Death Penalty

Should the Death Penalty Cover Crimes Other than Murder?

|

The Wash Post reports on a death-penalty case the Supreme Court will hear later this week:

"The 'evolving standards of decency' framework is not a one-way street that may lead only towards the elimination of the death penalty," the state of Texas argues in a brief joined by eight other states. "Each state's legislature should be allowed to…reflect its citizens' current moral judgment regarding the just deserts for certain capital crimes."

Of the 3,300 inmates on death row across the country, only two are there for a crime other than murder. Both were convicted under Louisiana's child rape statute, passed in 1995 and still the broadest in the land.

Those facts alone are a powerful argument that executing someone for rape would violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment," argue lawyers for Louisiana death row inmate Patrick Kennedy. The 43-year-old Kennedy was convicted of raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter in 1998 in an assault so brutal that the girl required surgery.

But Jeffrey L. Fisher, a Stanford University law professor who will argue Kennedy's case, said no matter how heinous the crime, the court decided in 1977's Coker v. Georgia— its last previous ruling on the limits of capital punishment—that rape is not subject to the ultimate penalty.

Justice Byron R. White wrote for the court: "We have the abiding conviction that the death penalty, which is unique in its severity and irrevocability, is an excessive penalty for the rapist who, as such, does not take human life."

More here.

I'm against the death penalty because I don't think the state should have the power to execute. I think the state's role is to protect its population and it should do that using as little violence as possible.

But how do Hit & Run readers feel about the death penalty, in the above case and others?

reason on capital punishment here.

NEXT: You're Stranded? You're Welcome.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Each state’s legislature should be allowed to…reflect its citizens’ current moral judgment regarding the just deserts for certain capital crimes.”

    wow. just wow.

    against d.p.

  2. I think that there are arguably crimes far worse than murder (e.g., keeping someone alive but torturing them for extended periods), such that if murder were to be subject to the death penalty these crimes certainly should be. However, there is no “logic” here that can provide an answer. I tend to agree with Nick though, and the recent exonerations and the presence of “experts” such as Stephen Hayne in capital cases calls the whole notion of allowing the state to execute into question.

    On another issue, though, there has been a tremendous shift in understanding of what “cruel and unusual punishment” means. Most scholars on the subject I have read (an admittedly small sample, though) state that the prohibition was made in response to British punishments such as hanging, drawing, and quartering, breaking on the wheel, or even the pillory (although I believe pillory was used in the U.S.). Simple execution by hanging or firing squad was considered the humane alternative to these gruesome procedures, so it would be hard to find the Founders as agreeing with the present interpretations that lead to such things as mandating that the state should provide gender reassignment therapy to prisoners…

    Again, given the willingness of the government to prosecute political cases or even to outright falsify evidence (the recent case in California), I have little trust in the state to get these things right and, despite my states’ rights view of things, I don’t want to see this handed over to “local judgment”.

  3. In favor of the Death Penalty, but only with major changes in the process.

    Only AFTER being found guilty in a trial by a “jury of (my) peers”, could a prosecutor THEN declare that they are “going for the death penalty”. A second trial would occur. The jury would be a jury of “trained professional jurists”; well educated, at a geographically removed location (another State, not just another county). During THAT trial, rules of evidence, etc. do NOT apply. Nothing is excluded. No sidebars, no “meetings in the judge’s chamber”. The jurists hear everything. If THAT trial produces a Guilty verdict, then execution can commence.

    Just thinkin’ out loud here.

    CB

  4. Not in favor of death penalty, primarily due to too many mistakes. Putting someone to death for murder doesn’t bother me, putting someone to death due to a mistake is unbearable.

    If I were in favor, I’d throw child-rapists in line first.

  5. And I guess I should have included…

    I don’t believe in “Life in Prison”. I believe that “Life in Prison” is cruel and unusual. If what you did was so bad that you should never be allowed back in amongst humanity, then…

    CB

  6. What if the DP could be brought against Hayne and Algood and their ilk (after being proven guilty of conspiracy to subvert the process of justice, of course)?

  7. As a former death penalty supporter I’m against this.Too many people have been found not guilty years later.Too much evidence has been suppressed or hidden or simply made up.I changed my mind after the West Virgina crime lab scandal .Plus ,if you make rape or torture a death case what incentive does the attacker have to keep a victim alive.Rape also has a fairly high rate of false accusations .I would be more likely not to convict if the penalty was death.I’d need more the a bite mark,or fiber.I don’t want the burden of another’s death on my soul.

  8. I am opposed to the death penalty based on the following:

    1) The State should not have the power to kill its citizens.

