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Your stance on Capital Punishment?

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    With the recent moratorium of Oregon governor Kitzhaber on capital punishment, it got me thinking of exactly where I stand on execution. I would like to hear everyone's opinions on this site to see where you all stand on this issue and why you are either for or against it.
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    This topic strikes a nerve for a couple of reasons:

    1) I just finished reading John Grisham's "The Confession", which is the story of a man who was wrongfully executed in the state of Texas (do I have your attention?), a state that has executed more people, by far, (477, to be exact) since 1976. The book gives a good overview of the death penalty, and it's also a pretty compelling story.

    2) I was living in Illinois when then-governor George Ryan put a moratorium on executiouns after it was discovered that more than a dozen death row convicts had been wrongfully convicted. The 160 convicts on death row had their sentences commuted to life in prison. Effective TOMORROW, Illinois will officially end the death penalty, and the remaining 15 people on death row will be scattered to various prisons around the state.,0,6963353.story

    The majority of the states in America still have the death penalty, and roughly 60% of the population still favor the death penalty, but there are some important economic issues that really should be addressed.

    The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, with roughly 2.4 million people behind bars. Of that total, 1.4 million are locked up for non-violent crimes, such as the possession of marijuana. Depending on the state, it costs somewhere between $18,000 to $31,000 a year to keep each of those people in prison, which means that we (as a society) are spending between 43 and 74 BILLION dollars on our prison expenses. Meanwhile, the Republicans are worried about teacher pensions in Wisconsin.

    According to the best estimates, California (which has over 700 people on death row) could save $200,000,000 a year by eliminating the death penalty, and changing the sentence to life in prison without parole. I'm afaid to do the math, but if all 3250 people that are still on death row in this country had their sentences changed to life in prison without parole, my guess is that all of our states (most of which are fairly broke) would save a lot of money.

    I'm not doubting that the 1.000,000 violent criminals that are currently in our prisons should continue to be imprisoned, but I believe that our society needs to be a lot smarter about where we spend our scarce resources, and I'm not convinced that being "tough on crime" is always the right answer. If you have the patience to read through it, I published a five part article (over five days) in 2009 that dealt with crime and punishment:

    Thanks for listening, and enjoy your Thanksgiving.

  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    How does it cost any more to keep a death-row prisioner than a non death-row prisioner? If the death row people were eliminated how much would that save? Just crunching the figures. Your afraid to do the math cause your math needs a calculator.
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    [QUOTE] I just finished reading John Grisham's "The Confession", which is the story of a man who was wrongfully executed in the state of Texas (do I have your attention?), a state that has executed more people, by far, (477, to be exact) since 1976. The book gives a good overview of the death penalty, and it's also a pretty compelling story. [/QUOTE]

    So can a person in Texas be executed for murdering a 16 year old? Seeing that you have a good overview of the Texas penalty.

    Since 2003, if you have information that a person was wrongfully executed I would appreciate hearing about it.  However for general information purposes only here is the list of crimes that meet the Captial requirements to be sent to death row:

    Texas law defines capital murder as follows:

    murder of a peace officer or firefighter acting in the line of duty, when the person knows the victim is a peace officer or firefighter,

    murder during the commission of kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, or obstruction or retaliation,

    murder for remuneration,

    murder during prison escape,

    murder of a correctional employee,

    murder by a state prison inmate who is serving a life sentence of any of five offenses (murder, capital murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, or aggravated robbery),

    murder of more than one person in one event, or of multiple persons in a related series of events, or

    murder of an individual under six years of age.

    But without a doubt, it was would be such a better world if people respected life and didn't murder each other, until then I pray that Texas fights the good fight.

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    the answer to your question can be found by clicking on the link labeled "death.rdsecure" in my post
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    Although Grisham's books ARE a work of fiction, they're generally  based on a lot of facts.
    If you've read "The Appeal", you'll get a very clear understanding of how the Koch brothers
    have managed to take over large parts of our country.

    The fact of the matter is that the death penalty is actually NOT a deterrent to crime. It certainly didn't deter Jared Loughner from shooting 19 people in Tucson in January of last year, which is another reason that we need more sensible gun laws in our country.

    Rather than go further down that path, though, my further thoughts on the death penalty are posted below:

    The most compelling line in the story is Sister Helen Prejean's quote:

    “Government can’t be trusted to control its own bureaucrats or collect taxes equitably or fill a pothole, much less decide which of its citizens to kill”.

