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. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    What I suggest is for prisoners to not become a drag on the economy. Executions are expensive. Life in prison is expensive. If a person has murdered several people with little chance of being exonerated, then we should not be condemned to pay for his lifetime sentence in prison. We should not be condemned to pay for all the additional prisons to keep the increasing number of them fed and kept. It's not unreasonable to say that they should provide for themselves; we have to provide for ourselves.

    It's not vengeance, but solving a problem with as little impact upon the state as possible. We can't afford to keep them all alive, but can't let them go free. There are higher priorities than those who's lives are essentially over.
  2. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    The end results are emphatically not the same. You're assuming that violent, destructive predators stop behaving as such when they are imprisoned. This if flagrantly inaccurate. Off the top of my head, I've already provided two examples of correctional officers nearly being murdered by one violent felon. The sheer number of prison assaults, rapes, and murders is further evidence. Unless you're arguing that these crimes occur in a vacuum and/or don't matter, your point about the protective function collapses.

    You can cage a wolf, but that won't stop it from being a wolf. Prisoners interact with each other, with correctional officers, law enforcement officers, prison doctors, nurses, cooks, ministers, and others on a routine basis. By simple virtue of the fact that these people are exposed to the most violent and predatory element of society, there is inherently substantial risk of death or serious bodily harm. Again, unless you're arguing that crimes perpetrated against people inside of a prison either don't matter or have no affect on society, you have to concede that life imprisonment is not going to guarantee that repeat offenders stop causing damage to society. And this is without even contemplating the possibility for escape.
  3. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Here is another matter that we have to take into consideration with life imprisonment. These guys are likely going to be among cold-killers and rapists. Not every one is happy to be among those such people. What do you suggest with 'not in my backyard?'

    Well they have to be put somewhere and as of now, our prison population is WAY too high to the extent that we are letting cons go out early in California. These aren't the maximum-security class, but that goes to show how bad our prison system is. We can't afford to lock these guys up and take care of them if we can avoid it.
  4. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    We can't afford to keep them alive.


    How about we set them to breaking rocks in quarries for use in our building projects. Or we could make them work in plantations. Oh we could train some in close quarter combat and let them hack at each other for our amusement.

    What the hell is wrong with you? You're advocating slavery and working people to death because it's too expensive to maintian our current ludicrously huge prison population thanks to our stupid drug laws. Solution? Work them to death.

    Are you joking?
  5. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    Give violent criminals access to heavy tools and security relaxed enough to allow for even marginally-productive labor and see what happens. These are people that routinely try to kill folks with spoons and their bare hands. Let's give 'em shovels and pick-axes and pretend they'll use them for good instead of evil.
  6. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    The other problem with putting criminals to work is that it may deprive citizens of jobs. If you operated a contracting business which sold labour for infrastructure projects and the like could you really compete with a prison workforce which operated for free? I mean somebody has to dig trenches, crush rocks and perform manual labour.

    Darth-Yuthura - would you oppose or support programs where convicted criminals could be used for medical experiments? The pharmaceutical industry would be able to produce prescription drugs at a major discount for society if it had a prison population to experiment on. The same for the cosmetic industry. Think of all the innocent rabbits which could be saved if we could test cosmetics on the prison population. What about using the prison population for mandatory blood supplies for hospitals. What about mandatory non essential organ supplies for organ transplants? I mean you can function with one eye and one kidney. Where do you stand on these issues?

    Does the state's right to deprive you of your liberty mean that all of your rights are abolished? Can the state forbid you from practising your religion? What about other rights? Does the state have any duty of care to you as an inmate?



  7. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    You give them the jobs that no one else wants to do. Not the dangerous ones, but simply picking oranges would make more sense than paying Mexican immigrants who are willing to work for less than minimum wage. It's at least better than having them leech off the State.

    Yeah, that would give them some motivation not to be sent to prison.

    And what of the rights of their victims? Such people forfeited these rights when they committed the crime in the first place. They deserve no mercy because they chose to surrender these rights the first time they denied the right to live from another.
  8. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Martin Bryant received a life sentence for every person he killed. So he received 35 life sentences. On top of that he recieved sentences for the 20 odd people he shot and tried to kill but luckily failed. This is just the way sentencing works. If you kill three people, you serve three life sentences, if you kill 30 people, you get 30 life sentences. It's all just a number at the end of the day because the reality is, as we all know, that he recieved a life sentence. He will die in jail.

    Absolutely. But what this illustrates is that there is a retribution aspect to every level of sentencing, moreso with particularly heinous crimes. There was no practical reason why the government couldn't just sentence Bryant to life in prison and be done with it. After all, life is it. But out of retribution, the sentences were symbolically piled on top of each other so you end up with a situation where a single person is sentenced to "35 life terms +20 years for the wounded.."

