Book Reviews

Rethinking the Power To Take a Life

America's approach to capital punishment changed in the 1970s. It's time for another look.


Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty, by Maurice Chammah, Crow, 368 pages, $28

A gruesome coincidence has made Maurice Chammah's Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty timely. In the final months of Donald Trump's presidency, shortly before this book was released, the Justice Department rushed through eight executions after a 17-year pause in use of the federal death penalty. The historic killing spree reignited a well-worn debate about capital punishment.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden campaigned on eliminating the federal death penalty. Criminal justice advocates are now urging the White House to commute the death sentences of those remaining on federal death row. And in March, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed legislation to end capital punishment in the state that has carried out more executions than any other in U.S. history.

Chammah—a reporter at The Marshall Project, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to criminal justice coverage—arrives just in time to explain how we got here.

Let the Lord Sort Them opens with the U.S. Supreme Court's momentous 1972 decision in Furman v. Georgia, which struck down every state's death penalty scheme as unconstitutionally arbitrary and discriminatory. This sent lawmakers in 37 states scrambling to salvage capital punishment, whose popularity rose in public opinion polls by nearly 10 points after the ruling.

Chammah focuses largely on Texas. This is a logical choice: The Lone Star State is the geographic and cultural center of the death penalty in America.

In the wake of Furman, Texas instituted an unusual system. When states retooled their death penalties to placate the Supreme Court, they tended to choose one of two basic schemes. One, pursued by North Carolina and Louisiana, instituted mandatory death sentences for first-degree murder. If everyone is executed, they reasoned, that would remove any whiff of bias. Equal justice under the law, indeed. Other states, such as Florida and Georgia, required juries to consider aggravating and mitigating factors at a separate sentencing stage for capital trials. Did the killers show remorse? Were they mentally competent? What was their upbringing?

Texas attempted to split the difference. The death penalty would be mandatory for certain murders if a jury answered yes to three questions at sentencing: Was the murder unprovoked? Was it deliberate? And was there a "probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society"?

When the Supreme Court heard the inevitable challenges to these various state laws in 1976, Anthony Amsterdam, the attorney who had successfully argued against capital punishment in Furman, insisted that none of the new death penalty plans were constitutional—not because they were too severe but because they all involved too much human decision making and were therefore susceptible to bias. Opposing Amsterdam, U.S. Solicitor General Robert Bork, arguing for the federal government, said that an inflexible system that allowed for no human discretion could be just as monstrous as, if not more monstrous than, one that indulged prejudice. "The only system that would meet [Amsterdam's] objections would be one that was so rigid and automatic and insensitive that it would be morally reprehensible," Bork said during oral arguments.

The solicitor general carried the day, and the Supreme Court upheld the Florida and Georgia death penalty schemes while striking down the mandatory schemes in North Carolina and Lousiana. Juries, Justice Potter Stewart wrote, should be able to consider all factors "stemming from the diverse frailties of humankind."

The Court also upheld Texas' death penalty, paving a way for the state to carry out the world's first execution by lethal injection in 1982. Fifteen other states would send officials to Huntsville, the site of the state's execution chamber, to observe and learn from Texas' new procedures.

With the death penalty rehabilitated, the battle over capital punishment became the legal equivalent of trench warfare. Anti-death-penalty groups shifted to improving trial defense, flooding the zone with post-conviction appeals, and chipping away at issues such as racial discrimination, low bars for mental competency, and junk science in courtrooms.

Let the Lord Sort Them follows people through those trenches, from a dogged appeals attorney to a line prosecutor who puts a man on death row (and receives a syringe-shaped novelty pen from her boss as congratulations). The prosecutor later becomes a Texas appellate judge critical of the state's death penalty -practices.

The book also shows us the juries, the judges, the death row inmates themselves, the chaplains, the tie-down teams that strap a condemned inmate into the gurney, and the families of both the condemned and the victims. Although it is ostensibly a legal history, Chammah tells that story through narrative reporting that focuses on individuals, showing the profound effect a death sentence has on everyone who makes up the cogs in what the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun called the "machinery of death."

Although his book is unflinching in its description of bias, corruption, and error in the criminal justice system, Chammah does not gloss over the crimes behind the cases or minimize the anguish those crimes caused. It's a full, messy portrait.

Chammah fills the book with illuminating and memorable details. In one case, an attorney representing a man facing the death penalty fell asleep numerous times during the trial. When a reporter asked the judge why he allowed the trial to continue, Chammah writes, "the judge said the Constitution guaranteed you the right to a lawyer, but not necessarily one who was awake." In another case, a prosecutor argued to the jury, without any objection raised from the defense counsel, that the defendant deserved a death sentence partly because he was gay; spending his life in a prison filled with other men, he declared, wouldn't be punishment enough.

The system may appear to go out of its way to protect the rights of people facing the death penalty, but cases like these show that defendants can be at a severe disadvantage: poorly served by incompetent defense lawyers and hamstrung by prosecutors who are sometimes not above lying and cheating to secure a conviction. The three questions Texas juries were supposed to gravely consider before returning a death sentence, especially the "future danger" question, seemed designed to be answered "yes." (Texas prosecutors employed a psychiatric expert nicknamed "Dr. Death" to help them argue future dangerousness. In 1994, his testimony had contributed to roughly a third of the state's death row population.) Even when inmates got a post-conviction appeals attorney who identified prosecutor misconduct or trial errors, they were often denied relief by credulous judges who ruled that the mistakes were harmless. Chammah shows us one defense lawyer, working on an 11th-hour appeal, who uncovered a written deathbed confession from another man that could clear her client. She watched him die on a gurney anyway after a court denied her emergency motion to stay the execution.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the governor were supposed to provide another avenue for mercy, but the board almost never recommended clemency. Members skimmed applications and voted by fax. Governors were more than happy to defer to the board's wisdom.

Texas' wave of executions began to recede in the late 1990s, for several reasons. The rise of DNA testing made it undeniable that innocent people had been sentenced to death. (Since Furman, 185 people have been exonerated from death rows across the country.) Meanwhile, the exorbitant costs of conducting capital trials became ruinous for all but the biggest counties in Texas. Chammah also attributes the decline to the simultaneous rise of 24-hour cable news, which turned events like the execution of Karla Faye Tucker in 1998 into major national stories and caused political headaches for governors such as George W. Bush.

The biggest squeeze in the remaining death penalty states has come not from courts but from supply chains. The European Union restricted the export of sodium thiopental, the first drug in the three-drug cocktail used for lethal injections, to the United States, and the only domestic supplier stopped producing it. Several states have turned to lightly regulated compounding pharmacies, shady overseas suppliers, and secretive cash transactions to try to keep their death chambers active.

Rare though it has become, the death penalty commands a big hold on the public imagination. It is the most dramatic display of the state's power over an individual, and the question of whether state-sanctioned killing is acceptable cuts to the core of one's worldview.

NEXT: Predictably, Wild Horses Are Still Suffering Due to Federal Slaughter Ban

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  1. At its core, Koch / Reason libertarianism is about making billionaires — especially our benefactor Charles Koch — even richer. That's why we support unlimited, unrestricted immigration: Mr. Koch finds foreign-born labor more cost-effective.

    It's also why we not only oppose the death penalty, but also oppose lengthy prison terms. Why should people waste their prime working years just rotting in a cell, when they could be employed by Koch Industries?


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    1. I’m against the death penalty, (duh, I’m a libertarian so it goes without saying) but during my darkest moment when my reptilian Id brain kicks in I think boy it sure would be nice to do away with all these right wing shitbrains. You can’t say, from evidence garnered over the last ~100 years or so, that I’m exactly alone in this sentiment. I mean, isn’t Cubs probably better off now— under the communists— than it was under the Mafia, the CIA, and the military. I guess it’s kind of a coin toss, but you can’t say it doesn’t have its appeal.

      1. "...I’m a libertarian..."

        You're a lying pile of lefty shit who supports the most murderous regimes in the world's history.

        1. Nah, he's harmless.

          He claims to be a "socialist" because it sounds edgy. But with Washington DC under complete Democratic control, and billionaires getting substantially richer while Medicare for All goes nowhere, he spends most of his energy panicking about ........... state-level abortion restrictions. IOW he's an obedient Democrat whose political preferences overlap with those of Koch-funded libertarians.


        2. I'm also against the death penalty, except when it comes to socialists.

      2. "I mean, isn’t Cubs probably better off now"

        I'd say yes, since they ended their century-plus World Series drought.