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    The Guardian, May 17, 2014: Utah lawmaker proposes firing squad executions for death row inmates

    "In the wake of a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month, a Utah lawmaker says he believes a firing squad is a more humane form of execution. State representative Paul Ray, a Republican from the northern city of Clearfield, plans to introduce his proposal during Utah's next legislative session in January. Lawmakers in Wyoming and Missouri floated similar ideas this year, but both efforts stalled. Ray, however, may succeed.

    "Utah already has a tradition of execution by firing squad, with five police officers using .30-caliber Winchester rifles to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010, the last execution by rifle to be held in the state."

    "Opponents of the proposal say firing squads are not necessarily a fool-proof answer. It's possible an inmate could move or shooters could miss, causing the inmate a slow and painful death, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington DC-based Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment.

    "The idea is that it would be very quick and accurate but just a little movement by the person could change that," he said. "Things can go wrong with any method of execution."

    I'll be provocative and make an alternative suggestion: the Guillotine. And pass a law that only the governor can pull the lever on the guillotine. And it would be televised. I wonder how many governors would actually do that...or issue a stay.

    Of course the guillotine is also subject to malfunction. Here's an old bit of humor that has been floating around the internet.

    "On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the midst of the French Revolution the revolting citizens led a priest, a drunkard and an engineer to the guillotine. They ask the priest if he wants to face up or down when he meets his fate. The priest says he would like to face up so he will be looking towards heaven when he dies. They raise the blade of the guillotine and release it. It comes speeding down and suddenly stops just inches from his neck. The authorities take this as divine intervention and release the priest.

    "The drunkard comes to the guillotine next. He also decides to die face up, hoping that he will be as fortunate as the priest. They raise the blade of the guillotine and release it. It comes speeding down and suddenly stops just inches from his neck. Again, the authorities take this as a sign of divine intervention, and they release the drunkard as well.

    "Next is the engineer. He, too, decides to die facing up. As they slowly raise the blade of the guillotine, the engineer suddenly says, "Hey, I see what your problem is ..."

    Nothing gets past the engineer...

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    I think the death penalty should only be employed when the evidence is overwhelming against the defendant, not just eye witness accounts, or circumstantial evidence but much, much more is needed , after all they will be taking a life and there are no do overs.
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    It shows that the US is still inthe "middle ages" in Europe such things are long gone; death penalties do not solve the society's mistakes; like lack of education, food onthe table and a roof over your head. Then on top of that the money (read greed factor) comes into the picture.
    We can only blame ourselves; we are the country of revenge; in this aspect as well our wars. But none of it is a solution to the base of the problem.
    Killing is promoted here by "antique gun laws" and media who loves to produce the one killing movie after another; there is no serie whatever on TV or there is at least a killing in it. Then we have the glorification of our army killing machine; so no wonder our youth get brought up with the idea "killing" is a normal part of life. This society is at fault. Of course there always will be bad apples; lock them up etc. but do not use them to vent revenge.
    Change the mentality here that may help.
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    Dutch and Arizona --

    I agree with you. I am opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds, but certainly economic factors also come into play, as per Arizona's link to the Death Penalty website:

    The High Cost of the Death Penalty

    For those conservatives that are always seeking the most cost effective way to deal with violent crimes, the death penalty is the most costly to tax payers. The California study reveal that "California taxpayers pay $90,000 more per death row prisoner each year than on prisoners in regular confinement." This should be a no brainer. It is a function of the "long and complex judicial process for capital cases." Lawyers do not come cheap and most of them are on the tax payers dime.

    So let the free market dictate...and abolish the death penalty.

    Except as a conservative, one's faith can trump free market economics.

    According to the Religious Tolerance website being a Christian can make you either for or against the death penalty depending on what scriptures YOU choose to believe and quote:

    Religious Tolerance: The death penalty, Policies of various religious groups

    Generally speaking, liberal religious groups are abolitionist, while conservative faith groups are retentionist (support the death penalty). Exceptions are The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) and the Assemblies of God which have not taken an official position.

    The National Council of the Churches of Christ (NCC), an umbrella group of mainline and liberal Christian churches is abolitionist. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is retentionist.

    The Christian Coalition and their successors, Christian Reconstructionists, and large numbers of small conservative denominations and independent churches strongly support the death penalty.

    Fundamentalist and other Evangelical denominations for the most part plus the Southern Baptists are the main denominations generally supportive of the death penalty (a.k.a. the retentionist position). There are, of course, always some individual exceptions.

