The death penalty: are you for or against?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by MASTER_OBI-DAN, Aug 3, 2002.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    special_fred, so your argument is that Nazi attrocities would have been ok if perpetrated on different people. Thanks for the clarification.

    You know, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is written with the same constitutional ink as that bit you love about the right to tote guns.

    Anyway, your arguments completely fail to address the issue of what does it mean when you accidently kill the wrong person - a problem that is only compounded when you accidently kill the wrong person in a horrible, slow, and excruciatingly painful way.
  2. Special_Fred Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2003
    star 4
    special_fred, so your argument is that Nazi atrocities would have been ok if perpetrated on different people.

    No, but making prisoners into slaves is still a good idea.

    You know, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is written with the same constitutional ink as that bit you love about the right to tote guns.

    Which is why the guillotine idea is still my favorite. ;)
  3. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    The death penalty does nothing to improve human conditions, rationally speaking.

    If it had a proven deterrent effect, and therefore served a rational purpose by reducing the murder rate, I might support it. However, there is no evidence that it has a deterrent effect. The only argument that can be made in favour of it is that to kill a murderer is in the interests of "justice".

    Any death penalty system will always result in the execution of innocent people. To accept that as an unfortunate, but permissible, side effect requires the most compelling case in the death penalty's favour.

    A considerable reduction in the murder rate of jurisdictions that apply the death penalty might justify the inevitable execution of innocent people. But abstract notions of "justice" (i.e. revenge) do not.
  4. Jedi_Cyana Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2002
    star 3
    I'm for the death penalty, as long as it's been deserved and is not cruel or unusual. (After all, the Constitution, I believe, bans cruel and unusual punishment.)

    But, taking up a point my friend made earlier (I haven't yet agreed or disagreed with it) "Aren't our death penalty policies cruel and unusual?"

    I couldn't come up with an answer for her. Would someone help me?

  5. Special_Fred Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2003
    star 4
    Aren't our death penalty policies cruel and unusual?

    I think we should replace the lethal injection (or electric chair, in some places) with the guillotine. It's unusual, but definitely not cruel.

    As for our current death penalty policies, I really don't believe them to be cruel and unusual (especially with all the flaming hoops you have to jump through to get a felon executed).
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Cyana,

    what kind of help?

    The Supreme Court outlined its opinion in Furman v Georgia back in 1972.

    Between 1967 and 1972, there were no executions carried out..600 death row inmates had their death sentences overturned.

    By 1976, the states and the Federal government revised their death penalty laws to comply with the Furman decision, and executions resumed in those jurisdictions.

    The death penalty is not considered cruel and unusual if due care is taken to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering.. As a result, only certain methods are used.

    Not every state has death penalty laws..

    Unless some have added it, last count has 39 states offering the death penalty, with 34 of those offering lethal injection as their method.

    Idaho and Utah offer the firing squad as an alternative to injection.

    Arizona, California, Maryland, Missouri, and Wyoming offer the gas chamber as an alternative form.

    11 states use the electric chair..
  7. Jedi_Cyana Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2002
    star 3
    Thanks again! [face_blush]

    Electric chair...in my book, that's considered cruel and unusual...

    So in other words, "cruel and unusual" depend on what the local society considers "usual", am I right?

    No, I have no idea where I'm going with this... ^^;

    Thanks for the input and answers!!!
  8. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    "Unusual" should properly be taken to mean "unheard of", because the phrase "cruel and unusual punishments" was originally used in the English Bill of Rights as a statement against bizarre punishments imposed by the courts that had no precedent in the common law.

    "Unusual" does not mean that a tally is taken of states that employ a particular sanction, making it unconstitutional if that falls below 1% or so. If thumbscrews entered into widespread use across the US, suddenly becoming "usual", that would not exempt them from scrutiny, since that would still be a punishment unheard of in past US history.

    If the rack were to be reintroduced, for instance, as a means of getting information from suspected terrorists, that would be a punishment unheard of for the last two centuries. It would be deemed cruel, and therefore unconstitutional.

    The death penalty, under this line of reasoning, cannot possibly be cruel and unusual, since it was employed from the very beginning of US history. Particular forms of the death penalty that have just been introduced can, however, be scrutinised for cruelty.

    The role of the courts under the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause is to prevent the introduction of cruel, unprecedented punishments. Not to decide that a traditional punishment has suddenly become cruel, and summarily outlaw it.
  9. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    But the cruel 'n unusual clause has interpretive room for outlawing forms of punishment that become more shocking to society as the culture changes. I don't think the U.S. has reached that point with executions yet, but certainly seems to be trending that way with many forms of execution, such as hangings and the electric chair. Govts. like lethal injection because it stops the heart and breathing and unplugs the brain, so there is no pain and very little "experience" of one's own death.

