Death Penalty

In a Rush to Use Expiring Drugs, Arkansas Executed Two Men on Monday

These were executions of convenience.

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On Monday night, Arkansas executed Jack Jones and Marcel Williams, the first time two prisoners were executed on the same day since Aug. 10, 2000 in Texas.

These were executions of convenience. Arkansas had scheduled an unprecedented eight executions over the course of 10 days because the drugs the state had obtained through means shrouded in secrecy had a "use by" date of April 30th.

All of the men who are dead or were scheduled to die in Arkansas had issues with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, traumatic upbringings, and inadequate legal representation for their cases.

Credit: AFP Photo/Getty Images/Arkansas Department of Correction
AFP Photo/Getty Images/Arkansas Department of Correction

Last week, Arkansas executed Lendell Lee, a man who received woefully inadequate representation throughout his case and who claimed his innocence until his death. The state refused to test new DNA evidence ahead of his execution.

A fourth inmate, Kenneth Williams, is scheduled to be executed on Thursday. Stays for the other four inmates scheduled to die this month have been issued for a variety of reasons– including to test new DNA evidence and to decide whether one inmate is too mentally impaired to be executed.

This is the first time a state has scheduled multiple executions in a rush to kill as many inmates as it could before drugs expired. States have in the past gone to extreme lengths to obtain such drugs—in one case buying drugs from a man in India with no pharmaceutical background.

Jones had been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Mary Phillips in 1995. Jones had left Phillips' 9-year-old daughter for dead, but she survived.

Jones had once been raped by three strangers who had abducted him. He had twice attempted suicide and months before the murder, he voluntarily committed himself to a mental hospital in Little Rock.

Defense attorneys for Jones presented none of his personal history during his trial.

Jones, his appeals exhausted and his execution cleared by the Supreme Court "had been pushed into the death chamber in a wheelchair having had one leg amputated as a result of diabetes," according to the Guardian. After making a statement, the execution began at 7:06 p.m. At 7:20 p.m. the state pronounced Jones dead.

In an emergency stay motion filed on Williams' behalf, lawyers allege the Arkansas Department of Corrections botched Jones' execution. "Infirmary staff tried unsuccessfully to place a central line in Mr. Jones's neck for 45 minutes before placing one elsewhere on his body."

They "did not wait 5 minutes to perform the consciousness check." And after five or six minutes after the execution drug was injected, "Mr. Jones was moving his lips and gulping for air," which lawyers say "is evidence of continued consciousness."

A federal district court judge granted Williams a temporary stay but just after 9:30 p.m. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker lifted the stay. The state pronounced Williams dead at 10:33 p.m., 17 minutes after the execution began.

J.R. Davis, a spokesperson for Arkansas Governor Hutchinson's office told reporters for KATV 7 that all three executions the state has carried out so far "went flawlessly."

Williams had been sentenced to death for the rape and suffocation of 22-year-old mother, Stacy Errickson, in 1994. Williams raped two more women, both of whom survived. One of the victims, Dina Windle, appeared at Williams' clemency hearing last week pleading for the state to spare his life.

Governor Asa Hutchinson refused to speak with Windle on the day of Williams's scheduled execution.

Williams was also a victim of sexual abuse. His mother beat him daily as a child, and when he was 12-years-old, she pimped him out to older women in exchange for food. As an adolescent, Williams was gang-raped while in an adult prison.

Williams' attorney, Bill James, just out of law school, failed to present any of his history at the trial. "I'm sorry we didn't do the things that we needed to do to save you," James told Williams later.

In 2006 U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes overturned his 1997 death sentence, saying a jury might have recommended a life sentence had it heard Williams' terrible childhood story.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals cited the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) enacted by President Bill Clinton for overturning Holmes, which limited the habeas rights of inmates. Under the law, the Court concluded, Holmes shouldn't have been granted an evidentiary hearing on these mitigating factors. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

The last time a state attempted to execute two death row inmates back-to-back, in 2014, Oklahoma called off the second execution after the first struggled for 43 minutes with the same drug combination used Monday in Arkansas and died of a heart attack.

Of the few states that still carry out executions in the United states, several have rushed to execute men and women as a result of an execution drug "shortage." Several of these inmates have had incompetent lawyers, who have had documented cases of mental impairment or abuse, who bordered on mentally disabled, who had been abused as children, experienced deep trauma in their lives, and who have reformed themselves while incarcerated.

Rarely do we execute men or women whose "extreme culpability makes them the most deserving of execution," as the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires.

Arkansas is no different here.

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  1. Rushed?

    Hardly…

    1. Not quite as rushed as were their victims’ executions.

      1. The circumstances of which were curiously omitted.

        1. That wouldn’t have contributed to the opinion on display in the article. I do however get pissed when decades old cases won’t bring in DNA evidence. That just shows that Arkansas is bloodthirsty, considering how many cases have been overturned in Capital offences that result in execution of the prisoner.

          1. I’m glad those two were executed, justice was carried out.

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    2. I too completely trust the government’s ability to arrest, prosecute, and kill the right person, each time, every time.

