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California's death chamber
California's death chamber (Wikimedia Commons)
By bizarre historical coincidence, on the same day that Georgia executed Troy Davis for a murder he almost certainly did not commit, Texas executed Lawerence Russell Brewer for a murder he certainly did. To people of conscience, it was easy to oppose Davis's execution. World and national leaders spoke out on his behalf. It was not so easy to oppose Brewer's execution. National leaders created hate-crimes legislation in his victim's name. In Georgia, where Davis didn't receive anything approaching due process, there were serious questions about police and prosecutorial misconduct, the vast majority of prosecution witnesses later recanted their testimony, and some charged they had been coerced. In Texas, only Brewer himself seemed to question his guilt. Davis's execution fit the long pattern of historical abomination by which black men are wrongfully convicted and executed for crimes against white people. Brewer was convicted of one of the most horrific crimes ever perpetrated by white men against black men and subsequently brought to trial. A former "Exalted Cyclops" of a prison gang associated with the Ku Klux Klan, Brewer was one of three white men who chained a black man named James Byrd to the back of a pickup truck, then dragged him over three miles down an unpaved road, battering and torturing and finally decapitating him.  

Adhering to the principle of opposition to capital punishment is an absolute among the infinite nuances of circumstance. It's easy to cite the statistics showing that the application of capital punishment is racist and classist, that it does not deter crime, and that most nations with pretenses of being civilized have abolished it. It's easy to point to The Innocence Project, and the numerous convicted murderers who have been exonerated by modern technologies such as DNA evidence that weren't available to probably countless innocents who were wrongly convicted and then executed before such technologies were available. It's easy to point to the absurdity of the reasonable doubt standard, which applies only to initial trials and not to the upholding of convictions on subsequent appeals where, as in Davis's case, doubt itself is not just reasonable but almost certain. Eyewitness evidence is known to be one of the least reliable forms. Unless someone invents time travel, there will not be true certainty about far too many criminal convictions. But there is certainty about the consequence of capital punishment. At the very least one would hope it provides some semblance of emotional relief for the victims and survivors of the victims of violent crimes, but history shows that even that often isn't the case. The concept of "closure" is one of those false concoctions promoted by the traditional media, but it rarely has anything to do with the realities of how psychological trauma lives in people. But this isn't about the flaws in the system. This is about a principle.

Right wing demagogues love to blither about the Ten Commandments, but how many oppose on principle capital punishment? Thou shalt not kill contains no asterisk, yet so many of those directly involved in the process of executing people purport to be Christian. Rick Perry comes to mind. But so many Democrats also support capital punishment, some no doubt for the pure cynical politics of not being labeled soft on crime, thus further enabling the falsity that executing people has anything to do with reducing crime. And executing people does make some feel they are doing something about violent crime even thought they really aren't. Politicians can pat themselves on their backs and declare their missions accomplished even as they continue to pursue and enact policies that continue to exacerbate the social psychoses that cause or contribute to the perpetuation of the perpetration of violent crime. As Holly Near sings: Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?

Principled opposition to capital punishment often comes from deep in the gut. Although it is for some, opposition to capital punishment need not be associated with religion or any other formal moral structure or stricture. To some it is plainly obvious, not even open to debate. Capital punishment is barbaric. It is in opposition to the very ideal of humanity. It is a symptom of unevolved consciousness. There are other ways to deal with even the most cruel and brutal criminals, and putting them to death makes society itself—and all who in it live—cruel and brutal. Until we demand and force its abolition, we are all complicit. When government of, by and for the people kills people, the people themselves are complicit. Some know this in their hearts. Some cannot be convinced.

Some believe there must be a way to improve the conveyor belt of capital punishment, that if there's a problem, it's mostly a question of process. Some believe there can be or will be better techniques and processes that can make it more fair and just and more humane. As if killing people can ever be humane. As if there can be such things as fairness and justice that are as absolute as capital punishment itself. But capital punishment solves no societal ills. It perpetuates many that should not be perpetuated. It must be abolished. Not only for those like Troy Davis who almost certainly were innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted, but also for those like Lawerence Russell Brewer who certainly were guilty. And this is where principled opposition to capital punishment seems complicated. But it really shouldn't be. Because as long as this nation is executing the Lawrence Russell Brewers it also will be executing the Troy Davises. It is not possible to have one without the other. This must be understood. It must be understood that it is not possible to have capital punishment and still have fairness and justice and a society that is at its core humane.

This is a test. This is a test this nation continues to fail.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kos Georgia and Abolish the Death Penalty.

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Comment Preferences

  •   Capital punishment is useless. (30+ / 0-)

    Aside from the moral arguments, it wastes our time and money. It's just stupid, in addition to anything else you might say...

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:04:38 PM PDT

    •  for one thing, death is not punishment for (10+ / 0-)

      the person who has done the crime.  those punished are the family and others who care about the person who is executed.

      •  It is the responsibility of the living (5+ / 0-)

        to love and console the families and friends of the victims and to help them heal as best they can.  Death penalty appeals are not often exhausted before a decade, or even two, have elapsed.  Each new hearing reopens the wounds.  It is torment.  We owe the families and friends better than this.

        •  This is not the justice system's responsibility (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tofumagoo, dharmafarmer

          The Constitution is clearly written to protect the rights of the accused, not to assuage the trauma of the victims, as harsh as that may sound.

          •  We owe the accused every chance to (3+ / 0-)

            prevail against piss-poor representation; biased or otherwise contaminated judges, press, and jurors; electioneering DAs and judges; and frightening procedure-worshippers like Scalia who say that it's hunky-dorey to execute someone -- even if EXONERATING evidence is later uncovered -- if their original trial was conducted with some acceptable degree of due process.

            In doing so, we are affording the victims and society every chance of obtaining REAL justice, not just a kabuki "closure" ceremony.

          •  I was speaking, raincrow, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Friend of the court

            in the sense that Laurence has written - from the perspective of society.  In that respect, a society that condones the death penalty assists in exascerbating the pain that victims' families and friends experience.

            On a side note, I will be publishing a diary tomorrow that concerns how the rights of the accused are not Constitutionally protected in death penalty cases.  This is something that needs to be brought to the forefront, as well.

            •  In the same sense, though, a society (3+ / 0-)

              that condones the continuing efforts of people convicted of other wrenching crimes -- non-capital murder, sexual violence, aggravated homicide & manslaughter -- to exonerate themselves would exacerbate the pain that victims' families and friends experience. But would you deny a wrongly convicted person that chance because it would cause misery to victims who erroneously believe the convict is guilty?

              I'm watching this happen to a friend and former coworker, and let me assure you that a wrongfully convicted person -- especially a wrongfully convicted person who cannot afford competent counsel -- is a person devastated, stripped to the bone, swallowed whole.

          •  The Victim Justice System? (3+ / 0-)

            No.  It's called the Criminal Justice System, and it's supposed to protect the rights of the accused, not the victim, and certainly not The State.  Victims have NO RIGHTS in criminal cases, period.  It's not about them.

