Statement in my Cultural Anthropology textbook...


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DRZinn
December 6, 2005, 05:33 AM
(no discussion of any kind, just a picture of an electric chair and a painting of an Aztec human sacrifice): What these two pictures have in common is that both are examples of institutionalized magical responses to concerns many harbor in their societies. In death penalty states, executing criminals does no more to deter violent crimes than Aztec human sacrifices did to keep the sun in the sky.

The worst thing is that I've seen this kind of pap before, and pointed it out to the professor (Ellie, if you catch this, it's Lynn Gamble again), who simply acted (badly) concerned and thanked me for the feedback. The way she teaches the class is right along those lines....

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SomeKid
December 6, 2005, 08:04 AM
I started a thread a while back regarding the college indoctrination I had in my Psychology class. Thankfully, I aced the last test, got an A in the course, and can skip the final/throw away the book.

Janitor
December 6, 2005, 08:12 AM
In death penalty states, executing criminals does no more to deter violent crimes than Aztec human sacrifices did to keep the sun in the sky.
This is patently false.

I challange anyone to cite one single example of any person who's been visited by the executioner causing any more problems of any sort afterwards.

Anyone?

I didn't think so.
-

Ransom
December 6, 2005, 08:16 AM
Well, considering murder rates kept rising after it was put in place there isnt much evidence to say it does. I guess you could argue that there isnt full on proof that it doesnt, so a statement of fact like that is somewhat misleading but its hardly outright false.

The way I see it is much like we view gun control laws. Violence happens no matter what. People kill regardless of what laws are on the books and what the outcome of those crimes will be. I doubt your average criminal is thinking about the end result of his crimes. Hell, most people commit crimes thinking they'll never be caught.


edit:


I challange anyone to cite one single example of any person who's been visited by the executioner causing any more problems of any sort afterwards.

Heh heh, I'd like to hear anti death penalty people argue against that.

Janitor
December 6, 2005, 08:20 AM
Actually, I think execution is every bit the deternce it's meant to be.

I don't see it as something to scare other potential murderers. As you've aptly pointed out - that doesn't work at any level. But it does a sound job of detering those that have gone all the way through the process.

In fact, my (admittedly quick) research shows roughly zero recidivism.
-

Lone_Gunman
December 6, 2005, 09:01 AM
I challange anyone to cite one single example of any person who's been visited by the executioner causing any more problems of any sort afterwards.

I can't find an example, but can you cite a study that says people who have been executed do not commit further crimes?

Janitor
December 6, 2005, 09:07 AM
I can't find an example, but can you cite a study that says people who have been executed do not commit further crimes?
Touche'.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
-

geekWithA.45
December 6, 2005, 09:46 AM
FWIW, I do recall some criminological studies that indicate that criminals do not consider the threat of execution for their crimes during their decision making cycle, and therefore concludes that such threat has no impact on crime. IIRC, references were also made to studies comparing crime rates between states with and without death penalties.


Criminals are detered by the immediate threat of getting caught or shot by either a policeman or an armed citizen, and very little else.

In psych terms, it's a matter of immediacy: the abstract threat of possibly being executed in 10 or 15 years if caught, if convicted, if appeals fail etc has little traction on the criminals imagination compared to the evaluation as to whether the criminal might be shot RIGHT NOW.


The anthro book could have made that point without the sneering, idiologically driven condescencion.

NCP24
December 6, 2005, 11:20 AM
Itís cost effective.

torpid
December 6, 2005, 11:42 AM
...executing criminals does no more to deter violent crimes than Aztec human sacrifices did to keep the sun in the sky.

Who is to say that we don't have the Aztecs to thank for keeping this planet from becoming a frozen rock?

.

migoi
December 6, 2005, 11:59 AM
isn't about deterrence for me. It's about removing any possibility of any more earthly pleasures for the scum that harmed me or someone I care about. If someone actually accomplishes one of the five things I would be justified in using lethal force to stop them from accomplishing had I been there then they should be put to death upon conviction of that crime.

No victim's family should ever have to witness acts such as those video-taped of Richard Speck getting high and having sex with his jail house partner. It is to remove all possibility they will ever enjoy themselves again.

migoi

Tequila_Sauer
December 6, 2005, 12:16 PM
"isn't about deterrence for me. It's about removing any possibility of any more earthly pleasures for the scum that harmed me or someone I care about"


I couldn't agree more with this. I don't think we should execute criminals to tell other criminals not to commit crimes, people break the law regardless of the punishment. I think we should execute criminals when they commit crimes so heinous that I can't think of a better end for them than to let the bastard fry. They did something awful and I don't want them on this planet anymore, they don't deserve life.