      3. If a person with a penis and testicles can identify as a woman, you can identify as a libertarian.

    2. There are reasons I oppose capital punishment, and reasons I'm for it. Taking a life is very heavy stuff.

      1) People are corrupt to one degree or another. People with power and pursuing power (career climbing, especially in law enforcement (prosecution)) should be considered more likely than people without power to be corrupt... After all, a system that rewards those with convictions is practically begging for corruption.

      2) The desire for justice is an honorable desire (need) in humans. It can be an overwhelming need that results in emotional rationalization that ignores facts and evidence or lack of evidence (in juries).

      3) DNA (scientific) evidence that exonerates an imprisoned man/woman proves that ours is a vulnerable human system. The unimaginable horror of an innocent person being incarcerated for years is tragic enough; how can we even measure the horror of killing an innocent person? Technology will likely evolve even further that will prevent such tragedies.

      Death is the only acceptable justice for some heinous crimes; to allow the guilty person to live after his or her cruel and irreparable actions is simply too much mercy.

  2. Anybody here have any idea why the issue of putting people to death has aligned politically in the USA or elsewhere along the lines it has?

    1. It really is strange. I've never come out as fully opposed to the death penalty, but I admit that any support I have for it comes from an emotional response of retribution. Logically, I don't think flawed government systems should have that kind of power of finality. Even more of a hangup though, is that I just can't really square the death penalty with my Christian beliefs.

      Like many issues, I think it's mostly just tribal. Partisan folks dig in and find justification for the righteousness of their side's position as a matter of necessity in not having to face an identity crisis.

      1. It's absolutely a primitive instinct, based on a universal desire for justice and retribution. In theory I support the death penalty, and think that it can real have utility and benefit for society.

        Unfortunately, in practice, the North American justice system is ridiculously corrupt. Lazy, ignorant judges, posturing, dishonest prosecutors, crooked and bloodthirsty cops, all mean that railroading and horrifying fuck-ups happen more often than not.
        God is a perfect judge, but the criminal justice system certainly isn't. Death is too final to leave to those clowns.

        1. Hey ML: Don't know if you saw me post this yesterday. If you can cite me "bitching about Jews as a race" or claiming "this is their comeuppance" I will quit posting on reason!

          If that's all I've done the past week you should have no problem proving it.

          If you can cite me "bitching about Jews as a race" or "this is their commupance" I'll quit posting here.

          If I made a new account you'd know it's me since I mostly criticize Mormons.

          Wouldn't you love to be rid of me if I'm such an antisemitic troll? I'm sure Chuck and all the Mormon lovers would appreciate it.

          Please prove me wrong and I'll quit posting!

          Am I an antisemite? Or are you just a lying disengenous troll?

          Prove me wrong pussy!

          1. Nobody cares, KARen.

            1. Not fault ML is a lying little pussy

              1. I told nothing but the truth you jew-hating, antisemitic, piece-of-shit troll.

                So suck my fucking dick. Your rage is my absolute delight.

                1. I'm not enraged I'm delighted a fascist little pussy would try to lie to discredit me. It shows you Trump loving pussies can't argue in good faith so you have to resort to lying. Just like your hero Trump.

                  My offer to stop posting spies to you, Jesse, Red or any of the fascists on here.

                  Cite me "bitching about Jews as a race" or claiming "this is their comeuppance."

                  You won't because I didn't say that you lying turd!

                  1. *applies

                    Not spies

                    1. Just fuck off shitstain. Your arguments are facile, your intelligence is questionable, your sex life is gay, and you're a Tony sock.

                  2. Poisoning the well

                    1. Its funny. If I'm so antisemitic then why can no one find me saying something antisemitic?

                      Because you're all fascist trolls.

                    2. Have I made such a claim of you? Please provide the link. Thanks. If you don’t, I’ll stalk you and reply to all future posts of yours to supply the link. 😉

                    3. No you haven't. My apologies.

                      Wasn't trying to say you specifically were saying that.

        2. This isn't the first time I've caught you in a lie.

          I'm gonna keep posting about what a lying little nich coward you are until you stop calling me an antisemite and admit you were wrong.

          1. Lie? What lie, you racist, antisemitic, garbage-human.
            Everyone here has read the fucking Jew-hate you vomited up here.

            You're not fooling anyone.
            Anyway, keep ranting. I despise your hate-filled ass and it gives me joy to watch you spasm with emasculated anger.

            1. If everyone here has seen me posting it then shouldn't someone be able to point to me doing it or cite it?

            2. If "it's all I've done the past week" you should have no problem pointing it out and shutting me up!

              Your Mormon pals will appreciate it!

              1. I like Mormons, quite a bit. I like Jews too.

                That infuriates, doesn't it, you crazy, piece-of-shit troll.

                1. Goddamn, this is fucking great. I can watch you insult KARen, but don't have to read its blather. I mean, I'd understand if you muted it too, but in the meantime, this is quality entertainment. 😀

                  1. Waiting for JFree to come in again to defend KAR.

                  2. I get a kick out of pissing off the trolls.

                    Just like with sarcasmic, KAR is becoming one of my top producing lolcows. He's remarkably unread and chock full of received wisdom and bein pensant orthodoxy, so it's easy to make him look idiotic.

                    1. So you admit you're just fucking with me?

                      I never said the things you claimed.

                      You can call me whatever. I don't care.

                      You're the one who believes patently false election conspiracies.

                      You're the bigot who defends being Nativist.

                      You don't argue in good faith.

                      I've caught you lying before.

                      I may be bigoted against mormons, but I'm not a lying troll like you.


                    2. defends being Nativist.
                      *The troll says this to a Canadian, who's mother is a French immigrant, sister-in-law is a Dominican immigrant, and brother and sister immigrated to the US*

                      And yet your antisemitic ass is claiming that I make up allegations.

                      "I’ve caught you lying before"
                      About what, you Jew-hating dipshit. Almost every word out of your crazy ass is dishonest. You wouldn't know the truth if it dragged its nuts over your face.

                      You don’t argue in good faith
                      This coming from a borderline retarded troll, whose whole purpose has been harrassing people for their religious faith.
                      You've done nothing but shitpost, lie and harrass other posters and now you think you can try to argue from some imaginary moral high ground?

                      Fuck you idiot boy. You brought this shit, now eat it.

                    3. You lie all the time. Saying I cited a salon article when I did so much thing.

                      Little shit like that.

                      I don't give a fuck about your family. THEY RAISED A LYING FASCIST COWARD.

                      Mormons are terrible fucking people. Being harassed on the internet is letting them off easy.

                      I realize you Mormon loving fasciss don't like my Mormon hating. Whatever.

                      I don't lie about what others say. I would never say the shit you claim I said.

                      Your just like your hero Trump. A lying fascist.

                      I'll take the dictionary and encyclopedia definitions of facism over a liar like you.

                      No they weren't written by progressives like you claimed.

                2. Why do KAR's cries about not being anti Semitic sound a like like sarcasmics cries when he was lying about not having a sock?

                  1. Instead of arguing in good faith it's always "but you're a sock" with you fascist pussies.

                    1. "Good faith"

                      Does a retarded, trolling sockpuppet like you even know what that phrase means?
                      I don't think so.

                    2. Its always "your a 50 center" or "you're a sock" with you liars. Instead of responding to the argument you just attack the commenter if they aren't a lying coward like you.

        3. I like the summation, especially your last two sentences.

          "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?" -Gen 18:23

        4. It’s absolutely a primitive instinct, based on a universal desire for justice and retribution.

          Why do yopu suppose this desire exists?

          1. Fairness maybe? Perhaps God? I'm not sure. The universe is remarkably unfair, so perhaps the rarity of justice is what makes it so desirable?

            1. Liar

              1. Antisemitic, jew-hating liar.

      2. Even more of a hangup though, is that I just can’t really square the death penalty with my Christian beliefs.

        The tenets of Christianity hold that there are people who cannot be saved. If these people, by their own convictions, are irredeemable, then how are they distinct from a rabid dog or a malfunctioning toaster?

        That's not to say we should go off killing everyone who doesn't accept Christ, of course, but even exceedingly pacifist religious sects make exceptions for self-preservation:

        Hana Gartner: But while you can concede that sometimes it’s necessary, there are those in Tibet who believe there is justification that if you do not stand up, if you just are a pacifist, you empower the person who is oppressing you.

        Dalai Lama: Individual case? For example, if mad dog coming, almost certain now bite you. Then if you say, non-violence, non-violence and compassion…

        Hana Gartner: You get bitten!