            The Founding Fathers were a bunch of East Coast liberals

            by ImaJoeBob on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:43:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You are partly correct (4+ / 0-)

        I have several issues with the way that capitol punishment is administered, but at the end of the day I cannot say that I oppose it flatly.  I'm not religious, so the whole "Thou shalt not kill" argument fails to register with me.

        For me, it's not a debate about punishment, it's a debate about justice.

        And until you or I have ever lost a wife, a son, a parent, a dear friend to a senseless or brutal murder, we can only pontificate about what the correct measure of justice is.  If it is my loss...I don't want you telling me what the proper measure of justice is that should quell my grief, my loss, my anger, my emptiness.

        I don't know what we need to do to make justice more color blind and more class blind, but we clearly need to do much more.

        And we should use every means of technology and science available to insure that nobody is convicted mistakenly.  More money needs to be appropriated to Public Defenders offices everywhere.  Even nonviolent criminals get shitty counsel too many times.

        But there are people who prove themselves unworthy and incapable of living amongst others who, regardless of their circumstances, manage to make it through this storm of life without committing vicious crimes and killing another human being.  

        The Golden Rule works just fine for your neighbors...unless you live next door to Richard Speck, or John Wayne Gacy, or The Hillside Strangler.  Or Robert Altman Harris.  His last words before his execution were not "i'm sorry."  It was a cocky "You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the grim reaper."

        "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

        by Keith930 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:52:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I support it in only two situtions (5+ / 0-)

          1.  When a murderer is sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, and commits another murder, either a fellow prisoner, a guard, or as an escapee.  Without capital punishment, society would have no way to punish this murder.

          2.  For mass murder.  I have no problem with the execution of the ten Nuremburg defendants, nor would I have had any problem with executing OSL following a trial.  I regret there was no trial.

          "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

          by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:59:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  there are still problems with capital punishment (3+ / 0-)

            1) Capital punishment is NOT a deterrent, least of all for someone who has already murdered another. If a convicted and imprisoned murderer has the opportunity to kill again, the fault lies with our system of incarceration.

            2) Do you really want to see George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and many others tried, convicted and executed for the mass murders ("collateral damage") they ordered in Iraq and Afghanistan?

            •  Answer to question no. 2 (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Friend of the court

              Yes I would like to see them tried and, if convicted, the punishment would be up to the court.

              "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

              by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:16:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  It's not philosophical for me... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              hmi, erush1345, Friend of the court

              I believe it should still be an available sentencing option.  By all means, make it exceptionally hard to apply.  Make the bar high, enforce automatic reviews, whatever.  But keep it available.

              I recall the case of Wesley Dodd in 1990.  He asked to be executed, and had external groups petitioning the court to deny his request.  In reality, there will always be some cases where there is truly no doubt.

              I agree that capital punishment it is not a deterrent; although I believe it has been useful as leverage during plea bargaining.

              I believe it is warranted in rare occasions, based on the crimes involved; and for that reason I think it should still be available.

              •  If capital punishment is available for rare and (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Friend of the court

                heinous circumstances, you will have police and prosecution doing their damnedest to have every murder qualify so they can  buff their "tough on crime" bona fides.  

                We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

                by Observerinvancouver on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 05:22:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  You're not making the slightest bit of sense. (0+ / 0-)

                Your "warranted" boils down to nothing but "feels good to me." That's all the argument you have. If capital punishment isn't a deterrent, then it has no rationale at all other than your emotions.

                And before we get into that cheap "you won't know until someone close to you is murdered" -- well, someone was. It didn't completely eliminate my ability to think, though.

                I dance to Tom Paine's bones.

                by sagesource on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 03:37:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Retributive justice does not help, Keith930. (9+ / 0-)

          I say that from experience.  I am grateful everyday that my loved one's murderer received a new trial and is serving LWOP, instead of his original death sentence.  There is no action that replaces the loved one, or assuages the loss.  Nothing.  The desire for retribution only causes us to replicate the uncaring callousness of the killer.  It darkens the soul.

        •  Respectfully, Keith930, it's NOT just their loss. (9+ / 0-)

          Nor does the state have an interest in satisfying the emotional needs of parents, children, wives, husbands, friends, et al. of the murdered victim.  

          Each time someone is executed in the name of the people it diminishes us all, not only in the John Donne sense, but also in the sense that we have ruinously taken a life to demonstrate that taking a life is terribly wrong.

          Moreover, for the reasons that are similar to what Elizabeth Warren spoke out about so eloquently the other day ("Nobody makes it on their own"), no crime is committed in a vacuum.  No life has become absolute evil by some private Galt-like decision.  It is a long, long road to the sociopathic abnegation of everything, and we are all a part of that context, by what we have done or what we have failed to do.

          For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

          by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:13:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Criminal trials are brought by the state (4+ / 0-)

          not by the victims.

          And their purpose is not to make the victims, or their families, feel better or get justice.

          Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

          by plf515 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:21:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No. (3+ / 0-)
          For me, it's not a debate about  punishment, it's a debate about justice.

          And until you or I have ever lost a wife, a son, a parent, a dear friend to a  senseless or brutal murder, we can only  pontificate about what the correct  measure of justice is.  If it is my loss...I  don't want you telling me what the  proper measure of justice is that should  quell my grief, my loss, my anger, my  emptiness.

          This is precisely WHY we have an adversarial criminal justice system instead of a hodgepodge of perpetually feuding clans.  

          Justice requires allowing cooler heads to dispassionately argue the facts and merits of the case.  Otherwise all you're doing is seeking revenge.

      •  To clarify, dear Friend, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Friend of the court

        I meant my comment to augment yours and not to rebut or replace it.

  •  Same as in the other thread today: (17+ / 0-)

    Capital punishment has always undermined the criminal justice system in this country, no matter the convict.

    The State cannot claim that taking a human life is unacceptable, then take a human life.  It simply promotes disrespect for the law by which our society is supposed to function.

  •  Recommended at least in part for the Near (10+ / 0-)

    reference. I grew up listening to her and Kristin Lems, too.

    That's my response, too. I am convinced there is no way to "reform" the DP process so that no innocent person will wind up on death row. So I am for total abolition, even for someone who is clearly guilty and admits to it and is a soulless bastard of a human being.

    "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

    by allergywoman on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:08:39 PM PDT

    •  so you would be ok with a death penalty process (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sue B

      that could ensure no innocent person will wind up on death row?

      I cannot.  I am in agreement with those who believe it is a moral failing for the state to kill another in my name.

      That's not to say that I had any problems sleeping after McVeigh was executed -- I cried for days after the Oklahoma City bombing, especially for the parents of the children who had died in the day care center.

      But I considered that MY moral failing.  That I could feel just fine after the execution of that "soulless bastard" made me more convinced than ever that America's love affair with capital punishment is a stain on our national claim to moral superiority.

      "The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., "The Casualties of the War in Vietnam," February 25th, 1967, Los Angeles, California

      by gfre on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:46:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The U.S. also has a problem, imho, of too (0+ / 0-)

        many people thinking too many problems have absolute, black and white, clear cut solutions.  Just come down firmly on the side of no death penalty and fudge your exact reasons for that decision.  

        We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

        by Observerinvancouver on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 05:34:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  One other problem with executing McVeigh... (0+ / 0-)

        You just destroyed one of the best sources of evidence about how that crime was conceived of, planned, and committed.

