Painful Death Too Bad For Murderers

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday that the standard 3-drug cocktail used to execute most convicted murderers in America may cause them too much pain. Worrying overmuch about a few minutes pain possibly experienced by cold-blooded murderers seems excessively gracious to me. However, there is a handy solution–just inject convicted premeditated murderers with sufficient sodium pentothal so that they drift comfortably off to their just reward. It's vastly more consideration than they gave their victims.

Clarification/Correction: As commenter Adam correctly points out the Supremes did not decide that lethal injection is too painful. Instead the Court decided that convicted murderers may bring challenges to that method of execution on the basis that it might be too cruel. Lower courts will now decide this issue. My shorthand–"may cause them too much pain"–was supposed to signal that subsequent lower courts would rule on the issue but was too confusing.

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  1. Worrying overmuch about a few minutes pain possibly experienced by cold-blooded murderers…

    Don’t you mean “Worrying overmuch about a few minutes pain possibly experienced by possibly cold-blooded murderers…?

  2. Actually, if I understand correctly, the decision wasn’t on whether the method ITSELF was cruel or not, just that inmates have a right to CHALLENGE the method.

  3. Have any of the executed complained about discomfort afterward?

  4. It not my main argument but it’s my favorite point against capital punishment:

    The death penalty is lenient for murderers. Life imprisonment for murdering scum!

  5. Sparing my thoughts on the backwardness of capital punishment (let alone it’s irredeemability in the face of an already established error rate), I’ve always wondered about why something seemingly simple and straightforward requires such a convoluted process as the current 3-drug mechanism.

    When I had the vet put my very old and infirm dog down 2 years ago, it was one simple shot and it was over in 2 minutes. He painlessly went to sleep…forever.

    Now I’m not trying to make a general statement equating criminals with dogs (no matter how much a particular situation might warrant it). But I do know the physiology is such that a similar approach would probably work.

  6. Umm, you should delete this post as it is completely wrong. The Court expressed no view on capital punishment. It just ruled that the correct procedural route to bring such claims was under 42 U.S.C. 1983 (civil rights statute used, among other things, to challenge prison conditions) rather than a habeas corpus action (used to challenge the permissibility of a sentence).

  7. Umm, you should delete this post as it is completely wrong. The Court expressed no view on lethal injection. It just ruled that the correct procedural route to bring such claims was under 42 U.S.C. 1983 (civil rights statute used, among other things, to challenge prison conditions) rather than a habeas corpus action (used to challenge the permissibility of a sentence).

  8. Don’t you mean “Worrying overmuch about a few minutes pain possibly experienced by possibly cold-blooded murderers…?

    Uh, no. Once they’ve been tried and convicted, the journalistic standard that requires that you weasel-word all references to a killer’s crimes is lifted.

    A convicted murderer gets all sorts of opportunities to prove their innocence, on all sorts of bases. Their victims are afforded no such luxury.

    I “get” that there’s a libertarian argument against capital punishment — but I guess I’m pretty sympathetic to the idea of taking vicious killers out of circulation permanently.

    Life in prison doesn’t cut it — parole boards and prison breaks result in too many cases of murderers finding their way to the streets to kill again.

    As for the substance of this ruling, it’s hard to know just what the Supreme Court has been smoking for the last couple of years — letting McCain-Feingold through, the Kelo decision, and now this. <sigh>

  9. Clean Hands, jurors can err-this was the right decision. Just abolish the death penalty, but make life w/o parole mean, well, life w/o parole.

  10. Got it. Government is overreaching its power when it regulates what we put in our bodies, but government can kill citizens at will and do so however it pleases — by putting stuff of its choosing in our bodies, for instance.

    That’s coherent.

  11. “I shall ask for the abolition of the death penalty until I have the infallibility of human judgement demonstrated to me.”