Either way, I hate those classes. They're such BS and even the teachers know it, that's why so many of them are irritating and mean. They have a chip on their shoulder because their class is insignificant. I showed up for exactly 5 of my psychology classes: first day, test 1, experiment reports due date, test 2, final. Aced the class, it was a joke.

lysander
December 6, 2005, 12:26 PM
As a specific deterrent for the executed criminal...the death penalty is highly effective...in fact 100% effective.

As a general deterrent for society at large and those contemplating a capital offense the death penalty is a total failure.

So the real question in the debate becomes: What is the purpose of the execution? Are we simply eliminating a miscreant...or are we sending a message to other would-be miscreants?

Some would argue that the death penalty would be more effective as a general deterrent if we were more active and aggressive with our execution schedules. I would counter by saying that the State should be required to meet a VERY high standard before they throw the switch. IMHO the death of a single innocent man at the hands of the State invalidates the entire concept. The ends do not justify the means and I would not want to live in country where it was "easy" to execute a criminal...one never knows when they may have the powers of the State directed at them.

By protecting our most reprehensible citizens...we protect all citizens. You know...equal rights for all and that other jazz.

RockportRifle
December 6, 2005, 12:30 PM
Anytime you are in a conversation about the use of the death penalty, just bring up a Mr. Kenneth Allen McDuff. There are evil folks out there and they can't be reformed and Mr. McDuff is the poster boy for them all.

http://www.geocities.com/verbal_plainfield/i-p/mcduff.html

boofus
December 6, 2005, 12:30 PM
As a specific deterrent for the executed criminal...the death penalty is highly effective...in fact 100% effective

Not quite 100%. Dead people quite frequently come back to vote Democrat.

Hypnogator
December 6, 2005, 12:40 PM
FWIW, I do recall some criminological studies that indicate that criminals do not consider the threat of execution for their crimes during their decision making cycle, and therefore concludes that such threat has no impact on crime.
Precisely. They surveyed convicted murderers about whether the threat of execution deterred them from their crimes. :rolleyes: Talk about your self-evident answer! :banghead:

Perhaps they should have surveyed the general population to find out how many who might have been considering murder didn't commit the crime out of fear of execution!

The same holds true for most gun control studies. It's easy to catalog how many crimes are committed with guns, but very difficult (and therefore easy to ignore) to show how many crimes were deterred by guns.

yorec
December 6, 2005, 12:48 PM
Not quite 100%. Dead people quite frequently come back to vote Democrat.
Snicker.... :evil:

No way to really tell if a couple folks out there decided at the last minute to not kill that other person because they might be executed later, but I'd bet it's happened somewhere sometime - there have been enough murders done. And on the other hand, if there was no death penalty - how many would have backed out because they were going to be executed as a result? Zero, that's how many.

Iain
December 6, 2005, 12:51 PM
Anytime you are in a conversation about the use of the death penalty, just bring up a Mr. Kenneth Allen McDuff...

However the effective counter comes from the cases that later turned out to be innocent. Just the other day on here there was an article about a witness who now claims that he was pressured by the police into giving false witness, and how the person he claims he incorrectly identified was later executed.

Don't see how it can be cost effective when it requires so many levels of appeal to implement it, and still it goes wrong. Often enough to deeply worry me. There are some very famous examples from when we had capital punishment, some of those people were exonerated as recently as 2003. Not much good to someone who has been dead for forty odd years.

So I guess whether it is an effective deterrent is irrelevant to me.

rick_reno
December 6, 2005, 01:01 PM
Itís cost effective.

It would be if when the sentence is given they were walked out the door and executed immediately. Unfortunately, that's not what happens. The fact sheet from Death Penalty Focus of California estimates that, due to constitutionally-mandated safeguards, the death penalty in Los Angeles County costs over $638,991 more per defendant than life imprisonment without possibility of parole. This estimate includes costs of trial, automatic appeals to the state supreme court, and incarcaration.

armoredman
December 6, 2005, 01:12 PM
I can't find an example, but can you cite a study that says people who have been executed do not commit further crimes?
Match names and headstones, and if any published data, other than paranormal, states they are suspects in crimes committed after thier execution date, I will eat my hat.

