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I followed the Jody Arias trial closely. Her testimony struck me as the height of disingenuousness. She remembered shooting Travis Alexander alright, claiming he was trying to kill her. “The gun went off” she said about her first volley, denying any connection between conscious thought and pulling the trigger. As for stabbing her lover and moving his body, that she couldn’t remember. Getting rid of the gun? Her mind was blank on that too. Evil conniving little you-know-what. If it hadn’t been for a conversation with TTAG contributor and combat medic Jonathan Taylor, I would be bitching about the fact that Arias avoided the death sentence for her heinous deed and inability to admit her true nature to the world . . .

“I’ve seen a lot of people die,” the Bronze Star recipient said as we drove up to Georgetown to check-up on STI. “Up close and personal. I’ve seen people go fighting it until the last second and I’ve seen people go peacefully. I’ve also seen a state execution.”

“It was . . . nothing,” he said. “No emotion. Nothing.”

I kinda understood where he was coming from, but I wasn’t convinced. Who cares what kind of send-off a convicted murderer got? At least the victims’ family and friends got some satisfaction, albeit in an Old Testament kinda way.

“There was no closure,” Jon said, shaking his head. “And there’s also the fact that we’ve put to death people who were innocent of the crime they were convicted of. But that’s not it. The whole thing was bureaucratic . . . I’m just not comfortable with the government being into the business of killing its own people.”

That did it. At the tender age of 55, in a single instant, I switched from being pro-death penalty to anti. As a Jew whose grandparents were exterminated by the Nazis, a man whose father barely survived as a slave laborer for the regime; as a gun owner who knows all too well what the antis would do given their head, I too don’t want to see the government get comfortable with killing people.

Neither Jonathan nor I nor millions of us would think twice about shooting and perhaps killing anyone who posed an imminent credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm to ourselves, our family and innocent life. But should the State have the ability to execute those it considers a danger to society? No thanks. Not anymore.

Fair enough?

220 Responses to Question of the Day: Death Penalty?

  1. Well that’s incredibly hypocritical of him (John Taylor, not Robert). He worked for an organization whose sole purpose is to kill for the government – without trial or justification! – but in regards to someone we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is a stone cold murderer, he’s against executing? Ha.

  2. So who gets to pay to keep that scum in the lap of luxury for the rest of their lives? Kill? Maybe not, but I bet we could re-shore quite a bit of sweatshop labor to convicted felons. Make them pay for their incarceration.

    • Lap of luxury? Kinda hardly. I’ve visited a couple of prisons, and they are not country clubs, the food sucks, and the threat if death or rape lurks at every turn. That aside, it is actually cheaper to keep someone locked up for life than it is to try to have that person executed. Any death sentence is sure to be appealed, appeals and later habeus petitions will keep the case active for many years, all costing prosecutorial time and the cost of the defense, all of which we pay, plus the cost of incarceration through the appellate process even if a death penalty is ultimately imposed. (And even after these appeal,s the government still gets it wrong with more than stunning regularity. Over one hundred men who were wrongfully convicted have been released from death row through the efforts of the Innocence Project.) In fact, a convict is more likely to die of old age than be executed. And even if he survives long enough to reach the day set aside for him to meet his maker, decades in solitary confinement on death row regularly results in serious mental illness–and the law requires that a convict be sane when executed. All of this costs MILLIONS of dollars (last estimate I saw was on average $5-7 million per felon). You can lock someone up for forty years and not spend a fraction of that.

      • So the problem is that we are spending too much money defending murderers? Perhaps we should stop? Bullets are (relatively) cheap. One to the back of the head, and bill the next of kin for the pine box and the round.

        • The unfortunate fact of that matter is that, yes, in the U.S. it is significantly less expensive to imprison somebody for the rest of their life than to execute them. For that reason alone, I’ve been against the death penalty even though I’ve been for it philosophically. Were it not the case, and the cost really was just the expense of a bullet, I’m actually fairly convinced by JWT’s and RF’s argument here and need to reconsider my thoughts on the subject… I’d really need to see solid proof that it deters murder and other heinous crime, and I’m not sure that proof exists.

        • Jeremy:

          I think there’s a general assumption that prison, or the threat thereof, deters crime. In the case of the death penalty, the assumption is, more specifically, that the threat of the death penalty will keep someone from murdering someone else.

          Frankly, I have my doubts about the general assumption; if it were true, I suspect we wouldn’t be seeing the recidivism rates we do. (There are other factors, like it’s hard for ex-cons to get decent jobs; but that’s another discussion.)

          In terms of the death penalty specifically, I don’t think it’s a deterrent, but I really don’t care whether it deters crime or not. Rather, I tend to look at it as a mechanism by which society as a whole can dispose of elements which it deems will never, ever be reintegratable due to the evil nature of their actions.

        • No, we’re spending money defending people accused of murder. Feel the difference.

          And the reason why we do it is to reduce the changes that we convict the wrong person. And even then we don’t do a particularly good job at it.

        • How is is a lifetime of incarceration less expensive than lethal injection exactly?

        • ^ Years and years of appeals, lawyer fees, not to mention the actual costs of keeping them alive until we off them at some far later date…

          The chemicals they use aren’t exactly cheap either

      • if every prisoner had a 5 x 10 box, and little-to-no interaction with other prisoners, we could save lot of money AND reduce prisoner-on-prisoner violence.

        • If we’re gonna throw everybody in solitary, we may as well execute every prisoner. Solitary confinement does horrific things to the mind

    • Sounds fine to me. We need a source of cheap labor. I say lock ’em up and if they want to be fed as well, then they work.

      • Compared to what they deserve? Yes. Luxury. They get three squares and a cot. Add to that libraries, cable TV, exercise equipment, etc… I know plenty of people in third world countries who would be more than happy to spend the rest of their lives in an American prison. It beats starving.

    • How would we possibly force them to work? Suppose those assigned to sweat-shop labor simply said, “Screw it. I’m not lifting a finger.”?

      • I wholeheartedly believe a lot of people are in prisons because they just don’t want to work. I think labor camps would be a GREAT deterrent of crime. At least a better deterrent than the prison system as it currently exists.

      • If we are pre-supposing that we actually want to force them to work, then you could make all liberties (including free time outside of confinement within their cell) as well as food contingent upon satisfactory (preferably measured in some quantifiable way) completion of work. Just like outside, they could be paid for their work, then be required to use that pay to purchase leisure activities and/or food. The simplest way to avoid lunch-time bullies and the like would be to track each prisoner’s credit for them (in a system), possibly using subcutaneous RFID tags to track/verify prisoners. Of course that would also have to be accompanied by close monitoring of the cafeteria and anywhere else that someone could forcibly take from another prisoner. Probably voluntary sharing/trading would also have to be forbidden.
        This would, effectively, force just about anyone to work. Only those so dedicated to not working that they were willing to stay within their cell all day and not eat would be able to avoid working.

    • I, too have had somewhat of an epiphany where the death penalty is concerned. I used to be a fairly solid death penalty proponent, but in my mind, if the possibility exists that we could mistakenly execute the wrong person, even once, then in my mind, that is simply wrong. Fact is that we have mistakenly executed innocent people in the past and that is a tragedy of the highest order.

      I still feel the death penalty is appropriate but only when there is absolutely no possibility of a mistake. A case I usually cite as an example is the one Long Island Railroad massacre of 1993. The killer, Colin Ferguson was tackled by passengers after killing six people. In that case, there is no question of who the guilty party is and Colin should have been given a quick ride on Ol’ Sparky shortly after the initial trial. Of course, this happened in New York, a state with no death penalty.

      In the case of many other death penalty situations, if the killer is not caught red handed, but only convicted on possibly questionable testimony and there is not an iron clad proof of guilt, then the sentence should only be life. In that case, there is always the possibility that future efforts could result in eventual acquittal. Having an innocent person lose many years of their life in prison is a travesty, but one that can be corrected to some degree. Finding out later that you executed an innocent person is an irreversible mistake.

      I have to admit that I’ve always found the Classical Republican position of pro-death penalty and anti-abortion to be somewhat of an oxymoron. In that respect, I can understand the position of the Catholic Church which adamantly opposes both things.

      in the end, I think the death penalty can be appropriate in some circumstances, but those tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

      • Pretty much the only evidence that can convince me that a given person is truly guilty is a heartfelt confession (it can still be faked, but at least then it’s the person’s choice). Everything else always leaves some room for doubt, no matter how small.

        To that extent, I would get rid of death penalty altogether and replace it with life sentence for the worst crimes that are indicative of the person clearly being a danger to society. But then adding the provision that a person sentenced to such a thing (or to any term that’s “long enough”) can voluntarily choose to be euthanised.

    • I wouldn’t call it luxury, but they do get cable, free health care, food, recreation, education, etc. Prison is supposed to be unpleasant but in some cases it sure doesn’t seem to be.

      As for the death penalty, I’m for it, but not as it currently works. Takes way too long and totally disconnects the crimes from the punishment. Convicted and sentenced to death? OK, you get one appeal within 24 hours. If the sentence stands, we frog-march you behind the courthouse and I shoot you in the back of the head. Fast, efficient, and cheap (I reload my own ammo). These scum don’t need to live out their lives in prison at my expense; prisons should only be for people who are redeemable.

    • What you have failed to recognize is that death penalty cases are not fast or cheap. Seeking the death penalty takes years involving year after year of appeals and motions, not to mention millions of taxpayer dollars. Purely based on an economic evaluation, we shouldn’t be seeking the death penalty because it’s more expensive than life without parole. Bring in the ethical issues and it’s a no-brainer to me that getting rid of it is the right call.

  3. The State kills people all the time outside of the execution chamber. That’s what it has a military for. There are domestic enemies just as dangerous as the foreign ones whose deaths at the hands of our State even anti-death penalty folks are willing to countenance. So the concept of state agents killing people who pose a danger to our society at large is not a deal-breaker for me. For me personally, some crimes are so heinous that the perpetrator’s death is the only appropriate result. I do realize that “heinous” is a subjective standard. Nevertheless, I just have to say that some executions do not bother me one whit.