      1. He was supposed to be executed 20 years ago. What more proof do you need that he’s guilty?

        1. Yeah, forensic science hasn’t improved in the last 20 years.

      2. People who make this defense always like to pretend that some crimes aren’t 100% obvious.

        Congresswoman Gabbie Giffords was shot in the face during a speech along with 5 others — the camera’s were rolling from multiple angles, police have footage of each victim getting shot.

        That guy’s still masturbating in his jail cell.

        1. People who make this defense always like to pretend that some crimes aren’t 100% obvious.

          And some aren’t.

          1. I’d give you all the time you want on the uncertain ones if you’d let me hang that one’s caught ‘red handed’ — the red is blood by the way.

            1. I don’t trust you to decide which ones are uncertain and which ones aren’t any more than I trust the state or a jury of my peers to do it. Why should I?

              1. If nothing is certain than why have you locked that person up in the first place! You undermine your own position.

                “Hey man because nothing is certain, not my own judgement, not his judgement, not the judgment of the jury, nor the courts, nor the state — I’m just going to leave this guy in here until he dies and wash my hands of it.”

                1. You can let people out of prison if there was a mistake. It’s not that hard to understand.

                  1. There is the concept of it’s better to let 100 guilty men go free than execute one innocent man that would seem to apply. It’s great as high minded concept but I’d say there are plenty of people who disagree with it practically speaking.

                    1. I would think “it’s better to let 100 guilty men sit in prison rather than being executed than to execute one innocent man” should be a pretty easy sell, though.
                      Practically no justice system is ever going to be able to guarantee that no innocent person will ever be wrongly punished. Nothing in the real world is perfect like that. But it’s pretty clear that you can avoid wrongly executing people without letting any extra murderers go free.

                2. “I’m just going to leave this guy in here until he dies and wash my hands of it.”

                  +100

          2. People who make this defense always like to pretend that some crimes aren’t 100% obvious.

            When the legal system comes up with “Guilty” and “Guilty As Sin”, I’ll start supporting the death penalty. Until then, you have to accept some less-than-obviously guilty people will be executed.

            1. So you are fine with putting innocent people into prison and letting them rot forever?

        2. Which would be interesting if extreme obviousness of evidence was a requirement for imposing the death penalty. But people have been sentenced to death without direct evidence plenty of times.
          I don’t shed any tears for people who are clearly guilty and are executed. But that doesn’t mean I trust the government with that power in general. Or that unnecessary cold blooded killing is something we need to be doing.

          1. I would argue that the government is actually an ideal place for these decisions to be made since the alternative in ages past were mobs lynching people regardless of their guilt or innocence as retribution (which is ultimately what the death penalty is really about; revenge). I’m not saying that makes it right, but at least the government pretends to follow the letter of the law and this is an area of the human psyche that I don’t think is going to change.

            Obviously it doesn’t need to be a binary option between mob or government, but this is one area where I trust the mob less than I trust the government. And yes, the government too is susceptible to the mob mentality but it at least slows down the vengeance process.

            There are probably a number of reforms that could work too, but off hand I’m not sure what they would be nor do I frankly care that much. Hardly anyone gets executed in the United States, so it’s a pretty small fry problem IMO. Off the cuff the option that makes it the hardest for the state to legally kill someone is probably the right one.

            1. That’s a decent point about the mob. At least the government has pretty ok procedures and standards of evidence. But since, as you note, executions are pretty rare in the US, the lynching of murder suspects doesn’t seem to be a very big risk, with or without the death penalty. I could be convinced to consider supporting a death penalty if mob rule justice were taking over and it seemed like government imposed death penalties might calm that down a bit. But I don’t think we are anywhere close to a situation like that.


              1. I could be convinced to consider supporting a death penalty if mob rule justice were taking over and it seemed like government imposed death penalties might calm that down a bit. But I don’t think we are anywhere close to a situation like that.

                Indeed, and I somewhat suspect that the state deciding to kill people was for more or less two reasons:

                1) Supposed deterrence in an age without big brother watching our every move.

                2) To reduce the amount of mob killings.

                Option one because you know you won’t catch everyone, so those you do catch must be made into examples. Increases in technology mean we catch lots of offenders to the point where we can’t even fit them in available jails anymore, so this has lessened as a prerogative.

                Option two because, absent some form of law enforcement, people will enforce their own snap judgment opinion using circumstantial evidence (often with deadly effect). This is plain to see throughout human history and, in my opinion, the human animal does not change; it merely learns new behaviors.

        3. Yeah, but the man could be said to have been defending the constitution against a domestic enemy of the people.

  2. decide whether one inmate is too mentally impaired to be executed

    Is that really a thing? I’ve heard of retard strength but I’ve never heard of retard invulnerability.

    1. His IQ was never presented during his trial, so in that way they’re “deciding” on it now.

      1. Why should that be a mitigating factor?

        1. SCOTUS says you can’t execute mentally/intellectually disabled people…

          1. SCOTUS also once said that “separate but equal” and “three generations of imbeciles” was fine and dandy. Not a truly sound justification to merely rely on the quite fallible pronouncement of the Nazgul.

          2. Appealing to authority instead of your own morality is all I see here. I wonder if you find every SCOTUS ruling just? There are some doozies. And if you do not accept each and every one as just than your defense of appealing to authority carries little weight.

