Can we abolish the Death Penalty yet? - Illinois Legislature Bans Death Penalty

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by farraday, Aug 27, 2009.

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  1. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Two stories. First

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-tc-nw-texas-execute-0824-082aug25,0,5812073.story

    Cameron Todd Willingham case: Expert says fire for which father was executed was not arson

    Key portion


    The state fire marshal on the case, Beyler concluded in his report, had "limited understanding" of fire science. The fire marshal "seems to be wholly without any realistic understanding of fires and how fire injuries are created," he wrote.

    The marshal's findings, he added, "are nothing more than a collection of personal beliefs that have nothing to do with science-based fire investigation."


    Second

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/07/27/us_ordered_to_pay_1017m_in_false_murder_convictions/

    US ordered to pay $101.7m in false murder convictions

    After all four men were convicted July 31, 1968, of Deegan's slaying, Greco, Limone, and Tameleo were sentenced to die in the electric chair. Their sentences were later reduced to life in prison after Massachusetts abolished the death penalty. Salvati was sentenced to life in prison.


    For a quick background, the men in the second were set up by corrupt FBI agents and informants.

    I have no problem with the state killing people for heinous crimes. However it is also obvious that the legal systems verdict of guilty can tto begin to approach the standard of absolute guilt I hold for the death penalty. In this case I would rather have those I think worthy of the death penalty live in prison rather than let any more innocent men die for the faults of our justice system.
  2. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    Well, there's no death penalty in Canada.
  3. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    My state abolished the death penalty in 1852! [face_dancing]



    I just really do not understand the need for retribution, no matter what a person has done. That's the only reason I see why we have a death penalty.

    There are 4 possible functions of punishment:
    -protective function: to protect society from dangerous people
    -corrective function: to help reform a person so he's no longer a danger
    -deterrent function: to dissuade others from doing similar wrongs
    -retributive function: the idea that the wrongdoer deserves to suffer for his wrongdoing
    *None of these can reverse what a murderer has done.
    **Three of these functions (protection, correction, deterrence) work to prevent further crime (murder, in the case of the death penalty), while one (retribution) is just for... what, exactly?


    Retribution is not justice. Two wrongs do not make a right.


    Life Imprisonment is not less effective protection than the Death Penalty, they both keep the person away from society.


    Some may say that Death Penalty is a better deterrent than Life Imprisonment, I disagree.
    -What person is really going to logically calculate "Oh, should I only assault and rape this person, or should I also kill her? Hmmm, let me weigh the potential legal punishment of each crime according to the penal codes and statutes of my state..."
    -What gang member, smuggling guns/drugs, is going to suddenly become more aggressive and bloodthirsty by learning that the death penalty has been abolished?
    -What person in a maniacal rage or with severe psychological problems has really just stopped and snapped out of it, just because he realized that the death penalty (not merely life imprisonment, "that's nothing") may be the possible consequence if he proceeds to murder (intentionally or accidentally) that person?
    -But most importantly, what normal citizen is going to be more tempted to kill someone, now that the maximum sentence is no longer the death penalty? If the difference between a law abiding citizen and a murderer is the possible maximum legal penalty, and thinks life imprisonment is so much more acceptable and makes it so much more worthwhile to kill someone, then that person is really messed up and abnormal to begin with.


    I see no use for the death penalty in today's society, when we have high-security prisons.
  4. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Personally, I am supportive of the death penalty, but feel its usage should be careful, and for cases that are very definitive.

    I don't view it as retribution any more, imo, than you could say it is retribution to not let a criminal keep any other ill-gotten gains. This is the atheist in me talking, but in the case of someone taking someone else's life against their will and with intent, I see that as a very serious thing because of how permanent that end is. And I don't think its fair or right for someone that deprives someone else of life to be able to enjoy life themselves.

    It's not a "they did this, they must suffer" but "why should they get to enjoy that which they took from someone else?"
  5. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I am opposed to the death penalty on two grounds: firstly, I personally feel that the death penalty erodes the moral superiority of the system which has passed judgment and sentence on the very act of killing in the first place. It's like punishing a child who hit another child by hitting them and telling them "don't hit people". Would it not be better to keep these people in prison so that they cannot harm others but treat them humanely, not because they deserve it, but because we want to send a message that we are better than them, that we actually stand behind a commitment to the sanctity of life and are willing to honour that commitment even when we find it abhorent and it ruins us financially?

