I knew a guy who had a simple answer to the whole Death Penalty thing. He’s hold is fingers, thumb and index finger, a short ways apart from each other like he had something in his grasp, and he’s say, “One bullet … costs about nine cents.” I have no idea how much a bullet really costs, but I do know that we don’t execute people by just deciding to execute them and then shooting them in the head. In fact, it is telling that our society spends way more money, time, and effort on the legal activities surrounding execution than in anything comparable in the criminal justice system. Obviously, we are not comfortable with State sponsored homicide.

There is a proposition on the ballot in California, Number 34, which will remove the Death Penalty from the books in the Golden Sunshine State. That’s good, and I hope it passes. But even if you are not in California and thus can’t vote on this, you might find the following video interesting because of the information it provides:

Comments

  1. #1 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    October 10, 2012

    Was anybody else absolutely creeped out by that video?

    “This killing people business is all fine and well, but usually we don’t end up killing them (whoops) and it’s sooooo expensive.”

    Nothing about the death penalty being “a privilege of the poor”, or racist, or an unnecessary and terrible power in the hands of the state. It’s these things and also inefficient, wasteful, and subject to error, assuming you can accept it and these other consequences in principle.

    Imagine having a date set for your death and being stuffed into a miserable, lonely box until that date, waiting to die for nothing; your crimes cannot be erased, your suffering will not erase the suffering of the victims, and you will not in suffering death will prevent similar crimes more than if you were allowed to live. The death penalty is a horror of meaninglessness, misery and death for their own sakes.

    We should all be vomiting in revulsion when we hear this called justice, not wincing at the price tag.

  2. #2 dean
    October 10, 2012

    I haven’t heard about this in California – any idea of its chances?
    I’ve long taken it as a big plus for Michigan that the state did away with the death penalty many years ago and have never brought it back.
    Sadly, it seems that there are more people muttering about needing the death penalty back; I am sure the conservative swing has emboldened many. I had a conversation with a neighbor, just up the block, about it. At one point he said “You know, Stalin was a beast, but his method of dealing with scum had something for it. We need people in the state willing to do that.”
    I asked him if he meant people like Vasili Mikhailovich Blokhin – told him to look up the name if he needed to. He did, and wasn’t happy me for what he thought I was implying about his philosophy.
    Maybe your acquaintance was thinking of bullets on Blokhin’s scale when he made the nine cent comment.

  3. #3 Bob Glasner
    October 10, 2012

    The death penalty is a controversial subject, however, the death penalty is Biblical. Technically we are all living under a death penalty. After man sinned in the Garden of Eden 6500 years ago, God issued a death penalty on mankind, but did offer redemption to those who would accept it.

    I believe in using the death penalty in some cases of extreme brutal crimes and I also believe in using it fairly quickly rather than taking years to do it.

    Did Jack the Ripper not deserve to be hanged, shot, or executed in some way? Did Hitler not deserve to be executed? Che? Stalin? Bin laden? Etc.

    In most cases of petty crimes like theives, I say a good 5 year prison sentence is good enough so long as they are forced to work 12 hour days busting rocks under a hot sun as a punishment for their crime. It is not fair when a theif gets sentenced to a hotel with room service and (modern prison) for stealing from someone. I recomend shorter sentences but make the punishment during that short sentence harsh enough that the man will not want to do anything wrong and have to come back to that place.

    On the other hand, a theif could just be force to pay back double what he stole. In other words, if you break into my house and steal from me, you owe me double what you took, or you can work for me for two years with no pay. Mow my lawn, chop my firewood, wash clothes, wax my car, etc. These types of punishments seem to work better than sitting a criminal in a room, handing him the latest issue of a magazine, and meting his every personal request.

    Oh, and bullets are roughly around $0.40 average for each now. If I could find 9 cent bullets I would be a happy man.

