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. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Willingham will go down in history as the first American to be found probably beyond the shadow of a doubt to have been executed despite being innocent of the crime for which he was convicted.

    Perry is an embarrassment to the United States (not that he doesn't have plenty of company), not just Texas. He willfully and perhaps gleefully dismisses the conclusions of trained scientists in favor of reasoning that is little more sophisticated than that used in the Salem Witch Trials.
  2. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Tell me LtNOWIS, what does the word indivisible mean to you? How many Nations are we? With what and what for all?

    Would you prefer to edit that to "with each state whole responsible for itself" With liberty and Justice for those who live near me.

    How far does your blind parochialism run? I'm not asking you to empathize with foreigners(absurd!), but the fact you can't mount a single shred of respect for your fellow Americans is disquieting. Maybe you just don't like satanists.

    Tell me LtNOWIS, what's different about your Virginia's usage of the death Penalty that would prevent this from happening. Clearly it isn't the federal appeals process, so you must feel it is something inherent to Virginia that prevents innocents from being executed. I'm a tingle with excitement to know what makes the Old Dominion so special.

    How far does your brand of head in the sand "that couldn't happen here" run?
  3. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    We're one nation, but that doesn't mean state borders are irrelevant. Even for important issues that have a substantial effects on life and liberty, like abortion, gun control, and gay marriage, I support a state's right to make its own determinations, so long as they are Constitutional.

    Justice for all is of course an aspiration, not a reality. Some criminals will never be caught, some people will get screwed in civil court, and so forth. We should strive to do right by all people, but that is an unattainable goal.

    Is it good that Willingham was killed? Perhaps not. But I didn't know him, and he was by many accounts a bad guy anyways. Good people, innocent people, are killed all the time in our world. Some are killed in unfortunate accidents, some are killed by preventable diseases, some are even killed by their own governments. So if one person is killed, even unjustly, it doesn't really faze me. In my book, Willingham doesn't warrant even a fraction of the sympathy I'd give to, say, the 22 American soldiers and 2 marines whose deaths were announced this month. I'd like for Texas to clean up its act, but I'm not going to cry whenever bad things happen to people.

    As for your second point:

    For one thing, Virginia governors are historically more moderate and less gung-ho about the death penalty. Our last two governors were Democrats who were ambivalent about the death penalty personally, but willing to carry out the will of the people. Even Jim Gilmore, the much-criticized Republican before that, was willing to review death penalty cases and grant clemency in questionable instances.

    It's not so much Virginia being immune to death penalty problems, as Texas being particularly bad about them. Texas has long been more willing to execute people and has executed more people per capita than other states.
  4. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Hello, is anybody home? No? I didn't think so.

    An innocent man was executed by the state. Your saying in effect that it's no big deal because he wasn't that good a guy "anyways" is chilling at best. What kind of person do you have to be to merit the full protection of the state? Do you need to live a certain kind of lifestyle? Know certain people? Avoid certain things? I'd like to know. Willingham was wrongly convicted and wrongly executed by the state of Texas, and there is absolutely nothing that happened to him that couldn't also happen to you.
  5. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    So Virginia can execute innocents as well, it's just since it kills fewer people it's okay?

    Your argument was that just because Texas executed an innocent it doesn't mean anything to any other state. Your support is that Texas executes a lot more people.

    ... yes.. and? How does Virginia keep from executing innocents? By executing fewer people? That's like saying I keep from shooting myself in Russian roulette by only pulling the trigger twice. It doesn't work that way.

    In fact you only suggested that the Governors ability to commute is the sole difference and the entire legal system other than that is no different. Really? So Virginia's superiority rests on the hope it's Governor will not screw up even once. That's quite the argument.

    Hey KW, it can't happen here. Are you much comforted? I mean sure it can happen overseas, but that's all the way over there. And TexaS? well that's almost like overseas amiright? It can't happen here.

    And even if it does well, people die all the time, what's the big deal? 24 American servicemen died this month. Save your sympathy for them. They were real Americans. Not those worthless criminals. Even if he had lived he's a worthless person anyways. Nits grow up to be lice, amiright?

    In fact considering their father was so worthless, it's probably better those three girls died right LtNOWIS? I mean, it's not like they could turn into real Americans like those 24 service members who died this month. Save your sympathy for them.

