The Death penalty reassessed (Now discussing: Execution of the Innocent and Troy Davis)

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Lowbacca_1977, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    This is exactly the point I've been making in other threads about how tax policies that increase income inequality lead to a breakdown in the social contract among people. In the U.S. we use prison as the bottom rung of the welfare state - throw as many people at the bottom of society into prison as possible and let them rot, feeding, clothing and sheltering them at tremendous expense to the state.

    We should be spending heavily on job training and rehabilitation of the least violent criminals and not be putting them into hardcore prison situations to train them to be the worst of violent criminals. We shouldn't be permanently disenfranchising rehabilitated criminals from the democratic process either. This situation has a ripple effect on the underclass, helping to break up poor families and forcing the un-incarcerated partner into worse poverty.

    The death penalty is just one more way of pretending that we haven't created this horrible social mess and that we're not at least partially responsible for producing so many hardened criminals capable of shooting at 12 year old boys as they stand on the front steps of their homes.

    If you want to lower the crime rate we should raise taxes on the rich, spend on rehabilitation of criminals, spend heavily on community support services for poor urban and rural families and make free abortion widely available to all women.
  2. shanerjedi Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    I agree with you the prison system can harden felons and make things worse.

  3. yankee8255 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 6
    Don't forget the correlation between income level (NOT race) and a defendant's likelihood of getting the death enalty. In the end, it almost always comes down to whether you could afford a good lawyer or were stuck with a legal aid flunky.
  4. shanerjedi Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Agreed. It's not as much race as it is class.

    Marx was right! :eek:
  5. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    We should be spending heavily on job training and rehabilitation of the least violent criminals and not be putting them into hardcore prison situations to train them to be the worst of violent criminals.

    The second part already happens though. Juvenile offenders have to be kept separated from adult offenders, and juvenile facilities represent the lowest level of security. Next, minor crimes and misdemeanors are usually housed in jails or given the option of alternative sentencing. (boot camps in some jurisdictions, home confinement in others) Finally, there is the felony-based long term prisons, which I think you're referring to. But in order to actually get sent to prison, you have to have been given multiple chances at the lower level, or convicted of a more serious crime.

    The first part would definitely have to be monitored and implemented on a goals based system. What you don't mention is how suitability would be upheld. For example, I don't think you would want a twice convicted child sex offender working at a preschool with your children. Ok, so "sex offenders" would have to be filtered through certain criteria, and in fact, that's the system that currently exists. Would you offer heavy machinery driver training to someone convicted 4 times of DUI, the last one which resulted in a fatal crash? Ok, so now, alcohol impairment/criminality would have to be scrubbed as well. The bottom line is that it's much, much, more difficult to simply say "we have to offer job training criminals, even if you did add in the limiting factor of "least violent," which is why such training isn't readily offered now. I'd say the one thing missing from your overall post is acknowledging the role of the felon and the choices that criminal made.

    We shouldn't be permanently disenfranchising rehabilitated criminals from the democratic process either. This situation has a ripple effect on the underclass, helping to break up poor families and forcing the un-incarcerated partner into worse poverty.

    And again, this may be a case where your perception is different than reality. Only 1 state in the entire US permanently bars felons from voting. (That state is Virginia, BTW) Most of the other states do prohibit felons from voting while they are actually in prison or have not completed their probation/parole, but I'd say that this makes sense. Imagine how polling would play out in the concentrated environment of prison? But almost universally, in the US at least, once a felon has completed their sentence, the voting restriction is removed. But this also mirrors common practice in the rest of the world as well. The UK, for the most part, also prohibits those in jail from voting, with a few exceptions, and so on.

  6. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    Here's my 2 cents worth. This case (Troy Davis) is one of the ones that makes me vacillate on the death penalty. I'm opposed to it because it is so final, but some crimes just seem to warrant it, altho I don't believe it fit in Mr. Davis' case.