    It's a rather absurd idea on its own, and I'm not sure it's particularly any less or any more barbaric than sentencing him to death for the same heinous crimes. In fact, the standards are probably the same. As I mentioned in my last post, the probability of Bryant suddenly being found innocent at this point is next to zero.

    But there's a mentality here. I'm not sure how accurate it is to point out- "look, we sentence our bad guys to 980 years in prison instead of sentencing them to death! Aren't we civilized?" When in fact, all of the above represent the same aspect of civilization.
  9. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    It is an absurd concept but ultimately the criminal justice system operates on the basis of charges being laid for each crime committed and if found guilty on each count then a separate sentence has to be imposed. It is not symbolic, it is how the system has to work. Why? I suppose in a massacre type scenario the sentencing judge could just say "well, the accused has been found guilty of all 35 counts and I have given a life sentence for the first count and so for the murders of [insert 34 names here] I hereby impose no sentence". The fundamental problem with that is that whilst it is unlikely the criminal will be subsequently found innocent of all 35 counts, it would be a kick in the arse if upon appeal the criminal was subsequently found not guilty of the first count wouldn't it? Since no custodial sentence was imposed on the other 34 counts, the criminal walks free (and is unable to be re-tried thanks to the double jeopardy rule). That is why sentences are imposed for each count, even when on the face of it, the result appears absurd.

  10. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Sure, I understand the mechanics. It's just the why is the same for both extremes, because neither are based on practical application of the law alone, and include non-tangible results.

    Perhaps such a reality highlights the shortcoming of not having capital punishment, because you're correct in that the public wouldn't stand for Bryant being found guilty for the first murder, and then since the rest of the victims would be moot, no sentence being imposed for them.

    Because no one gets sentenced to 1,000 years in prison to bring the victims back, or to be rehabilitated, or anything of the sort. It's retribution, plain and simple. Retribution, on its own, doesn't have to be a purely negative result. It's cathartic to the victims. It brings collective closure to the public, and sets a standard for other heinous crimes to be judged by. I just don't think it's automatically any more or any less civilized to sentence someone to 1,000 years, than it is simply to condemn them to death for the same category of crimes.

    Personally, I would be fine with the US not having the death penalty, and I'm fine with the US having the death penalty available. If the US completely moved from capital punishment, we would start seeing more 1,000 year sentences for the top tier of crimes being handed out, and concerns over the application would still apply. I believe this was point that Lowbacca initiated a couple of posts ago.
  11. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    The thing is that Martin Bryant is a Tasmanian. If Tasmania had the death penalty they would most probably have executed him 35 times. Now that's justice.:p
  12. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well sure, but that Tasmania...It's the Texas of Oceania
  13. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Keep in mind that you're not going to get 1000 year sentences for a single murder. It's not as though, by abolishing the death penalty, the state will start to impose 1000 year sentences as a substitute. That is an abberation caused by sentences being issued for multiple counts of murder. You still regularly hear about a convicted criminal serving two or three life sentences. Nobody finds that concept absurd. It only appears to sound silly when there are thirty victims, with thirty life sentences which add up to 750 years.

    Regardless of how many years are attached to a sentence reality is that the convict gets life. That's the dichotomy. Life in prison or death. You don't see any difference in terms of barbarity or civility and you are entitled to your opinion. I disagee though. I think there is a big difference between life in prison and being executed, particularly in those countries which have regard to the human rights of prisoners. I suggest if you gave convicts in those countries the choice between of life in prison or death, most, if not all, will choose life. Perhaps in Indonesia or Sudan, the choice would be different.
  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Ah, but that's the thing. The death penalty in the US is handed out only for the top tier of heinous crimes. The US still has "life in prison" for less serious crimes.

    That's were I question your comparison. It's not a matter of comparing a regular life term under one to the death penalty under another. It's about comparing the 1,000 year sentence for a horrible crime under one to capital punishment for the same level of crime under the other.

    Martin Bryant's 1,000 year sentence isn't the norm in Australia, but neither is the death penalty in the US. What was the figure quoted? That less than 1% of sentences in the US are capital punishment crimes...? If Australia had the death penalty, Martin Bryant would have most certainly qualified for it. This would remain true without affecting any of the other prisoners incarcerated for less serious offenses than Bryant's. What I'm saying is that the same level of scrutiny that resulted in Bryant's golden 1,000 year sentence could be applied to any hypothetical capital punishment he could have faced, and I'm not sure it would have been any less "civilized."
  15. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I don't think the idea of that long of a sentence is ridiculous, though, only in so much as each crime had a reasonable sentence, the number of crimes just lead to it being such a high total number. And from a practical standpoint, I think LostOnHoth is right as to why that would be. It's a byproduct of there being numerous charges which are addressed independently.
  16. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    As unconvincing an argument as you make let me point out the flaws anyways.