    Marie Jean Paul Joseph Roche Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis De Lafayette

  12. If lethal injection is inhumane, then certainly the gas chamber and electric chair fail to clear the bar. I’d say firing squad and hanging are on shaky ground as well. I am personally opposed to the death penalty. But if you’re looking for a lethal cocktail, isn’t barbiturates and alcohol the tried and true standard?

  13. there’s this thing called life in prison without the possibility of parole. it would negate one of Clean Hands’ arguments.

    also, I wonder how the escape rate or the murder rate by escaped/ escaping prisoners compares to the error rate of executing prisoners who aren’t in fact guilty of the crime they were convicted of.

  14. I’m fine with giving convicted murderers vastly more consideration than they gave their victims, because if we gave them the same consideration we would be as bad as them. Plus, “lock ’em up and throw away the key” means that if a screw-up is unearthed later and the person is innocent, we can at the least say “Oops… sorry about the last fifteen years of your life. Oh well, c’est la vie – here’s a suitcase full of cash.”

  15. The only issue for this anarchist here is how to get the government completely out of the so-called justice business.

  16. Les: Have you any evidence that anyone has been wrongfully executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976? BTW, I am and have been for a long time in favor of the Innocence Project and for requiring states to pay for post-conviction DNA testing.

    s.m. koppelman: Talk about coherent. The government is not allowed to “kill citizens at will” just convicted premeditated murderers.

  17. The decision under discussion did not deal with the merits of capital punishment nor any particular method of execution; however, isn’t it a bit odd that many who are ordinarily skeptical of governmental programs heartily embrace capital punishment? Government is just as blunt an instrument in the criminal justice area as it is in other areas of social engineering.

  18. Uh, no. Once they’ve been tried and convicted, the journalistic standard that requires that you weasel-word all references to a killer’s crimes is lifted.

    When it comes to decisions made by jurors and prosecuted by the government, I think it makes sense to be eternally skeptical.

    A convicted murderer gets all sorts of opportunities to prove their innocence, on all sorts of bases. Their victims are afforded no such luxury.

    As was noted above, the way the victim was treated is irrelevant to the way we choose to treat the accused. And it’s been demonstrated time and again that prosecutors will often do everything in their power to prevent the accused from defending him/herself.

    I “get” that there’s a libertarian argument against capital punishment — but I guess I’m pretty sympathetic to the idea of taking vicious killers out of circulation permanently.

    I don’t mourn for folks like Jeffery Dahmer, but that doesn’t mean I trust the government to kill only the right people or even that it’s right to kill someone who is unarmed and imprisoned.

    Life in prison doesn’t cut it — parole boards and prison breaks result in too many cases of murderers finding their way to the streets to kill again.

    Life w/out the possibility of parole and competent prisons and prison guards take care of those problems.

  19. All: Those of you in favor of “life without parole” might want to take a look at this Jeff Jacoby column which points out (1) murderers sometimes escape and kill again and (2) lots of people are killed by convicted murderers while they are in prison. The alternative–permanent solitary confinement with food shoved under the door?

  20. You’re better off on Death Row, because then your case will get scrutinized and appealed before you die (in case you are innocent). Think of how many innocent lifers without parole there are, who will never get the same chances to prove their innocence like someone about to die.

  21. Ron, seeing as how DNA testing began in 1985 (in a relatively crude form) and considering all the convicted death-row inmates who have been exonerated with DNA evidence since then (not to mention a well-documented history of prosecutorial misconduct all over the country), along with the fact that in many capital cases there is no DNA evidence available, are you willing to conclude that zero innocent people have been put to death since 1976?

  22. Not only life withoput parole, but paying for thier room and board as well.

    isn’t there always a need for blood donations? Why not require all convicted lifers to give every 2 months?

    How about stage 2 or 3 testing of medications? Instead of forcing homless folks to do it by virtue of economics (and they’re often bad subjects because they are not weel fed not reasonalby healthy) why not have these well fed and working out killers test out the next generation of neuroleptics or SSRIs?

  23. Life in prison doesn’t cut it — parole boards and prison breaks result in too many cases of murderers finding their way to the streets to kill again.