Gunpacker
December 6, 2005, 01:22 PM
Yep, the murder rate goes up in spite of the "death penalty". No wonder. The death penalty is given in a very small percentage of murderers convicted. Of those convicted, only a very small percentage are ever actually executed, and then only 20 years after the conviction. In effect there is no death penalty to consider in committing a murder. The likelyhood of being executed never enters a prospective murderer, since basically, there is no likelyhood of it ever happening. If the resulting penalty for EVERY murder was execution, quickly carried out, it would definitely be a deterrent.
Gee, if specific punishment is not a deterrent, why don't we just eliminate all punishment that doesn't deter a crime. What use is prison if it doesn't deter.
I would submit that all punishment is a deterrent, just not a complete preventative. In the case of those receiving punishment, it does prevent for the period of the punishment. In the case of death, it is forever. Since recidivisim is so high, forever is just the right period for most murderers.

rangerbill
December 6, 2005, 01:26 PM
i am takeing these indoctrination classes also, as a matter of fact i just finished a cultural anthropology class myself. the aztec's scarifice might not have been truly for religious purposes. there is a school of thought that the whole idea of the sacrifices were set up not so much as a religious ritual but it was to provide needed PROTIEN in the diet. hey, livin on corn alone gets boring. so this story may have been made up to feed the people.

and you wonder where our government gets their slick ideas

lysander
December 6, 2005, 01:27 PM
rick_reno said:

It would be if when the sentence is given they were walked out the door and executed immediately. Unfortunately, that's not what happens. The fact sheet from Death Penalty Focus of California estimates that, due to constitutionally-mandated safeguards, the death penalty in Los Angeles County costs over $638,991 more per defendant than life imprisonment without possibility of parole. This estimate includes costs of trial, automatic appeals to the state supreme court, and incarcaration.


italics mine

Are you suggesting that constitutional safeguards be relaxed? Would you really want to live in a state where once you are convicted and sentenced you are walked out behind the courthouse and shot?

What ratio is acceptable to you? 100 guilty per 1 innocent? 10 to 1?

longeyes
December 6, 2005, 01:29 PM
All I know is the sun came up this morning.

Keep the executions going.

Chrontius
December 6, 2005, 01:52 PM
Are you suggesting that constitutional safeguards be relaxed? Would you really want to live in a state where once you are convicted and sentenced you are walked out behind the courthouse and shot?

What ratio is acceptable to you? 100 guilty per 1 innocent? 10 to 1?
+1 Obvious -- for all the constitutional outrage on this page, I'm surprised so few people are taking this position.

Justin
December 6, 2005, 01:59 PM
i am takeing these indoctrination classes also, as a matter of fact i just finished a cultural anthropology class myself. the aztec's scarifice might not have been truly for religious purposes. there is a school of thought that the whole idea of the sacrifices were set up not so much as a religious ritual but it was to provide needed PROTIEN in the diet. hey, livin on corn alone gets boring. so this story may have been made up to feed the people.


Soylent Green is PEOPLE!

allmons
December 6, 2005, 02:27 PM
I can tell you first hand that there are several people alive ONLY because I was afraid of getting caught and executed. This was before I was saved, when I learned that kind of thinking was so wrong.

But don't ever tell me that the death penalty is not a deterrent - I know that when I was a wild thing, it deterred ME.

:)

Tequila_Sauer
December 6, 2005, 02:43 PM
So, would a citizen owning a gun be a deterrent to a criminal? Sneaking into the house of a well armed marksman and his well armed marksman wife would, almost certainly, be a death penalty (or damn near close). Suppose a criminal knew that these marksmen resided in a house he was hoping to rob. Would he be deterred from that home and, instead, go for the granola-eating botanist across the street who wouldn't dare "endanger" his family's lives by having a gun?

NCP24
December 6, 2005, 02:55 PM
It would be if when the sentence is given they were walked out the door and executed immediately. Unfortunately, that's not what happens. The fact sheet from Death Penalty Focus of California estimates that, due to constitutionally-mandated safeguards, the death penalty in Los Angeles County costs over $638,991 more per defendant than life imprisonment without possibility of parole. This estimate includes costs of trial, automatic appeals to the state supreme court, and incarcaration. Itís hard to imagine that it costs over $638,991 more than life imprisonment. I wonít say the figures inaccurate, but Iím curious as to who funded the fact sheet?

hso
December 6, 2005, 03:03 PM
+1 geek

Saying the death penalty has any deterrance value because it deters the executed from commiting further criminal acts after execution is silly word gamesmanship like the stupid comparison in the text.

The question of the value of capital punishment is a serious question with enormous implications that warrants at least better treatment than a snide caption in the text. The text's authors and the instructor are grossly negligent for not treating the issue with the respect it deserves.