    1) A sentence of a death penalty is far more common than a millennium of imprisonment, and the execution of the sentence infinitely more so.
    3) The level of scrutiny necessary for one thousand years of solitude is equal to that for a death penalty, but also equal to that for a 5 year term for grand larceny.
    3) As the level of scrutiny is the same so perforce is the level of failure.
    4) In both cases the defendant has the term of his life to see justice done should there be a problem, but in one that term is natural and the other it's cut short.

    They are roughly as comparable as a fig tree and the fig leaf you use to cover your approbation for government murder.
  17. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    It's a byproduct of there being numerous charges which are addressed independently.

    Well sure. And I long ago agreed with him because this makes sense. But there's really no practical reason for this to be so, except for the public's desire for punishment. Because the same categorical hierarchy is also part of the capital punishment system in the US.

    Australia could realistically make the single act of "mass murder" a top tier crime, and then make the corresponding penalty life in prison. But in Bryant's case, it wouldn't bring satisfaction to the victims or to the public, so sentencing was stacked. Typically, if someone is convicted of a "multiple party crime" like negligent homicide, for example, they're tried for the overall act. Let's say someone was drunk and crashed into a car full of 3 people. They aren't typically tried for 3 separate murders, the incident is looked at in its entirety.

    1)A sentence of a death penalty is far more common than a millennium of imprisonment, and the execution of the sentence infinitely more so.
    3) The level of scrutiny necessary for one thousand years of solitude is equal to that for a death penalty, but also equal to that for a 5 year term for grand larceny.
    3) As the level of scrutiny is the same so perforce is the level of failure.
    4) In both cases the defendant has the term of his life to see justice done should there be a problem, but in one that term is natural and the other it's cut short.


    Yeah, exactly. The first part is easily explained by the fact that the US has roughly 300 million people, and Australia has 21 million. Japan has approximately half the population of the US, and about half the rate of execution. I'm not sure what the number of Martin Bryants in each country has to do with anything.

    Your other points are closer to what we've been discussing and also relate to LOH's point as well. If the US abolished the death penalty completely, and started handing out 1,000 year sentences for the same 1% of crimes, the scrutiny would be the same. The standard would be the same. The rationale would be the same.
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Allow me to question that, as I just googled "drunk driver news" and the first story (thats American) is the following:
    http://www.wlwt.com/news/14504576/detail.html
    in which a drunk driver was found guilty on 3 counts of DUI manslaughter and 2 counts of DUI with serious bodily injury. (one person was in the car of the drunk driver, which that article doesn't state)

    Different search to pick up stories where someone was sentenced
    http://www.independent.com/news/2008/aug/20/drunk-driver-sentenced-eight-years/
    found guilty on "two cases of vehicular manslaughter, and three cases of bodily injury resulting from a car accident"
  19. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    But now we're mixing different concepts. The possibility for enhancement is always there. This is what I'm saying as well.

    In your first example, the person had two prior DUI convictions, so the State Prosecutor stacked the charges in his latest incident. If this was his first incident, I'm sure he would have been tried under a different penalty. Procedures under the law are never an all or nothing prospect. I'm sure there are many more cases where such charges were stacked, even as there are cases where single charges where filed.

    It's the "penalty heiarchy" we're discussing here. The public has an expectation to penalize someone with multiple DUI convictions more severely than someone who just committed their first violation, even if the incidents are similar. Consequently, the penalties are enhanced. In fact, in most states, as part of the law, the penalties for certain crimes increase with the number of convictions.

    We're comparing the instances of people being sentenced to life instead of being subject to capital punishment. Australia still has regular life sentences. It's not like every person sentenced to life is sentenced for 1,000 years like Bryant was. The US still has life sentences as well. The death penalty is reserved for the "Martin Bryant" category of crimes.

    Martin Bryant shocked the conscience of the Australian public. The public had a desire, in fact a calling, to hold him accountable to each and every victim. Perhaps this discussion would be different if Bryant was only subject to a single life term even though he represented perhaps the worst that it could get under Australian law. But that's not what happened. Australia doesn't have capital punishment, so in order to demonstrate the top hierarchy, Bryant was sentenced for each life. But it's not like the standard was any different for the 1st victim than it was for the 35th victim. Bryant can only die in prison once.

  20. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Even leaving out the way other crimes are treated, there is no comparison between the death penalty and a 1000 year sentence. One is not the substitute in the absence of the other. People only receive multiple life swentences because they commit multiple crimes and are charged, tried and sentenced for those multiple crimes. You do not receive a 1000 year sentence for a single crime.

    It's not the nature of the crime but the quantity. That's the difference.

    I'm not sure why you are getting hung up on Martin Bryant. His sentence is unique simply because of the fact that he killed 35 people in a short period of time. However, he still committed over 50 separate crimes. He was charged with those crime and sentenced for those crimes. I don't get what point you are trying to make.

