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3 Reasons to Get Rid of the Death Penalty

There are at least 10 executions scheduled to take place in the United States before the end of the year. Since the Supreme Court re-allowed executions in 1976, about 1,400 people have been executed. 

Whether it's because of botched attempts like the recent "macabre screw-ups" in Oklahoma and Ohio or the increasing number of cases in which death row inmates are exonerated, the case for capital punishment seems to get weaker with every new execution.

Here are three reasons to get rid of the death penalty.

1. The death penalty is too expensive.

Between 1980 and 2012, California spent $4 billion administering death penalty cases while actually executing just 13 individuals, according to a study produced by Loyola Marymount Law Professor Paula Mitchell. When the death penalty is in play, she says, “the legal costs [per case] skyrocket to an extra $134 million per year, well above the cost to implement life without possibility of parole.”

Given the legitimate need to hear appeals in death penalty cases, there will never be a way to make killing people less expensive that paying for them to serve out life sentences.

2. The death penalty doesn't deter crime.

 A 2009 study by University of Colorado scholars published in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology concludes flatly “the consensus among criminologists is that the death penalty does not add any significant deterrent effect above that of long-term imprisonment.” Fully 88 percent of criminal-justice experts responding to a poll saying the death penalty does not act as a deterrent of murder.

What's more, the murder rate per 100,000 residents in non-death-penalty states has been consistently lower than the rate in states with executions.

3. The government shouldn't kill people.

The state’s first role—and arguably its only one—is protecting the lives and property of its citizens. In everything it does—from collecting taxes to seizing property for public works to incentivizing “good” behaviors and habits—it should use the least violence or coercion possible.

No matter how despicable murderers can be, the state can make sure we’re safe by locking them up behind bars for the rest of their—and our—lives. That’s not only a cheaper answer than state-sanctioned murder, it’s a more moral one, too.

Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Produced by Meredith Bragg and Joshua Swain.

About 2 minutes. Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel to get automatic notifications when new videos go live.

This video is based on a longer, link-rich article Gillespie wrote for The Daily Beast. Go here to read the original.

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  • GregMax||

    Three completely bullshit reasons.
    1) Limit appeals to ONE,
    2) Dead people don't kill again,
    3) WE choose to kill those who commit heinous crimes for vengeance and safety.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I used to agree with you. If more prosecutors whose death penalty wins had been overturned by DNA evidence showed some smidgen of remorse, I still might.

    I would be willing to go forward with the death penalty if there was a blanket rule that any time subsequent evidence proved beyond doubt that the State had executed an innocent man, the prosecutor was also executed.

  • ace_m82||

    I would say that whomever in the State realized that they were going to execute an innocent man would then be guilty of murder. So yes, sounds good to me.

  • GregMax||

    I realize that trials are not perfect and my comment was based on the abstraction of certain guilt.
    Maybe just remove a testicle or ear. There are still plenty of guilty people convicted correctly.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What's the remedy for innocent people convicted?

  • GregMax||

    Same as those killed by drunk drivers, those killed in plane crashes, botched surgery . . .

    Diligent prosecution, good juries and otherwise, shit happens.

  • ||

    Sometimes a lawsuit if there was an evidentiary violation or intentional bad conduct on the part of the prosecution.

    Usually just released from prison - IF they can overturn the conviction, which is incredibly difficult.

  • ||

    appeal

  • Sam Haysom||

    Why not execute the jury as well. Better yet every time a accused murder beats the rap but turns out to have committed the crime we executed the defense attorney.

  • CANTEENKENNY||

    I agree with one caveat. There should be absolutely no doubt when the ultimate penalty is issued. Circumstantial evidence should never send anyone to the death chamber.

  • ||

    So appeals should be more limited in DP cases than in any other type of case?

    But those who killed in the first place obviously weren't deterred by the DP.

    Safety can be pretty guaranteed by locking them up for life. You certainly get vengeance by killing them, but why is vengeance a societal good?

  • Jordan||

    Three completely bullshit reasons.

    Thanks for summarizing your own post.

  • bpuharic||

    Limit appeals to one. After all the govt can't make TWO mistakes, right?

  • ||

    succinct. small is beautiful. needless to say, i agree with you.
    (ps, the so-called deterrent effect is really not knowable, it's merely a lackluster debate tool).

  • JeffreyinSandySprings||

    4) those that have chosen to kill have chosen to be punished by the death penalty.

    The government does not desire to kill its citizens and only does so in response to the actions of an individual.

    So remember that Libertarianism is about responsibility as much as it is about freedom because it is impossible to have a free society with out it.

    Individuals have a responsibility not to murder other people and when they violate that responsibility you forfeit your ability to complain if the government choses to kill you to eliminate you as a threat to the security of others in society

    Seems pretty simple to me guys!