        Alive, there was always the chance he might inadvertently or deliberately let something slip. But dead men tell no tales.

        I'm sure his execution was a vast relief to anyone involved in this crime who has not yet been caught.

        I dance to Tom Paine's bones.

        by sagesource on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 03:44:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bleeding heart conservatives (5+ / 0-)

    want to give criminals a painless death. A more appropriate punishment is to lock them in a cage until they die. Like in prison without the possibility of parole is the appropriate sentence for people like Brewer.

  •  Maybe it's time to publish the names (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis, dharmafarmer

    of executioners.  Let them bear the shame of their actions.

    The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

    by Troubadour on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:10:37 PM PDT

    •  to some (12+ / 0-)

      they would be heroes. perry brags about his state's record.

      48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam (The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers)

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:19:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's a waiting list here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurence Lewis, paintitblue

        Recently, the Utah State Churchislature ended the use of the firing squad as an execution method in Utah.  Firing squads brought unwanted attention to the Mormon doctrine of Blood Atonement.

        But a couple of guys who received death sentences before this ban passed can still choose it.

        Since Gary Gilmore, Utah has never had a problem finding law enforcement officers to volunteer for firing squads.

    •  In Troy Davis' case, (8+ / 0-)

      staffing for the execution was contracted out to Rainbow Medical Associates.  One wonders who they hire since

      Last year the American Board of Anesthesiologists issued a mandate that any member who participated in executing a prisoner by lethal injection would have their certification revoked. That seems like strong stuff until you consider the statement of their board secretary “we are healers, not executioners.”

      The AMA has also long been against doctors being involved in state executions.


      Not to mention, wtf kind of twisted mind thought up that name for execution services?
    •  Every person who supports the death penalty (0+ / 0-)

      is just as liable as the executioners.  I would argue that it is much more dishonest, ethically, to support the death penalty without stepping up to do the execution.  

      Here is a link to an essay by a former Warden in Georgia, who oversaw--and gave the commands for--executions there.  I tried to get permission to reprint it here, but Newsweek wanted $$.  Here's a sampling:

      I can’t always remember their names, but in my nightmares I can see their faces. As the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections from 1992 until 1995, I oversaw five executions.

      -snip-

      The state executed Stevens first, in June 1993, and then Burger in December. In both instances, I visited them in a cell next to the electric-chair chamber, where they counted down the hours until they died. They were calm, mature, and remorseful... [ ]Stevens said nothing, and Burger apologized, saying, “Please forgive me.” I looked to the prison electrician and ordered him to pull the switch.

      Those of us who have participated in executions often suffer something very much like posttraumatic stress. Many turn to alcohol and drugs. For me, those nights that weren’t sleepless were plagued by nightmares.. I left my job as corrections commissioner in Georgia in 1995 partially because I had had enough: I didn’t want to supervise the executions anymore.
  •  Well written, Laurence (10+ / 0-)

    This really is the central question regarding the death penalty - it is primarily about who we are as a society.

  •  Personally, (2+ / 0-)

    I'm opposed to the death penalty because it is too lenient.  I prefer that a murder be placed in a cage to slowly die without hope of ever seeing freedom again.

    Perry, Romney, and Bachmann all have very nice hair. This will be a difficult choice for the low information voters Republican base.

    by Zwoof on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:18:29 PM PDT

    •  Regardless of the circumstances? (3+ / 0-)

      Every murder is one-size-fits-all-and-that-size-is-no-mercy?

      Also keep in mind that the jury system is every bit as fraught in non-capital cases as it is in capital cases.

      •  capitol, not capital...and what circumstances (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        demgem

        would, in your mind, mitigate the culpability of someone who murdered your mother as she was, let's say, stopping by an ATM to pick up some cash on her way home from work to fix dinner for the family?

        Take your time....and think about the loss good and hard.  

        "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

        by Keith930 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:24:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So everyone convicted of murder (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          paintitblue, sagesource

          has killed someone's mother at an ATM? I need to subscribe to a different local newspaper, 'cause I'm not getting that out of my reading...

          [And methinks you need a dictionary; it's capital.]

        •  Shades of Bernard Shaw. (5+ / 0-)

          His debate question to Michael Dukakis: "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?"

          Of course, Gov. Dukakis answered :"No, I don't..."

          Is it so hard to believe that some people, even in their darkest grief, will stick to their core principles?  For instance, James Byrd's family was against the execution of his killer.

          "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

          by RonV on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:56:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I did (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RonV, Friend of the court

            but it was difficult.

            Perry, Romney, and Bachmann all have very nice hair. This will be a difficult choice for the low information voters Republican base.

            by Zwoof on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 07:36:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  People react differently (0+ / 0-)

            Sometimes people in the same family are split about what they think is the proper measure of justice. I totally laud people like the Byrd family who are against executions, but I don't condemn those families of victims who want execution either. I don't think it's fair to condemn them, even if you have  walked the proverbial mile in their shoes. They are basically having a human reaction. Whether it is proper or not is another debate, but I don't think you can blame them for having those emotions.

        •  The harder I think about the loss.... (0+ / 0-)

          ....the less I can understand how the loss would be mitigated by killing someone else. Hasn't it gotten through your head that killing the murderer does not bring the victim back?

          I dance to Tom Paine's bones.

          by sagesource on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 03:48:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  By another coincidence (6+ / 0-)

    Parade, an emotional musical about the lynching of Leo Frank in Georgia 1915, had its invited dress rehearsal at Ford's Theater.  The Director dedicated the performance in memory of Troy Davis.

  •  The diary question answered: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    crescentdave, Badabing

    The question is: "Who Are We"

    HERE'S the answer....sadly.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:33:50 PM PDT

  •  While it's impossible to feel compassion for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Observerinvancouver

    someone like the white racist guy....  (hell would be to grand a place for him)   I agree with the premise of your diary.

    The injustice of executing someone innocent or even possibly innocent of a crime is too great a chance to take when it comes to the DP.

    Personally, I wouldn't mind the DP for folks like the racist, people who are conclusively proven to have done some HORRIBLE crime. The problem is justice is meted out by human beings who have racism issues, judgement issues, recognition issues, memory issues, cultural/religious issues.......  Too much room for error on who is "conclusively proven to have done some HORRIBLE crime".

    The DP needs to be abolished now in honor of Troy Davis (may he have peace in his next adventure), and others who have been incorrectly executed during our countries history.

    I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

    by Lucy2009 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:36:29 PM PDT

    •  there is no "next adventure", and try telling (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erush1345

      someone who has lost a loved one to a vicious murder, the perpetrator of which has been caught, proven beyond all doubt that he or she is guilty...that the DP is not an option because we must honor someone else.

      See...justice means an entirely different thing when you are a spectator than it does when you are an unwilling participant in the events.

      You are free to express to the court your personal desire for leniency towards your own victimizer.

      I'm not so sure you have the right to appeal to the court for leniency towards mine, though.  Where does the victim fit into your system of ethics?

      "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

      by Keith930 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:33:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (0+ / 0-)

        Justice is justice because -- and if -- it means the same.