    2) There have been and will be mistakes in its application. I cannot fathom why certain pro-death penalty advocates would say things like: “Well, even if a couple of innocent people do get fried, it’s worth it because we still need the death penalty as a deterrent and to deal with those who do deserve it.” Such an argument is ethically bankrupt to me and wholly indefensible.

    3) It is biased in its application. The richer and whiter you are the less likely you will get the chair for an identical crime. Blacks and Hispanics are clearly more likely to be put down like dogs.

    4) The poorer you are, the more powerful the prosecution is vis-?-vis the defense. Public defenders don’t get many kudos for getting a suspect off compared to the props a prosecutor can get for a death-penalty conviction. Want a career in politics? It’s much more advantageous to have sent a couple of bad guys to death row that it is to have gotten them off. And if you are a public defender, why would you take the risk that the fellow you are defending might go out and kill again? If you had any doubt at all about guilt or innocence you would put up a more lackluster defense than otherwise.

    Ultimately the death penalty should only be imposed during the commission of a crime and preferably by the victim. Hence my support of the Second Amendment.

  9. The state cannot be trusted with the death penalty. It’s that simple. Too many mistakes are made, too many vicious prosecutors, too many false accusations.

    If you kill a person and find out later that they were innocent, there is nothing you can do. At least if the person is still in prison, they can be released and compensated.

    Also, the death penalty can be used as a huge club. “Plead guilty and we take the death penalty off the table.” That’s a serious motivation for an innocent person to plead guilty, and distorts everything.

  10. I’m closer to the position of Cracker’s Boy on this one. Support the death penalty, but only with a second “death penalty trial” and only in the most heinous of crimes (i.e. a single rape or murder, or even a rape and murder, would not raise to the level needed to qualify, but rather in the cases of somebody who is unable to be held safely within the corrections system).

  11. and if it gets expanded to other crimes, the marginal deterrence drops. In for a penny, in for a pound.

    and beware of those whose first reflex is to punish.

  12. Indeed there are crimes worse than murder. The example given, raping an 8 year old would be one of them. I soundly believe that the punishment for murder and beyond should be a fast execution. I don’t care if it is by hanging or other quick method that doesn’t involve outright torture. My concern here is for the executioner not the one to be executed.

    My problem arises with the certainty of the crime. With many cases of DNA exonerating people we can see where the system has been flawed in the past. It is reasonable to assume that also with the use of DNA we are more accurate in determining guilt than we ever have been. This is not to say that the system is not without victims. I don’t think we eliminate these victims by jailing them for life.

  13. The ancient rule of an “eye for an eye” was to limit punishment to proportional penalties. I am sure that a child rapist in prison will receive a proportional penalty. It may even require surgery.

  14. I disagree with Byron White. I think that, if the facts are as asserted, it would not be unjust for him to pay with his life. If that girl’s father were to shoot him, for example, I certainly wouldn’t turn him in.

    That said, 1) it is unwise to give the government this power, and 2) it is immoral to kill somebody if you don’t absolutely have to. If you’ve got someone sitting in a cell, there is no need to walk him into another room and kill him. Just leave him in the cell. Even if the bastard deserves to die, that’s the best thing to do.

  15. in the cases of somebody who is unable to be held safely within the corrections system

    I agree that the above should be the only circumstance for the death penalty, and that purely from a practical standpoint, not a moral one. I have a tough time even saying I agree with it.

    Someone said above that life in prison is cruel and unusual punishment, but the alternative being an innocent put to death, I think a life sentence is an unfortunate cost of having an imperfect justice system.

    And in the case of Mr. Kennedy, I wonder why the death sentence was not carried out by the girl’s biological father. Were this heinous crime to happen to one of my (future) progeny, I would likely not be concerned with the consequences of my own personal justice.

  16. Opposed. For both practical reasons (the inability to get a do-over if you’re wrong) and moral ones.

    I’m personally opposed to killing except in self-defense, and in a government supposedly of the people, the government’s actions are, to some small degree, my actions. I cannot evade moral culpability for killing by simply assigning someone else to do it.

  17. I’m against the death penalty because I don’t believe the state should be killing citizens. However, the eighth amendment doesn’t protect us from the death penalty. When the amendment was written they hanged people for stealing horses.

  18. I am against the death penalty for the same simple reason Nick Gillespie stated in his post- that the state should not have the power to execute- but it is always a difficult issue for me to address, because there are some cases that would cause even the staunchest opponent of the death penalty to feel angry and revolted enough to say “Off with his head!”