    The guillotine has a horrific reputation. First of all, "decapitation" is a misnomer, as the head is the home of consciousness. It's more like "decorporation" - the body being removed from the self. And there's the popularized belief that we can retain consciousness for several seconds after the body has been cut from the neck - and hence have a kind of gruesome experience of our own death until the brain loses all blood pressure. That sort of makes it cruel and unusual by definition.
  10. Special_Fred Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2003
    star 4
    The guillotine has a horrific reputation.

    That's just because executions by guillotine used to be carried out in public, and the crowd would get splashed with blood.

    And there's the popularized belief that we can retain consciousness for several seconds after the body has been cut from the neck - and hence have a kind of gruesome experience of our own death until the brain loses all blood pressure.

    That's BS...when the spinal cord is severed, you immediately go into shock. Your world fades to black before you feel a thing.

    That sort of makes it cruel and unusual by definition.

    I'll admit that it's unusual, but it's not cruel by any means. It only takes 1/70 of a second for the blade to drop, and the beheading itself only takes 1/200 of a second! Compared to the lethal injection or electric chair, which take quite a bit of time to do their dirty work, the guillotine is not as cruel as "A Tale of Two Cities" made it seem.
  11. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    I am totally opposed to the Death Penalty.

    While I can respect (thought disagree) with the position that some crimes merit capital punishment, the system is so institutionally flawed that the taking of a life is NEVER justified.
  12. Jedi_Xen Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 4
    I think certain crimes merit it, terrorist acts such as Timothy McVeigh and Usama Bin Laden definatley deserve death. Some serial killers shouldnt be allowed to live either, what good does Charles Manson do? He sits in his cell and rots, every once in a while he says something that gets media attention and then he fades again. Ted Bundy is another who deserved death.

    The punishment should fit the crime, but Im not sure about blanket punishments. Each case should be looked at and judged individually.
  13. Jedi_Cyana Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2002
    star 3
    Blanket punishments? Sounds familiar...don't think I recognize the term...

    Can someone find time to enlighten me on that?
  14. scum&villainy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 1999
    star 4
    Blanket sentencing is essentially declaring that everyone convicyted of a certain offence is given a manditory sentence. So you're saying that everyone convicted of murder is automatically given life imprisonment. Or everyone found guilty of rape is given 20 years.

    The idea of manditory sentencing is as absurd and as flawed as the death penalty.
  15. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    Jabbadabbado: The role of the courts is simply to apply the law. Therefore, it is for legislatures, and not the judicial branch, to make social progress. If a form of punishment becomes shocking to society, it can be outlawed through the legislative process. If it then remained unused for a very long time, any attempt to reintroduce it could be scrutinised under the Eight Amendment by the courts.

    scum&villainy: The American implementation of mandatory sentencing is not attractive. Its most well-publicised implications have included sentences of 25 years to life for petty theft.

    However, mandatory sentences are a legitimate tool to (a) present a clear and certain punishment for persistent offenders, thereby deterring habitual offending, or (b) impose a strict enhanced punishment for a particular offence that is causing great harm to society and therefore needs to be cracked down upon.

    Britain, for instance, enacted in 1997 a mandatory sentence of three years imprisonment for a third domestic burglary conviction. There was (and still is) a great problem with revolving door justice in respect of burglary. At the time the law was passed, the average first time burglar received 16.2 months, the average third time burglar 18.9 months, and the average seventh time burglar 19.4 months. It was clear that courts were passing sentence only for the current offence. They were not placing nearly enough importance on recidivism. A short prison term was an acceptable occupational hazard for career burglars, and the three year minimum for a third offence was sorely needed and fully justified.

    The judiciary is now adopting a policy of applying community rehabilitation, rather than imprisonment, to many first- and some second-time burglars. That is actually sensible; there is no point in locking people up if a community sentence will turn them away from crime. But in those circumstances, a substantial prison term for third-time offenders is all the more important.
  16. scum&villainy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 1999
    star 4
    Branthoris - your point of repeat burglaries is a good one, but I feel that manditory sentences are a dangerous tool (I guess we'll see whether they're effective) and feel uncomfortable with that kind of absoluteness. Rather than blanket sentences, I feel the problem would be better resolved by advising the judges of the current problems; I don't trust any system that lacks a degree of flexibility.
  17. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    British mandatory sentences (other than in the case of the automatic life sentence for murder) include an exception for either "exceptional" or "particular" circumstances (depending on the provision).

    I agree that mandatory sentences can deliver extreme injustice, and are misused as a means for politicians to appear tough on crime. But they can definitely be justified.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.