Skip to main content

The United States continues to employ the racist, classist death penalty. It is not a deterrent. It is a Dark Ages relic reflecting an unwillingness to overcome the instincts of our reptile brains with civilized behavior the way most of the other developed democracies on the planet have seen fit to do.

If our nation had abolished the death penalty, some innocents would be walking around today instead of killed by the state. We'll never know for sure how many. All we do know is that new evidence - much of it DNA-based - has revealed that people have been convicted of capital crimes they did not commit and have been exonerated, sometimes after decades on death row. And we know that some are dead who would have been exonerated if prosecutors had not engaged in misconduct or had not relied on incompetent "experts," poor lab techniques or old forensics methodology. We just don't know how many.

The latest case hasn't gotten much press. It's yet another from the 18-year-old Innocence Project. Also involved were The Texas Observer, the Innocence Project of Texas and the Texas Innocence Network:

The Innocence Project today released DNA test results proving that crucial hair evidence found at the scene of a murder, the only physical evidence linking the accused Claude Jones to the crime, did not belong to Jones. Although he always maintained his innocence, Jones was executed for murdering Allen Hilzendager on December 7, 2000. George Bush, who was awaiting a decision from the Florida Supreme Court on whether the presidential election recount would continue, denied Jones’ request for a 30 day stay of execution to do DNA test on the hair sample. The memo from the General Counsel’s office that recommended against the stay did not tell Bush that Jones was seeking a DNA test of the hair. Evidence that the hair “matched” Jones was critical to the prosecution’s case at trial and proved to be the key factor in a narrow 3-2 decision by the Texas Court of Appeals finding there was sufficient corroboration of the accomplice who testified against Jones to uphold the murder conviction.

“I have no doubt that if President Bush had known about the request to do a DNA test of the hair he would have would have issued a 30-day stay in this case and Jones would not have been executed,” said Barry C. Scheck, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.  

Scheck noted that Bush had issued a stay for DNA testing just months earlier in another capital case and said at the time, “Any time DNA evidence can be used in its context and can be relevant as to the guilt or innocence of a person on death row, we need to use it.”

“It is unbelievable that the lawyers in the General Counsel’s office failed to inform the governor that Jones was seeking DNA testing on evidence that was so pivotal to the case,” said former Texas Governor and Attorney General Mark White.  “If the state is going to continue to use the death penalty, it must figure out a way to build safeguards in the system so that lapses like this don’t happen again.”  

"Unbelievable" that they failed to inform the governor in this matter? "Lapses"? Obscenely predictable is more like it. Perfectly believable given Texas's long record of fighting against appeals in which defense attorneys actually fell asleep in trials in which their clients were convicted and sentenced to death. This is, after all, the third instance this year in which someone convicted of a capital crime in Texas was discovered to have been wrongly executed, very likely to have been wrongly executed, or exonerated and freed.

Commenting last month on the latter case, Gov. Rick Perry said it just goes to show the system is working.

Scheck has to be diplomatic in his public statements, and he certainly was in his response to Perry's claims:

“Each of these exonerations, particularly when someone’s on death row, are very important learning moments on how to figure out what went wrong and change the system,” Scheck said. “If the conclusion you reach is that a near miss like this means that the system is working, then you don’t understand the problems with the system. It’s sticking your head in the sand.”

The governor's head is stuck somewhere light does not penetrate all right, but it's not in the sand. Texas has been in the forefront of states trying to speed up its many executions and a leader in bad death penalty convictions. But it doesn't matter whether capital punishment is carried out in Texas or one of the other 34 states where it is legal, or under federal jurisdiction. It's a vile practice. And while everyone objects to innocents being executed, policies in place - poorly paid overworked public defenders being one of the main failures - ensure that people will be convicted and some of them executed for crimes they did not commit.

But it's easy to fight for the innocent. Too few people are willing to stand up to say the guilty should also not be executed. And as long as that is the case, innocent men and women will get the gas, the chair, the needle. Someday, perhaps, America will opt out of barbarism and abolish this deplorable evil. Until it does, cases like those announced today will continue to shame us.

[cenobyte has a diary on the subject here, Lovechilde has one here and kos here.]

• • • • •

At Daily Kos on this date in 2008:

Lieberman and his whippers argue that stripping him of Homeland Security would be "punishment", and that Democrats should be forgiving of all the gleeful right-wing slams Lieberman delivered against Obama and Democrats over the past two years.

Of course, committee assignments generally go to those who helped the party gain its majorities. Otherwise, why "punish" James Inhoffe by removing him from the Senate Environment and Public Works committee? Why "punish" Republicans, now that the Senate is an even bigger Democratic place, by stripping them of staff, budget, and seats?

Why? Because to the victor go the spoils. It's called democracy, and the people have made their preferences felt at the ballot box.

If they wanted the Lieberman version of DC, they would've voted for McCain.

So if it would be ridiculous to reward James Inhoffe with a committee chairmanship -- or even better, Olympia Snowe who has voted with Democrats more than with Republicans in the past couple of years -- then why isn't it ridiculous to reward Lieberman who campaign for Senate Republicans and McCain?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:05 PM PST.

Poll

I think the death penalty

6%507 votes
5%369 votes
4%295 votes
1%94 votes
7%517 votes
60%4391 votes
9%664 votes
2%198 votes
3%273 votes

| 7309 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  We do have the ability (18+ / 0-)

      to stop and prevent cholera -- the problem is, there appears to be little interest in investing in the regions where cholera is a threat.  If the same amount of money that will be given out this year alone in bonuses to the Wall Street crowd were invested in Haiti, those poor people would have decent, safe housing, clean water, state of the art sewage treatment facilities, good schools and opportunities to make life better.

      Cholera exists because of global indifference by many of the people who have the resources coupled with governmental corruption.

      " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

      by gchaucer2 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:24:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you for pointing this out (7+ / 0-)

        there are often cholera outbreaks (euphemistcally sometimes called Acute Watery Diarrhea for political reasons) in the capital cities of countries where I've been posted.  It's a matter of poverty and lack of investment in sanitation and water treatment.  We have seen it's possible to drastically reduce mortality from cholera, we just have to be willing to as a global community.  

        (Sadly, in Kathmandu no longer.)

        by American in Kathmandu on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:30:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Countries with corrupt governments do (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WillR, acnetj

          not build the needed infrastructure to insure safe water. I don't think it has to do with lack of money, just lack of will.

          Why is it taking the government of Haiti from doing the minimal needed to begin cleanup. I know other countries have not sent all the money that was pledged, but can you really blame them for not wanting to pad the pockets of the elite with no or little funds going to where they were intended.

          There seems to be little organization. So the people got tents and some food. Progress seems to have stopped at that point.

          It's disgusting. After WWII the germans began clearing the ruble by hand and with carts. Why can't the people of Haiti do the same? Why can't they be paid to do it? Develop a massive workforce to rebuild.

          It's the Supreme Court, Stupid (even in an off year election!)

          by auapplemac on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:21:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Allowing cholera to (5+ / 0-)

        run through Haiti is the same thing as state-sanctioned killing. It eliminates undesireables. Haiti is an African dictatorial state that persists this close to America due entirely to Americans allowing it to continue thus. We have consistently allowed insane dictator after insane dictator to run Haiti into destitution because we don't want all of those backward, vodun-practising Africans coming over here and inundating the system. If Haiti eats itself from within, we won't have to worry about it. Haiti is the Darfur of the Western Hemisphere. If it were rich in petroleum or rare earth materials, we would be all over it like buzzards on a shit wagon.

        •  I understand what you are saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          auapplemac

          but I've an aversion to our government screwing around with other governments because it generally means some covert action to overthrow the dictator and we have never replaced that individual with an effective leader.  

          I honestly don't know the answer because pouring money in there just lines the pockets of the powerful.  

          " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

          by gchaucer2 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:39:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  this article may be of interest (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blindyone

          there are tens of thousands of cases each year in Africa.

          http://www.nejm.org/...

          It's mostly a problem of poverty and poor governance (which doesn't give enough emphasis to reducing these things).  But it's not restricted to countries in Africa, or Haiti.  We had it in Nepal as well.  And even India is not exempt from this scourge:

          http://www.scoop.co.nz/...

          That it's preventable and treatable just makes it more frustrating.

          (Sadly, in Kathmandu no longer.)

          by American in Kathmandu on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:42:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  America has not only allowed (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          splashy, third Party please, JesseCW

          the wretched conditions and dictatorial governments in Haiti, they have aided and abetted both the conditions and the dictators.  We condoned the sadistic Papa Doc Duvalier and supported his despicable son, Baby Doc.  When Haitians finally were able to elect their own leader, we sicced the CIA on him.  Then when he wouldn't cooperate, we suborned the usurpation of his government and arranged for his banishment.

          We have humiliated ourselves and should be ashamed, but of course we aren't.  The rationalizations are sickening.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:33:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  There are some humans who have no interest (0+ / 0-)

        in other humans except as subjects.  If people can't be controlled and manipulated, they're not wanted.  For some reason, not-wanting is not a category that merits much or any consideration in either political or economic theory.  
        Economic theory presumes that humans want things and are prompted to act by the desire to acquire.  Killing or destroying what's unwanted just doesn't figure.  Our whole criminal law is predicated on criminals wanting what someone else has.  This likely accounts for the presumption that the prosecutor is absolutely immune because he wants "no thing" and actually does "nothing" other than transmit information from law enforcement to the judge and jury.  "Not wanting" is presumably virtuous, if only because it's immaterial, an idea, and ideas are presumably good.  It's how idealism is defined by some.

        I think it was Plato who elevated the ideal over the real in the hierarchy of values.  Since it is the human brain which generates ideas, the superior status of the idea justifies the designation of thinking humans as superior to all other living things.  And that superiority, in turn, justifies the exercise of dominion over all other material existence (things).  Having ideas is what makes humans special and superior.

        The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

        by hannah on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 03:22:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The fact that (9+ / 0-)

      at least 25 Kossacks think that capital punishment is necessary means that they aren't getting it. No person should be murdered as punishment by the State, PERIOD. If there exists the tiniest chance that even the most vile-seeming monster is innocent of the crimes for which he or she has been given the death penalty, then the State CANNOT pursue. It has been shown time and time again that the death penalty is given overwhelmingly to people of color. It has been shown time and time again that the death penalty is given to people convicted on false, faulty or non-existent evidence. It doesn't take a court-appointed drunkI mean public defender to see that states want to kill black/ Hispanic/retarded people this way. Killing people this way allows the states and police to disregard their jobs, invent and doctor evidence and otherwise take an easy way out in getting rid of "undesireables" just like the Church did during the children's and poor people's crusades.

      •  the number is higher now (8+ / 0-)

        and that really surprised me.  It goes to show that there is still a long way to go before the consensus is there that this needs to be abolished.  I agree with you though - the State doesn't get to kill its own citizens, certainly not when public safety can be assured by another means.

        (Sadly, in Kathmandu no longer.)

        by American in Kathmandu on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:32:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  My grandfather was murdered by a serial killer (10+ / 0-)

        and I put "unsure", but I can certainly see that somebody else could have a valid opinion that diverges from mine on this. It's an emotional issue, especially if you or a loved one has been touched by violence.

        •  I completely agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          plumbobb

          See my comment below.

        •  I am so sorry for your loss. (5+ / 0-)

          I can only begin to imagine the pain that you and your family have endured from this trauma.  I hope that, somehow, you can find healing.

        •  I agree that it is an emotional issue... (13+ / 0-)

          ...and the fact that Michael Dukakis respond too unemotionally when he was asked a question related to an attack on his family in relation to the death penalty probably damaged his presidential chances.

          But I take my opposition to the death penalty seriously. To "put my money where my mouth is," so to speak, my will (and my wife's) includes this:

          Special Circumstances: If I should be the victim of a murder, and the perpetrator of this crime is caught, tried and convicted; or if said perpetrator confesses to this murder; I instruct my attorney-in-fact to implore the prosecutor, jury, judge or others adjudicating this case not to seek or impose the death penalty, a punishment I oppose under all circumstances

          Another approach is  the Quaker pledge:

          I, the undersigned, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do hereby in the presence of witnesses make this Declaration of Life,

          I believe that the killing of one human being by another is morally wrong.