    First of all, prison breaks are statisticly insignificant. While people do sometimes break out of prison, it just doesn’t happen often enought to be a concern when it comes to capital punishment.

    Second of all, parole boards release convicted killers, because the prisons are filled to the brim with people who sold weed, didn’t pay child support to a kid who isn’t theres, etc. One of the side effects of criminalizing all but a tiny subset of government approved behavior is that you are going to have to release a few killers to make room for drunk drivers and people who purchase too much cold medicine.

  24. All: Those of you in favor of “life without parole” might want to take a look at this Jeff Jacoby column which points out (1) murderers sometimes escape and kill again and (2) lots of people are killed by convicted murderers while they are in prison. The alternative–permanent solitary confinement with food shoved under the door?

    Again, this goes to the competency of prisons and the guards that work there. America’s prisons make the public school system look like the very model of efficiency and common sense. Again, if we can’t trust the government to keep violent prisoners secure and separated from non-violent prisoners (which are simply practical matters), why on earth would we trust it with the much more complex and highly emotional job of executing exclusively guilty citizens without making a single mistake in the process?

    It’s simply not a consistent attitude towards what government is capable of doing.

  25. isn’t there always a need for blood donations? Why not require all convicted lifers to give every 2 months?

    I think it might be partly because the government that some people trust to make no mistakes in terms of executing murderers can’t seem to keep heroin out of its prisons and the needles they use (along with the lack of condoms) make Hepatitis C and HIV much more common in prison than out of it.

  26. Les: I get your point–but because we do have DNA testing now that has strengthened (though not made perfect) the ability of police and prosecutors to identify culprits. Did you follow the Coleman case here in Virginia in which many death penalty opponents were certain that an innocent man had been executed? I called for the immediate testing of his DNA, but it took our outgoing governor another 2 years to get around to authorizing the test. It turns out that Coleman did it.

    Of course, I would be horrified to find that an innocent person had been wrongfully executed and I would have to rethink my support for the death penalty in such a case. BTW, I am not in favor of the death penalty beause of “deterrence” but because I believe that the only just and proportionate penalty for the heinous crime of premeditated murder is death. Nothing else properly expresses the revulsion of the community at such an transgression. So far a majority of Americans still agree with me.

  27. To be consistent, if we kill killers, shouldn’t we rape rapists?

  28. Worrying overmuch about a few minutes pain possibly experienced by cold-blooded murderers seems excessively gracious to me.

    That’s the difference between murderers and the rest of us–we take people’s rights into account including prohibitions against cruelty.

  29. The majority of us are fortunate enough to have never experienced losing a loved one to a murderer, much less a re-offending released or escaped murderer.

    It does seem rather cavalier to dismiss these victims as “statistically insignificant,” however. Most convicted murderers are not Dr. Kimbles, and there is already a strong bias in the system to releasing the guilty, as opposed to punishing the innocent.

    Increasing this bias is a dangerous direction to head, in my opinion.

  30. “Don’t you mean “Worrying overmuch about a few minutes pain possibly experienced by possibly cold-blooded murderers…?”

    Uh, no. Once they’ve been tried and convicted, the journalistic standard that requires that you weasel-word all references to a killer’s crimes is lifted.

    So when Cory Maye gets the lethal injection for having exercised his right of defense of himself and a child against what, to all appearances, were a bunch of armed thugs breaking down his door, we can say that he’s just a “cold-blooded murderer”?

  31. Ron, I did hear about the Coleman case and I was relieved to find out he was guilty (the bastard!). But I still don’t know why you trust the government to be (and to have been) 100% mistake-free in executing murderers. It would be the only venture I’m aware of in which the government has achieved this level of excellence, making it highly unlikely.

    I understand (and empathize with) the reasons for wanting murderers murdered, as equally as I understand (and empathize with) the reasons for wanting violent rapists violently raped. I simply believe the state is not the appropriate entity to mete out this kind of subjective justice. I think there are just some things we can (and really have to) deny ourselves without sacrificing public safety.