    It seems to me- and I am here painting with a broad brush and speaking in anecdote- that often people who are in favor of the death penalty are so because they know that some agent of the state will do the dirty work for them; such people know that they will not have to get blood on their own hands, not realizing that blood on the state’s hands is blood on everyone’s hands. They seem to crave an atavistic, visceral sense of justice- old school, Biblical “eye-for-an-eye” justice- while simultaneously wanting to be far away from the deed, blind to it, deaf to it.

    The people most in favor of execution, it seems, have never taken a human life and have never even considered what doing so may entail. I’ve long wondered if enthusiasm for executions would decline if citizens were forced to do the deed, to pull the lever or flip the switch in the same manner people are selected for jury duty. I am sure some people wouldn’t mind doing it, but I sincerely hope most people wouldn’t have the stomach for it.

    Usually when friends and opponents are arguing with me about the death penalty, I get a couple of reasons why I am wrong:
    1) You want to keep a guy who [insert bloody sadistic heinous crime] alive in prison, on the taxpayer dole, until he dies?
    2) Come on! This guy totally [committed bloody sadistic heinous crime], and you’re saying us regular joes wouldn’t be better off if the fucker was dead and buried?

    I have a hard time refuting those points (I’m not a very good debater) and usually retreat into my “sanctity of life” argument, which is pretty quickly shot down by somebody pointing out that the people I’m saying shouldn’t be executed by the state sure didn’t have any respect for the “sanctity of life.” So I’m usually forced to admit that in some cases it might be justified to kill someone convicted of terrible crimes; a black-and-white issue, this is not.

    I guess I’m really just saying that two wrongs don’t always make a right; that’s not justice. Executing criminals might make some people feel better, but I’m not sure that’s justice, either.

  19. The only crimes I think merit the death penalty are political corruption ones (influence peddling, sexual exploitation of your position, etc) and police corruption ones (planting evidence, illegal seach and seizure, etc.). Not only do those crimes hurt the victims, they hurt society as a whole.

    I think the chilling effect this would have on professional politicians and cops would usher in a new golden age of public service by honest folks.

  20. The death penalty (which I’m against) debate obscures the Constitutional issue. I have no legal issue for states re-balancing penalties based on a democratic re-evaluation of the citizen’s moral framework. I may not share the same moral framework, but I believe that the Constitution allows for this type of re-balancing. SCOTUS still has the obligation to act as a final check and balance, but I don’t think it can make the determination simply on the basis of a black and white difference between LA’s framework and the other 49 states. Without a stronger rationale against it, I think the LA statute passes a Constitutional review.

  21. I am generally against capital punishment, based on both the notion that the state has no business executing its citizens and on my concerns with the reliability of the criminal justice system in a situation with such finality.

    Even more than that, though, I’m against capital punishment for any crime other than homicide. Upthread, Michael Pack asked “Plus ,if you make rape or torture a death case what incentive does the attacker have to keep a victim alive.” I’d go a step further and say that the attacker in fact has an incentive to kill the victim — he risks no greater sentence for doing so, and a live victim is a potential prosecution witness.

  22. I have never agreed that capital punishment should necessarily be held to a higher standard than any of the other violent actions taken by the state.

  23. Not in favor of death penalty, primarily due to too many mistakes.

    ditto. the state clearly has the power to take life (e.g., shooting an armed person threatening others), but the legal process is so defective that the dp for people already incarcerated ought to be off the table.

  24. I believe that the state should protect its people using as little violence as possible

    -Nick Gillepsie

    And I believe in sugar plums and fairy queens and wishing makes it so.

    The state is born in violence, it lives by violence, and it kills slowly or at once by violence.

    It “protects” us from theft by stealing our property,and it defends us from enemies by provoking wars.

    I too am against the death penalty, but I have no illusions about the state. We need to privatize justice.

  25. Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, North Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, the United States of America, Vietnam, Yemen.

    I don’t want my country to be a part of this list, unless it’s the Olympic Hockey schedule.

  26. I’d give governments the power to execute people as soon as they develop the competence to use it wisely and without error.

  27. I oppose the death penalty for reasons that were largely mentioned previously (unable to undo mistakes, not trusting the state, etc.). However, if the death penalty is to exist, I have no problem lumping child rapists and sadistic torturers (assuming the torturee wasn’t a paying client) in with murderers.

  28. Against the DP for generally practical reasons with a smidge of moral ones.

    There’s plenty of evidence that the process is biased, unfair, and unjust such that as a method of punishment the People cannot feel comfortable that justice is indeed being done. That coupled with its irreversibility mean it should not be accepted as a sentence until the fundamental inequities can be resolved (which may be never).