            1. So two dudes commenting on a libertarian site think that the state should be allowed to kill intellectually disabled people. I see.

              1. Riiight and you are for the state tossing the intellectually disabled/murderers (your omission is dishonest) into an iron rape box. I see.

              2. Lauren Krisai: “So two dudes commenting on a libertarian site think that the state should be allowed to kill intellectually disabled people. I see.”

                What a powerfully reasoned counterargument.

            2. She’s describing what has happened and “appealing to” the legal precedent explaining the decision.

              We’ve got a writer here, folks! Quit embarrassing us.

            3. Well, since SCOTUS is in fact the legal authority in these matters, I think this is one case where appeal to authority is appropriate.

              1. Sure, if you assume that they don’t get things wrong.

                I’m in general opposed to the death penalty -but not for these reasons.

              2. The question of legal authority has been decided. It was legal to execute those convicted murderers.

          3. But we can lock them up like animals for decades, then stigmatize them for life when/if they eventually get out and set up an obstacle course for them to navigate, likely not deterring any crime.

            But hey, at least the politicians don’t have to look “soft on crime” and everyone can have their revenge masturbathon. That’s what really matters.

        2. Why should that be a mitigating factor?

          Mens rea. If someone is a danger to society they should be removed from society to eliminate that threat. But that doesn’t mean you have to kill them or treat them like animals. What if you’re wrong, or one day are convinced that they no longer present a danger to society?

          1. I don’t know, I guess this is one of those things that I kind of think lex talionis is appropriate for. If a person kills another person, I don’t think “he didn’t know any better” should be an excuse. Any other animal that kills a person is immediately killed.

            1. That comparison undermines itself.

              1. I can see how it would appear that way for certain values of justice.

            2. Considering that in cases where one person kills another their motive and the circumstances are mitigating factors I don’t see your point Sparky.

              Example: Shooting a home invader in your house vs. shooting a guy in a liquor store for money. Your value judgment says treat them equally, which is ludicrous.

              1. I didn’t say there shouldn’t be any mitigating factors so don’t make this a false dilemma. I specifically said “he didn’t know any better” should not be one. Of course there’s a difference between killing someone in defense of your own life and killing someone because the magic stick in your hand makes a neat loud noise when you squeeze it. In one case you’re protecting rights and in one case you aren’t.

                I made the comparison to animals because they are other things that kill people because they don’t know any better. Would you try in court and lock up a mountain lion that killed a hiker that wandered into its territory?

                1. Fair enough Sparky, that wasn’t fair of me, and there are arguments to be made that some mental conditions can’t be ‘cured’ thus they would be a continuing danger to humanity but by the same token setting a set of circumstance where a man can be legally considered an animal is a dangerous precedent.

                  I probably have a double standard in there somewhere or a set of bad reasoning, since I still have zero problems with the example of a Nazi war criminal being shot in the face by the state after a trial. At some point, what a person has done is so monstrous that it exceeds a persons capacity for empathy and our species turns on them violently. Setting that ‘official’ bar really, really high is probably the best course of action as it will vary on the individual level.

                  This is just a long winded way of saying that some amount of state sponsored killing of the populace will probably never go away or it will just become embedded in the murder statistics themselves as the individual people carry out their own brand of vengeance.

                  Again, the purpose of the death penalty is not justice; it is vengeance. Period. Some find that to be valuable, some do not.

            3. We also kill animals so we can eat them, or because they are inconvenient. Or sometimes just for fun.

  3. “Of the few states that still carry out executions in the United states, several have rushed to execute men and women as a result of an execution drug “shortage.” Several of these inmates have had incompetent lawyers, who have had documented cases of mental impairment or abuse, who bordered on mentally disabled, who had been abused as children, experienced deep trauma in their lives, and who have reformed themselves while incarcerated.”

    Incompetent lawyers seems like a good reason to investigate whether or not they should be executed–their guilt may be in question.

    But mental impairment, childhood abuse, and “having reformed” in prison? I wasn’t aware that because I was abused as a kid, I shouldn’t be punished for murder. Or because “I’m sorry and won’t do it again” then I should be forgiven and my sentence set aside. That’s pretty rich there. Leave it to Reason to argue such things.

    1. It’s considered mitigating evidence that, if presented to a jury, could have resulted in a life without the possibility of parole over a death sentence. No one’s saying these guys should be “forgiven” and sentences “set aside.” We’re talking state sanctioned killing, y’all. Shouldn’t we be trying to get that right?

      1. How is imprisonment until death not also a death sentence? Does the passivity of the means somehow make the result different?

        1. Exactly. And moreover, it is simply torture — if someone besides the state locked another up in a iron box for decades what do you think they’d be charged with?

          Funny how people against the ‘death penalty’ always say it would bring us to ‘their level’ yet they always seem to be the ones advocating prolonged suffering as morally permissible.

          1. Funny how people against the ‘death penalty’ always say it would bring us to ‘their level’ yet they always seem to be the ones advocating prolonged suffering as morally permissible.

