Crime

The Death Penalty On the Wane

Is it time to abolish capital punishment?

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In the midst of the fall election campaign, Steven Hayes went on trial in New Haven, Conn., in one of the most horrific murder cases in memory. The killers invaded a home, beat a man with a baseball bat, sexually assaulted and strangled his wife, and tied up their two daughters before setting a fire that killed them.

It was the sort of crime that could only increase support for the death penalty. This effect had some relevance for the Connecticut governor's race, because it pitted a supporter of capital punishment, Republican Thomas Foley, against Democrat Dannel Malloy, an opponent.

When they debated, Foley promised to veto any bill to abolish the death penalty, while Malloy said, "We know that the application of the death penalty has not always been equal and even." A tough sell, right? But Malloy won.

That's just one of the parade of indications that capital punishment is on the wane. The popular impulse to put people to death is just not what it used to be.

Executions have fallen by half since 1999. The number of new death sentences is about one-third what it was at the 1996 peak. Even in Texas, long the leading practitioner, death sentences are off by 80 percent. Several states that retain capital punishment have not administered a single lethal injection in the past five years.

The exoneration of 138 death row inmates has weakened public support for the ultimate sanction. In a recent Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans endorsed it, down from 80 percent in 1994, while opposition has nearly doubled.

A survey commissioned by the Death Penalty Information Center found that 61 percent prefer that murderers get some sort of life sentence instead. As a budget priority, the death penalty was ranked seventh out of seven issues.

Did someone mention budgets? They are no friend of an option that requires expensive trials, costly appeals, and pricey incarceration arrangements. Franklin Zimring, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, says capital punishment has become "an extreme luxury item."

Even the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog, which this year offers a charm bracelet for $248,000, has nothing to compare. Maryland has spent $186 million on capital cases over the past 30 years—which comes to $37 million per execution.

The typical Texas death case carries a price tag of $2.3 million. A 2005 study pointed out that "New Jersey taxpayers over the last 23 years have paid more than a quarter billion dollars on a capital punishment system that has executed no one."

You might surmise that death sentences and executions have subsided because the homicide rate has dropped so much. But Zimring finds that the biggest decline has been among murders that aren't eligible for capital punishment. Capital murders have declined far less. There are thousands each year for prosecutors who want to pursue them.

Even among lawmakers, this remedy is losing ground. The New Jersey legislature repealed it in 2007 and New Mexico followed suit last year. New York's death penalty law was overturned in court, but legislators have refused to pass a new one.

Illinois Gov. George Ryan declared an execution moratorium in 2000, and his two successors have maintained it. But the moratorium has been, in a sense, the worst of both worlds. While taxpayers continue to incur the costs of seeking death sentences, none is ever carried out.

The cost will disappear if the General Assembly abolishes capital punishment, which opponents intend to propose as soon as it convenes in January. "I really think we're going to get it done," Jim Covington, director of legislative affairs for the Illinois State Bar Association, told me.

That shouldn't be impossible in a state where death row inmates are more likely to be exonerated than executed. Given Illinois' horrendous budget problems, the point of keeping the death penalty on the books is mysterious to see. In the last seven years, taxpayers have spent more than $100 million on capital cases even though the death chamber has been turned into a Starbucks.

If it is repealed, some people will cheer, some will be angry, and most will pay little attention. In the United States, the death penalty may never die, but its best days are past.

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  1. It isn’t like they could make a mistake!

    1. You know how to find out if someone is a veritable intelligence honey pot? Throw them in the river — if they float, they’re guilty.

      1. Honey pots and witches don’t seem to have much in common except for men. This does remind me of the Conficker virus and also likely the product of a man. The solution is to give only men the death penalty.

  2. No one wants to make a mistake and execute someone who was actually innocent, or even someone who was convicted with bad evidence or bad process. However, there are always going to be people around who commit certain crimes that that are so henious that we will want to execute them. And in most of these cases, I believe that there is generally no real question about their guilt – we just argue about the number of bodies, or the chain of orders given. The application of the death penalty in these cases really turns them into “revenge” executions, and the desire for them will never go away, as long as people are people – revenge is a human trait, as much as some people want to deny it or want us all to get over it. I find it ironic that the same people that want to get rid of capital punishment are usually the same ones that appeal to our humanity to make that argument – the desire for revenge is an important part of our humanity.