    24 service men died this month so LTNOWIS here could argue that the liberties they died for are worthless and only their deaths matter. Save your sympathy for them, for the ideals they died to defend are already dead.
  6. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Apparently, the state made a mistake, which is a bad thing. Than they continued to handle it poorly, which is also a bad thing. If I were a Texas citizen, I would demand answers and be dissatisfied with Rick Perry.

    Could the same thing happen to me, or you, or anyone else? In theory, sure. Arson science has improved, but a wrongful conviction is still conceivable. But it's incredibly unlikely. I'm more likely to be struck by lightning or accidentally shot.
  7. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    You see, if you only pull the trigger twice, you can't shoot yourself in the head!

    Since it's only like maybe one person every couple of years... well that's mighty rare that is. It's probably not gonna be me so that's AOKAY.

    Say, how about later we all head down to the village square, pick a name out of a hat and stone them to death. Odds are it's not gonna be me, and I have a hankerin' for a good judicial murderin'.
  8. Brett_Bass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2003
    star 4
    I fail to see the effective difference between an innocent person being executed and an innocent person dying in jail while serving a life sentence.
  9. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    Well, the anti-death penalty crowd would never have investigated this case anyways if he weren't sentenced to death, and Cameron Willingham would still be rotting in jail somewhere.

    That said, let's suppose that if Rick Perry hadn't executed Willingham, than this September he would have picked up his copy of The New Yorker, realized his state had made a huge mistake, and immediately issued a pardon. Willingham would than be a 41 year old former auto mechanic with a 10th grade education, an ex-wife who hates him, and a criminal record, ready to begin his life anew.

    No, the idea is that Virginia is simply more careful and less eager about its application of the death penalty overall, as reflected in the rates of execution. Part of that is better governors, but that's not the totality of the difference.

    Well I can't speak for them, but I signed more to defend the nation against its enemies, than to defend any particular ideals. That said, I do value certain principles. I respect federalism, and states' rights, meaning that electoral democracy, which means I respect the fact that Texas has substantial rights to handle its own criminal justice system, for good or ill. I respect electoral democracy, including the fact that Rick Perry is still that state's governor even if he's unpopular and struggling to get re-elected.

    Anyways, do you have any more substantive arguments, or are we just down to sarcasm now?
  10. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    farrie, I know you aren't that stupid, because you've actually argued statistics fairly well in the past.

    You know perfectly well that your Russian Roulette analogy fails because not every death penalty case has the same probability of a wrongful conviction. In Russian Roulette, you have the same probability every time (1:6 on the first pull, 1:5 on the second, etc).

    The fact that Texas is more eager to use the death penalty means that they would have fewer limits on the level of proof required, and would therefore have a higher probability of killing an innocent man. However, Virginia's more restrained use of the death penalty suggests tighter limits, and therefore a smaller probability of killing an innocent man.

    However, there is a key point when it comes to the death penalty that you are completely ignoring. You are essentially demanding perfection from the state in order for the death penalty to be justified (i.e. no mistakes ever). Why do you use that standard, when no other issue is held to the same standard? It's not because it's permanent, because dying from life in prison is also permanent. Why not require perfection in that case as well?

    The standard for conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt". The standard for applying the death penalty is higher than that in almost every case. By your "perfection" standard, even unreasonable doubts should be sufficient to prevent someone from being put to death.

    And yet, you haven't actually made the case for why the perfection standard is appropriate here, but not anywhere else.

    Kimball Kinnison
  11. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    This issue of course prevents big problems on both fronts:

    Pros - More prison space for those who do not have death penalty warrenting offenses.

    - Those who destoryed or took a life deserve to have their life destroyed also, their human rights should not be considered since they were voided once they committed heinous acts.

    - It can be a detterant for others. If you are caught you face death.

    Cons - It is impossible to pardon and release someone from jail if you discover they were wrongly convicted since they will be dead.

    - Prisons are overcrowded with people who commit all manner of crimes, countries are running out of space and so silly things happen like quick releases of people who should never be allowed back into society.

    - Is it morally right to sink to the level of a murderer by murdering them? "An eye for an eye" might seem fair, but the bigger man must be he who walks away.

