apartment that night. Then, on Garner's way out, he set fire to the apartment, even though he knew there were children inside...

The 5 youngest died of smoke inhalation.  The oldest, 13 at the time and now 31, attended the execution yesterday in Ohio.  I'm sorry, I just can't be intellectual about this sort of thing.  Mr. Garner needed to go.  His lawyers claimed he had a violent upbringing, limited intellect and developmental delays during his childhood.  Ok.  Not good enough for me.  He deliberately targeted a home that he knew wouldn't have an adult and killed 5 innocent kids in one of the most painful and gruesome ways to die possible because he didn't want to get caught with some stolen electronics.  Those kids didn't get a last meal, a meeting with their loved ones and spiritual advisor and a nice peaceful sleep forever on their last night.  They.  Got.  Burned.  Frankly, Mr. Garner got off light in my book.

I'm going to link here to Amnesty International, and their 10 reasons to abolish the death penalty.  I strongly agree with many of these reasons, especially number 5, "The death penalty is discriminatory in its application" and number 8, "The death penalty denies the fallibility of human institutions" which discusses the large  number (255) of innocent people that have been sentenced to death and later exonerated.  I applaud the Innocence Project.  The reforms they are pushing for are very important and long overdue.  Beyond what is mentioned there, I believe public defenders should be fully funded with as much support as they want on capital cases.  I believe these sort of reforms would address the discriminatory nature of the death penalty we've seen in the past.  Finally, I believe there are too many capital crimes in this country, leading to far too many people on death row.

However, I still can't get beyond this deep belief, that I can't think away, that people like Osama, McVeigh and Mr. Garner need to go.  Some acts are just so horrible that I want to know the perpetrators are dead.  I don't want Osama to die peacefully in his sleep, either in a cell or cowering in a cave.  I don't care about whatever psychological torture McVeigh went through as he contemplated his final meal.  And please don't bring religion or "thou shalt not kill" into this.  I don't believe in that anyway.  

So that's it.  I'm a barbarian.  If someone kills people in such a horrible way that I feel the need to check on my sleeping child with tears in my eyes after reading the story, then I believe that person needs to die.  I'm not comfortable with myself for thinking this.  But I still do believe it.

Update [2010-7-14 4:13:56 by The Voice from the Cave]:  I've tried to condense my thinking on this subject, which is confused at best.  I guess the diary reflects that.  This subject really doesn't lend itself to black and white thinking for me, but I guess others are luckier.  I've got to get some sleep, so I'll try to check on this tomorrow.  I think Mike S had the comment of the night that really encapsulates how I and a lot of others feel:  "There isn't any single issue that causes me to argue with myself more than the death penalty."

Originally posted to The Voice from the Cave on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:25 AM PDT.


Where are you on the death penalty?

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| 119 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  I can't believe (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Greg in TN, esquimaux

      this morbid subject kept me up half the night writing.  I've got things to do in the morning.  I'll hang around here for a little while, but I'm off to bed soon.

      I'm a mushroom. Kept in the dark and know

      by The Voice from the Cave on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:29:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The death penalty is not something (3+ / 0-)

      I would trust a state with. Whether that's a federal government 'state' or a state government or anything along those lines.

      Let me point out one thing though: not all killing is bad. If you kill someone in self defense, I believe that is justified and the result is good.

      You, the victim, saving you and/or your's (people, not things) at the cost of the attackers life.

      Not something I'd ever want to experience myself, but I'd hope I'd make the right decision if i comes down to that. I hope it never does.

      MF and RKBA Member. Share Our Wealth -9.00, -4.05

      by KVoimakas on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 03:49:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  +4 for admitting you're a Troglodyte. (0+ / 0-)

      The first step toward reform. :)

      A little vitamin D will do you good.

      Doesn't mean I agree with you, but it takes some guts to come out and take the position you did.  Kudos.  IMHO, they can rot in prison until the end of time -- and it costs less to do that than it does to put them to death.  If he wants to die, let him do it to himself.

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      -Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:49:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't believe in giving government (0+ / 0-)

      the power to kill someone who is no longer an uncontrollable threat to others.

