So You're Going To Die…

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Scott Peterson gets the death penalty for the brutal murder of his pregnant wife Laci two years ago on Christmas Eve. If anyone deserves to be executed, surely it is Scott Peterson, who acted in a completely premeditated fashion, showed no remorse, and on and on.

And I guess that's the question: If anyone deserves to be executed…

What say ye, Hit & Run regulars, are you in favor of the death penalty or not, in a case that offers almost absolute clarity on all the important issues (that is, no serious question of guilt and/or extenuating circumstances)?

I'm an anti-death-penalty pansy myself, believing that the state should use as little force as needed to protect its citizens (and punish its malefactors). But cases such as this one certainly give occasion for reconsideration of that POV.

Recent Reason Online death penalty cols here, here, and here.

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  1. Con. The reason why has less to do with my Catholic background than my belief that the death penalty does this disservice of letting the guilty suffer less than if they were in the general prison population.

    Someone (Blue Comedy Tour Member Ron White) recently opined that some people are prepared to die, but aren’t prepared to like “grape jelly from Thundernuts’ ass crack until Thundernuts c***s.”

    Peterson does not deserve to avoid this type of extrajudicial punishment.

  2. imho, a big problem with execution is that it’s non-reversible. if someone’s wrongly imprisoned, at least they can be compensated. while those who have been proven innocent by dna are few, it worries me. how many more are innocent? i’d rather have 100 criminals free than 1 innocent behind bars. (many see it the other way, though.) i’d like to see a higher level of proof required for execution.

    i do think life in prison is certainly worse than execution.

  3. I don’t trust the government. Why should I trust it (and it is an “it”) with my life?

    I think all people convicted to life sentences (or sentences any reasonable person knows are equal to life sentences) should have execution as an option. And before anyone says it’s unfair that convicts get that right: I think suicide should be a right for all of us. (And I can’t imagine how that statement could possibly derail this thread.)

    There are scum who are wastes of skin, but I’m willing to let them stew in a prison on the off chance that they aren’t guilty of what they were convicted for. I say “off chance” because I have trust in the justice system. But to support the death penalty, I’d need faith. I have no reason to have faith in the system.

    And by the way: Mumia did it, but I’m still against the death penalty.

  4. I was pretty heavily against the death penalty until I saw The Life of David Gale and decided it’s not such a bad idea after all.

    No, I’m still against it. But mostly for practical reasons like the racial spread, the expense, and most importantly the negation of any possiblity of being freed by DNA evidence and/or thawed out by Wesley Snipes.

  5. I’m all for seeing him burn. The man’s a monster and the world is better off without him. Moreover, he’s not worth the cost it would take to keep him alive.

    And, for what it’s worth (I don’t know if it’s only California), but the jury’s death penalty sentence was technically a recommendation and the judge still has the discretion to sentence him to something less than death.

  6. if someone’s wrongly imprisoned, at least they can be compensated.

    Unless they live in England, in which case they can be charged for room and board.

  7. Death penalty – NO.

    What’s with this “pansy” shit, Nick?

  8. I support the death penalty in general, but I think Peterson was railroaded.

  9. Peterson as a poster-boy for proper application of the death penalty? Is this some dark humor I’m missing?

    It seems to me that there was hardly any evidence linking him to the crime, other than him being an all-around jerk and adulterer. But that leaves a lot of room for reasonable doubt.

    I have not followed the trial closely, but this hardly seems an open-and-shut case. Can anyone correct me?

  10. My position is sortof like Clinton on abortion: painless, legal, and rare. I would tend to reserve death penalty only for those who have already earned life and then commit some other heinous crime. For example, murdered someone, then killed a cop who came to arrest him. Or, already in prison for life and then killed a prison guard.

    I think that the death penalty should be rare. IF nothing else, it tends to hurt a persons right to appeal or to bring forward new evidence if they are already dead. However, if it did not exist, there would be no disincentive for people who had already earned life not to just keep killing to try to save themselves from jail.

  11. Sorry, CJP, I can’t disagree with you at all. No physical evidence, no witness, no real motive (the Texans will rip me for that last one). Remind me not to cheat on my wife, for chrissakes.

    You know what death penalty sentencing really made me reflect was the O.J. conviction. Oh wait! Silly me….

  12. Opposed. Morally and practically, and beyond.

    Morally: I am opposed to killing except in self defense. When a government of the people kills, then I am contributing to that death. (And no, I do not accept the rubbish that St. Paul used (possibly as code) that government derives its moral authority from God — I can’t see either Bush or Clinton as God’s appointed ones). So, morally, every time the government kills, it’s a stain on my soul.

    Practically: The government screws everything up. It’s like a child that can’t be trusted with a match or they’ll burn the house down. And you want them to go out and kill lots of people, but only if they’re guilty. Right.

    Conspiratorially: The U.S. has something like 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population. Now my preference is for this to be solved by the government realizing that some criminal laws need to be scrapped. But what if some idiot legislators decide they can reduce prison population by just adding to the death penalty categories? Death penalty for smuggling pot, maybe? (Newt Gingrich actually proposed that one once).

  13. PS, Nick: “So you’re going to die…”

    A quickie Simpsons reference?

  14. This is one of the few issues I waver back and forth on. I have recently leaned con, swayed by the number of people freed by DNA evidence. But at the same time the death penalty is a very effective deterrent of recidivism in the individual executed. I know there are more than a few families who would sleep easier at night knowing there was no possibility outside of a Jerry Brookheimer film that the murderer of their loved one would get free.

    As to the “life in prison is a worse punishment” crowd–think for a moment if you were unjustly imprisoned and you had to face that. Sure I make jokes about “pound you in the ass prison”, but at the same time, it’s not a way to encourage those with less than life sentences to do well–rather, it encourages them to commit crimes out of self defense and gets them in the habit, so to speak.

    Can you really be compensated if you get AIDS in prison?

  15. are you in favor of the death penalty or not

    I’m against it where citizens are concerned, due to concerns about the execution of innocents and a feeling that it sets a bad precident when governments start killing their own people. I’m for it in cases where the suspect confesses, since it’s just a form of suicide at that point.

    Where non-citizens are concerned I view death penalty cases as extremely small-scale defensive wars against hostile outside forces.

  16. I don’t see how this changes much. The problem is that there is never any pressing reason to take someone’s life: all the other justifications for killing people are because it’s necessary: there’s no other way (such as in war, and so forth). With CP, there’s no urgency, no necessity. We kill people out of choice because we believe they deserve to die even though there are other viable options… well that’s exactly what murderers do. People have all sorts of opinions on who deserves to live and who deserves to die: apparently if you stick a feather on your cap and call yourself a nation-state that makes you more qualified to decide, or something?

    And I have to agree: for someone to get the DP in a case with no physical evidence or witnesses is a little scary.

    “Moreover, he’s not worth the cost it would take to keep him alive.”

    A life in prison in many cases costs less than death penalties because of all the public expense legal fees.

  17. I have always been pro-death penalty. But I usually reserve that for those who would harm children. Nothing gets my blood boiling like hearing another child has been molested/tortured/killed. Those that would harm someone so innocent doesnt’ deserve to have another breath.

