Debate:Death penalty

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Isn't our desire to kill people wonderful? --Cyan mowse 2.png λινυσ() 15:47, 6 March 2009 (EST)

<sarcasm>It sure is.</sarcasm> The Foxhole Atheist 16:15, 6 March 2009 (EST)
It must be wonderful living in one of the only two G7 countries with the death penalty. Evil evil Phantom Hoover! 17:17, 6 March 2009 (EST)
i don't think i mind so much, teh death penalty as a concept. some people's crimes are beyond the pale of what I can contemplate as a human. What bothers me is teh rate it is use, and who it's applied to. In most of the south, anyone who kills a cop, at all, even an accidental shooting, is in line for the death penalty. And we allow children to be put to death. I don't even think i can understand how we can give children life sentence, but death sentences??? And we allow mentally impaired people to be put to death, as well. Thank Bush for that one.--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«I don't think in any language. I think in images. V.Nabokov» 17:53, 6 March 2009 (EST)
Nah, sorry, can't do the death penalty. Illogical is. If it's morally wrong for a person to kill another, there's no argument in my mind that can logically be made that allows the 'people' to kill someone. DogP 19:12, 6 March 2009 (EST)

The argument goes it isn't always morally wrong to kill another person, like Hitler or Barney the dinosaur. I'm with WaitingforGodot. Full Disclosure: I live in Virginia, second only to Texas (over three times the population of VA) in killing young black men hardened criminals. Me!Sheesh!Mine! 19:22, 6 March 2009 (EST) Um, lolwut?, @ the give-em-the-chair two above. The mere possibility of a miscarriage of justice sinks the moral case for the death penalty. Factor in the actual likelihood and you're left with a steady stream of innocents dying for the sake of some Old Testament revenge. Classy fucking stuff. --Robledo 20:57, 6 March 2009 (EST)

I agree ^. The possibility that innocent people are deliberately killed by the state is not acceptable. I've also had fun refuting arguments on this like "It's cheaper to execute them, and the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for taking care of criminals". I believe that it's only not morally wrong to kill someone when you or someone close to you is in imminent danger of severe harm or death from an assailant and killing them is the only way to prevent that harm. Under any other circumstances I can readily imagine, it's just wrong. OneForLogic 21:33, 6 March 2009 (EST)
Makes more sense to me. Prisons have it pretty good. Food, cable and health care. It sickens me that society has to keep some of these types alive in such conditions. At this point I just want to say that I only believe in it for the worst of the worst.--Nate River 21:41, 6 March 2009 (EST)
I don't see why it would be immoral for people like Charles Manson, in other words murderers who were proven guilty without a doubt and show no remorse for their actions. Then again the death penalty may be too good for some of these people. If some people are so willing to just let these guys rot in prison we might as well, but Nate's right in that we pay too much to make them comfy in there when they don't deserve it. User:Ttony21/sig2 21:49, 6 March 2009 (EST)
My take if anyone cares? One, I don't think the State should ever have the power to take the lives of the people. Two, yes, there are cases where the person deserves never to even see sunlight again. For them, there is no "throw away the key" - build the cell wall behind them leaving a slot for food & c. Let them have books, paper and writing materials. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:53, 6 March 2009 (EST)
Books = paper & writing materials. Science! User:Mei 21:56, 6 March 2009 (EST)
Death is the best we can do without issuing cruel and unusual punishment. Sadistic tendencies have no place in punishing criminals.--Nate River 22:12, 6 March 2009 (EST)
I'd be interested in a survey of convicted murderers to see how many actually prefer death to life in prison. User:Ttony21/sig2 22:17, 6 March 2009 (EST)
That would be interesting.--Nate River 22:24, 6 March 2009 (EST)
How do you intend to survey dead criminals. User:Mei 22:37, 6 March 2009 (EST)
Dunno, channeling? That or just try to get it out of the ones on death row, or the ones rotting in jails in states where capital punishment is illegal (although the ones with the most interesting answers are probably the ones least likely to comply). User:Ttony21/sig2 22:39, 6 March 2009 (EST)
Point is it can't be an informed decision. User:Mei 22:41, 6 March 2009 (EST)