        Dalai Lama: That’s kind of foolish! You have to take use of self-defence. But without harming, without serious harming another, I think that’s the way I feel. If someone try to shoot on you, then there is no possibility to run away,then you have to hit back. Then possibly not on head,but leg or something like that. So that’s not serious hit back, but more lenient way, more gentle way.

        So, the murderer who breaks into a woman's home, kills 2 of the 3 kids, and cuts the unborn child from the mother's womb to take as her own gets a gentle, lenient execution. Family members not involved need not worry about surviving relatives and/or the government going eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth. In accordance with the Lama's instructions.

    2. The right wants to put to death people that the justice system believes has committed heinous crimes such as first degree murder.
      The left wants to put to death any unborn child that could be an inconvenience to the mother referring to the baby as a parasite.
      Those that pass the Voight-Kampf test of libertarianism are also split on these two issues.
      Given that law enforcement lie, plant evidence, fabricate lab results and prosecutors lie, that should be enough to consider opposing the death penalty.

      1. “Given that law enforcement lie, plant evidence, fabricate lab results and prosecutors lie, that should be enough to consider opposing the death penalty.”

        This sums it up for me. I’d rather have someone like Charles Manson spend the rest of his life in jail, than have the state execute one innocent man.

        1. Manson in general pop, along with others. Can cause more victimization through assaults and other crimes.

          On cases that are quite clear cut, death penalty has less harm than allowing someone to live even on jail.

          That is why there is often a second trial to determine life vs capital sentencing.

          I am fine with that system.

          1. Liar

          2. That "second trial" isn't going to help if the prosecution lied to the jury.

      2. Good so far. But what causes the "right" and "left" to have those preferences?

        1. What I mean is, what causes them to take those different sides? I'm not so much interested in the reasons to be pro- or anti-, I'm interested in what causes one set of correlates to go with one, and another to the other.

          1. What they have been taught. Their individual moral code. What those around them think (family, peer group, community, govt etc). Social programming. The components of each argument they have been exposed to and how it has been presented. Their life experiences. Ulterior agendas. And other factors.

            1. Sure, the reasons people have for anything; but none of that explains the sorting. Why, for instance, would there be a Democrat-Republican split on this in the USA? What has accounted for similar splits, if there've been any, in other countries? Could you have predicted this sorting based on other ideas they have? If so, which ones?

              1. See Wareagle’s response below. I think it gets to the cruz of this. Personal responsibility vs no responsibility/society bears the cost of the actions.

          2. The right tends to believe that actions come with responsibility and people should be held accountable for their decisions. The left constantly looks for some third party, inanimate object, or outside condition to blame. This holds true even if the harshest possible penalty is life without parole.

            1. In Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, Ellsworth Toohey says: “Kindness [is] more important than justice, of course.” That's the Left's attitude in a nutshell.

              1. That analysis makes sense, but how well does it jibe with splits over other issues? It didn't seem to have anything to do with sex matters like women's lib, homo sex, porn, prostitution, or birth control, but it also doesn't seem like it contradicted their polarization strongly.

                1. Except those issues aren't as directly split along party lines. Democrats became moral warriors in the 80s and 90s based on the heroin explosions and even had tipper gore fighting for music labels. Right now it is the right fighting for OTC birth control woth the left requiring it to stay prescription yo make the state or business pay for it.

                  1. Liar

          3. For the right it's about justice. The murder deserves it but the baby is innocent.
            For the left it's about who they empathize with. They understand what it's like to want to kill someone, and they would hate to be saddled with an unwanted child like some pregnant teenager, so best kill it.

            1. But why doesn't the "right" equally understand what it's like to want to kill someone? Why isn't the "left" equally about justice?

            2. If abortion really is murder, then why not lock up the woman that went and got the abortion, that is, "murdered" her "baby"? Even the toughest anti-abortion laws passed or proposed in recent years only put any penalty on the doctor, and then nothing resembling the 25 to life that a 1st degree murder conviction typically demands.

              If pro-lifers that really believe that abortion is infanticide want to show their sincerity, they would propose prosecution and serious penalties of many years in prison for both the women and the doctors. Then we can see how much support for abortion bans or "heartbeat" laws that they get. That they don't do that shows that they are already compromising on their beliefs with those that don't quite see it as equivalent to murder in order to get legislative majorities in red states.

              And if it isn't equivalent to murder to abort an embryo or fetus, why does it have a right to life that would demand a woman remain pregnant against her will, taking the inherent risks to her life to maintain it? (Maternal mortality in the U.S. in 2018 was 17.4 per 100,000 live births, or about 1 in 6000.) Are pro-lifers ready to roll the dice with those odds of dying in order for an embryo or fetus to live that they don't want to raise as their child?)

              If someone refuses to donate bone marrow or a kidney in order to save the life of someone ill, is that murder? As far as I know, people aren't even ever legally required to donate blood, and we don't require people to be organ donors after they are dead. There was a recent legal case about a duty to render aid to someone if you were the cause of the person's distress, and whether that would still apply if you had acted in self-defense (I read about this in a Volokh Conspiracy post). Eugene Volokh seemed to think that if the person that had acted in self-defense was still fearful of the person that had attacked him, then there wouldn't be a duty to stay and aid them, even by calling 911. Again, as far as I know in the law, the duty to aid someone in distress never includes putting one's self at any risk. The most you can ever be required to do is try and summon first responders.

              Is it really justice that animates the anti-abortion position, or something else?

              1. "then why not lock up the woman that went and got the abortion, that is, “murdered” her “baby”?"

                I'm all for that. Where did you get the impression that I think sluts who were too lazy to take the pill and insist on a condom, should get away with having their kid killed?

                There's always extenuating circumstances like rape and mental illness, that call for the courts leniency. But in most cases they should be treated exactly as if they chopped up the baby immediately after birth, instead of before.

                1. I’m all for that.

                  Great. I look forward to seeing how much support from voters laws get that would jail women for decades if they get an abortion. The trials prosecuting women that say that they were taking birth control that failed that have medical conditions that increase their risk of serious complications (hence the birth control) will be interesting.

                  There’s always extenuating circumstances like rape and mental illness, that call for the courts leniency.

                  Ah, but the "baby" is innocent of the rape, so why should it suffer? Or do you just mean that you would only put a woman that was raped in jail for a couple of years if she got an abortion rather than 25 to life?

              2. "If someone refuses to donate bone marrow or a kidney in order to save the life of someone ill, is that murder?"

                That's the stupidest fucking reach that I've read in a long time.

                Abortion kills the child 100% of the time. It's purpose isn't to save lives but to take one.
                Furthermore, pregnancy and birth are natural processes where, thanks to modern germ theory and hygiene, is actually safer than any abortion.

                Bone marrow and kidney donations on the other hand, aren't natural processes. If you don't donate bone marrow or blood there are still hundreds of other possibilities for survival.

                Finally, unlike the pregnant mother, your actions and choices didn't lead to the patients kidney disease. If they had, then maybe you do have an obligation.

                Critical thinking isn't really your strong suit, is it.

                1. Furthermore, pregnancy and birth are natural processes where, thanks to modern germ theory and hygiene, is actually safer than any abortion.

                  Sorry, but that is just false. As I pointed out, maternal mortality is 17.4 per 100,000 live births (1 in 6000). What is termed severe maternal morbidity (major complications that often include blood transfusions due to heavy bleeding) occur at a rate of 1.4%. The rate of major complications from abortion is around 0.2% (mostly in the form of medication abortions that weren't complete and a surgical abortion needs to be performed to remove remaining tissue). The mortality rate after having an abortion was 0.44 per 100,000 abortions performed by licensed providers between 2013 and 2017. (See here for the mortality rate data. More than one link will get the comment stuck in moderation forever, it seems, or I'd link each source. It didn't take long to find this information, though. The pregnancy data comes from the CDC, and the rate of complications from abortion came from a comprehensive study by UCSF researchers in 2014.)

                  Abortion kills the child 100% of the time. It’s purpose isn’t to save lives but to take one.

                  If the woman is at risk from the pregnancy, then it would absolutely be to save a live, wouldn't it? People always say that they are willing to make exceptions to protect the life of the woman, but ask the husband of Savita Halappanavar how that worked out for his wife in a country that had banned abortion.

                  And you are begging the question calling it a "child", as not everyone agrees that is equivalent to an actual child that has been born. Especially considering the ~78% of abortions that occur by the 9th week of gestation. (The fetal stage begins after 8 weeks. At 9 weeks, the fetus is about 3/4 of an inch long.)