    Secondly, because the adversarial system of criminal justice, particularly the jury system, rewards the best lawyer in the courtroom rather than the best case. Most criminal convictions are based upon circumstantial evidence and circumstantial evidence can be distorted and sexied up to stun and amaze even the most bored of juries. Also, as I understand it, many of the officials of the law enforcement/criminal justice system in the United States are elected. Judges are elected, district attorneys are elected, even sheriffs are elected. In that context, guilty verdicts are sought after to maintain community confidence that justice is being served. Not guilty verdicts lead to loss of re-election. This taints the whole 'justice' system in my opinion. Certainly, I wouldn't want to face lethal injection simply because the judge, DA and sheriff lost the last one and by hell they won't lose this one for fear of their jobs.

    That is what happened in the Ron Williamson & Dennis Fritz case:

    http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/295.php

  6. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I'm going to disagree on this because of the suggestion that we should have an "all life is sacred, you can't kill anyone ever" policy that is implied by saying that we're passing judgement on the act of killing. We're not, we're passing judgement on the act of MURDER, which is a subset of killing.
    I don't think murder should be used interchangably with killing, because that opens the door to the rhetoric that is used against abortion, voluntary euthanasia, and suicide, as well as removing the very important difference between murder and killing in self defense or manslaughter.

    Also, I mean, a lot of what the government does is by a different set of rules than what people or corporations can do. I mean, forcing people to pay taxes or be arrested/fined has parallels to protection rackets, taking someone against their will and locking them up in a building would be kidnapping and false imprisonment.
  7. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I agree that murder is the better word. The death penalty is state sanctioned murder as it fits all of the legal requirements (intent to kill , act of killing etc) but really voluntary euthanasia is murder, suicide is murder, killing in self defense is a defence to murder as is manslaughter (which is just murder without the element of intent).

    I'm not sure I follow your other point.
  8. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I'd think that is ignoring that there is the unlawful element to defining murder. Which is, granted, nearly circular logic, but things like killing in self defense aren't considered murder, as there are exceptions to what is considered murder and what is not.
    From my perspective, a key element is the level of choice the person being killed has. For example, voluntary euthanasia, the person has consented. In self defense, the person being killed is responsible for the situation coming about. Suicide is choice.

    My other point was that the argument of "how can the government do something that it says people can't do" and my take is that, in many cases the government does that. Not just the death penalty.


    I'd also add that personally, I am very much in favour of the death penalty being used under restrictions for special circumstances of first degree murder only, and always (and I think this is always the case) with a lesser sentence being an option.
  9. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    The 'we' in the subject line are in good company:

    Death penalties since 1/2008
    China At least 5000
    Iran At least 346
    Saudi Arabia At least 102
    North Korea At least 63
    United States 37
    Pakistan At least 36
    Iraq At least 34
    Vietnam At least 19
    Afghanistan At least 17
    Japan 15
    Yemen At least 13
    Indonesia 10
    Libya At least 8
    Sudan At least 5
    Bangladesh 5
    Belarus 4
    Somalia At least 3
    Egypt At least 2
    United Arab Emirates At least 1
    Malaysia At least 1
    Mongolia At least 1
    Singapore At least 1
    Syria 1
    Bahrain 1
    Botswana 1
    Saint Kitts and Nevis 1
  10. Game3525 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2008
    star 4
    Huh, China has been busy the last few months eh?
  11. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    It's their new population-control program: Kill as many people as you can.
  12. DarthPoojaNaberrie Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 21, 2005
    star 5
    Holy crap @ China's #.

    The most persuasive argument I've heard for it was from some cop/warden/executioner (don't remember exactly) that said they want the murderer to walk into the lethal injection room and see the table they have to lie on and feel the same thing that their victim felt as they looked down the barrel of the gun (or whatever weapon) and realized their life was going to end and they couldn't do anything about it.

    I suppose they could get the same temporary response if they led the murderer to the table and then said, "psych. We just wanted you to feel how it felt. Now go back to your cell."
  13. Steven_R Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2008
    star 1
    To put it bluntly, some people just need killin'.

    Some crimes are just so henious, that simply putting a criminal in prision isn't good enough, not to mention that while they are in prison, they are still threats to staff and other inmates and have nothing to lose by being bad. We won't hesitate to put down sick animals, to cull the herd, but we get all wishy-washy when it comes to the "people" that do things likeWichita Massacre or Christian/Newsome murders.

    It's a perception issue. We're all reasonable, intelligent, rational people. We can't comprehend that monsters like those in the links above, or John Couey (the guy that kindapped, raped, and buried a 9 year old girl by the name of Jessica Lundsford alive. We tend to think all people are decent without really understanding that some people are monsters and need to be dealt with, quickly and permanently. We don't do that by simply warehousing them forever, out of sight and out of mind.