    The dichotomy remains. For heinous crimes you either get life or execution. The point of this thread is to discuss why execution should be abolished.

    Posting from blackberry so please excuse spelling and grammar.
  21. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    there is no comparison between the death penalty and a 1000 year sentence. One is not the substitute in the absence of the other. People only receive multiple life swentences because they commit multiple crimes and are charged, tried and sentenced for those multiple crimes. You do not receive a 1000 year sentence for a single crime.

    It's just as easy to say that "people receive the death penalty because they commit qualifying crimes and are charged. You don't receive capital punishment for non-capital crime."

    But you're leaving out the rationale why. The public's desire is what framed Bryant's sentencing, because again, there's no practical reason to sentence anyone to any time beyond a single life term. They're all retribution based.

    I'm not hung up on Bryant per se, but he's just the perfect example of a serious enough crime who ended up being sentenced in a non-death penalty environment. In the US, we largely have the death penalty available (except for a group of states) so for such serious examples, we don't typically see "1,000 year" sentences, as such people are sentenced to capital punishment. Our infamous mass murders/serial killers who weren't killed at the scene were all largely executed- John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh etc..so there's no comparison like Bryant. But if the US didn't have the death penalty, I'm sure we'd see a sentence for someone like Ted Bundy to be similar to Bryant's 1,000 year sentence.

    EDIT: Actually, McVeigh would be just as an effective example as Bryant from the opposite side.

    McVeigh killed 168 people when he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City. The federal government distilled that down to 11 charges, including the blanket charge "using a weapon of mass destruction," and the murder of federal officials. McVeigh was sentenced to death for those crimes.

    The state didn't pursue individual charges for each victim, but I wonder if the death penalty hadn't been available if that would have changed? I'd bet that without the death penalty, we would have seen McVeigh sentenced to many, many years like Bryant was.

  22. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    No it wasn't the public's desire which framed Bryant's sentencing, it was the fact that he committed around 50 individual crimes, 35 of which amounted to murder and he was sentenced for each crime. I've already explained the practical reasons for imposing a sentence for each crime (which may extend a sentence beyond a single life term).

    I would imagine that Ted Bundy, McVeigh et al would only receive multiple life sentences (adding up to hundreds of years possibly) if they were charged and convicted of multiple crimes.

    It's not as if a person will receive a '1000 year' sentence for the murder of one person. They will get a life sentence. In fact there is no such thing as a single 1000 year sentence, you can talk about multiple sentences (plural) which may add up to a 1000 years but there is no such thing as a single 1000 year sentence and it's not correct to compare consecutive sentences to the death penalty in terms of there being some equivalence. The death penalty is based upon the nature of the crime, consecutive sentences are based upon the quantity of crimes.


  23. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    lol'd.

    Mr44, I'm not saying the US is barbaric, nor would I call Singapore or Japan barbaric in a broad sense. Malaysia and Indonesia would be borderline.

    I'm saying that aside from the US, you have a serious overrepresentation of illiberal, unjust and weak states collectively setting the tone for the Global Capital Punishment Club, and that the US is educated, articulate, and well dressed doesn't alter the fact it's hanging out with rabble.

    See the point?

    ES
  24. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    The end results are emphatically not the same. You're assuming that violent, destructive predators stop behaving as such when they are imprisoned. This if flagrantly inaccurate. Off the top of my head, I've already provided two examples of correctional officers nearly being murdered by one violent felon. The sheer number of prison assaults, rapes, and murders is further evidence. Unless you're arguing that these crimes occur in a vacuum and/or don't matter, your point about the protective function collapses.

    The two examples are really one example of one felon, first of all -- it was my surmising they happened at the same point.

    At which point I would say: are you saying these men are unable to be handled by the maximum security detention facilities? That they are too dangerous for any facility to handle?

    Also are the prison assaults and rapes being conducted by prisoners on guards or on other prisoners? Were these prisoners in any sort of solitary confinement?

    Remember that in your case both men from what I can gather, survived. True, they might not have. But what you're proposing in the end is an institutional change. A change whereby it can conceivably make it possible that an innocent man may be executed.
  25. Master_Fwiffo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2001
    star 3
    I have a question.

    What is the functional difference between the death penalty and life imprisonment with no parole, other than the fact that the death penalty frees up the guys cell quicker?

    And a secondary question: For those who think that convictions that turn out to be false are justification for the removal of the death penalty, please consider this fictional scenario: An older man is convicted, tried, and sentenced for a henieous crime, and shipped off to Prison for the rest of his life. Being an old man, and being unprepared for the harshness of prison, he dies. Shortly after his death, it's found that he was, in fact, innocent. What now is the functional difference between the death penalty being applied, and someone innocent who died in prison?
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