  • JewPenis||

    "....you forfeit your ability to complain if the government choses to kill you to eliminate you as a threat to the security of others in society"

    Mrs. Clinton? Is that you?

  • ||

    The primary reason for government is public safety & your last 2 reasons are correct.

  • Sevo||

    GregMax|9.9.14 @ 2:04PM|#
    "3) WE choose to kill those who commit heinous crimes for vengeance and safety."

    Must be a mouse in your pocket.

  • San Diego||

    What would criminal justice look like if the death penalty was more expeditious (Let's say sixty days after trail), would it still be less expensive than housing a person behind bars for life? Would it still be an equal deterrent to prison? And I think its great when the government kills people who initiate force. And how will the elimination of the death penalty effect plea-bargains? Come on Nick!

  • ||

    Not necessarily less expensive than housing behind bars for life. Would depend on the process involved. The Death Penalty trial is often the most expensive process itself.

  • bpuharic||

    More expeditious? Yes, by all means let's execute our mistakes faster.

    The more I read the defenders of the DP, the less sense they make.

  • ||

    Putting them on "bread & water"would deter crime a lot better than "3 hots & a cot".

  • Malvolio||

    Uh, points one and three are stupid.

    It is a hugely perverse incentive to allow expenses arbitrarily added to a policy by opponents of that policy to become a principled, rather than practical, reason to abandon that policy.

    Besides, doesn't it make more sense to spend a lot of money to determine whether a man should be punished and less money punishing him, rather than the other way around?

    The government kills people all the time. Killing a few of the worst people in our society makes no impression on me whatsoever compared to, for example, the number of children killed by government-mandated airbags.

    As for the second point, I just don't think it is true. It certainly runs counter not only to intuition but to every other study I have seen.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It's not just legal hearings opponents want, as it says there will always be a legitamite need to ensure the state isn't murdering an innocent person, and that's going to cost money.

  • ace_m82||

    No matter how despicable murderers can be, the state can make sure we’re safe by locking them up behind bars for the rest of their—and our—lives.

    I would love to hear how it is any way libertarian to use force against the victim and the non-involved to pay for that person's meals, housing, and medical care for the rest of their lives. Actually, that goes for every crime.

    The purpose of the Justice system is justice, not "reformation". If you murder, you should die; if you assault, you should be assaulted. This is absolutely consistent with NAP, unlike our current system.

    Do you want justice? Then allow the jury to give a sentence of whatever it wants, including an "up to" clause. The victim or the victim's family (in other words, the people who are actually harmed by the crime) may then carry out the sentence, up to what the jury demanded. Then mercy may be metered out by the people who have the right to justice, the people harmed by it. If they choose to be merciful, then let them. If they choose to "get their pound of flesh", then that is their right.

    I actually welcome constructive criticism here.

  • GregMax||

    This only addresses the "vengeance" portion of execution. There are sociopaths who will kill more than once, and I don't want victim "Joe's" family deciding to let the killer go, and then find out that he drove drunk again and killed my kid.

  • ace_m82||

    You'd rather have the state deciding to let the killer go? They do that all the time. How rare is it to actually serve your entire life in prison?

    That is part of the decision made by the victim (or family). They know what will happen if they don't take care of the issue... And that murder is on their consciences. The State has no conscience (not sure I even had to say that).

    It addresses the only portion of the execution that matters. Yes, you have to restrain them for trial, and your appeal, but hey, paying for that is what trust funds are for!

  • kbolino||

    and I don't want victim "Joe's" family deciding to let the killer go, and then find out that he drove drunk again and killed my kid

    This reasoning can only lead one place, and that place is collective blame.

    "I don't want society to create any more killers, so I should get to dictate all the rules" is not materially different from what you're arguing here.

    Also, if you want it done, surely you can carry out the deed?

  • GregMax||

    Yes I would, but in assigning the right to seek justice to society it becomes illegal for me to do it myself. Someone kills my kid . . . I'd gladly do the job.

    My point was you don't let the victim's family let the person off because it (potentially) endangers others. Society is supposed to be more objective. I'm either too thick to understand the rest of your comment or you're on some other astral plane. I don't want to dictate the rules - I want people who are a proven threat to cease without exception to continue to be a threat.

  • kbolino||

    I don't want to dictate the rules - I want people who are a proven threat to cease without exception to continue to be a threat.

    If you can't recognize that this sentence is inherently contradictory, then I might indeed be on some other plane of existence.

  • GregMax||

    Dictate - as in establish (the rule) by imposing or pronouncing. I am expressing an opinion with regard to what my vision of the ideal would be. No contradiction.
    But, hey, you are probably not alone in that plane.