                  Bone marrow and kidney donations on the other hand, aren’t natural processes. If you don’t donate bone marrow or blood there are still hundreds of other possibilities for survival.

                  "hundreds of other possibilities for survival" is hyperbole. People that have kidney failure need a new kidney to have a reasonable chance of living more than 5 years. People that would benefit from bone marrow transplants have life threatening diseases with limited options for successful treatment. Then there is simple blood transfusions. People that need blood transfusions really need that blood. Is it a moral duty to help in that way, or no?

                  You have made the appeal to nature fallacy. Just because something occurs "naturally", that doesn't provide support for a logical argument. People intervene in the "natural" course of events all the time. The point is what choices we have when presented with a situation, the option to do nothing and let "nature take its course" is still a choice with moral consequences. I deliberately stretched the analogy, but it is not completely off. A woman considering whether to remain pregnant or have an abortion is weighing the costs and risk to herself so that something else can live, just like someone that considers whether to donate blood or other tissue to someone that might die without it. You have a point in that a sick person might not die without your aid, while the embryo or fetus inside a woman definitely would without her remaining pregnant. But it also won't definitely live, as miscarriage and severe developmental abnormalities that result in the death of an infant in the days, weeks, or months after birth do happen.

                  The future is not certain, and what matters is what it is at that moment. And that is the real difference between these two scenarios. The sick person is a person with a right to live. Whether an embryo or fetus is a person with a right to life sufficient to place demands for the body of a woman and possibly her life is entirely debatable.

              3. But practically all beliefs involve some degree of compromise, don't they, as a result of balancing of countervailing values? Don't most people tend to adopt beliefs that would not lead to actions resulting in too great a loss to some value or other?

                1. Why death penalty was imposed on first degree murderers. And not say manslaughter.

            3. Liar

          4. My hypothesis is that there tends to be a belief on the right that one's rights are conditional on one's moral worth. That is, if a police officer beats up a nun, vs. if a police officer beats up a thug, all else equal, those on the right would tend to view the former offense as a worse crime than the latter offense, even though the violation of rights is equivalent in both cases, because the thug somehow "had it coming" or "should have known better" or some such. So if a criminal commits a particularly vicious crime, that criminal's moral standing is very low, and consequently has lost most if not all of his rights, including the right to life. It is also why many on the right can be both simultaneously pro-death penalty for criminals, and pro-life for fetuses, because the criminal has sacrificed his claim to his rights by his own actions, while a fetus has not. In this view rights are not inherent or immutable.

            1. When Freddie Gray’s rights were violated by the City of Baltimore my rights were violated too. Those cops should have received competent prosecution and should be in jail. When a cop commits a crime, I often say, “How would that play out if it had been a convicted felon did that to the wife of a cop.” It should be the same. We can agree on this.

            2. Moral worth.... like thinking a cop can kill someone for protesting/trespassing as long as they are a trump supporter?

              chemjeff radical individualist
              February.9.2021 at 8:56 am
              Flag Comment Mute User
              What is there to talk about?

              From a libertarian perspective, Ashli Babbett was trespassing, and the officers were totally justified to shoot trespassers. Again from a libertarian perspective, the officers would have been justified in shooting every single trespasser. That would not have been wise or prudent, of course.

              1. Liar

            3. Now explain how that theory squares with such things as the Left's desire to eliminate due process in campus rape investigations.

          5. For what it is worth my opinion it is the other side is for A so I am against it. I see it from both sides but more pronounced from the Dems. When the Republicans were for keeping troops in in the Iraq and Afghanistan the Dems were against it. As soon as Trump started talking about pulling them out all of the sudden they were for it. I put this whole mask mandate fiasco at Trumps feet, if he had just forcefully come out for a mandate then the dems would have been against them and it would not be an issue today but because the was laissez-faire about them, leaving it up to the governors of course they had to show how wrong he was and put these mandates out. Same with this, I guarantee if the Republicans suddenly pushed to abolish the death penalty the Dems would be on CNN the next day, telling us it would be anarchy in the streets.

      3. The left wants to put to death any unborn child that could be an inconvenience to the mother referring to the baby as a parasite.

        Why are you wingnuts so fucking dishonest?

        No one on the left WANTS to kill a fetus (leftists have enough other crazy ideas). That kind of dishonesty is telling.

        1. So 600,000+ abortions a year in the US are a statistical outlier?

          1. Buttplug has nothing, but he needs that fifty-cents.

            1. Actually, as much as I hate to say it, I think he has a point here, and it is detrimental to the cause of reducing abortions to not understand the opposing side.

              Most people on the left don't *want* to have abortions performed, in much the same manner as most people on the right don't *want* to shoot criminals in self defense or the defense of others. In both cases, these things are viewed as measures of last resort by the (vast?) majority of the people who support the general right to do so in extremis.

              (There are, of course, nutjobs on both sides to whom this does not apply.)

              From what I know, the majority of people who generally support a right to abortion would strongly prefer that unwanted pregnancies be avoided in some other manner. It places you at a tactical disadvantage to not understand the motivations of your ideological opponents.

              1. Being put in a situation where a self defense killing is justified =/ a person becoming pregnant.
                There are not 600,000 self defense shooting deaths each year. Or even 60,000. Over half a million seems like a lot to be referred to as “last resort.” Per year.

                1. I'm not saying that the situations are the same, I'm saying that the response to the situation is regarded the same way by the people that support those responses. And while I understand what you are saying about the relative numbers of self defense shootings versus the numbers of abortions performed, it's an apples and oranges comparison.

                  A.) It's more appropriate to compare defensive firearm uses, i.e.: including the number of times when simply displaying the firearm ends the threat.

                  B.) The real comparison would need to be a pair of ratios, namely the number of criminal actions for which a defensive firearm use would be appropriate divided by the number of total defensive firearm uses, compared to the number of times people have sexual intercourse divided by the number of abortions. Because you'd need to be comparing relative "failure rates" in terms of the implementation of the measure of last resort.

                  Shorter version of that being that if sexual activity is significantly more frequent than criminal activity, you'd *expect* the abortion rate to be higher than the defensive firearm use rate. Assuming it actually makes sense to compare the two things at all.

                  My primary point, however, is that the majority of the people who support the right to an abortion would generally prefer that those unwanted pregnancies be prevented in some other manner, and it is detrimental to the cause of preventing abortions as someone who does *not* support the right to an abortion to misunderstand the motivations of the people who do.

                  1. "the majority of the people who support the right to an abortion would generally prefer that those unwanted pregnancies be prevented in some other manner"

                    There are many really easy ways to avoid pregnancy that aren't abortion, but they focus on abortion instead.
                    I'm not sure your point is correct when it comes down to it.
                    Sure, they'll say they agree with you, but their actions prove otherwise.
                    They value above all else people's "right" to be irresponsible, dependant, and free of consequences.

                  2. When someone doesn’t have an abortion, it is typically celebrated. Balloons. Gifts. Baby shower. Etc.

                    When the SD attempt fails, and the criminal steals the car, murders the person or rapes the victim only the criminals celebrate.

                    It is an odd analogy. Even if one ignore magnitude.

              2. 10 or even 5 years ago I would have agreed with you but the rise of the proud abortion has given me doubts. They get to go on TikTok and brag about their latest abortion and get applause from the fans.

                1. Yeah, I know that those people exist, which is why I hedged my language the way I did. But as someone who is deep in the firearm community, I am also aware of people who are notionally "on my side" who seem to have an unhealthy fascination with the prospect of getting to shoot someone some day.

              3. these things are viewed as measures of last resort by the (vast?) majority of the people who support the general right to do so in extremis.

                Abortion is not the last resort. It is the most convenient.

                1. I'm sorry but most convenient?? There is nothing convenient about an abortion.
                  Women who use abortion as a form of birth control should be shot. It's freaking gross but abortion is not convenient.

                  1. It is if the most inconvenient thing to a person is having to think about possible consequences before they take action.

            2. Liar. Instead of arguing in good faith it's always "but you're a sock" or "you're a paid troll" with you fascist pussies.

              1. 18 asshole flags!

          1. I certainly would not have phrased it as "no one" because those people do exist, but I think they might be more rare than you would presume.

            1. I have known one woman who had an abortion: it haunts her to this day. The vast majority of women, even very serious Christians, including my first wife and her mother and sisters, would never have an abortion, yet they are very much pro-choice.