      I am OK with government killing to protect others, but once a person is not longer a threat to others, government should no longer have the power to kill that person.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:41:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In theory, I'm not sure you're wrong. (8+ / 0-)

    But in practice, having the death penalty means that there is a risk of innocent people being executed.  And even one innocent person put to death in my name is too many.

    Even for the worst criminals, life in prison works for me.

    •  Intellectually, I understand (4+ / 0-)

      But the emotional response just overwhelms me.  The thought of McVeigh, sitting for decades receiving wingnut fanmail after what he did makes me furious.  They'd get up a petition drive to "Free Tim!" after his prison conversion.  Worse, some future wingnut President might commute his sentence, mumbling something about understanding his hatred against government and how Tim was a different person and he was only misguided back then.  I'm glad he's dead and I'm glad our government of the people did it.  

      I'm a mushroom. Kept in the dark and know

      by The Voice from the Cave on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:37:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And I understand your emotional response. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, The Voice from the Cave

        I really do. McVeigh was a sociopath, a murderer, the worst sort of criminal. And I understand your aversion to his getting wingnut fan mail and the frightening prospect of some future wingut President pardoning him or some such (though I can't imagine a politician ever having the gall to do such a thing; nevertheless, yes, anything is possible).

        However, what trumps the argument for me is the fact that by killing him (the same would be true of killing Bin Laden), he gets elevated to the status of martyr for the deranged. That creates its own problem and encourages other crazies to follow in his crazy, murderous bullshit.

        As to the guy in Ohio and other killers like him, especially those who harm children, I say lock 'em up and throw away the key. Let 'em rot in prison, no "last meal" etc. There are things that are worse than death.

        But as I said, I do understand the strong emotional urge to want to exterminate the worst of the worst. I also try to remain aware of the fact that it is all too easy to make wrong or unwise decisions when we allow emotion to completely overtake our thinking process, rather than just allowing our emotions to be one factor informing the conclusions we ultimately come to.

        On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. --Barack Obama

        by Jennifer Clare on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:06:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But did it? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Voice from the Cave

          Rachel Maddow talked about it back in April with Jon Stewart before her special on Timothy McVeigh aired.  And one of the points she made was that he did NOT become a martyr, because even the militia movement distanced itself from him for his heinous actions, and the prosecution did a very good job picking him apart piece by piece.

          So I disagree that the death penalty necessarily makes even an infamous murderer a martyr.

        •  The problem is, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          keeping them alive makes them martyrs of a sort as well.

          Just take a long look at Charlie Manson.

          •  what a lot of fun, being Charlie Manson (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Abra Crabcakeya, hpchicago

            his misery would have been over forty years ago at your hands.
            If I was a victim of someone like Manson and survived, I'd get on his visitors list and be there weekly. Smiling at them, maybe delivering cigarettes and telling them they may get out next week.
            Having been a prisoner, but never having been dead, I can't tell you death is better, only that losing one's freedom is a living death and a lot worse than the nothing that death would bring.
             The fear of your fellow prisoners alone is enough to wish it on your worstest enemy.

            "Bad Bruise before dishonor"

            by tRueffert on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 04:16:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I dont argue with myself about it. (4+ / 0-)

        Maybe this will explain it.

        I decided I was against the DP, on moral grounds, a long time ago. But I let my gut have its say. I dont try to suppress my gut wanting death for someone who committed a heinous crime. My gut might even want them to suffer as they are put to death.

        Thing is, I do this knowing my head has ruled the day. There is nowhere beyond this emotional expression that the gut gets to have its say in this matter. At the end of the day, so to speak, it doesnt have authority on the matter. It just has the right to express that feeling that you seem to be talking about. Vengeance.

        This works very well for me. Im not conflicted.

        Difference is, youre ending with that feeling, or wrestling with it. It appears to be winning out with you.

        Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

        by NYCee on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:52:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Tim McVeigh was never going to get out of prison (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and to use that possibility as an argument in favor of the death penalty is intellectually dishonest.  

        We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.

        by DParker on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:09:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  All criminal justice carries risk (0+ / 0-)

      Every law we've got carries a risk that an innocent person goes to jail.  So how far does that risk aversion go?