  4. Opposition to the death penalty is not an unreasonable position. The death penalty is a government program and, like all government programs, is flawed. Although, I think the above 7 percent stat is inflated.

    That said, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And don’t think progressives will stop fighting against all forms of long incarceration if capital punishment goes away.

      • That’s why the NRA should endorse Hillary Clinton: see if it buys some opposition votes from the uneducated.

        • In fact, the NRA (I am a life member) would be out of work if it actually got every one of the politicians it wanted elected, no?

        • Actually, the NRA survived for its first century of existence, long before getting deep into politics and establishing its ILA, just doing what it was founded to do: firearms proficiency and safety training.

          If we ever conclusively and permanently won the battle for firearms freedom everywhere in this country, the NRA would either expand its primary mission, or possibly branch out abroad and continue the fight fir freedom on new fronts.

          Howsoever, they would adapt, just as they did in response to the modern gun grabbing movement by getting involved in politics and legal challenges.

    • This is a good point, libturds never stop. Today it’s abolish the death penalty, tommorrow it’s life sentences are inhumane.

      • This is well underway. The libtard current mantra is “minorities over incarcerated due to racism”.

  5. Not being a criminal, I’m sure I would rather die than be locked in a cage for the rest of my life. Even guilty as sin criminals reach the same conclusion, and off themselves in prison. Then of course complete maniacs like charles manson will try for parole every chance they get. There is even a dating site for death row inmates! Come to think of it, there is heroin in prison… I might actually be able to deal with death row on heroin. So I guess what I’m saying is maybe even death row isn’t bad enough. Iron maidens, please.

    • the fact that charles manson has access to the internet, and therefore access to a dating site, is one of the many reasons why prisons cost so much and why prisoners continue their criminal enterprises even while incarcerated.

  6. Hmmmm, a few cases made you anti death-penalty. I, on the other hand, would volunteer for a firing squad for James Holmes or Nidal Hassan. I don’t think the death penalty is appropriate in every case, but when multiple murders are involved, the death penalty is the best and most appropriate way for justice to be served.

    The caveat being that the case is sound, and that the preponderance of evidence clearly points to guilt. The Holmes and Hassan cases being clear examples. Their guilt is obvious.

    CCW and open for self defense are not vastly different, in my opinion, from the death penalty. To be effective in combat, one must be able to employ lethal force.

    • I think you mean more than a “preponderance of the evidence”–more like “beyond a reasonable doubt”, no?

    • I agree with Accur81, every time I see a picture of Richard Martin (8 Year old killed by Boston bomber.) I picture my own son and it eats me up. I would gladly pick up a rifle not to so much execute him, cause death is just an ending, but for the fear that little shit would feel before the trigger is pulled. For those few seconds, I hope he’d suffer an eternity.

      • He hopes for martyrdom as a jihadist, and would be in ecstasy at the prospect of imminent death at your hands, and the however many virgins awaiting him. Hearing the click as your trigger is pulled on an empty chamber would be the biggest disappointment of his miserable life.

    • Lethal self defense and the “death penalty” (as defined in this context) are completely different.
      One is defense; one is offense.
      Lethal self defense is used as the most effective way to stop the taking of a life. Ending the life of the imprisoned does not directly (nor indirectly many would argue) stop the taking of a life. It is vengeance justified with exculpatory terminology, primarily “justice”. Every war and nearly every murder is initiated by one or more parties who see themselves as doing justice.

      When the assailant is on the ground and laying still, is in handcuffs or behind bars, further lethal action against him is no longer defense of life.

      • “When the assailant is on the ground and laying still, is in handcuffs or behind bars, further lethal action against him is no longer defense of life.” — True, but some crimes deserve retribution. And for some crimes, death penalty is not enough.

    • the problem I have with that is it leaves us trusting the government and prosecutors (who, as elected officials can be really prone to grandstandign for votes)to make that call. ANd I’m not OK with that.

  7. I’m pro-death penalty. I agree with everything y’all said. But some people are animals and a lack of recidivism is good enough for me. I think the death penalty should be expanded to serial violent or sexual offenders. Is it really better for an innocent to spend life in hell rather than a quick 1-2-sleep? If I were wrongly convicted, I’d choose the death penalty over life in prison without parole. I’d wager that given the situation where a judge or jury has recommended life without parole over the death penalty, but has granted a convicted felon the choice of life or death, many would choose the latter.

    • Sex offenders? I’d caution you against that, the sex offender registry covers so much more than you’d think. I actually know a guy whose name is on there for public urination (he was drunk and he pissed in an alley), and a woman who is on there for having consensual sex with another teenager when she was 16.

      Sexual crimes are the worst type, even more so than murder. Rapists and child molesters should be executed because there is no rehabilitating that kind of evil. But be careful about painting with such a broad brush, especially when talking about who deserves to die for their crimes….

    • >> f I were wrongly convicted, I’d choose the death penalty over life in prison without parole.

      The logical takeaway from this is that people who are convicted should be given a choice, not that death penalty should be universally applied. Some in the same situation might choose differently from you. As they say, hope dies last.

  8. I completely understand where you’re coming from, and in some ways I agree. But at the same time, I find it a travesty that Ted Bundy is sucking taxpayer money rather than be executed. Some people are too evil to allow to live, but where do you draw the line? There’s no easy answers.

      • At that time, Florida had just passed a mandatory seat belt law.

        A popular bumper-sticker read:

        “I’ll buckle-up when Bundy buckles-up ”

        As noted, Bundy eventually did buckle-up…

  9. The same DNA scientific evidence that is being used to exonerate falsely accused people is also the same type of evidence that can prove beyond any doubt that there is guilt.

    We still have juries. When there is no doubt of guilt then the guilty should die for horrible crimes.

    • DNA evidence is largely circumstantial. While it can certainly help greatly in a trial, it generally does not, on its own, “prove beyond any doubt”.

      • Yeah, if you want to get technical, there are people who have become famous for making idiotic ramblings about whether we even exist. Descartes, for instance was such a moron he seriously didn’t think he could prove he existed so he simply assumed that he did since he could think. I think the evidence that he could think is somewhat weaker than the certainty of identity in many capital crimes provided by DNA evidence.

        • Ooooh, you just decribed the entire “science” of philosophy in a few sentences. For example, one of the Greeks was opining on the nature of man. He said, “a two legged animal”, whereupon another pointed at a rooster and cried, “Behold your man”. They eventually agreed on the definition of an animal with religion. To be fair, they hadn’t seen the Indian temple rats…

        • It was actually even more amusing. The first philosopher – who was Plato, by the way – defined human as “two legged animal without feathers”. The second one, Diogenes, took a rooster to Plato’s Academy and plucked him in front of the audience, and said “behold, the Plato’s man”. Plato then revised his definition by adding “… and with flat nails”.

          However, philosophy is not a science by definition. Indeed, science is rather a subset of philosophy (and used to be called “natural philosophy” before the term “science” was introduced). Other subsets of philosophy attempt to answer different questions.

          A lot of philosophy (especially modern) is rambling, but there are many insightful gems in there, as well. Aristotle, Epicurus, Socrates, Plato (yes, despite that whole rooster thing) are all worthwhile reads. So are Aquinas, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and many, many others. Hell, the Declaration of Independence is to a large extent a work in this field.

    • DNA is actually not as reliable as people make it be. A negative match is unambiguous, so proving innocence with DNA is easy. But a positive match doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s that particular person, or even when it does, doesn’t necessarily prove anything other than that DNA was somehow introduced to the scene – could be an unrelated thing, or could even be deliberately done by the actual perp.

  10. Robert, I understand what you and Jon are saying.

    With respect, I disagree with your conclusions.

    I see the death penalty’s utility as not being for vengeance, nor consolation, nor reparation, but rather a selective removal of those who have proved themselves to be, in essence, evil and unworthy of a place in our society. Yes, I believe there is evil in the world (perhaps odd for an ivory-tower-academic type but there you are), and that removal of same from society is a valid activity for that society to engage in. Thus, the death penalty.

    My own take is, the death penalty should be enforced for more crimes (forcible rape, for instance) but be linked to a significantly higher standard of evidence. If convicted, I believe there should be a hard deadline until which exculpatory evidence can be presented and considered, as well as appeals; but after that time, that’s it. (Of course I also think the turn-around time on our court system is completely ridiculous, so one would need to fix that, too.)

    As an alternative, I would be fine with taking these “people” and dropping them on an isolated island. Every so often do a supply drop but otherwise let the population sort things out for themselves.

    But that’s me.

  11. I have no problem with the death penalty, but Roman Gladiatorial games could help raise revenue for victim’s compensation programs. Of course, for the military, we could place the convicts in Brandenburg Disciplinary Battalions to clear minefields.

    • It’s a tempting idea, but I’d rather we didn’t.

      At the point where the death penalty is called for, you’re not talking about someone I’d consider fully human – you know, with morals, scruples and a sense of right and wrong that’s anything consistent with our society.

      So, treat that individual the way you would any animal that needs to be put down: do it quickly, efficiently, and with as little impact on the people who have do do the job as possible.

      If we as a society get anything out of the execution – amusement in particular, but really anything of value – it’ll always be tempting to make the threshold lower and lower until you get people being executed for too many traffic tickets. (At an early age I read Larry Niven’s Known Space series – a future in which you can, in fact, be executed for having too many traffic tickets because your organs can then be harvested for use…)

  12. How many times has ” new information come to light” and some poor bastard who spent ten years in jail is released, way to many flaws in the system to let the gov kill people.

    • Agreed.

