Should there be the death penalty? (1 Viewer)

amo12oo

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absolutely if the prosecution has proved beyond doubt that the accused has committed the heinous crime.
 

Harrybrigham

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The thing that makes me want the death penalty, is the number of murders that have been committed by murderers that have been released. In the UK there is over 300 of these victims I believe. Of course innocent people should not be executed but the proof that they have these days must be irrefutable.
 

The_Doc_Man

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Hello, @Harrybrigham - this thread wakes up every couple of years. Glad to see a new member take interest in side issues as well as the tech part of the forum!

I agree with you that anyone convicted of murder, released, and arrested for a new murder should take a long jump with a short rope around his neck. But as you also point out, we must be sure beyond even the remotest shadow of doubt that the rope is on the right neck. And therein lies the problem. Modern forensics can be pretty good these days, but people are more clever about not leaving as much evidence. It is always a battle between better science and more clever perpetrators.

IF we are going to use the awesome (legal) power of a government to terminate just one person's life, we owe that person (and by implication, every other person) the maximum effort to get it right. The USA "due process of law" concept is the short way of saying that we must dot every "i" and cross every "t" in our quest to assure that justice falls on the proper person. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have clarified that we must in ALL such cases be able to convince a jury of the person's guilt UNANIMOUSLY. If we can't do that, we screwed up.

I have to clarify that I am not so much FOR the death penalty as that I am not AGAINST it when it is correctly handled through proper legal processes. In this forum we have seen all sorts of complaints that the state should not kill someone for killing someone else, because that seems to be an inherent contradiction. But the ultimate question is, can there ever be a justified killing? If the answer is no, you just shot down all sorts of self-defense cases. And there, I have to draw a line.

Now magnify that a million times. When England went to war with Germany in WW II, or when we went to war with Japan, we were in essence pronouncing a death sentence on any German or Japanese soldier who didn't surrender. Is war EVER justified? Including the case where you were not the original aggressor? Because that is self-defense on the largest scale we have.
 

Harrybrigham

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Hello, @Harrybrigham - this thread wakes up every couple of years. Glad to see a new member take interest in side issues as well as the tech part of the forum!

I agree with you that anyone convicted of murder, released, and arrested for a new murder should take a long jump with a short rope around his neck. But as you also point out, we must be sure beyond even the remotest shadow of doubt that the rope is on the right neck. And therein lies the problem. Modern forensics can be pretty good these days, but people are more clever about not leaving as much evidence. It is always a battle between better science and more clever perpetrators.

IF we are going to use the awesome (legal) power of a government to terminate just one person's life, we owe that person (and by implication, every other person) the maximum effort to get it right. The USA "due process of law" concept is the short way of saying that we must dot every "i" and cross every "t" in our quest to assure that justice falls on the proper person. Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have clarified that we must in ALL such cases be able to convince a jury of the person's guilt UNANIMOUSLY. If we can't do that, we screwed up.

I have to clarify that I am not so much FOR the death penalty as that I am not AGAINST it when it is correctly handled through proper legal processes. In this forum we have seen all sorts of complaints that the state should not kill someone for killing someone else, because that seems to be an inherent contradiction. But the ultimate question is, can there ever be a justified killing? If the answer is no, you just shot down all sorts of self-defense cases. And there, I have to draw a line.

Now magnify that a million times. When England went to war with Germany in WW II, or when we went to war with Japan, we were in essence pronouncing a death sentence on any German or Japanese soldier who didn't surrender. Is war EVER justified? Including the case where you were not the original aggressor? Because that is self-defense on the largest scale we have.
I spent the whole of WW2, apart from 2 months, in London. I watched the Battle of Britain from parliament hill Hampstead, and sheltered from the blitz, in a basement in Flask Walk, also in Hampstead. At the time I would not have been sorry if every German died. I also think that the nuclear bombing of Japan saved many more lives than it took, by causing the surrender, instead of a long drawn out taking of lives that I think would have happened.
 

The_Doc_Man

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I spent the whole of WW2, apart from 2 months, in London. I watched the Battle of Britain from parliament hill Hampstead, and sheltered from the blitz, in a basement in Flask Walk, also in Hampstead. At the time I would not have been sorry if every German died. I also think that the nuclear bombing of Japan saved many more lives than it took, by causing the surrender, instead of a long drawn out taking of lives that I think would have happened.
No argument at all. I'm not old enough to make the same claim but I can surely respect the viewpoint.
 