      I totally support the death penalty, with firing squad as the method we should employ, but it seriously needs help.

      One piece of help would be something like if somebody fakes up evidence or does other malicious crap that sends someone else to death row then they go to jail for life.  If that someone is executed then they go to death row.

  •  There isn't any single issue (14+ / 0-)

    that causes me to argue with myself more than the death penalty.

    Still a man hears what he wants to hear And disregards the rest

    by Mike S on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:38:06 AM PDT

  •  I'm always against it. (10+ / 0-)

    It doesn't matter who I think should die.

    Help me, Professor Guyfucker! - dkos hatemail

    by indiemcemopants on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:38:39 AM PDT

    •  Oh, but it does (0+ / 0-)

      As a nation-state, The People decide who they want to kill all the time.  Your voice is important.

      I'm a mushroom. Kept in the dark and know

      by The Voice from the Cave on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:41:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If we start on the road (16+ / 0-)

        of deciding who's worthy of life and who's not, we are just doing the same thing Tim McVeigh and Osama bin Laden did. We're just keeping the cycle of violence and depravity going rather than ending it. I want to be better. I oppose all government sanctioned killing in my name.

        Help me, Professor Guyfucker! - dkos hatemail

        by indiemcemopants on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:46:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  does life in prison (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jennifer Clare, Purple Priestess

          fall under this rubric too? Just wondering if you think life in prison is equivalent to government sanctioned killing or it's a viable alternative?

          Life in prison for me is an acceptable alternative for me to the death penalty. I think depriving someone of their liberty for the rest of their life is a sufficient penalty.

          •  No I think a (20+ / 0-)

            life sentence is fine. It gives the opportunity to overturn a conviction if it's later proved the person is falsely in jail. Dead is dead. And I do believe there are some people who need to be locked up because they're a danger to the community.

            I couldn't imagine life in prison being equivalent to government sanctioned killing at all. It's basically - you live in this country but if you're going to kill people when you're not locked up we need to protect the community. It's certainly government control over a convicted person's freedom but that should be the price someone pays for the kind of lawlessness that ends another person's life.

            Not to mention on a practical level studies have proved that putting someone away for life is cheaper on taxpayers than the death penalty is. Why murder when it's immoral, wrong, stupid and expensive, and when it might be proved later that an innocent person was murdered by the state?

            On an emotional level I don't think that deciding who lives or dies just like Hitler or Charles Manson did is a good idea, and on an intellectual level I think governments make a lot of mistakes and I don't want them to have the power to make the ultimate mistake - to kill someone, when they may be innocent.

            Help me, Professor Guyfucker! - dkos hatemail

            by indiemcemopants on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:01:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I get that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I really do.  But I keep coming back to McVeigh.  What if that guy was still alive, answering wingnut fan mail.  What if there were "Tim was right" posters at the teabaggings?  What if President Palin pardoned the guy in 2018?

              Here in the deep night, I'm glad he's dead.

              I'm a mushroom. Kept in the dark and know

              by The Voice from the Cave on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:06:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here in the early light of morning... (2+ / 0-)

                I'm actually a shitload more scared of Palin-2018 then I am of ANY murderer.

                On a serious note (as if Palin 2018 wouldn't be the most fucking serious thing Ebola on meth with a private jet, a passport and worldwide landing rights), I agree with the diarist 100% on this issue. Forget all the known knowns: employing the DP is more expensive then locking people up in Maxi Max's application is arbitrary and has been applied to innocent generally doesn't act as a deterrent, etc. Forget all that.

                If we used the DP only in extreme cases where guilt was unambiguously established well beyond the 'reasonable doubt' threshold, then I'm for it. Some of these animals - like Manson - are quite comfortable in prison. It's where they've spent the majority of their lives. Others, like MacVeigh, shouldn't be allowed to remain around the see the outcome of their handiwork.  

              •  is wingnut fan mail more disconcerting (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                peterborocanuck, Darmok

                than the thought that an innocent person might be put to death?

                Die with your boots on. Gonna try? Well stick around. Gonna cry? Just move along. The truth of all predictions is always in your hands. - Iron Maiden

                by Cedwyn on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 03:08:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  "Tim was right" (0+ / 0-)

                signs would win any election for US. And separate the nuts from the bolts.  I wish he was still alive, in jail, and on the other side of a well deserved epiphany.