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    So if I taunt you, must I be taunted? What if I taunt you A SECOND TIME?

  • ace_m82||

    Not sure how NAP is violated there...

    I probably failed to say that. Only actual crimes (harming another person in a real way) qualify. Victimless crimes don't count because there is no one to bring charges.

  • NealAppeal||

    Victimless crime...like punching somebody in the dark.
    /Nelson

  • Calidissident||

    What if the victim is murdered and doesn't have a family, or has a family that dislikes them? What if they were murdered by a family member?

  • ace_m82||

    Quite likely, really. If the family won't come forward, then the friends should. If there really is no one, then people like me would do it for them.

    Murdered by a family member is an interesting question. I suppose many would be reluctant to kill a member of their family. But, perhaps that would be a time for more mercy (depending on circumstance).

    Remember though, it's now completely on the family if that person kills again. That's a lot of weight to bear.

    Thanks for the question!

  • JeffreyinSandySprings||

    agreed
    it is a legitamate function of government to keep people safe from those who operate outside of the standards of decent society. This includes pirates, terrorists and Murderers.
    By acting in this way, these people have CONSCIOUSLY CHOSEN to be subject to the death penalty and killed by a Government. The choice was not the govenment's to make.
    They have not only violated the law but have put themselves outside of societies protection and have become an enemy of decency and order.

  • JewPenis||

    "it is a legitamate function of government to keep people safe from those who operate outside of the standards of decent society"

    You know you're on a libertarian website, right?

  • toolkien||

    It's amazing how many people don't trust government to build roads or deliver mail or do pretty much anything but when it comes to war and capital punishment it suddenly becomes efficient and trust worthy.

    I have the same disgusted reaction as anyone else to sick crimes committed by sick people. But if an error (or purposeful railroading) is made, freedom can be restored to a person. A life can't. So I'd rather have a sick person in a cage rather than in the ground in the event they have suffered an injustice by a sick agent of the state.

    As for issue one, the cost is so high because the lawyers and judges that make up the system want it that way. Think Big Law. And it's really a different issue.

  • Pro Libertate||

    To be fair, governments are good at killing people. I mean, it's not even close--governments have killed millions.

  • KPres||

    "But if an error (or purposeful railroading) is made, freedom can be restored to a person."

    By the same token, why would I trust government to correct that error?

    And what if an error is made in the other direction? What if a murderer gets life then kills another prisoner? That's a mistake that could have been avoided by giving them a death penalty that they deserved.

  • kbolino||

    By the same token, why would I trust government to correct that error?

    "Well, son, all you can do is fuck up. You're so good at fucking up in fact, that instead of forcing you to fix your mistakes, I'm just gonna let you keep fucking up. It's better to be good at a bad thing than to do a good thing badly."

  • bpuharic||

    So you say it's OK to have the fallible govt kill the innocent rather than let the guilty go free

    Gee. Where have I heard THAT argument before?

  • JeffreyinSandySprings||

    its not necessarily a matter of trust, it is a matter of whether it is an appropriate role of government.
    The courts are an appropriate role of government as it is in the constitution and cannot be done privately. Running my health care is not..... it is not in the constitution and can be done by the private sector and should be as well.

    do you understand now?!?!

  • Brian||

    But, I like killing people.

  • creech||

    If a killer is indisputably guilty, and there are such cases, would the death penalty be appropriate if the victim's heirs so demanded?

  • ||

    What if it was a gay person who was murdered and the victim's heirs disowned him/her and want the murderer immediately released?

  • ace_m82||

    While tragic, it seems like the kind of thing the government does all the time...

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    I am a loyal Papist who has assimilated St. John Paul's declaration to the faithful that the death penalty is rarely if ever justified.*

    (see paragraph 56)

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_fat.....ae_en.html

    I also am freaked out by the stories of innocent people railroaded on murder charges.

    These are the reasons I have my doubts about the death penalty, at least as applied in this country.

    I don't accept the categorical philosophical idea that the government may *never* kill the guilty. And we know that outside the context of the death penalty, the government *does* kill, eg, accused felons fleeing from justice, or criminals waving guns around in crowded areas, or in hostage-taking situations.

    The deterrence argument is lame, given the half-assed application of the death penalty today.

    The expense argument is close to retarded (no offense), since the expense is caused by DP *opponents* increasing the cost of post-conviction appeals.
    * I still think there are cases in which the death penalty is justified because otherwise there would be too much of a risk of the offender getting released from prison later. Eg., political murders in a country undergoing frequent changes of regime, so that today's criminals become tomorrow's amnestied political prisoners. That's why I'm cool with hanging Saddam Hussein, or the ISIS bosses if the Iraqi regime gets a hold of them.