      I think those who favor the death penalty put way, way too much trust that the persons involved with these cases to get it right. There have been corrupt prosecutors, judges, witnesses, etc. There has been sloppy and/or unethical police work. There have been witnesses who are honest but misidentified the suspect. There is a question of whether or not the death penalty is applied equally (questions of racial bias). There have clearly been exonerations of convicted criminals based on DNA evidence (325 according to the Innocence Project).

      I would certainly prefer that innocents never end up wrongly convicted. Failing that, I would hope that innocents have the chance to prove their innocence rather than be executed by the state.

      It seems far more sensible to lock people up for the rest of their lives if they have committed heinous crimes. If they’re given a true life sentence … they won’t be able to harm anyone else in society.

      Perhaps, if a convicted person after serving a period of time was given the option to choose death voluntarily, that would satisfy those who want blood.

    • How many times has a cop, or an armed civilian, shot the wrong person? How many soldiers have been killed by “friendly fire”? Heck, how many people have died because a team of doctors made a mistake? No situation where humans are involved is completely foolproof, and sometimes the mistakes are fatal. The trick is to build in enough safeguards to bring the mistakes to a level we can live with, and live with ourselves.

      • How are any of those situations comparable to a courtroom proceeding? All of those involve fast, immediate decision making based on the information available RIGHT THEN. Even the doctor situation tends to be fast-paced, and they are still open to malpractice suit.

        • Yup. A bad shot when someone believes his/her life is in danger (cop or otherwise) is not the same situation as when a criminal has been captured, convicted, and is under the control of the state.

          One is an emergency situation – a person fears for their life right then and there. The other is not.

      • Not good enough. You have to be found charged and found guilty of committing a specific crime. Anything else and we start getting into sentencing people to death for not living the approved lifestyle.

  13. I read an interesting study about how often convicted killers kill again. The number was decent enough to not be ignored.
    Some killers had been paroled, some killed again while in prison. (Some might say that this would be a victimless crime, but not everybody in prison is in for murder).

    If locking them alone in a cage till the day they die was an option, I would agree with abolishing the death penalty.
    But for now?
    Stet.

    • We had one here in TX you didn’t mention, in prison doing life without parole, escaped with others, and they killed a police officer who showed up while they were burglarizing a gun store. Then it took months to find them. Death (once accomplished) prevents additional murders. Life without parole does not. Ever.

  14. We don’t want to keep criminals in jail, we won’t execute them. Looks like in order to keep the peace, we’ll need complete equality. Robert, you’re going to need to turn over your cars, guns, possessions, and all salary that takes you above the median income. After all, we’ve got to build a violence free utopia, that won’t be possible without complete equality.

    The system is flawed. We allow the caught red-handed guilty as sin to walk, and prosecute cut and dried cases of self defense. That does not mean Capital Punishment is flawed. Just that our entire system needs to be overhauled.

    To make an analogy; Just because some people drive drunk doesn’t mean no one can drive. Just because some Governments are bureaucratic behemoths that don’t understand the concept of Justice, right or wrong, doesn’t mean no Government should be allowed to use capital punishment.

      • Your comment shows you missed my point. Robert and others advocate taking the death penalty off the table, period. The progressives don’t even want to jail criminals, because it’s society’s fault. Criminals are just victims of unfortunate circumstance and systemic oppression.

        So if we’re tossing out the death penalty, and we’re not going to be throwing people in jail due to overcrowding and the liberal conviction that jail just isn’t the answer..

        What options do you have left?

        Answer: none. You must create a world where no one will have reason to commit crime. Complete equality. Complete dependence on a benevolent all seeing all knowing nanny state that dictates every moment of your life. That’d be the only way to manage it.

        In the real world, like it or not, the death penalty exists for a reason. We don’t rehabilitate dangerous animals, we put them down. A human with a chronic pattern of preying on other humans is a dangerous animal. There shouldn’t even be a question of what to do with them.

        As to the “but what if a innocent man dies!” There have been plenty of instances where a murderer has OBVIOUSLY done what he was accused of doing. Brian Nichols springs to mind. The Aurora shooter. etc. You could confine the death penalty to cases where there is no shadow of doubt.

        tl;dr If it’s obvious that someone is a murderer/serial rapist then they need to be put down.

        • >> we’re not going to be throwing people in jail due to overcrowding and the liberal conviction that jail just isn’t the answer..

          I can assure you that most liberals don’t think that jail is the wrong answer to everything. The overcrowding problem is very real, but it exists because we’re putting people there for completely inane reasons (like smoking weed)! No-one is seriously disputing that people committing violent crimes should get a pass, neither on the (mainstream) left nor on the right.

  15. I think that the important part is the integrity of the justice system, not capital punishment in itself. Russia abolished capital punishment, but that hardly made Russia’s justice system just, not to mention simple execution of political enemies right on the streets. Locking away an innocent person is no better than executing him, save perhaps for the hope that the unjust regime falls one day and he gets released. Bottom line – abolition of the death penalty is not a substitute or a fix for a lack of justice.

  16. I agree with you Robert. I don’t disagree with capital punishment on moral grounds, but it is bad public policy. It sends the wrong message about what government’s role should be in this country Also, the government doesn’t do capital punishment well and the court system makes too many mistakes with it. I don’t think we can fix those things. And if we are not going to do something so extreme well, we shouldn’t do it at all.

  17. Sounds all wonderful and starry eyed… Until some one brutally rapes and murders your whole family while your not home to protect them. Because things like that do happen. Theres a time and a place for the death penalty, for crimes that are esspecially heinous and which there can be no doubt of the accused. Evil people have no place in society, not even in a super max. Let me ask you this, if your family was ever slaughtered, would you be ok with the idea that their killer could conceivably return to the free world?

    • Yes, I would want that revenge. That’s why we have a justice system and not a revenge system. It should not be up to me. It should be up to people who are not directly, emotionally affected. Consider the alternative. If you do something to me, I get to decide how you get punished and it is only up to me if it is fair or not. We have a fender-bender and hey, I really, really love that car…I can shoot you if I want.

  18. When you give someone life without parole you give him a license to kill. What are you going to do to him give him another life sentence? The only way you can prevent him from killing someone else is life without human contact. That isn’ t going to pass constitutional muster.

  19. Death should never have to be conduited via human hands, the cost to the soul being to great to justify the act. That being said, sometimes the hand is forced via hands that take delight in evil deeds. One must keep vigilant guard to ward off such evils.

  20. Better that 10 guilty walk than 1 innocent be killed.

    Of course, if more people carried, then those 10 would probably not be a problem for long…

    As it’s been said, it’s typically cheaper to imprison someone for life than to use the current execution process. One could argue that executions should be sped up, but that would also increase the chance of murdering the falsely convicted.
    I don’t get the morality of those who “don’t want to pay” for lifers. Not just with the above, but also that some how it’s more morally justifiable to let the innocent slip through the cracks and die than to pay taxes.

  21. I agree with Farago. Execution tends to stem from old religious rules and reasons and there should remain a separation between the state and religion. The state should not be in the business of killing people.

    • If you’re going to say we should throw it out because it stems from “religion”, the same would apply to laws against murder and stealing as well. Just saying…

      • Considering that laws against murder and theft can be found in nearly all cultures and religions or lack thereof, that’s pretty weak.

        • Nonsense. Capital punishment in the Roman Empire had nothing to do with religion.

          Every society has rules against murder but what constitutes murder varies greatly. For example, killing Jews was not considered murder in Nazi Germany; killing infidels is not considered murder in ISIS controlled Iraq; killing Kulaks wasn’t murder in Stalinist Russia or anybody who could read and write in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. What we currently consider murder in Western society is very much informed by Judeo-CJudeo-Christian beliefs. So your uninformed and childish beliefs are contradicted by history. No doubt you would be ok with eliminating the religious.

    • Again, a rather large arm of the State, the military, is pretty much dedicated to killing people.

  22. I’ve been anti-death penalty for a long time based upon this same reasoning. I especially resonate with, “The whole thing was bureaucratic . . . I’m just not comfortable with the government being into the business of killing its own people.”

    Excellent article, RF.

  23. Remember, Crazy Hot Matrix.

    I am a long time proponent of Death By Tiger.

    If convicted and sentenced, the offender is taken to a remote area, and placed in the middle of a fenced-in area with a 3 mile radius. A hungry tiger is also placed in the pen. If the offender can escape and climb the fence, then they are freed. If not, then the tiger is no longer hungry.

  24. ” I’m just not comfortable with the government being into the business of killing its own people.”

    I’m there too. At least on an intellectual level. On a specific basis though there are a lot of people on death row I’m not sad to see get executed.

  25. The issue I have with this view is that the death penalty isn’t about vengeance, or setting an example, or even about closure. It’s about justice, which is WHY it is so bureaucratic. As such, I would argue that ONLY the state has the right to execute someone (as opposed to killing someone in defense of self or others), as part of the state’s purpose is to “establish justice”. Where We the People come in is in keeping an eye on the state to ensure that any executions carried out ARE justice. If the state executes an innocent person, or if the state makes something a capital offense which should not be a capital offense, then we should absolutely speak up and speak loud (or in a worst-case scenario, do MORE than speak)! However, while I may see this as a reason to implement some reforms in our justice system, I hardly see at as an argument to abolish the death penalty altogether.

    • ” I would argue that ONLY the state has the right to execute someone” — However, if private citizens had the right to execute an offender, for cause, of course, we would all be living in a very polite and crime-free society.

        • “Yes, and I would add a more free society. The kind of freedom that comes with personal, individual responsibility.” Yes, if only more people were capable of understanding that. Thank you.

      • However, if private citizens had the right to execute an offender, for cause, of course, we would all be living in a very polite and crime-free society.

        What reason do you have to believe this is the case? Furthermore, without a structured justice system, who gets to decide whether someone has a just cause to execute someone else?

        Next, if we were to grant private citizens the right to execute offenders, how would we ensure the executions are not needlessly cruel and sadistic? It seems to me that many people, if given control over the person who had murdered a loved one, would seek to torture and torment the person before executing them, which would be vengeance, not justice.