        "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

        by Loge on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:40:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Did you read my entire comment? (0+ / 0-)

        I said that folks who are clearly and conclusively guilty of some heinous act upon another deserve the DP.

        The problem is that when you have a death penalty, you not only execute guilty people, but you sweep-up the innocent as well sometimes, and execute them.  

        While I can only imagine the horror that loved ones are left with after a horrible crime is committed, I imagine that it's not dissimilar to the horror that loved ones feel when their innocent family member is executed in error.

        In both instances you have an innocent person who was killed for whatever reason.

        I didn't always feel this way, and I certainly don't hold judgement on others who are pro-DP. I'm not sure there is a way to have true justice and fairness everytime. It's a matter of which side do your err on?

        I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

        by Lucy2009 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 05:40:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The problem is that Troy's jury said he was guilty (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Observerinvancouver, Lucy2009

          too.  Without doubt, they said!   ...but we know it's not true or at least we think it's not true.

          So that's why the DP is wrong in all cases, we can never be 100 percent sure.

          What if someone said they did it and the police made them say it or they are insane or a minor and scared or the signed statement is a forgery???

          Even with a confession We simply  Can't be 100 percent positive, ever...so the DP must be abolished because innocent people will at some point be put to death for a crime they didn't commit.  

      •  Not "proven beyond all doubt." (4+ / 0-)

        That's not the legal standard used. Reasonable doubt is the standard used.

        They're not the same.

        And I've had a loved one murdered decades ago. It's a cold case-- never solved. So I don't have to guess how I would feel. Killing the murderer will not bring my loved one back. There is never closure.

        And mistakes are made more often than we'd like.  In my case, there was no rush to judgment. In other cases, there has been and innocent men have been tried. In both, the bad guy still walks among us.

        Executing a convicted killer, one that may have been innocent, means that the real one walks down your sidewalks, sits in your neighborhood park, has children who attends your child's school.  The case is officially closed with the execution and the true killer is free.

        If a wrongly convicted person sits in prison for years, even decades, there's still a chance that the truth will surface.

        © grover


        "Overflow zone. So much thinking going on." -- Meteor Blades, August 2, 2004.

        by grover on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 05:41:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The more of your comments I read, the surer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sagesource

        I am that I oppose the death penalty.  

        We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

        by Observerinvancouver on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 07:06:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  When you're in a hole... (0+ / 0-)

        ....stop digging.

        You're already shown yourself up as less than admirable by telling us who have had persons close to us murdered that we must absolutely be consumed by the desire for revenge, etc. etc. etc.

        Face it. You're looking for someone to kill, but you want society's sanction. And you're getting pretty sulky when we say you shouldn't have it. Even though we are some of those "someones" you arrogantly presume to speak for.

        I dance to Tom Paine's bones.

        by sagesource on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 03:53:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer, erush1345, Lucy2009

      ... but its more likely than not that Troy Davis shot the cop.  It might actually set your mind at ease a bit to read the 174 page court document that lays out all the evidence from start to finish.

      Having said that, I am passionately opposed to the death penalty.  And in this case, I'm opposed to Davis' execution even though I believe he committed the crime for which he was ultimately executed.

  •  Equally worth opposing is non judicial killings (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tofumagoo, Friend of the court

    by our government in other countries, including the targeting of US citizens.

    “This week, The Washington Post featured two articles documenting the troubling expansion of the United States’ drone program through the establishment of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drone bases in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as the development of technology that will allow for the automated use of lethal force by drones – drones that ‘hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans.’  This futuristic use of technology is reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984, two fictional novels in which advanced societies use technology to control their populations both mentally and physically. In 1984, a facial tic could grant the appearance of guilt leading to arrest. In real life, we are building a society where robotic drones act as judge and jury and instantly dispense death from 10,000 feet.

    Thanks for the story.  

  •  This is always a difficult decision (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnny wurster, erush1345

    Even so, I still favor the death penalty under certain circumstances.

    Back in 1990, I was living in Gainesville, and for 3 straight days, we were rocked with the murder of 5 college students. I myself lived in an apartment only a few miles from where the murders were occurring. While the murders stopped, the terror I felt at the time continued. I barricaded myself in my apartment at night, sleeping with a carving knife at my bedside. Eventually, things did start to settle down, and life returned more or less to normal. The perpetrator was eventually caught, Danny Rolling.

    I should point out that the police investigation was about as thorough as possible, and when he was convicted, there was no doubt whatsoever about his guilt. He was executed 16 years after the murders.

    When someone is facing capital punishment, there needs to be a much higher standard for conviction. But I've seen first hand what a Danny Rolling can do to a community, and while I don't have any sort of blood lust, I still think that at times, it is justified.

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:41:11 PM PDT

  •  DP advocates must accept execution of innocent. (4+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:41:53 PM PDT

  •  No longer sitting on the fence (3+ / 0-)

    Seems like I should have figured this out a long time ago but as of now I am firmly in the oppose capital punishment camp. Hopefully there are many more like me that have been awakened by the execution of Troy Davis and for that he will be remembered.

  •  The blatant bias of it all gets to me (0+ / 0-)

    Though I oppose the practice of capital punishment in the USA, and probably most other places, I am not theoretically opposed to capital punishment.  But in a land where a proven sexual sadist murderer, BTK, is given life in prison and someone like Troy Davis, whose guilt is seriously in question, is put to death, then the justice system in that land is completely irrational and arbitrary.  What follows shows you just how out of whack it is.  BTK was a threat to the members of one half of humanity, and will remain so for the rest of his life.  His hunger to kill women is insatiable.  He was plotting to kill a neighbor when he was caught.  He adjusted the age range of his potential victims over time to take into account his own increasing age.  He didn't want any of his victims to escape, so rather than run that risk, he began stalking older women.  Sexual sadist murderers keep trophies to use as sex toys.  These were found.  There was no doubt about his guilt.  His capture broke him psychologically.  BTK began spilling his gut about his crimes immediately.  No plea bargain was needed.  All his secret trophy stashes were found.  He never intended to stop.  And he gets life in prison?

    So even though I theoretically support the death penalty for heinous crimes, especially war crimes or crimes against humanity, I could never support a death penalty operated by a justice system corrupted by money and racism.

    "To know what is right and to do it are two different things." - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin "It was like that when I got here." - Homer Simpson

    by rbird on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:46:47 PM PDT

    •  Who is BTK? (0+ / 0-)

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:55:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  BTK (0+ / 0-)

        Dennis Rader of Park City, KS, Bound, Tortured & Killed 10 people in the Wichita, KS area between 1974 and 1991.

        In 2005, he was caught because of familial DNA testing matching his daughter as a family member to the perpetrator.  He had made contact with the Wichita police & media in the months prior to that, taunting them about their inability to identify him.

        One of the reasons he gave at his alocution hearing for assuring his own capture was that Kansas had recently reenacted the death penalty and his urges to kill had started to become uncontrollable.  Because his crimes were committed at a time when Kansas did not have the death penalty, he wasn't eligible to be sentenced to death.  Had he killed again, he would have been.

    •  But... Cheney isn't in prison. (0+ / 0-)
      But in a land where a proven sexual sadist murderer, BTK, is given life in prison...

