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May 11th, 2005

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02:10 pm - Death comes unexpectedly
I was thinking about the death penalty, and for me the argument breaks down to a very simple question: Do you believe everyone is capable of rehabilitation? By capable, I mean they are both mentally able to be rehabiliitated and interested in being rehabilitated. If you answer "no" then logically, the death penalty is a viable option to keeping someone incarcerated forever. If you answer "yes" then logically, the death penalty is the ultimate denial of the opportunity to change.
This comes up because of a discussion of evil generated by the case of the man who allegedly beat and stabbed his 8 year old daughter and her best friend to death over what is reported as a "minor disciplinary issue." I hate living in a world where parents do bad things to their children.
Current Mood: sadsad
Current Music: Red Sox baseball

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[User Picture]
Date:May 11th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)
My vote is 'no'. Most violent crime in this country is done by a repeat offender. I saw the statistics once and it was terrifying. Some ppl are redeemable, most are not. It's strange how killing changes some ppl, and they do it again with no remorse and yet soldiers from WWII were able to lead 'normal' lives. I dunno. It's a mess. Personally, I don't want to occupy a planet with someone who could kill a child.
Date:May 11th, 2005 07:18 pm (UTC)

Parent is a verb first then a noun

This evil man wasn't a parent. He was a guy who got this poor girl's mother pregnant 9 years ago. This is a case of worst object lesson about sleeping with the wrong guy. His very long rap sheet started long before he conceived this child with her mother.

To be a parent, you have to parent. You have to have an active interest and show effort in the care of the child. You have to willing to make personal sacrifices. I'm willing to bet money that this turd of a person never did any of that for this girl. So despite being genetically related to her, he wasn't her parent.
[User Picture]
Date:May 12th, 2005 09:00 am (UTC)
I would say the argument breaks down to two things: 1., are we confident that we will never make a mistake in administering the death penalty (since it's much easier to let a person out of prison than it is to bring him or her back to life), and 2., are we willing to perform the very acts we despise in order to punish those acts? When one fights monsters, one must take care not to become a monster. Or, put another way, do their evil acts towards us justify our evil acts towards them? Is it ok to do unto others as has been done unto us, or do we have a responsibility to be better than those we condemn?
[User Picture]
Date:May 12th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
There's a man in prison in MA who was convicted of killing a young boy. He's a member of NAMBLA and according to reports, he currently rules the roost at his prison. He continues to brag about his crimes and intimidate and abuse his fellow inmates.
What justice is served here?
[User Picture]
Date:May 12th, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC)
There was a man in Texas who was executed after his lawyer slept through his entire trial. What justice was served there?
[User Picture]
Date:May 12th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC)
You'd think that might have been grounds for appeal.
[User Picture]
Date:May 13th, 2005 09:13 pm (UTC)
Every death penalty case is appealed. That's why it takes so long for people to be executed. Some of the worst ones eventually get overturned, but not before the person has spent decades on death row. The most famous "sleeping lawyer" guy, who was convicted in 1984, finally had his conviction overturned in 2002, when the US Supreme Court upheld (by refusing to reconsider) a decision to grant him a new trial (he plea bargained for three life sentences). So he spent 18 years on death row after the prosecutor told the jury that life in prison really wouldn't be all that bad for a gay man.
He was lucky. The Mexican citizen who signed a murder confession in English and was never allowed to contact his embassy was executed by Bush.
The point is, the death penalty is administered with a stunning lack of anything resembling justice (The ACLU has details). Whatever horrible thing some individual creep may deserve, it doesn't make up for a system of monstrous injustice. Never mind that sinking to the level of murderers degrades us all.
[User Picture]
Date:May 15th, 2005 06:25 pm (UTC)
You've just proven the point for me. The death penalty process has breaks and safeguards to mitigate the human elements (unlikable alleged perpetrator, incompentant lawyering etc.). I'm not suggesting we sink to level of witch-hunting and the theory that G-d will reward the innocent and punish the guilty so we should therefore kill them all and let G-d sort them out, but am willing to accept a certain margin of error. Oh, well you wouldn't feel that way if it was your son being executed is the standard stock response to that, and of course, I wouldn't. But I couldn't necessarily be trusted to be objective where my son was concerned either. Is that hypocritical? Well, it's human, and I admit to being that.

I disagree at base with your assumption that execution is degrading to society. You'll be familiar with this argument as well, I think society has both the right and the responsibility to protect its citizens. In a situation where a formalized process consisting of many different people determines that the perpetrator has committed heinous crimes and would repeat them given the opportunity, then we, the society collective, has the right to murder them. I do not believe that we have that society has the right to torture them, and in that way, we separate ourselves from our victims by executing judgement with both dispassion and compassion.
[User Picture]
Date:May 15th, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC)
I'm unwilling to accept any margin of error where human lives are involved, no matter how base. Especially given the racism inherent in the way the death penalty is applied in this country.
Society can protect itself from a dangerous individual by isolating that person. It is unnecessary to murder him or her. To do so only satisfies an impulse for vengeance, which has no place in a civilized justice system.
Most people executed in this country aren't sick freaks who will never reform, anyway. Child molesters, for example, who have the highest rates of recidivism, are rarely executed even when they kill their victims, and some people (Karla Faye Tucker, for example) are executed even after they've reformed.
There is nothing dispassionate or compassionate about the American criminal justice system, or American prisons, or American methods of execution. At least we got rid of the gas chamber finally, but lethal injection isn't exactly humane, either. Both of them are deaths usually inflicted only by the worst serial killers, or by institutionalized systems of murder. This doesn't separate us from our victims, it unites us with the very worst of them.

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