        Finally, it having the state perform executions helps buffer the private citizens from the responsibility of performing the executions themselves. I know many people would argue that that’s a bad thing, but please hear me out. Currently, even with all our jury-decided trials, and even with all our laws governing how a trial is allowed to play out, and even with all our appeals processes, we STILL can, on occasion, falsely convict someone. There have even been, as people have pointed out, those who have been executed for crimes they have not committed (this is itself something that needs to be worked on, but I digress). The fact of the matter is the same thing would happen in privately held executions, as well. When this happens, how do you protect someone from the psychological aspect of knowing that they, personally, acting on their own authority rather than the authority of the state, are responsible for killing an innocent person? How do you protect them from the deceased’s family who view the situation, not as the system having failed their loved one, but as one person murdering their loved one?

        • “What reason do you have to believe this is the case?” Of course, I can refer to Ben Franklin, who said that an armed society is a polite society. When justice is metered out without undue delay, it is viewed as a direct response to a crime. When it is done 10 years later, there’s a disconnect. Many criminals have a mentality of a child – try punishing a child for an offense a couple of months afterwards, and see how effective that will be in preventing the child in doing something that he shouldn’t.
          “without a structured justice system, who gets to decide whether someone has a just cause to execute someone else?” — the aggrieved party or their relatives. Furthermore, the responsibility for the execution needs to be on the individual, as opposed to an anonymous executioner. If an individual does not want to take the responsibility, what right does he have in asking others to do it for him?
          “how would we ensure the executions are not needlessly cruel and sadistic?” — I’m not against rules of any kind. Certain things can be allowed and certain things not. The one to be executed is not a sadistic toy for the executioner.
          “There have even been, as people have pointed out, those who have been executed for crimes they have not committed…” — As was presented by an earlier comment, if the executioner dispatches the wrong person based on flawed judgement, he’s next in line. That would guarantee beyond reasonable doubt. Perhaps it is time that people, from every direction, take responsibility for their actions, not dump all responsibility, accountability and decision making onto this nebulous entity called the State.

  26. In the wonderful state of Illinois the death penalty was abolished by the criminal George Ryan. Were mistakes made? Yes. Are there monsters who should be killed? Yes. It should be a very rare option-not circumstantial,not from the testimony of a jail-house snitch and it should be completely ironclad. And I think the muslim pos in Boston should fry. Allah needs another martyr..I honestly have no opinion of this women or why so many want her blood. I don’t get the media hype here.

  27. The death penalty isn’t really a punishment for psychopaths.

    Life in total solitary with one meal of white rice per day – now that’s how you punish a psychopath.

  28. I too don’t want to see the government get comfortable with killing people.

    Sorry, man, but that ship has sailed.

  29. The solution to possible cases of innocent people is to tighten the standard for evidence and transparency of proceedings, not to object to the death penalty in principle.

    Ultimately, those who reject the death penalty in principle don’t stop there. They don’t understand the nature of punishment and deny retributive justice. So good bye life in prison. That is not just academic either, but has happened or is being pushed for in every country without the DP. Then, any real deprivation is considered inhumane. Before you know it you have Norway prisons. I would actually have nicer conditions in a Norway prison than I currently have. They are like decent hotels. And it isn’t just Norway. Italy has, historically, sent convicts to monasteries as a half-way house before gaining full freedom. There has been a recent spate of complaints. One felon actually ran away from the monastery, turned himself in and begged to go back to prison because conditions were nicer and less austere there.

    Look, I agree that the judicial system in the US needs serious reforms. And that may include a tightening of standards of evidence, at least in capital cases. The fact that you switched your mind so quickly only tells me you haven’t though through the issue much to begin with. What is the nature of punishment (hint: protection of society is NOT the primary end, but a tertiary end)? Retributive justice? etc

    • For what it’s worth, Norway (with their unbelievably and infuriatingly luxurious prisons) has a recidivism rate of about 20%, one of the lowest in the world (compared the the US, which has a recidivism rate of about 70%). On principle, I don’t like the idea of treating criminals so well. But the undeniable fact is that they are clearly doing something right. If we truly want fewer criminals while also protecting the rights of the innocent, we need to adopt a proven model. The other option is that we keep churning out criminals because, on principle, we’d rather punish people than reduce crime.

  30. I used to be pro death penalty, too, Robert.

    Then I heard about the Innocence Project, and since then my whole view has changed.

  31. I am surprised that no one has mentioned deterrence.

    I don’t care about the convicted killer. I don’t particularly care about the victim’s family. I think a man’s life is more important than closure or revenge.

    I DO care about the lesson and the example the killer gives to others.

    How many lives are saved by each execution? All the future victims of the killer are saved. The deterrence effect saves more, potentially, by demonstrating to other would-be killers that their own life is on the line. This is no small thing, and we lose it when we adopt a no-kill justice system.

    How many lives are LOST for each life sentence? How many would-be killers look at life in prison as maybe not so bad? Free food, shelter, medical care, and all you have to give up is your family, friends, and the right to leave – and maybe not even those if you can get parole. Someone with no family and friends has even less to lose.

    The death penalty gives them something big that they can lose.

  32. “I’m just not comfortable with the government being into the business of killing its own people.” I said darn near the same thing in answer to the question of the day regarding willingness to serve on a firing squad a few days back.

    I have a lot of experience working with government agencies. In my experience, they tend to be heinously inefficient and suffer from a lack of accountability.

    I have a lot of experience working in prisons with convicted felons. I have met some bad dudes. I have also known more than one who had his conviction overturned when it came out that he had been convicted based on tainted evidence or faulty testimony.

    I have served on two juries, one of which was seated for a murder trial. We found the defendant guilty of aggravated robbery, but not guilty of murder due to the fact that another felon was present and could have been the actual trigger man. Despite his conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, I am not 100% sure he was physically present at the crime scene, as the only evidence of his presence during the crime was the word of the other felon who testified after cutting a deal with the district attorney.

    The government is too inept to be trusted with matters of life or death. Evidence can be too unreliable to trust in matters of life or death. Our justice system, while it is the very best in the world, is too imperfect to be trusted with matters of life or death.

  33. Other countrys have “no kill” court systems how’s that working for them? This is the same thinking that says if they take away all the guns everything will be wonderful. It won’t. If anything we should step up the process cause you and I are going broke spending hell, I don’t know 47k? a year per person.
    What would help to is not arresting people for stupid petty bullshit just to fill the courthouse with cash.
    The Death penalty is not going anywhere.

    • Other countrys have “no kill” court systems how’s that working for them?

      Don’t know, care to share?

      If anything we should step up the process

      Yes! Give the falsely convicted even less of a chance! Guess if they just fall through the cracks, too bad so sad? Gotta kill ’em all!

  34. As much as I’d like to, ultimately, I don’t trust the state enough to be pro-death penalty. Our justice system is one of the best in the world, but it still has some non-trivial flaws, in addition to being run/handled by fallible humans. However, regardless of the law, I’d say the victims of sexual assault or the family of murder victims do have the right (the human right, not the legal one) and the obligation to execute the one who wronged them or their family.

    At the end of the day, I’m of the opinion that we rely too much on the justice system. It insulates criminals from the consequences of their actions, and it prevents victims from seeking proper retribution. That’s not to say that it should be abolished completely, but I DO think we would be better off as a society with significantly fewer instances of the legal system intervening in people’s affairs. By and large, people should be allowed to sort out their issues amongst themselves (even if lives are on the line) without the law getting in the way.

    Ultimately, I am arguing for more vigilantism, and I have no qualms about calling it what it is. The way I see it, crime are personal matters, and are between the victim(s) and the criminal(s). Nobody else has the right to get in the way of that.

      • Probably higher. The big difference is a government killing versus the immediate victims acting in presumed good faith. I don’t mean the victim’s families tracking them down days later though. More immediate would be closer to defense of family/self defense. Juries could sort out borderline cases once the dockets are no longer clogged with “war on drug” cases.

    • Ah… finally a comment geared more towards a solution that I’ve been advocating. It’s one of the reason’s I’ve called for reducing impediments in law to legal self defense. I reason that a jury would be capable of sorting out what was a necessary killing and what was murder in less clear cut cases a generation after the compulsory government indoctrination is halted.

  35. Remove the lawyers and appeals and life is cheaper.
    Besides, death should only be unintended and incidental to something moral, like self defense. Calculated killing like an execution serves no purpose, cheapens life and validates revenge. We are better than that.

  36. The death penalty is not for every case; maybe not even this case. I applaud the juror who held out. It’s not something to take lightly and that’s why it takes a unanimous decision. But there are cases where there is no doubt, and the murder was absolutely brutal. The Petit murders come to mind. I don’t think I would ever be an absolutist against the death penalty as long as there are murders like that. Not just murder but brutal rape of a woman and her daughters; one only 11. Eleven years old and to be put through something like that.

  37. You’ve made me think about that which should have been obvious. There are few with the level of honest introspection to cause that. Thank you, sir, for being such a person. I may or may not arrive at the same conclusion after taking my own time to ponder the notion, but I do appreciate the shocking irony of presenting a perspective that should have been obvious.

    Oh, and there’s no such thing as a woman who wouldn’t do this to the one she pretends to love.

    Also, lets not forget that it isn’t merely “government” making this choice, there is a jury of supposed “peers,” and Jury Nullification is always an option. I think you may have forgotten that part…

  38. From Genesis 9:6 to 1st Timothy, the Bible endorses the death penalty. Murder of a person created in God’s image, cutting off the potential of the victim’s life, is the ultimate insult to the Creator. I lay all this out in my book, “A Time To Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism.” It’s all about the Bible and self-defense from my perspective spending 40 years teaching adults about the Bible, and 25 years as a prosecutor, defense lawyer, and city court judge. I have 3 chapters about the death penalty. It’s available on Amazon.