              I also know quite a few folks who choose not to own guns, but would never give up the right to own one.

              Very few things are simple "for" or "against."

            2. There is an entire shout your abortion movement. It isnt in the shadows.

    3. IMO it is completely about the history of the states. Support for death penalty now is almost entirely in the South and West. Can put all sorts of modern rationalizations on it but those all serve to divert attention from history. Meaning the history of lynchings and Jim Crow - and the history of frontier settlement and range wars (barbed wire enclosure v free range).

      To make it so that 'conservatives' support the traditional practice simply because it is. And 'progressives' support a change simply because they can imagine something better.

      1. Makes sense, thanks. Know anything about how that's aligned in other countries?

        1. No. I would assume only that it is based on their own interpretations of their own history.

    4. The only insight I can give is, unlike some of the other wedge issues, it used to be that virtually everyone believed in a death penalty.

      The first widespread objections were part of the cultural questioning in the 1960s. The then-young people who would become the future liberals started exploring the idea that nobody is really bad, and they are just made that way because of their environment or upbringing.

      There's an entirely different objection to the death penalty, that I eventually came to adopt, that the state isn't capable of administering a death penalty competently.

      1. Probably shouldn't have used the word "administer". I meant more that the state cannot prosecute death penalty cases fairly. The state is fairly competent at actually doing the deed of killing the person.

          1. Even an incompetent execution (such as the real-life beheading of Mary Queen of Scots), or one sadistically botched in a pretense of incompetence (such as the fictional electrocution in _The Green Mile_) is not as cruel as the average murder. To be more cruel than most murderers, you have to be openly aiming at cruelty. Regrettably, there are plenty of historical examples such as Roman crucifixion, medieval drawing and quartering, and what the Nazis did to Hitler - but those _are_ history, and not USA history. I'm not worried about the momentary pain a condemned man might suffer in our execution chambers.

            But I am worried about the proven faults in the process that put that man in that chamber. It's not much better when he goes to prison instead, after the prosecution conceals evidence, puts lying cops and well-rewarded informants on the witness stand, and plays on the jury's emotions, or after the defense lays down on the job, but at least that man may live to be exonerated. Fix the justice system and I'd be OK with the death penalty for murder with aggravating factors (excessive and deliberate cruelty, multiple murders, or as a planned or usual part of crimes for profit). Mainly, the justice system needs to be fixed, whether or not there is a death penalty.

      2. Actually, opposition to the death penalty dates back to colonial times.

      3. I agree - except the timing of the 1960's. From the video here - re states abolishing/restoring death penalty from 1845 - 2012 the sustainable (maybe) opposition to death penalty in the US is a 21st century thing.

        The SC may have suspended it w Furman v Georgia but it was only for a couple years and after suspension, it came back big. States themselves didn't do very much before and nothing during it. It was only after a couple decades of reintroduction that things changed. The SC itself was way ahead of the public. It took imo a combination of opinions of (or learning from) others outside the US and a realization post-reintroduction that the 'mistakes' are systemic, racial, and here in our state (not just the easy to demoinze other place). Except in those places that really don't much care about mistakes or opinions of people living in foreign shitholes.

        1. The only exception are the northern Midwest states settled/run by the 48'er German (mostly) migrants - who were almost all classical liberals escaping a clampdown on classical liberals in Europe and who very quickly reintroduced classical liberal ideals back into the US after a half-century of Americans pragmatically ignoring classical liberal ideals.

    5. There is no likelihood - in fact, no possibility - of the Federal government eliminating the death penalty before the January Sixth Insurrectionists have been tried, convicted, sentenced and their death penalties duly carried out. And you thought Timothy McVey's execution came after an unusually brief series of appeals after his conviction. "Chewbaca" will barely have time for a last meal between sentencing and the insertion of the IV catheter.

      1. Carey here represents the mainstream left, and "January 6" is just a temporary condition which will soon be dropped in favor of more inclusive terms.

        Plan accordingly, and prepare to defend yourself and others.

        1. "...prepare to defend yourself and others."

          Remember, the best defense is a good offense.

          Agreed, it's coming; a lot sooner than we would have thought five years ago. It will have infinitely less due process than the condemned murderers here received too.

  3. I am torn over the death penalty: I am basically against it excepting in rare cases -- Ted Bundy comes to mind as an example. On the other hand, it seems if you give the government an inch, they will take a mile, and can find a way to off the people they want to off. I am leaning toward favoring abolishment, but not all the way there as yet.

    1. Same here. Some people have forfeited their right to be treated as a human being and need to be treated as a rabid dog, but I don't trust government a damn bit to decide who needs to be put down.

      1. +

      2. It really ain't government doing this stuff. It is you and I - making decisions as voters to elect people who will do the dirty work of treating people as rabid dogs.

        There isn't much internal discussion among self-proclaimed 'libertarian'/leaners - in states WITH a death penalty v states WITHOUT. In all those states the death penalty is very much part of mere electoral politics. Where the decisions we make to vote are really very much deciding to relegate the states use of execution to secondary importance.

        I can see relegating pot or gay wedding cakes or private roads or emulating Somalia or even foreign policy to secondary importance for a libertarian. I don't think that is possible with death penalty. We may support it - but in no way can it be supported on libertarian grounds.

        1. "It really ain’t government doing this stuff. It is you and I – making decisions as voters to elect people who will do the dirty work of treating people as rabid dogs."

          This is true. I also think, generally, that the death penalty isn't a major issue for most voters, whether they support it or not. I think, for most people, there are other, bigger, fish to fry.

    2. I oppose it due to government involvement. I’m fine with folks using deadly force to defend themselves.

      1. I have no problem with that: self-defense is a basic human right.

      2. But you support a police state to monitor womb activity. You Aborto-freaks are shameless in your hatred of liberty.

        1. See you’re getting good use of your Jump to Conclusions mat.

    3. As noted in the article, the courts have ruled that it can’t be used arbitrarily, so how could you differentiate someone like a Indy, from someone who was framed by a prosecutor, or even admitted guilt under extreme duress?

      1. Bundy, not Indy. Fuck you phone.

        1. Indy conspired with nazis to horde treasure.

          1. “It belongs in a museum. A “No Jews allowed”museum. - Indian Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Story Arc

      2. Exactly. This is the dilemma I deal with. Does the person who shot and killed my sister in-law during a bank robbery because she "looked like" his ex girlfriend deserve to die? Add to that the fact that he was serving a life-sentence for a double-murder (a pregnant woman and her unborn child), escaped from prison, killed my sister-in-law, was convicted, and then escaped again. It's real easy to put him in the "rabid" category.

        1. I'm generally against the death penalty, but "escaped from a life sentence in prison and killed again" is one of my few exceptions.

          1. A few years back, a convicted murderer was on a "speaking tour," of our State University system, quite nicely reimbursed, as an example of a successful "rehabilitation."

            He had been convicted of first-degree homicide. Admittedly, the case against him had some problems. On the other hand, he killed two prison guards in an escape attempt. That case had no such "problems." I think the fear (unfounded or not) that folks like this will be eventually released adds to the number of folks who support the death penalty. It's complicated.

            1. William Buckley supported Edgar Smith, a murder convict, and help free him. Smith went on to kidnap and murder another woman AND later confessed to the original crime.
              Norman Mailer aided in freeing convicted murderer Jack Henry Abbott. Six weeks after release Abbott killed Richard Adan.
              It must have been a fad among the intellectual blowhards of the day to fight for freedom for murderers with literary skills.

          2. My college Anthropology professor was an expert on death row prison culture. He said one day in class that the death row inmates he got to know were against the death penalty, except when someone in the prison killed someone else in the prison. Their reasoning was, "What else can you do with the person at that point."

            1. What they do at the federal SuperMax here in CO is probably comparable to Soviet gulags. Meaning - it is very possible for there to be a penalty worse than mere death penalty.

              1. That is really fucked up.

              2. But Murica is the bestest country evah! Don't you dare say there is anything wrong with this great land lest you be called a traitor!

        2. Wtf kinda prison was he in that he escaped twice?

          1. New York. I don't remember off-hand which one. He was a gang member with a history of violence, and I suspect it was a max-security type. This was about twenty-five years ago.

      3. Any prosecutor caught framing an individual should be subject to the death penalty.

    4. The funny thing about this abortion vs death penalty is that often the death penalty decision will take 40 years and have ample time to right the wrong, be overturned by a court, or have a governor stop the execution.