    - Methods of execution should be human regardless of what someone did, some methods are not.
  12. Zaz Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 11, 1998
    star 9
    I don't know what the French prisons are like now, but from the descriptions in "Can Me If You Can" they were awful. Abagnale approved, too. Said they were certainly a deterrent.
  13. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Anyone want to find factual evidence of deterrence? I'm not talking about the fact I haven't killed anyone yet. I mean a study of some sort. I mean, it only makes sense that criminals are acting purely rationally, amiright?

    I do recall)hopefully correctly) one study however, it said lengthening prison sentences did act as a deterrence.. up to about 60 months. After that the conceptual difference between 10 years and 25 is fairly moot from the point of view of criminal behavior. So, if ten years doesn't act as a deterrence, then obviously the death penalty must, right?

    And KK if you object to the second trigger pull, would you be happier with the idea you only made one trigger pull in Russian Roulette? Also, I have to reject your hypothesis that every case is equally likely to be a false conviction, since the outcomes are not random. The die are weighted against court appointed lawyers and minorities, two examples. A revolver wit one bullet might be a better chance then some face. And let me remind you, your response is that maybe Virginia hasn't killed an innocent person yet, because it executes fewer people. You're not even arguing that the system works as is, just that it's less likely as a matter of statistics that we killed an innocent person than Texas.

    You are far to comfortable with that idea, because you appear to be at all comfortable with that idea.

    Since I do not support the application of the death penalty, your complaint that I require a higher standard for conviction is nonsense. I do not requirer a higher standard of conviction in a death penalty case because I don't believe there should be any death penalty cases. Convict them all on the same basis and sentence them to life or whatever.

    In point of fact, the persons suggesting multiple levels of guilt have been death penalty supporters who, in seeking to avoid the issue of our imperfect justice say we should only execute those whoa re really super guilty, by some standard.

    My argument is that the punishment does not fit the bounds of our justice system at all.

    A few minor points.

    Ending the death penalty will not overcrowd our prisons for two reasons. First they're already massively overcrowded thanks to the drug war. Second we have 2.3 million people in prison and only 3.3k death row inmates. you might as well try and cut the deficit by revoking franking privileges.

    Second the argument that if someone dies in prison it is as bad as the death penalty is an inherently poor one for one main reason. You are seriously arguing dying of a heart attack on a 80 day drunk driving charge is equivalent to the death penalty. More people die every year in Prison then are on death row. Your argument suggests that as long as innocents are dying in prison, there's no problem helping them along. I know what my personal moral code says about the idea it doesn't matter what kills someone, what does yours?

    By the way KK, what do you think of LYNOWIS argument there that Willingham is better off executed, since if he'd been pardoned his life would suck anyways. I don't feel like wading too far into his **** anymore, how about you?
  14. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I didn't argue any of that at all.

    1) I didn't object to the second trigger pull. I simply pointed out that the odds of being shot in Russian Roulette are known with each trigger pull, while the odds of being sentenced to death in a criminal case are not known in each case. (1 pull = 1/6, 2 pulls = 2/6 = 1/3, etc, unless you are using a semiauto handgun, in which case every pull = 1/1 :p)

    2) I didn't claim that every case is equally likely to be a false conviction. I pointed out that your Russian Roulette analogy doesn't apply because each person who plays Russian Roulette faces the same odds, while each person facing a capital crime does not.

    3) I didn't argue that "maybe Virginia hasn't killed an innocent person yet, because it executes fewer people." I pointed out that just because Texas uses looser (allegedly flawed) limits on the death penalty does not mean that it logically follows that Virginia's tighter limits are also flawed.

    I didn't say that you require a higher standard of conviction. I said that you are arguing against the death penalty because you are demanding a standard of perfection (no errors in determining guilt). No other place in government is such a standard required, and you have not justified why such a standard is justified on this matter but not others (such as life in prison).

    Specifically, your arguments have been focused on the concept that an innocent man might have been executed, and therefore the death penalty should be abolished. Logically, that suggests that your problem is with the innocent being executed (i.e. that errors in judgment lead to the wrongful execution, not the use of execution in general).