    That being said I don’t have a problem with the majority constitutionally approving a punishment. Or frankly with different states having different standards as long as they hew to the Constitution. I personally do not feel the state should be able to kill, but I don’t think the Founders saw it that way.

    I am sort of confused about how the idea of proportionality in sentencing came about. In the 1600’s there was basically hanging and branding and that was it. When did that give over to prison terms? Would the Founders be distressed if we went to hanging for more crimes – like grand theft, for example? That seems in keeping with the standards of the 1700’s.

  29. I oppose the death penalty because:

    (1) the state is not even close to infallible when it comes to criminal convictions AND (2) even if it were infallible, I have difficulty parsing how “two wrongs don’t make a right” would apply to everyone except the government.

    Life in prison is OK by me.

  30. Nick: I’m against it for the same reasons you are. The state simply does not have the right to kill you, full stop. That means no draft, no death penalty, and no “deadly force” by police.

  31. I’m against the death penalty because I don’t think the state should have the power to execute.
    – Nick G.

    I completly agree, but it is just fine with me if people doing violence “on the street” are capped right there too.

    Once the cuffs are on, the trouble makers should be no threat to anybody any more, for whatever length sentence they earned.

  32. I have trouble with the supposed truism that there are worse crimes than murder.

    If you had to choose between having your 8-year-old raped or murdered. Would anyone choose murder?

  33. Timothy,

    That means no draft . . .

    That is not a death penalty, it is slavery. They are different.

  34. On another note.Any country that gives a person life in prison for selling a plant should not be trusted with death as punishment.

  35. I am against the death penalty as it is currently meted out in the U.S. justice system. There have been far too many mistakes in its application, and one can intelligently surmise that the State has taken innocent lives. So, I would be in favor of an indefinite suspension of the death penalty until law catches up with science. And, I agree that murder is the only crime that should ever be met with that ultimate penalty … and only under the most rigorous scientific standards of proven guilt. Circumstantial evidence is never enough.

  36. I favor the death penalty but ONLY for politicians. That way it’s voluntary, nobody FORCES you to be a politician. Under those circumstances it should be used not just for murder but for treason, taking bribes, writing any law that violates the constitutional rights of your constituents, etc.

  37. No government can be trusted with execution they are at best incompetent and at worst malicious.

  38. I need to preface my last comment by pointing out that it is practical, moral, and everyone’s duty to kill tyrants.

  39. At the risk of repeating what someone has already said (I read *most* of the comments, but not all) – I agree that
    1. The state should not have the power to kill its citizens
    2. The system is too imperfect and I would not want to kill an innocent man
    3. Overzealous prosecutors
    etc etc.

  40. I’m aainst the death penalty for many of the same reasons already expressed above.

    I’m against the death penalty especially in cases like this (or any crime outside of murder) for the same reason that several organizations that support victims of molestation are against the death penalty in these kinds of cases — it incentives killing the victim, since the punishment would be no worse and you have a lower chance of conviction without a witness.

  41. I use to be in favor of the death penalty until about ten years ago. Now I oppose it. When I was in favor of it, it was because I thought keeping someone locked up for life was crueler than executing them. I also thought it was less of a burden on society. After watching how the death penalty is actually applied, I no longer think those things are true. I’m also more concerned with the number of innocents on death row.

  42. If you hold that the state has the power to kill its citizens, I don’t see why the courts should be circumventing the democratic process.

    Was it Blackmum who said, “I will no longer tinker with the machinery of death”? I think it’s long overdue to just end the death penalty. You don’t correct one atrocity by committing another.

  43. I tend to oppose the death penalty for many reasons mentioned above.

    HOWEVER, you mention that the state should use as little violence as necessary to prevent crime. Unfortunately, the death penalty often IS the minimum amount of punishment that actually deters some people from committing crimes.
    When you are analyzing this argument for or against the death penalty, you must not only look at theory but evidence: In controlled studies, do places that have the death penalty actually deter crimes more effectively than places without it? If so, this argument is not valid.

    Other arguments, however, such as the possibility of false convictions, should still be considered.

  44. Oh, and increasing penalties for crimes doesn’t serve as an effective deterrant. I doubt, before raping the 8 year old, that the man thought about whether or not he would get the death penalty for doing it.

  45. In general, I’m a supporter of the death penalty, and would agree that there are some crimes worse than murder, including brutal child rapes.

    Of course, I would consider withholding or falsifying evidence in a way that sent an innocent person to death row to be murder also. Prosecutorial misconduct is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, but focusing on the death penalty itself in these cases takes the focus off of where it needs to be.