      For an abortion the decision is quick and final and doesn't even allow the father to have a say.

      They aren't actually that equivalent.

  4. "The historic killing spree reignited a well-worn debate about capital punishment."

    Justice finally gave closure to 17 families - - - -
    chooses your truth.

    1. Why is it even thought about as "punishment"?

      1. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

        1. Yes, but that is the Old testament.
          Jeremiah 30:11 states:

          “For I am with you,” declares Jehovah, “to save you. But I will make an extermination among all the nations to which I scattered you; However, you I will not exterminate. I will discipline* you to the proper degree, And I will by no means leave you unpunished.”

          I am not saying you are wrong in your beliefs, but the water is a bit muddied for many Christians.

          1. I don’t necessarily agree with it but am citing what I believe is the etymology.

            1. +

          2. There are many subjects where Christian beliefs become muddied if you start reading the Old Testament. The only way to reconcile the behavior of God in the Old Testament with Christianity is to consider the New Testament as overruling some of the behaviors, even of God himself, in the Old Testament.

        2. But if you don't survive it, how is it punishment?

          1. Good question.

            'An eye for an eye..." etc was actually seen as moderation in punishment. Don't forget, this was in a place and time when stealing an apple could result in having your right hand amputated. Few places would do that anymore (notice I didn't say "no places").

            If one believes in an afterlife, the nature of which is based on the way you led your own life, well, yeah. Punishment indeed.

            1. ‘An eye for an eye…” etc was actually seen as moderation in punishment. Don’t forget, this was in a place and time when stealing an apple could result in having your right hand amputated. Few places would do that anymore (notice I didn’t say “no places”).

              Also worth pointing out that in many of these death row cases, we aren't talking about losing an eye or stealing and apple either. If someone kills your sister, two of your three nieces/nephews, and cuts the unborn child from her womb to take as her own, I'm pretty sure 'eye for an eye' means several members of the perpetrator's family are fair game and simple execution of the guilty party *is* the lenient solution.

          2. The country was founded by folks with Judeo-Christian values. So imposing a death penalty as punishment for someone that intently murdered someone makes sense. You took a life. So as punishment you forfeit yours. As for lesser acts, we have the prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment.” So if you cut off someone’s hand, your hands will be spared if you are convicted.

          3. The phrase “eye for an eye” does not mean that in a literal sense. The Hebrew word is “Tachat” which means something more like “in place of”. The principle is that the punishment, or compensation should be proportional to the damage done.

            While there are biblical references to capital punishment, in practice it was abolished in the time of the Mishna. The rabbis imposed so many conditions that it became impossible to get a verdict.

            1. Of course, when you can drop undesirables off on slave traders or banish them to the parts of the world where they end up fed to lions for sport, it's easier to keep your hands clean.


    The person who assaulted a Jew last Thursday is given a hero’s welcome after being released to cheers of “free, free Palestine.” [video]

    1. You think that new hate crime law will be invoked or maybe not?

    2. Someone should raze Jerusalem - the Dome, the Mount, the church of the grifter - everything. And then put a nice little skateboard park in its place. The world would thank that person.

      1. That would require action, so that rules you out. But it would result in displacing a bunch of folks that just want to live their lives peacefully, so that rules you back in.

      2. Just because your child porn is illegal doesn't mean religion should be.

    3. That behavior is why the palestinans are condemned to be tribalist savages.

    4. And the first picture pretty much sums it up.


    This is a USSR-level lie. None of the bills prohibit schools from teaching about slavery or racism; they prohibit schools from compelling students to believe in race essentialism, collective guilt, and racial superiority theory.

    The New York Times is utter propaganda. [Link]

    1. A stopped clock usually indicates the incorrect time.

    2. That showed up as a tease in my email welcome page, headlined:
      "GOP tries to outlaw teaching about slavery", credited to the NYT. It was obvious D propaganda; didn't bother to read it.

    1. Well, ok, so I guess *some* aspects of Cyberpunk 2020 are only a year late...


    That’s right. Even if a sample collected at the low CT value of 28 can be sequenced into the virus alleged to cause Covid19, the CDC will no longer be keeping records of breakthrough infections that don’t result in hospitalisation or death.

    From their website:
    "As of May 1, 2021, CDC transitioned from monitoring all reported vaccine breakthrough cases to focus on identifying and investigating only hospitalized or fatal cases due to any cause. This shift will help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance. Previous case counts, which were last updated on April 26, 2021, are available for reference only and will not be updated moving forward."

    Just like that, being asymptomatic – or having only minor symptoms – will no longer count as a “Covid case” but only if you’ve been vaccinated.

    The CDC has put new policies in place which effectively created a tiered system of diagnosis. Meaning, from now on, unvaccinated people will find it much easier to be diagnosed with Covid19 than vaccinated people.

    1. When I worked there, all influenza related deaths were reported as H1N1 deaths. Even though that was not the case. And apparently far from it.

  8. Meanwhile sleepy Joe campaigned on...

    Is that really what you want to say? Whatever a senile old man said one time back last year or so reading off a teleprompter. I'd say you're going to be very disappointed going forward if you set your expectations that high.

    Meanwhile, please let's import more refugees like Omar from places where they want to kill off other people, that'll help. It's not a coincidence that she and her pals are suddenly all brownshirting while elected to Congress. And Pelosi just does her nails because WTF she's gone in 2 years and so is her majority.

    1. Senile > corrupt.

      The Dotard will join his convict team soon.

      1. Another bombshell.
        We've reached the tipping point.
        The walls are closing in.
        It's the beginning of the end.


      2. Joe is corrupt dumbass. Has made far more from government.

    2. Pelosi has her nails done. At a salon. Without wearing a mask.

  9. Never give the government the power of execution.

  10. Well, the state could always pay off a fellow prisoner to execute a murder such as the cases of Jeffery Dahmer and Jeffery Epstein.

  11. I wonder if there will ever be a court case based on incorporating the Presidential power to pardon to the states. Meaning that a pardon/clemency/commutation could be lodged by both the Governor and President.

    I'm certain the SC has no interest in that at all - but OTOH right now they get all the final appeals and incorporating the power of pardon would switch much of that workload over to the pardon attorney thus allowing SC justices to go on vacation.

    Makes for very interesting politics as well.


    I have lost zero family members to Covid-19, but I have lost several to the Covid-19 PsyOps our Establishment pulled on us. More people should be talking about this. It's real, and it's evil.

  13. Wow, not a good thread for libertarians when the party finally says something right...

    #Lockdown was a trial run.

    1. But less destructive and authoritarian than mean tweets.

    2. I love the people calling it a conspiracy theory. Even in the face of places like Michigan trying to lock all those powers into permanence.


        “It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just a group of powerful people who saw a crisis and collaborated together to exploit it” is not the best argument.

  14. I maintain that public support for the death penalty is a lot like public support for three strikes laws, truth in sentencing, and sex offender registries. The reason the public supports draconian sentencing is because they don't trust liberal judges and liberal parole boards to keep people behind bars as they should.

    The legitimate purpose of a libertarian criminal justice system is to protect the rights of the accused, but it's also to protect the rights of crime victims. To whatever extent we fail to keep criminals locked up, after they've elected to violate the rights of others, we encourage the general public to ignore the rights of the accused.

    There isn't anything libertarian about convicted criminals evading accountability and responsibility for violating people's rights. Meanwhile, there are very libertarian policies and reforms that can make legitimate criminals more likely to be held accountable and take responsibility for their rights violating crimes.

    One of the best reasons to end the drug war is because there is a tremendous amount of money and resources wasted on trying to catch, prosecute, punish, and incapacitate people for doing things that don't violate any adult's rights. If those resources were put into catching, prosecuting, punishing, and incapacitating thieves, frauds, burglars, robbers, rapists, murderers, and arsonists, far fewer people would get away with these crimes, and there would be more space to keep legitimate criminals incapacitated for longer.

    In other words, if we had a criminal justice system that properly convicts and incapacitates legitimate criminals for an appropriate period of time, there wouldn't be so much support for the death penalty, three strikes, truth in sentencing, and sex offender registries.

    1. I think there's also a factor of most people thinking (probably quite correctly) that those things will never apply to them.

      1. Sadly, it is true in many cases.

        Gun control supporters in upper-middle-class neighborhoods are certain the cops will not do mass raids and arrests where they live.

        And they have compelling reasons for this certainty.

    2. if we had a criminal justice system that properly convicts and incapacitates legitimate criminals for an appropriate period of time

      This is utterly delusional and bluntly evil since you know you're lying through your teeth.