  32. To be consistent, if we kill killers, shouldn’t we rape rapists?

    Only if they’re small and weak, in which case the lifers will get to them in prison.

  33. Les: Have you any evidence that anyone has been wrongfully executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976?

    Evidence like this?

    BTW, I am and have been for a long time in favor of the Innocence Project and for requiring states to pay for post-conviction DNA testing.

    That’s big of you, Ron. They need all the support they can get, given the lengths law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts go to resist allowing inmates post-conviction DNA testing and as in the case above, reexamination of other evidence.

  34. The death penalty is lenient for murderers. Life imprisonment for murdering scum!

    If life imprisonment is indeed worse than the death penalty, and thus the only condign penalty for “murdering scum,” then must be some offenses that are slightly less heinous, for which death would be an appropriate penalty.

  35. Increasing this bias is a dangerous direction to head, in my opinion.

    See, I don’t think that the alternative to abolishing the death penalty is to release guilty people. I think the most of the criminal-justice system is broken and the part that releases murderers (or lets them escape) is in just as much need of fixing.

  36. there is already a strong bias in the system to releasing the guilty, as opposed to punishing the innocent.

    Given the extremely dire consequences for any politician, judge or administrator whose name becomes associated with the release of violent criminals, I’d say the strong bias in the system runs the opposite way. Unless I missed a chorus of popular voices calling for more lenient sentences for violent criminals.

    Ron, that article is a pretty weak convincer. Three anecdotal examples, two of which didn’t occur in this country, one of which didn’t even involve the guy going on to kill again? Followed by a statistic on future violent crime by all criminals as opposed to just murderers? You’re usually much more discerning about getting some real facts. Somebody show me some statistics on how often 55-year-old former murderers are released in this country and kill again. I’m guessing not many. I think this entire argument is a very large straw man.

  37. The death penalty is appropriate in some instances. I certainly understand why we should always endeavor to not kill, but the fact remains that we have to do so in many cases and someone chooses who gets killed every day. Take the war in Afghanistan for instance. We used unmanned drones firing missiles into villages rather than send in a Special Forces unit when we knew it would result in more Afghani casualties. A value judgment on life was made. Someone decided a random child that dies to a missile blast is worth not losing one of our troops.

    What we need are different laws governing the sentencing phase of a trial. Something along the lines of not allowing the death penalty as punishment unless there is a certain level of evidence met. The innocence project’s cases are all the same. Circumstantial evidence or faulty eye witness testimony convict a man and a DNA test gets him off. I’ve not seen a case of multiple faulty DNA tests yet. How about this: for the death penalty to be applied to a case there needs to be proper DNA evidence and one of the following eye witness testimony, a confession or corroborating physical evidence.

  38. From a Bureau of Justice Statistics report: “Within 3 years of release, 2.5% of released rapists were rearrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for a new homicide.”

    Another BJS report for the prisoners released in 1994 found: “Within 3 years, 2.5% of the 3,138
    released rapists were rearrested for another rape, and 1.2% of the 4,443 persons who had served time for homicide were rearrested for a homicide.”

    That’s 53 prior murderers released in just one year who committed another murder after their release.

    A utilitarian calculation is not appropriate here, but I do wonder if anyone believes that anywhere near 53 people have been wrongfully executed since 1976?

    s.m. koppelman: Thank you for the link–I will definitely keep an eye on that Texas case.

  39. A utilitarian calculation is not appropriate here

    So then why do you ask a question that implies a utilitarian calculation is appropriate?

  40. That’s 53 prior murderers released in just one year who committed another murder after their release.

    A utilitarian calculation is not appropriate here, but I do wonder if anyone believes that anywhere near 53 people have been wrongfully executed since 1976?

    But again, that’s a separate issue. You don’t have to kill an inmate to keep him in prison and prevent him from killing again.