    • Isn’t it funny how two people who hold differing interpretations on a religion, each using selected verses and texts, can each call the others’ view a ‘myth?’

    • And yet somehow Jews, who (unlike Christians) consider all of the OT laws that involve death penalty still fully valid and applicable, have arrived to the conclusion that death penalty shall not be implemented in practice, on the simple notion that even a slight chance of judicial mistake – which is always going to be there – would turn the whole system from just to criminal in the eyes of God.

      • “And yet somehow Jews, who (unlike Christians) consider all of the OT laws that involve death penalty still fully valid and applicable, have arrived to the conclusion that death penalty shall not be implemented in practice…” — Correction — American Jews. Somehow, American Jews have devolved into progressive socialists who are totally disconnected from reality. Yes, of course, not all; just 90%. I think that there’s been some kind of a genetic mutation…

        • No, not American Jews. This long predates even the existence of the USA. Jews were already using death penalty very sparingly in times of Jesus (which is why the demands of his execution by the Sanhedrin were considered so appalling even back then). Here’s Mishnah, which is a 1st/2nd century compilation of the teachings of prominent rabbi of the time:

          “A Sanhedrin that puts a man to death once in seven years is called destructive. Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah says that this extends to a Sanhedrin that puts a man to death even once in seventy years. Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Tarfon say: Had we been in the Sanhedrin none would ever have been put to death.”

          By the time of Maimonides (12th century), this trend continued, basically by increasing the standards of evidence required for capital punishment higher and higher, to the point where they could not realistically be met. Here’s the complete protocol that was laid out by Maimonides (i.e. it was already practiced back then):

          “Only a twenty-three member court, a small Sanhedrin, is authorized to try capital crimes. Only prominent scholars, well-versed in the wisdom of the Torah as well as in other scholarly disciplines, and who possess excellent values, qualify for membership on this court. A candidate must be humble, G-d fearing, one who despises money, a lover of truth, beloved by people for his qualities of goodness and humility, and who is sociable, self-composed, compassionate and not the subject of any gossip. For this reason a childless person or a very old one, who has forgotten the pain of raising children, is not qualified for membership on the court, because this person might lack compassion and become unduly harsh with offenders. Furthermore, these righteous and excellent judges cannot try offenders of capital crimes in a court that consists of less than twenty three members. In addition, three rows of scholars (candidates for serving on the court) are seated in front of the court, watch the proceeding and alert the court to any error which might lead to an unlawful conviction. These scholars, however, cannot intervene when the error favors the defendant. Circumstantial evidence is inadmissible; to convict the defendant two qualified witnesses who have no material interest in the case are required. Prosecution witnesses are disqualified if they are motivated by a desire to testify in order to escape punishment. The witnesses must be warned about the graveness of perjury in general and in connection with capital punishment in particular. Furthermore, the defendant must have been warned prior to committing the crime about its severity and must have acknowledged an awareness of it.”

          Note in particular the requirements to have two witnesses of the immediate act, and of the perpetrator having been warned that what he is doing is a capital crime and acknowledging that before proceeding and committing it anyway. This was intentional; again, Maimonides says:

          “even if A pursues B with intent to kill and B takes refuge in a house, and the pursuer follows him, and we enter the house after them and find B in his last gasp and his enemy, A, standing over him with a knife in his hand, and both of them are covered with blood, the Sanhedrin may not find the pursuer A liable for capital punishment, since there are no direct witnesses who actually saw the murder”

          The reason is that they did not trust the judges’ subjective evaluation of indirect evidence. Maimonides concludes thus:

          “It is better and more desirable that a thousand guilty persons go free than that a single innocent person be put to death”

          To reiterate, this is all at least 8 centuries old – this is when Maimonides wrote it all down – but his opinions were based on earlier practices, and there’s strong evidence that this goes all the way back at least two millennia.

        • An excellent reference and thank you for broadening our knowledge. I certainly learned good stuff! Makes me think, though, could there be a relation between the Jewish historical passifism and their worldwide persecution? Could this weakness, or apparent weakness, be the cause or the enabler of the persecutions? Just like children often gang up and beat up the weaker kid, adults do the same?

        • I think the overall pacifism came in response to persecutions (basically, to attempt to keep as low profile as possible to minimize the damage), rather than the other way around. Jews were not at all pacifists at the time of Jesus (despite the attitudes on capital punishment), and of all the nations conquered by Romans, have been one of the most restless and having the staunchest open military and underground resistance to occupation – which has ultimately cost them dearly as Romans lost patience. I think the survivors took that away as lesson learned, that defiance in the face of a clearly greater force does no good, and made it a policy for future generations.

  39. The death penalty is made long and drawn out and expensive by legal actions of the very same liberals who then attempt ti use its being long, drawn out and expensive and a rationale for abandonong it.

    And while it’s true that a number of people have been freed from death row for having been conclusively exonerated, not one has been executed since reinstatement of the death penalty who was subsequently conclusively exonerated. Is it possible, or even likely, that an innocent has been wrongfully executed? Yes. Possibilities and probabilities are not the same thing as a fact, however. So let’s quit tossing around that word “fact” when nobody here knows such a thing to be a fact.

  40. I agree that the government shouldn’t kill its citizens for “being a danger to to society”, but that’s not what the death penalty is for, it’s punishment for murder.

    I also agree that putting the innocent to death by mistake is something rightly to be feared, but the solution to the problem isn’t to end the death penalty, it’s to raise the standard of evidence required to mete it out. I believe our current standard is quite good enough for a life sentence, but punishment by death should require a higher level of certainty.

    • The current level required is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”- should we raise it to “proof beyond an unreasonable doubt?”

      • You’re on the right track, but no. There is room however between “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “beyond all doubt”. I think the death penalty standard can be somewhere in there.

  41. Stories like this are part of the reason I’m anti-death penalty. No state or bureaucracy should hold the power over life and death over anyone. Not even someone like Adam Lanza. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take the shot if I were standing between him and the children he killed. But I’ll never be be able to support the death penalty again.

  42. The first murderer in the world (Cain) didn’t receive the death penalty (physical). He was branded and banished. I imagine if Able had been able to defend himself and killed Cain I imagine the Lord would have let that go too.

  43. If the govt cant be trusted to impose the death penalty, then the govt cant be trusted with a police force or a military. God imposes the death penalty on a number of sins, the problem is govt not the death penalty. Personally though i prefer total solitary confinement for all criminals.

  44. Too many appeals, not based on hard or exculpatory evidence, but on technicalities that have no bearing on guilt or innocence of the perp. The appeal process has to be limited unless it falls into evidence that exonerates the party.
    One thing that would help is allowing inmates to end their lives instead of all the suicide watch BS. I`m sure a significant number of lifers would take the easy way out if given the chance.

    • If you don’t “pursue technicalities”, that means letting police and prosecutorial abuse of the process (like, say, presenting tainted evidence to the jury, or improperly instructing it) slide. That, in turn, means that due process is diminished. And due process is the basic foundation of any good justice system. It has to be maintained at all cost, even if that means that some bad guys don’t get what they deserve, to ensure that all people who are involved in it are aware of that fact and strive to uphold it instead of trying to subvert it because they “know” that the guy is guilty in advance.

  45. I’m of a similar opinion. Once you are in the custody of the State you should not be in danger of being murdered by the State. Shooting a perp in the heat of the moment is one thing, keeping them in a small box and telling them they will be murdered 10 years down the road is another. I don’t care what their crime is.

  46. I work on computer systems, one of my first lessons when attempting to fix a problem, was do not do anything that can not be undone. I think it is also a life lesson to not do something that can not be undone if at all possible. I do however support the use of deadly force and guns for self defense.

  47. How anyone in a group that routinely mocks the ineptitude of government and cringes at the all-mighty stupidity of said government (shoelace machine guns anyone?) could then turn around and say that same government should hold the power to execute its own people is beyond me.

    I lump this phenomenon in with Fudd hypocrisy/bigotry/stupidity. An old-guard relic left over from too many hours staring at Norman Rockwell fantasies and watching Andy Griffith reruns.

    • Point taken.

      But you could make the same commentary on taxation, declarations of war, federal meat packing inspections … the list goes on.

  48. ” But should the State have the ability to execute those it considers a danger to society?”

    It’s a little more than a consideration. There was a trial. And it isn’t the State making the call. It is a jury of your peers. You know, those people that could not decide to give Arias the death penalty? It is out of the States hands now. Speaking of disingenuous.

  49. I have some difficulty with my opinion on this robert makes an excellent point as do others here. What bothers me above and beyond what this scum did is how she lied about it being robbers, she wasnt there… then she was there etc. When that doesn’t add up she lies about it being self defense and to add insult to injury she disparages the poor guy. She tried to use the false war on women mentality to her advantage and it failed. It made me wonder… how many times its worked? and also if this was a guy who did this to his girlfriend, would you hold the same opinion?

  50. I was anti-death penalty, but now I’m pro-death penalty again.

    Here’s what you need to make it foolproof:

    If it’s proved that an innocent man was executed, the judge that oversaw his case and the prosecutor who prosecuted it are to be executed as well. That’s some real Old Testament justice.

  51. Pickpockets were hung in Charles Dickens time. pickpockets worked the crowds at hangings in Charles Dickens time. being raised right deters crime. punishment, not so much, which is why the prions are overflowing.

    My uncle Howard was convicted of rape and sent to prison in the 30s. When he got there he met a guy in prison for raping the same girl. A year later the same girl accused a third guy of rape, the DA wised up, the convictions were voided at the request of the DA and the governor pardoned Uncle Howard and the other guy.

    Rape was a capitol offense at the time, but it was only applied if the rapist had darker skin than the victim. When I meet the “hang ’em high” crowd, I can’t help thinking about Uncle Howard.