  • Mark22||

    These are the reasons I have my doubts about the death penalty

    Given that you just told us that the foundations of your ethics are the self-serving lies of a profoundly venal, immoral, and corrupt organization, why do you think anybody cares what your beliefs are?

  • Jaybirdmojo||

    Like most things, I understand the death penalty in theory but find myself appalled at how it gets used in practice.

    It's like the sex offenders registry. If I knew that the people on it were the "8 year olds, Dude" kinda baddies, I'd have no problem with it. But they're putting public urinators on it.

    If we could have the death penalty for people who are Lawrence Russell Brewer bad (or worse), I might be okay with it. As it is, the baby is ugly enough that I don't mind getting rid of it with the bathwater.

  • kbolino||

    For every Cincinnatus, there are a thousand Caesars.

  • Eggs Benedict Cumberbund||

    Let's assume guilt for the sake of argument.

    Is it really more moral to lock somebody up for the rest of their lives than to kill them? Seems to me like it could be viewed as slow torture vs a quick end.

  • ||

    Yes, that is the more moral option.

  • Jordan||

    I'd rather be killed (still staunchly against the death penalty, though).

  • ||

    Most life defendants aren't in solitary, they're in a segregated wing of some kind with other people they can talk to, read books, access a computer.

    Often, a person on death row is in solitary virtually the entire time. So if they appeal for 10+ years they rarely see another human being. Maybe the occasional family or attorney visit.

  • MsCarol420||

    Death row inmates get their own cell but it is far from solitary confinement. They are usually in pods and move about freely through the day. In prison killers are at the top of the food chain. They eat in the dining hall and go to the exercise yard, library, laundry, etc just like anyone else.

    Solitary confinement is torture. Ir is very expensive compared to general population and they are locked down without television, computer, radio for 23 hours every day. They have virtually no human contact with others, must wear cuffs and leg irons to go to their confined exercise yard alone, and correctional officers are not supposed to speak to them. Long term solitary confinement should be abolished.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Noninfallibilitism.

  • ||

    1. This is an argument to fix the appeals and review system for capital cases. My proposal - Jury says guilty and that death is appropriate, a whole new trial/review by separate judge/jury/prosecution with emphasis on a higher standard of proof (tougher requirement for prosecution). The primacy of this second trial is to determine whether death is appropriate. They can overthrow the previous conviction if innocence can be established (Tougher requirement for defense). Also, look at if this is something that the perpetrator would repeat, if given the chance. Expedite carrying out of sentence once complete. A lot less death penalties would meet this standard.

    2. Faster executions will be better deterenents. Also, I'm more interested in stopping the person we're killing, than other people.

    3. The government is the only one who should kill people, with the peoples consent.

  • ||

    Most jurisdictions have something similar to this. First, the sentencing phase is held separately from the guilt phase, sometimes as much as a month or two later. Second, most jurisdictions have immediate expedited appeal to the highest appellate court following a sentence of death where they check the case very carefully.

    The problem is people will still make mistakes. Whether intentional by the prosecution or unintentional by the Judge, it will happen.

    As an aside, the vast majority of DP cases are represented by a public defender as very few can afford the $100k+ for private counsel. In Philadelphia (where I sometimes practice) private counsel are sometimes court-appointed. The payment for representing a death penalty defendant? Sometimes as little as $10k.

    http://articles.philly.com/201.....th-penalty

    I wouldn't do a divorce for less than $10k, and the court's asking me to defend someone accused of murder to spend hundreds, if not thousands of hours, for less than what I'd make off a decent drug case.

    The last DP case I worked on (as co-counsel) there were 80,000 documents in the discovery turned over to us. 80,000.

    Maybe even the playing field so defendants can get a fair shake up-front, but when your trial counsel falls asleep at trial and the appellate court still upholds the conviction there's something wrong with the system.

  • bpuharic||

    By all means, trust govt to do the right thing. DA's never lie or hide evidence. Never happens. That's why you can trust the govt.

  • Jordan||

    The only reason you need:

    The government cannot be trusted with such awesome power.

  • ace_m82||

    The government doesn't have that power. The Jury does.

  • Jordan||

    The government decides who serves on the jury, who the jury judges, and what the jury sees. And even if that weren't the case, juries are still human and subject to all kinds of bias and irrationality. Innocent people get convicted of crimes all the time.

  • ace_m82||

    If that is your complaint, then get the government out of the courtroom. Perhaps you should work on informing juries (like the jury nullification activists do).

    Juries are still human, yes. What is your solution? Bonus points if you can avoid violating NAP (like I did... I think).

