Death Penalty and Concealed Carry


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kengrubb
August 14, 2006, 04:04 AM
I recently rented The Life of David Gale (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0289992/) from Netflix. Everything with Kevin Spacey (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000228/) I've seen to date is great, and this one was no exception.

One caveat. Watching the extra material on the DVD, I think Director Alan Parker was VERY disingenuous when he tried to sell the movie as taking a neutral stand on the death penalty. Complete horsesh*t. He clearly made a movie that conveyed a strong anti death penalty sentiment and message, and there's absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. Just be honest about it.

A friend loaned me his copy of Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty (http://amazon.com/o/ASIN/031242373X). I commend it to anyone. It's a great, short read on the subject.

Author, lawyer and former prosecutor Scott Turow served on the Death Penalty Commission created by former Gov. Ryan (R-IL) to come up with reforms to make the application of the death penalty in Illinois fair, just and accurate. Turow has a number of other books to his credit, and I intend to get thru several more of 'em.

The author argued the death penalty (DP) does not deter. I'm not convinced. We have statutes against murder, but murderers are not deterred. However, I suspect many others are deterred.

Deterrence is a powerful argument made by some of us that the carrying of concealed handguns for protection deters crime.

I believe deterrence is a valid argument in both instances, and it is also difficult to argue for many of the same reasons.

It is easy to count how many people were murdered with firearms whereas it's very difficult to count how many lives were saved by firearms. Studies on the subject must in effect ask "All those who weren't murdered, please raise your hands." IOW, it's an issue of perception, and one's belief at the time is what's pertinent. [Robbers who use unloaded guns still go to jail because they made the robbery victim believe they would harm or kill them.]

Studies on the subject (http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_gcdguse.html) derive numbers between 771K and 3M annual Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs). The real number probably lies between. The NCVS study came up with a much lower number, and there are a number of reasons why.

More than once, I've had a gun, thought I needed it, was glad I had it, but never had to shoot it, display it, or threaten with it. On the one occasion where I was closest to using it, I drove away from the area. Did having the gun calm me enough to remain thinking as I observed two men preparing to rob me and do Lord only knows what to my family? Did they sense something in me that told them I was not to be trifled with and would resist forcefully, so they hesitated long enough for me to get away? I dunno.

Anywho, I have a lot of unanswered questions about deterrence and the DP.

Do some criminals commit lesser crimes to avoid the DP if caught? Steal cars rather than carjack? Shoplift rather than rob? Smash and grab ATMs rather than rob people using ATMs? 1,036 people have been executed nationwide in the U.S. since 1977, but there are more than 1.3 million violent crimes every year in the U.S., and most don't qualify for a death sentence. If just 1/10th of 1 percent of these crimes were committed by DP-averse criminals, then 1,300 crime victims a year are facing a less serious crime. That's a good thing.

Studying the worst of the worst--Gacy, Bundy, Brisbon, et al.--will not give one a true indicator of the deterrent effect from the DP. These men and many others obviously weren't deterred by the threat of a death sentence. Gacy and Bundy were executed, but Henry Brisbon's sentence was commute to life by former Gov. Ryan. We'll have to wait and see whether he lives long enough to serve life. No action by any legislator, judge or chief executive and can guarantee that a future legislator, judge, chief executive or parole board won't one day grant Brisbon his freedom. Brisbon would seem to be the bogeyman incarnate.

The vast majority of other criminals who commit much less infamous acts are the ones I'm betting are deterred from committing more serious crimes.

Turow did not address the possibility a state might arbitrarily and unlawfully carry out executions unofficially. I'm not talking about a Banana Republic Death Squad or even the vigilante cops pursued by Harry Callahan in Magnum Force (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070355/). I'm talking about convicted murderer Christopher Scarver killing convicted murderer Jeffrey Dahmer while incarcerated in Wisconsin, 1994. Wisconsin is not a DP state--at least not officially.

Finally, Turow addressed the subject of Moral Proportion. Simply put it means the punishment must be proportional to the crime. The ultimate crimes deserve the ultimate punishment--whether that's Death, Life without Parole, 40 years, frozen in a block of ice (see Demolition Man (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106697/)), or something else. I believe the public garners considerable peace of mind knowing there's a DP on the table for ultimate crimes. Societal peace of mind is, IMHO, a huge plus.