    • “A year later the same girl accused a third guy of rape, the DA wised up, the convictions were voided…” — This is an argument for a better justice system, not the punishment type. We have a seriously defective “justice” system – just the fact that over a million citizens are incarcerated at any given time is a testament to that. However, the issue of capital punishment should not be decided as a compensation for that defect. Capital punishment is in itself justice for certain crimes. Yes, we must ensure that the innocent do not get convicted. But the justice for the victims must also play a role. Is locking up an innocent person for life any better than shooting him? An innocent life is destroyed either way. But those that are truly guilty need to be punished proportionally to their crime. Would you personally not put a bullet in the head of a Gestapo officer who ran the torture chamber, or Charles Manson?

  52. I see a disturbing number of posts here supporting capital punishment based on e same reasoning that anti-gunners use. Two things specifically.

    1. Emotion. “How would you feel if your family was raped/murdered?” That is an argument from pure emotion ans is something we criticize anti-gunners of doing.

    2. Hypocrisy. Just like when anti-gunners say only cops should have guns, because they are the only ones with training and that can be trusted. And then in the next breath they say that cops can’t be trusted because theybare a bunch of racist power tripping maniacs. O_o. So we (pro 2A folks) distrust the government and are suspicious of its motives, except when it comes to deciding whether to kill its own citizenry? Then the courts are infallible all of a sudden, because they are prosecuting someone you don’t like. o_O.

    I agree that there are times when someone’s guilt is beyond doubt (ie Tsarnaev). But I agree with the principle that better a thousand guilty men go free than an innocent be imprisoned.

    • I don’t use the emotion argument for, well anything, (let alone the death penalty debate), but taking in consideration the feelings and desires of the victim’s family to see justice done is different then using emotion as a cause to infringe on the right to bear arms. In other words, there is a clear distinctions between calling for a punishment for a person as a result of their specific actions to infringing on the rights of others for the sake of a hypothetical solution.

      I don’t have a problem with the death penalty per say. The death penalty should be used only in absolute cases of guilt and for crimes that are so horrendous that there is no way this individual should even walk out of jail even if civilization as we know it collapses. There are clearly individuals that should be put to death and are obviously guilty of their crime (as some have already pointed out) but I do realize there has been many cases where it is clear the wrong person was put to death, or their is enough reasonable doubt surrounding a case. Fair enough. I think there is of course a fair amount of reform and restructuring that needs to go into the death penalty (the entire system as well) but there will never be a system of justice that is 100 percent fair. Nor do I have an issue with different states on their own accord deciding to allow or ban the death penalty.as a form of punishment.

    • When anti-gunners do it, it’s the entirety of their proof and reason:
      “How would you feel, so now we need to,
      …make this rifle configuration illegal
      …ban this bullet
      …make activity X even more illegal
      …etc to punish the law-abiding before they turn criminal

      Re: Hypocrisy. We are not relying on the government. We rely on a jury to convict and a jury to sentence. I wouldn’t support the death penalty either if it were solely someone in government who determines guilt and sentence.

      better a thousand guilty men go free than an innocent be imprisoned.

      This is really becoming a tired line. It’s not all or nothing. If it was, I’d also agree. Those whose guilt is beyond all doubt can be executed without executing those whose guilt is only beyond reasonable doubt.

      • That line is not just tired, its also a straw-man. A more fitting expression would be – better a thousand guilty men spend life in prison than an innocent man be executed.

  53. As a younger person the death penalty was a non issue for me. Simply enough, take a life and you forfeit yours. I don’t dwell on it now but occasionally have given it some thought. As a Christian there is an expectation of eternal justice after death. There are, however, a large number of people that do not share that particular belief system. If they are correct, once executed, a person is simply out of it. No pain, no guilt, no remorse, no regret, no existence. Life in prison is cheaper (appeals, etc.), provides plenty of time to wish you were somewhere else and provides a little slack for folks that work for the innocence of the wrongly convicted.

    None of that Norway crap though. 21 years for the murder of 77 people. Less than 4 months per dead body. If he takes 5 steps of freedom, that would be the ultimate injustice.

    • You know, people often bitch about how Norway prisons are “like a vacation resort” and all that, and maybe they are. But their re-offence rates for ex-prisoners are under 30%; in USA, over 70%.

      So it seems that, in terms of maximizing the safety of their citizens, whatever it is they are doing is working better.

    • The 21 years for Anders Breivik is their minimum, after that he comes up for a ‘review’ kind of thing.

      The consensus seems to be that Anders Breivik will *never* be released.

  54. If I were being considered as a juror in a death penalty case and were asked “Are you willing to impose the death penalty?”, my response would be “not in its current form”. If asked to elaborate I would explain that I hold the government to the same standard that they hold us. I was taught in my CC class that even if someone is standing in your living room (having broken into your house for nefarious purposes), you cannot legally use deadly force if he no longer poses a threat. It is not common (though not impossible) for the incarcerated to continue to be a threat. Therefore, I would only vote for the death penalty if in every case the punishment were temporarily suspended to only be carried out (immediately) if the prisoner were to once again become a threat. Examples would include attacking other prisoners or guards, orchestrating hits outside the prison, etc.

  55. “But should the State have the ability to execute those it considers a danger to society?” Could use this same logic for ANY government law enforcement. Should the state be able to lock people up it considers a danger to society? Should it be able to decide at all?

    At some point you have to place some trust on the justice system. Maybe several checks. Have both a judge and jury be in agreement or something. I don’t know. Right now so few people are actually getting executed ANYway. Not sure how to improve it.

    I dunno. I just truly believe that some people ARE too dangerous to be wandering around and provably so. Maybe even within a prison. Should other prisoners be subjected to them? Is it really better to lock someone up in solitary for the rest of their lives? As much as I hold life to be sacred, I also believe that death is not the worst you can do to someone.

    • But opositon to the death penalty shouldn’t really be about removing bad people form society by execution. It should be about the fact that no matter how many innocent people someone has murdered, their execution is not worth the risk of having a system in place that may execute another innocent person – not when life in prison without parole is an option.

    • >> Is it really better to lock someone up in solitary for the rest of their lives? As much as I hold life to be sacred, I also believe that death is not the worst you can do to someone.

      Offer them an option of being voluntarily euthanized at will; they only need to ask.

  56. Before making such a concrete decision, RF, remember Kenneth Alan McDuff. He was sentenced to die in the 60s for a horrendous crime when he was 19 IIRC. He held two boys and a girl at gunpoint and forced the girl to tie up the boys. Then he shot the two boys dead and began raping the 16-year-old girl, raping her repeatedly for several days before killing her.

    Before he was executed, SCOTUS stopped all executions, so his sentence was commuted to life. Executions were eventually allowed to begin again, but his sentence had been commuted, it was over. At the time, in TX, life in prison was actually defined as meaning 25 years, so after 25 years in prison he was free. Not “on parole”, free. It took something less than 10 days before he kidnapped, repeatedly raped for several days, and then strangled the first of between 7 and 12 young women before he was caught, one of them kidnapped from a car wash in East Austin while she was washing her car. He had an accomplice with that one, one of them would drive the car on I-35 between Austin and Dallas while the other raped and sodomized her in the back seat. When they were both through, they threw her in the trunk while they did more drugs, then broke her out again for more fun. After 3 days of this, during which she was given no food or water, McDuff strangled her while he was raping her, and buried her in a shallow grave in some woods.

    This guy very seriously needed killing after his first crime, instead got to rape and murder more people decades later. And at the time of ALL those killings, it was illegal to carry a gun in TX to defend yourself. The death penalty has its place.

    • What you describe is not a problem with the absence of the death penalty, its a problem with the definition of “Life” in prison. Its a tragedy of bureaucratic cracks and bad law.

      Life Without Possibility of Parole should be the alternative to the death penalty.

      • I would even say that it is a problem with the general idea of fixed terms as penalties. If people prove to be a threat to society, they should be isolated for as long as they remain such a threat (and at that point the onus is basically on them to prove that they aren’t, beyond a reasonable doubt). For someone who killed without remorse, and never shows any afterwards, that basically means for the rest of their life, no exceptions, no parole, no special occasion amnesty – none of that bullshit. Only objective threat assessment.

        I suspect the end result of such a policy would be that quite a few people who are currently serving lengthy sentences would serve less (and never re-offend), but a few who are true sociopaths would basically be stuck for life even for crimes like assault. I don’t have a problem with that.

        • How would you deal with a situation where the person is clearly unrepentant and is highly likely to re-offend at the end of their fixed term?

        • If their time is served, release them. What you’re proposing would become re-education and labor camps for the masses in a few generations.

          Being free involves responsibility and risk. There is always a risk that an offender will offend again. That’s part and parcel to living in a free country.

          IMHO, the real liberty solution lies in government respecting shall not be infringed and fixing laws written against proper self defense. Educating the jury pool about such things and about jury nullification is also crucial.

        • But what is the meaning of “their time” in the first place? I think that this aspect of the system is largely nonsensical by now. It doesn’t really have any purpose other than punishment, but punishment is not particularly good at deterrence, as practice has shown (re-offence rates for violent crimes are around 70%). On the other hand, if the real purpose of prisons and related things is rehabilitation and/or deterrence, then fixed terms make no sense at all – every person is different, and how long it takes to rehabilitate is a very individual matter (which is why we’ve been working around fixed terms in practice by pardons and early release programs etc – but it’s a giant hack, and often doesn’t work right).

          I don’t think that what I propose is contradictory to due process and other basic mechanisms of a free society. Heck, when it comes to that, it could even be strengthened by e.g. allowing any inmate to request a release on the grounds that they are fully rehabilitated at any given time, and if that request is reviewed and denied by a judge, a right to request jury trial for the same (obviously it would have to be time-limited or have a limit on the number of times it can be used, to prevent abuse). If a jury of your peers operating in a due process environment is good enough to sentence you in the first place, it ought to be good enough to decide whether you still constitute a threat.

