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The Death Penalty

TLK Valentine

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The trditional argument was the death penalty was a deterrent.

I forget who originally made the argument, but they attempted to refute the "death penalty as deterrent" argument by pointing out that killers generally fall under 3 categories:

1. Professionals -- the mobsters, gangsters, cartel hitmen, etc... They're not deterred because they don't plan on getting caught, and they know their bosses will do a lot worse to them if they don't kill.

2. Passion -- You come home early one day and find your wife in bed with your neighbor... you flip out, grab the nearest blunt object, and bash both their brains in. You're not deterred because you weren't thinking -- that's what it means to "flip out," after all.

3. Psychos -- The serial killers, mass shooters, etc... They're not deterred because, well.... they're nucking futs, aren't they?

So...who's left?
 

Jarhyn

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The trditional argument was the death penalty was a deterrent.

I forget who originally made the argument, but they attempted to refute the "death penalty as deterrent" argument by pointing out that killers generally fall under 3 categories:

1. Professionals -- the mobsters, gangsters, cartel hitmen, etc... They're not deterred because they don't plan on getting caught, and they know their bosses will do a lot worse to them if they don't kill.

2. Passion -- You come home early one day and find your wife in bed with your neighbor... you flip out, grab the nearest blunt object, and bash both their brains in. You're not deterred because you weren't thinking -- that's what it means to "flip out," after all.

3. Psychos -- The serial killers, mass shooters, etc... They're not deterred because, well.... they're nucking futs, aren't they?

So...who's left?
Those who are somewhere between 2 and 3: they go a little psycho after an event such that they gain a passion towards killing someone specific. The knowledge of not being 1, and being past best-by date on 2 while being just enough 3 leads someone to be more motivated to be none of the above when chances of getting caught are high.

This is how people become inducted into 3 properly, though, and occasionally into 1.
 

steve_bank

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In the old west a cattle rustler or horse thief could get lynched on the spot. Not a complete deterrent but certainly gave people pause.

Stealing cattle took food away from someone. Stealing a horse could mean a farmer could not plow or someone got stranded on foot far from help.

If someone does not care if he lives or die then the death penalty is not much of a deterrent.
 

TLK Valentine

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certainly gave people pause.
Did it?

How do you know?

Certainly it's not the complete cessation of cattle rustling that tipped you off, 'cos that didn't happen.

People need to realize that it's not the severity of punishment that deters crime, it's the certainty.

"If you're caught, we'll put you in front of a firing squad" deters less crime than "You WILL get caught."
 

Jimmy Higgins

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certainly gave people pause.
Did it?

How do you know?

Certainly it's not the complete cessation of cattle rustling that tipped you off, 'cos that didn't happen.

People need to realize that it's not the severity of punishment that deters crime, it's the certainty.

"If you're caught, we'll put you in front of a firing squad" deters less crime than "You WILL get caught."
Of course, a lot of people that commit crimes don't think they'll get caught or in the heat of the moment, don't even consider the issue of being caught at all. Texas sends murderers to death row... and Texas still has murderers. The math really implies that the death penalty isn't about deterrence at all. It is about revenge. And most often, a sense of revenge for people not remotely adjacent to the crime.
 

TomC

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Texas sends murderers to death row... and Texas still has murderers. The math really implies that the death penalty isn't about deterrence at all. It is about revenge. And most often, a sense of revenge for people not remotely adjacent to the crime.
I think you're being too kind. I see it as much worse than that.

As done here in the USA, I see capital punishment as political theater. It's an ugly kind of performance art.

It's a big expensive episode of "Tough on Crime". The same politicians who cannot find fundage for prevention can find millions of dollars to pay lawyers, both defense and prosecution, in order to justify a state sponsored killing. They haven't the political will to deal with the NRA and get rid of some of the guns, but they get lots of airtime to talk about their valiant efforts to make America Safe. They get political ads on the internet and news shows without doing anything more than spending taxpayer dollars on lawyers bills.

Call me a Prolifer if you must, but I remain opposed to people choosing death for other people.
Tom
 

senor boogie woogie

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I support the Death Penalty if the person's guilt is direct and cannot be unproven. Famous killers like John Wayne Gacy, Willaim Bonin, and Ted Bundy deserved to be executed. So did Jeffrey Dahmer. These people murdered for their own pleasures and there is no other recourse than the Death Penalty. Maybe the other recourse would be them locked up in a cell with nothing to read or do, a cot, a toilet and a sink for the rest of their lives. But I think this would be a worse punishment than death itself. But I also support the Death Penalty for someone who kills a clerk in a convenience store robbery for instance. I think rape of a child under 10 deserves the Death Penalty although the Supreme Court disallows this.