                "Bad Bruise before dishonor"

                by tRueffert on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 04:24:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  ?? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Any nation state that decides who they want to kill "all the time" is not quite right in it's collective head.  Killing should be reserved for the direst of emergencies.  By definition, if a murderer is in custody, the emergency has passed.

        People are fungible. You can have them here or there. - Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, responding

        by peterborocanuck on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 04:21:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's easy(ish) to support the death penalty (8+ / 0-)

    when you feel there is a clear cut case of guilt.  The problem, for me at least, is when things start to get murky.  There have been plenty of people who have been wrongfully convicted and executed.  My feeling on this is that as long as there is a chance for innocent people to be executed, the death penalty has to be off the table.

    •  When it's clear, yeah (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruinKid, esquimaux

      I couldn't find any article where the above Mr. Garner claimed innocence.  

      And there's no question in my mind that lots of innocent people have been killed.  (Salem witch trials?  We got started early there.)  That's why I think there are too many "capital crimes" that allow the death penalty.  I think there needs to be a rarer, reformed death penalty.

      But I still want the possibility.

      I'm a mushroom. Kept in the dark and know

      by The Voice from the Cave on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:45:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  just two quick points (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks for sharing your point of view - I think many people when confronted with the specifics you outlined have a hard time saying no to the death penalty.  I think, like you, that in the abstract I'm totally against it.  But given a specific individual with a specific gruesome crime, it's hard not to hedge.


    1. I think that if we as a society are going to allow the death penalty, would you be ok with you being sent to death for a crime you didn't commit?  If, in order to put the really bad people you link to to death you're willing to accept that you could be put to death for a crime you didn't commit then that makes sense to me.  But, again, it's easy to say in the abstract that maybe an innocent person could be killed - but what if it was you? Would you accept that you're the 1 innocent person killed in order to have the punishment available for the guilty?

    For me, I wouldn't be OK with that. and as such, I can't support a policy that would send someone else to that fate.

    1. I think life in prison is an acceptable punishment for even the worst crimes.  It may be linked to #1 but I think the biggest need I have when confronted with situations like this is to know that it's not going to happen again. I, speaking for myself, do not need to know someone has been put to death. If they are locked up for good forever, then I would rest easier at night.  

    Thanks for the post and your thoughts - it's through discussion we all understand these hard questions better.

  •  How many innocent deaths are too many for you? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, Roadbed Guy, Russ Jarmusch

    Just curious. Maybe there's no number. (shrug)

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 12:55:21 AM PDT

  •  If we must have a death penalty (7+ / 0-)

    ...which I am against, I want the laws revised to incorporate the following:

    A panel of citizens will be assembled by random selection from the district in which the conviction of the death row inmate was made, and that panel will collectively execute the prisoner. A special device will be designed that requires each member of the panel to push a button or pull a lever, which, when all the levers are pulled, the execution is then completed.

    The panel will include two groups:

    Group one:

    Two members from the convicting jury.
    The sentencing judge
    The prosecuting attorney.
    The governor of the state.

    Group two:

    The remaining seven members are called for duty from the general populace. Conscientious objectors may opt out, unless they are in the first group. But to opt out, there must be a demonstrable history of having objected to the death penalty, perhaps by a registry which citizens can use well in advance of the date of execution.

    With such a system, people in favor of the death penalty will be required to participate directly in putting another human to death.

    Mostly snark, but partly serious here.

  •  Oh my, (3+ / 0-)

    "Sweet Jesus I hate Hannity"

    by shanti2 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:02:41 AM PDT

  •  Oh my, (2+ / 0-)

    I think I am a bit conflicted about the death penalty as many others are.
    When it is someone who either admits their guilt or it is proven that they absolutely did the murder then some need to be put to death. But there are many in prison who are NOT guilty and should not be put to death. A man who molests, rapes and kills children should go. They can't be reformed at all and are only taking up valuable space.
    How many have the Innocence Project have been found to have not done the crime? What about the black men who were in prison for the Central Park Jogger case and it was shown they were innocent?
    It is times like this when I am against the death penalty. It seems too easy for juries to bring that penalty against black men or those with limited intelligence.