  • Jordan||

    I've already told you my solution: don't kill people. No justice system will ever avoid punishing innocents, so limit the damage it can do.

  • ace_m82||

    So violate NAP by taking my money to keep them alive? So your answer is to violate NAP? That doesn't seem to be limiting damage, and it seems to me to incentivize more prisoners and therefore more "crimes"...

    Almost like we have now.

  • kbolino||

    So violate NAP by taking my money to ...

    erect a courthouse, pay the judge, pay the sheriff, pay the bailiffs, pay the prosecutors, pay the jurors, ...

    We're already down the road, the question is how far before we stop?

  • ace_m82||

    erect a courthouse, pay the judge, pay the sheriff, pay the bailiffs, pay the prosecutors, pay the jurors, ...

    We're already down the road, the question is how far before we stop?

    Right now, if not sooner.

    None of that stuff needs to be paid for by government and you know that.

  • kbolino||

    None of that stuff needs to be paid for by government and you know that.

    Nothing I said was meant to imply otherwise.

  • ace_m82||

    You quoted me talking about violating NAP and then wrote those things. What was I supposed to think? What did you mean?

  • kbolino||

    How could courts run outside the government force you to pay for the incarceration of their prisoners?

    You are begging the question here. If you are paying for the prison, then you paid for the courthouse too.

    You are absolutely correct that none of this has to come from the government, but you are muddying the water if you can't understand that different premises require different arguments.

  • bpuharic||

    The jury is part of govt as are the courts, the tax system, etc.

  • ace_m82||

    So when you're on a jury, you're an officer of the government? Or are you a free human being with an interest in truth and justice?

    You are responsible to God and/or your conscience for your actions as a juror. Government agents may or may not have a conscience.

  • kbolino||

    Are conscripted soldiers officers of the government?

  • ace_m82||

    At the barrel of a gun? Yes, and they have "no choice" on whether or not they follow orders (cause they'll be shot if they don't).

    Jurors (ought to) differ in two ways:

    #1, A government making serving on a jury a "duty" instead of voluntary is a violation of NAP.

    #2, Even then, they don't have to listen to the Judge, Officer, etc. They can simply say "not guilty" if they don't like the law.

  • kbolino||

    Given that jury duty is not voluntary, aren't jurors agents of the government?

    Given that instructions from a judge are backed by force, how can jurors be said to have the latitude to make decisions on the law as well as the facts of the case?

    If you don't understand the premise, then you can formulate a conclusion but can't possibly prove it.

  • Almanian!||

    I don't want a pickle.
    I just wanna ride my motorsickle.

    And I don't wanna die.
    I just wanna ride on my motorcy. Cle.

    This made me think of that. That is all.

  • p-bags||

    You forgot the MAIN reason to eliminate the death penalty:

    It's a syllogism: 1) humans are fallible --- implies 2) an innocent person WILL be executed; 3) we don't EVER want an innocent person to be executed, ergo, we must abolish the death penalty. We wouldn't need to worry about this, of course, if humans were infallible. Does anyone believe we are?

    Nothing else matters in comparison to this simple notion.

  • Jordan||

    THIS^

  • ace_m82||

    How to deal with murderers then? Imprison them for life? Who pays for it? Government (meaning taxpayer)? So I have to pay for their existence because a jury may make a mistake? So you'll trade potential problems for certain tyranny (theft)?

    Please stop me if you have a better idea as to how to deal with evil violators of NAP. More violations of NAP is not really a solution in my mind...

  • Jordan||

    Are you an anarchist?

  • ace_m82||

    Don't hurt people and don't take their stuff.

  • bassjoe||

    "So I have to pay for their existence because a jury may make a mistake? So you'll trade potential problems for certain tyranny (theft)?"

    According to your own logic, you're getting thieved from regardless of what happens to the defendant (who do you think pays for executions other than the government?).

    That said, wouldn't you prefer you NOT pay for the killing of an innocent under any circumstances? Also, since life with no parole is by any standard CHEAPER than the death penalty, doesn't it follow that life with no parole will result in less tyranny directed against you?

  • ace_m82||

    According to your own logic, you're getting thieved from regardless of what happens to the defendant (who do you think pays for executions other than the government?).

    I fail to see how you'd need to pay the family to kill the guy. If you mean the admin of getting to the execution, heck, that's what Trust funds are for.

    That said, wouldn't you prefer you NOT pay for the killing of an innocent under any circumstances?

    I don't need to pay for it. Killing innocents is bad, but that's on the jury's conscience (and will demand a higher level of proof).

    Also, since life with no parole is by any standard CHEAPER than the death penalty, doesn't it follow that life with no parole will result in less tyranny directed against you?