        • You are making an assumption that punishment does not deter people from committing crimes. Is that true? Yes, I hear you – 70% return to crime. But could it be that the punishment as it exists today is just not taken seriously? First, the probability of being caught for any single crime is rather low, then being convicted, followed by not too bad a time in prison. For people that grew up as bottom dwellers, today’s prison is not so bad of a place. A logical conclusion may very well be that crime is worth the risk.

        • >> You are making an assumption that punishment does not deter people from committing crimes. Is that true?

          It has been studied for a while, and there’s quite a lot of evidence that it is the case – or at least that the relationship is not linear, and beyond a certain point the returns from the harsh punishment diminish completely. There was an interesting experiment along those lines in England, where punishments were progressively ramped up around 17th century in response to a crime wave (itself caused by massive impoverishment of commoners by fencing), to the point where even theft above a certain measly amount (IIRC it was 12 pennies) became a capital crime, and there was no age limit for its application. It didn’t really solve the problem – in fact, as contemporaries remarked, pickpockets would happily work in the crowd that would gather to watch the hanging of a thief punished for the very same crime.

        • I do not have scientific data on this subject, and I may very well be wrong. I am just questioning the assumption. You claim that it is based on data, but let’s consider the source. The impoverishment in 17th Century England was so bad that whether one lived (on the bottom) or not mattered little. When as in today’s America, the lowest form of existence is luxury for some parts of the world. Meanwhile, today’s American prisons are likewise a resort compared to some other countries. Thus, for the bottom dwellers, the exchange of one for the other, just like in the 17th Century, is close to an even one. But what if the exchange involved hard labor and barely livable conditions – would robberies and even rapes be still as abundant? Just something to think about.

        • Well, we could try comparing different countries today instead. I think most would agree that conditions in American prisons are worse than in Canadian ones, for example, and more crimes carry with them a prison sentence this side of the border (esp. when it comes to drugs). Which country has lower violent crime rates? We could also compare across Europe etc. Of course, these all aren’t clean comparisons, because countries differ in other ways, as well, but other factors can be quantified and accounted for.

        • As I’ve stated, I don’t know the answer nor do I have a solution, but it seems obvious that having a million people locked up at any one time (more population than some nations!) shows that the system is dysfunctional. Capital punishment is just one issue in a bigger problem. Incarceration seems to be a big business that is growing larger. Perhaps we should seriously consider getting the State out of this business and having it privatized. Another point, perhaps off topic of the death penalty, is the popular practice of plea bargaining. Either the person is guilty of a particular crime, and needs to be punished, under the law, but with due respect to the circumstances, or the person is not guilty at all. Plea deals use Solomon’s “logic” – half way. Well, it can’t be half way – one is either guilty or innocent. What happens is that the police and the DA throw all possible accusations, including imaginary charges, while the financial cost of defense is unaffordable for most, so an innocent person is often forced admit to a crime that he did not commit based entirely on cost of real defense and the fact that everyone, including his lawyer, are constantly advising him to accept the “deal.” It is as if one were to steal a $5 widget, gets caught and is charged with armed robbery, but offered a plea deal if he admits to a $500 theft. That way the prosecutor gets a conviction, the defense lawyer collects a fee for minimal work, the prison system gets paid for another mouth to feed – every one is happily in business, and an innocent man goes to prison or a guilty man gets half of the sentence that he deserves. What a screwed up system!

        • >> Incarceration seems to be a big business that is growing larger. Perhaps we should seriously consider getting the State out of this business and having it privatized.

          Privatize what, incarceration? You may not be aware of it, but it’s a very big business already, and is largely responsible for deteriorating prison conditions and maintaining the current laws that keep the prisons full (because, of course, the more prisoners can be put there, the more profit the owners derive from it). There were even instances of direct bribery of judges to provide convicts, some very appaling:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal

          No, if there’s anything that should very definitely be run by the state with as little private industry involvement as possible, it’s the justice system.

        • I completely agree. When justice becomes a for-profit enterprise, there are all sort of conflicts of interest.

          kinda like during the inquisition, when if somebody was found guilty of heresy the judges and accuser got the accused’s property.

          Furthermore, civil asset forfeiture is also rife with conflicts of interests, and should be abolished. if someone commits a crime, then criminal asset forfeiture might be a valid tool but siezing property without evidence of a crime is itself a crime against humanity.

        • Just like crony capitalism is not a true picture of capitalism, likewise privately administered government managed prisons are not a true picture of private enterprise in the corrections field. Based on all examples, in every nation and at all times, government involvement in any area makes things worse. And government is very much in the profit business; just the profits are not necessarily currency, for it can always print more, but in expansion and control. Currency-based profits of the private citizens or enterprises are infinitely more honest and subject to checks and balances through competition than government monopoly and control. Perhaps a true privatized legal system, focused on correction, instead of punishment, could be a better solution. For it should be obvious to even an uninformed observer that our current approach is a failure.

        • Taking the assertion that “less government involvement is always better” for granted for a second, I fail to see how a truly private correction system is possible, given that it is merely an appendage of the justice system, which will always be run by government. You can never excise government influence out of such an arrangement, ever.

          Besides which, the point is that prisons should not be run for profit at all. That is not their function, and when they are changed into profitable enterprise, it subverts their actual reason for existence.

        • Ah, but profit does not need to be on the basis of number of beds occupied. Why can’t it be based on some bare minimum expenses occurred and the gravy on the success of the reformed population? I am just exploring possibilities, since marching in the current direction will only get us deeper into …

        • So long as you have any factor there that’s dependent on the number of inmates – which is inevitable, since that’s how expenses are calculated – there is potential for abuse. For example, in your case, “some bare minimum expenses” would be proportionate to that number – and therefore the private prison owner could profit by cutting on those expenses and pocketing the difference (which has happened in many totalitarian regimes, in fact), and then they still have a vested interested in filling to capacity (and beyond – another potential abuse).

        • No world is perfect, in any life. Yes, there is a potential for abuse. But if the criteria are set up correctly, the system will self correct. The original American system was intended to take corrupt people from corrupt cultures and make them honest through competition, personal responsibility and almost total absence of government. It worked. But as government grew and expanded into private affairs, the country declined. Anyone except for a diehard progressive can see that. Perhaps leaving the justice system in the hands of the government was a mistake. Perhaps other options are available. What if the profit is based on the lack of recidivism or penalty is imposed if an ex convict gets into trouble again. There’s much that can be explored.

        • you said, “Based on all examples, in every nation and at all times, government involvement in any area makes things worse. ”

          That’s clearly not true.

          We agree that the Goverment is generally not as efficient as private industry, but there are many problems that only a government can address. And has. A few examples: infrastructure investments or technical scientific advances which are economic externalities to individuals or companies, but helpful to overall economies, such as the interstate highway system, the internet, jet powered flight, and many more.

          Furthermore, government involvement is required in many markets precisely because they are not “free markets” due to monopoly, oligopoly, unequal economic information (insider trading, or even situations in which the buyer alone can never truly know what they are buying without regulations such as drugs or complex financial transactions). Sure, “free markets” regulate themselves, but many markets can never be “free” if by free you mean Efficient Market Theory.

          For profit does NOT = “free market”

        • Let’s start in reverse order of your comment. Monopolies – we all agree, I presume, that these are bad. But monopolies can exist only through government “protection” of the monopoly. It is through government “protection” that private enterprises carve their nitch and prevent anyone one else from competing. Remember, private enterprise does not equal free market. I am a proponent of a free market, which is possible only through private business and private ownership, but private ownership, such as belonging to a king or a nobleman or an oligarch is not free market. Think of any industry, in the US or elsewhere, that is a monopoly. Privately owned or government owned. Would it be a monopoly if not for the government protection. The fact is that governments create and protect monopolies, and the people happily give government more power to fight monopolies that it created by creating more and bigger monopolies — logic beyond my comprehension!

          You say that there are problems that only the government can address. The infrastructure, for example. And what is there to prevent private industry in a free market from building a highway? They would have to charge a fee for its use – yes, but doesn’t the government do the same? Through multiple taxes, before, during and after. And if the government builds a bridge to nowhere, you pay for it. If a private enterprise builds a bridge to nowhere – you do not pay for it. Besides, the “government” does not have the people, the machinery or the brains to build almost anything – all it can do is shuffle people’s money to have other people build it – and it does it in the most inefficient way possible. Do you think that technological advances happen because bureaucrats have a meeting? No, they have because an individual has an idea and is willing to do what it takes to make it happen. In today’s America, when so much is controlled by the government, an inventor often has to “sell” his invention to or through the government, but that is only because the government has monopolized those industries. And then the government judges the invention not on the merits of the invention, but on what personal gain the bureaucrat gets out of the project.
          And you think that jet powered flight could not be possible without the government? Really? Perhaps the Wright brothers should have been drafted into the Civil Corps? Seriously, if you analyze every one of the examples that you brought up, I think that you will see that every one of those industries can be better managed by the free market than the government.

        • “Their time” is whatever they were sentenced to. It’s the “indefinite” part that I have issue with. It’s akin to “may issue” for individual liberty.

        • But what are the rational grounds on deciding on such a time in advance, knowing only the crime and nothing about the person? How would you go about assigning a proper duration? And what goal does it serve?

          I don’t think it’s quite like may-issue. With may-issue, a citizen is placed in a position where the onus is on them to prove that they need a gun before they do anything at all – it’s the starting position. For what I propose, OTOH, it doesn’t mean that people should be imprisoned without trial on the whim of the state, or assumed to be guilty and have to prove their innocence. Quite the opposite, I would demand a very rigorous application of due process, with presumption of innocence and strict standards for evidence and testimony.

          However, once the process has run its course and the defendant has been found guilty of a crime so heinous as to require isolation from society by imprisonment (which I think is a standard we should revise significantly… basically unless it’s a violent crime or a crime involving extreme and deliberate property damage, I don’t think that it merits prison at all), I think that turns the tables. Basically, if you have intentionally done something sociopathic by its nature, then society can rightly assume that you are prone to doing it again, unless and until there’s sufficient evidence to establish that is not the case (i.e. it flips to “guilty unless proved innocent”). Note though that such evidence can also take a form of consistent “good behavior”, at least for lesser crimes. E.g. if a person is imprisoned for assault and battery, but has shown no signs of violent behavior for many years while in prison, I think this is strong evidence that they have reformed.

