A Conversation for The Death Penalty

Pragmatic vs. moral arguments

Post 21


I don't think a life-sentence deters crime any less than a death sentence does. The difference of degree between the two punishments is virtually nil. It's like the difference between being burned with a 10,000 degree flame and a 12,000 degree flame; essentially, they both have the same impact.

Only the death-sentence is a whole lot more difficult to enforce.

Pragmatic vs. moral arguments

Post 22

Horse with no name

As I'm living in Europe, I can say something about it: indeed, there isn't any european nation (I mean of the EC) which has death penalty... More: it's one of the conditions to be a part of it: abolish CP.

Life and death

Post 23

Xedni Deknil

A few comments from people in favor of the death penalty seem to suggest that life imprisonment isn't much of a punishment.


I have no objection to some of my taxes being used to show that society as a whole doesn't approve of murder in any form.

Life and death

Post 24


I agree. Society cannot take a stand against killing people BY killing people.


Post 25

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

This is a response to 'Horse with no name's' message in an Amnesty International thread that I thought would be more approriate here.

I am not particullarly concerned with whether or not executions are an effective deterent to others. I merely consider what seems to be appropriate punishment for a person who commits a terrible crime. I try to think back to what happened to the victim during the commision of the crime. What is the appropriate punishment for what that victim had to go through?

We're a civilized society, we can't use eye-for-an-eye to punish some people. Execution is the ultimate penalty we can use.

Rape is the most horrible violation of a persons privacy possible. I can't imagine a rape victim not fearing for her life during the crime. I consider it a more terrible crime than even murder. I think execution is the least we should do to the perpatrator.

I would also add Aggravated Child Molestation to the list of capital crimes (The other capital crimes in Georgia are Kidnapping, Treason, and Armed Robbery; however, the Supreme Court in Georgia v. Coker has, improperly in my view, limited the use of executions to crimes that result in death). Those perpatrators, much like serial rapists, commit the most awful offenses, and they can't be cured or detered.



Post 26

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

"A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being."

When society executes someone, it's not murder. They do it lawfully. In the United States we have numerous safeguards to ensure that we're executing the right person.


Post 27

Neugen Amoeba

Defining execution as not murder simply because it's passed as law is no different to making a law to refer to the colour yellow as blue. The morality of taking the life of another person should not be based on present legal dogma. History has shown us that the legal system of any given place at any given time often only reflects the ignorance of the time: burning people at the stake for which craft, stoning people for blesphamy (still happens for adultery in some countries).

Although the crimes you've described deserve punishment, they also deserve to be fixed in a more intellegent manner, and the only way that is going to happen is if we address the reasons for why they happen in the first place.

Already the legal system takes into account (in a discretionary way) the history of the offender when dealing out punishment: did they have a rough child hood? Where they abused by their peirs? Whas there a history of drug abuse in the family? And there invariably is....

What I don't understand is how, once taking all this into account, we are content to spend all that money punishing the individual, while spending a small fraction on addressing the problems that lead to the crime?


Post 28

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

I think there is a very important difference between murder by an individual and an execution sanctioned by the state. The state executes perpatrators of heinous crimes after determining that society can no longer suffer the perpatrator to live.

A murder kills people for his own selfish reasons.


Post 29


"A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being."

In Missouri, on Nov 15 we will execute an individual, James Chambers, unless there is an unlikely act of clemency before then, for shooting someone in a bar-fight. There goes the "malice aforethought".

In addition, according to an alert from the local chapter of CADP (Coalition Against the Death Penalty):

"his trial counsel did not show the jury evidence of
(a) Chambers' IQ (78) and also head injury with resulting impulsiveness, lack of premeditation;
(b) the probability of self-defense and the victim's reputation for violence"

In 1972 The US Supreme Court declared CP unconstiutional due to its racially biased nature. In 1976 the US Supreme Court reversed their decision declaring that in four years the US had eliminated all their racial biases. WOW! (Well, maybe they didn't exactly phrase it that way, but in essence that is what they said.)

I am not familiar with the Supreme Court decision declaring CP for crimes not resulting in death unconstitutional. (While it is somewhat a semantic argument, I know for a fact the Supreme Court did not make it illegal...only National and State Legislatures can create law. The Supreme Court only interprets.) If someone can provide some details for this case--e.g. what year this was-- I'd appreciate it.