      Oh, you mean the OTHER 'BTK.' (One Dennis Rader, IIRC.)

      "We come on a peace thing. White flag?" "White flag!"

      by VictorLaszlo on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 05:02:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do you consider BTK sane? (0+ / 0-)

      Executing the insane has been taboo since Roman times.

      Someone with an overwhelming urge to kill is not sane. They need to be stopped and confined, almost certainly for the rest of their lives, but you have no right to judge them. They do not possess free will even in the limited sense ordinary people do.

      And anyone who thinks that someone with an overwhelming urge to kill IS sane should probably be seeking professional help. Quickly.

      I dance to Tom Paine's bones.

      by sagesource on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 04:02:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes he is sane just evil (0+ / 0-)

        and like a rabid animal he needs to be put down. In this day and age we should have stricter guidelines on when we can and cannot apply the death penalty. Eyewitness testimony should be enough to convict but not enough to condemn to death. Forensic evidence should be used, but only after it is independently peer reviewed for accuracy.

        We have the tools at hand to prevent future Troy davis' from being executed on the basis of eyewitnesses and I don't understand why we don't implement those reforms.

  •  We are Lawrence Brewer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Friend of the court, RonV

    Brewer was trained to hate (more) in prison. He was trained by our agents, by our system to hate even more than he did when he entered prison. Therefore, Brewer is an extension of us.

    His death does not give cloture to our culpability for the system that nourished Brewer's hate.

    Rehabilitation and redemption are for the good of all. A punishment based system of vengeance and anger perpetuates hate and violence.

    We are Troy Davis and we are Lawrence Brewer.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

    by FishOutofWater on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:47:18 PM PDT

  •  I wrote a diary just the other day (0+ / 0-)

    Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

    by plf515 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:47:28 PM PDT

  •  I find it interesting that a party... (6+ / 0-)

    ...that has such a visceral distrust of government, and such a loudly stated desire to "right to live" should feel perfectly comfortable with capital punishment.  We can't trust government to keep us safe, but we can trust them to kill the "real" criminals?

    Come on.

    Let there be balance in all things.

    by DawnG on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:48:37 PM PDT

  •  of course they will never (0+ / 0-)

    want to abolish capital punishment, no matter how much it goes against purported Christian values because it saves them money. huzzah austerity >.>

    •  We need to inform them. (4+ / 0-)

      • The California death penalty system costs taxpayers $114 million per year beyond the costs of keeping convicts locked up for life. Taxpayers have paid more than $250 million for each of the state’s executions. (L.A. Times, March 6, 2005)

      • In Kansas, the costs of capital cases are 70% more expensive than comparable non-capital cases, including the costs of incarceration.
      (Kansas Performance Audit Report, December 2003).

      • In Maryland, an average death penalty case resulting in a death sentence costs approximately $3 million. The eventual costs to Maryland taxpayers for cases pursued 1978-1999 will be $186 million. Five executions have resulted. (Urban Institute 2008).

      • The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the costs of sentencing murderers to life imprisonment. The majority of those costs occur at the trial level. (Duke University, May 1993).

      • Enforcing the death penalty costs Florida $51 million a year above what it would cost to punish all first-degree murderers with life in prison without parole. Based on the 44 executions Florida had carried out since 1976, that amounts to a cost of $24 million for each
      execution. (Palm Beach Post, January 4, 2000).

      • In Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at
      the highest security level for 40 years. (Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992).

  •  Powerful Point (4+ / 0-)

    I've never seen it put this clearly:

    Because as long as this nation is executing the Lawrence Russell Brewers it also will be executing the Troy Davises. It is not possible to have one without the other. This must be understood.

    In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects. J. William Fulbright

    by crescentdave on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:49:14 PM PDT

  •  No diaries about Troy Kell? (0+ / 0-)

    No one seems to be doing any diaries about how Troy Kell shouldn't be executed.

  •  Not all of us, by statute (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight

    Let's not here that sixteen states have passed laws that prohibit them from using the death penalty.  So you don't think it's a recent development, Michigan abolished its death penalty in 1846 and Wisconsin its, in 1853.  I don't think I need to point out that all but three of the sixteen are in the Northeast and Midwest (the outliers are West Virginia, Hawaii and Alaska).

    Indeed, Lawrence.  Thou shalt not kill is unconditional.  I just wonder how anyone who supports it can claim the inerrancy of the Bible.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 03:57:34 PM PDT

  •  Politicize justice and this is what you get (3+ / 0-)

    Monetize and corporatize politics and you will get even more of this.

    Until we take away the state's presumptive right that it can kill its own citizens with impunity, none of us are truly free.

    Troy Davis is each and every one of us, given the wrong set of circumstances.

    Not that life is a cage is a cakewalk.  But life in a cage can be undone if justice demands it.  Death cannot.

    Land of the propagandized; home of the ignorant.

    by Lavocat on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:01:25 PM PDT

  •  "Almost certainly did not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norm in Chicago

    commit" is not valid. Either he did it or did not do it or the truth is not yet known. And, not knowing the truth yet is certainly the case. Circumstantial evidence, with some discrepancies, is not enough proof to execute anyone. All witnesses corroborate, pictures, confessions, DNA, similar past arrests, all go along way in convicting a murderer, and none of these were present in this case. That should be enough to warrant reasonable doubt especially when too many past executions have proved to be levied on the wrong suspect.

  •  asdf (5+ / 0-)

    I oppose capital punishment for the following reasons, in order of how important they are to me.

    1.  Irrevocable Mistakes

     Juries err.  There is no way to correct the error if the defendant is dead.  This simple fact should make anyone interested in protection of our sacred liberties seriously pause over the utility of capital punishment.  

    2. The power of the state to put someone to death is an awesome power.

    The central moral political question here is NOT whether those convicted of violent crime deserve to die.  Rather, whether the  state deserves to kill those whom it has imprisoned.

    Again, anyone interested in protection of our sacred liberties should seriously question freely allowing the state much latitude here.  I'm thinking, ultimately, of curbing tyranny.

    3. Justice

    The facts of the matter, as I understand them, are clear:

    The darker and poorer you are, the greater likelyhood you will be sentenced to death.

    Race, of course, plays a large role.  

    The U.S. Department of Justice’s own figures reveal that between 2001 and 2006, 48 percent of defendants in federal cases in which the death penalty was sought were African Americans… the biggest argument against the death penalty is that it is handed out in a biased, racially disparate manner.

    Link

    But do not forget the more money you have, the more justice you get.  More money  buys you a better defense.  Money buys you justice.  

    While a travesty in general, in the specific case of the death penalty, it is quite simply unconscionable that the poor should die because they cannot afford an adequate defense.  

    Our justice system selects the poor to die.

    There they are.

     Note: I did not speak to debates about the morality of  retribution, the cost, Constitutional issues or deterrence.  The debates sorrounding those  are to me tangential at best  More importantly, they confuse the issue.

    Simply put, I have used above three, (well, really four) arguments against capital punishment to persuade right wingers with a brain cell to reconsider their position.

    Particularly numero uno.