    The Roman Catholic Church, American Baptists and the United Methodist church are abolitionists.

    Many others have mixed views.


    I don't want to cast judgement on any particular church (I'll leave that to Dutch), but one can draw a correlation between a state's religious majority and the death penalty. Texas, the leader in the nation on capital punishment, is 64.4 percent evangelical protestant. And whatever your personal beliefs are, as Texas governor the politics of Texas dictates that the death penalty will be followed religiously (pun intended), regardless of what the economics of the free market dictate.

    On the other hand, my state of Colorado also has the death penalty. But Governor Hickenlooper recently stayed the execution indefinitly of Nathan Dunlap, expressing concerns about the state’s death penalty system, calling it "flawed and inequitable". Oh and Hickenlooper is also a Quaker.
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    I believe your dollar figures as it relates to death row inmates being so much more expensive than the ordinary incarcerated person is greatly enhanced because of the endless appeals and other legal proceedings brought on behalf of the inmate, my resolution is simple , if the evidence is not overwhelming against the defendant, then don't go for the death penalty. The laws in this country are supposed to be dispassionate in their prosecution and to not allow emotions to bring about a guilty verdict in lieu of the evidence,, those emotions should not be part of any deliberations, by having overwhelming evidence in death penalty cases only, would greatly restrict the prosecutors from playing to the emotional impact of the crime to the jurors, and perhaps making the trial a little bit more fairer.
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    Thanks "Schmidt" I just wonder about TX; if they that religious, then I think they are not reading the "ten commandments" enough; it says: Thou shall not kill" unless I'm mistaken that the government got an exception from "Jesus" and a permit from the church; I guess the catholic church has a great history in killing plenty of people so they are a good example as well as hypocrites; just ask Joan of Arc's ghost. I think TX is still in the stone age related to this.
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    Slice them and dice them; hang them and fry them.

    We all to often hear of the poor prisoner who faces the death penalty but not much of the violent crime they created upon the person they killed.

    Have a trial, with a reasonable timeline for appeals, then give the criminal the option of death by hanging or a firing squad.
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    I've historically been pro-death penalty but there are some huge issues with it.
    1. Studies show it is not a deterrent.
    2. It costs more to execute someone than it does to be imprison for life (I have a hard time believing this but it seems to be true.)
    3. You can't undo the punishment. Executing even one innocent person would be reason to abolish the death penalty imo.

    It's really hard to be pro-capital punishment knowing the first two. Death penalty just seems like revenge then, and justice is not the same as revenge. Suffice to say, I'm currently on the fence about. If we could somehow make it a deterrent and drop the cost down that would be far better.
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    It's definitely not a deterrent as Zach responds. It does put humanity at odds with God's wisdom and that His is the only judgment mankind should be worried about. Jesus came to deliver message of love and faith, not to put someone to death. Although the scriptures are many on death to those who oppose peace, especially the Old Testament and Islamic Koran, there are other religions that oppose death all together, but are ignored. It seems as if mankind is placed in position of deciding death or life and if the crime is horrific, it's judged death for a matter of convenience. Some will hold there head low after the decision, but soon will forget their death sentence on a human being. This is perfect for those who are strict science believers. Science has no plan in this commuting of death on a person. Business on the other hand, would make harvesting of organs and maybe even........Soylent Green anyone? Criminals and prisoners make good business for many companies. Even if the death commuted prisoner knew he was going to be harvested for his organs, this would not deter criminal behavior. The guillotine, hanging, firing squad, or being thrown off a cliff, none of these would deter criminal behavior. You have people who will die, as a martyr, for a cause which no act of death will fear them. There are those who die with no will to live, thus no act of death will fear them. Than, there is ignorance, which I believe is the biggest cause of criminal behavior. There's no hope on ignorance. These people will make media events with their whimpering and crying for their crime and impending death. News folks and the victims family and friends eat this up. This biggest downfall of anyone prepared for death who exhorts, "I am Innocent", is painful to all to watch the death take place. It leaves one to always believe..........just maybe.............a hollow feeling with no ending.

    Killing the innocent is a crime by itself. Those who know the truth will remain silent and some will be herald a law hero and have votes in their favor for Attorney General or some high office. It's a dirty business of the law between the Prosecutor and the Defender, which is why the Lady has a blind fold on and can't see the truth.

    I do not believe Humanity is intelligent enough or capable of making decisions on death to others. Look how many mentally ill/handicapped judges criminals are put to death. Does this make sense? Kill the mentally ill?