Executions are made for punishing the guilty, protecting the innocent and deterring future crimes. No value judgments, I just think those are the parameters. The only valid reason IMO is "protecting the innocent." My definition of protecting the innocent is a bit broader than the person has to be in the act of swinging a kitchen knife at you before you're OK to offer them the electric chair. I do however agree that the state's first priority should be to not put innocent people to death. As I suggested above, and is evidenced around the country, this isn't always the case. Me!Sheesh!Mine! 23:25, 6 March 2009 (EST)

"And we allow children to be put to death." I thought we did not do that anymore... Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:37, 6 March 2009 (EST)
The death penalty does not deter, I think that has been shown. As a punishment, I'd rather die than spend a life of misery. And being locked up forever would surely protect the innocent. I reiterate, who among you would give the State the power to kill its citizens at will? ħumanUser talk:Human 23:42, 6 March 2009 (EST)
Would it make sense if the criminal had a choice between death penalty and life in prison, that seems fair (although again there are many who probably don't deserve the chance to choose). The state shouldn't have the power to kill at will, and the death penalty isn't necessarily creating that, as long as the power isn't abused. But it seems like it is now days so maybe it is too dangerous. I'm fairly split my self. User:Ttony21/sig2 23:55, 6 March 2009 (EST)
I actually think a life of "hell on earth", well, at least, hugely truncated freedom, would be worse than death. Death is an easy out. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:55, 7 March 2009 (EST)

What is the purpose of the justice system? If you consider vengeance by society to be an appropriate purpose for a government system, then I suppose you can justify the death penalty. But if it is to stop crime (as I think it should be) then it is a hard thing to see through. It doesn't deter crime and isn't better at protecting people than life imprisonment without parole would be.Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 01:30, 7 March 2009 (EST)

As it deterrent it's pretty obvious the death penalty doesn't work, becasue if it did then the US would have the lowest murder rate in the western world. This is pretty clearly not the case. It also pretty obviously doesn't reform criminals either. That just leaves us with vengeance. OK, if your want to base your criminal justice system on vengeance so be it. But it somehow seems inappropriate to me.--Bobbing up 02:56, 7 March 2009 (EST)
  1. What is the purpose of the justice system? The same thing the death penalty is "for" protect, punish and deter. See my firt post on this thread for more.
  2. I think the only valid reason for the death penalty is to protect society. At some point a person sentenced to death is deemed so dangerous and so likely to commit other crimes that releasing him is not an option. Given our purpose is to protect society, and all things being equal, there does seem to be an argument that the most sure form of protection is death. But, as I said above, all things are not equal just now. The current system is geared towards killing young black men. There are complicating factors -- young males are most likely to commit violent crimes, blacks are more likely to be urban poor in America, the urban poor skew younger, tend to commit crimes more and get convicted more. These facts skew our numbers in ethically challenging ways and the multiple cases of death row inmates being exonerated are quite chilling to me and my qualified support of the death penalty. Can haz my "A" plez!!?1?!!Me!Sheesh!Mine! 10:23, 7 March 2009 (EST)
Coincidentally, I've started an article on the concept of punishment & what it entails. Still a work in progress at present, but comments are welcome. My own view is that revenge or "punishment" for its own sake or judgements about what people do or don't "deserve" should be left out of modern sentencing. It should be about rehabilitation as much as possible; plus protecting the innocent, & some element of deterrent, but that should be the lowest consideration not the highest. As such I think that the death penalty should be abolished altogether, with the possible exception of voluntary executions as an alternative to lifelong imprisonment, for those who can never be released back into society. WëäŝëïöïďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 10:46, 7 March 2009 (EST)
There is no place for the death penalty in a civilized society. America has the death penalty for the same reason it has Andy-it is deeply puritanical and still holds religious concepts like Eye For An Eye close to it's heart. Revenge is no basis for a justice system. And if you can explain the moral twists and turns required to form the argument that one class of society has one rule of law which allows killing and the rest of us don't, I'll buy you a drink. DogP 11:10, 7 March 2009 (EST)

