Saturday, July 27, 2019

On Capital Punishment

I'm uncomfortable with Capital Punishment, because the Law is a blunt instrument and innocent people ride the lightening because of lazy, incompetent, or corrupt officials.  But the other side of that coin is that sometimes the Old Yeller solution is the only solution to a rabid animal:
Daniel Lewis Lee, a member of a white supremacist group, murdered a family of three, including an eight-year-old girl. After robbing and shooting the victims with a stun gun, Lee covered their heads with plastic bags, sealed the bags with duct tape, weighed down each victim with rocks, and threw the family of three into the Illinois bayou.  On May 4, 1999, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas found Lee guilty of numerous offenses, including three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, and he was sentenced to death.  Lee’s execution is scheduled to occur on Dec. 9, 2019.
The story of the five men now scheduled for Federal execution is at that link.  I'm not uncomfortable at all with their fate - it's hard to see how violent repeat offenders can ever be rehabilitated so that they reenter society safely.  There's actually some good evidence that they can't:
Sometimes the drugs have a more indirect effect:
I asked him if he ever tried to get off the heroin. He said: 
“No. I don’t want to get off of it. The drugs don’t even get me that high any more. I inject the heroin just to keep from getting sick. It doesn’t make me happy like it used to.” 
“What I like is the adrenaline high from stealing things. I also like the adrenaline high I get from buying the dope without getting caught by the police. Those are my motivations; the drugs just keep me from getting sick. I just really like the thrill I get when I’m stealing things and the heroin ensures that I keep stealing. You can put me in jail, but I’ll start stealing and using again the first day I get out. I’ll never stop. I don’t want to stop”
There are multiple examples at that link of suddenly violent, unpredictable behavior.

Quite frankly, I don't see a way to square this circle.  If the death penalty is allowed at all then the innocent will be executed.  If it's not allowed at all then some Old Yellers will get out of jail and continue where they left off.


pigpen51 said...

That is my problem with the whole death penalty thing. Not that there are not some who deserve it, but that there are some who may be killed who are undeserving of it.
DNA evidence has shown that up to 7% of those on death row are innocent. That is why I no longer support the death penalty. For if we kill an innocent person, we are no better than they are. It is a hard thing, knowing that there are such vermin walking the earth. It is just a fact that murder is murder, even if done by the state.

Old NFO said...

Then what would you propose? You posed a problem, with no suggestion as to how to fix it.

Borepatch said...

Old NFO, I don't know that there's a solution. Innocent people will die no matter what we do.

Beans said...

There are capital cases where the evidence is so over the top, execution should be conducted right after the guilty verdict is read.

Okay, I'll be nice. Give them one appeal. If there are any questions, then Life without Parole and not able to be reduced further. Otherwise, Danny Deever the bum or bummette.

Capital Punishment isn't meant to scare others, it is meant to remove the rabid dog from society.

Again, cases where there are no questions at all as to guilt, like the cop-killer Wesley Cooks (Mumia being his jerk name) it is time, past time to finish the turd off.

Same with child molesters. You know how many child molesters have been rehabilitated? About the same number as viruses we've been able to make a medicine that kills it (not vaccinate against, actually stop 100% viral function by destroying the virus itself.) Which is... 0%.

Sorry. Some mutts just need culling from the herd.

Same with treasonous acts against these United States. Time for lead poisoning, riding the lightning or swinging from the fences.

Cases where things are not so 100%, then, again LwoP + 100 years or no modification to lesser penalty later.

Divemedic said...

The reason that I cannot support the death penalty is right here:

If a cop can do this for drug offenses, a cop or DA can do it with a death penalty case. I don't have a problem with murderers getting life without parole. I just feel that murder is murder, even when done by the state.

Glen Filthie said...

There is no moral way out of this. The idiot that says “we are no better than a serial killer if we kill him” is nothing more than a virtue signalling moral poseur. The only way forward is body counts. Moral folk are in more danger from the monsters than their govt. it isn’t even a discussion. Put them down and be done with it.

McChuck said...

The death penalty prevents more murders and rapes than it inadvertently destroys innocent lives. It is also the moral solution to premeditated murder and rape.