    California is doing away with most types of punishment these days. In my state, the death penalty is rare. Death by hanging has not been used since the early 1900s in my state even though it has not been stricken from the books and and is still legal to do so. Some states are more liberal than others. I disagree with most everything that is passed on the left coast, but I respect the states rights to make their own assesments as they should be able to do. No need in getting the feds in on a state issue. California seems to be a mighty powerful police state to have to live in. I understand that the rural areas are much better to live in than the cities, especially rural northern California. I don;t think I could live there at all. I will just stay south of the Mason-Dixon line where some remnants of normal sanity still exists. mention global warming, evolution, and “marriage equality” down here and you’ll get laughed right out of town. But, to each his own.

  4. #4 Mike Olson
    October 10, 2012

    I’m curious as to the legal recourse those sentenced to life without the possibility of parole will be offered. The video states those sentenced to death are provided with a legal team at no cost to themselves. Would this mean they could be innocently put in prison but not have the resources available to someone sentenced to death? I’m very much against the death penalty. But, a wrongful conviction of any type is …exactly that, wrong. Being in prison for twenty one years before being exonerated is disturbing, but did that exoneration happen due to a state provided legal team? Would that person still be in prison if the rules were changed?

  5. #5 dean
    October 11, 2012

    The death penalty is a controversial subject, however, the death penalty is Biblical.

    Why should this be of any more importance than other parts of the Bible you don’t reference? Why should it be important at all, really?

  6. #6 Bob Glasner
    October 11, 2012

    Well, being that the first written laws were written by God and it is He who said THOU SHALT NOT KILL, STEAL, etc. and it is He who placed all mankind under the death penalty for sin, I happen to think it is very important. Laws come from God. So does freedom and human rights. Modern government enforces said laws, but they did not make them. The precepts for modern law started with God telling man about the law. Man even broke the very first law ever made when he/she willingly ate of thye forbidden fruit.

    I

  7. #7 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    October 12, 2012

    Bob Glasner,

    Human rights, in the sense that everybody uses the term today, are universal. The commandments in the Old Testament are only consistent when it is understood that they are `in-group’ commandments: i.e. they are dictates given to the Hebrews regulating the behavior of Hebrews amongst Hebrews, not humans amongst humans. Even granting that the scriptures are all true, it is difficult to argue that human rights has anything to do with them, as evaluated on conceptual or historical grounds or both. A similar thing can be stated about freedom.

    I’m not sure whether or not scripture ever says or implies that the first written laws were given through Moses. But assuming it does, we have written laws dating back from over 4100 years ago, and these were probably written a good while after the first written laws. I don’t know of any scholarship which claims that any part of the Torah was composed anywhere near that long ago. I don’t even think that a literalist reading of scripture would date the Exodus that far back. (Answers in Genesis estimates the date of the Great Flood at ~4359 years ago. In acts, it is stated that 430 years passed between the covenant between God and Abraham and the Exodus. There’s not a lot of room here.)

    Final note: freedom and human rights are not `laws’. Laws are formal structures which legal institutions are supposed to `embody’. Laws of any sort only `grant’ or `make’ human rights and freedom in the sense that they can be made consistent with these concepts. Governments make the laws; the concepts come from us, and they have changed over time. But we do not `have’ rights regardless of the laws. It makes sense to say that people have a right to freedom of speech in the sense that they should have freedom of speech, not that they have it.

    Where in scripture are folks granted what we now regard as our basic human rights in matters of religion? Privacy? Sexuality? The most important threats to human rights and freedoms come from structures like states, religion institutions, social norms, and concentrated private power. When and where in scripture are the boundaries of legitimate interference in others’ affairs by such structures delineated so as to preserve human rights and freedoms?

    The Old Testament is rather infamous for being the opposite of such a project. The New Testament never undertakes it.

  8. #8 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    October 12, 2012

    While I’m here, I’ll return to your earlier comment.

    “I believe in using the death penalty in some cases of extreme brutal crimes and I also believe in using it fairly quickly rather than taking years to do it.”

    Then one of two things is true: (1) you have a method of very greatly increasing the accuracy of trial outcomes and guaranteeing early knowledge of mitigating circumstances, or (2) you think that the benefits of “using it fairly quickly” outweigh the costs of killing even more innocent people. I also presume an indifference to the social, financial, and ethnic inequalities in the process.