            How many people with life sentences do you think would prefer the death penalty? Based on the number that fight getting sentenced to death, I’d say not many. You may think life in prison is worse than death, but most prisoners seem to disagree.

          2. You’ve engaged several people here who are against the death penalty. Have any of them said that?

            1. They’re all thinking it 😉

              Cliche platitudes and conventional wisdom.

              1. I guess it’s cliche platitudes and conventional wisdom vs. bloodthirsty revenge freaks, then.

                How about this. Everyone seems to be arguing about reasons not to have the death penalty. I’d like to hear why you think we should. If there was no death penalty in our justice system, what would be the argument for having one?

                1. bloodthirsty revenge freaks

                  You have more honor than this.

                  what would be the argument for having one?

                  With regards to unambiguous cases:
                  1) The malicious destruction of life ought to forfeit the same right to life in the perpetrator (to some extent you already agree with this because you aren’t advocating murderers walk freely)

                  2) Murderers are nothing, absolutely nothing, but a burden on society; they have no civil utility. It is only because of our prosperity that we can even have this debate — in smaller populations or harsher times there would be no way to safely care for murderers.

                  3) Unless you argue on religious grounds than life is not sacred in and of itself (a classic defense for murderers)

                  4) There is absolutely zero negative impact on society from the death of a murderer — he’s already been removed from so society so there is no change in that regard. Moreover, civilization withstands thousands of deaths every single day from street urchins to the influential and it takes it all in stride. In fact I argue there is marginal positive gains for society with the death of a murderer: the lessening of the prison burden, extolled justice for the family of the deceased, justice for the community, and the reduction of danger for society come to mind, arguably there is more.

                  1. 5) I argue fields of science have and will continue to confirm that certain individuals are totally irredeemable for reasons of sociopathy and genetic lack of basic faculties of morality. (redemption is a key defense for murderers; and while the close minded will attack this position, I will be vindicated in time — when science has full understanding of genome and brain function it will show that some have the genetic composition to have the compassion of Mother Teresa, while others possess the total lack thereof. Just as some are born blind and others born with better than 20/20 and everyone else falls in between — it’s so indisputable when it’s measurable. I say the immeasurable today will be measurable tomorrow — attack away while you can, I say you lack foresight! Some are born with a predisposition to evil and current societal norms do not take this irredeemable factor into account.)

                    6) I believe with moral conviction that acts of true evil need to be opposed in absolute fashion unto death for no other reason than for sake of what is right. And right, I will define as nothing more than that which opposes, deters, and destroys evil itself. (Oh but you’ll say you have a moral conviction that even evil men should not be killed by the state — great it’s like voting, i have conviction, you have conviction; I vote one way, you vote the other — they balance and cross each other out leaving you with no moral high ground; and me neither.)

                    1. 7) It does not deter evil; but it does leave no illusion for the wicked man of the stakes. Current policy gives a murderer many ways out.

                      8) Some passionately cry out that rapists should in turn be raped; that murderers should rot in prison for the rest of their lives; often this is framed as being the worse punishment to inflict — I’m not convinced that these parallels to torture, this advocacy for prolonged suffering spares us anything with regards to the banal claim “this makes us no better than them.” Oblivion or Suffering? I’d rather be an executioner than a torturer.

                      9) With regards to counters to 8 — some say this is the more severe punishment — but others say in actuality many murderers (definitely not all) want to live even if it’s in jail otherwise they wouldn’t fight the death penalty so hard… I imagine the person they raped and suffocated to death; or the little girl they rent asunder with a shotgun also wanted to live — their desire makes it more fitting that they should die, more just. They have already pissed on life and as such should forfeit rights to their own (see 1).

                    2. 10) Even greater than the injustice of murder is the continued existence of the murderer. Their victim lay forgotten in ruin. The murder goes on, even in prison, he gets to: read books, receive and write letters, eat three squares a day, masturbate in his bunk, laugh at jokes, sing, get married, exercise, practice faith, garner infamy, let his works and manifesto be read, receive medical care, possible visitations from friends, family, lawyers, dream, cry, and expand their consciousness on and on; the litany of things denied to the murdered and granted to the murderer. Injustice incarnate.

                      11) Some murderers get exactly what they want because we give it to them. Life in prison is no punishment for these people. They want infamy, they want to spread their deranged message; moreover they inspire others to violence, a cursory search of school shooters confirms this. And all of this we grant them to their satisfaction.

                    3. 12) Lastly, the fallibility of the state is a major concern, and while I am arguing for capital punishment in clear cut, unambiguous cases, I think there is another concern needing addressing which is state corruption. Often neglected in debate on current policy is that murder trials and appeals trials are profitable! Lots of money exchanges hands in murder trials and whenever that happens someone gains, and lots of money corrupts. I can think of no other reason why it takes 25-30 years for a murderer to die; the system waits for every last dime to be gained from murder before finally at old age when poor health would require more expense, they finally do…. justice… and carry out the 30 year old death sentence.

                    4. Lol — fire away, you have conventional wisdom, majority, and precedent on your side — just remember this whole defense is for unambiguous cases of murder where there is certainty.

                      Either way; my conscience is clear.

