There's so much deeply disturbingly wrong with it that I don't even.
Not so bad compared to drone strikes: https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/dron...
The really horrifying thing to me is that drone strikes aren't even a serious topic this election cycle. HRC is in favor for more. Trump wants to commit war crimes. Perhaps I am biased because I helped to do a lot of them.
In the end it comes down to the same thing, judging the value of other people's lives, or perhaps more callously never thinking about their lives at all.
Yikes, the downvote brigade is swift. Here is what I'm saying: Compared to traditional war. Where we lose tens of thousands of people or more on both sides, targeted drone strikes are a net positive. I'm not for perpetual war in the middle east, but realistically speaking we can't just pull out everywhere and targeted drone strikes are better than conventional responses.
I agree, we should fix our diplomacy and hopefully we'll live in a world without drones one day. But in the mean time, fixing our prisons is more important.
Even "more targeted" would be sending in operatives to only kill those directly identified as combatants; no collateral damage at all to civilians, double-tap to the head and job done. Mossad used .22 pistols from point-blank distance for this purpose as their bullets posed no danger of exiting the skull and injuring bystanders.
But the USA doesn't do that, at least not for run-of-the-mill bad-guys, apparently because they consider the life of a soldier-citizen more valuable that a non-citizen.
That's what causes such distaste. One guy controlling a drone from Nevada is considered more important than some human-shield hostages in Pakistan.
That no more an excuse than "we were following orders" has been.
That is to say, how peaceful is it to put Damocles swords over people? Maybe it is similar mine laying which was also promoted as a form of peacekeeping, done by neutral countries during world war 2. Surgical, targeted activity, against combatants that are currently a threat against civilians. Just don't mind how it effected fishermen when 1% of those mines got loose and started to drift.
Or for example my fathers house being bombed in ww2 - they lived close to the biggest spitfire plant in the UK.
An attempt to give an analysis would be asking: what was the good reason to do it? I think that the answer to that question in the case of the drone strikes is not satisfactory.
And that's OK because?
Not to mention the absolute horror that is Death Row, even without execution.
Not to mention that having 5 times more prisoners per capita than any other country (or 99% of other countries) is already a bad thing. Or the horrific prison conditions for a developed western country, including private prisons and forced labour.
Or the absolutely astounding (compared to any developed Western country) numbers of police shootings...
I can't understand why American society has this need for narrow-focus in ONE specific issue at a time, is there a reason for this cultural approach?
This isn't an American phenomena, it's a human one. EVERYONE can only focus on one issue at a time. It's a delusion that we tell ourselves that we can focus on more than one thing at a time:
(That doesn't mean we can't talk about one and then talk about another, which is probably what you meant. But you still have to do one at a time, or make a comparison, you can't just consider all issues simultaneously)
Why do international megacorporations like it so much? Probably some tangential hangover of union busting.
If that means what I think it means I'm sure you have some more valuable insights to share on the topic, biased or not.
Stopping going to war is much harder and there are only a few countries that have done so. 
Drone strikes just come out of nowhere and with no warning when you are having a nap or sitting down to a cup of tea or attending your cousins wedding because someone with a dossier on the other side of the world decided you had to be killed without any of the above recourses to argue your case.
Then you also have the process of appeals which slowly torture you with uncertainty until you are finally executed.
In the end, somebody die of course.
Pretty sure no one has fully recovered from a Hellfire missile through their kitchen or car window when someone checks the dossier later and goes "Oops, that was the target's brother, who happened to have his wife and kids with him at the time..."
This was the experience of people threatened by the Nazi V-weapons ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-weapons ), and it is still the fear of people threatened with aerial bombardment.
You are implying that one way of dying is better than the other but what do you know about the stress of living in Syria or Afghanistan? Have you ever taken a life?
If you're using that kind of rhetoric itself, why are you pointing it out as if it's a flaw in someone else's reasoning?
(My opinion on the subject is that neither the death penalty nor drone strikes should continue.)
I think it is much harder for the person I was responding to to prove that somehow being on Death Row is more stressful than living in a war zone.
...and I take it by your comment that it is perfectly fine if another country sends drones into the US to take out 'suspected operatives'?
But drone strikes and other military actions are distinctly outside the realm of criminal law. It is a category error to try to apply the concepts of a 'fair trial' to these situations.
There are entirely different set of rules and agreements that are associated with armed conflict. Even the moral/ethical arguments are entirely different within the context of armed conflict vs criminal law.
One of the reasons our public discussion on these issues is so muddled is that these two contexts are often confused.
As an example, many critics of the US policy regarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay will argue that we have failed to give them a 'fair trial'. But that is attempting to insert criminal law concepts into an armed conflict. It isn't necessary to prove that a crime has been committed in order to detain people in an armed conflict. Different rules apply.