  41. Given the extremely dire consequences for any politician, judge or administrator whose name becomes associated with the release of violent criminals, I’d say the strong bias in the system runs the opposite way. Unless I missed a chorus of popular voices calling for more lenient sentences for violent criminals.

    If the victim was a young, blonde, white girl sure. Plenty of prostitutes get raped, robbed or killed every day and no one gives a damn unless the victimizer breaks some record. No judge lost his job by giving a prostitute assualter parole while locking up a non-violent drug offender.

  42. That’s 53 prior murderers released in just one year who committed another murder after their release.

    A utilitarian calculation is not appropriate here, but I do wonder if anyone believes that anywhere near 53 people have been wrongfully executed since 1976?

    But again, that’s a separate issue. You don’t have to kill an inmate to keep him in prison and prevent him from killing again.

  43. But again, that’s a separate issue. You don’t have to kill an inmate to keep him in prison and prevent him from killing again.

    Sure, but your entire argument about the death penalty is a that we sometimes make errors. And Ron is saying that by locking someone up sometimes errors happen as well. And the death penatly removes the chances for those errors to occur.

    Look at the case of Richard Ramirez. We know exactly what he did and how he did it. There was a confession, eye witness testimony, DNA evidence and practically every other kind of evidence you could want. There is no doubt in what he did. So why lock him in a cage and take a chance? If we are sure of what he did then what is the point? No man is a means to an end.

  44. First, individuals that commit premeditated acts of violence resulting in the death of innocents have given up their rights to be treated humanely. I see no moral or ethic dilemma in executing them.

    However, any system conceived by, implemented by, and executed by humans is inherently flawed. The system will inevitably execute an innocent. So, put them in jail for life right.

    However, these individuals can and do continue to commit acts of violence against others including the possibility of orchestrating acts of violence against innocents outside prison.

    So what to do. Austrailia is taken, so I recommend a one-way ticket to the stars. Put NASA to work doing something helpful for a change. Can’t cost anymore that the current system.

    Carrick

  45. I’ve held two of my Dobermans when they were put to sleep with I think sodium pentothal, and it seemed peaceful enough.

    Still, they hold them, so maybe it isn’t always. I gather that the complications are like bad circulation so the dose doesn’t get delivered quickly.

    I’m confused by the 3-drug deal, wondering if maybe what appeared peaceful to me was in fact turmoil within but not able to be expressed ; on the other hand, somebody would have pointed that out if so. Dog owners love their animals.

    And as I recall having wisdom teeth extracted, under I think sodium pentothal, and it was fine.

    So why do they use a 3-drug mixture?

    The point of the death penalty isn’t retribution or deterrance in any case. It’s to get rid of the guy, with a nod towards the grammatical place accorded to the voice of his victim by society. A peaceful end serves that goal.

  46. Sure, but your entire argument about the death penalty is a that we sometimes make errors. And Ron is saying that by locking someone up sometimes errors happen as well. And the death penatly removes the chances for those errors to occur.

    Actually, my entire argument is that since it is much, much easier to keep someone in prison than it is to determine the guilt of a premeditated murder, we should perfect the former before relying on the latter.

    As far as someone like Richard Ramirez and his ilk goes, I think you have a point worth considering. My personal feeling is that I don’t think killing someone who kills (especially if they’re unarmed and imprisoned) is necessarily a moral thing, just as I don’t think raping someone who rapes is moral. If a murderer were to choose suicide over imprisonment, I’d support allowing that.

    I think our notions of “punishment” and “justice” are far too subjective to work as practical applications in society. I think public safety should be the standard and I think our public is safer when government focuses on improving secure imprisonment and abandons the notion of vengeful murder.

  47. If a person is placed in a large bowl (8-foot circumference and about 8-feet deep) and then has an amount of molten steel equal to the volume of the bowl, poured on top of him, he instantly — INSTANTLY — vaporizes. Totally painless.

  48. To be consistent, if we kill killers, shouldn’t we rape rapists?

    Certainly not! Sharia law dictates we kill the rape victim. All praise to Allah the most compassionate!