    “Did Jack the Ripper not deserve to be hanged, shot, or executed in some way? Did Hitler not deserve to be executed? Che? Stalin? Bin laden? Etc.”

    The question of what the state should do is separate from the question of what people deserve. (You and I have a different notion of `deserving’, I’ll bet, but we can leave that aside for now.) I live in the South, and we’re famous for our hospitality, especially in the rural areas. But if you’re a guest in someone’s home and act with extreme disrespect, you’re asking for an ass-kicking. In some areas, you’re likely to get it. And people will all nod their heads and say you deserve it, whether or not you get it.

    But people will probably stop nodding their heads if it is suggested that the State should always give you what you deserve. The State is not there to hand out beatings for rudeness. The State is not there to guarantee that every overachieving med student gets into a top school. Lots of people deserve lots of things that they fail to get, and in most cases State force would not considered a legitimate means of remedy even if such a thing was possible.

    Even where we grant that the State should be involved in helping people get what they deserve, we do not license any means of doing so. We have restrictions, collection of which is called “due process”. Even if we grant that somebody deserves to suffer for something they’ve done, we do not allow that suffering to be inflicted in arbitrary manner, or to be “cruel and unusual”. So I think it was wrong that Che was assassinated, just as I think it was wrong that (as is likely the case) no serious attempt was made to capture Bin Laden instead of killing him outright. I think it was right that Nazi war criminals were tried, though I disagree with the application of the death penalty even in those cases.

    Following various precedents, the courts do not consider the death penalty to be cruel and unusual. I happen to disagree. Its application is rare in the US, and the US is exceptional in the first world (except for Japan) in applying it at all. Here I agree with the world’s major human rights organizations. If you ever bother reading their bulletins, you’ll find case after case of people being executed who are (a) mentally handicapped or (b) not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    All I’m left wondering about is: why do you think we should have a death penalty?

    “In most cases of petty crimes like theives, I say a good 5 year prison sentence is good enough so long as they are forced to work 12 hour days busting rocks under a hot sun as a punishment for their crime”

    You know there’s a history to this sort of thing. A quick question: if governments and businesses secured free labor by arresting people, would they arrest more people? A less quick question: what happened in the South after Reconstruction ended?

    We’re already seeing many of the same problems emerge with the steady reintroduction of prison labor and privatized prisons. There are a few big reasons that our incarceration rates are so absurdly high, and this is one of them. (The bigger one being the drug war.) Yeah, we all pay big time for unnecessary incarceration. I’ve yet to see this be discussed by the deficit hawks who are busy worrying over the costs of Planned Parenthood, PBS, NPR, and TANF (food stamps). I haven’t run an exact estimate, but I’m willing to bet that the costs of those four programs combined is less than that of the costs of our over-incarceration relative to other first world countries.

  9. #9 Zachary Alain
    http://zachmakesupstuff.blogspot.com/
    October 12, 2012

    Edit: TANF is not food stamps. I had meant to erase that parenthetical.

  10. #10 Marco
    October 13, 2012

    “Thou shalt not kill” kinda contradicts the death penalty itself, yes?

    Of course, you also contradict the bible when you only want the death penalty for extreme brutal crimes. Unless you consider homosexual acts, sorcery, or contradicting priests “extreme brutal crimes”?

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    October 13, 2012

    Or mowing your lawn on the Sabbath.

  12. #12 Doug Alder
    October 13, 2012

    Um Bob Glasner – which God are you referring to? There are thousands of them, not counting Goddesses. In any case relying on a many thousands of years old goat herders attempt to explain the universe, for anything, is ridiculous in the extreme

  13. #13 gwen
    October 13, 2012

    I live in CA and have no idea how this will fare. I will vote yes. I am against the death penalty as way too expensive. The money could be better used on education and rehabilitation of some of those we warehouse. I am against the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment, and the fact that it has been found that there have been people executed who were almost certainly innocent. I find it an embarrassment that as a first world country, we warehouse more prisoners per capita than any other country on earth. We can do better than this.