dissent. if society decides a person must be locked away for the rest of his life then spend the dollar on a shotgun shell and blow his head off in the court parking lot , then spend the $50,000 a year it costs to confine him on schools, libraries and a free ice cream every weekend. Make the punishment truly fit the crime , and for unusual crime do unusual punishments. There is no deterrant if a killer knows he is unlikely to be caught, has a good chance of beating a conviction and the absolute worst case is a moderately painless death. Hamster 15:48, 7 March 2009 (EST)

Unusual punishments have the effect of brutalising society. "Make the punishment truly fit the crime" is just old school eye-for-an-eye vengence, & we have progressed beyond that, or at least we should have. WëäŝëïöïďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 15:54, 7 March 2009 (EST)
I'd like to point out that "an eye for an eye" was actually a reform (in its day) in that it called for "revenge" to be limited to being equal to the perceived crime. ħumanUser talk:Human 18:14, 7 March 2009 (EST)
Hamster - you're missing the point and not answering the question. My point is that there is no logical consistency in an argument that says that killing people is always wrong, but it's OK for some people to kill. If it's wrong to kill people, then it's always wrong, and there can be no equivocation on that fact. Otherwise you have no system of morals at all. There is no strength to the argument if it allows a logically inconsistent position that says premeditated murder is wrong, except when it isn't. And it rings especially hollow when the system continually reminds us of the wrongness of that act, while killing people every day. The cost argument is also utterly irrelevant, btw. DogP 14:11, 9 March 2009 (EDT)
I am against the death penalty per se but what I do support is hard labour until death. The idea behind hard labour until death is that the felon/serial killer etc is made to do useful, but back-breaking work that will benefit society in one way or another. An example would be quarrying (manually). The stone can be used in buildings and can be bought at a low cost, while the prisoner is provided with minimal food/ shelter etc. This would generate a small profit, then, if the prisoner is unfit for further work, the prisoner is liquidated.  忍者  N I N J A A A H ! ! ! ! ! 08:28, 14 March 2009 (EDT)
That's a pretty extreme view, Ninja. While you're at it, why not use them to produce more Soylent Green?. DogP 12:41, 15 March 2009 (EDT)
Why does your sig do that? Detective Hoover is on the case... Evil evil Phantom Hoover! 08:53, 14 March 2009 (EDT)
Cruel and unusual punishments have no place in a civilised society. Prison is supposed to be a combination of punishment for the crime and rehabilitation in the event that at some point the person is safe to be released back into society. All you need is one example of a miscarriage of justice and all arguments should go out of the window for the death penalty or anything else as severe as hard labour. Bondurant 11:31, 14 March 2009 (EDT)
Precisely. Read the Wikipedia article on Wrongful execution for a list of innocents who were murdered by their supposed protector, the Government. DogP 12:41, 15 March 2009 (EDT)
Obviously there would be a certain number of years served in a conventional prison/rehebilitation centre, before the felon is sent to serve it`s sentence of labour for life. I suppose the hard labour thing was a bit extreme, normal labour would be more suitable. In Dartmoor prison, for example, inmates were taught how to make things, use factory machinery, to enter the construction industry etc etc which then made them useful for society.

However, if the inmate refuses to become a useful member of society, then the felon will be made to do menial labour for the rest of their lives.People with psychological problems will be treated for their problems (sadism, masochism etc) and , when deemed fit to lead a life as an honest citizen, they will be released.-- 忍者  N I N J A A A H ! ! ! ! ! 19:10, 24 March 2009 (EDT)

The "gut" and punishment.[edit]