    I just don’t think that we should abolish a penalty that the country might actually want (very, very strongly) to use at some time in the future.

    1. Your idea of “revenge” is another’s idea of justice. Take a life and you forfeit your own. By stealing someone’s right to life, you have yourself surrendered your own right.

      1. Meaning you believe the State has the right to practice pre-meditated murder, when we the citizenry do not have such a right. What planet are you from?

        1. The citizenry outsourced that right to the state. In the absence of a state, you can bet your ass that if someone managed to track down the pair of sociopaths that tortured and murdered their family, they would grab as many friends as possible, head over there, and exact revenge and/or justice.

          1. Correct. It’s due process vs. lynch-mob mentality. I prefer due process. Anarchists think there’s no such thing if “the state” does it. But their own “private” form of justice would be fine and dandy, right?

      2. Except that the state has shown on many occasions that it convicts the wrong person. Which means that you are complicit in taking the life of an innocent person. Does this mean you’ve forfeited your right to life if an innocent person is executed? According to your logic, yes.

        1. I went ahead and pulled a hair out of my head, thus killing it, to represent my proportional share of responsibility for any innocent people executed.

          Now that I think about it, I pulled out two since, as a resident of Texas, I carry a bit more responsibility.

          Feel better now?

          Can I go back to supporting the availability of the death pentaly now that I have done my penance?

      3. “By stealing someone’s right to life, you have yourself surrendered your own right.”

        Does this extend to executing those who falsely work to get executions? Cops who plant evidence? Prosecutors who suppress exculpatory evidence or hide evidence of poor DNA testing?

        If “judicial murder under color of authority” were a capital crime, I might reconsider my opposition to execution.

    2. There are too many Attorney’s General and prosecutors who want to make a name for themselves and couldn’t care less if an innocent is put to death!

  3. International Libertarians have always advocated non-punitive alternatives such as restorative justice.
    Please see http://www.Libertarian-International.org and check out its FB for upcoming articles.

  4. We might attenuate the death-penalty-revenge factor by treating life-sentence prisoners like, um, prisoners.

  5. While I would hate to find out after the fact that the wrong person was killed for a crime they did not commit. I would not remove the possibility from the table. Maybe it should take a specific amount credible evidence and more than one eye witness to the crime. Keeping some one alive for 20-30-50 or more years that is absolutely no use to society just because it makes people “feel” better…..I can do with out that cost. Fixing the prison system so there is less recidivism of non capital crimes is a whole other story.

    1. That’s because you really enjoy your bloodlust.

    2. So you say you would hate to find out that an innocent person was executed, and then in the next statement say that you basically don’t care. Good to know that your “concerns” are mere platitudes.

    3. “Keeping some one alive for 20-30-50 or more years that is absolutely no use to society just because it makes people “feel” better…..I can do with out that cost.” Good point….what do you do for a living? I need to see if you are worth keeping alive!

      1. Come on realist you know better than that. You think someone like Ted Bundy should be kept alive or the green river killer? Some people are so evil they *need* to die, there is no chance at rehabilitation, there is no chance of ever turning them into productive members of society, they only thing they would be useful for is hard larbor.

      2. If you break into a house in the middle of the night with the intention to rob, murder, and rape, and you do so under no delusion about the acts you are committing, and then proceed to burn the people in the house alive, you are not worth keeping alive.

  6. Life in prison is a tougher, less humane, and better way of executing someone on death row. It punishes the guilty and allows for time to prove innocence.

    I would allow a voluntary leathal injection as compromise since sitting forever behind bars sucks so much.

    If you die in prison, you die in real life.

    1. Life in prison is a tougher, less humane, and better way of executing someone on death row.

      And yet convicted criminals fight death penalty sentences and attempt to get them converted to life sentences. It’s hard to square that with calling life imprisonment “tougher” and “less humane” than capital punishment.