  14. #14 Bob Glasner
    October 17, 2012

    @Doug

    Thousands of Gods? Sorry I was unware. I guess that’s what the God of the universe meant when He said that we shoud have no other Gods before Him eh?

    Wooden idols are inanimate objects. They are not Gods. They are false Gods. They cannot give life, raise the dead, etc.

    As for explaining the universe, the best thing your side has come up with as two particles collided together spun around and everything fell into place and over time life was spun from inanimate materials. The moderns science wiz who came up with this notion never even explained where the the two particles that collided and formed the so call big bang came from in the first place.

    Sorry Doug. Looks like your explaination is sillier than mine and raises more questions than answers. If you prefer to give me a detailed 900 million page report of EXACTLY and PRECISELY how the universe was formed asnd how life came to be, please go ahead and start on your report. I would love to see it.

  15. #15 Jim
    Jacksonville, FL
    April 24, 2017

    California is NOT the Sunshine State.

    Florida is!

  16. #16 Don Scott
    April 25, 2017

    The Sunshine State is Florida.

  17. #17 MikeN
    April 25, 2017

    Switching to a firing squad instead of the drugs that are hard to get is fine with me. They could maybe make it like jury duty to give people connection to it and not something other people do far away that you don’t have to think about.

    If the death penalty were eliminated as too expensive and cruel, the activists will then set their sights on life imprisonment.

  18. #18 Greg Laden
    April 25, 2017

    Fixed

  19. #19 RickA
    United States
    April 25, 2017

    Marco #10:

    I am told that a better translation is Thou shalt not murder (rather than kill).

    I am told that it was understood that killing in self-defense, in war and executions by the state were not murder.

    So I think the popular thou shalt not kill misleads people into thinking that nobody can kill anybody under any circumstances – which is not correct (as I understand it).

  20. #20 RickA
    April 25, 2017

    MikeN #17:

    Robot firing squads. Asimov wouldn’t like that because it would violate one of the 3 laws of robotics – but it would address a point raised on the other death penalty thread.

  21. #21 BBD
    April 25, 2017

    What’s all this crap about the death penalty ‘being biblical’?

    Leviticus 19:18

    18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

    And:

    Romans 12:17-19 (NKJV):

    17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.

    Why is it that so many professing Christians of a certain type are incapable of understanding the bible?

  22. #22 BBD
    April 25, 2017

    I’m still waiting for MikeN to explain why killing criminals is a benefit to society. Since is refusing to so so, I will put words in his mouth: he is talking about vengeance.

    Vengeance is not a benefit to society. This has been understood for a long time. It’s even in the OT.

  23. #23 dean
    April 25, 2017

    Why is it that so many professing Christians of a certain type are incapable of understanding the bible?

    That, and as RickA shows for himself, a good many have never read it.

    It’s quite similar to the hard on the teabaggers have for the Constitution.

    Not for what it says, of course, since they don’t know. it’s for what they imagine it says.

  24. #24 BBD
    April 25, 2017

    I am told that a better translation is Thou shalt not murder (rather than kill).

    But since there is no such thing as infallible courts, the state will occasionally murder innocent citizens by mistake.

  25. #25 RickA
    United States
    April 25, 2017

    BBD #21:

    Exodus 21:12-14:

    12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.

  26. #26 RickA
    April 25, 2017

    BBD #24:

    I think you mean “execute” – since the state executes them after due process, thinking they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As far as the state is concerned they are not innocent when executed – so it isn’t murder.

    Might it turn out later to have been a mistake – yes.

  27. #27 BBD
    April 25, 2017

    If there is a miscarriage of justice, then it is judicial murder.

    As for the bible, it needs better editors:

    Deuteronomy 32:35

    Vengeance is Mine, and recompense;
    Their foot shall slip in due time;
    For the day of their calamity is at hand,
    And the things to come hasten upon them.’

    Since I’m an atheist, I’ll leave it to the faithful to sort out.