    "Sweet Jesus I hate Hannity"

    by shanti2 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:09:01 AM PDT

    •  I think you've condensed how I feel (0+ / 0-)

      and the number so far on the innocence project is 255.  That's why we need reform no matter what.

      I'm a mushroom. Kept in the dark and know

      by The Voice from the Cave on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:16:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "admits their guilt or it is proven" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's the problem. There is either proven or unproven. If one applies DP only to those who admitted it (ignoring the issue of false confessions for a second), or say to those caught on videotape, it's an admission that the crimes of the rest were not proven. Why are they in prison then?

      The only way out of this logical conundrum is to abolish DP altogether.

      So where's all the outrage against anti-atheist bigotry?

      by skeptiq on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:28:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BTW, in regard to the false confessions. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The infamouse Ukrainian serial killer Chikatilo (50+ victims) was sentenced to death for his crimes and executed. Yay? Maybe. Except for this:

      In September 1978, Chikatilo moved to Shakhty, a small coal mining town near Rostov-on-Don, where he committed his first documented murder. On December 22, he lured a 9-year-old girl named Yelena Zakotnova to an old house which he had secretly purchased, and attempted to rape her but failed to achieve an erection. When the girl struggled, he choked her to death and stabbed her body, ejaculating in the process of knifing the child. Chikatilo then dumped Zakotnova's body in a nearby river.[20] Despite evidence linking Chikatilo to the girl's death — spots of the girl's blood were found in the snow near Chikatilo's house[21] — a young man, Alexsandr Kravchenko, who had served a sentence for rape and murder before, was arrested, tried and confessed under torture. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment (the maximum possible length of imprisonment at that time). Kravchenko was retried under pressure from the victim's relatives, and eventually executed for the crime.


      Due to the sheer savagery of the murders, much of the police effort concentrated on mentally ill citizens, homosexuals, known paedophiles and sex offenders, slowly working through all that were known and eliminating them from the inquiry. A number of young men confessed to the murders, although they were usually mentally handicapped youths who had admitted to the crimes only under prolonged and often brutal interrogation. One under-age homosexual suspect committed suicide in his detention cell, but as police obtained confessions from suspects, bodies continued to be discovered proving the suspects who had previously confessed could not be the killer the police were seeking; in October 1983, Chikatilo killed a 19-year-old prostitute, and in December a 14-year-old schoolboy named Sergei Markov.[

      Yeah, yeah, I can already hear that "it could never happen here."

      So where's all the outrage against anti-atheist bigotry?

      by skeptiq on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 02:30:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Few issues bug me as much as this one. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Voice from the Cave

    I totally get where you're coming from. Yes, the death penalty has all kinds of problems. And yet, some people simply need to be done away with for the greater good.

    They're a danger to everyone's life and liberty, therefore they must go, but... the death penalty really sucks for all kinds of reasons, as pointed out above. How do you guys reconcile this for yourselves?

    Personally I'd be *more* OK with capital punishment if it was extended to people who use their money and power to make life miserable for others. Richard Mellon-Scaife, Rupert Murdoch, the Enron guys, the heads of Arthur Andersen & Goldman Sachs... all these guys deserve a lethal injection. Sure, they've never killed anyone directly, but the poverty and misery they create indirectly kills as much any terrorist or serial killer. Sadly, the law doesn't work like that. Maybe it should?

  •  Two different issues. (2+ / 0-)

    Emotionally, I'm with you. Some people need to die and in a world where perpetrators can be established without mistakes, they also should die. Nothing barbaric about it.

    In the real world, however, the risks are too great. So we can still wish for some people to die, but we should also wish the death penalty to go away.

    So where's all the outrage against anti-atheist bigotry?

    by skeptiq on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:23:25 AM PDT

  •  If you want (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, tRueffert, martydd, ZhenRen, DParker

    scary people killed for revenge or retribution you're now the scary person.

    If you want them killed so you won't worry that they'll come to get you in the night you're a paranoid coward.