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Deanimator
August 14, 2006, 09:14 AM
The author argued the death penalty (DP) does not deter. I'm not convinced. We have statutes against murder, but murderers are not deterred. However, I suspect many others are deterred.

I don't care one iota if it deters.

It's a 100% bar to recidivism. Anybody who claims otherwise has seen too many "Halloween" movies.

Low-Sci
August 14, 2006, 09:37 AM
I don't think that the state of Wisconsin intended for Scarver to kill dahmer at all, it just worked out that way. Lots of pedophiles meet a similar fate when they get to a serious prison, largely because lots of criminals who are in prison still think that molestation is a worse crime than simple murder. Its no secret that child molesters and rapists are singled out when they're in prison.

You'd have to really analyze the statistics to find out if the death penalty deters violent crime, but I don't think that's really the point of it. Life insurance isn't for the people who die, and neither is the death sentence.

The death sentence is for the people who survived an attack by the criminal or whose family or friends had been victimized. Its solid, concrete closure. That person that did them so wrong will never be able to do it again. Being the victim of a violent crime can be a very traumatic experience, and the death penalty helps to end that trauma for the survivors.

To be honest, in a theoretical world where the court system gets its man 100% of the time, I don't actually care if the death penalty is humane, either. We're not talking about a dog that got confused and bit a kid, we're talking about a criminal who understood exactly what he was doing long before he even went about doing it, and it didnt stop him. Humane? Just get rid of him for the family. And do it cheap, I don't want to waste a lot of money on killing slime.

orangelo
August 14, 2006, 09:44 AM
Show me one case in which a criminal who had capital punishment administered has ever victimized an innocent again. Barring registering as a democrat and voting in the next election it isn't possible.

Capital punishment should be reserved for the worst of the worst. The tookie williams, ted bundys, and willie hortons of the world.

Father Knows Best
August 14, 2006, 11:38 AM
There is a large body of research showing that it is the certainty of punishment that deters, not the severity. Criminals and potential criminals tend to weigh the likelihood of their being "caught", and of receiving any significant punishment, but the amount/type of punishment doesn't seem to matter much. If they think they won't get caught or prosecuted, they won't be deterred regardless of what the potential penalty is. They think there is a high probability of being caught and prosecuted, they tend to be deterred regardless of whether the potential penalty is a year or prison, life in prison or the DP.

Car Knocker
August 14, 2006, 01:01 PM
Well over 100 people on death row have been freed after DNA evidence has shown that they weren't guilty of the capital crime of which they were convicted. Until the justice system can guarantee that the person to be executed did in fact commit the crime, I am, at best, lukewarm on the death penalty.

One of Many
August 14, 2006, 01:40 PM
The people of this nation have forgotten that the purpose of prison, and execution for crimes committed, is PUNISHMENT; deterrence is a secondary effect, and it is only applicable for those that have not yet committed a crime, but may be contemplating doing so.

Prison is not for social rehabilitation, or job training, or free education, or keeping some lazy good for nothing alive (3 meals and a roof over his head) who refuses to work to feed himself.

We need to return to the old way of running a prison, where that prison experience was so bad that the survivors would do anything to avoid being sent back to prison. We should have a system in place to provide employment opportunities for the people that complete their prison terms, so that they can support themselves without resorting to violent crime; that does not mean that those jobs require tax payer support or education for the former prisoner. They can pick up the trash, clean the streets, muck out the stables or some similar occupation, if they are incapable of getting a better job on the basis of their skill and education.

Perhaps what we need is a mark on the forehead of every convicted felon, so that wherever they go, they are recognized as being dangerous and untrustworthy by the law abiding citizens.

DirtyBrad
August 14, 2006, 01:42 PM
I think you can get a reasonable idea of the deterrent effect of capital punishment from looking at data. Things like murder rates between states that have it or don't or states that had it at one time but not another can give a ballpark idea. From what I've read, that data seems to indicate it's not much of a deterrent.

I sometimes think that part of this might be because, while it deters some, it encourages others. Sort of a "they can only kill me once" mentality.