  28. #28 RickA
    United States
    April 25, 2017

    BBD #27:

    In order to be murder it has to be unlawful.

    A state execution is by definition lawful and therefore cannot be murder.

    It is a form of justifiable homicide – like killing in self-defense.

    Killing in self-defense is also not murder (because it is lawful).

  29. #29 BBD
    April 25, 2017

    The above is the text referenced in Romans:

    Romans 12:17-19 (NKJV):

    17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[ays the Lord.

    Perhaps this is the key shift from the OT to Christianity:

    Thou shalt not kill.

    That’s pretty unambiguous, isn’t it, Rickky?

  30. #30 BBD
    April 25, 2017

    n order to be murder it has to be unlawful.

    A state execution is by definition lawful and therefore cannot be murder.

    Hence the use of the phrase ‘judicial murder’ to accommodate something that has changed after the fact from apparently lawful to obviously not lawful.

  31. #31 RickA
    April 25, 2017

    BBD #29:

    As I said above – a better translation is Thou shalt not murder.

  32. #32 BBD
    April 25, 2017

    And as I’ve said already, since there’s no evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent but there is ample evidence that it does mean that the state occasionally murders innocent people, then the death penalty is abhorrent and should be abolished.

  33. #33 RickA
    United States
    April 25, 2017

    BBD #32:

    That is your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it.

    However, I quibble with your use of the word “murder”. If it is lawful it cannot be murder.

    Look up the definition of “murder”.

    I know it is a lawyerly point – but words matter.

  34. #34 BBD
    April 25, 2017

    I know it is a lawyerly point – but words matter.

    Indeed they do. See #32 and a round dozen identical previous statements of same that you have ignored.

  35. #35 Wow
    April 25, 2017

    “words matter”, but only when they mean something, and you use them with zero meaning, dick.

    Example:

    You: “Words matter”
    Me: “That’s your opinion, and you’re entitled to it”

  36. #36 RickA
    United States
    April 25, 2017

    Wow #35:

    Thank you Wow.

  37. #37 Wow
    April 25, 2017

    “Killing in self-defense is also not murder (because it is lawful).”

    But the state isn’t defending itself from murder.

    The victim is already dead, and therefore not able to protect itself, and nobody else is in danger.

    So, you agree: the death penalty is murder.

    Words matter.

  38. #38 Wow
    April 25, 2017

    “I am told that a better translation is Thou shalt not murder (rather than kill).”

    Wrong.

    It was how you should not kill a fellow Jew. Goyim? Not against the bible to kill.

    Another thing the xtians “forget”(scare quotes because they never knew it in the first place) is that christianity was a jewish sect, and the entire screed was for jews to follow, not anyone else.

    The OT is even more explicit, and even less comprehended. See, for example, the christian WASPs thinking they’ll be saved in the rapture, when the only ones getting saved are 144,000 jewish people, 12,000 from each of the original 12 tribes of Israel. Not a single red neck among them.

  39. #39 Wow
    April 25, 2017

    “when He said that we shoud have no other Gods before Him eh? ”

    He had a wife too. And the other gods existed, he was saying how he was to be the particular race of middle eastern peoples’ only god, eschewing all others, because those others totally existed too when they wrote that bit of the bibble.

    Ever wondered where the others that married into the Adam family came from? That’s right: the other people’s of the earth, created by their gods and exhorted to obey only their god.

    But, yeah, even if we took it as nonfiction and an accurate retelling in the revisionism of the passage you present it as, why the hell should we believe the proclamation of one supernatural dude that they were totally the only real one? It’s not like there’s any way to tell, because they’re all apparently hiding and wanting us to believe without proof.

  40. #40 Wow
    April 25, 2017

    “As for explaining the universe, the best thing your side has come up with as two particles collided together spun around and everything fell into place and over time life was spun …”

    Ah, no.

    That’s the best you can recall, but it’s about as accurate as saying your best idea is “Well it poofed up and then sex happened and we arrived”.

  41. #41 Wow
    April 25, 2017

    “Thank you Wow.”

    Well, lets agree to disagree, eh?