     

  •  The entire "civilized world" got together (5+ / 0-)

    and hanged the Nazi's  I know that I have invoked the corollary to Godwin's law, but I have to ask, were those not just?  Where do we draw the line?  I find it hard to say to myself there were no such cases in history where it was justified.  Dahmer comes to mind as a particularly glaring example.  Certain people who we know can never be reformed.  Pol Pot, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, even Saddam Hussein - there are scads of people throughout history who are clearly irredeemable.  What do we do with them?  I fine with locking them up and throwing away the keys, but then, aren't we housing and feeding the most vicious people in the history of the world for free?

    My point is this - is there no line ever that can be crossed to deserve that level of response?  When someone commits genocide on the scale of what happened in Europe multiple times or Rwanda, or Nanjing, what level of response can we deem appropriate?  I mean this less as a challenge to the author than a legitimate question because I myself do not know the answer and it troubles me greatly.  Where is that line, and if there is not one, how do we treat the most vile of our fellow humans in a way that doesn't disrespect their victims?

    I personally wish I knew and it does pain me.

  •  Actually, it does have an asterisk (4+ / 0-)
    Right wing demagogues love to blither about the Ten Commandments, but how many oppose on principle capital punishment? Thou shalt not kill contains no asterisk

    It's actually "thou shalt not murder," which was and is understood to be exclusive of the power of the state to kill.

    Or: that's the weakest possible argument against capital punishment.  The state can do a lot of things its citizens can't do.  As much as I'd like to compel you to give me money, for example, I can't do so.  And on and on.

  •  Actually, the Bible does address this. (5+ / 0-)
    Right wing demagogues love to blither about the Ten Commandments, but how many oppose on principle capital punishment? Thou shalt not kill contains no asterisk, yet so many of those directly involved in the process of executing people purport to be Christian.
    Exodus 21:12-14

    12"Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. 13However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.
    14But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.


    Assent- and you are sane- Demur- you’re straightway dangerous- And handled with a Chain- - Emily Dickinson

    by SpamNunn on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:25:33 PM PDT

  •  Capital punishment demeans life. (4+ / 0-)

    It turns life into just a commodity that the state can take away, if enough people approve of the sentence.

    It contravenes the argument against murder.  It says that killing is bad when an individual decides to do it, and that killing is good when a group of 12, or one judge, makes that decision.

    It is an abomination.  Five hundred years from now we'll be seen the way we sometimes look at the Middle Ages - as mostly barbarians slaughtering each other.

    Funny - HILARIOUS - how the "pro life" people are the most rabid executioners.

    Still enjoying my stimulus package.

    by Kevvboy on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:25:42 PM PDT

    •  Life IS a commodity (0+ / 0-)

      Taken strictly, your stance also condems war.  Does the government not then also have the power to make war, and kill as a group?  You can believe that if you wish, but that doesn't stop anyone from coming and killing you.  The power of the State to kill is an extension of the individual right of self defense.  Everyone has a right to defend their own life by taking the life of their attacker.  And if another group is coming for your group, you can either fight back or die.

      Life has always been a comodity.  Prey and preditor, it's how life has evolved.  There will always be barbarians willing to prey on humanity, and there will always be instances where not murder, but killing is necessary to defend the people and civilization.

      Don't be so naive as to believe that everyone shares your respect for life.  You're free to surrender if you like, but you can't make that decision for everyone.

      •  Very confused here. (0+ / 0-)

        You have mixed up two situations:

        1) Killing someone in the course of defending yourself against an attack from that someone.

        2) Defeating the attack from that someone, taking him or her prisoner and rendering him or her incapable of causing further harm, and then killing them.

        Executions in the War on Crime are equivalent to shooting POWs in an ordinary war.

        I dance to Tom Paine's bones.

        by sagesource on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 04:10:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Judge, jury, (2+ / 0-)

    executioner. The judge and the jury part fits.

    State sanctioned murder for a crime committed just doesn't fit. That is another territory altogether when we cross that line.  We condone and welcome murder under auspices of justice, then write it into law as that somehow gives us carte blanche.

    Call it an execution or any other verbiage; it is still murder when it is performed, regardless how you slice and dice all the minutia.

    When a heinous crime is committed, whom among us doesn't want the worst to befall the guilty? Hell I know I do.
    All my primal instincts say kill the SOB.

    Lawerence Russell Brewer was a POS of the highest order. Yeah, it's easy to kill vermin like Brewer. In the mind it can all be justified away. And that is the problem. We justify it.

    A line must be drawn. We must not allow ourselves to cross into this dark territory, no matter the justification. Justice is not served and our humanity is diminished.

    Time has come to transcend our primal instincts.  

    "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis Brandeis

    by wxorknot on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:27:33 PM PDT

  •  The religious whackjobs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Observerinvancouver

    claim that 'Thou shalt not kill' is properly translated as 'Thou shalt not murder.'

    They can then kill (or advocate killing) with impunity, because they only kill people righteously. So it's not 'murder' when they do it.

    Hell averted. Bloodthirst absolved.

    "We come on a peace thing. White flag?" "White flag!"

    by VictorLaszlo on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:34:27 PM PDT

    •  It's not made false because you call them (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer, erush1345, Pozzo

      whackjobs.  The OT both said "thou shalt not kill" and demanded capital punishment.  Do you seriously think they just didn't notice the discrepancy for several thousand years?

    •  That is the proper translation, deal with it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer, erush1345, Pozzo

      You can't just ignore what the original word actually meant at the time it was written.  The original word meant murder, not just the generic kill.  Already then, and for good reason, was the distinction made between lawful and unlawful killing.

      A lawful kiling is one made in self defense of an individual or elements of a civilization.  It is what protects and defends a civilization and allows it to exist.  An unlawful killing is the attacking of members of the civilization.

      Humans are not allowed to prey on other humans, but every human is allowed to kill it's preditor if that's how things go down.  The right of the State to kill is the group extension of the individual right.  Police, Soldier, Executioner.  State, collective control over the need to at times kill to protect the greater society.  We can discuss the degree of the application of that power, but it's not going away.

      •  It is said... but I say unto you.... (0+ / 0-)

        Read the whole thing. It doesn't say what you think it says.
        It's a principle, not a law.

        And if you can't figure it out, ask any religious leader.

        "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 01:08:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're free to die for your principal if you like (0+ / 0-)

          Jesus also said to turn the other cheek.  Which means if someone is coming to kill you, Jesus says to let them kill you.

          Well that may work just fine as religious principal, for those who are trying to sucker the weak minded into a death cult.  But for those of us in the real world, turning the other cheek, refusing to kill in self defense means we're dead and can do nothing to defend our wives and daughters who will probably be dragged off to be raped.

          So no thank you on that.  Oh and by the way, Separation of Church and State means the US government doesn't have to do what some ancient religious text says to.

  •  Mixed argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Sinistral

    Any human system does make mistakes.
    On the other hand, there are cases so obvious and awful, they do suggest the death penalty.
    Personally, I lean towards a system that can implement the death penalty for these egregious cases.
    I mean look at the murder cases in CT, if you are familiar with that. THose guys deserve to die tomorrow.