    I don’t think there’s any constitutional argument that the death penalty in and of itself represents cruel and unusual punishment, and I whether opposed to the death penalty or not, I can’t see using the Supreme Court as a bludgeon to get a desired result is in any way desirable. If your concern is that the state should not have that much power, why would you want to place more power in the hands of that part of the state that is least accountable to its citizens?

  46. We don’t need to kill him. Just send him up the Cahulawassee River and make him squeal like a pig.

    Seriously, I lean against the death penalty, but in cases like this (Patrick Kennedy), something inside tells me it is proper, retributive justice.

    The problem is when you have a state with complete zero-tolerance laws. Say a 16 and a 14-year old are dating. The state steps in, charging the boyfriend (usually it’s the boyfriend) with a serious, statutory felony. I don’t know where the justice is in that. I’m not sure, but I think some jurisdictions allow for a “within X years of…” defense. That seems a little more reasonable.

  47. OK with death penalty, not OK with lack of quality control in judicial process. Something like CB’s proposal is needed to reduce false conviction rate.

    Single offense crimes of passion can be forgiven the death penalty, but when one acts with malice and forethought with specific intent to deprive another of their right to life, they forfeit their right to same. They are not entitled to three hots and a cot, an exercise yard, TV, books, interaction with family, friends, or ANY other enjoyment, albeit minor, that they have denied their victims.

  48. To my knowledge, since 1977 or thereabouts (when d.p. was reintroduced) there has not been one documented case of an innocent person who has been executed. (Irreversibility being the only sound argument against capital punishment so far as I’m concerned). Ironically, if you’re are innocent, you’re almost better off being sentenced to death than life, given that you’re more likely to be exonerated.

    Also missing in this discussion (after quickly skimming through the comments) is the prevention of more crimes committed against other prisoners and guards. Also, people here might now about a recent study that suggests the d.p. prevents a handful of murders per year. If this is true, than I think it’s a no-brainer. But it’s just like, my opinion man.

  49. “I’m against the death penalty because I don’t think the state should have the power to execute. I think the state’s role is to protect its population and it should do that using as little violence as possible.” Nick, can you square this with stiff punishment (e.g. life in prison sans parol) at all?

  50. Killing is never justified.

    That said, being an imperfect being, I would want to exact some sort of revenge or retribution against someone who harms me or my family.

  51. If one of the basic premises of “libertarianism” is that, by its very nature, government is vastly incompetent and/or corrupt in almost all functions (which is one factor which necessitates keeping it as small as possible), then how can a libertarian entrust the government with the death penalty? And it is not like it is an academic argument here–we have so many real instances of the utter failure of this process. And, yes, it is true that most libertarians do trust the government with matters of life and death when it comes to the exercise of military power in the exercise of national self-defense. But in that instance we/they see no other option. Plainly, when it comes to comes punishing heinous crimes, there are other options.

    So, I am not opposed to capital punishment on “moral” grounds, as traditionally understood. In fact, I am perfectly comfortable, morally, with “revenge” killing. If someone murdered my child or spouse, I would like nothing more than to see them killed. To me, this emotion is perfectly legitimate. But, systemically, I trust neither the state nor any random individual (including myself) to get this most important decision correct, so I must hold that we abstain from this impulse.

  52. Justice demands that a murderer give his life in return for that of the one he took. Unfortunately, the “State” isn’t a thing, it is a collection of people and people being fallible the state is, in turn, prone to mistakes of omission and commission. Therefore, I am opposed to the death penalty as it is currently practiced and will be so until it can be proven that the system for exacting ultimate justice is flawless.

  53. What does the victim think?

  54. sixstring,

    Killing is never justified.

    Even when someone is trying to kill you or someone else (within proximity to stop them by killing them)?

    Skipping the imperfect being part, just asking about this view that you wrote.

  55. I agree with you, sir, the death penalty is barbaric and a dangerous power to bequeath to the state.

  56. The death penalty is too good for a child rapist. He should be gang-raped in prison everday for the next fifty years.

  57. “The ‘evolving standards of decency’ framework is not a one-way street that may lead only towards the elimination of the death penalty, Each state’s legislature should be allowed to…reflect its citizens’ current moral judgment regarding the just deserts for certain capital crimes.”

    Note to Californians, switch to compact fluorescent bulbs.

  58. But how do Hit & Run readers feel about the death penalty, in the above case and others?

    I think Dr. Steven Hayne and numerous Mississippi prosecuors would turn any intelligent, moral person against the death penalty.

  59. It would be cool if we could rate the comments here, a la Youtube.

    Not to date myself, but I remember when Russell Means was running against Ron Paul for the LP nomination. Means was asked about how he would deal with crime. He said he would abolish jails and deal with criminals “the old ways.”