    I've got no problem with someone getting their neck stretched once it's been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are quilty, that the law was followed, and that their crime calls for it. I say give them their automatic appeal, then if the situation still warrants death, do it that day. I'd even go so far to expand the list of crimes that warrant death. Premeditated murder, murder for hire, treason, rape, child molestation, being involved with child pornography, and drug smuggling/selling should all lead to riding the lightning. If someone pleads guilty, fine, life at hard labor.
  14. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    That is a good point but for me I think all government action falls within the concept of the social contract (in the Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau meaning of the concept) to which people subject themselves to government government action and coercion, ie, agree to be bound by the laws of society, in order for social order to be maintained. To be a member of society and to benefit from the various institutions of society which provide the conditions for personal prosperity, you must follow the laws of society and suffer the consequences of punishment for violating them. However, philosophically at least, the proper punishment for violating the laws of society (and the social contract) should be limited to a removal of that person from society. I think the right of the government to kill its citizens is beyond the scope of the social contract.

    In this regard, I think it is entirely desirable for the government to make laws which outrightly prohibit murder and other wrongs but in terms of punishment draw a distinction between deprivation of liberty (which forms part of the social contract) and the forfeiture of ones life. Any action of the government which amounts to murder undermines the authority of the government to enforce its own laws. That's just my personal opinion.

    It's the proven "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that's the problem. The criminal burden is "beyond reasonable doubt".However, the adjudicator of whether that burden has been met is normally a jury. Would you really want your life being determined by 12 people off the street and how they understand the concept of "beyond reasonable doubt" as explained to them by a smart prosecutor?
  15. Steven_R Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2008
    star 1
    Which is why we have judges explain the law to the jury, the appeals process, and defense attorneys to make sure the defendant isn't being railroaded. But once they're found guilty of a crime warranting death, and once the appeals are over, it's tme to stop fooling around and get on with eliminating a cancer on humanity. Want to change the appeals process? Be my guest, but some people care nothing for the lives of decent people and should be made to pay with their own.
  16. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    I agree with Farraday on this issue.
  17. CucumberBoy Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2007
    star 3
    Not only can no one ever be proven 100% guilty, but the problem also lies in the fact that there has to be an executioner, which makes the state a murderer. And imo the state has no right to do that.

    And people go "Well if it was your daughter he raped and killed, you'd want him dead!"
    -Well of course! That's why we don't let people close to the victim be in the frickin' jury!
  18. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Yeah, I know how the system is designed to work. My point though is that the system is imperfect for many of the reasons I pointed out earlier. Believe me, if you are ever charged with a serious crime, the inherent flaws in an adversarial system of justice will become apparent, particularly if you have to rely on a state appointed attorney to defend you. People often make a big deal about the appeals process. What people don't know is the limited scope of an appeal. Basically, in order for an appeal to successful, you must demonstrate some error in law or fact in the first trial. You don't get to have a re-trial on appeal because you were unhappy with the outcome of the first trial. Where you are convicted on the basis of circumstancial evidence, the chances of a miscarriage of justice are high. Where that miscarriage results in your death I think that is unacceptable.

    Perhaps there is scope for the death penalty in cases where there is direct, eyewitnes evidence. But not where the evidence circumstantial and you end up getting killed because a clever prosecutor was able to weave a wonderful, emotional story to a bunch of jurors.

  19. CucumberBoy Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 11, 2007
    star 3
    Absolutely. But hypothetically, let's say we could prove someone 100% guilty, who would take that person's life?
  20. Black-Tiger Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2008
    star 3
  21. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    Not a new policy for the PRC, I would say...
    [face_mischief]

    In regards to the topic at hand, the death penalty is the only way to completely insure that a particularly heinous criminal will never, ever kill anyone again. Ever. A dead multiple murderer cannot shank a prison guard or beat another inmate to death or rape a convict in the showers.
  22. Black-Tiger Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2008
    star 3
    Agreed. They'll go to Hell anyway, so why not just quicken the journey for them!
  23. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9

    [image=http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Corridor/1086/rancor.jpg]


    There ya go. :p
  24. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    I can't vouch for the eternal destinations of everyone put to death, but all I know is that if someone tried to kill me on the street, I'd try to kill him (or her) right back. Declaring that they must never face the same grim reality sickens me. Placing somebody in prison is no guarantee that they won't escape or cause chaos, pain, suffering, and death on the inside. I've known too many correctional officers that have nearly been murdered by repeat-offending scum. And one of my borthers-in-arms from MP school was nearly shot (fortunately, the creep was a lousy marksman) by a two-time rapist during the course of arrest. Slapping cuffs on these degenerates in no way curtails their ability to cause harm. Predators don't stop being predators when they're in a cage at the zoo.
  25. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    For murderers, most are in high security prison, so they are very unlikely to ever murder again.

    I don't think it's in anyone's place to judge. We should treat others how we want to be treated. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Plus, religiously speaking, even a murderer can repent and go to heaven.
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