          I believe it is morally wrong for any state or other governmental entity to take the life of a human being for any reason

          I believe that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime and serves only the purpose of revenge.

          THEREFORE, I hereby declare that should I die as a result of a violent crime, I request that the person or persons found guilty of homicide for my killing not be subject to or put in jeopardy of the death penalty under any circumstances, no matter how heinous their crime or how much I may have suffered. The death penalty would only increase my suffering.

          I request that the Prosecutor or District Attorney having the jurisdiction of the person or persons alleged to have committed my homicide not file or prosecute an action for capital punishment as a result of my homicide.

          I request that this Declaration be made admissible in any trial of any person charged with my homicide, and read and delivered to the jury. I also request the Court to allow this Declaration to be admissible as a statement of the victim at the sentencing of the person or persons charged and convicted of my homicide; and, to pass sentence in accordance with my wishes.

          I request that the Governor or other executive officer(s) grant pardon, clemency or take whatever action is necessary to stay and prohibit the carrying out of the execution of any person or persons found guilty of my homicide.

          This Declaration is not meant to be, and should not be taken as, a statement that the person or persons who have committed my homicide should go unpunished.

          I request that my family and friends take whatever actions are necessary to carry out the intent and purpose of this Declaration; and, I further request them to take no action contrary to this Declaration.

          I request that, should I die under the circumstances as set forth in the Declaration and the death penalty is requested, my family, friends and personal representative deliver copies of this Declaration as follows: to the Prosecutor or District Attorney having jurisdiction over the person or persons charged with my homicide; to the Attorney representing the person or persons charged with my homicide; to the judge presiding over the case involving my homicide; for recording, to the Recorder of the County in which my homicide took place and to the recorder of the County in which the person or persons charged with my homicide are to be tried; to all newspapers, radio and television stations of general circulation in the County in which my homicide took place and the County in which the person or persons charged with my homicide are to be tried; and, to any other person, persons or entities my family, friends or personal representative deem appropriate in order to carry out my wishes as set forth herein.

          I affirm under the pains and penalties for perjury that the above Declaration of Life is true.

          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 10:03:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think if you have a family member (especially (0+ / 0-)

            a child, luckily not what happened in my case) murdered with absolutely no possibility of the wrong person having been charged with the crime, especially if the murderer is a psychopathic, unrepentant monster (unluckily, this is what happened in my case), that you may find that you are less forgiving than you would be if you yourself were the victim of a murder (for one thing, when you yourself are the victim, you can't google the murderer and see that he/she is selling his/her underpants, signed, on the "SerialKiller Products" site, and/or signed up for online dating.

            •  My wife and I signed these... (15+ / 0-)

              ...legal 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

              [ Parent ]

              •  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:

                http://www.redrumautographs.com/...

                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

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  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:

                    http://www.meet-an-inmate.com/

                    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

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  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.

                      http://www.mvfhr.org/

                      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

                      [ Parent ]

                •  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

                  [ Parent ]

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

                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

                [ Parent ]

                •  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.

          •  Wow. I respect that a LOT. And the Quaker... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dharmafarmer, PhilJD

            ... pledge? Just amazing. My wife and I haven't made out wills yet, but when we do, I'm sure we'll be including a clause like this in ours. And since I hadn't even CONSIDERED something like this, I wanna thank you for bringing it to our attention.

            "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

            by ratmach on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 01:50:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  All the more reason to understand why the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Hills Ghost, DRo

          State should not be a serial killer.

          There are no "permanent tax cuts". 9th grade civics, people.

          by JesseCW on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:45:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  don't you sleep better at night (0+ / 0-)

        now that tim mcveigh is dead?  /snark

      •  Not necessarily Kossacks (0+ / 0-)

        Lurkers can vote in polls too -- as can Republican trolls. Makes me take some of the poll results with a slight grain of salt.

        "When it gets harder to love, love harder" -- Van Jones, NN10, 7/23/10

        by Cali Scribe on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 01:09:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I "get it" it just fine. (0+ / 0-)

        And I disagree with you.  The fact that innocent people are executed, the fact that executions are handed out on apparently racist basis, do not seem to me to make a case against executions as an acceptable form of punishment in general.  Instead, it seems to me that there's a problem with the justice system's standards for conviction and punishment selection.  Personally, I find the idea of an innocent man convicted of murder and imprisoned for life just as tragic as an innocent man convicted of murder executed.  And I find nothing wrong with the idea of executing a guilty man convicted of murder.

  •  In a broad sense, no "punishment" works on (8+ / 0-)

    anybody, let alone the ultimate punishment. The reeducation and reclaiming of a perpetrator of any atrocity would be a much better example for the entire
    human race. If a human refused to stop the atrocities, perhaps a supervised exile might work.

    But do you notice in much science fiction in advanced societies there is no longer punishment but only rehabilitation? It shows true advancement.

    'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished in this society.  

    O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

    by Wildthumb on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:10:59 PM PST

    •  While I'd like to believe that rehabilitation (8+ / 0-)

      could be achieved in every case, I don't think it can be - certainly not at present. Given that, I think we have a duty to protect society from violent offenders, and from non-violent offenders who are repeat their crimes. That means incarceration. I don't think that that has to mean punishment, however, beyond the reasonable demands of security.

      I'd also like to see more research into performing rehabilitation and measuring the probable outcomes more accurately. More important than that, IMO, is eliminating to the extent possible to conditions which lead to crime in the first place, which means improved mental health care, reduction of poverty, and early identification of abusive parents/spouses, plus whatever other things I'm not aware of.

      If you wanted to talk me into supporting capital punishment (which would be difficult), I'd suggest starting with people whose criminal behavior involves crimes in pursuit of profits of several million dollars or more, persons responsible for significant environmental damage, as the BP spill, and war criminals. But I'd probably be just as happy if they were incarcerated for life.

      If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

      by badger on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:32:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rec'ced. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger, Heart of the Rockies, JesseCW

        If I could rec more I would.

        The death penalty is revenge performed by the police.

      •  There's a lot to say here, and I just dropped a (6+ / 0-)

        few lines.

        To really "pull the camera back" and look at society from scratch, a cooperative, and not competitive society would go a long way to eliminate crime (and poverty, and alienation, and lots of other negative
        things). When we all lived as clans and as tribes in ancient times, and had societies based on mutual survival, a person's negative behavior could be more intimately supervised and curbed organically. When we all started living in decentralized, and especially modern capitalistic societies, we all became essentially strangers. If even we talk or commune with our neighbors these days it's shockingly rare in many neighborhoods.

        O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

        by Wildthumb on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:40:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's an excellent point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blindyone

          I wish I would have posted it :)

          I think the same idea applies to a lot of the problems we face, not just crime.

          If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

          by badger on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:45:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades, badger, blindyone

            A cooperative, close society based on mutual interdependence, and not a society of strangers and competitors.

            I know it won't happen in our lifetime, but some small societies and communes have tried to duplicate these early "longhouse" societies. I think it would take generations though to break out of this alienated conditioning for most of the human race.

            But I think it is possible.

            O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

            by Wildthumb on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:50:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I've been thinking about that a lot lately (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Meteor Blades, Wildthumb

              (actually I've thought about it on and off for about 40 years) and I think that building something loosely along those lines would be possible as a way of countering money in politics, the control of the media, unresponsive politicians in DC, or at lower levels, and winning elections. In a lot of places, it only takes a community of about 2% of the vote or less to swing an election, for example.

              Oddly enough, I've come to the conclusion that in political terms, that's some of how the old urban political machines in places, like NYC, Chicago, KC, Albany, Boston and other places operated to an extent. At least they drew on features that involved mutual aid and interdependence.

              You see some features of that even in things like the open source movement - I worked on software for years with people in the UK and Germany and the Netherlands that I've never met, spoken to, or even seen.

              And where I live now is a small community of very like-minded people about 10 miles outside a small town that has some of those features too.

              The revolution in communications makes approximations of co-operative, close societies possible, like this community does.

              But in the end, I think you still need the frequent face-to-face contact that real communities offer - I think we're wired for that.

              If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

              by badger on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:05:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think Meteor Blades started a real discussion (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                badger

                today. So much to say here.

                If I could add to this "ideal society," I'd add a psychological or therapetic dimension. A kind of
                mutual counseling, (or "co-counseling:) set-up where we could dump our daily distresses safely and without fear of censure or ridicule. Nobody would be paid for this: it would be simply peer self-help.

                O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

                by Wildthumb on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:30:43 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Maybe someday I'll diary some of this (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Wildthumb

                  and maybe you should too - I'd be interested to hear what you have to say, because my thoughts on it are still somewhat muddled, and you seem to have given it some thought.

                  A lot of people here, since the election, if not for other reasons, have been asking "What do we do next?" or "Where do we go from here?", and I think there are some answers in organizing groups or small communities and using them for outreach, helping people with local problems (which are things the old machines did) and building an electoral base.

                  Or it's just nice to build a community, do things for other people, and hopefully have people who'll be around to help you out too.

                  If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                  by badger on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 11:17:20 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The old machines were corrupt. They only did (0+ / 0-)

                    things for people to get their votes and the power to steal from the public. Buy elections, take bribes to hire firms and individuals to build things.

                    It's like the Mafia.

                    It's the Supreme Court, Stupid (even in an off year election!)

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

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And the difference now is ... (0+ / 0-)

                      that politicians still use their power to steal from the public - buy elections, take bribes (excuse me, campaign donations) to hire firms and individuals to build things, just like the Mafia - except they no longer do things for people to get their votes.

                      That's progress, I guess.

                      If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

                      by badger on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 09:01:03 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  I keep thinking about writing diaries here but (0+ / 0-)

                    always manage to avoid it. It's a great topic, though, and again, it's always empowering to think about a society that could be nurturing and humane vis-a-vis the ones we have now.

                    Hey, you write the diary and I'll post lots of stuff!

                    O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

                    by Wildthumb on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 08:21:27 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  except when we killed the other clans/tribes (0+ / 0-)

          I think we're just flawed as a species.  There never was a golden age, never will be.  We are the scourge.  Bach notwithstanding.

          We come well armed with... tempeh.

          by VeganMilitia on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:53:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't believe that evolution (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wildthumb, JesseCW, zbbrox

            equals determinism. I'm not a Trekkie, but I've always liked this quote:

            Kirk: [War] is instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands! But we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill - today!

            Of course later in the episode, or at least by the following week, the Enterprise probably fired some phasors and blew an enemy starship to smithereens.

            I think we could build a society that didn't value killing or war - but it's a very large part of this culture, and most others. I doubt I'll see it happen.

            If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

            by badger on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:16:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  "Flawed as a species" I utterly reject. (0+ / 0-)

            I argue always that if human beings can get out from under the lasting effects of painful emotions accumulated from childhood on, that we could really progress cooperatively with ourselves and the planet.

            But the exposition that I would need to flesh this out I'm not willing to post this morning. Too much.
            Suffice it to say I don't believe in human nature as being defective or "tending towards evil."

            O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

            by Wildthumb on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 08:28:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Flawed? (0+ / 0-)

              Is a cat "flawed" because it catches, kills, and eats a mouse? Is a dolphin "flawed" because it kills young dolphins or porpoises but doesn't derive nutrition by eating them? Is a male lion who takes over a pride and kills his predecessor's cubs "flawed"? I think not. Not at the individual level, not at the community level, and not at the species level. They are all displaying behaviors that make it more likely that their species will be successful (or not, in which case the species may become extinct). None of these behaviors are "evil" unless somehow their community defines them as such.

              As much as humans seem to want to think of themselves as "special" in some way, it seems to me that we are merely another species forged by the mindless and merciless hammer of evolution. It's true that we, at least by our measures, seem to have the possibly good fortune of being the most advanced intellectual species on this planet, but we remain the product of our evolutionary background. This process favored, at least to some extent, those who had a propensity towards greed and violence (to name just two "undesirable" factors) common to many species.

              With a combination of education, training, prosperity, force, coercion and the like, society can somewhat suppress the expression of traits it finds "undesirable", but this is a fragile and unstable state. Ultimately it seems most likely that humans will become extinct long before these "undesirable" traits have evolved out of our genetic makeup.