          3. Prison is awful, but most people seem to prefer it to death. The argument that locking people up is worse for them than killing them is not a good one when you consider the evidence. And then there’s the fact that if someone is wrongly convicted, you can let them out of prison. People have been wrongly executed. That alone should be plenty of argument against the death penalty. It is far more important to make sure no injustice like a wrongful execution happens than it is to make sure the more bloodthirsty among us are satisfied that justice has been done. And as far as I can tell, that’s really the main purpose of the death penalty.

            Prison is a terrible thing and I think that way too many people are sentenced to prison. But it isn’t (necessarily) torture. And people who hold people prisoner aren’t charged with torture (unless they also tortured them).

            1. “People have been wrongly executed.”

              There is no real evidence of that in the modern era, last 50 years.

              When you look at cases that anti-DP claim are cases of executions of innocents, there is never any actual evidence that an innocent person has been executed. It is just the usual barrage of mud against a wall to see if anything sticks.

        2. How is imprisonment until death not also a death sentence?

          By identical reasoning, being born is a death sentence. Which I suppose is true in some sense. But that doesn’t mean we should just kill everyone as soon as they are born. Sorry, but the “prison is just as bad” argument for the death penalty is just stupid.

          And, if someone imprisoned is actually innocent, there is always a chance that they might get out. It’s just not a chance worth taking that an innocent person might be executed. All the death penalty does is to satisfy people who think that revenge is how you get justice. It is not necessary at all.

          1. being born is a death sentence.

            Yeah, and who passed that sentence? Are you equating nature itself with human courts?

            1. Nature kills the people in prison, not the courts. And people in prison are alive, and all evidence suggests that most of them take a great interest in staying that way, even lifers.

              who passed that sentence?

              The parents, I guess.

          2. I remember a case in my town where two young black males were convicted for a bank robbery “gone bad” and manslaughter in 1971. After serving 23 yrs, the “eyewitness” admitted she had purposely lied in her identification of the perpetrators, and they were released and got mid-six figure settlements from the state.

            Less than three months later, one of them died from a heart attack.

            At least his funeral was paid for…

            “If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron. Or else He’s the dumbest designer that ever lived.”- Spider Robinson

        3. How is imprisonment until death not also a death sentence? Does the passivity of the means somehow make the result different?

          Well, for one, life w/o parole can potentially be undone before death if they are exonerated.

          1. And when we exonerate some 80 year old guy who spent the last 60 years in prison, how do we give him those years back?

            Answer: We don’t. Life in prison is also irrevocable.

  4. Tie a noose and get it over with.

    The fact that the abused go on to abuse others changes nothing for the raped, beaten, and dead — it just means we have a better understanding of what turns a person criminally deranged.

    1. Why would you trust the government?

      1. That argument is applicable to trying, convicting and jailing them as well. It proves way too much or it proves nothing.

        1. Death is a bit more final than trial, conviction and imprisonment.

          1. The State can give them that time back?

            1. They can give them the rest of their lives. And perhaps some scratch as recompense.

            2. So, you’d rather die than lose 10 years of your life?

              I really don’t get this argument. The state can’t give back time spent in prison, so they should just kill you instead? Come on. It’s like telling someone who was paralyzed in an accident or assault that they should have just died because no one can give them their legs back.

              1. No, whatever time the State takes away from you is gone, it is final.

                Again, I think what Crusty and NTA MJG have put forth are glib and shallow arguments that prove too much or prove nothing because tbeir logic has no stopping point.

              2. You don’t get the argument because you are approaching it rationally, instead of having preconceived notions that you work backwards from.

                There’s no good moral or logical argument in favor of capital punishment if you truly believe in individualism and classical liberalism. The justified murder of American citizens by the state, based on the explicitly rigged judicial system they control, is just about as unlibertarian, and incompatible with liberty, as humanly possible.

                1. Why do I need the State to do it? If you fuck with me or mine, I’ll happily kill you myself- no Gov’t needs to be involved.

        2. It proves that the government is fallible.

          1. Human institutions are fallible, everyone knows that. Still, that is what we have to work with.

            1. Right. They’re fallible, so they shouldn’t kill people.

              1. But they have to… for some reason. Maybe someone will explain.

                1. In a manner that your low IQ brain could understand unlikely.

              2. Again, where does that logic have a stopping point?

                1. There is a pretty clear line you can draw between killing people and not killing people. If you imprison someone, then yes, there is no going back and the person has lost that time forever. But you can at least make some attempt to compensate them. If you kill someone, there is nothing you can do to make it any better at all for them or their loved ones ever. Seems like a clear and obvious ethical and logical line to draw.

      2. I agree with you Crusty, but that isn’t the argument being made in this article.

        Perhaps we can split the difference and send the condemned to the Milwaukee county jail.

        1. I was responding to the “tie a noose and get it over with” remark.

      3. Why would you trust the government?

        See my above, sometimes it is clear cut. Why can’t the mass murderer with a manifesto hang?

        1. Why must he? To give you a revenge boner?

          1. Justice for the dead.

            1. The dead don’t care.

            2. And let’s not beg the question on a matter of such import, how about?

            3. I’m sure the dead will rest easy knowing the guy is dead.

              1. Unless dead people become ghosts. Then the murderer could be doing whatever horrible things ghosts can do to each other to his victim for all eternity.