    Apparenly I'm a sanctimonious purist!

    by mattinjersey on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:36:37 PM PDT

  •  Here's a list of countries that have (4+ / 0-)

    executed lots of people

    China
    Iran
    Saudi Arabia
    Pakistan
    Dem. Rep Congo
    USA
    Iraq
    Taiwan
    Sierra Leone

    woooo..... what good company we keep!

    Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

    by plf515 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:37:10 PM PDT

  •  A well-reasoned, well-stated argument, but I'm (0+ / 0-)

    curious about this statement:

    There are other ways to deal with even the most cruel and brutal criminals

    What are they?

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:39:07 PM PDT

  •  We are # 1! (0+ / 0-)

    wooooot111!`

  •  Ironic, the moral absolutism here on DK (3+ / 0-)

    "Killing is always wrong."

    No, it isn't.  Some monster who rapes and murders a child deserves to die.  Period.

    The state also kills during war.  Is that always wrong, too?

    I lived in Austin when Kenneth McDuff was terrorizing the women of Central Texas back in 91-92.  That sack of shit deserved to die.  Period.

    I'll concede all the usual arguments that the DP doesn't deter crime.  Fine.  For me, it's about retribution.  If the state doesn't give me the retribution I'm entitled to if McDuff rapes and murders my wife or mother, I'm going to take it myself.  That's a path we don't want to go down, is it?  Vigilantism leads to anarchy.

    And for those of you who say, "Well, that doesn't make you any better than McDuff," I say "Fuck you."

    Having said all that, I am opposed to executing innocent people.  The burden of proof in a capitol case needs to be much higher.  For starters, the DP should be off the table unless there is solid DNA and/or photographic evidence.  Secondly, the state should be obligated to provide for the best defense as possible for the accused, no more underpaid, overworked Public Defenders assigned capitol cases.

    •  What a relief to learn that you oppose (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sagesource, Karl Rover

      executing innocent people.  

      We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

      by Observerinvancouver on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 07:23:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you take retribution yourself... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Observerinvancouver, Karl Rover

      ....you are an outlaw, liable to immediate arrest and to be killed if you resist arrest, and have been so considered for nearly two thousand years under Western law.

      If you are in combat with people who have not surrendered during a war, and kill them, this is usually not considered murder. But if you take someone prisoner and kill him or her, you're guilty of murder. Criminals in a shootout with police fall into the first category. Criminals safely behind bars are in the second.

      As for the person who rapes and murders children, I can only point out the same thing that I pointed out above. Do you consider this a sane thing to do? Because the insane cannot bear responsibility for their actions, however horrible. Executing an insane person was already forbidden under Justinian's legal code in the Later Roman Empire. The insane can and must be isolated from society for its own protection, but they cannot be punished.

      And what precisely do you mean by retribution? Is the person guilty of two murders to be executed twice? The concept is incoherent gibberish.

      I dance to Tom Paine's bones.

      by sagesource on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 04:23:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Conservatives' take on these executions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Observerinvancouver

    Conservatives are trying to make the case that all the news coverage and ire that has been so prevalent for the Davis' execution and the lack thereof for Brewer's execution is blatant racism because Davis was black and Brewer white.

    It's how they work.  I started listening to Neal Boortz...conservabot radio talk show host...and that was his point of view saying liberals are against the death penalty unless it meets their own criteria for being sanctioned....like a hate crime or a crime against a minority.

    I read in an op-ed in our local fish wrap that Rush Limbaugh said basically the same thing.

    These people need a good old fashioned horse whipping.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:54:58 PM PDT

  •  Hate to disagree, but... (4+ / 0-)

    A true "person of conscience" does not find it difficult to oppose the execution of Brewer.  Or Timothy McVeigh or Gary Gilmore or even John Wayne Gacy.  Murder, even state sanctioned, is still wrong.  A true "person of conscience" also has no problem saying that Rick Perry is a bloodthirsty mass murderer.

    The Founding Fathers were a bunch of East Coast liberals

    by ImaJoeBob on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:56:22 PM PDT

  •  There is no conflict (0+ / 0-)

    here. The conflict arises from the irrational insistence that the guilty not be spared. True death penalty opponents, who oppose on principles other than the obvious fact that innocents get executed, see no conflict. The idea that we must avoid at all costs the prospect that crime could go unpunished is based on a misinterperetation of the principles of justice on which our country was founded. There is very little in this spirit to be found in the founding documents. Almost everything is about limiting the government's power to punish, as it should be, and as Americans will soon find out if they continue down this road, that is a good idea.

    One obvious solution would be to create a special class of persons convicted who are essentially dead -- incarcerated indefinitely for their natural lives with no possibility of release. The death penalty itself could actually be maintained in the court system the way it is, but there would simply be no legal process by which to carry it out. These people would thus be in a state of legal limbo, awaiting an execution that could never occur, until nature does the dirty deed for us. If corporations can be (imaginary) people, then such a legal construct would be no feat. And, in the end, the death penalty, in cases like Troy Davis, could be reversed.

    Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
    Mark Twain

    by phaktor on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 04:58:15 PM PDT

    •  Blackstone's formulation: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sagesource
      In criminal law, Blackstone's formulation (also known as Blackstone's ratio or the Blackstone ratio) is the principle: "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer", expressed by the English jurist William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in the 1760s.

      According to this interesting article:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      this principle (with varying ratios) dates back to the Bible.  

      One paragraph:

      Other commentators have echoed the principle; Benjamin Franklin stated it as, "it is better [one hundred] guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer". But more authoritarian personalities are supposed to have taken the opposite view; Bismarck is believed to have stated that "it is better that ten innocent men suffer than one guilty man escape;" and Pol Pot and Wolfgang Schauble have made similar remarks. The latter said in the context of crime prediction (not crime punishment) that he believes that it is not better to let ten terrorist attacks happen than to try to hinder one possibly innocent person to conduct one.

      I wouldn't be surprised to learn that more of your Founding Fathers than Ben Franklin agreed with Blackstone's formulation.  And I wouldn't want to be found on the same side of any argument with Pol Pot.  

      We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

      by Observerinvancouver on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 07:38:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I did not see this. Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        for the reply. Blackstone is, of course, but a small part of the history of thought on this issue, as you point out.

        Today, the math of statistics has provided the best way to view the problem with their Type I and Type II error idea (false positives and false negatives). Of course, the best we can rationally hope for is to set the error rate at some comfortable level. As with the statistical model, there is no possibility of absolute certainty or zero error. Political differences boil down to where people set that comfort level (in addition to some other things such as the way they conceptualize law enforcement and their sense of solidarity with enforcers).

        Personally, I would prefer 100 or 1000 guilty to walk, because I can at least rightfully attempt to protect myself from criminals. I cannot protect myself from government power. The government power is thus the greater danger by far (I would say 100 or 1000 to 1). No one can hear you scream.

        Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
        Mark Twain

        by phaktor on Thu Sep 29, 2011 at 10:48:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't care about the 10 commandments. When Don (0+ / 0-)

    Blankenship kills 29 miners who work in his unsafe mines, he should get the death penalty, too.

  •  I'm opposed to capital punishment on so (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sagesource

    many different practical grounds that I've never really wrestled the idea of whether or not it is moral for society to deliberately murder a person to a conclusion.  