        •  So, the Aztecs did not put criminals to death? (0+ / 0-)

          Or other ancient tribes or even those tribes that today live well off the beaten track?

          I think you have a very idyllic view of clans and tribes. Look at the clans and tribes in Afghanistan. They have their own laws that lead to stoning, beheading, etc.

          Murder, stealing, etc. have little to do with the society one lives in. It has to do with the code of conduct each devises and they are more similar than not.

          It's the Supreme Court, Stupid (even in an off year election!)

          by auapplemac on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:36:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  A well-run penal colony isn't an insane idea. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      badger, quotemstr

      Let people build new lives somewhere else. We don't need to punish them, but real crimes (embezzlement, fraud, goverment corruption, prosecutorial and police misconduct...) against society mean, to me, that you don't deserve all that society has created.

      •  Doesn't the U.S. own a whole slew of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger

        South Pacific islands from which escape would be virtually impossible, especially if the surrounding waters were heavily patrolled?  Sounds very Lord of the Flies, but I'd be willing to give it a try for a few hundred years.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:44:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Like This? (0+ / 0-)

          If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the administration.

          by badger on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 11:32:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  They would kill each other if put on an island. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WillR, third Party please

          These for the most part are angry undisciplined people. Some psychopathic and definitely anti-social.

          Just look at the guy who tortured and killed the Doctor's family in New England. What would you do with him and his still to be tried partner?

          There are some people who are incorrigible and twisted. We do not have the tools to change them. Would a lobotomy work? Most here would be up in arms at that idea.

          It's the Supreme Court, Stupid (even in an off year election!)

          by auapplemac on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:47:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, when there is no doubt about (0+ / 0-)

            the guilt of perpetrators of horrific murders, it's hard to say that they shouldn't be executed.

            That these monsters tortured and killed the doctor's wife and daughters AFTER they were given $15,000 is unimaginable.

            As long as they never walk the streets again is punishment enough.

            "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." ~ Thomas Paine

            by third Party please on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 04:14:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not saying an entirely unsupervised situation (0+ / 0-)

            Could give them a very small plot of land with high walls.

    •  Ummmmm (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      auapplemac, third Party please

      Don't mean to be uncivil or anything but you stated

      But do you notice in much science fiction in advanced societies there is no longer punishment but only rehabilitation? It shows true advancement.

      isn't fiction the operative word?

      It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

      by AKA potsi on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:20:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  death penalties also perpetuate the P.I.C. (10+ / 0-)

    forcing the system to allocate greater resources in the struggles over appeals and the structure of incarceration, prosecution, and law enforcement.

    "calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni),Warning-Some Snark Above

    by annieli on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:12:14 PM PST

  •  There should be no death penalty for any offense (15+ / 0-)

    however, I chose “other” because I don't see why there would have to be single alternative, whether life without parole or 30 years. I say, take death off the table and then in that context figure out what the sentencing guidelines should be.

    •  Equality in sentencing will never be reached (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      third Party please, zbbrox

      without general guidelines.  Leaving "context" up to Texas judges, or New York judges or the new governor of Florida, seems to me to be a recipe for disaster - just like we have now.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:50:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We can never teach people not to kill (18+ / 0-)

    by killing people .

    "It must be related to intelligence as you can't seem to adjust or alter your antisocial behavior." From a ugoger ? Oh the freaking O,T,T, irony !

    by indycam on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:14:17 PM PST

  •  Please see comments in this diary... (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    libdevil

    ...of someone BANNED from this site today.

    Read the comments, meteorblades...this is the Democratic Mainstream.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    These aren't Freepers. These aren't Right Wing Zealots.

    These are reasonable Democrats who claim exemption from principle.

    This, not Right Wing Zealots, is what you're up against.

    •  You said that that diary about pedophilia (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gchaucer2

      and the diary (Dancing With The Obamas from Wed Nov 10) "amused you"

      Based on past behavior here, I'm not really surprised that a diary that used an expression like "cannibal goddesses with amazon bones" to reference Michelle Obama, and stating that she had more "natural rhythm than any First Lady since Sally Hemmings" would be OK with you... but a diary approving of pedophilia should be some cherished First Amendment line in the sand for Daily Kos?

      -so make sure when you say you're in it but not of it you're not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell- Stevie Wonder

      by blindyone on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:39:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's not what I said... (0+ / 0-)

        ...and you know it.

        I said the RESPONSES to BOTH diaries amused me, not the diaries themselves.  

        This isn't about me.  This is about the Death Penalty -- and those who AGREE with it, given the 'right' circumstances.  This is about people who think the state has the right, given the proper circumstances, has the right to take a life.

        This is about the McMartin Pre-School Case.  This is about people who STOP thinking and simply give over to the most base FEELINGS.  This is about people who would rather take cheap shots than actually DEAL with the subject at hand because it would require that they look at themselves in the mirror when confronted with their own AUTHORITARIAN, RIGHTWING bullshit.

      •  Yeah... (0+ / 0-)

        ...I mean YOU.   You're the problem.  Not the Republicans, who one would EXPECT to simply accept the Death Penalty.  YOU!  Think about how YOU feel.  You, who make your rounds around this site accusing people of racist inclinations.  YOU!  Take a good HARD look at yourself and your beliefs.  You ARE the problem.  We already know where most of the Republicans come down on this issue, but it's the Dems who refuse to dig DEEP and question their pre-conceived notions who enable the Right Wingers to MURDER their fellow citizens/criminals/innocent-so-whats.

        •  I don't support the death penalty, (0+ / 0-)

          and I didn't support it in that diary either.

          But there's a difference between the death penalty and holding up a book endorsing pedophilia as some grand First Amendment battle.

          "When it gets harder to love, love harder" -- Van Jones, NN10, 7/23/10

          by Cali Scribe on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:54:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I read about that this week (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gchaucer2, Miep

      ...because it is related to the publishing business, in which I have a particular interest. One can always find copies of things to read. Amazon and Kindle are not going to push against public sentiment. That's a business decision, don't you think?

      Furthermore, if this community does not wish to discuss it, so be it. There are any number of topics that one will be sanctioned for publishing here.

      •  Seriously... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that's your reply given the context of THIS diary?

        Read the COMMENTS of that diary.  For Christ's sake, even I, in the comments section of the diary, say this isn't the blog to discuss pedophilia.  But the REACTION of Democrats, NOT REPUBLICANS, but DEMOCRATS, is what's revealing.  It is what those who oppose the Death Penalty are up against.

        Meteorblades writes a diary about the questionable morality of the death penalty, and this is how you respond to my comments in THIS diary?

        •  Okay... Give me some time (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gchaucer2, 4kedtongue, Miep

          Let me delve deeper into this and come back with yet another one of my massively unpopular and disdained opinions....

        •  Oh, and keep in mind (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          oysterface, gchaucer2, Miep

          ...that I am post-political -- so your defining it along political lines ( But the REACTION of Democrats, NOT REPUBLICANS, but DEMOCRATS, is what's revealing ) has little context.

          To me, they are all Americans. Particularly, most lately, at Daily Kos.

          •  Well, despite the recs you received... (0+ / 0-)

            ...you made my point for me.  post-political?  There are no parties, there's only the sensible center.

            Kill the Criminals!

            And yeah, those who've rec'd you talk a pretty good game here, but when they are off guard and not prepared to talk of the death penalty, just throw out a scenario that shocks their sensibilities.  There's no backpedaling either...it's ALL IN!  Multiple comments.  Kill 'em.  Kill 'em ALL!  

            You be as post-political as you wanna be.  As a matter of fact, I'm GLAD you're post-political...it means that you must have some principles that won't be corrupted by the fusion of the parities.

            :)

            •  Pluto is a very sensitive person (0+ / 0-)

              but also kind of bitter. We have that in common.

              She's also a good person, and I'll stand by that. She's my friend. You want to trash her, you get me to talk to, as well.

              "Unlike every other nation in the world, the United States defines itself as a hypothesis and continues itself as an argument." - Lewis Lapham

              by Miep on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:07:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I read that diary (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cali Scribe

            and though I would not have HR'd it, I would not have defended the author, either. Though I do occasionally defend authors who get jumped.

            I thought the author was trolling the site in the clearest sense of the term; baiting people about pedophilia, stepping right just up to the line and putting his toe over. Since I believe that pedophilia truly is damaging, I would not defend such. I do define pedophilia quite specifically, though.

            Da Nang posted a diary discussing that one, that is probably more worth reading (comments and all) than the original diary (comments and all).

            "Unlike every other nation in the world, the United States defines itself as a hypothesis and continues itself as an argument." - Lewis Lapham

            by Miep on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:06:07 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Christ if your holding up that (0+ / 0-)

      diary as proof that none of us are mainstream then I hope you get banned as well.

  •  I voted "other" (9+ / 0-)

    Life without parole may be just right for certain individuals, like the two bastards in CT who raped and murdered a mother and her two young daughters.  Other than heinous crimes such as that, I think there should be some flexibility in sentencing since every murder does not necessarily involve the same degree of violence and intent (lying in wait as opposed to flipping out).  Children under the age of 16 are tried for murder in some states.  

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:18:50 PM PST

  •  It was a REPUBLICAN... (6+ / 0-)

    ...Illinois Gov who suspended that state's Death Penalty.

  •  I think life without parole (10+ / 0-)

    is a harsher sentence than the death penalty, which is why I voted for it. We are a vengeful society, so I wish we would say that this is why we have harsh sentences. Plus life without parole can be undone if a person is exonerated at some date in the future.

    Bi-partisanship is a MEANS, not an ENDS.-Barney Frank Feb 2009

    by sd4david on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:19:47 PM PST

  •  sadly reading (4+ / 0-)

    Douglas A. Blackmon's book, "Slavery by Another Name," thinking, hard, about how things haven't changed...

    why is it so easy?

    i see that wealth and power are irresistible to some, but cannot understand the depravity that always accompanies it.

    we are nowhere nearer to "freedom and justice for all" now that we ever have been.

    the death penalty? is it not murder wearing special clothes?

    The Addington perpwalk is the trailhead for accountability in this wound on our national psyche. [...you know: Dick Cheney's "top" lawyer.] --Sachem

    by greenbird on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:20:34 PM PST

  •  I used to be in favor of the death penalty (17+ / 0-)

    Now I think it should be suspended nationwide.

    There is too much evidence that innocent people are being executed.

    What is the old saying?

    "It is better [one hundred] guilty persons should escape than that one innocent person should suffer." - Benjamin Franklin

  •  Take note, though, that Tom Capano (3+ / 0-)

    who murdered Anne Marie Fahey in Delaware and was a well-connected white attorney, WAS indeed initially sentenced to death.  His death penalty was overturned on technical grounds, and I believe he's rotting in jail - deservedly so.

  •  Wow (7+ / 0-)

    You knocked it out the park two nights in a row, Mr. Blades.

  •  Presidential decrees of assassination (4+ / 0-)

    Someone has stolen our President and replaced him with some sort of changling which watn't what most of us were thinking of when we voted for change.

    It was bad enough for Bush to set himself up as a unitary executive, claim he wasn't a lawyer and proceed to authorize kidnapping torture, murder and holding without renditions.

    For a constitutional scholar to be for warrentless wiretapping, indefinite detention and now the assassination of US citizens with presumption of guilt on accusation sort of makes you wonder what the Federalist Society is teaching Harvard Law students these days.

    It was barbaric enough to have executions after a person was tried, found guilty and given various appeals, horrific to think of the United States being involved in things like the Phoenix program, Iran Contra and the Salvadorean Solution, but now its getting to where I'm hard pressed to distinguish between the mafia, outlaw bikers, Mexican prison gangs, terrorists, bankers and our POTUS.

    Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

    by rktect on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:24:06 PM PST

  •  I stand with the guilty Meteor Blades (9+ / 0-)

    thank so much for highlighting this on the front page

    The machinery of death has failed too often and thsi barbarbism must be abolished

    and then the prison industrial complex must be the next to go

    "....while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." Eugene V. Debs

    by soothsayer99 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:28:43 PM PST

  •  I voted for abolish death penalty and (6+ / 0-)

    replace with life without parole. Also, don't interview the person once they are incarcerated for live television specials- I don't need to see Charles Manson every year to see how he is doing.