  18. i have to recommend this dvd: mr. death. interesting tale of how a guy ended up an expert on execution and then a holocaust denier.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0192335/

  19. Nick may be a pansy, but he’s pretty sadistic to get this group going on an issue like this. Though it’s not too bad yet. Wait till the day shift gets in.

  20. As to my opposition to the death penalty; what tom vier at 10:38 PM said in his first paragraph.

    As to the Peterson Case; were I on the jury, I would have voted for 2nd degree murder, but not 1st. I think that he probably did pre-meditate the murder, but there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. So I say, confine him for life.

  21. Even if the execution of the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, child offenders, and the innocent were not practised in parts of the US, I would oppose capital punishment, for I have assented to the notion that all men are endowed with the unalienable right to Life and that the only valid role of the State is to secure our rights.

  22. Opposed.

    As others above have stated, the government is utterly untrustworthy.

    While there are a few completely evil wastes of life where I could argue that death is appropriate, I’m not willing to confer that level of moral authority to what are essentially bureaucrats.

    Additionally, until the violations that one can be imprisoned for are reduced to the absolute minimum necessary (those violations that are limited to actions that directly abrogate anothers’ rights to life and property), the system doesn’t have any ethical leg to stand on, especially as regards the death penalty.

  23. I’m opposed. Death row is just another government program – unreliable and expensive.

    Oh, and to the person that said “it’s not worth paying to keep him alive,” it sounds like you’re assuming that the bailiff will now take him out back and show him the business end of his sidearm.

    I’m pretty sure that the death penalty is actually more expensive, what with all the appeals.

  24. Support. For premediated, first-degree murder, death should be the expected result. Then, and only then, will we know for sure if the death penalty has a significant deterrent effect. We already know that a half-assed one (or, more precisely, a one-sixteenth-assed one) doesn’t.

    Pro or con, I don’t understand Nick’s question as to “if anyone deserves to be executed.” Of course they do. The real question is when, and under what circumstances, it is appropriate for the state to give its thugs what they deserve. Sometimes, it’s clearly not (raping rapists, for example).

  25. Let this be the first day-shifter to say that Amber whats-her-name was pretty hot. NPR had no coverage of this case thank god, so my knowledge is limited to what I saw on airport CNN, but she seemed the perfect combination of skeevy physical therapist meets swingers club closet BDSM type. In other words probably the exact opposite of his goody two shoes can’t be bothered for sex pregnant wife.

    As for CP, I’m morally opposed on the principle of too much gov’t power. However, I always thought that a good sound bite would be that “I’m against the death penalty but in favor of the ‘dungeon penalty'”. Al Sharpton, are you listening?

  26. I’m against it based solely on the fact that supposedly it costs more to execute someone than to put them in free room and board for the rest of their natural life. I say if we can save all the time and money then why bother?

    There’s a bunch of cost analysis junk on Google…

  27. I’m confused. Either “The man’s a monster and the world is better off without him.” (Justin, 10:44PM) or “No physical evidence, no witness, no real motive” (The Juice Is Loose, 11:01PM). I have never given a s–t about this case–and I don’t care to wade through the reams of overblown fluff surely streaming forth from the major media right now–but now with the death penalty involved, I am slightly curious as to how the state can put a man to death on no evidence. Is there any evidence or not?

  28. Opposed. For several of the reasons listed above, as well as for the fact that it never seems to be applied evenly. There’s no real evidence that shows Scott Peterson had anything other than motive to kill her, and he gets the needle, while a guy like Charles Manson gets a prison cell after having a much stronger link to several worse crimes.

  29. In theory I do not oppose the death penality, but in practice there appears to be far too much error for me to support it (though obviously if the practice were to improve significantly I would stop being opposed to it).

  30. Rhywun — it appears from all the news I’ve read (which is little, but more than zero) that there is essentially no physical evidence linking him to the killing(s), nor a confession. The motive appears to be “he was having an affair,” and at least one juror was convinced by the fact that he said he was fishing near the place where the bodies were eventually found.

    If I’m not missing some huge facts here, I find it appalling that he may be put to death on such a flimsy case. The jurors, when interviewed, seemed pretty foolish about their reasoning — talking about how he seemed emotionally unaffected and so forth.

    For the record, it seems to me that he’s more likely guilty than innocent. But I’m told we have a higher standard of guilt here in this country…

  31. If you can’t justify the death penalty, how can you ever justify war? Does anyone, ever, have the right to kill someone else in self defense?

    I’m definitely pro DP. As nebulous as the term is, “society” (or “the nation” or whatever) has “rights” and “interests”, such as the right of self defense and an interest in not being murdered. Ending the life of premeditated murderers is, in my view, a form of justified self defense.

    The only way out of this conclusion that I can see is to become an anarchist, which I’m not.

    I agree there should be a higher standard of proof for the DP. The case must be solid (and I don’t see that it is for Mr. Scott — I’d lock him up instead). With a rigorous standard of proof required, the instance of innocent convictions will be statistically tiny. Sure, gov’t makes mistakes just like each of us. But wander just about 1/2 a step further down this road, and you find yourself entirely paralyzed, unable to make any decisions about anything. “Gee, I dunno, I’m not sure….gee……” People who live by that philosophy do not carve out great civilizations.

    But if the postings here are at all representative of the US at large, I can fully understand why we Americans are so squeemish about the DP.

    Squeemish — that’s a good word to describe what I see the US intellectual climate becoming general. Slam me for it if you will, but I increasingly think that We the People do not believe in our own vision anymore. This, more than anything else, shall be our ultimate undoing.

  32. Like Gary, I tend to support the death penalty in theory (there’s nothing inherently wrong with killing a vicious criminal–it’s no more an initiation of force than imprisoning him is) but oppose it in practice, because we seem to be killing innocent people.

    However, there are circumstances for which I think it’s appropriate. For instance, I suspect that if we captured and imprisoned Osama Bin Laden he would present a major security risk, with terrorists trying to free him and some such. In those cases, where we both have effective certainty that the individual is guilty and see a significant security risk in keeping him alive and in prison, the death penalty makes sense.

  33. Terry: you say “Ending the life of premeditated murderers is, in my view, a form of justified self defense.”

    But the DP isn’t shooting a guy who just pulled a gun on you (which I believe everyone has the right to do). We don’t have to pick between killing a criminal and letting him roam the streets. We can afford to be methodical, careful, and — dare I say it — reasoned.

    If you want to “defend society,” there’s lots of room for creative solutions. For starters, here’s a no-brainer: lifelong lock-up with no chance of parole, for starters. Is that decisional paralysis? If we go with that, have We the People Lost our Vision?

  34. I’ve been against the death penalty ever since the Bush I speech endorsing “death penalty for drug kingpins”…whe the state talks about death for something you don’t even think should be a crime, it’s time to shut it down. Who wants to cede the government that kind of power anyway?

  35. Terry the difference between the death penalty and killing in self defense is that the later is calculated to preserve an innocent person’s life (your own or someone you are defending) at the expense of an intended murderer. The former does not protect anyone but merely punishes someone who is already a murderer. So the case for self-defense is stronger than the case for imposing the death penalty.

  36. I like the Mass Gov. Romney’s standard. You make the bar high and hard to hit. This is mostly because I don’t trust the crim justice system rather than squeamishness. The problem is there are too many innocents and guys get the death penalty on emotional crap, like what happened to Peterson. He’s obviously a shitbag, but did he do it? I can’t say that I know.