  42. #42 MikeN
    April 25, 2017

    BBD, I thought I said that already. Vengeance is a good description I think.

  43. #43 Wow
    April 25, 2017

    Vengeance, though, has nothing to do with justice. And governments should not be in the business of vengeance.

    Moreover, since someone will be innocent, their family will want vengeance. Against whom? The government? The jury? The executioner? You? All the above?

    Moreover, vengeance is not a social benefit.

  44. #44 BBD
    April 26, 2017

    MikeN

    BBD, I thought I said that already. Vengeance is a good description I think.

    What is the social benefit of vengeance?

    Please answer the fucking question this time.

  45. #45 Wow
    April 26, 2017

    “What is the social benefit of vengeance?”

    == “He likes it”. Ergo, it’s good for society.

  46. #46 RickA
    United States
    April 26, 2017

    Here is an interesting article on retribution (vengeance).

    http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1248&context=yjhple

    From its conclusion:

    “Retribution, by contrast, has proved a key sticking point due to that concept’s uncertain future. Thus, a model that repurposes retribution to serve utilitarian ends strikes a compromise between those unsure of the normative implications of the new science of human agency and those who champion that science as the harbinger of retributive justice’s demise. Perhaps less importantly, it excavates the fate-versus-free will debate from its dusty, ancient seat of
    practical irrelevance.”

    Personally, I don’t believe that humans (in general) lack free-will and therefore are unable to make choices and therefore are subject to blame and responsibility for those choices.

    But this article deals with recent research on free will (or lack thereof) and is interesting.

  47. #47 BBD
    April 26, 2017

    RickA blithers:

    Personally, I don’t believe that humans (in general) lack free-will and therefore are unable to make choices and therefore are subject to blame and responsibility for those choices.

    Your own reference states (bold for the cretinous):

    An Evidence-Based Objection to Retributive Justice

    Abstract:

    […]

    The research suggests that as the science of human agency becomes increasingly vivid and reductionistic, laypeople will become proportionally less willing to attribute blame, and these shifting societal intuitions will ultimately diminish criminal law’s moral credibility. The practical effects of low moral credibility might include diminished compliance, cooperation, and acquiescence with criminal laws, as well as increased general deviance. Importantly, this Note observes that these effects will likely manifest even if people retain a belief in free will. Further, ontological reality plays no part in this Note’s argument; whether we in fact have free will is irrelevant.

    Idiot.

  48. #48 Wow
    April 26, 2017

    “Personally, I don’t believe that humans (in general) lack free-will and therefore are unable to make choices and therefore are subject to blame and responsibility for those choices.”

    Has fuck all to do with the death penalty, though.

    So what if some murderer is responsible for the murder? Doesn’t make you irresponsible for the death of someone yourself.

  49. #49 Wow
    April 26, 2017

    “Here is an interesting article on retribution (vengeance).”

    Kinda pointless, isn’t it? Since you think it fine to retain the same conclusion despite what others say, you can’t expect anynone to change based on what someone else says.

  50. #50 RickA
    United States
    April 26, 2017

    Wow #49:

    Then don’t read the article. I don’t expect anybody to change their mind based on what I say or an article. I don’t expect anybody to read an article I cite. I just thought it was interesting and on point, and some might want to read it. Exercise your free will and make your own choice. If you change your mind about anything it will be your free will and your free choice to do so. Nobody can make you change your mind.

  51. #51 Wow
    April 26, 2017

    Then don’t point to the article, “Dick”. Saves everyone trouble.

    “I don’t expect anybody to change their mind based on what I say or an article.”

    So why bother either posting the link or saying anything?

    ” I just thought it was interesting”

    Not enough for you to read, though.

    ” and on point”

    Point being it shows you were wrong.

    ” If you change your mind about anything”

    I have.

    You, however, haven’t.

    “Nobody can make you change your mind.”

    Why are you trying, then?

  52. #52 BBD
    April 26, 2017

    Then don’t point to the article, “Dick”. Saves everyone trouble.