    That allows time for further investigation and keeps the innocent from being murdered by the state. Though we can never make up the lost years to a person like that.

    -so make sure when you say you're in it but not of it you're not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell- Stevie Wonder

    by blindyone on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:31:34 PM PST

  •  When a mistake is made... (14+ / 0-)

    not only an innocent is murdered by the state but the guilty person gets away literally with murder. It is barbaric but unfortunately, most in this country seem to support the death penalty.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:31:41 PM PST

  •  Why is anyone surprised that this society uses... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crose, VeganMilitia, Miep

    Why is anyone surprised that this society uses...capital punishment when it is full of groups that committee murder over money and perceived threats to their particular social and political systems. Far more people are killed every year in the private sector than are executed by the state/states. Hell our government assonates people all over the world who threaten the interests of the people who run this country.

    We are a violent society run by violent people.

    The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool. George Santayana

    by Bobjack23 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:34:01 PM PST

  •  And then there are also... (4+ / 0-)

    ...too many cases like Quincy Spruell's in New Jersey, where the most convenient person has decades of their life taken away for something they didn't do just to close a case.  Not even close to the same thing, of course, but still tragic in so many other ways.

    "Try being excellent, I say, then you'll be in a class by yourself." - Allan Temko

    by JayinPortland on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:37:17 PM PST

  •  Some small hope (10+ / 0-)

    i will diary this later in Criminal InJustice Kos but Death Penalty Information Center will be releasing new poll results next week

    Comprehensive Death Penalty Poll Challenges the Conventional Wisdom about Support for Capital Punishment among Voters
    Research shows growing support for life without parole; other budget priorities more pressing than the death penalty

    (Washington, D.C.)  Richard Dieter of Death Penalty Information Center, pollsters Celinda Lake and Rick Johnson of Lake Research Partners will hold a telephone press briefing on November 16, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. ET on a death penalty poll being released. Nationwide, a clear majority of voters would choose a punishment other than the death penalty for murder, such as life without parole, life without parole with restitution to the victim’s family, or life with parole.  
    Voters ranked the death penalty the lowest on a list of budget priorities and expressed strong support for replacing the death penalty with life without parole, if the money saved was used to fund crime prevention programs. In states with the death penalty, a plurality of voters said it would make no difference in their vote if a representative supported repeal of the death penalty; and a majority said either it would make no difference or they would be more likely to vote for such a representative. In 2011, about five states are expected to consider repeal legislation.    

    The poll dug deeply into Americans’ thinking about the death penalty and the problems they see in this punishment. For decades, elected officials have equated being tough on crime with support for the death penalty, but this research shows that capital punishment may no longer be a "third rail" of politics.  
    Questions and answers from the poll and related graphics will be available at 9:00 a.m. ET on November 16, 2010 at DPIC’s website at DPIC . The poll was taken before November 2, 2010

    "....while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." Eugene V. Debs

    by soothsayer99 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:39:24 PM PST

  •  Science moves on and we are now (5+ / 0-)

    discovering that we have executed innocent people.  If we would rid the prisons of drug users and fine the hell out of white collar criminals, there would be  enough room to keep the real murderers behind bars for their natural lives.  Is only my opinion, you can take it or leave it.  

    •  Take it (5+ / 0-)

      The sad reality of prisons and incarceration is its integration into, yes, our overwhelming greed mentality.  Even in Arizona today, where Corrections Corporation of America was part of the plan to enact SB1070.

      Years ago, California's Governor Dukmejian attempted to release non-violent prison inmates to comply with a federal mandate to reduce overcrowding.  He was opposed (and defeated) by the CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association), the prison guards' union.  

      They complained that the release would cut into their overtime opportunities.  

      I used to be Snow White...but I drifted.

      by john07801 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:03:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •   Only in Case of Genocide? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep

    Interesting choice and attractive to a significant portion of the sample. But even here, where will you draw the line. To put it in historical terms, are Hitler's crimes equivalent to the crime of a private soldier ordered to pull trigger to carry out the leader's wishes?  Would you execute both on a charge of genocide?  

    The ethical nuances are, at once, too subtle and too important. The best thing seems to be replacing all capital punishment with long sentences for serious (very violent or predatory theft on a large scale) crimes while improving social support for minor transgressors of public norms. I'll never see such a sensible approach to crime, though.  The idea that criminology in America will be rationalized in my lifetime is laughable.  

    "If you are going to tell people the truth, be funny or they will kill you." Billy Wilder 1906 - 2002

    by LeftOfYou on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:40:05 PM PST

  •  So far as I know, (4+ / 0-)

    there's no evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent.  Therefore it is a form of revenge and punishment.  Dangerous people who can never be rehabilitated obviously need to be kept secured, but killing them doesn't seem like a civilized solution to me.

    One thinks of the death penalty awarded this past week in Connecticut.  I can certainly understand the desire of the surviving family members to have the death penalty applied.  Who am I to judge how they feel after what they've been through?  If I were in their place my anger would know no bounds and never go away.  But keeping the two perpetrators locked up for the rest of their lives to me is an even worse punishment or payment for the crime than execution would be.  And it does remove them from society and keep them from committing another crime.

    •  If I were that father, I would hope that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies, gchaucer2

      the courthouse had a good metal detector. I understand the impulse for revenge completely.

      I would hope that society would restrain that impulse because it wouldn't bring my loved one back. My violent response would just be another nightmare for me to deal with for the rest of my life.

      -so make sure when you say you're in it but not of it you're not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell- Stevie Wonder

      by blindyone on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:52:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  another important way to think about (0+ / 0-)

      this is that locking up terminally damaged people for life is a reminder to us that we need to protect people from getting so damaged.

      It doesn't come out of nowhere. In most cases, at least, people are not "born bad." They are tormented into giving up on the social contract. They are broken. It often happens when they are kids. We let that happen. To execute them is a way of refusing to acknowledge our own responsibility as a society for the damage so many people suffer, before they "turn bad."

      "Unlike every other nation in the world, the United States defines itself as a hypothesis and continues itself as an argument." - Lewis Lapham

      by Miep on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:18:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If we were a civilized society, we wouldn't (3+ / 0-)

    be doing this.

    Hence, we are not a civilized society.

    now, one can arrive at the above conclusion from many directions, too, too many directions.

    Not only are we NOT a civilized society, we are shedding the few thin layers that formerly allowed us to believe or hope we were.

    We come well armed with... tempeh.

    by VeganMilitia on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:44:37 PM PST

  •  The reality (5+ / 0-)

    is that life without parole allows the wrongly-convicted to work toward reversing their convictions, and is the far-cheaper reality.  If a mistake happens, the convict can avail himself of the law library, seek representation and try to prove his innocence.  

    It's exceedingly rare that the executed get others to take a second look at their case.  Finally, it's happening.

    Now, they are two.

    And all the money is spent up front on death penalty cases in appeals and defense (as the taxpayers are funding both sides).  Locking someone up for natural-life is far, far cheaper.

    I used to be Snow White...but I drifted.

    by john07801 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:44:39 PM PST

  •  Wrong... (0+ / 0-)

    Just so wrong...

  •  I'm really sick of discussions about (9+ / 0-)

    whether or not torture is effective, or whether or not innocent people are being executed. Torture is wrong. It isn't just wrong unless you think you have a good reason. It is wrong. Capital punishment is wrong. It isn't just wrong except it this case or that case. It is wrong.

    Until we decide that killing for cause, because we think it has some useful value to society, is unacceptable, we will continue to opt into war when we think the benefits exceed the costs. Efficacy is irrelevant. Killing for cause, other than self defense while under attack, has to be removed from the proverbial table of public policy options. Period.

    Conservatives have a special gift for cloaking self-interest in self-righteousness.

    by Sarge in Seattle on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:50:30 PM PST

    •  Thank you, I agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zbbrox

      The innocence "frame," however, is what works to enable those who don't abhor the death penalty in all circumstances, to see it as an immoral, unworkable solution.

    •  Which is why I noted... (9+ / 0-)

      But it's easy to fight for the innocent. Too few people are willing to stand up to say the guilty should also not be executed.

      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 10:13:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've never read any kind of valid (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blindyone

      discussion about how torturing people is supposedly effective. I've read a lot of discussions about how people will either break and say or do anything you want, to get you to stop, or else not break.

      I agree that it's wrong, but that doesn't mean that it works.

      "Unlike every other nation in the world, the United States defines itself as a hypothesis and continues itself as an argument." - Lewis Lapham

      by Miep on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:15:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miep

        I'm just saying that whether or not it works is irrelevant.

        We could cut violent crime in this country dramatically if we abandoned due process, the presumption of innocence, etc... The ends don't justify the means even if there is an identifiable payoff.

        Conservatives have a special gift for cloaking self-interest in self-righteousness.

        by Sarge in Seattle on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 01:47:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not really arguing with you (0+ / 0-)

          so much as pointing out that letting people get away with believing it works does make the argument more difficult, in a pragmatic, if not moral, way. Why not use all the points available? Whether it works or not is irrelevant to you, but not irrelevant to others, and they may not all be convincible on this point. But if you can get to them through it not working, this still can decrease support for the practice.

          "Unlike every other nation in the world, the United States defines itself as a hypothesis and continues itself as an argument." - Lewis Lapham

          by Miep on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 02:19:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Our flawed judicial system invites prosecutorial (4+ / 0-)

    misconduct, although misconduct vastly understates the offense. A lot of this misconduct is politically motivated. Being seen as tough on crime is more important than determining the true guilt of the person charged with the crime. A conviction, right or wrong, is another notch on the gun of the ambitious states attorney seeking higher office and that translates into higher numbers at the polls. Minorities and the poor are the perfect sacrificial lambs because they do not have the wherewithal to mount a decent defense and often have no family or friends to come to their aid. Public defenders are often incompetent in addition to being overworked. And there is no punishment for wrongful convictions. The state may be liable for compensation for wrongful imprisonment, but the prosecutors get off without so much as a reprimand. Until we start punishing prosecutorial abuse, we will continue to see innocents on Death Row.

  •  I've always been pretty much against (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    third Party please, WiddieDawg

    the death penalty. Especially on convictions where the guilt is uncertain - like this case.
    But there are cases recently, here in the northeast, where I'm not so sure I would object.
    The first is the one in CT, where two guys invaded a home, beat the husband senseless, then forced the wife to go to a bank and withdraw a lot of money. then, after getting her home, they beat and raped her, then strangled her; raped her 11 year old daughter, then tied them to their beds, poured gasoline on them and set it afire. The husband escaped and the guys were caught.
    The second was in NH, where some teens broke into a house at random and hacked a woman to death with a machete, and severely injured her daughter with the same weapon. She only survived because she played dead.
    In both these cases, guilt was undeniable and the crimes so brutal and horrific, that I am not sorry that one guy in the CT case has been sentenced to death. The kid in NH case got life without parole.
    A more recent case is troubling as well. Three people lured a pizza delivery guy to a house where they beat, stabbed and robbed him. Then they took the money, and the pizza and fled in the man's car, leaving him to bleed to death. They ate the pizza and partied with friends. The case has yet to come to trial.
    But I realize that all too often, especially in Texas, the death penalty is applied with abandon - on those whose mental capacities are lower, or are black, or in cases based on flimsy evidence. Unless there is absolutely 100% certainty it just shouldn't be applied.
    I know all the reasons against it. But in the cases I mentioned, where guilt is not in doubt, and the crimes so sadistic, I waver.
    I couldn't answer the poll, because saying you believe it should be applied in cases of murder is too simplistic. And murder is never simple.
    But the actions of both Bush and Perry have shown that even nice, white, gentlemen can also be as barbaric and brutal as any murderer.

    •  I was called to jury duty on a death penalty case (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MA Liberal

      I had just passed the bar, and was admitted to practice.  I was representing indigent criminal defendants at the time.  Because of that I read every advance sheet that came out, hoping not to fail my clients by commiting malpractice.

      Just before I was called to jury duty, an advance sheet came out that outlined the facts in a State Supreme Court's decision in a death penalty case.