I will say if I was a juror for the Boston Bomber, Tsarnev, during the penalty phase, I would have voted neutral on whether to execute him or not. It would not have mattered to me. Life without parole meant a life in Supermax ADX at his young age. I mean, which is worse. For myself, if I was convicted of Capital Murder, sentence me to death. I dont want to spend the rest of my life in prison. A maximum security prison is Hell. To sit in a cememnt box most of the day, having to live with a stranger using the same toilet in a room the size of a closet. The real possibility of being murdered by someone over a slight, or being used as a sex toy for rape. Eating awful food bought the cheapest possible. Execute me, I'll even drive the van to the execution site.

No, Capital Punishment is not a deterrant. Nor is people committing other crimes. Someone strung out on heroin sticking up a liquor store and leaving are not thinking that getting caught might mean years in prison. People driving drunk home from a party doesnt think that getting caught means heavy fines and imprisonment. Other people get caught, not me.

The Death Penalty is not given equally since there are plea deals and things, and people end up escaping it to spend the rest of their lives in prison. There is an inmate in Indiana named Frederick Baer who was in a documentary on Youtube called (Welcome to Indiana State Prison) who home invaded the home of a young mother and her three year old child and he slit both of their throats. He was caught and was sentenced to death. The guy was hated on Death Row and the other inmates openly stated that they would kill him if they could. Baer lamented in the interview that if his penalty was overturned to life, he would have to live in solitary the rest of his life or get killed. His penalty was overturned to life (somehow). Again, I would rather make my peace with God (I know, this is an atheist board) and then be executed, my life is over, why wait?

Lastly, lethal injection is not painless. Better than gas or the electric chair but the person is strapped down and shot up with chemicals that puts them to sleep, suffocates them and incurs a heart attack. Not fun.
 

Tigers!

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It may be satisfying for some, but shouldn't a progressive society seek a higher standard of morality than using execution as a solution?
Why is non-execution considered a higher standard of morality? I would prefer a standard of morality that protects society and its members.
 

DBT

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It may be satisfying for some, but shouldn't a progressive society seek a higher standard of morality than using execution as a solution?
Why is non-execution considered a higher standard of morality? I would prefer a standard of morality that protects society and its members.

Justifiable self defence is one thing, executing someone who is in custody and poses no further risk to the community is another thing altogether.
 

Tigers!

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It may be satisfying for some, but shouldn't a progressive society seek a higher standard of morality than using execution as a solution?
Why is non-execution considered a higher standard of morality? I would prefer a standard of morality that protects society and its members.

Justifiable self defence is one thing, executing someone who is in custody and poses no further risk to the community is another thing altogether.
The claim that they pose no further risk to the community is debatable. Violence and murders occur in prison and being in Australia you would be well aware that there are far too many people who are 'no risk to the community' are released and then go and pose a risk to the community.
 

bilby

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It may be satisfying for some, but shouldn't a progressive society seek a higher standard of morality than using execution as a solution?
Why is non-execution considered a higher standard of morality? I would prefer a standard of morality that protects society and its members.
You just answered your own question.
 

Copernicus

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It may be satisfying for some, but shouldn't a progressive society seek a higher standard of morality than using execution as a solution?
Why is non-execution considered a higher standard of morality? I would prefer a standard of morality that protects society and its members.

Justifiable self defence is one thing, executing someone who is in custody and poses no further risk to the community is another thing altogether.
The claim that they pose no further risk to the community is debatable. Violence and murders occur in prison and being in Australia you would be well aware that there are far too many people who are 'no risk to the community' are released and then go and pose a risk to the community.

It seems to me that the term "higher standard of morality" invites a debate over standards of morality rather than a secular civil policy of capital punishment per se. A legal code is not quite the same thing as a moral code, although people tend to believe that laws are based on some moral standard. The way US law is supposed to work is that a law ought to address some perceived need that the Constitution grants the government the right to regulate. IOW, there ought to be some civic justification for it. How does the law promote the interests of the public at large?