Isaac

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IF we are going to use the awesome (legal) power of a government to terminate just one person's life, we owe that person (and by implication, every other person) the maximum effort to get it right
I like that sentence because of the "by implication, every other person".
Although I am stanchly conservative on 90% of all issues, I make an exception for the death penalty.

The interesting thing about this issue is that a vast majority of people seem to be able to agree (from what I have seen - this is just my generalization and may be incorrect) - a vast majority of people seem to be able to agree that certain crimes "ought" to have the death penalty in theory.
In theory - in the abstract - in some nonexistent, imaginary world where we had some supernatural powers to KNOW for sure what happened during the commission of a crime. Or, (as many will bring up), in "certain situations". ("Well, what about the situations where they confess to the crime and are proud of it?") Etc. etc.

The problem is that having the death penalty is a broad rule, it's not any one case. It's not a hypothetical "one case where we are certain". It's a RULE that will affect many people, and include many people, not just the one hypothetical case where we just feel certain we got it right.

Now in some cases, I'm OK with broad-based rules that have the potential to unfairly affect some. But not with a rule that ends in death.

The mere having, of the 'death penalty' as a broadly applied rule that we know for a fact has the potential to include some persons unfairly - even one single person - I say no.

Another thing I'm totally against is the concept of legal punishments for deterrence reasons. Why? Because the deterrence motivation will lead to punishments that make no sense, and don't fit the crime. The better the deterrence, the harsher the punishment, which by definition defies fairness. It's a formula that just doesn't work.

In my personal opinion, the one and only intention/purpose of legal 'punishment', in our modern society, ought to be the physical restraining of the criminal to keep society safe for such time as seems to be required, and/or restitution of some kind.

Now, you brought up Just War....=whole different topic. Can't really disagree with you on that.
 

The_Doc_Man

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I'm totally against is the concept of legal punishments for deterrence reasons.

But "life without pardon or parole" is a deterrent to the convicted perpetrator. It deters him/her from ever doing anything to the general population of society.

And guess what? It deters me as well, because I know in my heart that there ARE people who flat-out deserve the death penalty, but there is that old phrase that is the statement of deterrence: If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

We can dance around the mulberry bush all we like, but in the end either society has the right to forcibly remove someone from society permanently - or it does not. But if it does not, that implies that you cannot EVER imagine a crime so heinous as to deserve a death penalty.

OK, this is an extreme case, but - was Adoph Hitler's decision to use Zyklon-B gas in the death camps worthy of a death penalty?
If the answer is "YES" then we are merely arguing degree, not kind here.
 

Isaac

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We can agree to disagree about deterrence. Of course I agree that deterrence "works". I'm arguing that it's not a workable motivation, because it has a very poor alignment with pretty much everyone's concept of fairness. I.E., the death penalty for stealing a stick of gum would be extremely effective.

Your points about Adolph Hitler are well taken, but I feel it missed the point I was trying to make. I agree that there are various isolated cases where almost everyone will agree, Gee, yeah, that probably deserves the death penalty. Or at least most people will say "if anything does, that does". My point was more about having it as a policy-a broad based rule. We shouldn't establish rules based on an imaginary or hypothetical or isolated case, we should only allow a policy [that extreme] that would be 100% fairly applied. So I'm suggesting that the extreme nature of the punishment has to be balanced against our inability to fairly apply it. In the case of the death penalty, because it doesn't work for all cases, it shouldn't be used for any. Because there is no such thing as creating it to only be applied to some abstract imaginary case where failure and mistakes are non-existent.
 

The_Doc_Man

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We are not actually disagreeing, @Isaac - but we are viewing it through differently colored glasses.

You can never have that penalty 100% fairly applied except in TWO cases - no death penalty ever, or EVERY death as an aggressor earns the death penalty. If you make any exceptions, you now have to consider where your bias has led and WHY you are making the exception. As I have said before and I will say again, I believe that society has the right to issue a sentence of death but OWES the utmost care in assigning and administering that penalty.

By the way, for the record, my viewpoint on "perfect application is all-or-nothing" isn't new. See, for example, the robot Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951 version), based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates. In essence, the judge, jury, and executioners for the space-faring society were the robots (like Gort) that could not be destroyed, could not be turned off, and could not be persuaded to relent. Sort of the ultimate deterrent - which is what they were meant to be.
 