      A lifelong felon, who had a penchant for young girls.  He inticed one.  She was beaten with a tire iron, but not to death.  She was then raped and sodomized.  She was still not dead.  But her body had to be disposed of.  So the perp got a saw and cut off her arms and legs, while she was still alive, so he could stuff the body parts in a trash can.

      I had just read that, when I was asked on voir dire if I could vote for the death penalty.

      Yes.  I could vote for the death penalty.

      The State accepted me as a juror.  The defense excused me from service.  I was one of the defense's 10 preemptory challenges.

      •  Sixth Amendment guarantee to an impartial jury (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Hills Ghost

        On the other hand, a prospective juror who expresses that he could not vote for the death penalty will always be excluded from service during voir dire. That is the inherent unfairness of jury selection in capital cases.  It automatically excludes those who are willing and capable of considering the facts of the case to determine guilt or innocence, but who will not vote for capital punishment.  It allows jury composition to be comprised of those jurors who are either protagonists of the death penalty or neutral concerning it, but excludes those who would not impose it.

        What you believe determines what you can observe. Einstein

        by dharmafarmer on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 06:05:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The margin for error is just too great. (4+ / 0-)

    It's really as simple as that.  It is better to house a thousand guilty people for the rest of their lives than it is to have even the possibility that a single innocent person will be murdered by the state.

    That state sanctioned murder, and if I am not mistaken then the cause of death on death certificates for the executed is listed as homicide, is barbaric and ineffective in its stated purpose of deterrance.

    End capital punishment now.

    Democracy is often an indictment of the voting populace.

    by electricgrendel on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:01:28 PM PST

  •  the poll option that isn't on the poll (0+ / 0-)

    I think the death penalty should be used to punish murderers, but primarily for serial/spree killers.

    (For example: Larry Griffin killed one person)

    For single murders, it should be used very rarely and for any application of a death sentence, it should have to meet solid criteria of proof beyond any doubt. And death sentences should have go to through the applications of the criteria post verdict, with the option to demote to life in prison if any of the criteria is not met.

    And I can't really see an application outside of the worst 1% of murders (can't tell you how many murders this would apply to, but 1% seems like a good first guess)

    Unrelated note: Popchips are weirdly awesome. Why isn't the bag bigger?

    The Republican Party isn't a party of small government, it's a party of a government for the few. @bhindepmo

    by RBH on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:06:00 PM PST

    •  The problem w/ severe punishments: MENTAL ILLNESS (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Hills Ghost

      I just heard from a friend whose friend (I don't know the other friend) went ballistic over having her salary cut "because some people are lazy and don't want to work."

      The friend's friend emphasized POOR people (meaning, most likely, black people).

      My friend countered with a reminder that many, many people simply lack the intelligence needed to get by in the world under ORDINARY circumstances to take advantage of, for example, a college education (which her friend indicated is how non-lazy people do get ahead). In my family, there is also mental illness, which I reminded my friend of.

      The problem with the dealth penalty is similar. Unlike other countries, the U.S. has not come to grips with the impact that low IQ and/or mental illness has on our society. As a result, we do not know how many serial killer, murders, pedophiles, rapists, etc. are flat-out mentally ill. I do not know if anyone bothers to find out while they are in prison either (but I am sure that in the growing FOR PROFIT prison system, no one does--it's not cost effective for them to, of course!).

      What if 70% of the perpetually poor are also of low IQs? We know that more than that percentage of the homeless are mentaly ill. Should we blame stupid people for being stupid? She we blame the mentally ill for doing things that are heinous?

      And, most importantly, how well do we understand and measure both of those determinants BEFORE we make decisions about handling the person?

      IMO, until we improve and use the science, the death penalty is sinful in the most arrogant of the ways of man.

  •  kick-ass essay, MB (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soothsayer99, Situational Lefty

    "Unlike every other nation in the world, the United States defines itself as a hypothesis and continues itself as an argument." - Lewis Lapham

    by Miep on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:07:47 PM PST

  •  Thanks, MB--this issue is very near and dear (5+ / 0-)

    to my heart.  I hope that the U.S. joins the ranks of civilzed nations in our lifetime.

  •  California AG Race Update (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pam from Calif, blindyone

    This is fitting when considering the death penalty and Dubya's application therof to completely innocent people.

    Kamala Harris has retaken a narrow lead in the AG Race and now leads by a scant 5576 votes according to the latest updates on the California Secretary of State's website.  

    The numbers are:
    Kamala Harris: 4,044,927
    Steve Cooley: 4,039,351

    Most media reports are attributing Harris retaking the lead to some of her big counties finally reporting in their later numbers.  Santa Cruz County, for example, finally reported a huge batch of numbers today.  But what they ignore is that every single southern California county reported today too and Cooley's vote gains were either small or non-existent.  In San Bernardino County, Cooley gained 765 votes.  In Riverside County, Cooley gained 174 votes.  In Ventura County, Cooley gained a whopping 99 votes.  In Orange County, he picked up just 1650 votes.  These counties have finished counting all their absentee ballots (with the exception of 1,175 in Orange County.....there are others in Orange County that were not counted which were dropped off at the polling precincts on election day and still have yet to be tabulated).  The extraordinarily small vote gains for Cooley are telling.  Meanwhile, in San Diego County, Kamala picked up 638 votes today, shocking when considering how much Cooley led countywide.

    •  I remember someone a few months ago (3+ / 0-)

      who said the Democrats were toast because all their candidates were from Northern California, specifically the Bay Area, and that we needed some Southern Californians to get the votes from down there.

      Guess us NoCals didn't do so bad after all.

      Wish I'd saved that link...

      "When it gets harder to love, love harder" -- Van Jones, NN10, 7/23/10

      by Cali Scribe on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 01:00:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My opinion is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pam from Calif

        If you can win in San Francisco, you can win anywhere.  That sounds counterintuitive since people think of San Francisco as a liberal bastion.  But at the local level, there are so many different factions pushing different agendas and ideologies.  Thus a successful politician knows how to balance and appeal to multiple groups.  You can't simply run on a few platitudes and have some political organizations backing you (as you can do when you run in LA County or other parts of southern California).  You have to have broad appeal and have to work to reach out.  

        Also, not all of our candidates were from northern California.  Debra Bowen is from southern California (Manhattan Beach).  John Chiang is from southern California as well (Torrance).  

  •  Executing the innocent? (0+ / 0-)

    What about executing the guilty?

    This is bullshit.

    •  Did you actually read the piece? (9+ / 0-)

      Where I said:

      But it's easy to fight for the innocent. Too few people are willing to stand up to say the guilty should also not be executed.

      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 10:22:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I read the piece. (0+ / 0-)

        And just look who rec'd your question.

        The problem with the Death Penalty doesn't lay at the feet of the Republican Party.  It lays right at the feet of the person who rec'd your comment.  The Democrats who think there are exceptions based on their sensibilities.  

        I'm glad you felt the need to question me, and I'm also glad you got the rec.  The problem is standing right behind you, not in front of you...and certainly not to your right.

      •  And now I re-read the piece. (0+ / 0-)

        One sentence.  One sentence that is followed by the rationale that it would be harder to execute the innocent if we stopped executing the 'guilty'. Not to mention an emphasis on a Republican Governor who, forgive me, does the same thing that MULTIPLE Democratic Governors do (and how Dukakis completely fucked up with his dispassionate response to a Death Penalty question...he didn't have Aaron Sorkin prepping him in Debate School.)  Blue States execute their citizens, too.  P.S.  Michael Dukakis was RIGHT, and he was REJECTED and MOCKED by Democrats.

        We can all mourn the execution of an innocent man.  It's easy to rail against a justice system that prioritizes the efficacy of that system over the rights of the accused or convicted. The reason this country executes its citizens is because Democrats allow it to happen.

  •  Justice Thurgood Marshall, concurring in Furman (8+ / 0-)

    It also is evident that the burden of capital punishment falls upon the poor, the ignorant, and the underprivileged members of society. It is the poor, and the members of minority groups who are least able to voice their complaints against capital punishment. Their impotence leaves them victims of a sanction that the wealthier, better-represented, just-as-guilty person can escape. So long as the capital sanction is used only against the forlorn, easily forgotten members of society, legislators are content to maintain the status quo, because change would draw attention to the problem and concern might develop. Ignorance is perpetuated and apathy soon becomes its mate, and we have today's situation.

    Just as Americans know little about who is executed and why, they are unaware of the potential dangers of executing an innocent man. Our "beyond a reasonable doubt" burden of proof in criminal cases is intended to protect the innocent, but we know it is not fool-proof. Various studies have shown that people whose innocence is later convincingly established are convicted and sentenced to death.

    Proving one's innocence after a jury finding of guilt is almost impossible. While reviewing courts are willing to entertain all kinds of collateral attacks where a sentence of death is involved, they very rarely dispute the jury's interpretation of the evidence. This is, perhaps, as it should be. But, if an innocent man has been found guilty, he must then depend on the good faith of the prosecutor's office to help him establish his innocence. There is evidence, however, that prosecutors do not welcome the idea of having convictions, which they labored hard to secure, overturned, and that their cooperation is highly unlikely.

    No matter how careful courts are, the possibility of perjured testimony, mistaken honest testimony, and human error remain all too real. We have no way of judging how many innocent persons have been executed but we can be certain that there were some. Whether there were many is an open question made difficult by the loss of those who were most knowledgeable about the crime for which they were convicted. Surely there will be more as long as capital punishment remains part of our penal law.

    Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 365-68 (1972).  He may have been writing over thirty years ago, but Justice Marshall's words still ring true today.  (He also has lots of fun statistics elsewhere in his concurrence.)

    Heck, I'd really like to see even one current Supreme Court justice take a strong stance against capital punishment.

    •  Justices Marshall and Brennan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Goobergunch

      dissented in every single case where their fellow jurists upheld capital punishment after it was reinstated in 1976. Justice Douglas is another who raised grave concerns about its application.  These Justices understood very well how flawed the judicial process is wrt the death penalty.

      What you believe determines what you can observe. Einstein

      by dharmafarmer on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 06:22:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  who on earth (0+ / 0-)

    voted "replaced with 30 years in prison". thats absurd.

  •  Pelosi to retain leader position, Hoyer2,Clyburn3 (6+ / 0-)

    New on nytimes.com
    Pelosi to retain leadership position, Hoyer as #2, a special position will be created for Clyburn as #3

  •  Check out this Texas tourist exhibit. (2+ / 0-)

    Texas Prison Museum

    The Museum's prize possession is Old Sparky, an electric chair that fried 361 prisoners between 1924 and 1964. It was made by prison workers, rescued from a prison dump, and is now displayed in a replica Death Chamber.

    You got to dig it.
    I can remember when most southern social conservatives/religious fundamentalists were against the death penalty. It looks like those days are gone.

  •  I voted "Other" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric0125

    I wasn't satisfied with the choices, any more than I am satisfied with the death penalty as it is applied. I do think there are some cases where it is appropriate, such as the murder of a peace officer (not on your list), or a life prisoner who murders someone in prison (and even more so if he escapes and murders someone). Genocide (which is on your list) - for the leaders, not so much for the soldiers who had to carry out the orders; long terms in prison for them.

    For a specific case, I would want to as absolutely sure as it is humanly possible to be; DNA evidence, uncoerced confession, overwhelming witness testimony, etc. Plus appeals.

    In the Talmud, the procedures for condemning and actually executing someone were so strict and severe that a Sanhedrin (the court) that actually carried out a death sentence once in 70 years was known as a "bloddy sanhedrin." For example, even as the condemned was being led to the place of execution, a herald would go in front of him calling out "So and so is being executed for the crime of thus and such. If anyone knows of any evidence that may exonerate him, let him come forward now." And this after the trial with two (minimum) witnesses would be threatened themselves with execution if they testified falsely, and so on.

    It is not within the powers of the government to help its citizens get into heaven, nor to save them from hell.

    by DanK Is Back on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:24:15 PM PST

  •  Can this be used to disbar Gonzales (0+ / 0-)

    and start the process to prosecute the rest of Fredo's cabal?

    LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:25:00 PM PST

  •  I support capital punishment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VirginiaBlue

    I am not a savage barbarian with bloodlust, and nor do I approve of the execution of innocents.