        2. If the death penalty only applied to people who are clearly guilty and clearly evil, that would defeat some of the arguments against. But that is not the case right now.

          If you want to talk about the justice of individual executions, then I’ll agree that some are just. But if you are talking about the policy, in the world we actually live in, then I just can’t justify it. Both because of the possibility of getting it wrong and the inconsistency of its application.

          1. As an Arkansas, I would like to point out that our most famous exoneree, Damien Echols was still considered ‘guilty as sin’ by nearly his entire community well over a decade after it was clear he had nothing to do with the murders. Despite a complete lack of any physical evidence, and a complete lack of credible witnesses, and a complete lack of ANYTHING tying him to the crime, the judge who presided over the trial, the prosecution, and a good portion of the community thought that the state erred by releasing him after almost 20 years on death row.

            If HBO cameras weren’t on scene for Echols’ trial, none of us would know who he was. He would just be some murdering piece of shit who killed 3 little boys, and deserved to put down because he was ‘guilty as sin’.

            The ‘guilty as sin’ viewpoint ignores a VERY important fact – cops, juries and prosecutors aren’t generally in the habit of prioritizing logic and facts over gut feelings, and the fact that a dude looks like an asshole is plenty sufficient for most people to sentence them to death, no matter what the supposed barrier of proof is.

            1. As to the 8 that the state wants to kill this week – one of them tortured and murdered a kid I went to school with, back when we were still in school. He stole some checks, and forced the kid to try and pass one off. The kid got caught, and so this dude decided to torture him for hours, burn his genitals, severely beat him with different things, and eventually strangle him to death and dump his body in the woods to buy time for an escape to California. I have no MORAL issue with HIM SPECIFICALLY dying. Hell, I want it to be painful. But I would MUCH rather that twat spend the next 60 years in prison, if it means I’m less likely to support MORE unnecessary deaths of innocent people on my dime.

    2. Why so bloodthirsty? I can see why people think that death is an appropriate punishment in some cases. But we don’t lose anything by not executing people and we all know how fucked up the criminal justice system is. So why risk getting it wrong?

      1. You keep attacking my position with claims of blood thirst — that’s a dishonest representation of my position, Zeb, you shouldn’t need to stoop to misrepresentation when you have the majority position. All over this thread I have not advocated the use of execution willy-nilly; there is nothing more contemptuous than the state killing an innocent man.

        I claim there are times when it is not ambiguous in the slightest, when guilt is certain: mass murders with manifestos, opening fire on a crowd with cameras catching every detail. Why should these men live?

        1. Sorry, I’m not trying to misrepresent what you are saying. But it seems like you take a personal, emotional interest in people being executed. Sorry if I’ve misunderstood.

          Why should these men live?

          I would counter that with “why must they die?”

          As I’ve said, if we were only executing people who are clearly and undoubtedly guilty of truly horrible crimes, I’d be a lot more comfortable with it. But there isn’t any procedure or law that makes sure it only applies in such cases. The same “reasonable doubt” standard applies to someone facing death as it does to someone facing a fine for littering. And there is no requirement that the strength of the evidence be considered when determining a sentence. So I would contend that you are making a “in a perfect world…” argument and those arguing against are being pragmatic and realistic given the state of laws and the court system. I just don’t think any amount of abstract justice gained by an execution is worth even the slightest risk of executing the wrong person.

      2. Why are you such a murder groupie?

          1. Zing another direct hit.

            1. Well, at least you admit it.

      3. But we don’t lose anything by not executing people

        50 yrs at approx $50K/yr for the “room and board”… That’s $2.5 million. Write the check- or do you expect the Gov’t to hold a gun to my head to help you pay for it? Tell me more about “libertarianism”.

  5. Reason has my fucking blood up today; rapists, murderers, pedophiles. I think headsman would be the best job in the world.

    1. Thats two convicts that’ll never commit a crime again

    2. Blood lust and hubris are a terrifying combination.

      1. I find mercy for the wicked to be more putrid than opposition to evil; but hey, you do you.

        1. “I like killing people more than mercy.” –well-adjusted and moral human being

          1. “I get boners when I think of serial killers.”

  6. Thats two convicts thatll never commit a crime again

  7. So, sort of like the first Gulf War and the rush to use expiring bombs and missiles? How’d that work out?

  8. The state refused to test new DNA evidence ahead of his execution.

    Naturally.

  9. I wonder if the people who were raped and murdered would have liked a stay of rape, or a stay of murder.

    I am against the death penalty. This is the wrong way to present the argument. Framing it as an appeal to empathy for past circumstances smacks of trying to excuse the behavior. The argument of mental incompetence fares better, as does an argument of inadequate representation.

    The best argument against capital punishment is that the state will fuck up and execute innocent people.

  10. and who would be making a big fucking fuss if they executed these criminals with “expired” drugs? It isn’t the pro-death penalty people. If there was a cause for the state to “rush” the executions it is the people who bitch that fucking murderers on death row might get a booboo while being executed.

    1. The fact they have to “rush” is really stupid. There are many ways to kill a man. Did they arbitrarily limit themselves in this matter? If they did can’t they change it?