Anyway, I think we're supposed to ignore all the studies done showing that one is more likely to be sentenced to death for killing a white person, than for killling a minority.

If people are concerned with keeping violent criminals away from non-violent criminals -- I think there may possibly be another solution than killing all the violent criminals. Perhaps separating the violent from the non-violent. I don't know, but I think it might work.

It's hard to argue against killing the Jeffrey Dahmers (beyond religious, moral arguments). However, we shouldn't use the Dahmers to justify killing those who do not belong on Death Row. I believe there are fortunately few Jeffrey Dahmers. I fear a large number of people on Death Row are like James Chambers mentioned above.

By the way...while it may not effect many people's beliefs...I realize people have said "an eye for an eye" isn't the origin of their stance...but the Vatican is against Capital Punishment, and so is Israel. (Israel has it for the crime of Genocide, but that's it)



Post 30


"The state executes perpatrators of heinous crimes after determining that society can no longer suffer the perpatrator to live.
A murderer kills people for his own selfish reasons."

Let's rephrase that slightly:

Society executes individuals after determining society can no longer suffer the individual to live.

A murderer kills individuals after determining they can no longer suffer the individual to live.

Or if you prefer:

Society executes perpetrators of crimes against said Society that Society deems heinous after determining that they can no longer suffer the perpetrator to live.

A murderer kills perpetrators of crimes against said murderer that the murderer deems heinous after determining that they can no longer suffer the perpetrator to live.

Either way, I don't see much of a difference.



Post 31


This post has been removed.


Post 32

Asteroid Lil - Offstage Presence

It's hard to argue against the desire for retribution felt by members of the victim's family in the case of murder and rape because so much of society has dispensed with the concept of blood money, or automatic compensation. It was once the case that, subsequent to a violent crime, people came together, not to argue for retribution but to determine the size and form of payment (symbolic retribution) to be awarded the victim and/or relatives by the perp and/or the perp's family. This system deflected the violent response which could so easily sink to the level of feud.

I suspect that those who speak in favour of the death penalty would also be the first to complain about the many ways in which the Justice system is watered down and ineffective. There appears to be no catharsis (or closure, if you will) in seeing the perp sentenced to life and getting out in 15 years. I don't know if this is a problem that can be addressed in this discussion.

As for the Jeffrey Dahmers and Dennis Nielsens of the world, I don't think it's fair to compare them with anybody else. The reason they are not declared criminally insane is for "political" reasons -- because to do so would deprive the public of the trial and what little catharsis remains in witnessing due process. But criminally insane they are.

As an American against the death penalty (and therefore member of a minority), I feel that retribution is insufficient justification for the state to withdraw a citizen's right to live. The penal system is repenting at leisure the government's faddish legislation against drug offenders that mandatorily sentences first offenders to hard time and throws them into prison to be predated by the wolves, the truly violent element. If a government can get it wrong in determining sentencing guidelines for one kind of crime, it can get wrong about any kind.


Post 33

Neugen Amoeba

The government getting things wrong? Never! Next you're suggesting that religious dogma may not be applicable to current society? Which religion? Well, pretty much all of them....

Looking to religious doctrine for justifying capital punishment (eye for an eye) is an argument along the same lines as looking to existing law and saying that it's right (because it is legal) to kill someone by execution. Both (law and religious dogma) are written to capture the knowledge, as well as the ignorance of the time.

When it comes to execution, revenge is the main motivation. There is no justice in execution. Nor is there any punishment. Anyone with an IQ above 78 would ask what missplaced half-wit (or a collection of these unfortunate individuals) made it possible for someone with an IQ of 78 to have access to a hand gun? (and alcohol at the same time!?)

Unfortunatelly most people cannot see past the person who perpetrated the crime to bother looking at what caused it.

The Supreme Court

Post 34

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

We didn't wipe out all racism in the United States when the Supreme Court started allowing executions. The states modified their laws so that specific aggravating factors had to be found by the jury to impose the death penalty. It was hoped that these modifications would ease or eliminate the bias against minorities.

I agree that we apparently haven't accomplished that. Were I a DA, I would require my ADA's to pursue the death penalty in all cases were statute allowed. If there were exceptional cases, then the ADA might present in writing his reasoning for not pursuing the death penalty. I would then publish that statement to the press.

