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It's not that there aren't certain people I feel the world would be better off without. I think there are such people. But it's not up to me, us, or anyone to determine this.

First, the death penalty is applied unfairly. This is true of pretty much ALL criminal penalties, but the death penalty is final, and there is evidence that the bias against poor and minority people, especially men, may be particularly severe in death penalty cases.

Second, the evidence of its efficacy is sketchy at best. As a statistician, I can say that is almost impossible to really evaluate the efficacy of capital punishment. It's difficult for ANY punishment scheme, but especially so for one that is applied rarely and unfairly.

Third, taking life cheapens life. I recall reading (I think on Twitter) that a woman asked her kid if she (the kid) would favor the death penalty for Hitler. "No" said the child. "People shouldn't kill people". Out of the mouths of babes.

Fourth, the death penalty isn't cheap. One possible (although not, to my mind, very good) argument for death instead of lifetime incarceration is that it is cheaper. But it isn't.

Fifth, and finally, people make mistakes. Even without bias, even with every defendant getting a good defense and a fair trial, people make errors. It is better that our errors be fixable, to the extent possible. If we jail someone and find out our error we can (although we don't always do so) release the person and try to make some restitution. If a person is dead, there's nothing to do except say "We goofed".

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sixth. Imposing the death penalty makes (7+ / 0-)

    each of us accessories to first degree, premeditated murder.  It damages our souls.

  •  Also, there is no such thing as (8+ / 0-)

    "humane" application of the death penalty.

    Therer is a museum of Law Enforcement in Miami that has on the uppermost level, a museum of execution. In this display are the various methods of execution - electric chair, gallows, firing squad, gas chamber and lethal injection.

    Each exhibit shows how executions have gone terribly wrong using that apparatus. I won't go into details, but no one who has ever seen that exhibit could ever descend the stairs still as a proponent of execution.

    Nobody could ever be that barbaric.

    Sometimes there is so much writing, you need a bigger wall.

    by pucklady on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 02:16:09 PM PDT

  •  Sixth (9+ / 0-)

    it suffers from regional disparities.  The same crime in New York and in Georgia don't result in similar punishments.  Georgia's punishment will be higher (death); NY doesn't have a death penalty.  Why, one should ask, does Georgia have a higher murder rate than NY?

    And seventh, it cannot deter crime because of the inordinate delays in death cases.  Justice Thomas has cynically claimed the delay is because of/the fault of  the defense, but the truth is that waiting for more than two decades before completing the punishment robs the punishment of any close connection to the crime.

    Thanks for writing. I too oppose the death penalty in every case.

  •  The process itself should make it clear (7+ / 0-)

    it's madness and lunacy.

    Prison officials around the country have been going to extraordinary — and in at least one case, legally questionable — lengths to obtain a scarce lethal-injection drug, securing it from middlemen in Britain and a manufacturer in India and borrowing it from other states to keep their executions on track, according to records reviewed by The Associated Press.

    Rachel Maddow had a segment on this the other night. From the transcript:

    Then in March, the Drug Enforcement Agency seized Georgia`s supply of sodium thiopental, arguing the drug was imported illegally. They took away ever single vial of it that the state had. So, then, how does Georgia keep
    killing its prisoners?

    Georgia decided to switch drugs. The state decided they would start using a drug that has the trade name Nembutal instead to kill its prisoners. Nembutal is a sedative commonly used to euthanize animals. It is not used as a human anesthetic. The Danish company who makes Nembutal shouldn`t be used in executions.

    The first time Georgia nevertheless used Nembutal to kill a prisoner, reporters who witnessed the execution said the man being killed, quote, "jerked his head several times throughout the procedure and muttered after the drug was injected and he was supposed to be asleep."

    I think the lunacy of that is self evident but just in case, we've gone on a desperate search for drugs (used to euthanize animals) because the "good drugs" are no longer manufactured here,  and clearly they don't work well. Shouldn't that be a hint that maybe it's time to rethink things?

    Then there's the complete lunacy of giving a person a physical to make sure they're healthy enough to be killed which is a standard part of the checklist on execution day.

    And the farce of giving the condemned a hearty meal before execution is an insult to what is supposed to be the meting of justice ( something the death penalty in my opinion doesn't and can't achieve) .

    I do not understand how anyone thinks this has anything to do with justice. Revenge yes; theater yes; justice how?

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

    by Vita Brevis on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 02:37:01 PM PDT

  •  Agreed, there should be no death penalty... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, Eric Nelson

    but if there is one, I'd like to suggest that corporate executives whose actions lead to loss of life should be subject to the ultimate penalty.  Their victims are just as dead.  Cutting corners on safety, leading directly to worker deaths or consumer deaths... why is this not Murder One?