[1]. This is the Austrian father who held his daughter for like 20 years, raping her, fathering her children, etc. The max time allowed for incest is 1 year prison. My gut says "that fucker deserves to die". Part of "death penalty", I think, is the gut wanting to say "my god, I'm in pain, it's horrific, nothing is good (bad) enough for this man". Intellectually, though, I think you all make great points that the law is not about "vengeance", and it is "above" (if possible) the human day-to-day emotions, and taking another human's life doesn't change what happened. I'm just trying to mentally and emotionally resolve the two waring sides in myself. (I'm reading about Honor Killings right now, and have that same visceral reaction to a parent killing their daughter cause she dared get a phone call). --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«I don't think in any language. I think in images. V.Nabokov» 16:58, 16 March 2009 (EDT)

There is quite a difference between a hot-blooded reaction like that and a cold-blooded killing carried out entirely by the State's book. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:01, 16 March 2009 (EDT)
The death penalty, in my mind, is not about making things right, or changing what happened, but rather about developing consequences for actions. Z3rotalk 17:02, 16 March 2009 (EDT)
I say, let natural law take care of the "consequences;" the only proper consequences are those that are unavoidable. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:11, 16 March 2009 (EDT)
So, murders should go free, because they killed the weak ones? Z3rotalk 17:15, 16 March 2009 (EDT)
I could be wrong, but i suspect listener meant "Let them die naturally, behind bars where they are spending a lifetime to "pay" for their crimes and keep society safe".--Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«I don't think in any language. I think in images. V.Nabokov» 17:18, 16 March 2009 (EDT)
Well, that makes more sense. I don't agree that nature is doing anything, however, but it's far less horrible than I originally thought. Z3rotalk 17:23, 16 March 2009 (EDT)
(EC) I did not mean that murder should not be punished. What I did mean was that punishment is not an inevitable consequence of murder, and if the State tries to foist that idea on the people through carrying out executions, people will eventually realize that the State is feeding them a big fat hairy lie, and may start to question whether or not murder is wrong.
Another example can be found in the use of the threat of STDs to uphold a puritanical take on sexual morality. If people are told that STDs are an inevitable consequence of "sleeping around," and they find out that this is a lie, they might, disregarding the real threat posed by STDs, start engaging in orgies and such. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:31, 16 March 2009 (EDT)

(unindent)Well, that makes more sense, but I think you are taking the point to an extreme, making the argument less effective. Z3rotalk 17:42, 16 March 2009 (EDT)

See here for a good argument against.   .  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence 20:23, 18 March 2009 (EDT)

Like WaitingforGodot and all other right minded people, I've been utterly repulsed by what Josef Fritzl has done and also feel some conflict on what would be an appropriate punishment for him. But fundamentally, I am against the death penalty even in cases like this. I was also against the idea of killing Saddam and would also be for Bin Laden, as evil as the are. Try them as criminals, of course, but lock them up and throw away the key. (If Saddam had been sensible, he'd have headed to Basra to be captured by the British.)
For one thing it's the thin end of the wedge; if you kill one person in the penal system, you open the door to more, with all the moral issues that go with that, not to mention the possibility of miscarriages of justice.
So what is an appropriate punishment for Fritzl? Take away all control he has over his future. Put him in a padded cell by himself for 23 hours a day (with an hour for exercise), preferably with no view of sunlight. Dress him in clothes that cannot be used as a noose. Let him die in his own time, completely alone. Never let him out; to do so would be a death sentence for him and another murder trial for somebody else.
Good riddance; a life sentence Bondurant 11:34, 19 March 2009 (EDT)
Absolutely. A monster, no doubt. Throw away the key, etc. But meanwhile, in a separate case, a man is going to be killed by the State of California for setting fires which ultimately killed five firemen. The evidence he's an arsonist seems to be solid, and that's a dreadfully reprehensible act in a desert fire zone, but the idea that this is premeditated murder is ludicrous. DogP 13:09, 19 March 2009 (EDT)

Repeal in New Mexico[edit]

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico says he does "not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime", and repeals the death penalty in that state. "He noted that more than 130 death row inmates have been exonerated in the past 10 years, including four in New Mexico." Fifteen US states now do not impose the death penalty, and four other states are considering a repeal. A good day. DogP 02:31, 19 March 2009 (EDT)