Coker was an alleged person convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping, and aggravated assault escaped from prison. After escaping he committed an armed robbery and another rape. In COKER v. GEORGIA, 433 U.S. 584 (1977) a plurality stated that executing someone was for rape was disproportionate. The ruling basically stated that the state could only execute people for crimes from which death occurred. (Curiously, if you commit a rape, and the victim dies as a result, you can be executed for the rape, if for some reason the DA didn't want to charge you with murder. How's that for bizarre?)

Effective Sentancing

Post 35

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

"Unfortunatelly most people cannot see past the person who perpetrated the crime to bother looking at what caused it."

You have a point. There's a lot of research out there that the criminal justice system ignores (Not that I'm a big fan of acadamia. Theirmajor issue is to establish national uniform rules fopr law enforcement so they're studies are easier to accomplish). It points to more effective ways of dealing with violators. For instance, the vast majority of offenders in prison are drug adicted. We have them locked away for years, but we don't treat their addiction.

Then we have people advocating for the abolishment of parole. This is the most dangerous political efforts since welfare. The worst thing you can do is take someone who is instutionalized, and knows nothing but crime, drugs, and prison and put him on the street without a support network. A person on parole must find a place to live andmeaingful emplyment or go back to prison. The parole officer is there to help him find a home, work, and treatment for outstanding issues. During the time when a person is on parole, he is a prisoner serving his sentance in the community. While he is out, he has no privelges against search and seizure. Therefore he can be closely monitored.

Now this won't work for everyone. Serial child molestors, rapists, and murderers can not be cured, and they should never be released. In my view, they should be executed. Also, there are some people who just can't or won't stay straight on the outside. If you're a aprole violator, there's no reason to allow you out of prison.

I believe in punishment, but we're spending a lot of money ineffectively punishing people who can be treated. I belive prison stays should be breif and harsh. They should also include education and treatment for underlying problems.

Effective Sentencing

Post 36


"This is the most dangerous political efforts since welfare"!?! smiley - bigeyes
Ignoring your distinctive grasp of English grammar for a moment, what do you mean by THAT?!?
Should everyone who falls on hard times be left to starve, or to beg or rob to survive?
Exactly how far to the extreme right are you, two-bit etc?
Do tell.

Effective Sentencing

Post 37

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

I'll admit that I'm a little right wing. I have a problem with these liberal political reformers like Atilla the Hun and Genghis Kahn. smiley - smiley

Actually, I'm more of a libertarian than I am a conservative.

The Supreme Court

Post 38

Neugen Amoeba

Again I must resort to historical comparisons to make a point: In the past (and not altogether distant) people were executed for conditions which we now have identified as common mental disorders such as Schizophrenia, not only because people though they were posessed by the devil (well, this is somewhat more distant), but also because these conditions lead to other crimes.

Although I find the crimes of rape and child mollestation absolutely abhorent, along with most people in society, it does not mean we should not look into possible causes.

Now I know that this is a very dangerous arguement, namely that we could potentially show that no one is responsible for their actions based on genetic and environmental factors (drug, alcohol, parental abuse etc.). Proposing such an argument in certain circles may prove to be even more dangerous.

Obviously a line needs to be drawn somewhere, and in any case, death penalty or not, such people whether conscious perpitrators or motivated by getentics etc., need to be seperated from society.

The Supreme Court

Post 39

The Nitpicker

I agree with the early contribution which goes along the lines of 'given that we do not know what happens after death surely the best thing to do with murderers is not to kill them but to keep them locked up for life'. If we execute them MAYBE they will receive a reward rather than a punishment! Lock them up and throw away the key I say! There would also be a bonus in this approach in that anyone who was subsequently found not to have committed the crime they were convicted of could get SOME kind of recompense but you can NEVER repay someone who has been executed!

P.S. This issue is causing a lot of people to get very hot under the collar and thus lose all capacity to spell correctly!

Pragmatic vs. moral arguments

Post 40


I came to this talking point ready to rant and rave, only to find that you had eloquently done my ranting for me. Many thanks, every salient point was covered, and covered well, I might add. Capital punishment would only work if it were a Tarantino film: Evaluation, judg(e)ment, execution. Except it would have to be in two hours, not a week. Extreme punishment for a crime of passion must needs be passionate, not drawn out.

The torture is in the drawing out. Which is the more cruel?

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