    Guys like McVeigh and OBL, give them the chair (though those guys, I wouldn’t mind them getting reamed). If beyond a reasonable doubt was true in practice, I’d be cool with the way it’s currently arranged. However, it’s not, so I’d want a highedr bar.

  37. I could give all sorts of principled reasons to oppose the death penalty, but most people will say that they are rubbish. So I’ll stick to an eminently practical one:

    The state shouldn’t administer an irreversible sanction except when absolutely necessary to defend somebody else from an irreversible harm (hence the distinction between war and criminal justice, and the distinction between death sentences handed down by the courts and a cop shooting a suspect in self defense). Otherwise you’re letting an entity with a LONG track record of mistakes do something that can’t be reversed.

    It’s easy to point to Tim McVeigh and Ted Bundy and say sure, go ahead. And if somebody could write a law that only covered those guys, that set a burden of proof high enough to never get an innocent guy, then I’d have to trot out my wimpy liberal arguments. But due to the state’s incompetence, and the impossibility of writing a law that works exactly as intended, I don’t have to trot out my wimpy, squishy lefty arguments. All I have to point out is that the state should, whenever possible, make sure that it’s possible to reverse one of its decisions since it has a LONG track record of screwing up.

    So, basically, I get to hinge my argument on the one principle that all real libertarians agree on: The state can always be counted on to screw up.

  38. Opposed. For both idealistic (limiting power of the state) and practical reasons. But still, perhaps it should be kept for serial killers and such. Unfortunately there is no practical legal way to differentiate between the ones that make one go “aha! That’s obviously someone who should be executed” and the more run of the mill cases.

  39. Opposed.

    A moral state has no powers or rights that the people do not inherently have. I.e., the people transfer to the state certain powers from their own inventory of powers. In the absence of a state, these powers return to the people, so that they may rightfully exercise said powers.

    So, in the absence of the state, do people have the right to execute others for wrongdoing? I say no. The only legitimate use of force is for self-protection, and execution is NOT self-protection; the threat is already neutralized. Execution is for punishment, and therefore an illegitimate use of force.

    Since the people do not have the right of execution, neither can the state.

  40. I’m all for sending him straight to hell. (That is if hell existed.)

    Therefore, I’m disappointed he got the “death penalty”. He’s going to be stuck in solitary confinement on death row attending appeal hearing the rest of his life. If he was were given life in prison amongst the general population, I don’t think it would be long before somebody went “Jeffrey Dahmer” on his ass. Prisoners don’t like baby killers.

  41. cip — you come close to swaying me, but not quite. Sure, we can afford to be methodical and even reasoned. But “ethics”, as a theory and in operative practice, depends on a particular context. Pre-meditated murder does away with that context. My reasoning is that the Pre-Meditated Murderer has chosen to go outside civilized ethics. I don’t see any rationale for saying the Pre-Meditated Murder is any different from, say, the PRC invading the US homeland. It’s just a question of 1 murderer vs. half a billion Chinese soldiers.

    btw, as I said *I* wouldn’t give Peterson the DP — DP is reserved for clear cut cases (like, the presence of half a billion Chinese soldiers would be a clear cut case). I do not see the DP being used very often, in practice.

    I should clarify what I meant by “loosing our vision”. It’s along the lines of — ethics, in theory and practice, can only exist and be practiced in a certain context, one of which is “whatever our disagreements, we agree not to shoot at each other”.

    I think we in the civilized First World have lost sight of the context of ethics. Outside that context is The Jungle. Sure, I’d rather live in here (in the context of ethics) that out there in The Jungle. But our civilization has boundaries, and lots of jagged edges. To protect “in here” (ethical society) from the non-ethical elements “out there”, you must (I think) deal with the outside on its own terms — for The Jungle is not part of our ethical “in here” and will not obey our rules. It’s suicide on our part if we expect The Jungle to obey our rules.

    We “loose our vision” when we are no longer able to make this distinction….

    Bruce — so are you saying, if half a billion Chinese soldiers invaded the US, we should try to round up and lock up rather than shoot at them? I see no reason why I should be under such an obligation, from any moral standpoint. As I said to cip above, I see no moral distinction between a Pre-Meditated Murderer (one person), and an invading army (many many persons), other than numbers.

    The murderer and the invading soldiers are both guilty. Why does the Pre-Meditated murderer deserve anything different from the invaders? They’re both knocking down the walls of the ethical world we’ve decided we want to live in.

  42. thoreau — I agree that the state is inherently untrustworthy. So are the people who make it up. To a very large extent the best state is well hog tied. However…..

    At some very basic level I think we have to draw some clear lines in the sand, and pre-meditated murder (with conclusive evidence) is one of those places. Here’s why (aside from the fact that murder is knocking down the walls of civilization).

    I’m a design engineer. I design things that lots of people’s lives depend on. In my profession we peer review our work thoroughly. But in my entire career, I don’t think I’ve designed anything, that someone couldn’t think of some possible failure mode for, in some remote corner of the universe. ANYTHING can fail under some set of conditions.

    If we engineers never built and tried anything, because nobody could come up with The Perfect Design, we’d all still be rubbing sticks together in caves. You put your best into, but sooner or later you gotta just try it. Sometimes we fail. Lots of train bridges collapsed in the 1800’s.

    Civlization is no different. Rome was not built by men and women who were afraid to take on risks. And the history books show that sometimes their bridges came down on them. Well, you learn to build better bridges from your mistakes.

    If we want to achieve anything approaching greatness, we have to take some risks. Minimize them, sure. But they cannot be 100% avoided.

  43. Scott Peterson had anything other than motive to kill her, and he gets the needle, while a guy like Charles Manson gets a prison cell after having a much stronger link to several worse crimes.

    For the record, Charles Manson (and all his co-conspirators) were sentenced to death. Their sentences were commuted to life during the period when the Supreme Court declared that the death penalty as it was then applied was unconstitutional. Upon readoption of the death penalty, I don’t believe there was a legal mechanism for switching the sentences back.

  44. Incidentally, this has always been the best argument for me. Look at the number of guys placed on death row who turned out to be innocent. Sorry, but as forgiving as I can be, this is not an area where I can allow the government even the tiniest chance of a fuckup.

  45. The death penalty has to do with the place that society accords to the voice of the victim, a voice which is now missing.

    It is not retributive and it is not preventative. In fact either one detracts from its point.

  46. Let him fry. The only good argument I can see for being against the death penalty is that it has tended to be applied disproportionately against members of whatever group has the misfortune of being the underclass of its day. A Kennedy would never fry for murder but his chauffeur might very well.

    I can’t think of what oppressed group Scott Peterson would belong to, unless you want to count the incorrigibly poker-faced, if indeed they are oppressed.