There is no question that murder is an existential threat to individual citizens, who have a right to life and liberty, so it is illegal. The question at issue is whether capital punishment is the best way to minimize the number of murders committed. So the question can be addressed on empirical grounds. Does capital punishment actually deter murders in comparison to other forums of punishment, for example, incarceration? Ought it to be cruel or unusual punishment, which is constitutionally forbidden? Can it be justified in light of the fact that it is not remediable in cases where the person found guilty is later discovered to be innocent? These are the kinds of questions that need to be addressed, not whether the practice is moral.
 

bilby

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It may be satisfying for some, but shouldn't a progressive society seek a higher standard of morality than using execution as a solution?
Why is non-execution considered a higher standard of morality? I would prefer a standard of morality that protects society and its members.

Justifiable self defence is one thing, executing someone who is in custody and poses no further risk to the community is another thing altogether.
The claim that they pose no further risk to the community is debatable. Violence and murders occur in prison and being in Australia you would be well aware that there are far too many people who are 'no risk to the community' are released and then go and pose a risk to the community.

It seems to me that the term "higher standard of morality" invites a debate over standards of morality rather than a secular civil policy of capital punishment per se. A legal code is not quite the same thing as a moral code, although people tend to believe that laws are based on some moral standard. The way US law is supposed to work is that a law ought to address some perceived need that the Constitution grants the government the right to regulate. IOW, there ought to be some civic justification for it. How does the law promote the interests of the public at large?

There is no question that murder is an existential threat to individual citizens, who have a right to life and liberty, so it is illegal. The question at issue is whether capital punishment is the best way to minimize the number of murders committed. So the question can be addressed on empirical grounds. Does capital punishment actually deter murders in comparison to other forums of punishment, for example, incarceration? Ought it to be cruel or unusual punishment, which is constitutionally forbidden? Can it be justified in light of the fact that it is not remediable in cases where the person found guilty is later discovered to be innocent? These are the kinds of questions that need to be addressed, not whether the practice is moral.
Current US law ought not to be used as a framework for discussion of whether US law is appropriate; That is to say that the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is itself subject to analysis and potentially rejection, as part of a discussion of the morality (or otherwise) of laws and their associated penalties.

Your questions are excellent, but I would add: Should the constitution limit what punishments are available to lawmakers, and if so, what limits should there be?

I personally think that "cruel and unusual" is a dreadfully vague phrase that has no place in law, much less in constitutional law. Certainly a strong argument could be made that almost any penalty is 'cruel'; and 'unusual' is apparently just eliminating the possibility of change, without regard for the consequences of that change.

Perhaps the meaning of the phrase was more specific, and well understood to be so, for the people of the USA at the time that the Constitution was written; But it certainly isn't a helpful phrase today.

Horse: Everyone can see what a horse is.
 

TomC

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It may be satisfying for some, but shouldn't a progressive society seek a higher standard of morality than using execution as a solution?
Why is non-execution considered a higher standard of morality? I would prefer a standard of morality that protects society and its members.
The generic term I use is "Pro-life".
Tom
 

Copernicus

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It seems to me that the term "higher standard of morality" invites a debate over standards of morality rather than a secular civil policy of capital punishment per se. A legal code is not quite the same thing as a moral code, although people tend to believe that laws are based on some moral standard. The way US law is supposed to work is that a law ought to address some perceived need that the Constitution grants the government the right to regulate. IOW, there ought to be some civic justification for it. How does the law promote the interests of the public at large?

There is no question that murder is an existential threat to individual citizens, who have a right to life and liberty, so it is illegal. The question at issue is whether capital punishment is the best way to minimize the number of murders committed. So the question can be addressed on empirical grounds. Does capital punishment actually deter murders in comparison to other forums of punishment, for example, incarceration? Ought it to be cruel or unusual punishment, which is constitutionally forbidden? Can it be justified in light of the fact that it is not remediable in cases where the person found guilty is later discovered to be innocent? These are the kinds of questions that need to be addressed, not whether the practice is moral.
Current US law ought not to be used as a framework for discussion of whether US law is appropriate; That is to say that the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is itself subject to analysis and potentially rejection, as part of a discussion of the morality (or otherwise) of laws and their associated penalties.

Your questions are excellent, but I would add: Should the constitution limit what punishments are available to lawmakers, and if so, what limits should there be?

I suppose the problem is with the way the thread topic frames the question. Morality is about what is right or wrong human conduct, and there is a lot of philosophical debate over what that could mean. Consequentialism, a form of utilitarianism, seems to be the basis for a moral standard in modern secular terms. But penalties for moral transgressions are a different kind of issue altogether, because penalties tend to be thought of in terms of government regulations. Since a constitution necessarily spells out the powers of government, penalties are subject to how it defines those powers. That's why I raised it here. One could, of course, argue back and forth over whether revenge killings ought to be in some form codified legally. That is what I think capital punishment is--a legal form of revenge killing. However, I know that a lot of people object to framing it as merely revenge killing.