    Now what could he have meant by that?

  60. Moral answer: In favor of death penalty. Some people simply need to be permanently separated from the rest of society, and life imprisonment is expensive.

    However, I would raise the threshold for capital punishment convictions from “reasonable doubt” to “any doubt” (as in an uncoerced confession that is not called into question by any other evidence). I think recent evidence of the incidence of wrongful convictions demand that change.

    Practical answer: The 8th amendment allows the death penalty, until the Supreme Court says otherwise, given their proper deliberation based on text and precedents. I’m for the rule of law, and that is the law.

  61. I just finished reading the comments. It appears we have consensus. The reasons for oppisition are hardly unaminous, but the policy conclusion is nearly so.

    This is a rarity for an H&R thread.

  62. I have no theoretical or moral problem with the death penalty. There are people out there who simply should not be allowed to wander around outside for the danger they pose to the rest of us. Having said that, I am growing increasingly uncomfortable with the practical application of the death penalty. I don’t have any answers to the issue.

    What I do have a huge problem with is the cheerful endorsement of prison rape some people here have thrown out. It’s fucking barbaric that we tolerate it as an extra-judicial punishment. If we as a society will kill some guy for rape, why do we then turn around and tolerate it from inmates? And if you’re advocating it, something is seriously wrong with you.

  63. Some crimes are of such a heinous nature that the prosecutor should simply refuse to charge the offender.

    “Sorry, we can’t protect you, here. You will just have to walk out of here and get what you are due.”

  64. I think Dr. Steven Hayne and numerous Mississippi prosecuors would turn any intelligent, moral person against the death penalty.

    I don’t know about that. Depends in whether they’re on the giving or the receiving end of things.

  65. I’ll repeat my assertion that the death penalty should only be applied to public employees breaking the law.

  66. Guy Montag | April 14, 2008, 10:28am | #

    sixstring,

    Killing is never justified.

    Even when someone is trying to kill you or someone else (within proximity to stop them by killing them)?

    Sorry, Guy, that should have read “Killing as punishment is never justified.” Certainly it is justified when in mortal peril.

  67. ss,

    Thank you! I was guessing that would be the long answer 🙂

  68. “OK with death penalty, not OK with lack of quality control in judicial process. Something like CB’s proposal is needed to reduce false conviction rate.”

    Elaborating on my earlier thoughts… the “professional jurists” are not trying the accused. The accused has already been tried by a jury of his peers, and has already been found guilty of a capital crime, whose punishment should now be determined. If the prosecutor does NOT want to “go for the death penalty” (shame on him; more on that at another time), then the accused spends life in prison, by default. If the prosecutor feels that “this” case warrants it, then IF the sentencing phase is complete and calls for the death penalty, THEN a trial by pro-jurists occurs, with nothing held back, prosecution- OR defense-wise.

    Sounds better than what we’ve got now.

    CB

  69. If we as a society will kill some guy for rape, why do we then turn around and tolerate it from inmates? And if you’re advocating it, something is seriously wrong with you.

    Agreed. Especially the second sentence.

  70. Against DP on practical grounds, see R. Balko. Morally I have no problem with executing murderers, torturers (rapists as torturers? idk) or traitors. On a fun note, I’m for the return of flogging!

  71. I am opposed to the death penalty, because the state should not be trusted with that power.

    I would reconsider for crimes by government officials and politicians, however, such as bombing innocent civilians in wars of aggression, such as the US invasion of Iraq, or infringing on any of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

  72. Alan: “Sorry, we can’t protect you, here. You will just have to walk out of here and get what you are due.”

    There ya go: Re-introduce “outlawing” in its original sense – we won’t kill you, or imprison you, but since you have chosen to reject the laws of the land, you are now no longer protected by them.

    As for myself, I used to be marginally pro-death penalty, but a semester of Crim Law plus the WM3 case changed my mind.

  73. Against.

    Rapists/Predators would be motivated to kill their rape victim rather than leave a witness.

  74. It should be used for just about everything.

  75. Bullshit had a really good episode on the death penalty. If I remember correctly there was a woman who basically said murders are done for two reasons. (maybe 3) 1). A crime of passion ( you know walk in on your wife baning your best friend) and 2). Apathy, or some sort of psychological imbalance. Her point was that the DP does not deter murder in either case. In a crime of passion no time is put into thought, and in the second case the murderer just doesn’t care.

    I’m against the DP on the basis that it just doesn’t work. A punishment in some way should help to deter the crime it punishes. I cannot see where this does this ever.

    The only people scared of the death penalty are people who will never have to deal with it in the first place (unless you fit the general 6′ tall black male description and get a public defender).