  49. The point of the death penalty isn’t retribution or deterrance in any case. It’s to get rid of the guy, with a nod towards the grammatical place accorded to the voice of his victim by society. A peaceful end serves that goal.

    I disagree, at least in its current practice. In cases where the victim’s immediate family was against the execution, their wishes have been ignored by the state.

  50. LB, I hesitate to ask how you know this… especially in light of how politics in Louisiana sometimes becomes a contact sport.

  51. LB, I hesitate to ask how you know this

    I learned it on the Discovery channel watching a piece about the history of American steel production. People had to clean out empty crucibles by climbing into them and every now and then, an errant operator would accidentally pour a load of molten steel into the still occupied crucible.

    “All knowledge is fungible.”?

    Louisiana Boatman
    June 13, 2006.

  52. My personal feeling is that I don’t think killing someone who kills (especially if they’re unarmed and imprisoned) is necessarily a moral thing, just as I don’t think raping someone who rapes is moral.

    I guess we shouldn’t arrest and imprison kidnappers either, since that would amount to kidnapping them.

  53. I guess we shouldn’t arrest and imprison kidnappers either, since that would amount to kidnapping them.

    Well, of course we should, in keeping with my “public safety” idea, because the idea is to protect the public from their actions. You don’t have to kill or rape someone to protect the public. You big silly.

  54. Ron neglects to mention that less than 1% of all murderers ever get executed. The whole thing seems very capricious to me.

  55. Let death row inmates select the form of their execution. Leaving it wide open would be impossible, of course (“I wish to be executed on Pluto, by a fusion-powered laser operated by a nude Salma Hayek”), but the government could provide a list of execution options.

    The state could encourage really bad evil-doers to opt for a nastier exit by combining the death-by-a-thousand-cuts option with the best last meal. “Gosh, that would hurt, but I really have to try the stone crabs with truffle sauce–Yum!”

  56. PL-

    Would food poisoning from bad salmon mousse be an option?

  57. thoreau,

    Only if delivered by that nice Mr. Death, a little man from the Village.

    And yes, I was thinking about “The Death by Naked Women” bit from The Meaning of Life when I suggested the Death Sm?rg?sbord above.

  58. Actually, my entire argument is that since it is much, much easier to keep someone in prison than it is to determine the guilt of a premeditated murder, we should perfect the former before relying on the latter.

    Right, it’s no big deal to throw an innocent person in prison for a few decades, possibly the rest of his life, as long as you don’t execute him.

  59. Well, of course we should [imprison kidnappers], in keeping with my “public safety” idea, because the idea is to protect the public from their actions.

    But, in keeping with your contention that govt is too incompetent to punish the right people, how are you sure the right people will be imprisoned? Does it serve public safety to lock up an innocent and give the public a false sense of security while the real kidnappers are still on the loose?

  60. Plus, “lock ’em up and throw away the key” means that if a screw-up is unearthed later and the person is innocent, we can at the least say “Oops… sorry about the last fifteen years of your life. Oh well, c’est la vie – here’s a suitcase full of cash.”

    Yeah, that’s about an even trade. Say, any volunteers to spend 15 years in a max security prison in exchange for a million bucks?

    Didn’t think so.

  61. I’d’ve taken that offer some years ago.

  62. Regarding the argument that DNA testing can be used to prove guilt beyond all doubt:
    DNA testing may have initially been seen as beneficial to the anti death penalty crowd, but as it becomes used in more & more cases, it will become a tool for the state to justify capital punishment.
    “Of course we got the right guy! His DNA was at the scene.”
    Is it impossible to imagine a scenario that deposits an innocent man’s DNA at a crime scene?
    Aren’t there crime scenes that don’t offer any DNA evidence?