    If you want them killed because the lizard part of your brain says so... Well, by all means indulge yourself.

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 01:38:32 AM PDT

  •  Here's some info from Wiki (4+ / 0-)

    Something I could find before going to bed

    Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the execution of a person by judicial process as a punishment for an offense. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from Latin capitalis, literally "regarding the head" (Latin caput). Hence, a capital crime was originally one punished by the severing of the head.

    Capital punishment has in the past been practiced in virtually every society, although currently only 58 nations actively practice it, with 95 countries abolishing it (the remainder having not used it for 10 years or allowing it only in exceptional circumstances such as wartime).[1] It is a matter of active controversy in various countries and states, and positions can vary within a single political ideology or cultural region. In the European Union member states, Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the use of capital punishment.[2]

    Today, most countries are considered by Amnesty International as abolitionist,[3] which allowed a vote on a nonbinding resolution to the UN to promote the abolition of the death penalty.[4] However, over 60% of the world's population live in countries where executions take place insofar as the four most populous countries in the world (the People's Republic of China, India, United States and Indonesia) apply the death penalty and are unlikely to abolish it in the near future.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][1

    Nice company the US keeps.

  •  I have mixed feelings about the death penalty (2+ / 0-)

    and guns.

    I kind of lean towards anti-death-penalty, just because it's so final. What if someone makes a mistake? You can't undo death. There are also two different and opposite money arguments. On the one hand, locking up a criminal for 60 years is gonna cost more than executing him or her today. On the other hand maybe it costs too much to go through multiple levels of appealing a death penalty. Maybe it's cheaper to sentence someone to ten years.

    But, yeah, in my gut, I want someone like Timothy McVeigh or the Green River Killer to die. Or John Wayne Gacy.

    "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment." - PM Francis Urquhart (BBC's "House of Cards")

    by Dbug on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 02:20:28 AM PDT

  •  If you want to be taken seriously (7+ / 0-)

    then don't post push poll questions on a serious issue.
    I oppose the death penalty in all circumstances. Period.
    It is simply wrong.
    Two wrongs don't make a right.
    A goverment has no business setting itself in the business of killing its own citizens.
    Not at any time, not for any reason.

    When I'm good, I'm very good. When I'm bad, I'm better.

    by kestrel9000 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 03:12:18 AM PDT

  •  You know... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Purple Priestess

    I wrote about a similar thing back in 2008.  In that case, there was no ambiguity of their guilt, having been caught by police with the old lady's car with her beaten body locked in the trunk.

  •  Oh well, emotional bloodlust is what this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    country thrives on - look at what we did in the Middle East to avenge 9-11 (rightly or (mostly!) wrongly).

    Guess it's important for many to bring the violence down to a personal level, too!

  •  Mother of Victim Against Death Penalty (10+ / 0-)

    I have joined the discussion about the death penalty on other threads on this topic.  I have stated before that my daughter was killed by a serial killer a number of years back.  He killed at least 13 women.  
    I had never supported the death penalty and still do not.  The murderer was sentenced to over 400 years in one venue and to the death penalty in another (the PA was running for reelection).  I asked the court in the venue where my daughter was killed to assign a life sentence, no parole.  That was what he received.  The PA was hoping he might lead them to other victims.  He had killed over a 20 year period.
    My request to forgo the death penalty was not based on any sympathy for Yates, the killer.  He is a sociopath whose only interest is his own ego.  To sit in prison for the rest of his life, in solitary, with nobody to reinforce his ego seemed appropriate to me.
    Mainly, his death would bring no closure.  If I met him, I might rip out his heart.  But that is my decision.  Letting society kill him does not honor my daughter.  It is impersonal vengence.  The state killing someone who has killed seems insane to me.

  •  I am against the death penalty (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russ Jarmusch, Apost8

    but I do think it will be interesting to see what happens to the New Orleans police officers charged with murdering civillians during Katrina. The death penalty is an option, and though I'm almost certain it won't be the sentence, it'd be very interesting to see how public opinion in this country would react to police officers being executed.