Regardless, it's been shown over and over again that violent criminals are not detered in comitting violent crimes because of the death penalty hanging out there, but because they don't think they'll get caught.

My MA instructor is a prison guard on Max at Brushy Mtn. He's spent years talking to and observing criminals. He tells us that overwhelmingly the violent criminals both headed for execution and those just burning time until they can get out and get back to their life of crime don't give a rip about the death penalty. What they do care about is whether the victem will be an easy target and what they hate is having to worry about whether the potential victem is armed or not.

Armed citizens deter criminal behavior because it makes the criminal hesitate about who is targeted for a crime.

Ask Preachman what his discussions with both death row and lifers have told him.

rick_reno
December 6, 2005, 03:19 PM
Itís hard to imagine that it costs over $638,991 more than life imprisonment. I wonít say the figures inaccurate, but Iím curious as to who funded the fact sheet?

The Death Penalty Focus group is supported by it's claimed 100k members, I would assume that's where the funding came from for the cited study. You can read all about them here http://www.deathpenalty.org/. There are published papers available that mention in Texas a death penalty case costs $2.3M. Google "death penalty cost effective" and you'll get access to them. I have no way of knowing how factual these cost figures are.

Back to the Constitutional protections offered, are you making reference to the 8th Amendment "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted" or the Fifth Amendment provides that '[n]o persons shall be held to answer for a capital...crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury...nor be deprived of life...without the due process of law.' This clearly permits the death penalty to be imposed, and establishes beyond doubt that the death penalty is not one of the 'cruel and unusual punishments' prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Are there some other Constitutional safeguards that I've missed? If you've got other parts of the Constitution that address this issue, please cite them.

From 1982 to 1992 five Federal correction officers were killed by prisoners serving life sentences for murder. Had these prisoners been executed, innocent lives would have been saved. The death penalty is, without question, a deterrent to murder.

Iain
December 6, 2005, 03:33 PM
This clearly permits the death penalty to be imposed, and establishes beyond doubt that the death penalty is not one of the 'cruel and unusual punishments' prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Are there some other Constitutional safeguards that I've missed? If you've got other parts of the Constitution that address this issue, please cite them.

Not being American the Constitution isn't going to play a role in what I'm about to say.

I kind of figure that even if the hallowed document fails to mention 'not being executed for crimes you didn't commit', it's still a bad thing. Therein lies the problem with 'courtroom to gallows' justice, innocent people get convicted, and they'd get hung too.

Steamship Trooper
December 6, 2005, 04:02 PM
I kinda figure the death penalty should be administered two ways-

1. At the time and place of the intended crime, preferably at the hands (muzzle?) of the intended victim.

2. Jury that decided death sentence should be the ones to pull the trigger, flip the switch, whatever. Easy enough done, just have them sit in the viewing booth at the execution site, with twelve buttons. Three of them are "live", the rest dummies. On go signal, all twelve push the button.

Utah has something similar with thier firing squad; five rifles, four blanks.

Can't say much about the first method, but the second method doesn't farm out "shooting the dog."

(thanks RAH and LNS)

NCP24
December 6, 2005, 04:05 PM
The Death Penalty Focus group is supported by it's claimed 100k members, I would assume that's where the funding came from for the cited study. You can read all about them here http://www.deathpenalty.org/. There are published papers available that mention in Texas a death penalty case costs $2.3M. Google "death penalty cost effective" and you'll get access to them. I have no way of knowing how factual these cost figures are. Either way our system needs an overhaul.

MrTuffPaws
December 6, 2005, 05:26 PM
(no discussion of any kind, just a picture of an electric chair and a painting of an Aztec human sacrifice):

The worst thing is that I've seen this kind of pap before, and pointed it out to the professor (Ellie, if you catch this, it's Lynn Gamble again), who simply acted (badly) concerned and thanked me for the feedback. The way she teaches the class is right along those lines....

do you have proof that the death penalty reduces crime? If not, the statement in the book is correct.

lysander
December 6, 2005, 06:00 PM
If you are of the "churn 'em and burn 'em" bent when it comes to the death penalty I would be interested to hear an answer to my previous question.

What ratio of innocent people executed by the State are you willing to accept in exchange for the rapid and easy application of the death penalty to guilty parties?

1 to 1?
10 to 1?
100 to 1?
1,000 to 1?
10,000 to 1?