      Besides, if capital punishment is immoral, then isn’t anything that is “less humane” also immoral?

      1. And yet convicted criminals fight death penalty sentences and attempt to get them converted to life sentences. It’s hard to square that with calling life imprisonment “tougher” and “less humane” than capital punishment.

        In my (utterly unscientific) opinion, this happens largelyly because the survival instinct is so strong. People will generally do absolutely anything to stay alive, even if the life they are preserving is likely to be miserable. This is part of the torment of the lifelong prisoner. It really has nothing to do with a rational assessment of how “tough” the sentence is.

        1. D’oh. *Largely.

        2. Um, prison may be miserable, but those who get the death penalty are usually quite satisfied living a miserable life and have been doing so for a lifetime. Gang members doing life in prison make quite a life for themselves on the inside. I’m against the death penalty, but let’s not pretend that the only reason criminals fight it is because of some sort of inevitable, illogical survival instinct. Prison is better than the needle every time.

          1. Except on television, death row inmates are not typically the ones living it up with their gang buddies. The condemned almost always spend their days in segregation, and (ironically) on suicide watch.

  7. I’ve never had any moral issues with the death penalty – but the pragmatic case put together by Chapman here (and, indeed, having seen what was going on in Illinois,) makes its abolition (or at least reduction in use for just the extremely heinous crimes) an easy sell to me.

    1. If you’ve never had a moral issue with the death penalty, I would question what morals you do possess. No one has the right to pre-meditated murder, including the State, which derives its rights from us.

      1. No one has the right to pre-meditated murder

        I would argue that the victims (or their families) of some crimes absolutely have that right. So long as sufficient proof of their guilt is undeniably established.

        1. +1
          All for the idea if you believe that the guilty are always convicted, but since that isn’t the case…
          I also take issue w/ the government “seeking the death penalty” before the trial even begins as is so often reported in the media. How about you just figure out guilt or innocence first and THEN decide punishment. Insert higher std for the death penalty here.

          1. How about you just figure out guilt or innocence first and THEN decide punishment. Insert higher std for the death penalty here.

            Well under the current system, I believe you need more jurors and you have to ask them if they would be OK with being on such a jury, so you kind of have to decide pre-trial. So either that or you have to take all the extra steps in any case that might be eligible whether the prosecutor wanted to or not (and then you’d see them seek it every time to justify the cost.)

            1. I’m wondering how much of the decline is a combination the initial push after the DP was reinstated (I seem to recall Texas having a large back log to go through) and criminals being more willing to render a guilty plea in exchange for not having to risk a DP trial.

          2. Has anyone considered that maybe the reason death penalty sentences are going down is because courts are reticent to hand them out, outside of the truly truly despicable. I understand that we don’t want innocents to die for crimes they didn’t commit, hence our justice system of appeals. But tell me, do these individuals deserve to live:
            Ted Bundy
            Saddam Hussein
            Adolf Hitler
            Stalin
            Green River Killer
            Zodiac Killer
            BTK killer
            Child sex slavers

            My answer is a flat out no. String them up, or line em against a wall.

            1. I am not willing to kill any of those people at the cost of even one innocent life. If that makes me a milquetoast, so be it.

              1. It does, so be it.

                1. I admire your confidence and conviction, Loop… though I’m sure you’d sing a different tune if it were *you* who had to serve as collateral damage on the road to vengeance.

                  I would like to make one clarification, though: Hussein, Stalin, and Hitler don’t really fit into this list because they were not criminal offenders. They were war criminals. I think there is a big difference between the people of Iraq (for example) executing a tyrant, and a court of law executing someone based on the absence of reasonable doubt.

                  I don’t think most death penalty opponents would have had a problem with the Russians shooting Hitler if they had found him alive in his bunker.

        2. I live by that code…

        3. “So long as sufficient proof of their guilt is undeniably established.” Oh yeah, that should always be easy.