    I fail to see how anything in my system of Justice would make it as expensive as it is now. Now it's a govt bureaucracy and in mine it would be run for only the purposes of justice for crimes against victims. People (including myself) would be willing to donate to that.

  • ||

    If the government wants to put people in prison the government should pay for it.

    I'm not advocating Willie Horton style furloughs, but some means of allowing inmates to work and pay a portion of that for the costs of their prosecution would be a meaningful reform.

  • ace_m82||

    True, but unless they paid for their whole costs, it's still a violation of NAP. And if it DOES make money, then there's the perverse incentive to imprison more.

    Also, none of that is justice... excepting, perhaps, if there were a kidnapping and enslavement.

  • GregMax||

    Throw away your car keys, ban alcohol, trans fats, ground all air planes . . .
    No. But let 100 killers go free because one person (still guilty of something heinous?)might be wrongly convicted. Bad shit happens but people who oppose the death penalty are more concerned about the one innocent person, but are cool with soldiers dying or kids being killed by drunks.
    What is the recidivism rate among convicted killers? 0? And "deterrence" is one of those terms that get over-used by death penalty opponents. How about "prevention"? Does the death penalty prevent deaths (beyond the first)?

  • bpuharic||

    Life in prison prevents murder too. Glad to see your liberal side come out in your trust of the govt to do the right thing in death penalty cases

  • Jordan||

    Your argument is basically that murdering innocent people is an acceptable price for possibly preventing some murders.

    If that's the case, why not repeal the 4th and 5th Amendments while we're at it? It seems you think that no infringement on liberty is unacceptable in preventing murder.

  • GregMax||

    You must think we live in a fantasy world. PROHIBIT ALCOHOL if you're worried about the lives of innocents. Life is messy and we try (emphasize TRY) to keep it as least messy as possible not pristine. Yeah, prosecutors should be liable for malicious or even idiotic prosecution, and juries should genuinely hold verdicts of guilt for cases "beyond reasonable doubt."

    People kill people in prison. If you're wrongly confined to a prison, would you be thrilled to be knifed by a socio-path because "the death penalty" is jucky?

  • Mark22||

    Your argument is basically that murdering innocent people is an acceptable price for possibly preventing some murders.

    How is that any different from locking up innocent people for life? From shooting someone because you wrongly feared for your life? From accidentally running over a person with your car? How can we function as a society if we adopt the principle that nobody should ever do anything that might hurt an innocent person?

    Any argument against the death penalty has to be a bit more subtle than that we should never kill innocent people.

  • MsCarol420||

    My concerns have nothing to do with innocence or deterrence. It is not cost effective. Death row is the nicest place to be if you have to be in prison btw. It is not fairly equally applied, out of 1,400 executions only 12 were women. You seem motivated by a need for revenge and why should the state supply revenge for the individual? I oppose war too btw and I am a military veteran. I am not at all cool with soldiers dying, or with kids being killed by drunks. KWOP is "prevention" and the recidivism rate is zero.

  • bassjoe||

    4) the State makes mistakes. All the God-damned time. A "mistake" that ends somebody's life is irreversible. Life without parole is at least partially reversible.

  • ||

    Seriously. Read the story of Damien Echols and the West Memphis 3. Everyone was convinced they were guilty. Then when doubts started to surface the state fought tooth and nail to keep him on death row.

  • bpuharic||

    Cameron Todd Willingham is another. Too many cases.

  • Sam Haysom||

    And the west Memphis 3 were executed right? Wait they weren't? And that ultimately weren't actually acquitted but entered Alford pleas. That means you've put forward a completely red herring argument. Don't tell me most opponents of justice argue like you do.

  • kbolino||

    You do realize you're basically arguing that the West Memphis 3 would be better examples if they were martyrs, right?

  • bpuharic||

    If you trust govt, support the death penalty

  • Sock Monkey||

    One reason to restore the death penalty everywhere it's been abandoned: it's justice. When murderers are proven guilty, and remain alive (after an appropriate appeals process) justice is denied, and the right to life is violated.

  • kbolino||

    the right to life is violated

    Even an honest-to-God killer convicted beyond all doubt has a right to life (and liberty, and property). God gave those rights, only He can take them away. If you prefer the non-theistic version, no man gave you your rights, and so no man can take them away.

    The state violates the rights of the killer in order to effect justice when the rights of another were violated. Most people consider this acceptable to some degree (the degree largely being the subject of this debate), but regardless of whether the state executes every killer or no, it is not responsible for a killer's actions.

    This is a pretty fundamental negative-vs-positive distinction.

  • San Diego||

    And what if capital punishment is in fact a deterrent?

  • kbolino||

    How far down that rabbit hole do you want to go?