    Can’t we just have canings? I mean ho is that more cruel and unusual. I have no problem giving a father whose daughter was raped by some lunatic a Singapore cane and minutes alone with the offender.

    I believe Ghandi had this to say :
    “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”

  76. I hate my laptop keyboard.

  77. Also let me add trickle down violence.
    I don’t know if there’s been any studies but it seems to me that state sanctioning of an “eye for an eye” policy seems to me to send the message that an eye for an eye is justifiable. This leads , I believe, society to look at gang an mafia violence differently. Example: no one seems to be up in arms over gangs killing each other it’s people caught in the crossfire who catch out attention. Internally we are raised to believe that if someone punches you you punch back. If someone spits on you you spit back. If someone kills you they must be killed back. It’s a very simplistic view, but I really think that the state saying this is ok opens up all kinds of personal street level justification for violence.

  78. Again, given the willingness of the government to prosecute political cases or even to outright falsify evidence (the recent case in California), I have little trust in the state to get these things right and, despite my states’ rights view of things, I don’t want to see this handed over to “local judgment”.

    Then whose judgment?

  79. It’s a very simplistic view, but I really think that the state saying this is ok opens up all kinds of personal street level justification for violence.

    Ah, I see.

    Perhaps we should abolish imprisonment for those convicted of kidnapping.

  80. There ya go: Re-introduce “outlawing” in its original sense – we won’t kill you, or imprison you, but since you have chosen to reject the laws of the land, you are now no longer protected by them.

    I wonder why this practice was abandoned.

  81. I think Dr. Steven Hayne and numerous Mississippi prosecuors would turn any intelligent, moral person against the death penalty.

    You mean you would object to people killing Dr. Steven Hayne?

  82. Therefore, I am opposed to the death penalty as it is currently practiced and will be so until it can be proven that the system for exacting ultimate justice is flawless.

    So what is to be done to those deserving death?

    We can not keep them in a coma for the rest of their lives; such a thing is beyond the technological capabilities of modern society.

  83. There have been and will be mistakes in its application. I cannot fathom why certain pro-death penalty advocates would say things like: “Well, even if a couple of innocent people do get fried, it’s worth it because we still need the death penalty as a deterrent and to deal with those who do deserve it.” Such an argument is ethically bankrupt to me and wholly indefensible.

    Does this same logic apply to other things that might kill innocent people?

    Or does this only apply to the death penalty?

  84. 1) The State should not have the power to kill its citizens.

    So then police officers should not be allowed to kill for any reason whatsoever?

    After all, they have been shown to kill innocent people like Sean Bell.

  85. There are lots of arguments against the death penalty, but some guy who brutally raped his 8 year old stepdaughter isn’t it.

    If there’s no doubt he did it (and I haven’t reviewed the evidence of the case) then I’m not going to lose any sleep over this douchebag getting fried.

    Again, I wouldn’t mind abolishing the death penalty, but if we’re going to execute someone, this guy can go to the head of the line for all I care.

  86. I know one woman and one boy who each were raped as children. The woman is now married, and apparently leads a happy life; the lad is growing up to be a remarkably normal kid (my only worry for him is his strange parents, not the fact that he was raped).

    Now, the reason to consider capital punishment for murder is . . . you can’t revive the victim, so no restitution is possible, not due restitution. The capital punishment neatly (if crudely) equals out an account put out of balance by the malefactor.

    But when the victims live on, and prosper, after the crime? Why the death penalty for the malefactor?

    Because some people like killing other people, people who are bad, especially. It’s not justice. It’s sort of a heated-up revenge killing. It tells us more about the passions of on-lookers and bystanders than any quest for justice.

  87. I’m pro-death. Abortion on demand until age 1,000.

  88. Michael Ejercito writes in a similar “Fisky” style as The Serpent of days gone by (early readers of The Agitator will certainly remember that eventually banned fellow)

    His comments make no sense and he writes them without having read the entire comment or post. For example he wants to know if my comment about the state not being allowed to kill its citizens means that the police can’t use deadly force.

    Yet, M.E., you fail to see that I specifically reserve the use of deadly force for during the commission of a crime (especially by the victim) thus allowing for police to use said deadly force. Having said this, I would prefer the police only use deadly force against a perp who is also using a similar level of violence (or threatening to use it) and use non-deadly force in other occasions.

    You other comment regarding my post is without merit.

  89. Colin

    “The death penalty is too good for a child rapist. He should be gang-raped in prison everday for the next fifty years.”

    After 50 years of this he is found to be innocent of the crime. Now what?

  90. How is it that we don’t trust the Government to kill the correct bad guy but are OK with the same “bad guy” getting tortured in prison?