  •  McVeigh was the one execution that made me (2+ / 0-)

    change my view completely.  Sure, he was a monster, there is no denying that.  There are a lot of them out there.  I felt as you did all my life.  For those who committed heinous crimes they deserved to die.  However, when they put McVeigh to death it hit me hard.  We killed him because he killed.  What does that make us?  And by the way, that's just something deep down in me, not to be construed as criticism of what's deep down in you.  It's personal for us all individually.

  •  It's difficult, of course. (2+ / 0-)

    The rational side of me insists that the state shouldn't be in the business of executing people, no matter how heinous their deeds.

    The knee-jerk side of, however, insists that some people just need a-killin'.

    Of course, the knee-jerk side of me thinks all sorts of crazy stuff and should almost always be ignored.

    I guess it comes down to this for me: Could I personally flip the switch or drop in the pellets on a death-row inmate? Not a chance.

    Thanks for the provocative diary.

  •  Life in solitary confinement instead (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Purple Priestess, bluegrass50

    with no human contact (including fan mail from wingnuts) and without the possibility of parole. By far a harsher penalty than death. Some communication with the convict's attorney until all appeals have been exhausted. Is that cruel and unusual?

    "I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours" -Bob Dylan said that.

    by rambler american on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 04:03:20 AM PDT

  •  Death penalty for hemp farming (5+ / 0-)

    While the Supreme Court, two years ago in Kennedy v Louisiana, barred executions for common crimes less than murder, they left intact the "60 New Death Penalties" enacted under the Bill Clinton/Newt Gingrich Omnibus Crime control Act of 1994, which covers such trivial offenses as raising a field of hemp. These were celebrated in the 1996 Democratic platform, in language not removed until 2004. (Thank you Sen. Kerry.)

    The Court:

    "We do not address, for example, crimes defining and punishing treason, espionage, terrorism, and drug kingpin activity, which are offenses against the State. As it relates to crimes against individuals, though, the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the victim's life was not taken."

    "Clark, we need Superman's help in the Gulf." "Right on it Mr. President, soon as I can find a phone booth."

    by ben masel on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 04:05:16 AM PDT

  •  I could support the death penalty for certain (0+ / 0-)

    " white collar " crimes.Major SEC violations , bank BS , crooked insurance dealings - those committed by the corporate execs.

  •  I find myself torn (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Purple Priestess

    I struggle mightily with this issue, given the nature of crimes like the cold-blooded shooting of NC State Trooper Shawn Blanton on Interstate 40 in Haywood County, NC in 2008.

    The trial preliminaries are underway as we speak in our little town of Waynesville, just west of Asheville.

    While this case cries out for capital punishment, there is just enough doubt being raised by the defense to suggest that life imprisonment without parole is an appropriate penalty.

    Be strong enough to carry your own burdens; be compassionate enough to help others carry theirs.

    by usna77 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 05:12:01 AM PDT

  •  The fact that innocent people (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oothoon, martydd, bluegrass50, Apost8

    have been put to death is enough reason for me to oppose the death penalty. If you lock someone up inadvertently, then figure it out later, the guy can at least be released and compensated for the wrong done to him.

    When they are dead, there's no going back.

    The whole idea that the government should murder its own citizens is wrong, IMHO.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 05:13:33 AM PDT

  •  My husband and I have a saying (0+ / 0-)

    when it comes to certain cases; "Time to spin the big karma wheel..." IOW, there are some cases that we feel cry out for execution. But, this is our caveat, the proof must be overwhelming; smoking gun, red-handed, confession. Anything less trips my "reasonable doubt-o-meter."

    But even if I feel the DP is justified, I still have to remember that this, too, is a human being. The death of any human being lessens us all. I do not celebrate. I fervently hope and pray (in my own Pagan way) that this person's soul receives the healing it so desperately needs wherever it is going. I have my own afterlife theories but this is not the place for them. Suffice to say that I believe that sickness of the soul can be healed in another place. I also give special thoughts to the victim's family - that their pain will now be eased. Because, like it or not, when someone commits a crime, it ties everyone concerned together. And the sense of (for want of a better, less trite word) closure is crucial to the dissolution of those ties.

    Hope that makes sense...