      The US has, by far, the highest incarceration rate (meaning prisoners/1000 people) in the world. Higher overall than Cuba, China, Turkey, Russia, etc. For the states of LA, OK, MS, GA, KY, AL, AK - the incarceration rate is more than double any of those countries. Well over double. Close to 5x higher than most countries.

      There is nothing remotely normal about any of this. This has nothing to do with anything 'criminal justice' related. It's among the most extreme examples of authoritarian social control. Though not at the level of overt civil war or genocide.

      1. "The US has, by far, the highest incarceration rate (meaning prisoners/1000 people) in the world.

        This was largely because of the drug war, which I addressed specifically.

        Meanwhile, California has been under court order to release prisoners for more than a decade--thieves, burglars, wife-beaters, robbers, and other legitimate criminals among them--for more than a decade, and that was before this:

        "SACRAMENTO — California is giving 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons, the opportunity to leave prison earlier as the state aims to further trim the population of what once was the nation’s largest state correctional system.

        More than 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes will be eligible for good-behavior credits that shorten their sentences by one-third instead of the one-fifth that had been in place since 2017. That includes nearly 20,000 inmates who are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole."

        ----LA Times, May 1, 2021

        Because you have no idea what you're talking about, doesn't mean other people are lying. It just means you're ignorant, and citing irrelevant statistics does nothing to change that fact.

        1. P.S.

          "Brown v. Plata, 563 U.S. 493 (2011), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States holding that a court-mandated population limit was necessary to remedy a violation of prisoners’ Eighth Amendment constitutional rights. Justice Kennedy filed the majority opinion of the 5 to 4 decision,[1] affirming a decision by a three judge panel of the United States District Court for the Eastern and Northern Districts of California which had ordered California to reduce its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity within two years.

          California has money for outrageous state pension obligations, ridiculous environmental regulations, and a bullet train to nowhere, but not enough money to build enough prisons to incarcerate violent criminals. And that's even after the federal bailout? How embarrassing for progressives!

        2. US total prison/jail population is 20% there for non-violent drug offenses (46% for federal level prisoners).

          Release all of them. Our incarceration rate is STILL higher than Cuba, China, Turkey, Russia - and their prisons likewise have a lot of drug offenses too.

          This problem ain't about the drug war. It ain't about mere criminal justice.

          1. You're citing countries with governments that hardly even recognize the existence of individual rights--much less enforce the law when people's rights are violated.

            How embarrassing!

            Because the police in Cuba or China can hardly be bothered to arrest criminals when your rights are violated, doesn't mean they have a fairer or better criminal justice system.

  15. I support explicitly the peoples power to define the criminal justice system, the live under. That included the Death Penalty.

    What has devolved, is judges from the bench twisting the peoples laws to fit their moral whims. Add to that prosecutors rewarded for a high conviction rates, and you have a corrupt system we have today.
    Today government is way past corrupt and cannot be be trusted to take the life of another human.

  16. Here's a list of Illinois murderers recently paroled over the objections of the victims families.
    Otis Williams,300 to 600 years, Double axe murderer.
    A.D. Clark, 300 to 600 years, accomplice to above.
    Carl Reimann, life, massacred five people in a shooting spree at a restaurant including a sixteen year old girl.
    Ray Larsen, 100 to 300 years, murdered a random 16 year old (while on furlough from jail for robbery).
    Chester Weger, life, murdered 3 random women at a state park.
    Johnny Veal, life, convicted of killing two cops.
    Joseph Hurst, life, accomplice to above (even notorious DA Kimm Foxx objected to their release).
    Thomas Kokoraleis, sentenced to life, resentenced to 70 years, member of a satanic gang known, the Ripper Crew that kidnapped, raped, mutilated and murdered as many as 20 women.

    You think the state will handle Life in prison sentences properly?
    The same attorneys groups that fight the death penalty will be fighting life penalties.

    1. You think the state will handle Life in prison sentences properly?
      No. but their still alive. I'm not sure how to handle the corruption. But I know they cant be trusted to use their power to end the life of others.
      I feel the same way about the secret FISA court. Its corrupt and violating citizens rights. That court is corrupt because the judges are corrupt. They cant be voted out, and other judges are complicit in their corruption by their silence and refusal to take action.

    2. Otis Williams,300 to 600 years, Double axe murderer.

      You would think 1 axe would have been enough.

      1. That is a question to be axed. One is good but two? Two are axecellent.

  17. Here's a video of Richard Speck, murderer of eight student nurses, in prison. Originally sentenced to death, overruled and sentenced to life. Speck's opinion on life in prison is around the 1.20 mark.

  18. In the final months of Donald Trump's presidency, shortly before this book was released, the Justice Department rushed through eight executions after a 17-year pause in use of the federal death penalty. The historic killing spree reignited a well-worn debate about capital punishment.

    Even the TDS folk have to admit that there were good things about Trump.


    Say Cheese!
    Capitol Police were so overwhelmed . .


    1. The link doesn't work. Or the tweet's been deleted.

      1. Worked when I clicked on it just now

    2. I think the Capitol Police there are suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome. Clearly they are playing along for fear of being murdered by the insurrectionists!

  20. The only problem with capital punishment is question of guilt.

    That's a pretty big question, but in cases of serial killers, there's no reason they shouldn't be put to death. As humanely and quickly as possible

    1. Are you certain that the government will not bung up the investigation or frame someone that is innocent? Look at the anthrax letter mailer case.


    When did this country enter the paradigm shift where we used to abhor criminals and those that did wrong, to now shaming people and businesses for trying to take a stand against crime?

    People steal because they want to. I’ve never encountered anyone who stole out of necessity. [Link]

    1. Feelingz = necessity

  22. Anyone out there still paying attention to what may be the story of the century?

    "WASHINGTON—Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory."

    ----Wall Street Journal

    Smoking gun?

    Of course not!

    But the evidence is piling up so high, to avoid the lab escape conclusion, you need to jump through a slew of hoops backwards to get to the assumption that covid-19 jumped species naturally. Who knows? Maybe the researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were infected the same way as everyone else--just much sooner than everyone else! If Shi Zhengli, the lead researcher on the gain of function work, were one of the people hospitalized, that might be the closest we'll ever get to a smoking gun.

    Just because it escaped from that lab, meanwhile, wouldn't necessarily mean the research funded by Facui's NIAID was to blame either, but given the potential for what most likely happened at a lab with a terrible safety record, the most important question isn't whether the pandemic was Fauci's and the NIAID's fault. The important question is why Fauci and the NIAID were funding extremely dangerous research at a lab in China with a terrible safety record.

    1. Tinfoil hat! Fauci is our god. Wear your mask!

    2. Speaking of the death penalty. The penalty for starting a pandemic should be the forced wearing of a mask; that isn't significantly permeable to any gases, until dead.

      1. As far as consequences are concerned, shouldn't we at the very least have had an announcement from the NIH that they will no longer fund this kind of research at Chinese labs with terrible safety records?

        If their drunk driving didn't start the pandemic, that's rather beside the point, with the point being that drunk driving with this kind of research at a Chinese lab with a bad safety record is a stupid thing to do.

        How 'bout, "We promise never to fund this kind of research in unsafe Chinese labs ever again" for starters?

        My understanding is that Rand Paul, et. al. sent a letter to the head of the NIH with a list of questions about the research Fauci funded in Wuhan, and I'll be really interested in the answers--especially if the answer is, "We're pleading the Fifth" or "Get a warrant".

        1. This is the full text of the letter Rand Paul, et. al. sent to the head of the NIH:

          "Since the beginning of the pandemic, the exact origin of SARS-CoV-2 has remained elusive. Recently, in response to the World Health Organization’s study of SARS-CoV-2’s origins, a group of eighteen scientists published a letter in Science Magazine stating that a leak of the virus from a lab is a “viable” theory and should be thoroughly investigated. Yet, obtaining information about the research on bat coronaviruses conducted at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology has been very difficult. Such information, including if and when gain of function experiments occurred at the lab, is crucial in determining the viability of the laboratory introduction theory. In light of the many unanswered questions regarding the origins of the SARS-CoV-2, we write to seek information regarding the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) 2014 funding pause on gain of function research (also referred to as the moratorium), exceptions NIH may have granted from that pause to allow gain of function research to continue, and the lifting of that pause in 2017.