  47. great, even though the state can’t be trusted to mete out just punishment, we still let it guard the pit in which we hope he dies more cruelly?! at least you can feel superior to the bloodthirsty natives

    btw, i don’t mind which way peterson dies, but its laughable to pretend that it makes you a good libertarian to oppose effective justice that would obviate vigilanteism

    perhaps we should plow under all the defective highways that cause so many accidents and fire all the cops (read ‘ineffective counsel’) that fail to prevent us from killing ourselves

    as for evidence of premeditation, before he killed laci scott was 1) telling his new girlfriend that his wife had recently died and 2) buying a boat and making anchors–then they find her pregnant body in exactly the spot where it was to be expected had it been dumped with such anchors from the location where scott was on his boat

    in exchange for swift and certain justice applied to criminal threats that would dominate our society as sure as fallujah, i’ll gladly take the chance that i’ll never be as ‘unlucky’ as poor mr. peterson

  48. I am in favor of the death penalty.
    But I am opposed to life in prison.

    Furthermore, those of you who would not kill a prisoner, but celebrate another prisoner killing or raping a prisoner, I think that is chickenshit.

    Take responsibility for the punishment that you impart. If you place a prisoner in a situation where he will be raped or killed, then you are in effect raping or killing that person.

    If you think that a man deserves death, then man up, and kill him yourself. Don’t pretend to be humanitarian, and place the prisoner in a situation where others will kill him.

  49. Pro, for your more outstanding cases like Tim McVeigh, and I don’t mind the citizenry getting together and condemning a crime like premeditated first-degree (redundant, sorry) murder committed in especially heinous ways by providing for the death penalty as punishment. I’m surprised that there’s been so much discussion about how a guy like Peterson would get killed in prison anyway but none (unless I missed it) about how without a death penalty we’d arguably have a lot more vigilanteism going on before the verdict even came down, while the guy was out on bond.

  50. Unless there is some foolproof way of determining guit, I’m opposed. Even if some people clearly deserve it, there is not way to write a law so comprehensive that it draws the line between those that are guilty beyond all doubt and those that are very likely guilty. The law is a blunt instrument.

    There is clearly a lot of emotion invested in seeing the guilty suffer for their crimes, but the purpose of justice is not to satisfy our emotions, it’s to protect society. Society is just as well protected by putting criminals in prison for life as by executing them (if they commit crimes while in prison, then I would make an exception to the rule).

    I’m also puzzled by the “gov’t is too inept to administer the death penalty” argument. I thought the death penalty was largely in the hands of citizen juries, not the gov’t?

  51. I’m with kwais on this one. The (apparently common) notion that rape is somehow an unofficial, and possibly even morally just, part of the sentence is unconscionable. Can you imagine the moral outrage that would ensue if we were talking about it being perfectly okay for *female* prisoners to be routinely raped? Heck, we might even get a few serial rapists off the streets and away from more innocent victims, eh?

    Also, the arguments about putting execution power in the hands of the “state” seem misdirected to me. That’s why there’s a jury involved here. We’re not talking about some elected blowhard being able to impose the sentence (although we’ll let a blowhard COMMUTE the sentence, which seems an OK arrangement to me). Now, you might argue that you aren’t willing to trust the average jury with this power either and I’d concede that you have a pretty defensible position there, but at least point the finger where it belongs…

  52. Anti. “Since 1973, 117 people have been exonerated from death row..”

  53. Con- I’ll grant that Peterson isn’t worth supporting for the rest of his life, but when you give the government a power, it’s generally abused. Now, we have special laws to make certain groups (cops, FBIs, etc) ‘more equal’ than the rest of us citizens, so the death penalty’s inequality is enshrined in the law… we ought to be ashamed.

  54. “I can’t think of what oppressed group Scott Peterson would belong to, unless you want to count the incorrigibly poker-faced, if indeed they are oppressed.”

    Well, actually, he does belong to an oppressed group that traditionally does not get a fair trial. That group would be “defendents in murder cases where there is no evidence, but the victim is an attractive young white girl, so the media gets onvolved, and everyone wants to see him fry”. I don’t like to bring race into this, because I fuckin hate it when people indiscriminantly pull the race card; but, the fact is, within a couple weeks of Laci Petersen disappearing, another young girl and her baby were found murdered in the SF Bay, along with suspects and evidence. The girl was black and not particularly attractive. Before her body turned up, her family was forced to go door to door passing out missing persons flyers…while an entire town had mobilized to help find Laci. And so, this case hardly made the local papers, much less the national media, because everyone was focused on the beautiful white girl. If anyone can explain why Laci Petersen’s case turned into a national media circus, while this other case barely registered on a local level (other than race and attractiveness), I’d love to hear it.

    Otherwise, the fact is, Scott had the cards stacked against him, even if he’s not a member of any traditionally oppressed social sector.

  55. “So, basically, I get to hinge my argument on the one principle that all real libertarians agree on: The state can always be counted on to screw up.” I have very little to add. Opposed.

    Terry, I work for design engineers who are held accountable if they screw up. Too bad the government and you aren’t.

  56. Opposed.

  57. The death penalty is best applied during the commission of a crime, by the intended victim. If the crime succeeds and the victim is killed, and the criminal is later caught, then by all means, let the victim’s next of kin pull the trigger.

    I don’t particularly want to be responsible for the penalty being applied to a person, and having the state do it is simply trying to spread the blame.

    kwais has it right, we need to take responsibility for the punishments we mete out as a society. The picture of Laci’s stepfather holding up a newspaper that reads “DEATH” above a picture of Scott Peterson and smiling would be a lot more appropriate if he was the guy who had to do the dirty work.

  58. Pro, for your more outstanding cases like Tim McVeigh, and I don’t mind the citizenry getting together and condemning a crime like premeditated first-degree (redundant, sorry) murder committed in especially heinous ways by providing for the death penalty as punishment.

    I’m with you here. My example was to be the D.C. area snipers from two years ago. These were not crimes of passion and there was absolutely overwhelming physical evidence pointing to the guilt of the accused.

    For cases like these I support the death penalty. I think, though, like many others, that death should be a very difficult sentence for a prosecution to get.

  59. While I don’t like giving the State any more power than necessary, if someone is UNDOUBTEDLY guilty, they should be fried. And fuck the appeals, they’re a waste of money.

  60. I’m against the death penalty in all cases but treason.

    …and even then there can be extenuating circumstances.

  61. “If you can’t justify the death penalty, how can you ever justify war? Does anyone, ever, have the right to kill someone else in self defense?”

    Of course: did you even read any of the posts before starting your diatribe?

    Self-defense is justified when there are no good alternatives or the situation is such that a person under threat cannot possibly bear the burden of trying to figure them out. Even aggressive war is justified in the sense that other lives might be saved. But the DP affords nothing over life in prison without parole in terms of saving anyone anything.

    “I’m definitely pro DP. As nebulous as the term is, “society” (or “the nation” or whatever) has “rights” and “interests”, such as the right of self defense and an interest in not being murdered.”

    So… the state should try to prevent murder. Once it’s happened, it’s late for such an interest to be fulfilled. What to do with the murderer is an entirely different question.

    “Ending the life of premeditated murderers is, in my view, a form of justified self defense.”

    But we have absolutely none of the factors that make self-defense killings justified. There is no urgency. There is no necessity. It’s just another pre-meditated killing of choice. The message is: if I decide that someone isn’t worthy to live, or has offended me in some way, they can put me to death. Once you send that message, the only quibble is why the state can claim a monopoly on handing down such judgements.

    “The murderer and the invading soldiers are both guilty. Why does the Pre-Meditated murderer deserve anything different from the invaders?”