Personally, I don't mind seeing people who murder being put to death. However, I would probably vote against the death penalty, if given the opportunity. I think Car Knocker hit the nail on the head. I'm not sure it's worth one innocent person's death for all the guilty ones.

ksnecktieman
August 14, 2006, 02:26 PM
I have some curiosity about all of the convictions that are being overturned by dna evidence. I would like to see figures on how many of them "plead to a lesser", in the hopes of better treatment. Like in a multiple murder? The wrong guy is facing multiple murder one charges, and his attorney says they have enough to convict him, and the prosecutor offers to let him plead to one count, and he hopes he can get a pardon with only one crime?
Does anyone here know how to find those facts?

Plea bargains are a bad thing, I think they have sent a lot of innocents to jail. Or burdened them with a conviction in later life.

hankdatank1362
August 14, 2006, 10:23 PM
The death penalty is not meant to be a deterrent. If it does deter, that is fine. Capitol punishment is just that: punishment. A punishment, which I might add, is 100% effective. No one convicted of murder and put to death has ever killed again. However, I recall several (more than a few) where released or escaped convicted murderers killed innocent, productive citizens again.

edit: sorry, One of Many, I didn't read your post. Don't want to sound like I was plagarizing (sp?) you.

kengrubb
August 15, 2006, 01:19 AM
I have some curiosity about all of the convictions that are being overturned by dna evidence. I would like to see figures on how many of them "plead to a lesser", in the hopes of better treatment.
...
Does anyone here know how to find those facts?For Illinois and for all death penalty cases--not just those overturned by DNA--yes I do. My source is page 10 of Ultimate Punishment (http://amazon.com/o/ASIN/031242373X).

From 1977 to 1999, 270 people were sentenced to death in Illinois.

Of those 270:
12 executed
13 exonerated
90 who had a death sentence reversed received a lesser punishment the next go round

However, Death Penalty Information Center (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/) data shows 123 people exonerated nationwide since 1973--and 18 exonerated in Illinois in this longer time frame. See their Fact Sheet (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/FactSheet.pdf) for more info.

I gotta say, it's make my heart more than just skip a beat knowing that for every one person put to death in Illinois in 22 years there was at least one poor innocent schmoe awaiting the needle for something he did not do.

I have the feeling that the justice system in Illinois is a severely myopic b*tch compared with the other states. At least, that's what I want to believe.

Plea bargains are a bad thingI disagree. Most cases get plead because there just ain't enough resources (juries, judges, prosecutors, etc.) to handle the caseload. The American people want instant, absolute and perfect justice, but they don't wanna pay for it and most cannot be bothered to do their part (serve on jury duty, give eye witness testimony, et al.)

kengrubb
August 15, 2006, 01:34 AM
in a theoretical world where the court system gets its man 100% of the time, I don't actually care if the death penalty is humane, either.True, but we don't live in that world. The world in which we live is a world where, at best, 97% of the time a person on trial is guilty of the crime with which they are charged or some lesser included offense. At least, that's what Mas Ayoob said in JUDF (http://www.ayoob.com/df.html) from his years associating with cops, prosecutors, public defenders, and private practice criminal defense attorneys.

If that number holds when extended to the death penalty, then 31 of the 1,036 executions from 1977 to the present were of innocent people. I want to believe that our system has enough safeguards that all 31 of those "statistical aberrations" were freed rather than put to death.

A humane death sentence versus an inhumane death sentence is a moot point when considering guilt or innocence of the condemned.

DRZinn
August 15, 2006, 02:16 AM
I'm with Car Knocker. Morally I have no problem with the death penalty; there are crimes for which the criminal deserves to die. But until we get the wrongful-conviction rate below 0.000001%, I'm against it.

Maybe a higher standard? "Beyond a reasonable doubt" just isn't cutting it, so maybe only in cases where the criminal pleads guilty or no contest? And maybe incontrovertible evidence like video of the crime.

kengrubb
August 15, 2006, 03:10 AM
Maybe a higher standard? "Beyond a reasonable doubt" just isn't cutting it, so maybe only in cases where the criminal pleads guilty or no contest? And maybe incontrovertible evidence like video of the crime.Up until very recently, I used to agree with you DocZinn that we needed some higher standard for death cases. But reading Ultimate Punishment got me thinking in more depth and detail on the subject.