        4. I agree with the idea of requiring a greater lack of doubt in the evidence to be established before the death penalty is allowed as a sentencing option.

      2. Dear the right does it too: You are leaving out the complete definition of murder, which is the unlawful pre-meditated killing of another human being. Since the state [theoretically] provides for due process, it is not “unlawful”. As a society, we have agreed to grant the state the authority to lawfully kill in certain circumstances. Soldiers who kill enemy combatants are not murderers for the same reason.

        1. I have a hard time squaring some libertarians’ opposition to a state administered death penalty with, I assume, their belief that a person can kill someone who breaks into their house.

          As a hypothetical, you catch an intruder breaking into your house, shoot him, and kill him before he can do any harm to you or your family. Suppose now that you don’t catch the intruder before he, say, murders a family member and the person escapes, is later apprehended, tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and then executed.

          I fail to see how it is that the former is 100% fine in Episarch’s (for example) Libertopia while the latter would be the worsted thing EVER!

          1. Do you mean “worst” or “woolen”?

          2. I agree.

          3. One is an act of self-defense when you face an immediate threat. Once the act has been committed, killing the guy doesn’t change the outcome and his arrest has eliminated the threat.

            I’m not philosophically against the death penalty, but I don’t believe our current system is acceptable. Like a previous commenter said, there are too many elected officials or appointees of elected officials (DAs, police chiefs, mayors, etc) that are trying to sway the outcome for personal gain instead of justice. Therefore i say get rid of it.

      3. I question what morals you have if you don’t believe there is anything for which the only possible justice is the loss of the guilty’s life.

    2. Same for me. This is one of the many things that I wouldn’t be philosophically opposed to the government doing if it wasn’t so inept at the job.

      I would be in favor of some higher standard of evidence being required for death penalty cases. So the guy who was caught in the act of raping a 5 year old with 20 bodies in his basement can still fry, but the guy who was a convenient scapegoat wouldn’t.

      1. I would be fine with limiting capital punishment to circumstances where no doubt was possible, e.g., when a prisoner murders his cellmate.

        1. And what if the cellmate was raping him at the time?

          1. Equal or lesser force.

  8. I’ve never had any moral issues with the death penalty – but the pragmatic case put together by Chapman here (and, indeed, having seen what was going on in Illinois,) makes its abolition (or at least reduction in use for just the extremely heinous crimes) an easy sell to me.

  9. How about we give the capital offender a choice? Either a life term in a SuperMax type prison where they are confined to a small individual cell for 23 hours a day. Or execution. And they get to pull the trigger on the lethal gas or injection. Then the state can wash its hands of committing murder.

    1. I support the death penalty in cases where there is DNA evidence proving the guilt of the accused. Absent such proof, life imprisionment will allow for te possibility of a future proof of innocence.

      The problem with Chapman’s arguement is he used an example in Conneticut, a seriously liberal state filled with bleeding heart a_holes.

      1. Right, because one’s argument hinges on whether you use a TEAM RED state or a TEAM BLUE state. Not only are you a bloodthirsty asshole, you’re a retarded partisan too. Congratulations.

      2. Except DNA isn’t foolproof, and it can be tampered with just like any other evidence.

        1. And even if it’s not tampered with, it’s just a piece of evidence that needs to be considered with all the other. Like my fingerprint on my hammer that someone else uses in a murder. Or my sperm in a hooker that’s murdered by the next john.

          1. It makes a lot more sense to use a condom when you’re with a hooker.You might be signing your own death warrant.

            1. He’s a Libertarian; the hooker is his sister.

  10. Kinda like where you live, cause there’s apparently at least one a_hole if’n you support killin’ peoples. Yeehaw!

  11. Chapman may be correct that the support for the death penalty is “on the wane” but the notion that this or that candidate’s victory is any indication of that is kind of laughable. Where’s the death penalty on people’s radar? Pretty much nowhere.

  12. Its state sanctioned MURDER no matter how you look at it.

    http://www.online-privacy.ie.tc

    1. Murder is the unlawful pre-meditated killing of another, so if the state sanctions the act, it cannot, by definition, be unlawful. However, capital punishment reflects our society’s values and should be abolished, thereby making it unlawful.