    If your argument is that the government should not execute anyone, then the actual guilt or innocence of the individual in question is irrelevant to your position, and your entire argument about potentially executing an innocent man is a red herring.

    Right here, you continue demanding your standard of perfection: "our imperfect justice system". As I pointed out before, you are inconsistently applying this standard.

    I, personally, don't think that is a very good argument (although he's welcome to change my mind by elaborating and clarifying his argument there). However, just because he made a poor argument there doesn't immediately mean that you are making a good argument. Both of you have given flawed arguments.

    Kimball Kinnison
  15. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    KK you are the one drawing a moral equivalence between anyone dying in prison and an execution. Why exactly are you trying to hold me to that and say it follows that my arguments are a red herring since I'm willing to let innocents die in prison, but not execute them?

    I do not want innocents to die in prison, but I am unwilling to execute them. This is not a distinction that should be hard to understand. Your argument relies on a false moral equivalence between life imprisonment and the death penalty which can not be borne out under any reasonable system. It is tantamount to saying we should just execute anyone who is sent to life in prison. If that is not your argument, then I believe it is you presenting the red herrings.

    I would also note that the point of the Russian roulette argument is that the chances of executing an innocent remain regardless. The argument isn't that you have a 1/6 chance, or even that the chance is stable, but that there is and always will be the chance. You can not prevent the execution of an innocent except by stopping executions. It really is that simple.

    I think we agree, that out justice system is not perfect, and can not be perfect. The flaw, therefore, is inherent to humanity. However, there are flaws well on top of that, beyond our simple capacity to be wrong. You seem to believe that if we can minimize throe flaws, human error is not reason enough to end execution. I can not agree with that concept. Human error is more than enough for me to see executions as inherently flawed beyond the capacity to be carried out in a society striving for justice.

    Finally, if you truly see no difference between executing and keeping someone in prison until they die, why do you feel there is any need to execute people in the first place? It doesn't save money, it doesn't stop overcrowding, I have seen nothing to suggest it is a deterrent, so what is your justification? If there is no difference, why not execute them all or imprison them all?

    PS if you take the kill them all route I may resort to sarcasm.
  16. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    No, I said that your arguments are a red herring because on one hand you complain about the possibility of executing innocents, and on the other hand, you outright say that you oppose the death penalty in general*.

    If you oppose it in general, the guilt or innocence of the executee is irrelevant, and so focusing on whether an innocent man was executed or not is a red herring. Discussing the potential innocence of someone who was executed (as opposed to the mere fact that someone, guilty or innocent, was executed) diverts the discussion to a topic irrelevant to your actual position, and is therefore a red herring.

    If your problem is only with executing innocent people, then it becomes a matter of the standard of proof required, at which point your demand for perfection instead becomes relevant, and you have yet to demonstrate how or why such a standard is reasonable in this case, but not others.

    Kimball Kinnison

    * From your 10:06am post today:
    EDIT: And, for the record, I do support the death penalty, because I believe that there are some crimes and some criminals who are so heinous or so dangerous that completely and irrevocably removing them from society is the best and most appropriate course of action. However, I believe that it should only be exercised in the most extreme cases. I simply do not demand perfection in proving it beyond any possible doubt, because such proof is never possible. Instead my standard is beyond any plausible (as opposed to possible) doubt. ("Aliens kidnapped me and replaced me with a duplicate who actually committed the murders" would not be a plausible doubt, even if it is theoretically possible that aliens we have never encountered before have the technology to visit us and replace someone with a homicidal duplicate.)
  17. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    I do not believe there should be any death penalty cases because we can not avoid executing the innocent. I'm not sure how you're failing to understand this KK. I will explain the line of reasoning yet again.

    Executing the innocent is not acceptable.
    Our justice system can not prevent us from executing the innocent.
    Therefore we should not execute anyone, since that is the only way to prevent executing the innocent.
    Therefore there should be no death penalty cases.

    What in there confuses you and makes you accuse me of using the execution of the innocent as a red herring?

    Can someone who is not KK tell me if my position here is hard to understand so I can figure out how KK fails to grasp it? I should clarify this person should be capable of some manner of intellectual rigor, and should not, for example, think your failure to object to Texas joining the Union in 1840s prevents current condemnation.