    I support its use, not in its current form, but in a reformed version used in cases of absolute certainty and on those who show no remorse over what they've done, and no desire to reform themselves. Serial murderers and the like... the real animals you see on Lockup sometimes. Justice is not served by allowing these wretches to live out their natural lives constantly doing battle with corrections officers while being fed, clothed and housed by the very society they have committed horrific crimes against.

    •  What exactly is "justice"? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dharmafarmer

      I'm not asking to be snarky or anything, but I'd really like to have the process by which a person doing bad things makes their well-being less important explained on a logical, rather than emotional, level. Specifically, how them doing bad things turns their suffering or death from a bad thing into a good thing.

      •  Justice is kind of a nebulous term (0+ / 0-)

        but what i'm talking about could be described thusly, from the dictionary:

        the administering of deserved punishment or reward.

        the principle that punishment should be proportionate to the offence

        therefore, logically, I would argue that the proportionate and deserved response to taking a life is to have their life taken as well. That's an idea as old as civilization itself... Hammurabi's Code, eye-for-an-eye and all that.

        Furthermore, I would argue, logically, that capital punishment removes any chance that this disturbed individual (and under my system, capital punishment would be reserved for disturbed individuals) could repeat offend, either by escaping or harming corrections officers or other prisoners.

        Conversely, what is the cold hard logic behind allowing a violent sociopath to live? If they must be removed from society for the rest of their lives, why prolong the inevitable? Isn't a life sentence without parole just capital punishment that uses time instead of chemicals or a noose? What's morally superior about that?

        •  "What's morally superior about that?" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zbbrox, Joe Hills Ghost, drnononono

          It doesn't replicate the crime for which the incarceration was imposed - killing. Morally and logically, it makes no sense to say, "you killed and killing is wrong, so we are going to kill you."

          As far as incarceration for life not being considered a proportionate punishment, I suppose that depends on how much (or little) one values freedom.

          What you believe determines what you can observe. Einstein

          by dharmafarmer on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 06:33:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I have trouble with the word "deserve". (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dharmafarmer

          This again gets to the question of why someone doing wrong suddenly makes their suffering or death a good thing.

          As to proportion--proportion is when many points in one data set share the same relationship as many points in another data set. It doesn't mean any one of those points must be equal To have punishment proportional to the crime, we must simply agree that worse crimes get worse punishments, not that we have to institute the lex talionis and beat up people convicted of assault and sodomize rapists and execute murderers.

          The logic behind allowing a violent sociopath to live is simple: The person in question needs to be prevented from harming society, but in the absences of other evidence I see no reason their life simply becomes value-less and subject to being taken from them because of their crimes. If we had no other means to protect society, perhaps--but we do.

          And a life sentence without parole is subject to review upon new evidence and also allows people who are capable of it the chance to do something productive (see: Stanley Tookie Williams). It also keeps the state from killing its own citizens.

    •  I Agree With You. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric0125

      My comments are lower down on this thread. I am otherwise liberal on everything else but if someone raped and murdered my mother-sorry, but I feel that lethal injection would be an appropriate response to this most heinous type of murder. I cannot understand why death penalty opponents get so upset over a rapist/murderer dying from lethal injection after they sadistically tortured their innocent, many times helpless victims, to death.

      I echo everything you said-no, I am not bloodthirsty nor do I go around seeking "revenge" on everyone around me. Most of all, I favor only executing the GUILTY and absolutely favor DNA testing to any defendant, whether this is a capital case or not. But especially in capital cases. If there is any serious question about someone's factual guilt, then their sentence should be commuted and I do believe that too many death sentences are given out.  So many death penalty opponents portray us as not caring about whether the state executes those who are guilty, which is absurd.

      If Not Us, Who,..... If Not Now, When?

      by VirginiaBlue on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 11:47:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  conditional support (0+ / 0-)

        The death penalty, in more cases than not, is actually more expensive to the state than life in prison.  This cost is almost entirely made up of attorney fees from the mandatory appeals.

        These appeals are necessary (in a majority of cases) to assure that an innocent is not being executed.  Even then however, there are mistakes.

        Based on these points, I support the death penalty only in cases where the accused has admitted guilt to crimes warranting the death penalty and waives his right to appeals.

        Otherwise, I would prefer life imprisonment based solely on economic evaluation.  I consider exclusively economic concerns because comparing the humanity of life imprisonment to lethal injection seems like apples and oranges to me.

  •  Vermont Democracy at Work (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCalLiberal, basquebob, 4Freedom, zbbrox

    Rutland 5-4: Gale Courcelle (D-inc) 650, Douglas Gale (R) 649
    Windsor-Orange 1: Sarah Buxton (D) 882, David Ainsworth (R-inc) 881

    R5-4 is around Rutland, VT
    W-O1 is Stafford and Sharon, VT

    Good work at the GOTV in those districts.

    The Republican Party isn't a party of small government, it's a party of a government for the few. @bhindepmo

    by RBH on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:36:10 PM PST

  •  Should be used in cases of massive "white collar" (3+ / 0-)

    crime.

    Many said it loudly , yet it's still not true.

    by Abra Crabcakeya on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:38:19 PM PST

  •  You forgot (3+ / 0-)

    "Should be abolished" period.

    Some cases, 15 to 25 is probably appropriate.

    Some cases, life with possibility would be appropriate.

    Some cases (very few), life without is actually the right call.

    There are no "permanent tax cuts". 9th grade civics, people.

    by JesseCW on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:41:47 PM PST

  •  I took a class on (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, lotlizard, zbbrox

    crime and deviant behavior. The basic gist of the entire unit was that nothing works as an effective deterrent. Not rehabilitation, not longer sentencing, not three-strikes laws, not the death penalty, nothing. Period. The answer was pretty simple: those who are most likely to disobey the law, will, no matter what. Criminals don't give a damn if they get the death penalty rather than life in prison. They either have a mental disorder or emotional imbalance that compels them to commit crime without worry for the consequences (see: must serial killers), or they have been placed in a social situation in which the cultural benefits (power, sex, money, drugs) of crime far outweigh A) the slim likelihood of achieving such things through institutional means and B) the risk of capture and punishment.

    Most either do not or choose not to realize that the problem of crime is one of infrastructure. I actually misspoke a little up above: there are effective deterrents out there; they just require broad-scale and expansive resource investments. Improve schools and clean up urban neighborhoods, poor some money and manpower in building community centers and support networks--in other words, substantively increase the quality of life for folks and poof! The crime rate lowers. Unfortunately, it's a hell of lot easier and politically expedient to try treating the symptom rather than cure the disease.

    •  Another big part of crime... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      True North, lieblingskartoffel

      ...is the social acceptance of crime. If you feel that a particular crime is acceptable in your community, you're much more likely to commit it. That goes beyond legality, of course, and into just the social norms of the groups you identify yourself with. (See, for example, Marijuana use as an example of laws that people obey or not purely based on what "kind" of person they identify as.)

      People are awfully malleable when it comes right down to it. Just think of what people tolerated in the past...

  •  My opposition to the death penalty (12+ / 0-)

    which is absolute, has occasionally bent my heart in half.  

    The murders gchaucer2 spoke of, above, in Connecticut: the convicted murderer and his accused accomplice (who will go on trial next year), broke into the house, beat the husband and tied him up in the basement, raped and tortured the children, strangled the wife and then dumped gasoline on the children and set the house on fire . . . my opposition to the death penalty remains, even here, because I do not believe the state should step into a killer's shoes.  

    (Practically, as well, it is cheaper to keep someone in prison for his/her natural life than to pay for the (thankfully required) appeals in a death case. . . . and keeping such people in prison always allows for the possibility, some time down the road, of discovering evidence that they, in fact, did not do it.)

    Ted Bundy.  A lovely women in my choir at my church in St. Petersburg, Florida was the mother of one of his victims at the Chi Omega house at FSU.  If I recall correctly, it was his bite marks on her daughter's breast that proved to be an essential element in his conviction.  If ever there was a case that tested my beliefs, it was his -- because he escaped on at least two occasions and killed when he did.  But the scene outside of the prison on the night of his execution was beyond sickening . . . and I sincerely doubt his electrocution brought any comfort to my fellow choir member's heart.

    My friend, Meg.  I went to a small high school.  Meg E. was our class president and went on to Rice University.  She was there murdered by a serial killer.  Her body was found in the trunk of a car.  She was brave and smart and had spent a year flat on her back in a cast for scoliosis -- taking classes by phone . . . only to end up in his trunk.  

    But for all of these . . . I think also of Todd Willingham -- read more here and the fact that, in addition to my belief that the death penalty is a moral wrong, there are also demonstrable cases (and far more, I fear, if we looked into it) where innocent (not just not guilty as a matter of law) people who were executed.

    And I know that there is a real possibility (if not probability) that many, many people who either were innocent or were not guilty nevertheless were found guilty and executed because they could not afford decent representation . . .

    I have no problem with locking up people like the convicted Connecticut murderer and Ted Bundy and the evil guy who murdered my friend Meg for the rest of their lives . . . but I do not believe in the death penalty.

    PROUD to be a Democrat.

    by noweasels on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 10:57:58 PM PST

  •  I know I am going to catch hell for this comment, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cali Scribe, lotlizard

    but this week I wish they would reserve the death penalty for those people who  create computer viruses and spyware. I am having major computer problems just when I can't afford to spend the money. I want those bastards to pay for their crimes!

  •  A better poll (0+ / 0-)

    A better poll would have put child molestors instead of murderers as a sole option. You woul probably get more votes for child molestors than murderers.

  •  "Death is Not a Penalty" (0+ / 0-)

    bumper sticker seen in Berkeley.

    quite fond of that one.

    Fixing Republican screw-ups: it's what Democrats have been doing for 100 years

    by SonofFunk on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 11:34:44 PM PST

  •  Joyful diary & video (0+ / 0-)

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    diary by Julie Gulden
    video by Opera Company of  Philadelphia  -Random Act of Culture

    Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official... ~Theodore Roosevelt

    by Pam from Calif on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 11:37:09 PM PST

  •  Those who defend the guilty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drnononono

    like Jeralyn at Talkleft are the real heros to me on this issue. I don't quite understand how they do it (Jeralyn was part of McVeigh's defense team).

    But I know we need more of them and less of the Holder and Biden types that spout tough on crime points to get ahead and pander to our worst instincts.

  •  mb you make me feel old (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    as a young teenager, we put to death a young man like myself at that time, and he wasn't even there, yes he was part of the robbery, but not in the area of the shooting.  It has been so long ago, but I think he was hanged.   At that time I think we hanged a another young man by mistake.  We all listened on radio to the hanging with the countdown...... . It changed the laws in the UK.
    i voted against capital punishment here in California years ago, but the people seem to like it .. the death penalty, even if one is innocent, like the 2 cases I brought up.

  •  The death penalty is revenge. (13+ / 0-)

    As such it is uncivilized.

    I am against it - innocent, guilty has no bearing.

    I am also opposed to our current massive system of incarceration.

    Yes - violent offenders should be locked up, some for life and treated.

    But most of the people we have in prison should be in drug or mental health treatment - not prison.

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 11:47:54 PM PST

  •  I voted "other" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CarolDuhart

    I would reserve it for crimes that have a major impact on lives beyond the nominal victim.  For instance, espionage that compromises the whole nation's security. (i.e Giving Iran our nuclear secrets) or an act of terrorism that approaches the scale of an act of war.  (OKC, perhaps...9/11, yes.)

    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do. " Oscar Gamble, circa 1980

    by Spider Stumbled on Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 11:51:31 PM PST

  •  Indeed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    third Party please

    I think it is so wrong.  But americans like it.  If we only knew how many people we have put to death by mistake, or to make the career of a DA ... or enhance the job desciption and promotions over years... .  It would be a scandal with no end in sight.

  •  Vocabulary help needed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    basquebob, third Party please

    I'm looking for a word, perhaps somebody here can help me.  I'm working on a blog post about social alienation, and I'm looking for a word that describes or encompasses the process, the project and the accomplishment of overcoming alienation, of a person regaining that sense of full connectedness and personal sovereignty integrity that alienation is the lack of.  Or is it the case that we have no language for moving people back from the state of alienation.  And if we have no such language, what does that mean for the prospects of overcoming alienation?