  • JeffreyinSandySprings||

    nope - once he has operated that far out of society and has violated other people's right to Life liberty and property, he has forfeited his right to life.

    this includes pirates, terrorists and murderers.

    the right to life is NOT absolute. The right to justice and a far trial is
    So if a murderer kills and is proven guilty and there is no doubt about his guilt then his life is forfeit and should be humanly killed.

  • kbolino||

    the right to life is NOT absolute. The right to justice and a far trial is

    If there are no courts or judges, how is your "absolute" right going to be sustained?

  • Mark22||

    You can spew those platitudes all you want, I don't care. The real question is: what kind of society do people want to live in.

    I don't want to live in a society in which murderers go free, period; I don't care what nutty rationales you come up with to justify that.

    I also don't want to live in a society in which the government has too much power because it's dangerous. But that's not because I'm concerned about the rights of murderers. It's not even because I'm concerned about the rights of the occasionally wrongly convicted. It's mostly because I'm concerned about political and/or religious nuts coming into government and abusing that power.

  • kbolino||

    You can spew those platitudes all you want, I don't care

    Good for you? Somebody made an appeal to principle, and I talked about principles.

    The real question is: what kind of society do people want to live in.

    The one they're living in? The government and society are not the same thing. People shape society every day by their actions. The real question is, who gets to make the rules that bind everybody else and what should those rules be?

    I also don't want to live in a society in which the government has too much power because it's dangerous. But that's not because I'm concerned about the rights of murderers. It's not even because I'm concerned about the rights of the occasionally wrongly convicted. It's mostly because I'm concerned about political and/or religious nuts coming into government and abusing that power.

    That's fine, but again the real question is whose concerns get primacy over those of others?

  • Mark22||

    The real question is, who gets to make the rules that bind everybody else and what should those rules be?

    Nobody "gets to make them"; it's a negotiation between people with different principles and beliefs.

    Proclaiming stuff like "God gave those rights, only He can take them away." isn't going to convince anybody. Christians don't generally believe that and have killed with abandon over the last 2000 years, and non-Christians will consider you a bloody hypocrite even if they generally oppose the death penalty (like me).

    You want to make an argument against the death penalty? Stop making a fool of yourself and start making some arguments that might actually have a chance to convince people.

  • kbolino||

    You don't like natural rights. I get it, it's not a concept everybody agrees with.

    I'm not out to be an advocate for your cause, in fact I'm not even arguing against death as an appropriate penalty.

    I am arguing about who has the power to pronounce (and carry out) the sentence.

    If your goal is just to get fewer people executed, then that's great. But I want to understand the system as well as its underpinnings, so if you're just coming around to tell me "stop talking about this, it's hurting my pet cause" then just fuck off.

  • Sock Monkey||

    Obviously, I do not agree that the "convicted beyond all doubt" murderer has a right to live. Rather, the state has a duty to execute him. Failure to do so denies justice to him, his victim(s), and society at large.

  • bpuharic||

    Proven guilty by a fallible govt system. Trust in the govt for irrevocable positions is insane.

  • JeffreyinSandySprings||

    what is insane is anarchy which is what you have if there is no trust in the government at all.
    In order to have a government the people have to cede a certain level of control which includes police power and the power to remove dangerous people from society.
    If you don't then killers will be able to roam unimpeded to kill at will which is not a tenable situation.

    I would hope you would have the intelligence to understand this because its not that complicated at all.

  • Mark22||

    Sorry, but that's not true. Clearly, some mechanism is needed to keep "killers from roaming the streets", but there are other ways of doing that besides giving a monopoly on violence and adjudication to government institutions. I know that may be a little complicated to understand, but give it a try.

  • San Diego||

    Look, for those of you that are against the death penalty, would you at least admit that the death penalty if done expeditiously could be a deterrent, and that there may be some group of people out there who lives may have been sparred if their potential killers had had visions of old sparky on the brain. It's the height of hypocrisy to defang the DP and then say it's not a deterrent and it's costly. The question is which one of these two populations would be larger, those who would be wrongfully executed or those that would be spared death because the DP supresses the killing impulse for some people where prison might not.

    I don't know that in my life that I've seen anyone wrongfully executed (I am sure there have been) but I would bet there are a lot more scumbags who see prison as a way of life, that might have thought twice about killing someone if they had had visions of a gas chamber at the end of the day. It would be nice if you would at least acknowledge that we are talking about two groups.

  • kbolino||

    It's the height of hypocrisy to defang the DP and then say it's not a deterrent and it's costly.

    Agreed, bullets are cheap. And you can deter just about anything with the right amount of murder.

    The question still remains of who gets to make the call and pull the trigger, and what is to be done when they are wrong?