      1. Anonbot claims another victim.

      2. It’s just a cut and paste of my response to a real person above. And no, I didn’t go to the link.

        1. Failing to read the entire thread captures another victim!

          1. I hate anonbot.

  13. The death penalty is unconstitutional because it is inflicted on men but not women and that violates the equal protection clause just like the male only draft registration.

    1. Women have been executed bob, nice try.

      1. Between 1955 and 1998,only one woman was executed in the entire country.I would say that is a male only death penalty.

    2. Evidently you don’t read SugarFree’s Jezebel links. Women only commit crimes because men force them to.

  14. Not only are you a bloodthirsty asshole, you’re a retarded partisan too. Congratulations.

    Classic. Another entry for Episiarch’s Big Book of Internet Insults, coming soon.

    1. Classic. Another entry for Anonypussy’s Big Book of Passive Aggressive Sniveling and Whining, coming soon.

      1. Oh, yours are way better than mine. Here’s a sneak preview, for the edification of the masses:

        You sound like a moron. Congratulations.

        This fucker has an authority fetish the size of the Chrysler Building. What a complete and utter scumbag.

        Do you strive to do exactly what we expect you to do, or are you just as stupid as we think?

        You are either a mendacious fuck or you can’t fucking read.

        Are you purposely obtuse, or just unbelievably stupid?

        You just can’t stop being a fucking idiot, can you?

        Enjoy your subservience, dipshits.

        Keep ’em coming, “Episiarch.”

        1. Obsess much, stalker?

          1. I want a copy. Can I order it for my Kindle?

        2. Hey Epi, you have a fan!

          1. and her name is ‘minus’

            1. WTF you little coward. Be a fucking man bitch!

              1. I knew a man-bitch once…

  15. One facet of the argument appears to be that death is the worst thing that the state can do to someone. Inflicting the punishment of death upon an innocent person also seems to be the large bugaboo about the topic for many of the folks here.

    My problem with the first point is that while a mandatory sentence may be the worst thing the state can do, for some, the prospect of spending 30, 40, 50 years or more in hell on earth that is prison may be worse, thus it should be an option for the condemned. Particularly if there were reforms to deal with the second sticking point.

    And that is that the current structure of our legal system, as is frequently highlighted here at Reason, is not about ‘fairness’ or ‘justice’, but about prim and proper protocols, or unaccountable prosecutors seeking scalps instead of the truth. Reform this (and no, I don’t claim to have the first idea of how to successfully accomplish the notion), and virtually eliminate the question of innocent people receiving unjust punishment, coupled with placing the onus of choice upon the condemned takes a lot of the squishy moralism out of the equation to me. The condemned makes the choice – life in prison, without the possibility of parole (other than complete exoneration due to being proven innocent)and never again interacting in free society, or death. Those knowing they are guilty may well choose death. Because there are worse things. . .temporary as they may actually be.

    1. One facet of the argument appears to be that death is the worst thing that the state can do to someone.

      Respectfully, I think you’ve missed the point altogether. It’s not that death is the WORST the state can do. It’s that death is the one thing the state can do which cannot be in any way reverse.

      If someone spends 20 years in prison and is absolved, he will never get those 20 years back ? but at least he can be set free, and maybe even sue for recompense.

      On the other hand, once the state puts a needle in an innocent person’s arm, it’s pretty safe to say the punishment is final.

      1. I think the results of that lawsuit against that NY mental institution put to rest any claims that someone wrongly convicted can sue for compensation.

        The next person exonerated will be charged room and board for their illegal occupation of a jail cell.

        1. Fair enough. I think the rest of my argument holds up, though.

  16. Why is it OK to be a pro-death penalty Catholic consevative like Antonin Scalia, but not OK to be a pro-choice Catholic liberal like John Kerry? Doesn’t the Carholic Church condemn both capitol punishment and abortion?
    That’s just something I’ve wodered about.
    I myself am pro-death penalty. pro-choice and pro-euthanasia and not Catholic. I guess I’m pro-death as Bill Maher would say.