    Yes, it took me ages to format that quote – it was one of those no-copy pdfs where every word of the paste appears on a new line. And I’ve the supper on and children to beat.

  53. #53 MikeN
    April 26, 2017

    What is the social benefit of vengeance?

    I take it back. Perhaps, vengeance is the wrong word. I said before that I don’t think we should root for the death penalty. That’s pretty close to vengeance.

    I’m a little unclear how to answer as to what is a social benefit. What is the social benefit of prison?
    I feel I am just making a circular argument in saying that it is justice to give out the death penalty.

  54. #54 Wow
    April 26, 2017

    “I said before that I don’t think we should root for the death penalty.”

    Where?

    “I’m a little unclear how to answer as to what is a social benefit.”

    You didn’t let that stop you before. Why now?

    “What is the social benefit of prison?”

    You’re still holding up an answer to the questions posed to you, don’t go and avoid answering then want us to answer yours.

    “I feel I am just making a circular argument ”

    You’ve not made an argument, circular or otherwise.

    “in saying that it is justice to give out the death penalty.”

    No, that’s not a circular argument. Come on, you know what that fallacy is, come on!

  55. #55 Wow
    April 26, 2017

    “Yes, it took me ages to format that quote”

    Deliberately picked so that you would be punished for not accepting “dick”‘s word for it.

  56. #56 Wow
    April 26, 2017

    PS if you get pdf2txt, it SHOULD be available as a command line program for Windows, but it’s a GNU utility, so easiest is very nearly any full sized Linux distro, then you can automate it somewhat, because it’ll turn it into plain ASCII.

    But a large swathe of text isn’t much easier, so you have to pick what page.

    And there are other PDF readers which don’t give a fig for the “please don’t copy this”. It’s a software lock, not an encrypt or anything.

  57. #57 BBD
    April 27, 2017

    MikeN

    I’m a little unclear how to answer as to what is a social benefit. What is the social benefit of prison?

    It removes the threat posed by the criminal to society. In the case of a life term, the effect is permanent.

  58. #58 BBD
    April 27, 2017

    And there are other PDF readers which don’t give a fig for the “please don’t copy this”. It’s a software lock, not an encrypt or anything.

    Yes, I should look into this. Acrobat by default – lazy and makes work sometimes.

  59. #59 MikeN
    April 27, 2017

    > In the case of a life term, the effect is permanent.

    Actually it isn’t. There are over a hundred murders attributed to people given life in prison. Most killed were prison guards or prisoners, but there are cases of parole, and escape too.

  60. #60 RickA
    United States
    April 27, 2017

    MikeN #59:

    The Arkansas execution to take place tonight is a case in point:

    “Kenneth Williams, 38, was sentenced to death for killing Cecil Boren after escaping from the Cummins Unit prison in a barrel of hog slop. Williams was initially serving a life term for killing a university cheerleader whose family he taunted when jurors spared his life.”

    So he escaped while under a life term and murdered again.

  61. #61 Greg Laden
    April 27, 2017

    Yeah, this Williams dude is a poster child for swift execution and the death penalty.

    But it is incumbent upon us to heed the better angels of our nature even when there is an easier solution to problems like him.

  62. #62 Wow
    April 27, 2017

    “> In the case of a life term, the effect is permanent.

    Actually it isn’t. ”

    Actually, it is. Of course, we could change the law later or we could find they were innocent, or merely that the evidence was not sufficient for the severe sentence. Then again they could die in prison before any of that, or we could be invaded by aliens, or annihilated by a ELE asteroid strike, or anything else.

    But, if the sentence is to be jailed until the end of their natural life (Peter Sutcliffe, IIRC, is the last one to be sentenced to that in the UK, and he’s not getting out), then the ability of the purported criminal to do their crime or any other again is ended permanently.

    What ISN’T ended permanently is any way of undoing a miscarriage of justice.

    “but there are cases of parole, and escape too”

    And cases of people sentenced to jail where, when DNA evidence was then made available, was absolute proof they were innocent.