    American business is about maximizing shareholder value. You basically don't want workers. ~Allen Sinai

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:13:09 AM PST

  •  There's two issues here... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    third Party please, flhiii88

    ...one is that we still have the death penalty; yes, I'm against it, I think it's barbaric, but at least I can respect the opposing view.

    ...the other issue is far, far more serious: that we wantonly use it, without proper safeguards, no respect for morality or decency, almost as if we enjoyed it... and that disturbs me enormously.

    We should be better than that.

    OVER HERE: AN AMERICAN EXPAT IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE, is now available on Amazon US

    by Lupin on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:45:50 AM PST

  •  The death penalty is barbaric and has no place (7+ / 0-)

    in a civilized society.

    Reminds me of Gandhi's response when he was asked about Western Civilization. "Why I think that's a marvelous idea!", he replied.

    •  But where's that "civilized" society? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      third Party please, 4Freedom

      How many innocents do we kill and maim in wars?  And how many of our young are messed up for life because we order them to do this?  War is nothing more than organized murder, and it's usually fought for money and power, not by the people responsible for it, but by innocents who are ordered to do this under the guise of a modern religion called nationalism.  The worst thing ever invented were standing armies.  Do animals fight wars?

  •  First Degree Murderers, Child Molesters, (0+ / 0-)

    and those who commit torture.

    If the Democrats won't fight for me, why should I fight for them?

    by Yosef 52 on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 12:49:27 AM PST

  •  I think it should be used for (0+ / 0-)

    lying us into war, torture, bank fraud, selling your vote, caving into teabaggers and Republicans, and cutting taxes on billionaires while gutting social security.

    Don't tax the rich, starve the poor.

    by dkmich on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 02:07:30 AM PST

  •  I should have voted other (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flhiii88

    clicked the wrong button, sorry.

    I think the death penalty should be reserved for extreme cases: Mass murderers, terrorists and war criminals. Other than that, I believe the death penalty should be abolished and replaced with something else.

    You're watching Fox News. OH MY GOD--LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU

    by rexymeteorite on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 02:27:34 AM PST

  •  Ordering a person to kill another in cold (0+ / 0-)

    blood is a barbaric act.  It is the ultimate crime under cover of law.  But then, despite the flowery words in our founding documents, Americans have always deprived people of their rights by simply declaring the deprivation legal or finding some people not to be persons.
    When the deprivation of rights, which ought to be reserved for punishment of injurious behavior towards another, becomes a matter of routine, the normal condition of large segments of the population, then killing offenders becomes necessary as both a last resort and to demonstrate to the living that resistance to deprivation is futile.

    Getting across the message that survival is conditioned on being obedient to the law (however frivolous) and that there is "no free lunch" requires a constant effort and periodic reminders that the threat is serious.  So, really, the state killing people in cold blood is a signal to the whole population that the life of each person is tenuous and dispensable.  It's no wonder many a person lives in fear.  

    Moreover, identifying the source of fear as an alien force is actually a small comfort. The idea that one's natal community is likely, at any moment, to take one's life would be totally debilitating.  It happens, but just to keep on living most people try not to think about it too much.  Others console themselves with the thought that the Good Lord won't let it happen to them.  

    The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

    by hannah on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 02:28:20 AM PST

  •  I'd take jail for murder (0+ / 0-)

    I'd take death for sex offenses.

  •  Driftglass and David Brooks on the Iraq "surge" (0+ / 0-)

    "The surge worked" is now exposed as a lie and a sham—but it seems the media don't want people to notice.
    http://driftglass.blogspot.com/...

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

    by lotlizard on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 02:51:36 AM PST

  •  That we're "civilized" is wishful thinking. (0+ / 0-)

    Or it could be the belief that our ability to land on the moon and build computers makes us civilized, but in reality, we're no more civilized than cave men or animals.  We do have better weapons and are more efficient at killing, and we distrust anyone who has the audacity to be a pacifist.  I guess that's what passes as civilization.  

  •  Worst. Nightmare. Ever. (0+ / 0-)

    I am going to be exhausted at work today.

    Picture a bright blue ball just spinnin' spinnin' free. It's dizzy with possibility.

    by lockewasright on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 03:10:17 AM PST

  •  Against Death Penalty Except One Instance... (0+ / 0-)

    ...and that is when it is a particularly heinous crime (especially against a child) and there has been DNA proof of the guilt of the suspect(s).

    If there isn't a 100% guarantee that the accused is guilty, then I don't believe in the use of the death penalty.

    •  DNA proof (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drnononono

      is never 100% accurate.  That's why results of DNA testing are always presented in terms of probability, ie. 1 in 1,000,000 probability.  There is never the possibility in DNA testing of being absolutely certain you've got the right person.  

      What you believe determines what you can observe. Einstein

      by dharmafarmer on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 06:57:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Feds can execute for farming hemp. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    third Party please, annieli

    ome of Bill Clinton's "60 New Death Penalties" enacted in partnership with Newt Gingrich as part of the 1995 Omnibus Crime Control Act allowed for the execution of "Drug kingpins' manufacturing, selling, or possessaing quantities of Controlled Substances double those which brought a life sentence under pre-existing law.

    For cannabis, this means 60,000 pounds or 60,000 plants.

    Thomas Jefferson, one of the leading hemp producers of his day, sewed 140 acres in 1814, at 150 seeds per square yard. This would amount to approximately half a million plants per acre, or enough to execute him 800 times over.

    Agricultural hemp is "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs."

    by ben masel on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 04:01:49 AM PST

  •  Auun San Suu Kyi Released by Burmese Junta n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pam from Calif

    "calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni),Warning-Some Snark Above

    by annieli on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 04:09:45 AM PST

  •  "Other" (0+ / 0-)
    The death penalty and prison should both be abolished.

    Why was this not one of the poll choices, since it's the only real progressive position to begin with?

  •  No Easy Answer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmservo433

    I've spent my whole life going back and forth in my head with this debate. It was few years back when the DC sniper terrorized my area that I settled on my own answer for this one.

    There are certain individuals so depraved and so dangerous that incarceration presents an unacceptable risk to those who must care for that person and those who must live with that person. More importantly those individuals would almost certainly kill again if they were to escape or be released to the general public. It should not be a matter of retribution, it should be a matter of the most humane treatment for not only the prisoner, but any that could be killed in the future. There are more than a handful of these people arrested every year, but a large number of those that face the death penalty are not these type of risks. I don't have an answer for how you identify these people, but any reasonable person should be able to. I do know that when they put down the DC Sniper a lot of people are going to sleep easier, as they should.

  •  I voted "other" (0+ / 0-)

    because I absolutely think it should be abolished but I don't know if I think it should automatically be replaced by life without parole - perhaps in many or even most cases but not all? At any rate, I'm a strong vote for abolishing it.

    Sarah Palin: The Palin plan is quite simple. My elderly mother (drily): It would have to be.

    by Juliann on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 04:58:59 AM PST

  •  Other (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    moltar, brkramer

    I believe in a very limited use of the death penalty.  I have sat on a death penalty eligible jury and my own family was touched by serial killer Ted Bundy, so I have seen this issue from two sides.

    The jury I sat on involved multiple charges and four defendants on a trial for drugs, racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, and murder for hire. WE rendered guilty verdict for three of the defendants on most of the charges, except murder. The fourth defendant was found not guilty of all charges.  The state was unable to prove the murder charge because the wrong person was murdered and no evidence was presented to link that murder to the defendants.  Even so, I doubt that we would have recommended the death penalty if we had rendered a guilty verdict.

    However, in the case a psychotic serial killer, such as Ted Bundy who had previously escaped from prison and killed while being escaped, I breathed a sigh of relief the day that he was put to death. The reason being is that it was the only way I knew that this monster would not find a way to escape and kill again.

    Therefore, I am for the death penalty for certain criminals like serial killers who are very dangerous to society.  The death penalty is not punishment, revenge, or a deterrant, but it is something that should only be used in the most grievous cases.  As I see it, the death penalty itself is not necessarily the problem, but the laws of individual states that allow its liberal use.

    The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert

    by gulfgal98 on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 05:00:27 AM PST

  •  14,000 executed unjustly (0+ / 0-)

    in this country, every year. Who here speaks for the murdered?

    Everything must go!

    by moltar on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 05:26:48 AM PST

  •  Life without Parole, with Assisted Suicide... (0+ / 0-)

    if the person so wishes.

    Seems to me that capital punishment has NEVER worked. And there are many alternatives.

    Ugh. --UB.

  •  I'd like to hear from these folks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer

    should be used to punish murderers, rapists and child molesters, those who commit some other violent crimes, and those who commit some non-violent crimes

    For those who selected this option in the poll: Can you explain your view on this?  I'm having a hard time understanding it.

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

    by Triscula on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 06:38:28 AM PST

    •  This Liberal Favors Executing PredatoryMurderers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlueberryTomatoSoup

      ....who kidnap, rape, torture and murder their innocent victims which frequently involve children, elderly and women. Sorry, but this is one issue that I part ranks with liberal even though I am liberal on everything else (i.e. single payer healthcare system, strongly oppose war in virtually all circumstances, especially our invasion of Iraq and Afghanastan, progressive tax structure, expansion of Medicare, Medicaid and support of Social Security, strong environmental policies, pro stem cell research, pro gay marriage, favor repeal of DADT, pro immigration, etc.).

      I honestly don't see why the ultimate penalty for the ultimate, heinous, predatory, unprovoked crime that shocks the conscience-against an innocent helpless victim, is so "unfair" as death penalty opponents so frequently claim. Lethal injection is NOTHING compared to the torture that these predators frequently inflict on their innocent victims. I cannot agree that "an eye for an eye" is always wrong in these extreme circumstances. That platitude "an eye for an eye and we all go blind" that death penalty opponents so frequently recite, rings hollow.

      If I am so "right wing" for supporting capital punishment for the most heinous, unprovoked murders, then so is Gov. Howard Dean,  Pres. Bill & Hillary Clinton, Pres. Barack Obama, John Edwards (yeah, I know what he did-no excuse, but he did fight endlessly against poverty which I will always commend), and the list goes on. I actually read that Moveon.org takes no position on capital punishment because their movement is to unite progressives and that even progressives are divided on this issue. Thus, there is not even a consensus among progressives/liberals on this issue to the point that even Moveon.org stays away from it. If I am wrong about this, let me know. But I actually read this several years ago by one of their spokespeople although I cannot remember who.

      Just because Europe abolished the death penalty doesn't necessarily make it right. In fact, it was never put to the voters throughout these European countries to actually decide this. Instead, it really was a bunch of elites who just decided to abolish capital punishment by removing it from the democratic process by writing it into their constitutions. If they had allowed the voters to decide, the outcome likely would have been very different. When more Eastern European countries decided to join the European Union, they were REQUIRED to abolish the death penalty in order to do so. This was contrary to the views of public opinion according to sources I read. However, because of the economic benefits of joining the EU, these Eastern European countries abolished the dp ONLY because they were coerced into doing so, for the economic benefits of joining the EU. Thus, they were essentially "held hostage" on the issue of the dp because these countries were forced to abolish the dp if they wanted to improve their living conditions by joining the EU.  It had nothing to do with any kind of consensus among these people in these counrtries, of opposing capital punishment for heinous murders.  

      If the majority of Americans favor abolition, then I will accept it. Criminal Justice is a public issue that affects all of us and is all of our business- unlike basic rights that should not be subject to public opinion like the right to marry for gays and reproductive rights, which are inherent regardless of whether public opinion supports them. Therefore, the issue of abolishing capital punishment should only be subject to public referendums where the VOTERS will be able to DIRECTLY vote on this issue; not even the legislature and certainly, not the courts.

      Of course, I favor absolute rights to DNA testing and also agree that too many death sentences are given out. If there are any serious questions about a defendant's guilt, then I favor clemency. I certainly agree that there are problems with the system that need to be fixed. But the problem is the process, not the penalty. We should focus on fixing the process that exists all across the board, not just in capital cases. Denying murder victim survivors justice(by complete abolition of the dp) is not the answer. It is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Notably, case after case that spends years in appeals concerns murderes where there is no question about their guilt. Instead, the issue surrounds trying to spare him/her of the dp because of their so-called "responsibity". But these killers are nonetheless guilty as heck and I do think it is disingenuous that so many dp opponents try to create the perceptions that "so many factually innocent people are being executed" when this is hardly the case.  