I personally think that "cruel and unusual" is a dreadfully vague phrase that has no place in law, much less in constitutional law. Certainly a strong argument could be made that almost any penalty is 'cruel'; and 'unusual' is apparently just eliminating the possibility of change, without regard for the consequences of that change.

Perhaps the meaning of the phrase was more specific, and well understood to be so, for the people of the USA at the time that the Constitution was written; But it certainly isn't a helpful phrase today.

Horse: Everyone can see what a horse is.

Well, the vagueness was intentional, because standards of norms and cruelty differ over time. The Supreme Court is supposed to interpret laws not just in terms of historical norms, but also in terms of how those norms conform to modern times. I don't want to get into a debate over so-called Constitutional originialism, but I don't think that people who advocate for it understand the spirit in which the Constitution was drafted, nor do I think it practical or possible to interpret laws in the way that framers and ratifiers of the Constitution did. That's a topic for a different thread, I think.
 

Tigers!

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There is no question that murder is an existential threat to individual citizens, who have a right to life and liberty, so it is illegal.

The question at issue is whether capital punishment is the best way to minimize the number of murders committed.
That is not the only question but we can address it.
So the question can be addressed on empirical grounds. Does capital punishment actually deter murders in comparison to other forums of punishment, for example, incarceration?
We can set up am empirical experiment to determine whether incarceration or capital punishment works in deterring murder? In Australia the last capital punishment was 03/02/1967. We now rely on incarceration. But murders are still being committed so incarceration is not a deterrence. We could try capital punishment again but that will not stop murders.
So the question is should we be so concerned about deterrence? Is that the only reason for a 'justice' system?
Ought it to be cruel or unusual punishment, which is constitutionally forbidden?
Always depends upon who you ask what is cruel or unusual punishment.
Can it be justified in light of the fact that it is not remediable in cases where the person found guilty is later discovered to be innocent? These are the kinds of questions that need to be addressed, not whether the practice is moral.
The situation is also non-remedial where a guilty party is released and then commits again. We rarely discuss that though.
 

Copernicus

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The question at issue is whether capital punishment is the best way to minimize the number of murders committed.
That is not the only question but we can address it.

OK, but you did not do that in your last post. Instead, you addressed the question of whether capital punishment and incarceration could be expected to end all murders in Australia, pointed out that neither ended all murders in Australia, and somehow arrived at the conclusion that you were addressing something I asked in my post, which I did not. Here, see for yourself:


So the question can be addressed on empirical grounds. Does capital punishment actually deter murders in comparison to other forums of punishment, for example, incarceration?
We can set up am empirical experiment to determine whether incarceration or capital punishment works in deterring murder? In Australia the last capital punishment was 03/02/1967. We now rely on incarceration. But murders are still being committed so incarceration is not a deterrence. We could try capital punishment again but that will not stop murders.
So the question is should we be so concerned about deterrence? Is that the only reason for a 'justice' system?

I asked for a comparison, so a valid response would be for you to provide a comparison of murder rates before and after capital punishment was replaced by incarceration, i.e. 03/02/1967. I asked for a comparison. Your last two questions get us back into territory we've already discussed in the past: Should revenge be a criterion on which to base a legal punishment? What is justice, and is revenge part of it? We could go on for weeks disagreeing on that one. Been there. Done that.

Ought it to be cruel or unusual punishment, which is constitutionally forbidden?
Always depends upon who you ask what is cruel or unusual punishment.

That's right, and that's why our Constitution assigns that role to the courts.


Can it be justified in light of the fact that it is not remediable in cases where the person found guilty is later discovered to be innocent? These are the kinds of questions that need to be addressed, not whether the practice is moral.
The situation is also non-remedial where a guilty party is released and then commits again. We rarely discuss that though.

No, we discuss it all the time. You and others bring it up all the time. That's one of the most common arguments for having a death penalty--to stop the miscreants from being released by liberal, leftist, "woke" judges and parole boards. :rolleyes:
 

TomC

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The situation is also non-remedial where a guilty party is released and then commits again. We rarely discuss that though.
We discuss this a great deal.
Efforts to improve prison conditions to help rehabilitation and reduce recidivism get dismissed as "coddling criminals".
Tom
 
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