    1. Being pro-death penalty, can be seen as having a high respect for life. As in the life of those who’s lives were suddenly, brutally ended by the fucker that murdered them. I have the highest respect for those lives, and none for the people who would take them.

      As some others here, I have no moral problem with the execution of murderers. In my mind, they forfeited the right to their life when the decided to take the life of another.

      The question of how we as a society handle those situations is certainly not so simple.

    2. I myself am pro-death penalty. pro-choice

      Ah, the logical stance.

      Many here are probably pro-choice/anti-death penalty. This could be taken as being fine with killing the innocent and having a problem with killing the guilty–but wait, many have stated that it is the mistakes that are made, when innocents are killed, so they don’t want innocents killed unless they are deemed an inconvenience for some random woman–then it’s okay….but couldn’t the ‘inconvenience argument be applied to many who commit capital murder? ‘That witness could get me sentenced to…’ or ‘With that big insurance policy, their continued life was keeping me from being rich’.

      Of course, it can be turned around-pro-life, pro-death penalty. That puts those people in the position of not minding when an innocent is wrongly executed….so that innocent life isn’t as important as the innocent lives in potentia represented by aborted fetuses. Now, we can grant that they’ll want attention paid to the heinous killer who deserves death more than the innocent man who dies for someone elses crime, but that doesn’t negate the contradiction in their stance.

      Flaws in the arguments, no?

      But being pro-choice and pro-death penalty gets rid of that contradiction. A person with this stance has no problem with legal killing–and they accept that, from time to time, mistakes are made.

      1. You’re being stupid. It’s not like the pro-choice movement based its ideology around “being able to kill innocents”.

        Besides, foetuses are hardly innocent, because they are parasites.

        1. fuzzy that is your opinion and some one who is pro-life will never ever ascribe to it

          1. All I’m doing is discrediting lies. The pro-choice movement doesn’t want that choice “to be able to kill innocents”. It is a serious case of a straw man argument.

            It is also a fact that foetuses are parasites. That’s just simple biology.

        2. Liberals are parasites too, but we can’t kill them.

          1. Assuming you’re calling me a “liberal”, allow me to laugh incessantly.

            Also: define “liberal”.

      2. Oh jeez. Listen up:

        Pro-choicers are not out to murder innocents. Most have rational, legal, and ethical reasons for supporting abortion rights.

        Pro-lifers are not out to destroy womankind and install a theocracy. Most have rational, legal, and ethical reasons for opposing abortion rights.

        We will never, ever, ever have a fruitful conversation about this topic until we can start approaching one another in good faith.

    3. I am pro-death penalty, pro-choice, non-christian and anti-public school.

      Go choke on CO2, you global-warming+public-school worshipping libtard.

  17. People say vengeance like it’s a bad thing. I have no problem with righteous vengeance with appropriate process. In this case, yes, I think it’s fine morally for the state to murder a murderer. Mostly because I have no problem *morally* with an individual doing the same thing.

    There’s a fair case to be made for abolishing the death penalty as it is currently practiced, or even to argue that it is unlikely that we can construct an alternative system that will be significantly just, without finding that the theory of capital punishment is immoral. I’d actually argue you have more success with that argument with people who support the death penalty. Debating whether someone who murdered a family in cold blood and is very likely guilty deserves to die is a losing proposition. Debating whether the law that allows him to die (after costing the state $30-50 million in appeals) is worth the dozens of innocents it has also provably killed might be more constructive.

  18. Or, there’s the fact that our system was designed more to protect the innocent than to punish the guilty. That means sometimes the guilty don’t get what’s coming to them. Egg in said omelette.

  19. I hate the death penalty but only because of the possibility of killing an innocent. That being said, I do wonder whether the decline in capitol punishment sentences by half isn’t, in part, a result of the death penalty doing exactly what it is intended to do. Maybe fewer sickos carry out those types of crimes because they’re afraid of the chair.