    As I see it, what you're suggesting is that as a goal not executing anyone who is innocent is impossible. I agree. Where you lose me though is your suggestion that because it is impossible, limiting it by legal hoops is preferable to eliminating it by not executing anyone.

    This suggest to me that not executing the innocent is not actually your goal. To turn it on it's head, you are suggesting it is better to execute 1 innocent man then for 10 guilty men to live. Ratio subject to approval. I think this is rather the inverse of what our justice system's goals are.
  18. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    There is also in some cases the question of martyring.

    Killing guys like Saddam or Hitler may feel right to us, but to them they get away with it. They don't suffer the humiliation of living in prison knowing they failed, they just get a quick exit essentially free of punishment. And some would consider them heroes for dying at the hands of the enemy.
  19. LtNOWIS Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 4
    I did say his life would be crappy if he were alive; that is a fact-based conclusion. I did not ever say he was better off dead, or anything of the sort.

    Point #2 has no basis in logic.

    A botched case in a broken system may have resulted in an innocent man being executed. That doesn't mean that no state can ever have a fair and effective death penalty system. I would challenge any death penalty opponents to find a death penalty case anywhere near as mishandled as the Willingham case, when the person is being charged by Oregon, or Indiana, or the federal government.
  20. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    You were just mentioning it apropos of nothing. Like, by the way the sky is blue today. I'm pretty sure the last 10 years of his life weren't so good either, whats your point?

    Second, Alabama, Holly Wood Case. Court appointed council fails to enter the defendant's mental retardation in as evidence.

    Besides that..
    Citation

    We could talk about New Mexico's 1974 Vagos case or... hell just go read The Wrong Men by Stanley Cohen.
  21. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Because there are also those who are clearly guilty beyond any conceivable doubt, and you are essentially saying that in such cases, it still is not acceptable.

    Are you honestly arguing that someone like Ted Bundy, whose guilt was established beyond pretty much any conceivable doubt, should not have been executed because he might still have been innocent? Because by saying that we shouldn't execute anyone, you essentially say that he also might have been innocent.

    The problem with your argument is that you argue that the threshold used is flawed, and so the action shouldn't be taken. Your complaint in in the edge condition, and yet you are trying to throw everything out as a result. If your real problem is with the edge condition (the marginal cases), then the answer isn't to throw out the clear-cut cases with it, but to address the actual problems with the edge conditions.

    That is why your entire argument is a red herring.

    Kimball Kinnison
  22. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    The threshold is flawed because there is no humanly possible threshold that will prevent the execution fo an innocent. It is not a red herring unless you're presenting the idea there is a threshold that can be applicable across a legal system that can not result in the execution of an innocent.

    Yes there are guilty people, and yes I have no problem with, for given crimes, their executions. However I believe in an equally applied justice system, not one of special crimes and standards. That means the super duper awesome guilty who definitely did it are tried in the same manner the possibly guilty and the innocent who are thought guilty. Tell me KK, how do you divide the sheep from the goats? The wheat from the chaff?

    Construct me a justice system where only the Bundys of the world are executed and I'm with you. Yes it is absolutely a question of edges, but in this case you have to seriously question if the importance of executing people is worth the trouble in defining the edge. Thats what you seem to be unable to comprehend. You're so obsessed with the idea we must execute people you're willing to draw that line, regardless of if an innocent is killed.

    If we don't execute people, there is no need to draw the line. Problem solved.
  23. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

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    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    Bundy simply could go to jail, he wouldn't have to be executed. That wouldn't mean he was innocent.

    The big problem with prison (certainly in the UK not sure about the US) is that it's too comfortable and not punishment enough. We're so worked up about not violating the human rights of people who voided those rights when they comitted crimes that prsons are now Hotels you just can't leave. People re-offend often simply to get back to the luxury of prison because it's easier for them in there then in the outside world.

    That is still no reason for the death penalty, but the alternative needs to be radically changed.
  24. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Can people please not compare the death penalty with accidental deaths in jail? From a legislative standpoint, that's really dumb.
  25. Kyptastic VIP

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 5
    It's not really a luxury - we really don't do enough to rehabilitate offenders and help them integrate them back into mainstream society. Most of the time they'll go straight back to what's comfortable - their criminal subculture - and the cycle just begins again.
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