    There are so many ways an innocent person can be convicted - sloppy police and prosecutorial work, police and prosecution tunnel vision, police and prosecution lust for a notch in their belts, incompetent counsel, malicious false witness - that, imo, no rational person can support the death penalty for those reasons alone.  I'm thankful we do not have the death penalty in Canada.  We've had some spectacular wrongful conviction cases over the years.  

    That said, I'm not lamenting the killing of Lawrence Russell Brewer.  But far better that he should live than that someone like Troy Davis be murdered.

    We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

    by Observerinvancouver on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 05:10:27 PM PDT

    •  You know what else we have in Canada? (0+ / 0-)

      Capital punishment abolished about 40 years ago.

      As of this year, the lowest murder rate in fifty years.

      Correlation does not prove causation, of course. But it would be very hard to argue that abolishing capital punishment must lead to more murders given the above facts.

      I dance to Tom Paine's bones.

      by sagesource on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 04:27:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Having read over a hundred pages of court docs.... (5+ / 0-)

    ... I was left puzzled about why this case in particular has attracted so much attention.  

    When you actually delve into the minutia of the case, it seems fairly obvious that Davis killed the cop.  Taken as a whole, there was a mountain of evidence pointing to his guilt.

    So, it seems to me that this case warrants nothing more than general outrage against the DP, and not outrage over this specific case.

    •  I agree (5+ / 0-)

      I am opposed to the death penalty, and believe, of course, that Davis should not have been executed. But I read the 170+ page US District Court Habeus Corpus decision. It very convincingly addresses every argument I've seen in favor of innocence in the press. I believe quite the opposite of the diarist; Troy Davis almost certainly did shoot and kill the police officer.  It's the fact that any doubt at all exists and that our system can never be perfect enough to administer a punishment that takes life; the system doesn't work.

      •  The flaws of the DP pale in comparison... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Friend of the court

        ... to the myriad of less dramatic injustices inflicted daily.  Its not the Troy Davis' of the world I worry about as much as the thousands of other innocent (or marginally guilty) kids whose lives are ruined because of a pile of petty wrongs, petty wrongs they lack the means to fight.

  •  I'm just going to tiptoe in quietly to mention... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, Pozzo

    Thou Shalt Not Kill is not literal. In many scholarly schools of thought the actual phrase is properly translated as Thou Shalt Not Murder.

    The only reason I bring this up is because I believe many people do NOT see the death penalty as murder.  Clearly, Brewer committed murder. His death is likely seen as payment--a moral debt--for murdering another.  There just isn't any daylight anywhere in terms of the death of Davis.

    I am wholly opposed to the death penalty for ANY crime. Period. Always have been.  I find it morally repugnant, but more importantly, if we save one innocent life by abandoning the death penalty, good.

    I just find that using that Biblical phrase makes many, myself included, wince given, at best, the uncertainty of original meaning.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

    by cany on Sun Sep 25, 2011 at 09:19:00 PM PDT

  •  Please sign my petition to abolish the death (0+ / 0-)

    penalty

    You can find it here

    Diary here

    It reads:

    We petition the Obama administration to:

    Abolish the death penalty.

    Our criminal justice system is not perfect. Prosecutors, attorneys, defendants, judges and juries make mistakes. Since 1973, there have been 138 cases of prisoners who were exonerated and freed from death row. It stands to reason that there are other innocent people currently on death row awaiting execution.

    Regardless of whether capital punishment is right or wrong, it is often applied unfairly, it cannot be applied with 100% accuracy and it is an irreversible sentence. The risk of killing an innocent person is far too great to risk employing capital punishment at all.

    We urge you to abolish the death penalty. You should do it right away.

    It needs 150 signatures to become searchable on the white house website. Please help it get there!

  •  Too many guns and too much crime. (0+ / 0-)

    Isn't it beyond time for us to do something about the crime rate in America?  Doing something about the crime rate does not mean more punishment and more executions, it means PREVENTION.  We really need to have a national dialogue about why we have this very high crime rate and what we must do to create a more civilized society.  We really need to fix our country before we lecture everyone else on what it means to be "civilized," and being civilized certainly doesn't mean cheering politicians who brag about how many people they've executed.  

  •  Troy davis, although enough reasonable doubt (0+ / 0-)

    has subsequently called his guilt into serious question, was convicted of deliberately killing a human being.. and we all know that deliberately killing someone is a mortal SIN (euphemistically speaking)... so to demonstrate just how "sinful" his actions were, a few appointed bureaucrats in Georgia DELIBERATELY KILLED HIM.

    Anyone else notice the irony?

    This is not "justice".. this is REVENGE... fulfilling a primal need to spill blood to sate one's equally primal need to fulfill a misguided aura of moral 'superiority'.

    For me, "JUSTICE" is the rendering of ENLIGHTENED JUDGMENT... the DISPOSITION OF THE LAW within the bounds of CIVILIZED BEHAVIOR (which means the STATE must HOLD ITSELF to the SAME PRINCIPALS that it holds INDIVIDUALS to).

    Justice does NOT mean "an eye for an eye".. nor should it be an impetus to try to dissuade people from breaking the law (as history has proven this tact ineffectual).

    Those found 'guilty', if incarcerated for the rest of their lives, would satisfy true "justice"...

    An act of SOCIETAL MURDER, rationalized biblical references notwithstanding, is exactly the OPPOSITE.

    "I'm a study of a man in chaos in search of frenzy."

    by Sandy Berman on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 04:28:01 AM PDT

  •  My only misgivings are practical (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pozzo

    From a moral and common sense POV, I think the punishment for taking a life or lives should be that you lose your own. This has nothing to do with religion. I don't need a Bibal verse read to me to understand or embrace the idea of reciprocity. And I don't think CP darkens our "souls". I'm not even sure we have "souls".

    The problem for me is practical. As humans we are prone to error even with the best of intentions. We are not omniscient or omnipresent. Then when you take into account bad actors who are either overzealous, or outright corrupt, the moral foundation for CP falls apart.

    Still, if we ever do develop godlike abilities as humans I'd say "hang 'em high".  Then again, didn't Superman's parent employ the Phantom Zone on General Zod and his lacksies instead of CP? Perhaps our standards of justice will evolve as we do after all! Then again, the Phantom Zone might have actually been cruel and unusual. It does not look pleasent.

  •  Was Troy Davis really innocent? (0+ / 0-)

    I got interested in this case, and did some research. Sorry, but I'm not convinced of his innocence.  Sure, there were some recantations, but there were a lot of non-recantations.  And why didn't Davis's defense put the recanters on the stand during the review hearings?  I think Georgia and the Supreme Court did a good job of vetting his case (unlike Rick Perry's handling of the Willingham case.)  A recanter could easily be pressured by members of his community to go forward and recant to save someone's life - but obviously in this case not enough so to have a possible perjury charge.

    Now, if we're going to say that anytime there is a recantation (and let's presume that such a recantation is done on the stand, with proper cross-examination), that a capital conviction should be thrown out, then perhaps there is an argument to be made.  Such a system would render the death penalty functionally impossible (which would be a good thing.)

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