      I know that I will get a lot of flack from many on this board who think I am stuck "back in the Dark Ages" (yeah, I have had this charge hurled at me many times by dp opponents). But I am used to it. Sorry folks, I do not agree with you on this one issue. And I am hardly the only progressive who feels this way.  

      Now let's get back to focusing on the more important issues such as healthcare, protecting Social Security from the Republicans' onslaught, immigration reform and the big fight ahead on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.    

      If Not Us, Who,..... If Not Now, When?

      by VirginiaBlue on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 08:40:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The process (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dharmafarmer

        In my opinion it is impossible to fix the process enough to make it perfect.  Perfection is impossible for human beings.  There will always be corruption, errors, incompetence, etc.  It's simply impossible to root it all out.  Given that, I cannot support allowing the state to have the authority to end someone's life.

        I see life without possibility for parole as a perfectly acceptable punishment for our most violent criminals.

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

        by Triscula on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 09:11:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Two words...Ted Bundy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlueberryTomatoSoup

      Ted Bundy escaped from prison, not once, but twice.  While he was escaped the second time, he murdered two girls in the Chi Omega sorority house at FSU, he also severely wounded two other girls that night.  Then he fled to kill a young girl, Kimberly Leach in Lake City Florida.

      A family member of mine was a member of the Chi Omega sorority and was living in the house at the time of the murders.  She was asleep in her room next to one of the murder victims and across the hall from another. There but for the grace of God was she not harmed.  

      Serial murdering psychopaths like Ted Bundy are a true danger to society.  While I am generally against the death penalty and believe it should only be used in the most extreme cases, such as those like Ted Bundy, I can state that I was truly relieved the day he was put to death.  It was not revenge, but relief that this monster would never have the chance to kill again.

      The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert

      by gulfgal98 on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 06:38:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  state killing... (5+ / 0-)

    I spent a couple of decades in the capital system as a defense lawyer. I specialized in death penalty defense for ten years at the trial, appeal,  post-conviction and habeas stages. I also experienced an aunt who was murdered (her body never found), a best friend shot to death and dumped on some train tracks in Memphis, his daughter also later shot to death. Here are some off-the-top-of-my-head truths about capital punishment:

    When the state murders a perpetrator, it usually does nothing to appease the horror and pain experienced by family members of the victims. (See Murder Victims Families for Human Rights: http://www.mvfhr.org/... In fact, they system usually uses the grief and anger of the victims families as a prosecutorial device, then discards them. The system is designed to stagnate the grieving process, preventing people from moving through grief to acceptance of loss.

    Overwhelmingly, murderers are mentally ill, suffered horrendous abuse as a child, are developmentally delayed or borderline retarded, or committed the offense under the influence of intoxicants. They were not born "evil" (if such a thing exists).

    Overwhelmingly, the murderers chosen for the death penalty had killed whites (it isn't the race of the defendant that counts--it's the race of the victim. This inherent inequality reflects society's biased belief that white lives are worth more than those of color.

    Poor people get the death penalty. Your income level will do more to determine whether or not you're at risk of capital punishment than almost any other factor.

    Violent people can be safely incarcerated. Incidences of murder on death row and in super max prisons are almost nonexistant.

    The "justice" system is a chaotic institution swayed by politics, blown about by popular opinion, infected with bias and racism, and staffed by overworked, underpain people who (usually) do the best they can with staggering caseloads and scant resources. This goes for all the players, not just defense lawyers (though the latter actors are at the bottom of the barrel). Those of you who believe this system is capable of absolute certainty, objectivity or unbiased judgment, live in a fantasy world. The system isn't designed to be an impartial, just method for dealing with crime. It's an emergency ward meant to treat the symptoms of inequality, addiction, mental illness, greed and hatred.

    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 06:53:51 AM PST

    •  Absolutely agree (3+ / 0-)

      with all you have written. There is the question, as well, of attitudinally biased juries.  As long as the death penalty is a possibility, the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury doesn't exist.

      What you believe determines what you can observe. Einstein

      by dharmafarmer on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 07:06:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  so true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        evilpenguin, drnononono

        and another excellent reason to abolish state killing.

        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 07:18:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So sorry, Joe Hills Ghost, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          True North, Joe Hills Ghost

          for spamming you with my link.  I hadn't noticed when I replied to your post that you had rec'd my comment above which also contained the link.

          I know with certainty that every point you have made is absolutely true, including your commentary about victims' families, because I have been in that position. There is no "closure"...ever...only constructive ways of honoring the life of the loved one lost and of dealing with the pain of that loss.  After her death, in my search for answers to why?, I learned all that you have mentioned and so much more. The judicial system is deeply flawed wrt capital punishment and the present situation only serves to separate the rest of us from our own humanity.

          Thank you for your years serving the defense and for facing the impossible odds against fairness inherent in the system.

          What you believe determines what you can observe. Einstein

          by dharmafarmer on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 07:38:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Other... (0+ / 0-)

    I think the death penalty should be applied to murderers, Senior Executives who lay off thousands of Americans so they can send their jobs overseas for a bigger bonus or ignore safety regulations because they take away from the bottom line, etc. Or politicians who commint felonies or state tax cuts for the rich create jobs.

    You know, the most heinous crimes imaginable.

    I was the youngest in my family growing up therefore I WAS the remote control. -me

    50% of success is just showing up.  the other 50% is having millions of dollars in the bank and a Senator's home phone number on speed dial. - bill in portland maine

  •  Evidence of bias and prejudice (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer

    abounds in decisions to seek and apply the death penalty.  For an example outside of the deep South, one need look no further than Colorado, where, statistically, the probability of death being sought is 4.2 times higher for those who kill whites than for those who kill blacks.

  •  They LIKE executing people (0+ / 0-)
    That's why they kept the DNA issue from reaching then-Gov. Bush--if he actually had said "let's see about the test," it would have spoiled all the fun.
  •  Somebody has to pay. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer

    One of the things which always surprises me about these discussions is that most of the advocates of the death penalty don't seem to worried about wrongful convictions.

    After all, when the wrong man is convicted, the actual murderer walks.

    But lots of people are satisfied when somebody pays the penalty, even somebody who had nothing to do with the crime.

    Corporations are people; money is speech.
    1984 - George Orwell

    by Frank Palmer on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 08:36:07 AM PST

  •  My answer doesn't fit the poll. (0+ / 0-)

    I am, in general, opposed to the death penalty.

    HOWEVER, I believe there are some exceptions by which it is the only viable option.  And those exceptions are very few.

    So, I'd say:  Death Penalty ONLY for: Mass Murderers, Serial Killers.

    So: almost all cases NO.   Ted Bundy?  Yes.  Timothy McVeigh?  Yes.  

    It's terrible to say that because of how I feel about the issue; but in some cases I feel keeping those people alive is cruel & unusual punishment for them and for those who are to be in prison with them.   I think the best case for this was Jeffrey Dahmer, who was killed in prison by other inmates.  Inmates who said they were freaked out/mentally unhinged because he was around.

    In those cases, we have to hope the prison system can rehabilitate people, even some of the worst criminals; but sticking them in with real, absolute evil psychopaths doesn't help.

    What would that mean?  It'd mean you'd drop from a whole lot of death penalty executions to 2 or 3 a year.  And you'd drop from a lot of protests to issues where even those opposed would have a hard time getting out a big rally of support "Please don't kill Timothy McVeigh" draws a lot less moral sickness then "please don't execute a guy who killed two people at age 16 and has repented now"

    Having Hope and using action to give people hope are different things. Make a difference for someone.

    by Chris Reeves on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 08:39:26 AM PST

  •  Your poll omits the most important category (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer

    Simply abolished.

    Without prejudging, with no facts at all in evidence, any other sentence.

  •  My option not on the poll. (0+ / 0-)

    Abolish it.  Full stop.  What the appropriate punishment should be, I'm not sure.  So I'm somewhere between Unsure and "abolish and replace with...".  But Unsure sounds like "Unsure about whether we should kill people."  And I'm not unsure about that at all.

    "...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." RIP Senator. We miss you.

    by libdevil on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 10:47:53 AM PST

  •  It should simply be abolished (0+ / 0-)

    For all the reasons that have been endless debated. Error in courts and trial, uneven access to justice, the wrongness of the state having the power to kill, all of it.

    Mind you, I think the whole "punishment" side of the system needs serious reform.

    And if we paid the slightest attention to the needs of children and new parents and gave them what they need to raise well adjusted children, and gave young people good sex education and easy access to birth control so the world wasn't filled with unloved, unwanted children and well meaning but ill prepared parents, maybe we could cut down dramatically on crime in the first place.

    I read a lot of e-books off of sites like Project Gutenberg, so I like to joke that I have a state-of-the-art 19th century education. But if you want to be depressed about the state of things, read Crime: Its Cause and Treatment by Clarence Darrow (the famous defense attorney). What is sad is that the situation he describes at the beginning of the 20th century is essentially completely unchanged here at the beginning of the 21st.

    We should be thinking about how build a society and a community that mostly prevents crime, and when crime still happens, treats and rehabilitates instead of what we do now, which is to essentially send people to vocational crime school (prison).

    I think the number of actually born wired sociopaths is pretty low. Most are a product of environment. So we should be looking at how to change the environment rather more than on cleaning up the human debris of social neglect.

    So on the little poll here I simply put "other" because the death penalty should be abolished, even if we change nothing else.

  •  I'm against the death penalty in almost all cases (0+ / 0-)

    Excepting cases when a felon previously convicted of murder commits murder in prison. With no penalty beyond life imprisonment, there is nothing to keep murderers from killing guards or fellow prisoners.

    So there must be a penalty beyond "mere" imprisonment.  Perhaps "welded into a box" would be sufficient, so there is no danger that others could be harmed.

    •  i don't understand (0+ / 0-)

      I fail to see why death is worse than a lifetime in solitary confinement.  I understand that such a decision is not up to me, but if we're speaking from a humanitarian viewpoint, it's hardly black and white.

      to address arguments that say "if he wants death, we should not give him what he wants," I reply: The criminal's desires should not be a factor in the decision.  If the murderer (for example) waives his right to appeals, thus rendering execution more economically viable, the state should oblige.

  •  I agree with MB on almost everything... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lorpius Prime

    but this is one topic where I disagree.  I know I am in the minority on the topic, and people probably won't respond well to my comment, but I believe whole-heartedly in the death penalty.  

    We put down rapid dogs, and I see it as the same thing.  It isn't vengeance, or a deterrent, it is just one way to keep society safe.  Being sentenced to the death should require the most stringent of evidence, but at least 24% of Kossacks believe that there are instances where the death penalty has a place in our justice system according to the above poll.

    I would agree that the above case of Claude Jones did not meet that standard.  However, it is incorrect to say that this evidence finds him not guilty.  Claude Jones was absolutely at the scene when the murder occurred.  The hair that was discredited was the evidence that he was the shooter, there was plenty of evidence that he was at the very least an accomplice to murder.

    I honestly don't see the difference between the death penalty and life without chance of parole as far as society is concerned.  Locking them up and throwing away the key is the same thing.  Those with life without parole will never again participate in society in any meaningful way.  Life in prison isn't (and shouldn't be) comfortable.  

    Everyone can agree that we should do everything possible to avoid executing innocent people.  That is why it takes so long from sentencing to execution, you get many opportunities to appeal your sentence.  Those that have been exonerated before being executed prove that the system works, the innocent are eventually saved.  When you are sentenced to life without parole, you do not get as many chances for appeal on the states dime as you do when sentenced to death.  

    It is not a fact that anyone has ever been shown to be innocent after execution, though I will admit the Jones case comes the closest, even though he confessed to being there when it happened.  But with every executed criminal we exhume to prove their innocence, the DNA comes back in favor of the original sentence.  If we ever find a case where an innocent man was executed, we will have to deal with it as best we can, but that is the price you have to pay for justice.

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. - Schopenhauer

    by BlueberryTomatoSoup on Sat Nov 13, 2010 at 07:46:16 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site