The fact is that no system of punishment is perfect. In addition, those who operate the system are human and thus prone to mistakes. If your batting average isn't a guaranteed thousand you are going to KILL AN INNOCENT person at some point. (and we already have)

How do you rationalize this away? Do you use a knee-jerk shortcut like.."he musta been doin' something wrong if they strung him up." to justify State sanctioned murder?

Revenge and the desire for it is easily understandable when it comes from an individual...but the State is not a person...it doesn't get its feelings hurt...it doesn't mourn lost family members...so it shouldn't be vengeful. It should be dispassionate and rational, treating all citizens equally.

If you give the State a large and easy to use hammer...everybody will eventually start looking like a nail.

Carl N. Brown
December 6, 2005, 06:20 PM
James D. Wright did a study involving interviews of 1874 convicts
in 18 prisons in 10 different states:
- about a third of the felons recounted anecdotes of
calling off a planned crime because they learned the
intended victim was habitually armed.

The thirty year sentence enhancement for use of a machine gun
in crime does seem to deter some criminals for using machineguns.

If fear of being shot deters crime, if fear of a thirty year add-on
deters use of machineguns, then surely some criminals look at
the possiblity of death sentence as too much to risk.

As the resumption of executions has reached the 1,000 milestone,
almost all categories of crime are down, including the usual death
penalty crime of murder. There are many reasons for the decline
in crime, including proliferation of cell phones and handgun carry
permits enhancing personal safety. The idea that some calculating
criminals may weigh the death penalty in their decision making
is worth consideration.

I have my own reasons for opposing the death penalty, but saying
it is totally ineffective as a deterrent is not one of them.

Turkey Creek
December 6, 2005, 07:48 PM
Deterrance of any kind is impossible to measure because you are trying to caculate the rate of non actions-

Gordon Fink
December 6, 2005, 08:07 PM
I support the death penalty, but I recognize that it is about vengeance rather than deterrence. That said, capital punishment should be held to an even higher standard of proof. Only those found guilty beyond all doubt should ever be put to death.

~G. Fink

Ransom
December 6, 2005, 08:41 PM
+1 Obvious -- for all the constitutional outrage on this page, I'm surprised so few people are taking this position.

Truly. We argue up and down about the government having the power to take our rights and such but many people here support the government having the power to legally kill its citizens. Not only that some want that power expanded.

I do support the death penalty in the idea that some scum just needs to die however the fact is there will always be innocent people to die when the system fails.

If I make a mistake when defending myself they will try and take my freedom away. When the government makes a mistake whats the punishment? Money? Does that seem right to anyone? We talk about government oppression being one of the worst things in the world but support a system in which innocent people will surely be killed by our government.

Its a pretty tough thing to support really.

lysander
December 7, 2005, 12:47 AM
Turkey Creek said:

Deterrance of any kind is impossible to measure because you are trying to caculate the rate of non actions-

General Deterrence (making an example, sending a message to society...whatever you choose to call it) isn't worthwhile at all, whether you can effectively measure it or not.

Interviews with criminals, studies conducted, and the continuing existence of all types of criminal activity offer proof of how fruitless the idea is. In order for deterrence to work as intended it requires that all who commit crime have their actions determined by rational, transactional thought. A cost-benefit analysis if you will. The reality is that people (and criminals) rarely act rationally. Or when they do...the rewards outweigh the risks (in their own minds).

In the late 18th and early 19th century England conducted public hangings of pick-pockets. During the hangings the crowd was often full of PICK-POCKETS! Does that make sense? Doesn't seem like a very effective deterrent. England had some 220 capital offenses during the same time period...yet crime of all types continued. If ye believe in "sending a message" surely everyone should have been huddled in their homes terrified of committing a capital crime.

I'm all for punishing specific criminals for their actions...but this whole "sending a message to the rest of the bad guys" is a tired justification for punishment.

DRZinn
December 7, 2005, 01:11 AM
The anthro book could have made that point without the sneering, idiologically driven condescencion.Without the sneering, ideologically driven condescension the point wouldn't need to be made, because it would have NOTHING TO DO WITH ANTHROPOLOGY.

My point had nothing to do with the death penalty. It had to do with throwing these little political digs in where they're absolutely useless.

FWIW, I agree philosophically with the death penalty and disagree practically. Innocents have been executed. Until we can guarantee that won't happen, it's a bad idea.

lysander
December 7, 2005, 12:34 PM
Everybody has an agenda. :rolleyes: Sadly, objectivity is lacking even in institutions of higher learning.

The worst of it is that not everyone will notice the message that you spotted. Some will brush past...worse...some will absorb it without even realizing it.

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