    Barack Obama in the Oval Office: There's a black man who knows his place.

    by Greasy Grant on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 02:37:36 PM PDT

  •  Never in my life (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515

    not for a second, have I supported the death penalty for anything.  Howard Dean, being pro-death penalty, was personally the hardest aspect of me supporting him back in 2004.  

    For me, it's extremely simple: there is never, under any circumstance, a justification for killing someone who poses no threat.

    "The first rule of pillow fight club is do not talk about pillow fight club." --Keith Olbermann

    by Julie Waters on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 02:41:52 PM PDT

  •  Capital punishment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, Vita Brevis, Eric Nelson

    is unnecessary, inefficient, ineffective, more costly than the alternative, capricious, prone to irreversible error, and ultimately meaningless.

    All that before you get to unjust and barbaric.

    Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

    by memiller on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 03:07:10 PM PDT

  •  The best way to end the death penalty (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, Eric Nelson, mayim

    is to repeal it in states were it is rarely carried out.  Something like 37 states have it on the books, yet the number of states that actually use it with any frequency is quite small.  We need to make them legal outliers.  That would increase the pressure on those states and make judges more willing to act.  End it in places like DE, PA, OH and CA and it will end in places like GA and TX.

    Information on the campaign in CA can be found here.

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

    by David Kaib on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 04:08:14 PM PDT

    •  I'm not sure that follows (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mayim

      but it's worth a try.

      Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

      by plf515 on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 04:18:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The SC barred executions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        plf515

        for the "mentally retarded" and juveniles after states starting moving in that direction. At the very least, judges have historically been wiling to address outliers more so than striking down common practices.  Kennedy in particular has been quite explicit in saying that this sort of evidence convinces him.

        Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

        by David Kaib on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 05:05:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  #5 for me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plf515, Eric Nelson, mayim

    I've never met a human perfect enough to make this decision.  

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 04:10:15 PM PDT

  •  You can't teach that killing is wrong (4+ / 0-)

    by killing.

    But my #5 would be-

    5.  Death sentences are imposed in a criminal justice system that treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent.

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

    by martinjedlicka on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 04:48:34 PM PDT

  •  Raise the burden of proof, cut down on appeals, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hopeful Skeptic

    and problems solved.  I oppose the DP in its current form, but would support a changed system w/ virtually no chance of executing the innocent.

    Re: Chance of exoneration: we only exonerate people because they're on death row.  Get rid of death row, and the innocent will just rot in prison.  It's a funny little paradox.

    •  Some problems would be solved (0+ / 0-)

      in such an imaginary system.  But it's hard to see how we could fix the problem in practice. Anything can be fixed if you assume away its problems.  Besides, what is the point? What would such a system (assuming it's possible) accomplish?

      As for your second point - it is not true that no one is ever exonerated without being on death row.  It's not hard to see why such efforts focus on those people, but such efforts could easily be shifted in there was no death penalty.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

      by David Kaib on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 05:32:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  All of these arguments may well be valid (0+ / 0-)

    However, the simplest possible argument against it is simply that it's more expensive than life in prison and doesn't provide a deterrent.

    Right there you're done and don't have to get into messy moralizing about who deserves what, how fair it is, or any other (probably valid) reason. Even if every one of those reasons was totally false, the economic argument beats all. Only if the death penalty were cheaper would you even have to get into those issues.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 05:02:54 PM PDT

    •  yeah, but DP advocates will say that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vita Brevis, susanala

      it's only expensive because of all of the appeals built into it.  They'd be fine removing those appeals, and killing a person within days of sentencing.  If that was the way it was implemented, it would be MUCH cheaper than life in prison.

      I have tried using the economic argument, and that was where the discussion went.

      "The death penalty is never about the criminal. They've already done their worst. The question is always "will we join them"?" - jlynne

      by Hopeful Skeptic on Thu Sep 22, 2011 at 05:15:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  3 reasons stood out to me as important enough (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib, dharmafarmer

     ..all by themselves in this treatise:
    Death Penalty Focus Inadequate Legal Representation

    Perhaps the most important factor in determining whether a defendant will receive the death penalty is the quality of the representation he or she is provided.

    Arbitrariness in the Application of the Death Penalty

    Politics, quality of legal counsel and the jurisdiction where a crime is committed are more often the determining factors in a death penalty case than the facts of the crime itself.
    Racial Disparities
    The race of the victim and the race of the defendant in capital cases are major factors in determining who is sentenced to die in this country. In 1990 a report from the General Accounting Office concluded that "in 82 percent of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e. those who murdered whites were more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks."

    All ten reasons are valuable but these stood out imo

    Thx plf515

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