  91. Several years ago, I was instrumental in getting the North Carolina LP to take a stand against “killing prisoners.” The difference between that and “the death penalty” is subtle, but important.
    It’s pretty clear that there is strong sentiment here against imprisonment, itself, except in cases where the need to protect the public leaves no reasonable alternative.

    I submit that this is the true libertarian position: take the least forceful action that is consistent with the need to protect the peaceful members of society.

  92. Yes, The death penalty should cover sexual violence cases, expecially where children are involved. Look at what is hapenning in the Congo. Violent sexual acts against women are a normal way of life and the rapist receive no penalty for it. Why should Patrick Kennedy receive free medical health care, heat, food, electricity and live on my tax payers salary when he committed a terrible violent sexual act against an 8 year old little girl. She will never get over this trama, only learn how to manage. Yes, if the Government begins giving the death penalty to serious rape crimes, I guarantee that there will be a decrease in these types of violent acts. If not, I give American 5 to 7 years and violent sexual acts will become normal in America and accepted behavior with Government support, just like in the Congo.

  93. To my mind the issue is; what does society do to protect itself from a criminal? I am reluctant to jettison the death penalty entirely because I have watched too many absolute goddamned fools work to secure the release of thugs and monsters who went on to commit more barbarisms. I am unhappy about having that position because I don’t trust the government, and have no expectation that ANY system of justice will be perfect.

    That said; if one assumes a perfect justice system (I don’t, but work with me here) there are a lot of crimes for which I think society would be justified in killing the criminal. Child rape. Treason. Mutilation. Willfully minding other people’s business. Falsifying evidence in a capital case.

    What I want to see is greater effort put into making sure that police and other officials who fake evidence and cut corners are punished. I think, especially, that it would be just if the standard was that if you are convicted of railroading somebody, you are placed at risk of the same penalties that they were at risk for. If that means you get executed, tough. You conspired to commit judicial murder.

  94. Please Scholfied. You sound like a flower child from the sixties. Karma, and laws of the universe. Look! Life isn’t fair, countries have been going to War for centuries, unjustices have occurred to many people in many nations. However, a stand must be taken, because if America continues to cottle these child rapists of a violent nature, then society is doomed. The next generation will begin to think this behavior is accepted. There are places in the middle east where little boys are used just for sex. They are kept in a fenced yard and treated like animals and abused day in and out. Some don’t even know there names. The boys come from all over the world. In some cases, there own families have sold them for money. That is accepted behavior in the middle east. Just a matter of time in America if people don’t begin taking a stand for the next generation of children

  95. I am reluctant to jettison the death penalty entirely because I have watched too many absolute goddamned fools work to secure the release of thugs and monsters who went on to commit more barbarisms.

    Norman Mailer.

  96. Milano: Chill. You’ve bought into the “child molestation” hysteria that has gripped the nation but is largely a product of anecdote than a real epidemic.

    Michael Ejercito: Non-Sequitur much?

  97. I’m more concerned with the notion that there are or should be federal (as in not state or local) laws against murder than I am with the penalty.

  98. There are places in the middle east where little boys are used just for sex. They are kept in a fenced yard and treated like animals and abused day in and out. Some don’t even know there names. The boys come from all over the world. In some cases, there own families have sold them for money. That is accepted behavior in the middle east. Just a matter of time in America if people don’t begin taking a stand for the next generation of children

    I would like to see documentation of where in the “middle east” this is accepted behavior. Find something with real authentication, not something from a TV ministry or Fox News that is based on something somebody saw once somewhere in Iran (or was it Jordan, or maybe Syria). Idiotic stories like this get circulated with no way to check them.

    If anything the folks in the “middle east” take an even dimmer view of sodomy and the keeping of catamites than do people in the U.S. Hardly “accepted” at all. If you’re going to spread calumny about a region, at least find out something about it first rather than make asinine and ignorant statements. There are enough things to criticize in that region without making up utter crap about entire groups of people and what they will and will not accept. (There may well be individuals in the region who do abuse children, but there are here in the U.S. as well, and that hardly means we “accept” it.)

    I don’t normally respond to stupid and mornic comments like this, but yours goes beyond the level of normal idiocy…

  99. Ditto the comment that Michael Ejercito doesn’t seem to bother to read the comments he responds to. Even a casual reading of the comments and his response show a real disconnect.

  100. I agree with Nick on this.

    However, if I was hypothetically on the jury to determine the guilt of the girls mom charged with murdering the rapist…I’d excercise my jurors rights to make sure she was found not guilty, regardless of the judges orders.

  101. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.