    Because there is no urgency in the case of the murderer. Of course if the murderer is threatening someone’s life at the moment of pursuit then of course we are not required to take any chances just to avoid killing them to save others. But once the crime has been comitted its a sort of sunk cost: nothing we do is going to undo the crime. With an invading army, the harm that they still can do is NOT yet a sunk cost. And of course if they surrender to our authorities, we do NOT kill them, by the laws of war.

    “The death penalty has to do with the place that society accords to the voice of the victim, a voice which is now missing.”

    Another exceedingly weak and illogical argument. Why assume that the victim is just as vengeful as the murderer? There are numerous real-life stories of murderers who not only get out through some legal snafu, but reform and make amends with the families: something that the families appreciate. There are plenty of families that do not want vengence, who know that the victim would not want their killer killed, etc., and plenty who think that an execution will bring them peace only to find that it does not. Killers clearly ARE able to pay back some form of restitution that killing them often precludes. The breadth of human experience simply doesn’t coincide with neat, discrete principles on the life or death of anyone.

    Indeed, while I wouldn’t expect it to convince anyone, that’s what I find personally to be most bizarre: people pretending that punishment is somehow an exciting or meaningful solution to a crime. Deterrance is an important end to a point, but once a crime has been committed and the alternative is life in prison, executing someone is basically just using them as a show for others, which is a barbaric use of ANY human life (and shares far too much in common with the logic of civilian-directed terrorism and other “demonstrative” statements using real human life as message). The logic behind it is: I declare you guilty of some offense, and by that guilt your rights and life are _devalued_ and hence now available for use for my own ends. That’s just a terrible message to declare acceptable.

    The punishment of imprisonment is necessary because people who violate the codes of society need to be, for all sorts of practical reasons INCLUDING THEIR OWN SAFETY, isolated from that society: break the social contract, and you don’t get to play in our sandbox anymore. People get deprived of only those rights that make sense to achieve this end: not just all rights willy-nilly to pay them back.

  62. I don’t accept Nick’s premise. If the death penalty is to be reserved for the “worst of the worst,” I don’t think Peterson qualifies. No evidence of torture. No mass murder. No serial murders. No kids. No previous violence. No murder for higher, or to further a criminal enterprise. Virtually no chance that he poses a threat to other inmates or staff. Whenever a politician wants to reinstate executions, he swears up and down that it will only be applied to the most horrific offenders. But then, it inevitably gets dumbed down like this. All murders are terrible, and the DA has a self-interest in pushing to the jury towards counting each accused murderer as part of “the worst of the worst.” This sentence looks to me like a clear case of inflation.

    I’m against the death penalty for practical reasons having to do with error and public policy. But on the moral question, I don’t feel that Ted Bundy was wronged at all by his execution.

  63. Pro DP, more comfortably so with the advance of DNA and other forensic testing. Guess that’s one of the reasons I’ll never get my libertarian card?

    I prefer a higher standard of proof as a previous poster says. It also makes me sick that DP inmates often cost me more in taxes than life-without-parole inmates and their 3 square a day. But pre-meditated murderers made their choice, and their removal is a benefit to society. I wouldn’t even mind seeing the DP extended to those who commit heinous non-lethal crimes against children (I believe Louisiana has this on their books, but it’s never used). If this makes me a cold hearted bastard, so be it.

    I didn’t really follow the Peterson case closely, but what appears to be an entire lack of sadness or remorse (and memories of him racing to Mexico with dyed hair) leaves me unable to conjure much sympathy for the sumbitch.

  64. Just so y’all know;

    ‘DP’ more commonly stands for ‘Double Penetration’. And is an activity known in the porn industry.

    Just so you know what you are saying when you say you are in favor of ‘DP’.

  65. Pro, but I would like to see higher standards for a verdict of death. If I remember correctly from the Talmud, the jewish standard was two witnesses who saw the murder and two witnesses who heard the killer say, “I’m going to kill that guy.” If we had rules like that, then I say, “Off with his head.” Otherwise, life in prison.

    Additionally, loss of liberty is bad enough. The prisoners who abuse other prisoners and the guards who allow it ought to be severely punished.

    That being said, I’d rather see the guilty go free than the innocent be imprisoned (although I know that the innocent will be imprisoned anyway).

    QFMC cos. V

  66. I’m in favor of the death penalty, in principle. However, in practice it’s too expensive. My primary goal is to make sure the convict never threatens society again. I don’t believe that criminals are smart enough to benefit from any deterrent effect.

    So, if the death penalty were cheap, I’d be all for it, but the legal costs would cover many years in prison. This is because of both the automatic appeals generated by the state, and the fact that the convict is much more motivated.

    The advantage of the death penalty is that it motivates felons to cop a lesser plea, and this saves everyone money.

    I have no expectation that any mortal effort will ever be perfect, so I’m not moved by arguments of wrongful conviction. The numbers are low, and we should work to lower them.

  67. So what if he may be innocent? Society demands that someone pay for the crime. The public demands DEATH!

  68. So what if he may be innocent? Society demands that someone pay for the crime. The public demands DEATH! The supreme court has ruled that it is not unconstitutional to execute an innocent person so long as they received a fair trial.

  69. “the death penalty does this disservice of letting the guilty suffer less than if they were in the general prison population”

    If I understand this argument correctly, it’s that some criminals are so bad that death is too lenient for them, and that they deserve the more severe punishment of being stuck in prison for life, so they can be tortured by their fellow criminals.

    Assuming this is true, then it follows logically that there must be some crimes that are slightly less heinous, for which death *would* be an appropriate sentence.

  70. I am very concerned that the jury had Scott Peterson confused with the lookalike Ben Affleck.

  71. I am not even convinced Peterson was guilty. As far as I have heard the police had no real evidence against him, just a compelling story.

    I fear the jury was just a bunch of morons who voted based on their emotions and not their rational thinking.

    But yeah, the death penalty needs to go. One inooncent executed is one too many.

  72. Anti-death penalty and anti-abortion.

    I have learned that the concept “love your enemy” is very powerful, and applies to first degree murderers.

    Life in prison is a proper punishment, although not for the barbaric aspects discussed above. Prisons should be reformed to minimize rape, violence, et al.

  73. Adam: “Since 1973, 117 people have been exonerated from death row.”

    andy: “” . . . fuck the appeals, they’re a waste of money.”

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you . . . Cognitive Dissonance!!

  74. No more appeals. DEATH DEATH DEATH!!!

  75. “the death penalty does this disservice of letting the guilty suffer less than if they were in the general prison population”

    Proper punishment would be death by a painful method, perhaps being lit on fire with gasoline, stuck with thousands of pins, or being tortured slowly. The family of Laci should administer the punishment.

  76. Totally against it, and for practical reasons as well.

  77. I’m a criminal defense attorney. I’m against the death penalty for the same reasons that most of the people here are — not because I think that it’s morally wrong, but because the chance of executing someone innocent is just too high. The death penalty is more expensive and I don’t see a deterrent effect. I’ve defended several murderers and helped with the appeal on one capital case, and the potential consequences just didn’t come into play for these guys. Your average murderer either thinks that he’s going to get away with it or just doesn’t care. This doesn’t negate the need for punishment, but deterrence (IMHO) just isn’t a realistic consideration.