    Mr. Davis was not totally innocent, in that he was involved in the robbery and the beating of the homeless man. He was also an accessory to the murder of the off-duty police officer. But, you really have to ask yourself if robbery and assault are deserving of the death penalty. I think in this case, life in prison without possibility of parole would have been an acceptable alternative.

    In the majority of death penalty cases tho, I think the rules on determining guilt need to be a lot tighter. I've heard/read of many people being found innocent of the crime they were convicted of thru DNA evidence and being released from prison after 10 or 20 years behind bars. If these people had been executed, an "I'm sorry" from the state just doesn't get it.




  7. Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Personally, the question isn't "does the crime warrant it", I think some crimes absolutely do. It's moreso "can the government guarantee it" and that's the part where it falls apart.
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Exactly. Given that there is too much public support for the death penalty, particularly in the Christian bible belt for there to be a state by state rejection of capital punishment anytime soon, and given that so much money is spent on incarcerating condemned criminals for decades and pursuing their legal appeals over that time, why not spend all that money more efficiently toward achieving that guarantee.

    What a lot of people don't understand about the appeals process is that it rarely really serves the issue of authentic justice in the sense of a systematic, empirical review of the evidence, but rather turns on legal issues like effective assistance of counsel at trial or trial error on the admissibility of evidence, missed motions, etc.

    When it comes to the death penalty, procedural due process should not be the main issue on appeal, but rather actual justice. That's why we need a separate and totally overhauled appeals process for reviewing death penalty cases. And I believe it will save states and the federal government lots and lots of money, for better, more reliable results. It would serve the interests of taxpayers, and the truth. And ultimately I think that's what even the most rabid death penalty advocates want.
  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    But how would you adjudicate a concept as abstract as perceived justice? The courts focus almost exclusively on points of law and due process. Sure, there is a slight nod to concepts like justice when victims are allowed to address the offender in court and such, but those tiny acts of closure don't impact the actual trial process. If you want justice, you'd need to tie on a cape and go dish out some vigilante payback.
  10. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    This is a very tangible thing I'm talking about. A death sentence would trigger an automatic and full review of

    1. The investigative process that collected and analyzed evidence
    2. the available evidence - allowing for interviewing witnesses and taking new testimony, retesting samples for DNA, etc.
    3. the trial process for procedural error

    The goal here would be more thorough justice and more rapid justice and more cost-effective justice. You would put a 3-4 year absolute limit on the review and appeal process to the Supreme Court, an ironclad guarantee that at the end of the process, the convicted criminal would be executed within 48 months of the death sentence or have his/her sentence converted to life imprisonment.

    Remember this doesn't usurp trial by jury because the review court wouldn't have the power to overturn convictions, only death sentences.
  11. Vezner Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2001
    star 5
    I just got the image of a dude running around in a yellow costume with "Mr44" on his chest. :)
  12. anakinfansince1983 Nightsister of Four Realms

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 9
    I was just coming in to post about this, and...exactly. If the death penalty were evenly administered to criminals regardless of income level, OJ Simpson would be on death row.

    I actually don't have a real problem with "eye for an eye" type justice. The guys who killed James Byrd, for example, should have been chained behind their own trucks and driven down a gravel road.

    But in our imperfect justice system were the innocent are convicted and the guilty go free, especially if they are wealthy, this doesn't work.

    I also agree with Jabbadabbadoo about income disparity being a big cause of criminal behavior.
  13. beezel26 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    Anyone have a problem with Texas executing a white supremacist who dragged a black man to his death? Or does it smack of racism, class warfare, revenge seeking police officers or just a plain corrupt and inept justice system?
  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I just got the image of a dude running around in a yellow costume with "Mr44" on his chest.

    Yellow, why yellow? If not ultra-cool shadowy shades of grey and black, I'd at least accept the red and blue of Superman, or the other, more powerful hero:

    [image=http://farm1.static.flickr.com/103/292876872_d73b45269a_z.jpg]