The book, IMHO, exposed a number of serious flaws in the judicial system--at least as practiced in Illinois--that went far beyond the death penalty issue. Ryan's Death Penalty Commission was charged to look at the death penalty, but in looking they found flaws which I believe are persistent outside the scope of the death penalty.

"Beyond a reasonable doubt" is the standard by which ALL cases, death penalty or not, must be judged. A juror might truly believe the accused did it, but if reasonable doubt persists then one must vote Not Guilty. Realistically, we cannot devise a higher standard and thus we risk lowering the standards by which we judge non death penalty cases and send even more innocents to jail.

The Supreme Court, in declaring a de facto moratorium on the death penalty in Furman (http://laws.findlaw.com/us/408/238.html ), and then lifting it in Gregg (http://laws.findlaw.com/us/428/153.html), said the states had to establish mitigating circumstances for the death penalty and could not simply apply the death penalty for crimes A, B or C. It's a violation of the separation of powers, or should be IMHO, for the legislature to dictate to the judiciary what the punishment should be for a given crime.

The death penalty is warranted only when those mitigating circumstances are present. We cannot allow ourselves to contemplate, "Well, he's 'guilty enough' for life, but not 'guilty enough' for death."

DRZinn
August 15, 2006, 10:14 PM
"Beyond a reasonable doubt" is the standard by which ALL cases, death penalty or not, must be judged.But things happen which a reasonable juror may not believe. That doesn't make the person any less innocent.

Low-Sci
August 16, 2006, 02:48 AM
I have to admit, kengrubb, that I still go back and forth on the matter. I firmly believe that the victims and their families have a right to closure and that society has a right to purge itself of its worst, and it should. On the other hand, I also firmly believe that when it comes to determining who actually committed the crime, "close enough" does not equal "good enough." They need to have the actual person and be positive of the fact.

Which is generally not the case, unfortunately.

I want a punishment that leaves no hope for the worst out there, but I also want that unlucky schmuck who was in the wrong place at the wrong time to be cleared, if he's clean.

Which I suppose means that I'm against the death penalty until the judicial system is much better at finding the actual culprits.

But sometimes, some people just deserve a quick ticket to hell.

kengrubb
August 16, 2006, 03:24 AM
I have to admit, kengrubb, that I still go back and forth on the matter.
On certain points, I support it. On other points, I oppose it. On balance, I find it necessary.

I don't know that I would say I favor it, but if a loved one of mine were murdered it would give me some sense of closure for the murderer to be executed.

Harve Curry
August 16, 2006, 07:02 AM
To many people have been found innocent and wrongly imprisoned. I've read from 7 to 10 %. So even if those numbers are wrong, and if you cut them by 1/2, then we are imprisoning and/or executing 3 people out of 100 that didn't do it.

Ezekiel
August 16, 2006, 11:14 AM
then we are imprisoning and/or executing 3 people out of 100 that didn't do it.

Which is, of course, completely unacceptable. :banghead:

glummer
August 16, 2006, 12:37 PM
Points I wonder about:

You don't have to be truly innocent to be freed on DNA evidence; not proven is good enough. I'd have more trust in the "Innocence Project" if they published figures on people truly found to innocent. Not proven guilty is not the same thing. I can't think of a GOOD reason for failing to distinguish between the two.:scrutiny:

I'm not so sure that putting innocent people away for life in prison, is all that much better than killing them. Particularly since, without a death penalty, the motivation for clearing them is drastically reduced. You don't hear of Project Innocence trying to clear people who are NOT on Death Row.

Innocent people die all the time.
They die because some death-penalty-eligible criminal got loose somehow, and kills them.
They die in traffic accidents, on the way to serve on the jury for the 3rd trial of some killer with a good lawyer.
They die in prison, serving life terms for crimes they didn't commit.

Why is the death of an innocent person who is executed so totally unacceptable, compared to other innocent deaths? At least in the case of executions, we tried very hard NOT to let it happen. Saying "one innocent person executed, is one too many" is simply fanaticism, as if execution elevates the value of the deceased's life above that of anyone else who died that day. Makes no sense to me. Numbers and probabilities should count, not just whether or not it happens at all.