    Several people have commented that they don’t think that Peterson got a fair trial. I didn’t follow it other than catching snippets of reports in bars, but I don’t think he got screwed. The jurors in his case were reasonably intelligent and educated people (more so than in any murder trial that I’ve seen). They saw all of the evidence and concluded that he was guilty. In my experience, the jurors more often get it right than not. People get convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence everyday. The biggest challenge to prosecutors today is the proliferation of shows like CSI — jurors (and members of the public) want incontrovertible physical evidence and/or a videotaped confession. In real life, however, it rarely works out that way. Beyond a reasonable doubt means just that — a reasonable doubt, not any shadow of a doubt.

    Finally, in my experience, people do sometimes get screwed by the justice system. In almost all of those cases, however, it tends to be poor, uneducated defendants that have court-appointed counsel who are 1)overworked; 2)undercompensated; and 3)ocassionally incompetent. Prosecutorial or police misconduct is sometimes involved as well. Peterson is a college graduate, solidly middle-class, and had an experienced and high-priced defense team. His trial was heavily scrutinized and any misconduct on the part of the prosecutors or police would have been widely known.

    P.S. Didn’t Geragos make a couple of suggestions that this crime could have been the work of Satanists (fetal sacrifice?) or that Peterson was framed by the real killer? Usually, when you are reduced to making those kinds of arguments, your client is so guilty as to preclude any kind of real defense. I think the guy probably got what he had coming.

  78. DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!! DEATH!!!

  79. The public demands someone die.

  80. If we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt, how can we continue to use the death penalty? There has to be some reasonable standard upon which death is acceptable because we have to have a death penalty.

    How can Bush support the death penalty and not abortion? Aren’t they both the same, I fail to see the difference.

  81. A lot of people seem to be confusing the implementation of the idea with the idea itself. Capitol punishment is self defense. It’s Laci Peterson borrowing the force of the state to kill her attacker, the same as she’d have borrowed the force of the state in the form of cops if he’d abused her. Laci’s timing sucks, but one hopes the next guy will give a bit more consideration to the quickie divorce option, as opposed to murdering his wife and child and having his life become forfeit. Executing murderers disincentivizes murder more than simple long term imprisonment, especially if it’s swiftly and uniformly applied. The fact that it’s not swiftly and/or uniformly applied at current doesn’t make the idea in and of itself a bad one, it simply makes it an idea that’s often implemented badly. Again, it’s confusing process with product. If the question was ‘Would you want to stand trial for a capitol crime in Texas as a minority with a public defender as counsel?’ the answer’s ‘Hell no.’ All evidence of that situation points to a process tilted against me for reasons beyond guilt or innocence. But every trial isn’t a chance for the government to fuck up. A guy caught on security cam shooting a conveniance store clerk in the face has an uphill battle to prove that he’s only there because of a government screwup. So if the question is a simple ‘If guilt could be determined with a very high degree of certainty, would execution be an appropriate and/or optimal punishment’ then the answer is yes.

  82. How can Bush support the death penalty and not abortion? Aren’t they both the same, I fail to see the difference.

    The difference I believe, is between killing what he believes to be a person based on that person’s criminal actions versus killing what he believes to be a person based upon that person’s inconveniance.

  83. The difference I believe, is between killing what he believes to be a person based on that person’s criminal actions versus killing what he believes to be a person based upon that person’s inconveniance.

    Yes, but one is alive, the other isn’t alive unless it is wanted.

    Also, aren’t the pro-abortion folks are hypocrital for not supporting the death penalty because they are both death.

  84. I used to be for the death penalty, but the error rate is too high (too many innocent people getting convicted) for me to continue to support it.

    Personally, I would rather see outlawing brought back, and have convicted murderers sent to some remote place and declared outlaws.

  85. I used to be for the death penalty, but the error rate is too high (too many innocent people getting convicted) for me to continue to support it.

    That is pure BS.

    The public demands DEATH!!!

  86. That is pure BS.

    Nonsense, I wouldn’t go that far, but we need some reasonable standard in which to implement the death penalty. An occasional mistake is the price we pay in a free society in order to be kept safe.

  87. Give me liberty, or give me DEATH!!!

  88. Give me liberty, or give me DEATH!!!

    Your out of you’re f**king mind. Still and all he had a fair trial and now he has to die.

  89. I agree that no system is perfect. That’s why it’s nice to be able to correct mistakes whenever possible.

    It nice to say that we should have a law that allows the execution of Ted Bundy and Tim McVeigh but not in cases where there’s more doubt. Now, just write that law and show me how it works.

    The fact is that once the guy is in custody and under control there is no self-defense rationale for killing him. There may be a deterrence argument, or a cosmic justice argument, but those are countered by the very real possibility of error.

    As to Scott Peterson, if he’s guilty of that murder then he’s obviously an evil guy. But worst of the worst? There’s some stiff competition for that title.

  90. It’s Laci Peterson borrowing the force of the state to kill her attacker, the same as she’d have borrowed the force of the state in the form of cops if he’d abused her.

    The state acts of its own accord. We do not “borrow” authority or justice of any kind from it. We are coincidentally empowered neither by the attorney general who wants to be governor nor by the celebrity lawyer looking for a book advance.

    But every trial isn’t a chance for the government to fuck up.

    Isn’t the opposite implicit in “innocent until proven guilty”? Any trial in that setting would be a prime opportunity to watch an agent of the government fall on its face.

    A guy caught on security cam…

    As opposed to the purely circumstantial evidence that convicted Peterson.

  91. This won’t be popular around these parts, but I am for it in all cases. I think we should even apply it to rape and molestation. I know that it is not a proven deterrent, but I don’t care. If you messed up on that scale you no longer deserve your life. Many people have pointed to the high number of overturned convictions in recent years. Great. That’s why you have DNA testing and an appeals process. Am I willing to sacrifice one innocent for 100 guilty dead? Sure. I guess that make me a monster. I just want to know how many of you saints of reason have ever been affected by the actions of a true human monster? And trust me, they do exist.

  92. Adultery. Homosexual activity. Blasphemy. Apostasy.

    There are many cultures in which these acts are considered as bad as or worse than murder.

    An argument in favour of capital punishment in the US is an argument in favour of the stoning of adultresses in Nigeria, of burying homosexuals under walls in Afghanistan, of the execution of Salman Rushdie.

  93. I could care less if he lives or dies just get him and the whole story off of the fucking TV.

    It wouldn’t hurt if one of the smaller cable news networks (MSNBC maybe) offered some alternative news to this overcovered story…

  94. Once you’ve been on a murder trial, or spent significant time with someone you believe to be a murderer, you might be in favor of the death penalty. It isn’t about punishment, but about prevention of recidivism.
    Now I haven’t sifted through the evidence and court transcripts, so I don’t really have an opinion on Mr. Peterson’s guilt or innocence. I will say that he was a very unsympathetic defendant, and being caught while attempting to flee the country doesn’t help his case. But as for the death penalty as a concept, I believe it is appropriate. After all, the state can take away our liberty indefinately, and it can take the fruits of our labor without proportionally giving back. I for one would rather have a society where one could die on his feet, even if the state was doing the killing, than be forced to live on his knees.

  95. I for one would rather have a society where one could die on his feet, even if the state was doing the killing, than be forced to live on his knees.

    Lovely rhetoric, but how does that address the issue of the state killing people who were wrongly convicted?