  • kbolino||

    And you can deter just about anything with the right amount of killing.

    I'm not trying to beg any questions here.

  • ||

    I cannot agree with your stance on the death penalty. You are way off base here!

    First, you should not use state by state data as this skews the numbers. You should be looking at murder by urban areas as urban areas are where 90% of the population lives and this is where the murder action is. Urban areas includes both the cities and the surrounding areas, the entire metro area population for it to be accurate. Demographics accuratley predict where the murder is going to be and who is commiting them. Everyone knows this but no one says it.

    Second, who cares if studies show that it is not a deterrent. Perhaps it has not been a deterrent because there has been such a long and convoluted connection between commission of the violent crime and the delivery of the punishment. Justice should be swift and it should not be spared for violent criminals. The way I see it, the punishment should actually be publicized (and conducted in public) so that the public at large sees that people are justly and properly punished and that there will be zero tolerance for violence. Perhaps then the violent people in our society will get the conncection. There should not be ANY tolerance for violent people, they should be swiftly crushed by our justice system.

    Third, in terms of cost, let's streamline the system so we have cheap, just, cost effective executions. I like the Texas motto "kill someone down here and we'll kill ya' back."

  • JeffreyinSandySprings||

    Points 1 & 2 are fallacious
    The death penalty isn't expensive at all - perhaps the cost of a few bullets or a few yards of rope - what is expensive is the ridiculous appeal process. Keeping murderers that can never be released into society is far more expensive especially when you are going to kill them anyway.

    The death penalty is a huge deterent when it is done quickly after the trial, not decades later. So simplify the process especially when there is no question of guilt.

    the third is more tricky but i do not see it as a problem because we cede a certain amount of control to the government to make it effective. One part of this control is that it is empowered to enforce laws and punish people for infractions. Argue that and you are an Anarchist not a Libertarian.
    In many ways life in prison is far worse than being killed. If you have ever been in jail - a day is like a week and a week is like a month.

    Also the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The death penalty is neither if done correctly It is quick and painless

  • Sevo||

    "the third is more tricky but i do not see it as a problem because we cede a certain amount of control to the government to make it effective"

    "we"?
    Got a mouse in your pocket?
    I love people speaking for me without asking.

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  • FreeLibertine||

    I'm gonna add my 2 reasons, as well.

    1. Government incompetence
    2. Government corruption

    Which can lead to innocent individuals being murdered by the state.

  • ||

    Nick, Meredith and Joshua:

    Both reason and fact checking are important:

    1) Your California cost study is nonsense.

    See California within

    Saving Costs with The Death Penalty
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/.....money.html

    contd

  • ||

    contd

    2) It is impossible to make deterrence go away.

    a) The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter? A Review of All Innocence Issues
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/.....atter.html

    b) OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate
    and
    MURDERERS MUCH PREFER LIFE OVER EXECUTION
    99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/.....eters.html

    contd

  • ||

    contd

    3) Governments should kill people, under strictly defined circumstances, inclusive of the death penalty and just police and military actions.

    4) No "Botched" Execution - Arizona (or Ohio)
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/.....-ohio.html

  • Hockeybik||

    Court sentences, whether the death penalty or a fine for overstaying a parking meter are first and foremost punishments. How a potential punishment may act as a deterrent for others committing similar crimes is secondary. We never ask, "Does the 'deterrent' fit the crime?" do we?

    Sometimes there are good reasons for governments to kill people. Certain kinds of murderers may be candidates for the most extreme punishment.

    Too much money spent? Agreed, the numbers cited are excessive. How to fix this? There are certainly answers but taking the possibility of the death sentence away just because it costs too much is not one of them.

  • xplorethings||

  • MsCarol420||

    I agree with abolishing the death penalty. We also need to abolish long term solitary confinement because it's expensive, it's cruel and unusual treatment, it causes psychosis, and men released from solitary confinement are likely to commit violence against persons even when they have no violence in their history. Thank you.

  • Arthur45||

    It's really quite impossible to know whether the death penalty is a deterrant, especially since its so seldom invoked and in most states, never invoked. If it were universal and often done, THEN and only then could you state that it doesn't work as a deterrant. Of course, there is the ethical view that there are murderers that flat out deserve to die
    and their death would satisfy the public that they got what was coming to them. On the other hand, mistakes are made, although one would think that Murder One cases would normally be open and shut. Overall, it's probably better to throw them in jail forever, although it needs to be demonstrated that this in fact would be cheaper. Right now it might be cheaper because the death penalty is on the table and pursuades killers to plead guilty, w/o trial, but if that were not the case, they would hardly be likely to plead a life sentence, so the cost of those cases might skyrocket. Need to research costs in places where there is no death penalty.

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