        • Your argument is predicated on collectivism. It requires a government sanctioned entity to determine if someone is “reformed.” That’s a very, very dangerous power to place in government’s hands. We already have a sample of it, sans full due process, through “black sites”. Besides, the most cunning of the sociopaths/psychopaths wouldn’t find it too difficult to convince any governing body that they have “reformed.” The more honest prisoners and the grossly imperfect sociopaths wouldn’t make the grade. I suspect that your proposal might release a few truly reformed individuals but would in reality select for the most convincing of the sociopaths to return to free society.

          The proposal is repugnant to Liberty. There are laws written with punishments attached. Those sentencing guidelines specify maximum penalty. Making punishment indefinite gives government far too much power. Can you not see how this would be a strong motivation for government to criminalize many things? Indefinite imprisonment is antithesis to the ideals that this nation was founded upon.

          The punishment will continue until you confess and see the error of your ways. Have you read 1984?

        • As described, it ultimately requires a jury of your peers to determine if someone is reformed. I think this is a very far cry from a government bureaucracy.

          There are other checks and balances that can be introduced into such a system. For example, the burden of proof necessary for release could be diminished with time, and at some point can even automatically be flipped to “innocent unless proven guilty”. This, in effect, is the same as the existing system with fixed terms, except that there’s a well defined process for releasing early those people who clearly shouldn’t be there, and also provides a provision for people who clearly shouldn’t be released to remain imprisoned if the jury of their peers finds them to be unrepentant and/or dangerous beyond a reasonable doubt.

          Basically, so long as government is only in the business of carrying out the sentences, and not unilaterally deciding who is innocent and who is not (i.e. so long as jury trial remains an option available to anyone at any point when their fate is decided), I think that it provides a sufficient check on government power to prevent blatant abuse of such a system (or, indeed, any justice system). In practice, an oppressive government doesn’t need anything like that to keep people imprisoned indefinitely… they don’t even need courts in the first place, they just lock you up and throw away the key. Or they have a rubberstamp court.

          A better way of dealing with government overreach is to, well, reduce its scale in general. When it comes to laws, reduce the number of them, and especially the number of those that can even be punished by imprisonment in the first place. Most importantly, such powers should be very clearly stemming from the citizens themselves, and not through their purported representatives, just like with juries.

          I would even go to the extent of saying that any law declaring something a crime punishable by prison should be subject to a supermajority vote to enact it, or maybe even require a constitutional amendment. Treason, for example, was defined very narrowly and specifically in the US Constitution, and we’re all better off for it – it’s one of the favorite accusations for oppressive regimes to abuse against their opponents, but it’s nearly impossible to abuse like that in US. Why not define murder, assault etc on the constitutional level, as well? It’s not like the definitions are going to radically change over time. Then regular laws, the kind that parliaments can enact at will, would be limited only to fines and damages, effectively limiting the power of government to arbitrarily kill or imprison its own citizens.

          (Note, I’m talking about state constitutions here, not federal.)

        • Quite the opposite, I would demand a very rigorous application of due process, with presumption of innocence and strict standards for evidence and testimony.

          In a few generations the wheels fall off of that cart with any government. The Bill of Rights and recorded history attest to this fact. Indefinite detention denies the true nature of government.

          BTW: Those arguing for “may issue” for firearm privileges also claim that individuals have due process.

        • While there is much for me to agree with in your last comment, I believe that you fail to appreciate the collective nature of your proposal. If memory serves, the only concepts that we’ve ever really disagreed upon here have been due to us coming from opposite ends of the individual-collective spectrum. I really don’t see you and I coming to a middle ground on this proposal. It is based too much in collectivism and tyranny of the majority for me to agree with it. I am seeking to return the nation to its roots whereas I perceive your proposal as wanting to fundamentally transform the nation into something we broke away from Brittan over and shunned the European notion. Indefinite detention was the power of kings. It has absolutely no place in America or any truly free society.

          To give some insight… I am an anarcho-capitalist at my core but support a minarchist sort of structure for the US because I believe that is how it was founded. I could happily live in an America with minimal government intrusion and privilege. IMHO, indefinite imprisonment is light years away from the notion of individual sovereignty. In the very long haul, it is a blank check to government and an invite to tyranny on a silver platter.

        • You’re probably right.

          I self-identify as left libertarian, which basically means that I accept the “as little government as possible” minarchist POV, the notion that personal freedom is good and state limitations on freedom are bad (and hence only justified to prevent something even worse), and the general idea of decentralization and moving the government as close to the citizens as possible (“states rights” etc).

          But I disagree with right-wing libertarians on what constitutes the minimal accepted level of government for a functioning society, and the role of citizens and [super]majority consensus in running said government (e.g. I favor direct rather than representative democracy, with decentralization and requirement of supermajority consensus on most matters of importance as a check on power to govern, rather than indirect representation – which I think has been shown to not be functioning well as such a check in practice based on experience in this country and others).

          So yes, we do start from rather different premises.

        • I agree with int19h on no privatizing of prisons and I agree with everything else that alexander posted in his same comment. The system is very messed up as it operates today.

  57. Much the same revelation I had with regards to the death penalty. I agree about the State having an apparatus for, and a comfort with killing its own, but for me its more about not being willing to risk putting even a single innocent to death. For what executing a truly evil individual gets us, its just not worth it, when life in prison is not just morally superior, but cheaper as well.

    • except when they get cable tv, smugfled drugs, and sex.

      change your premise to life in prison in total solitary, and i’m with you.

  58. Interesting, I too don’t want to see the government get comfortable with killing people. That’s why it should be in the hands of the victim’s family. They decide life or death; and they must carry it out. For ultimately, they speak for the people. This trial is a perfect example of how broken our system is.

    • wtf. the government was plenty comfortable killing nazis and tojo’s nuthuggers.

      my concern with thendeath penalty is that the fog in the system means some innocents get fried. if i knew for a FACT that a douche on death row was truly guilty, then i would feel zero about whacking them. but few cases have such clear cut clarity.

    • Yup Preston. Funny how the majority of legal gun owners have no problem shooting a bad guy who attacks them(or kills the “enemy” in a questionable war(vietnam & anything in the mideast) but gets a bit uncomfortable killing a killer…

      • I have no qualms killing a killer. I just don’t want to kill an innocent by mistake. Plus, the death penalty isn’t nearly as good a punishment as life in total solitary ona diet of white rice and water.

      • In a DGU, the additional factor is time. I still wouldn’t want to kill an innocent, and there’s still a minuscule chance that I am misunderstanding the situation and the person I see as attacker is actually innocent, but I have a split second to make the decision either way, and if I choose wrong, I get harmed or killed. So I have to balance the very high risk to my own life vs the very low risk to a potential innocent life.

        Even then, in a DGU, you are only entitled to lethal force so long as attacker remains a threat. If they surrender or run, you cannot just shoot them.

        This is not at all the case with death penalty. The condemned is already in a cell by then, and so long as they remain there they do not pose a threat, so execution is not about removing that threat.

  59. I’m more than a little upset at the jury for failing to reach a verdict. That kind of thing scares me. When you get jury duty, you’re there to DO your civic duty. Your duty as jurors is to agree on a verdict. The jurors in this case were told what kind of a case it was. Any prospective juror who may have felt unable to render a verdict on a death penalty case would have plenty of opportunity to speak up when questioned by the attorneys and the judge in the case. To me there is no excuse to have a hung jury. Jody Arias admitted she killed her boyfriend. She was convicted of murdering him by a jury. This is not a case of disputed facts. It’s just a difficult decision that a jury needs to make. They really dropped the ball.

  60. When government claims the power to kill its own citizens, everything else is a question of degree. Some states execute for capital murder, the Saudis execute for adultery, apostasy (the condemned is given three days to return to Islam and avoid death), blasphemy, fornication, homosexuality/lesbianism/sodomy (in consensual, both parties are executed), idolatry, sexual misconduct (including exhibitionism, fetishism, sexual harassment), fourth offense of theft, waging war on God, and witchcraft. Hitler’s Germany defined capital crimes to include Judaism and Christian Science. If a death penalty is morally justified, the citizens are only one legislative session away from the Saudi or Nazi Germany model.

    Only a small percentage of nations continue to practice capital punishment, and I seriously doubt that any of the readership would want to live in them. Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan. . . . In fact, we are the only country in the Western Hemisphere that still practices it, and in the rest of the world, outside the African Continent, the only practitioners are in Asia or the Middle East.

    I oppose capital punishment because I believe innocent people have been executed wrongfully, I believe the only moral justification for taking human life is self- or national defense, the practice doesn’t deter future crime or give closure to the murder victims’ families, and most of all, bureaucratic, sterile execution is a chickenshit way to kill a man (or woman).

  61. Enough of this. Drop them in the middle of the Sahara with one canteen of water. If they survive, they’re free. If not, too bad.

  62. I think Mr. Farago’s concerns are less about the actual odds of errors in the system and more about the banality of evil. One of the distinctions of the Holocaust was not the sheer amount of cold-blooded murder, but that genocide became a bureaucratic, chillingly efficient, and hidden process. It’s easier to fight a madman or a single overzealous officer of the government than an entrenched bureaucracy because people tend to quietly acquiesce to that bureaucracy.

    For me personally, I think there are always going to be exceptional cases where the death penalty is warranted, due the heinous nature of the crime, so we should keep the option on the books. But, I’ll quote the Mishnah and Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah as for how often it should be used: “A [court] that puts a man to death once in seven years is called a murderous one. R. Eleazar ben Azariah says ‘Or even once in 70 years.'”

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