  20. I hate the death penalty, but only because of the innocent factor. That being said, I wonder whether this huge decline in death sentences may be due, at least in part, to the penalty’s intended consequences. Maybe fewer sickos actually act on their impulses because they’re afraid of the chair.

  21. I hate the death penalty, but only because of the innocent factor. That being said, I wonder whether this huge decline in death sentences may be due, at least in part, to the penalty’s intended consequences. Maybe fewer sick fucks actually act on their impulses because they’re afraid of the chair.

  22. I’m opposed to capitol punishment, but only becuase I think innocents have been and will be executed. That said, I wonder whether this large decline in death sentences may be due, at least in part, to the penalty’s intended consequences. Maybe fewer sick fucks actually act on their impulses because they’re afraid of the chair.

  23. I’m opposed to capitol punishment, but only because of wrongful convictions. That said, is it possible that this large decline in death sentences may be due, at least in part, to the penalty’s intended consequences. Maybe fewer twisted fucks actually act on their impulses because they’re afraid of the chair.

  24. I’m opposed to capitol punishment, but maybe fewer twisted fucks actually act on their impulses because they’re afraid of the chair.

  25. What the fuck is your problem today turd party spam filter?!?!

  26. The primary reason to oppose the death penalty is the issue of false guilty sentences. The primary reason to support the death penalty is to keep moronic liberals from defining deviancy down in murder. Once the Death Penalty is off the books, then Life Sentences will be their next target. IF I could believe them, I would be in favor of getting rid of it, but until Liberals start acting like moral, trustworthy people who stand by their agreements, we keep the injectors on standby.

  27. I think we can all agree that when you have a brutal serial rapist-murderer who not only freely admits to the multiple crimes but the DNA/material evidence clearly confirms that it was this person who killed these people, then it’s a lot easier to justify the death penalty. You can still disagree with the final penalty but no one is going to feel any loss if this type of person is removed from the living.

    That being said, until we can absolutely 100% guarantee that there will be no more Todd Willingham’s or Carlos DeLuna’s happening, I can’t possibly support a system that has executed innocent people via the judicial process.

    1. We can never 100% guarantee ANYTHING in the physical world. At best we can assign probabilities based on the pre-existing facts, and update these probabilities based on new knowledge (check out Bayesian updating and Bayesian Probability for more info). That’s how science works.

      The real issue is whether the probability of at least one more life being lost as a consequence of the serial killer not being put to death is greater than that of the killer being innocent.

      I’d say the death penalty is justified in the above case. I’d say it certainly is justified for the Taliban and members at the extreme end of certain ideologies/religions.

      I’d say it is also justified in case of serial killers – the problem is how to weigh and quantify the evidence vs. the risks. (BTW, I’m suprised libertarians don’t think in this kind of economic manner of cost-benefit analysis when it comes to this issue)

      1. So you would like to see the death penalty for a lot of US presidents?

  28. You can wank as is your pleasure, but if my my son had returned O J’s wife’s watch only to get his throat cut, I’d have celebrated his release.

    Then capped first his sorry ass, then the Dream Team, Ito, and as many of the jurors as I could get.

    Then, with the pussies aid of course, taken a delightful 25 years to taste the injection.

    1. Solid post. Now that you’ve weighed in on this extremely relevant topic, are there any Ally McBeal episodes you would like to discuss?

      1. Dunno about Ally, I’m just emotionally unequipped to deal with a fucking over.

        I did hire a beating once on a well connected fuck. I’m not a poor man but I found it quite inexpensive. Oh, and remarkably satisfying.

  29. My answer to this debate is “Steven Hayne”.

  30. The idea that the Connecticut result was some sort of referendum on capital punishment is about as asinine as they come. Connecticut is simply a suburbanite commune for the urban sprawlers of NY/NJ/MA and is equally libtarded.

    Nonetheless, I am shocked and disgusted to find capital punishment in such low favor on a supposedly Libertarian site. I really don’t care if capital punishment is or isn’t a Libertarian ideal. You can flash all of the cases of mistaken identity that you want and it still doesn’t warrant the abolishment of capital punishment. If you want it applied sparingly; by all means. If you want to complain about the cost, how about simply killing the people more quickly? Either way, if someone is convicted of the crime and the penalty is warranted, I have no desire to sustain the person to be incarcerated in perpetuity. You get one appeal and then off with your damn head.