      A few of these convicts have do have legitimate reasons to delay.

  11. This is a direct consequence of the cynical tactic by the anti-death penalty activists trying to de facto eliminate a constitutional means of punishment by blocking the means of carrying it out.

    1. Did they also force states to execute prisoners via lethal injection?

      1. In Utah, they can still use the firing squad.

    2. Are you referring to pharmaceutical suppliers who don’t want to be complicit it the killing of human beings? Maybe the state should put a gun to their heads and force them to supply their product.

      Libertarianism, because state violence is bad. Except when it needs to shoot, imprison, or poison people to death.

      1. I agree w Tony. For a bunch of libertarians, y’all sure are showing a lot of deference to the state when it comes to justice and killing. Sad!

        1. For my part, I’ll offer two things:

          1. Not a libertarian
          2. I don’t think the state should be in the business of killing people but I also think that the family of the original victim should have some say in the punishment. If somebody killed my wife, I don’t really care if that somebody had an IQ of 60. I’m almost certain I’d want that person dead and given the option I’d do it myself. I don’t think that makes me some kind of bloodthirsty lunatic.

          1. Why should the family of the victim have any say at all if the victim didn’t explicitly contract with his family to post-death vengeance? My family doesn’t own me.

            1. If that works for you, I’m not going to stop you.

          2. You realize that post-Hammurabi criminal justice is premised on blind justice, i.e., keeping the family’s bloodthirst out of it? It’s like, the entire point.

            1. Ok, do you have a point?

              1. That your opinion that the family should have some say in the punishment of the perp is contrary to one of the most basic traits of western civilization?

        2. Does the state have authority to punish violations of other people’s rights or does it not?

          If it does, the only question is punishmnent legal and was due process followed?

          If that is undue deference to the state, then so be it. I think that is more libertarian thab an anarchic state where rights go unprotected.

          1. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the same people whose hearts bleed for odious murders get raging boners when the state jack boots a baker into baking a wedding cake.

            1. The common thread is looking out for the rights of people that society would tend to not give a shit about. Christians and crime victims are well taken care of. Homosexuals and convicts, less so.

              1. The evidence suggests otherwise, Tony.

                The force of the state is used to force Christians to bake cakes for homosexuals [sic].

        3. ” For a bunch of libertarians, y’all sure are showing a lot of deference to the state when it comes to justice and killing.”

          I think that you misspelled “anarchists” as “libertarians.”

          Libertarians believe in maximal individual freedom but also individual responsibility and the force of the state to enforce laws against individuals who violate others rights.

          An editor at a libertarian magazine doesn’t understand libertarian philosophy? Sad.

      2. I am referring to the intimidation campaign against the drug producers to convince to take that stance. They created this situation.

        I am not anarchist. Either the state has the powrr to enforce the law or it is not. These men were convicted with due process of the law for violating another person’s right to life. You can argue if process was followed in an individual case, but you cannot argue against the State’s authority to punish such a crime without arguing against the State’s authirity to punish any crime.

        1. There can’t be limitations as to what punishment the state may mete out?

          Can the punishment include torture? Eternal solitary confinement?

          1. There are limitations. Those arrived at by legislation and by the state and federal constitution. The death penalty is not limited in Arkansas by any of those documents.

            1. OK, so what’s the point of your second paragraph? Arguing for the death penalty to be added to that prohibited list is not then “arguing against the State’s authority to punish any crime.”

              1. My 2nd paragraph wa in response to Tony’s second paragraph.

                Secondly, what the anti-death oenalty activists are doing is not eliminating the death penalty as a legal punishment, tbey are making it difficult to implement by extralegal means.

                1. Since we see the death penalty as a moral abomination, why should that be a bad thing from our point of view?

                  1. It is unscrupulous and dishonest.

                    1. The death penalty violates due process and equal protection and is a barbarity and neither Congress nor the Supreme Court seem tempted to get rid of it any time soon.

                      You’d think private actors working in concert to end a state-administered evil would be the most libertarian thing ever.

          2. There are constitutional limitations on “cruel and unusual punishment”. There is express allowance for capital punishment.
            Where things get a bit interesting is the phrasing. From a time when flogging was NOT “cruel and unusual” to a time when lack of a color television IS “cruel and unusual” has been a relatively short trip.
            And, oh by the way, in behavior modification, an event must be BOTH cruel and unusual to be seen as punishment. Just another point of view.
            On the other hand, “justice delayed is justice denied”; who said that?
            1994. 1995. 1997.

      3. Maybe the state should put a gun to their heads and force them to supply their product.

        How much will City, State, and Federal Governments spend this year- and how did they get that money? I would think you don’t have too much of a problem with that…

  12. Cosmotarians: the only thing we trust the state to do is jackboot Christian bakers.

  13. I don’t trust the state with the life of any individual-period. I know some of these men committed dastardly murders and how they have angered their victims families, but providing revenge is not the state’s duty, and even if it were, I would not trust them to get it right any more than a lynch mob, which is what some of you posting here seem to want. I heard Saudi Arabia has a highly effective death penalty and the executions are conducted in public, so maybe you should move there.