  63. Is it impossible to imagine a scenario that deposits an innocent man’s DNA at a crime scene?

    Hair. I’ve actually wondered about this before–I read that a regular, non-balding person loses about 100 strands of hair a day. And since my hair is about a foot and a half long, that means I’m shedding around 150 feet of my DNA every 24 hours. I can easily imagine a scenario where, for example, I’m at a movie theater and leave a strand of hair on my chair, and then a guy sits in that chair, gets my hair stuck to his sweater, and then goes home and kills his wife.

    Exactly what kind of DNA evidence results in a death penalty? Does it always have to be a bodily fluid? Have there been cases where any sort of conviction, for murder or any other crime, rested on DNA matching of a single strand of hair?

  64. Jennifer,

    DNA is circumstantial evidence at best, and I doubt anyone would be convicted based solely on a single strand of hair found at the scene, especially if that person had no motive to commit the crime.

  65. The death penalty should be reserved for cases of absolute certainty.

    Murders (and other criminals) should not get off because of procedural errors. Law enforcement should risk some liability for violating the rights of innocent people.

    Here’s a cure method of execution. Strapped to a chair, the condemned is executed by an explosive bolt that severs the spinal cord at the base of the skull. Should work fine.

  66. Right, it’s no big deal to throw an innocent person in prison for a few decades, possibly the rest of his life, as long as you don’t execute him.

    I’ve not argued this at all. Life imprisonment is a mistake most innocent people would prefer over the death penalty.

    But, in keeping with your contention that govt is too incompetent to punish the right people, how are you sure the right people will be imprisoned? Does it serve public safety to lock up an innocent and give the public a false sense of security while the real kidnappers are still on the loose?

    My contention has been that the government is too incompetent to execute the right people, a mistake for which there can be no compensation. I have never argued that the government is too incompetent to imprison anybody.

    Your line of reasoning is the same as a police officer responding to complaints of police brutality with, “Fine, see how long you last without the police!” Please try not to misrepresent my arguments.

  67. If we’re going for friendly-like executions, why not kill them with an injection of morphine? No wait, they might get addicted. My bad.

  68. Would someone explain to me why executing an innocent man is unacceptable but imprisoning an innocent man for the rest of his life is just hunky-dory?

    Would someone explain to me how putting a person in jail prevents him from committing murder? Are there no guards and no other prisoners in the building?

  69. Would someone explain to me why executing an innocent man is unacceptable but imprisoning an innocent man for the rest of his life is just hunky-dory?

    Nobody here has implied that “imprisoning an innocent man for the rest of his life is just hunky-dory.” Many have made the argument that if evidence is found demonstrating your innocence, it’s inarguably better to be in prison than dead.

    Would someone explain to me how putting a person in jail prevents him from committing murder? Are there no guards and no other prisoners in the building?

    Prisons have procedures that, when followed by competent, adequately trained prison guards, prevent the killing of guards and other inmates. Of course, finding a prison in the U.S. with mostly competent, adequately trained prison guards would be quite a challenge. That said, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that dangerous murderers should never interact freely with other prisoners.

  70. Malvolio-

    What Les said. Plus, the fact that the state is not terribly good at preventing murders in areas that it allegedly controls would suggest that the state’s overall competence should be cast in doubt. This may have some bearing on whether it’s OK for the state to make irreversible decisions.

  71. Nobody here has implied that “imprisoning an innocent man for the rest of his life is just hunky-dory.” Many have made the argument that if evidence is found demonstrating your innocence, it’s inarguably better to be in prison than dead.

    But, as BPerry pointed out yesterday at 12:36 pm, there’s a lot more chance that your innocence will be discovered if you are sentenced to death. Getting entombed for life just doesn’t seem to energize all those pro-bono lawyers to move heaven and earth to uncover the evidence that you were unjustly convicted. So while it may be better to be in prison than dead, it’s probably lots worse to be innocent and sentenced to prison than it is to be innocent and sentenced to prison for life.

  72. And since my hair is about a foot and a half long, that means I’m shedding around 150 feet of my DNA every 24 hours.

    Note to Jennefer: You need a bikini wax, stat!

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