    Seriously, how difficult does this need to be?

    1. And when I say “convicted of the crime and the penalty is warranted”, I tend to mean that the evidence is insurmountable. This clarification is in no way an invitation to debate that point. I really don’t care what you think.

      1. So … you don’t care what anyone else here thinks, yet you find it odd that there is no wide support for the death penalty on a “libertarian site”?

        Might I ask why that is odd to you, since you yourself pointed out that it’s not a libertarian ideal to begin with?

      2. You know what isn’t very libertarian? Your trust in the state to determine when “evidence is insurmountable” and an irreversible, unimpeachable judgment should be meted out.

        1. There are those cases Jim. You can pick the fly shit out of the pepper as you wish, but there ARE those cases.
          Is there nothing, in your mind, that doesn’t merit getting your ticket punched??

          1. For me, the question isn’t about who does and doesn’t deserve to die. Some people here feel that it is NEVER okay to kill anyone. I respectfully disagree with that. But I *do* believe that it is NEVER okay to risk killing an innocent person when you have another option.

            I am willing to let a few monsters live in order to avoid accidentally murdering an innocent. After all, protecting the lives of the innocent is the whole reason we lock the monsters away in the first place.

            I understand that there are certain cases where it is dead-friggin’-obvious that the accused is guilty. But it still makes me anxious to put that irreversible decision in the hands of the state. I’d rather err on the side of justice than cede that authority to the courts.

            I understand that this means some people will get to live, even if they don’t deserve it. On the plus side, it means we won’t be accidentally killing anybody who DOES deserve to live. To me, this comes closest to perfect justice.

            Sorry for the lengthy response. But I hope I’ve shed some light on what I think is the best argument against the death penalty.

            1. Form my money I’d bequeath a monster or two, say the occasional Eichmann, to life; living with you, Blanche, and the little ones.

              My idea of perfect justice.

              1. I don’t understand a word of this.

  31. The very thought that we would entertain keeping or jettisoning the death penalty — whether one is pro or con — on the basis of economics is possibly the most morally repugnant thing I have read anywhere in a long, long time.

  32. What if you are neither pro nor con…simply on the fence after having reviewed the excellent arguments on both sides?

    1. Whoa there, buddy. This is the internet! Take your cautious, reasoned openmindedness elsewhere.

  33. The death penalty is the absolute deterrent.

    Those who are put to death will never kill again.

  34. Except there is not great evidence that the death penalty acts a deterrent to other criminals any more than life imprisonment would

    1. He meant that it’s a deterrent to the ones who are dead.

  35. You have to remember that keeping people in prison is big business. I know several people that got out of prison and had to pay thousands of dollars for their stay. No wonder most of America is in debt!

  36. The problem with life imprisonment is that I don’t want my money spent to house and feed the bastards in prison for the rest of their lives. I personally don’t see why anyone should ever get a sentence longer than about 15 years. If they’re not “reformed” after that, they’re not going to be reformed. The problem is the whole prison system itself?there is nothing more “civilized” about locking people up than there is in cutting off their hands, and I personally think that corporal and capital punishment need to be vastly increased over incarceration.

  37. I love “the death penalty is too expensive” argument almost as much as the “death penalty is losing ground because CT voters elected a Dem” argument.

    Look, there are a lot of good reasons to argue for and against the death penalty, which many of the previous posters have broken out above, but this “too expensive” argument sucks.

    This is a good argument for fixing the appeals process, not the death penalty. Bottom line is this – lawyers fuck up everything!

    My proposal — an immediate independent judicial and civilian review of all death penalty cases. The review is to determine if there are any grounds for possible annulment of the penalty, sending the case back for resentencing or immediate appeal.

    No new evidence; just look for holes and if there is possible (not just reasonable) doubt – repeal the death penalty.

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