    1. Novanick: “I don’t trust the state with the life of any individual-period.”

      Of course you do. That is, you do unless you want to dismantle the state itself. As long as there are police or a military or even highway dept trucks, the state will take lives.

      Novanick: “I heard Saudi Arabia has a highly effective death penalty and the executions are conducted in public, so maybe you should move there.”

      What a persuasive argument. By insulting those who disagree with you and trivializing their beliefs, I am sure that you have convinced many people of the soundness of your position.

    2. I much prefer a lynch mob deliver retributive violence than the state.

  14. Somewhere in all this, the differential cost between life in prison and execution needs to be factored in.

    I’m serving life in an office cell, and a significant part of that is to pay taxes. I want that money spent wisely.

  15. It’s natural to want vengeance for the victims or horrible crimes. It’s inherent to the human impulse for justice when anger takes over for impartial and logical reason. I believe it is human and understandable to want to execute a murderer for heinous cold-blooded unmitigated murder.

    The problem arises in the procedural side of things. Given that the natural impulse to satiate vengeance creates incentives in the prosecution and the Jury towards conviction and there is no way for the legal system to be completely impartial, the death penalty has a major flaw. Though there are cases where it is 100% no doubt of guilt you cannot set the standard based on these extraordinary cases. The finality of the death sentence removes any chance for the falsely convicted to exonerate themselves.

    It’s truly terrible that humanity is plagued by people who seek to harm one another and fully can understand the cocktail of emotions that go along with victims and families affected by such brutality. Though I think it’s equally regrettable that someone would be falsely accused and executed for something they did not do.

    I’d rather stick to leaving them in prison and afford the righteous and the wicked the same condition in hopes that the system will allow mistakes to be corrected.

    1. You misspelled “justice” as “vengeance,” Texasmotiv.

      Justice is giving people what they deserve. Vengeance is retribution for an injury. Vengeance need not be just and justice need not entail vengeance. Don’t confuse the two.

      I don’t want vengeance on murders. I’ve never been directly harmed by a murderer. My desire for the DP can’t be vengeance unless one can want “vengeance” for violation of an abstract principle of morality, which seems like a stretch.

      If I did want “vengeance” then I would want to kill the family, loved ones, friends of murderers. That would be vengeance. But no one advocates this. Thus, the DP is not “vengeance.”

      It is insulting to those of us who support the DP to misstate our motives or project upon us your speculations.

      1. But no one advocates this.

        WTF?

        I’ve advocated for vendetta in this very blog’s comments.

        Lynching and dueling as well.

      2. I really didn’t mean to offend, and apologize if I projected motives on your position.

        Perhaps I didn’t communicate my point effectively. I want murders and rapists to get what coming to them too. I am completely with you on that.

        I am saying that you cannot be sure in every case that the right person was convicted and it is irreparable to put them down.

        If you put them in prison for life you have done the just thing punishing a criminal, and if there was a mistake you can at least truncate the punishment and attempt to compensate the falsely accused. It also presents the same deterrent effect as execution because no one wants to live in prison the rest of their natural life.

        I can’t find a reason at all that the DP is better in the abstract.

  16. A bunch of people have fallen back on the old –the DP is permanent but we can correct a “life” mistake.

    In practice, the evidence is carefully reexamined in all DP cases but rarely ever reexamined in a non-DP case.

    10-30 years ago, there were a bunch of people who got kicked loose when DNA rendered doubt on their convictions but — aside from that — it is just almost never done more than a few years after initial conviction.

    If the accused is actually innocent, it makes sense to have a DP case because the evidence will be looked at carefully and the accused will have his best shot to be exonerated.

    If the accused is innocent but not up for the DP, then he is screwed if new evidence presents itself after the initial appeals process.

    If your priority is to never, ever execute an innocent person, then — of course — you should be anti-DP. But if you also value the desire to avoid innocent people spending life in prison, then the DP is your friend.

    1. This does not seem very convincing to me for a number of reasons.

      I do not think it is true that your only chance of overturning your conviction is to be on death row. 2015 was a record year for overturned convictions with 149 (58 homicde cases), 5 of which were on death row.

      Secondly, if we grant that it were true. If the death penalty was off the table some amount of the people directing their efforts to exonerating death row inmates would readjust to overturning life cases.

      Thirdly, the idea that we must sentence people to death to ensure that they get freed seems a little severe. One would have to assume that every truly innocent person get a fair retrial and given that most wrongful convictions stem from prosecutorial misconduct it is difficult to make that assumption.

      I still can’t find an upside to DP as it is more prone to error and the error leads to dead people.

  17. “Jones had once been raped by three strangers who had abducted him.”

    Oh … so I guess that means that it’s OK that he beat an 11-year-old and left her there for dead after raping and killing her mother. Are you sh–ing me?!!

    Why is it that Libertarians so desperately want freedom, but don’t want any responsibility?

    The guy was a fat sadistic pig, and he deserved to die. It’s good that Arkansas did it now (over two decades after his crime — two decades that his victim did NOT get to live), because that fat pig’s failing health was about to cheat the state and the family of his victims out of their justice.

  18. Reason really reached the bottom of the barrel with this hire.

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