The penalty is what happens AFTER the trial. Defective trials are not the same as defective punishment.

Iain
August 16, 2006, 01:02 PM
I'm not so sure that putting innocent people away for life in prison, is all that much better than killing them
The obvious difference is that you can let an old, innocent, man go free. Apologies to a dead man mean little.

Why is the death of an innocent person who is executed so totally unacceptable, compared to other innocent deaths? At least in the case of executions, we tried very hard NOT to let it happen.

It matters because to take life is the greatest power that we can give to the state. Failure to take the greatest care in the exercise of this power, to accept a certain amount of failures, is to abuse this power.

Ezekiel
August 16, 2006, 04:33 PM
Why is the death of an innocent person who is executed so totally unacceptable, compared to other innocent deaths?

You're kidding, right? :what:

There are so many obvious answers to such a ridiculous comparison that I -- literally -- do not know what to say...

Let's start with the most obvious: if we kill someone through a wrongful conviction, such is not an "innocent death." :banghead:

Wiley
August 16, 2006, 05:46 PM
Just to throw a little more fat on the fire, OJ was found 'Not Guilty'. He was not found innocent.

Dravur
August 16, 2006, 06:26 PM
Proponent for the death penalty and the use of a wood chipper in said penalty, lI still maintain that these cases should be held to the highest standard, i.e Ted Bundy, etc where there is no doubt in anyone's mind that he did it.

I am talking about cases where the perp was caught in the act, video taped, admitted to it, etc. Once this is confirmed, it is off to the wood chipper for a round of body bingo.

For those multitude of cases where there is a fraction of a doubt, then I think we need to have the penalty of life without parole enforced. Even O.j. who, in my personal opinion is guilty as heck, should have been given this sentence.

Jeffrey Dahmer, on the other hand should have been dancing with whirling blades about 20 minutes after his conviction.

just my $.02

kengrubb
August 17, 2006, 01:20 AM
I've read from 7 to 10 %. So even if those numbers are wrong, and if you cut them by 1/2, then we are imprisoning and/or executing 3 people out of 100 that didn't do it.
123 exonerations and 1,036 executions since 1977. It could just mean that the system is working for the Death Penalty, but there are still lots of innocent schmoes in prison doing time for crimes they didn't commit.

Cosmoline
August 17, 2006, 03:00 AM
There are two main kinds of deterrence--specific and general. The DP is the ultimate specific deterrence, since the dead criminal will do no more crime. But it's probably too random and rare to be an effective general deterrence.

Personally, I've seen way too much to trust DA's--let alone juries--with the choice of life or death.

iapetus
August 17, 2006, 02:01 PM
A few years ago, several women in the UK who were proven, on the basis of irrefutable medical evidence to have murdered their babies.

I can't think of many people more deserving of execution.

Recently, it was discovered that the "expert witness" was grossly incompetent, the "proof"* he provided was nothing of the kind, and the convicted women were aquitted after retrials.

hankdatank1362
August 17, 2006, 03:15 PM
Upon conviction by a Grand Jury, any death penalty sentence should, theoretically, be carried out immeditely. No "death row" crap... immediate electrocution, lethal injection, whatever.

Some commie girl in my public speaking course once asked me if I could flip the switch to execute someone who had killed my family. (Or anyone else for that matter)

My response? Hell yes! I'd flip it a couple times to be sure (I know that the electric chair is a three-stage process, I'm being irreverent) the SOB fries. I'd be talking to the other guard about what to order for lunch while I'm doing it. Hell, I'd do it for free, to boot!

Has anyone read about any of these people? The original poster mentioned something about some guy named Henry Bibson, I think it was. So I googled his name, and it took me to a site with a whole list of infamous killers, some I've heard of, many I haven't. It also listed everything they did, in gruesome detail. (I think the site was Wacky World of Murder, or something to that effect)

I suggest you all go read that site, and ask yourselves if you would have any trouble putting peole like that to death.

Like Samuel L. Jackson said in A Time To Kill : "Yes they deserved to die! And I hope they burn in Hell!"

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