  96. I for one would rather have a society…

    …where the state unjustly taking our liberty and property would be met with outright bloody revolt. I’d rather kill the state than be forced to live on my knees.

  97. Many people would be content to give murderers a life sentence if we were assured that it really meant a life sentence.

    William Suff moved to my town and killed about 60 hookers leaving their bodies littering the landscape as he went. That couldn’t have happened if Texas hadn’t paroled him after his conviction for murdering his infant son in a manner the local DA described as the most brutal murder he’d ever prosecuted.

    IMO, if you kill someone (except in self defense) you’re done. You have forfeited your right to life as we know it. I’m not saying ‘kill em’ but that is an attractive option if you can’t guarantee they’ll stay locked up.

    Suff was a model prisoner and 10 years into his sentence he was cut loose, after which he came to Ca and killed and tortured a whole bunch of unlucky women. If he was dead that wouldn’t have happened and as far as I’m concerned the Texas parole board is complicit in the murders of those hooks.

  98. Am I willing to sacrifice one innocent for 100 guilty dead?

    I say so what? It is the price we pay in order to be kept safe.

    I think we should even apply it to rape and molestation.

    Agreed, and also any other serious violent crime such as large scale drug importation. These people bring in poison for the purpose of killing our children.

  99. Mr. Mond. Mr. Ray Mond. You said:

    “An argument in favour of capital punishment in the US is an argument in favour of the stoning of adultresses in Nigeria, of burying homosexuals under walls in Afghanistan, of the execution of Salman Rushdie.”

    Not so. An argument in favor of cap punishment in the US is simply that. Like or not we don’t live in a libertarian world and if the US governed Nigeria adultresess wouldn’t be stoned to death.

  100. as far as I’m concerned the Texas parole board is complicit in the murders of those hooks.

    So what, they were a bunch of whores who deserved to die anyway for intentionally spreading AIDS every time they spread their legs.

  101. Everybody allways gets what they deserve, I say KILL him.

  102. No way Suff was paroled in Texas, TWC. Everybody knows that Texas executes everybody.

  103. WE DEMAND DEATH!

  104. Fred, actually most of those hookers were pretty pathetic, even outdoing the worst stereotypes of losers turning tricks for drugs and booze.

    It was depressing to drive down Main St in Lake Elsinore to the freeway and see them soliciting when they KNEW there was a serial killer on the loose whose speciality was prostitutes. It was like a death wish of something.

    But it’s still murder. And if nothing else, I doubt if you would appreciate finding dead hookers on your lawn in the morning. Wait, is it your house that has that sign out front that says “Dead Hooker Storage”?

  105. I’m anti-death-penalty.

    But I’m also disturbed by conditions in the prison system.

  106. “It isn’t about punishment, but about prevention of recidivism.”

    Which can be prevented just as easily through prison, given the proper laws.

    “Also, aren’t the pro-abortion folks are hypocrital for not supporting the death penalty because they are both death.”

    But not the death of a person. That’s the debate. If you do not recognize that there is such a debate, then you are still being dishonest by pretending there isn’t one.

    “Capitol punishment is self defense. It’s Laci Peterson borrowing the force of the state to kill her attacker, the same as she’d have borrowed the force of the state in the form of cops if he’d abused her.”

    Laci Peterson died. It’s too late for self-defense (which implies some sort of, you-know, defense of her life?), only revenge. This is not bizarro-world.

  107. To Thoreau:

    No system is perfect. Just like the song goes “you take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have…Tutti in a size 28 dress.” Flippant remarks aside, is is an unreasonable and self-defeating expectation to think that the system will treat anyone fairly. Everyone has to game and chisel to seek their optimal outcome. The state does as well; we cannot expect the state to be a disinterested party. Theoretically, this would be great, but the profit motive cuts both ways. Maximal return for minimum input will include killing someone rather than spend $100K+ a year on incarceration, not to mention legal fees for the multiple appeals.

    To RST:

    I’ve got the cat litter and gasoline–can we use your bathtub? The state has it’s uses; if nothing else it makes public our societal shortcomings. Whether or not Scott Peterson truly murdered his wife and her unborn child, he appears guilty enough. The reasonable doubt clause is just that. We aren’t trying to show that he concretely did the deed, but that there is no other reasonable explanation. A jury of his peers convicted him, and recommended the punishment. This wasn’t a case of a secret tribunal meeting and deciding his fate. He had plenty of opportunity to prove his case, and to create reasonable doubt. He failed to do this. The jury agreed that he was not innocent of 1st degree murder, and therefore the equasion left them no other choice than guilty of 1st degree murder. The jury recommended the penalty of death, one of the choices offered by the state.

    We can hem and haw all day about the possibilities and a more appropriate course of action, but the veteran institution of trial by a jury of one’s peers seems like the best solution to the problem of what to do with citizens who commit crimes. People are bloodthirsty, and people want vengeance. It looks like the people will have their way. I don’t see a problem with that, even if the outcome is distasteful to a majority.

  108. Erik-

    Exactly, no system is perfect. Especially the government!

    So why do you want an imperfect system to electively impose an irreversible sanction when it could just as easily (and arguably less expensively) impose a punishment that can be at least partially remediated if new evidence comes out?

    As to the costs of incarceration, it’s always worth noting that (at least in California) the most influential public employee union is the prison guards. Those defenders of law and order and banes of wimpy liberals are the most powerful public employee union in the state.

  109. BTW, I do like the notion that somebody put forward earlier: If we absolutely must have the death penalty, let’s at least stipulate a burden of proof even higher than “beyond reasonable doubt.” We can debate the details of it, but eyewitnesses or videotapes of the actual crime would certainly be a step in the right direction. Finding the dead body in the custody of the defendant would be another good step.

    Whatever one might think of the Peterson case (I’m prepared to accept the jury’s guilty verdict, FWIW), it certainly wasn’t as clear as some murder cases. There was no eyewitness. There was no murder weapon. There was little or no physical evidence actually tying him to the murder. I’m willing to believe the jury when they say that the prosecutors cleared the burden of “beyond a reasonable doubt”, because they’ve examined it more closely than me. But I have real doubts about whether they could clear a higher burden in this case.

    Even if I supported the death penalty, I still wouldn’t say that it’s appropriate in this case.

  110. Give me liberty, or give me DEATH!!!

  111. The verdict is as is because everyone allways gets what they deserve. It deserves to be that way because that is the way that it deserves to be.

    So what if he is innocent, society wants DEATH!!!

  112. If we absolutely must have the death penalty, let’s at least stipulate a burden of proof even higher than “beyond reasonable doubt.”

    Good idea, but perhaps impractical and not constitutionally required. I say so what kill him, someone has to pay for this.

  113. What murder constitutionally Christmas remediated evidence deserves occasion regulars important extrajudicial trust justice in the system?

  114. TWC,
    You’re right, that is horrific. However, couldn’t that have been prevented with life without parole. It seems like the parole was the issue, not the fact that he wasn’t killed.

    thoreau,
    Here’s a CS Monitor article on the model death penalty from Gov. Romney.

    It has a limited scope: “Only a narrow subset of the ‘worst of the worst’ killings – those involving terrorism or torture, serial murder, the murder of police, the murder of witnesses, or murder while serving a life sentence for murder – would be considered capital cases.