    NOTE: DNA should be used only to clear, never convict, since DNA can be left around with any number of myriad reasons, and that the soundness of the proof it gives is massively over-hyped. You will DNA match much closer to people in your town, all of whom could have done it, and almost nothing in common with some random Australian Aborigine who has the excuse of thousands of miles to say they weren’t there, so the base “one-in-a-million” chance, based on “match with any random other human in the world” is a lot smaller when you’re selecting from a much less varied smaller genetic sample of humanity. Therefore if the DNA DOESN’T match, you’re pretty damn certain they’re innocent, what with all the ways an innocent person’s DNA could be found (shook hands? DNA transferred).

  63. #63 Wow
    April 27, 2017

    “So he escaped while under a life term and murdered again.”

    Thing is, he was not able to do so for some time.

    And, having escaped, they were already looking for him, reducing his window of opportunity.

    And having escaped to be caught or have evidence found of another similar crime, it’s a pretty simple (therefore speedy and cheap) trial.

    Not forgetting anyone who he knew would know him and would be aware of who the nutbag was, making chances of survival better.

    So as far as deterrent goes, it is still pretty effective. “Deter” as in “Was hindered” or “Was unable to rampage as long”.

    And, lets face it, if someone escapes prison to kill someone immediately and randomly, there was no possible deterrent there to begin with, was there?

    PS ask suicide bombers what they felt when they went out to the (obviously unsuccessful) attempt. They felt calm, that all their problems were going to end, that the road, short as it was, was clear and untroubling.

    If they were going to have to live another 40 years with their legs blown off in the attempt, and this was the almost inevitable end result of such attempts, you’d get almost no bugger doing it.

    I can’t see any reason why this sort of nut is any different in their drive to commit the act than any random nutcase murderer.

  64. #64 BBD
    April 27, 2017

    MikeN

    Imprisonment removes the threat posed by the criminal to society. In the case of a life term, the effect is permanent.

    ” In the case of a life term, the effect is permanent.”

    Actually it isn’t. There are over a hundred murders attributed to people given life in prison. Most killed were prison guards or prisoners, but there are cases of parole, and escape too.

    Prison isn’t society. Escapes are rare. Murders by escapees rarer still.

  65. #65 RickA
    United States
    April 27, 2017

    BBD #64 said ” Escapes are rare. Murders by escapees rarer still.”

    True. However, executions are also rare.

    Only 20 in the USA in 2016.

    I feel you will say that even one execution is to many.

    I say even one escape and subsequent murder is to many.

  66. #66 BBD
    April 28, 2017

    I’d say you are desperately clutching at straws to bolster an indefensible position.

  67. #67 dean
    April 28, 2017

    I say even one innocent person executed is too many

  68. #68 RickA
    United States
    April 28, 2017

    BBD and dean:

    Since you are both advocating for a change from the existing status (death penalty is available and in use) – it is up to you guys to make the change. You have the burden, not me.

    Good luck to you both.

    I am not desperate, because unless you and your friends change the law in 31 states and the Federal congress OR change the constitution, the default status is what IS right now (the death penalty is available and in use).

    I am ambivalent myself, because Minnesota has already decided not to use the death penalty – so if you succeed in getting rid of it in the other 31 states, that would be fine with me. There are not very many federal executions (only 3 since 2001) so if you manage to get rid of the death penalty federally that would be fine with me.

    So I will sit back and watch and see if you succeed.

    I would get involved if there is a movement to amend the constitution and would oppose such an amendment. And I do like to blog about the death penalty (and the 2nd amendment). Lawyers like to argue – it is fun.

  69. #69 BBD
    April 28, 2017

    Lawyers like to argue – it is fun.

    FFS.

  70. #70 Wow
    April 28, 2017

    ” Lawyers like to argue”

    What does that have to do with you?

  71. #71 Wow
    April 28, 2017

    “True. However, executions are also rare.”

    So little is lost by removing it. which doesn’t require a change to the constitution.

    “So I will sit back and watch”

    Ah, right, so you already get to think of people being murdered by the state, so you’ll just enjoy the show, you vile human being.