          In October 2014, following several high profile biosafety incidents at labs, as well as public scrutiny of gain of function research studies, the Department of Health and Human Services and NIH instituted a pause on funding research of gain of function experiments “involving influenza, SARS, and MERS viruses.” The U.S. government (USG) noted, though, that “[a]n exception from the research pause may be obtained if the head of the USG funding agency determines that the research is urgently necessary to protect the public health or national security.” This pause did not apply to currently-funded research at the time, but the moratorium did urge “the USG and non-USG funded research community to join in adopting a voluntary pause.”

          One of the notable NIH-funded studies that was already underway prior to the funding moratorium was Dr. Ralph Baric’s work on a “lab-made coronavirus related to SARS.” In this 2015 study, researchers reportedly created a chimeric virus “related to SARS [that] can infect human cells.” Dr. Zhengli-Li Shi, “China’s leading expert on bat viruses” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, contributed to this research. An article noted that NIH allowed this study “to proceed while it was under review by the agency.” Baric reportedly added that “NIH eventually concluded that the work was not so risky as to fall under the [gain of function] moratorium.” It is unclear why NIH apparently concluded that this study was not “risky” enough to fall under the moratorium.

          In addition to Baric’s apparent gain of function research in 2015, NIH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) also reportedly funded similar coronavirus research conducted by EcoHealth Alliance, which subcontracted with Shi. Because of Shi’s research and her connection to the Wuhan lab, Dr. Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist and infectious disease expert, stated, “[i]t is clear that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was systematically constructing novel chimeric coronaviruses and was assessing their ability to infect human cells and human-ACE2-expressing mice.” In fact, Dr. Peter Dasazk, the president of EcoHealth Alliance, spoke about changing coronaviruses in a lab. In an interview Dasazk stated, “Well I think . . . coronaviruses — you can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily.”

          In December 2017, NIH lifted the funding pause and established a multi-disciplinary review process, known as the P3CO Framework, to ensure that federally funded gain of function experiments are “conducted responsibly.” It is unclear whether EcoHealth Alliance or any of its subcontractors was granted an exception to the moratorium or whether NIH reviewed those studies in connection with the P3CO Framework.

          ----Letter to Head of NIH from Sens. Ron Johnson and Rand Paul

          They've got some explainin' to do.

          1. Correction, that isn't the "full text", just the facts. They follow up with obvious questions about when the funding was authorized, who authorized it, etc.

        2. “We thank you for your thoughtful and insightful letter. We are reviewing the information internally. If you have additional questions, please visit our website at”

  23. The best part about this article is that ignores an inconvenient truth.

    When Joe Biden was a Senator, he lobbied very hard to increase the number of Federal death penalty offenses. In a video that was produced by - ahem - Reason magazine, they showed archival footage of Biden bragging about how many death penalty offenses his bill would create.

    The fact that Trump used tools provided for him by Joe Biden should have been discussed in an honest article. Instead we get drivel about Biden eliminating the Federal death penalty.

    1. You are absolutely correct that if Reason wanted to write a hit piece against Joe Biden masquerading as a serious thoughtful article discussing the death penalty, they did a very poor job. Instead, we only got the serious thoughtful article instead, and no hit piece! The nerve!

  24. O/T: Well well well. Voting changes are coming to Texas.

    I don't really care that it would disproportionately affect Democrats more than Republicans. I do care that the legislature decided to redistribute voting places rather than encourage more people to get registered. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy: make it harder to vote, so fewer people will bother to register to vote, so in response the legislature takes away even more voting places, etc.

    The real problem is that the people in DC do not fully represent the authentic will of the people, either Team Red or Team Blue. They represent either the crazy radicals in safe districts, or they represent a team carefully chosen by the gerrymander-ers and strongly influenced by voting rules and restrictions. Libertarians could get behind electoral reform that focused on reducing barriers to voting and structural reforms that included more participation by more parties. Why do House districts have to be gerrymandered? There is nothing in the Constitution about that. Why is the size of the House at 435? Again that is just set by law and can be changed at any time. It is woefully overdue for an increase in the House.

    1. Why is the size of the House at 435? Again that is just set by law and can be changed at any time. It is woefully overdue for an increase in the House

      Why indeed? I suspect the reason the House is fixed is because the size of the Senate is now fixed and changing the ratio between the House:Senate would also change Electoral College dynamics. And bluntly - it's pretty clear we care more about electing the Emperor than about electing our own representation. RIP Republic. Long Live the Empire.

      Were it not for a typographic error (more substituted for the word less - in one place), the House of Representatives would now have roughly 6000 critters. The real first amendment was about setting the size of House districts at 50,000. Eleven states ratified it by 1792. One short of ratification - the states opposing it were not the usual north-south divide but coastal states blocked from 'frontier' expansion. Once the typo became known, the amendment was mathematical gibberish - and no state has ratified since 1792.

    2. This has been the Republican strategy in recent years: Make voting more difficult. Why, for gawdsake, why? Less enthusiastic voters tend to vote Democrat (or so I have been told). Make voting harder and the less enthusiastic voters tend to say "fuck it" and stay home.

      Problem is, the red side of the spectrum is not different. The diehard voters of both parties are going to vote no matter what. It's the broad middle of the undecided. When Trump actively discouraged mail-in voting, he inadvertently discouraged a lot of less enthusiastic red voters. And thus in my opinion, shot himself in the foot.

      Voting should be as easy as possible for valid and legal voters. A balance has to be struck with security and privacy, but less polling places is NOT the answer. If they're afraid more polling places means more Democrats, then the problem is with the GOP itself. Stop catering to such narrow demographics.

  25. ...

    "Antisemitism and Islamophobia" thread.



      THREAD: Why Leftist Condemnations of Antisemitism Are Practically Worthless.

      Let's take a look back at how these condemnations of antisemitism have been handled by @TheDemocrats and what they reveal.

      1. Those who get angry with "all lives matter" in response to BLM also say:


  26. A reasoned approach to the death penalty can be made from the standpoint of the rights to life, liberty, and property. Petty crimes are punished by depriving the convicted of property (fines). More serious misdemeanors and felony crimes are punished by depriving the perpetrator of liberty (imprisonment). The most heinous crimes are punishable by death, depriving the convicted of life. This is a totally rational way to base the criminal justice system on.

  27. "...Anthony Amsterdam, the attorney who had successfully argued against capital punishment in Furman, insisted that none of the new death penalty plans were constitutional—not because they were too severe but because they all involved too much human decision making and were therefore susceptible to bias."

    Which is an argument against every kind of criminal punishment, not just against the death penalty.

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  30. The concept of death penalty is indeed very controversial. In fact, the key lies in what kind of crime. If it is intentional murder, shouldn't life be paid? If it is negligent, then the death penalty should not be imposed. The key point is to see how the law determines this limit.

  31. and the question of whether state-sanctioned killing is acceptable cuts to the core of one's worldview.

    First and foremost, that question ought to be answered by voters, state constitutions, and state supreme courts, not by SCOTUS.

    But, hey, "libertarians for rule by unelected federal judges"!

  32. I've been mostly against the death penalty since I was a wet-behind-the-ears libertarian in college. I remember driving me home from school my dad got into an argument with me over it. "But what your mother were killed? Wouldn't you want the murderer to be executed?"

    I forget what I said. Here is what I should have said. "Sure I would want him executed. But that's emotion. I want our policies to be based on rationality not emotion."

    That's it in a nutshell. There is no non-emotional argument for the death penalty that holds water. Deterrence has been proven to be insignificant. People have the emotion response for revenge.

    Now I am not totally against the death penalty. There are times I admit the emotional response is appropriate. But it should be damned rare. Stuff like Trump's execution spree were not about justice but signalling.

    The problem we face in the US is not the lack of executions, but the over incarceration of the otherwise non-violent. End the war on drugs, the war on prostitution, and the war on gambling. Many crimes can be punished without incarceration. Or shorter terms of incarceration coupled with extended Maybe trade in some prison guards for more probation officers.

  33. CJ doesn't see the lack of reason here:

    "the Justice Department rushed through eight executions after a 17-year pause"

  34. The death penalty is an archaic punishment. There was a time when attending an execution was a family outing. If sensibilities were the same we would have pay-per-view executions on Showtime or Sunday primetime executions on Fox. Why is that not a reality? Because people support the death penalty in the abstract - in principle only. Even most supporters don't have the inclination to watch an execution. I would hazard that if an execution were televised, whatever support there is would diminish overnight. Its in the interest of death penalty supporters to keep it in the abstract.

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