    Harder hurdle: “Instead of proving a defendant’s guilt only ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ prosecutors would need to leave ‘no doubt’ in jurors’ minds. Juries would get special instructions about the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, statements made by defendants in police custody, and the word of accomplices who have agreed to testify in exchange for lighter sentences. Defendants would also be able to choose whether the same jury that found them guilty would determine their sentence.

    Improved consel: “The state attorney general would review all district attorneys’ decisions to seek the death penalty to ensure consistency in its application. Each defendant would be represented by two lawyers, and defense attorneys would have to meet rigorous standards of experience, capital-case training, and ‘exemplary performance’ to be assigned potential death penalty cases.

    This I could support.

  115. One thing I didn’t like that I heard was one of the jurors saying they were instructed to not take something into consideration in their deliberations (sorry, I’m drawing a blank on what that was). That bothers me…if it was allowed into the court and not stricken, they should be allowed to consider it.

    (I remember what it was now – it was the testimony of Scott’s family [and friends?] in the penalty phase.)

  116. BTW, ah do like th’ noshun thet somebody put fo’ward earlier: Eff’n we absolutely muss haf th’ death penalty, less at least stipulate a burden of proof even higher than “beyond reasonable doubt.” We kin debate th’ details of it, but eyewitnesses o’ videotapes of th’ acshul crime’d sartinly be a step in th’ right direckshun. Findin’ th’ daid hide in th’ cestody of th’ defendant’d be t’other fine step.Ole Jeb Peterson gits th’ death penalty fo’ th’ brutal murder of his pregnant wife Laci two years ago on Jedtmas Eve. Eff’n ennyone desarves t’be executed, sho’ly it is Ole Jeb Peterson, who acked in a completely premeditated fashion, showed no remo’se, an’ on an’ on, as enny fool kin plainly see. An’ ah guess thass th’ quesshun: Eff’n ennyone desarves t’be executed, cuss it all t’ tarnation… Whut in tarnation say ye, Hit & Helter-skelter regulars, is yo’ in favo’ of th’ death penalty o’ not, in a case thet offers almost absolute clarity on all th’ impo’tant issues (thet is, no serious quesshun of guilt an’/o’ extenuatin’ circumstances)? ah’s an anti-death-penalty pansy mahse’f, believin’ thet th’ state sh’d use as li’l fo’ce as needed t’proteck its citizens (an’ punish its malefacko’s). But cases sech as this hyar one sartinly give occashun fo’ reconsiderashun of thet POV. Recent Reason Online death penalty cols hyar, hyar, an’ hyar.

  117. Cool! Now do Kim Jong Il!

  118. Mo, (not my sister). I’m just pointing out that if he was dead or on death row he wouldn’t have been able to get out of prison to kill again. I also agree that life without possibility of parole is an answer but I also want to point out that in practice that doesn’t always happen.

    Rosemary LaBianca and Sharon Tate are still dead but those Manson Girls keep on asking to be released because they aren’t a threat to society any longer. Truth is, they probably aren’t a threat any more and the odds are that one of these days the parole board is going to see it that way too. Therein lies the rub. If you stab somebody 47 times you shouldn’t leave prison except in a body bag. I personaly don’t care if that happens as a result of old age or the gas chamber.

    But, of course, that is a pragmatic response to a modern problem wherein killers reside on death row for 18-20 years before being hung. Or, they are sentenced to life but get out early because they paid attention during devotions. Although it probably sounds like I am, I’m actually not really big on the death penalty although I’ll admit to a certain sense of satisfaction at watching the smoke curl outta their ears when the not-so-divine retribution takes a holt of them.

    I guess the entire point of beating this dead horse is this:

    If you ain’t going to throw the switch you at least got to throw the key.

  119. What do we do if we cannot find beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty, but society wants someone to be punished? Someone has to die.

  120. I say give ’em death, so what if he is innocent?

  121. What difference does it make whether he was sentenced to death or not?

    It’s California.

    He’s never actually going to be executed anyway.

  122. You filthy liberals!

    Snotty Scotty must rot in the flames of hell! He cheated on his wife! He had a mistress! He didn’t cry a lot! He is guilty you smelly fuckheads!

    And, let’s face it: life isn’t fair. So if a few wankers die, wot is the problem? As long as scum gets scared from dieing, let a few innocent people burn!

    DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEATH!!!

  123. Matt,

    Are you insane? Reason is for right-wing people, not facists!

  124. Do any Reason residents think it is less serious if people who are a) stupid b) mental c) old d) fucked-up are murdered?

    Frankly, there is a big difference to me between killing Laci, and some hooker slut or some old fogey who is staring death in the cock.

  125. I woz speaking to a loony recently and he said that this guy was his hero:

    http://www.crimelibrary.com/ serial_killers/ predators/ bittaker_norris/ 1.html

    Wot do you think of this. And this guy has been on death row for over 20 years.

    Seriously, he has had enough pain. Let him be released.

  126. We must also punish people who smoke! It is bad for theiur heath and their penises!

    DEATH TO THE SMOKERS, YOU MOMMAFOKKA!!!

  127. I amtpuong now with my eues closhed. Nuit wjay I want to sau is this:

    Scptt {euersemn is innocent. And whjo cares anunjow if je did it?>

    At the wend of the day, do we tea;llt have the righnt to send him to the mohrwerduckjunf chjair>

  128. O good, a 128-entry thread…
    It’s good to be last.
    My answer: yes.

  129. Con, but only very barely. Remove the blatant racial/economic bias in application of the death penalty, and take measures to make very sure that people get fair trials, and I switch to for it.

    Sometimes people through their actions simply beg you to void their Human Being card. I think that people who claim a libertarian reason to spare these people take too lightly that they violated every single individual right their victim had in one fell swoop. By all means make damn sure that the person in the chair is guilty & the trial was fairly conducted, but once that’s solidified give them what they earned.

    As for the “I don’t trust government to decide” view, it’s the jury that decides whether to apply capital punishment, and those are regular citizens. If the death penalty decision were made not by the jury but solely by the judge or some 3rd party then I’d see the point and denounce it compleltely, but I’m not seeing how the next door neighbor of ours that wasn’t clever enough to get out of jury duty suddenly becomes Stalin.

  130. “Sometimes people through their actions simply beg you to void their Human Being card.”

    That’s a pretty dangerous thing to start doing, because once you hold that it’s acceptable, everyone is going to want to start doing it for all sorts of reasons on their own iniative.

    “I think that people who claim a libertarian reason to spare these people take too lightly that they violated every single individual right their victim had in one fell swoop.”

    I don’t take it lightly, I just don’t see what punishment, in and of itself, does about it. It’s too late to protect those lost rights anymore: that’s a done deal. What remains is to figure out how best to protect society from the killer, and in a certain sense, the killer from a vengeful society.

    “By all means make damn sure that the person in the chair is guilty & the trial was fairly conducted, but once that’s solidified give them what they earned.”

    The problem is the logic: why have they “earned” anything? How did you come to that conclusion? They’ve done something horrible, and it’s up to society to figure out where to go from here.

  131. fyodor at December 13, 11:18 PM:

    …he’s pretty sadistic to get this group going on an issue like this. Though it’s not too bad yet. Wait till the day shift gets in.

    fyodor gets the accurate prediction award for this thread.

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