Jon

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There will always be injustice in the justice system. "Beyond reasonable doubt" for a criminal conviction is estimated to be a 95% probability of guilt. It is not as "near certainty" as many believe. So 1 in 20 could be innocent.
 

Isaac

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I do see what you mean. This issue is one of very few where I break with Republicans and conservatives. I don't know - something in me just can't abide the thought of one mistake.
 

Pat Hartman

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I also think that the nuclear bombing of Japan saved many more lives than it took, by causing the surrender, instead of a long drawn out taking of lives that I think would have happened.
One point about this bombing that people conveniently forget is that the US dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets on several cities telling the civilians to evacuate ASAP since their city was a target for a massive attack. We don't hear much about whether or not people actually took the advice.

I like Doc's idea of making the death penalty an option. Too bad a fetus couldn't be given the same option. While I'm not against the death penalty, I don't like the idea of the state killing people especially when mistakes are possible. Perhaps, it should only be on the table if the perpetrator actually confesses to the crime. I think that's the way it works in Israel. Either a confession or 2/3 witnesses are required.

The left is quite adamant that the death penalty is 100% wrong but at the same time, abortion, even up until the baby is in the birth canal is 100% right.. Quite the position. Evil people must not be killed but innocent babies can be. I don't believe abortion should be illegal because the dividing point between being a growth and being a human being is debatable and is somewhat dictated by your religious upbringing but there needs to be (and there used to be) some rationality in where the division might fall. With technology getting better all the time, a fetus is viable at a much earlier age than it was even 50 years ago when Roe vs Wade was enforced.
 

The_Doc_Man

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Pat, I hear you - but abortions were known to have happened in ancient Egypt. They have been known in all countries since darn near pre-historic times. It is a truly sad thing that a woman feels the need to procure an abortion. However, I am still forced to consider that it is a matter of one's moral code as to whether that fetus actually IS a person - yet. Science can't answer when a fetus becomes a person - because personhood is a philosophical decision, not a scientific one. There are cases on record where a baby (NOT a fetus) is refused treatment for religious purposes. Many people obtain their morals from religion. So now you have to claim that a particular religion is immoral. Therein lies the most slippery of all slopes. My wife and I agreed when we got married that we would accept children if such a thing happened. It didn't, but we were prepared to "go the distance" for any kids that came along. But our choice isn't someone else's choice. In a land where freedom of religion exists, where people are free to choose their creed, I think that it becomes a price we have to pay for freedom. The price of recognizing that someone else's viewpoint, no matter how abhorrent to us, cannot be easily dismissed as clearly wrong.
 

Isaac

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Science can't answer when a fetus becomes a person - because personhood is a philosophical decision, not a scientific one.
Thank you! That sums it up for me. And that's why I try to stay open minded on the issue, but where I land -- based on that line of thought, is -- we should go ahead and allow states to decide. The people of a given state should be able to express their own values on this issue. I don't look for abortion to be made illegal, I wants states to be able to make it legal or illegal. To me that's kind of a centrist viewpoint (but surely abortion rights advocates would not agree with me on that I guess).

And in a sense, it aligns with Roe V Wade, too - except I think the court went a bit too far on this right to privacy viewpoint, and I think they over focused on viability of life as being purely scientific.
 

harpygaggle

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The death penalty violates the most fundamental human right – the right to life. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment. The death penalty is discriminatory. ... An innocent person may be released from prison for a crime they did not commit, but execution can never be reversed.
 

The_Doc_Man

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@harpygaggle - it for that reason that I expressed my own reservations. However, in the USA we consider life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If a person is deprived of liberty and the ability to pursue happiness because of have four consecutive life sentences for 1st-degree murder, and if the verdict was a complete slam-dunk with physical evidence, video recordings, and multiple eyewitnesses (such that there is no doubt of guilt)...

At some point I would think that we can offer that person the end to their suffering because of being deprived of liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness. Which is why I suggested making the offer to a person who is never getting out of the slammer ever again.

And of course, let's get VERY technical. We can hold the truths to be self-evident, but that doesn't mean that they ARE true. In order to be endowed by a creator with the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, there has to BE a creator - which is open to question.

And, if a creator really HAS endowed us with those rights, it is odd that they don't exist inside certain political borders.
 

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