Richard said...

The government breaks the social compact giving it a monopoly on violence when it doesn't execute a murderer. It also breaks the social compact when it executes an innocent person. Guess which is more likely by multiple orders of magnitude.

Let the executions proceed but also let's have trials of corrupt or incompetent prosecutors and judges. If it is malice, then execute them too. If it is incompetence, prison time is indicated.

pigpen51 said...

The entire issue is that if we as a country execute one single innocent person, we have gone against our promise of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness. Some things are set in stone. The right to life is, in my opinion, one of those things. Just like it is wrong for a policeman to randomly shoot a person on the street, it is wrong for the state to randomly put to death an innocent person who is accused of a crime.
NFO, you say that I didn't offer any suggestions for what to do. That is pretty simple. The idea of life imprisonment is not much of a penalty, at the moment, for many of the thugs on the street. But if we were to make prison a much less comfortable place for those placed there for life, then it might serve as more of a deterrent. Place the prisons for life sentences in places that are inconvenient for family members to visit. Give the inmates the same rations that our soldiers in the field receive.
Solitary confinement has been ruled, and shown, to be a much to cruel punishment, even for the most heinous of criminals. But that doesn't mean that we must allow inmates unlimited social time with other inmates. With the booming of the internet, literally thousands of libraries are either closing their doors, or culling their books. Let that occupy the inmates time, reading from some of the old books that otherwise would be discarded.
I am not suggesting that we starve prisoners and beat them every day, etc. We are still a civilized nation, and must remain so. But at the same time, we must remember that the reason for prison is as a punishment.
I just cannot get over the fact that nearly 7% of all death row inmates are actually innocent, based upon DNA evidence. Assuming that it bears out to hold true, that means that for every 100 criminals we put to death, 7 of them were innocent. How can we as a nation justify that? How can we as a nation justify it if even only 1 person is innocent for every 100 that we put to death?
Does that mean that dogs and worthless scum who don't deserve to draw another breath of God's air, will be allowed to live, in prison, instead of being put to death, the ultimate punishment? If we are serious about protecting everyone's life, then yes it does mean that. Just as in the cases of women crying rape on campus, and later change their stories, witnesses lie, or misremember. Other mistakes can be made. But as a free country, a beacon of how government is supposed to work, the death penalty, along with so many people actually in prison right now, is a black eye on our face, and doesn't show that we are a law abiding country, but rather the opposite.

Divemedic said...

’tis much more Prudence to acquit two Persons, tho’ actually guilty, than to pass Sentence of Condemnation on one that is virtuous and innocent.

Sir William Blackstone:
“For the law holds, that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer.”

Benjamin Franklin:
That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.

ProudHillbilly said...

Case in point: the 4 men the FBI railroaded on a murder charge in MA order to protect an informant. 30 years later, 2 were released, the other 2 having died in prison. Families were awarded $102 million, but what is the real price those men paid? The 2 who survived were lucky it wasn't a death penalty case.

danielbarger said...

As has been pointed out by others the death penalty itself is not unfair. It's the application that can be. This is due to a number
of factors including the undeniable corruption that is part of the
legal system. Many cops, many DA's and more than a few judges are
NOT INTERESTED in justice. They are merely interested in 'balancing
the books' in getting a conviction for each crime. If the right
guy is found guilty...fine. And if the wrong one gets convicted?
Oh well. Sucks for him. This can be seen routinely when you read
about a DA or a judge who REFUSES to reopen or rehear a case after
new CONVINCING evidence calling a persons guilt becomes available.
So while in theory I support executing certain criminals for certain
egregiously evil actions in reality the system is so corrupt and error
riddled that we simply cannot risk executing an innocent person.
Unless and until a foolproof means of determining guilt in capital cases comes along the death penalty needs to be off the table.

Will said...

One of the ways to address the problem of convictions of innocent people is to engage a serious investigation of HOW and WHO was responsible for such a result. Most cases will show fraud or incompetence. Make it painful and expensive for any responsible for causing it, or not catching the bad job. Make it automatic that everyone involved gets adjudicated in some public manner.