    Beyond petroleum my ass! ~ Rachel Maddow

    by Purple Priestess on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 05:52:16 AM PDT

  •  "These are emotional responses." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oothoon, Purple Priestess

    You just said it yourself.  I oppose the death penalty, but I do not deny that when I hear about some violent thug raping and murdering children, my gut reaction is that, yes, they fucking deserve to die.  

    However, when the State takes that position, it is not justice, it is retribution, and that should simply not be the business of the State or our legal system.

    "Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." - Albert Schweitzer

    by Apost8 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:04:06 AM PDT

    •  I would add that I had a childhood friend who (0+ / 0-)

      was kidnapped, raped, murdered, and dismembered.  The killer was a "family friend."  As an 8 year old, that was a very traumatic time for me.  I can remember adults saying he should die, and I agreed.  After I believe 20 years on death row, Florida put a needle in his arm.

      Do I feel a sense of satisfaction? Yes, my baser instincts do react positively, I admit. But, as a logical, rational aduclt, I still oppose the death penalty.

      "Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." - Albert Schweitzer

      by Apost8 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 06:13:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's also deterrence (0+ / 0-)

      At least in theory; obviously, people dispute the effectiveness of punishment as a deterrent.  But, the idea that any punishment is designed simply to be retribution is not accurate.

  •  it is very easy to support the death penalty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in "some cases" with perfect hindsight.  The real problem is that way too many innocent people will die and we can't usually know for sure at the right time.  The McVieghs are rare cases, and frankly I would rather have them in solitary lockdown for 50 years so they can think about what they did.

  •  The death penalty (0+ / 0-)

    is the easy way out for criminals.

    Some, like McVeigh, WANT a "martyr's" death.

    Also, the process of administering the death penalty in the US is probably the cleanest, least-painful thing you'll ever go through. We won't help cancer patients in intractable pain get through the process of dying, yet we send abhorrent criminals to a peaceful, pain-free end?

    No. I think that the death penalty is better for the criminal. It's easier. It allows him/her to escape the daily realization of waking up in prison and dealing with their crimes.

    You want "retribution"? Life in prison is WAY better in terms of punishment than a quiet shove into the grave.

    The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it -- GB Shaw

    by kmiddle on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 07:31:11 AM PDT

  •  I can relate (0+ / 0-)

    to almost all of your feelings on this subject, well explained in your diary.  I've had the same feelings, but have led myself to the conclusion that the safest solution, ethically and socially, is to stop evil behavior, and contain people who engage in it.  

    If Timothy McVeigh enjoys his fan mail, what real difference does it make to others?  What a miserable life, by my standards.  

    Confinement is a deterrent and a punishment.  I don't think it's good idea or policy to pile on further punishment until we can see a person feels it.  That sounds like torture, and then what are we?  

    If we approve killing others because we are right, and they are wrong, on whatever grounds, it's a premise that is too easily corrupted.  And we see it every day.    

    •  Also (0+ / 0-)

      Some people argue for the death penalty on the grounds that it gives victim's well-deserved closure. But there are many people who have said it gave them no closure, and were surprised that it deepened the pain and grief.  So it's not always a good solution for victims.

  •  I agree with you. (0+ / 0-)

    Some people just need to go.  When proof is incontrovertible, and the crime is heinous (multiple murders, excessively brutal murders, killing children) then there should be the death penalty and it should be expedited.  I feel no worse about it than euthanizing a rabid dog.  Definitely stricter and well delineated standards for its application, but then a faster appeals process. I guess i have a higher standard for what constitutes a "fellow human being" than simply having similar DNA.  Once someone, through their own actions, makes themselves less than human, I don't consider executing them to be murder.

    And thats my head speaking.  If I went strictly with my gut I'd be gunning down people in the street for littering.  Seriously.  People who defile the earth and disrespect their neighbors for a moments convenience? Subhuman scum.  Can't stand em.  Worse than thieves.

  •  The most compelling argument I ever came across (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for abolishing the death penalty was Albert Camus' 1957 essay, Reflections on the Guillotine.  I recommend it to everyone and the diarist in particular.

    A petty criminal is someone with predatory instincts but insufficient capital to form a corporation.

    by stlsophos on Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 08:34:17 AM PDT

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