I'm not suggesting that there aren't arguments to be made against the detainee program, but those arguments need to be made in the scope of the legal framework accorded armed conflict not in the scope of the legal framework for criminal activities.
I cannot point to a stranger in the street and say "That man is a murderer" and have an official immediately go over and dispatch him with extreme prejudice.
If we say that 'point and kill' executions are OK outside the realm of formal war, then pretty much _everyone_ in the world is living with a sword of Damocles over their heads.
What "suspected operatives" in the US would you be talking about?
You know, the EXACT same definition that is used to select targets for US drone strikes.
Can you answer these questions for us? Do we strike targets without high enough precision, or wrongfully? Who exactly are we fighting? Can you link us to some sources we might not have already seen?
Yes, there have been lives snuffed out with drones, and yes, there might have been collateral damage. I think it's safe to assume in most cases it's a "them or us" situation.
"War is hell." - Sherman, and yes it's an ironic quote because like the earlier context it contains, I've never experienced war.
That has been shown to be true, whether in Yemen, Iraq or Afghanistan.
That doesn't mean that 'anything goes' or that there aren't arguments to be made to minimize civilian casualties or just plain strategic arguments against the practices, it just means that it isn't helpful to try to frame the discussion as if we are talking criminal actions.
That was my point, even if I didn't make very well.
The American government isn't supposed to be some even-handed dispenser of global justice; its job is to protect American citizens and their interests.
Are you implying that you can dispense with human rights when it comes to foreign civilians? I am also very frightened by the fact that you are, apparently, condoning it to "protect [American citizens] interests". I hope that interests means safety here.
If you're going to throw someone in prison for the rest of their life, be honest about it and admit you are taking their life.
Abolishing capital punishment to "fix" criminal justice is just closing your eyes and pretending to not see the issue.
that's showing a weakness to evil, and weakness will always be eventually used against the best intentions of original authors (in his case, I wouldn't mind firing squad right after trial, in same way he killed those kids). there is 0% doubt about his full guilt, and almost 100% chance he will never add any positive value to mankind, ever.
But this is also problematic as the prisoner is locked up for an undetermined amount of time, which is suffering in and of itself. But I don't think it's worse than life without parole, which seems like absolute torture to me.
BTW, after 2015 the maximum sentence in Norway is 30 years.
Will Breivik get out in 21 years? It's possible that he'll convince the necessary people that he's been appropriately punished and understands why his actions were wrong, but most people believe it's unlikely. --The terms of his conviction allow him to be held longer if the State determines it is necessary.
The US needs to start looking at prisons more like Norway does - the deprivation of freedom is punishment for a crime, but we should have a duty to those who are imprisoned to help prepare them for when they are released - at that point their punishment is supposed to be over, and their crimes shouldn't continue to follow them and prevent them from being able to live like any other person.
Abolishing capital punishment allows us to reverse the decision later when new evidence comes to light exonerating the convict. You can't free a dead person.
There are other justifications as well in terms of financial cost although the facts are more cloudy there, I've seen good quality analyses presenting cases in favour of both arguments around the cost of the death penalty vs lifetime incarceration.
If those people hadn't been on death row, they'd still be rotting in prison.
If you give people the option of throwing someone in prison and forgetting about them, or forcing them to actually decide on their guilt, they will always choose the former.
If I was wrongly convicted, I would much, much, much rather be on death row than in for life-without-parole.
Fix the problems with wrongful conviction, lack of appeals, etc etc, and we can come back and abolish capital punishment.
But right now, it's naiive to advocate for abolishing capital punishment, because in the absence of other reforms, it simply makes the current system worse.
Halt capital punishment to prevent further, irreversible, errors. AND work on other reforms (better trial lawyers, more equitable appeals process, etc.). Then you can bring back capital punishment once we have a greater degree of confidence in the system.
Why do you think the rest of the first world has outlawed capital punishment?
Additionally, people can and do kill themselves in prison: there is a way out of serving a full-life sentence that doesn't involve judicial killing.
No true Scotsman is an informal fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim ("no Scotsman would do such a thing"), rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of the assertion to exclude the specific case or others like it by rhetoric, without reference to any specific objective rule ("no true Scotsman would do such a thing"; i.e., those who perform that action are not part of our group and thus criticism of that action is not criticism of the group).
If it were an example of the mentioned fallacy, the poster would have to imply that the USA is not to be considered truly civilized. But this is not what the comment says.
I get what you're saying. You're saying the poster isn't implying that the US is not civilized, but rather that given that it is civilized, it should know better.
It still amounts to the same thing. I think you're saying it's not a "no true Scotsman" because instead of a "no true Scotsman would" it's "no true Scotsman should"? But the essence of the fallacy is that it, without argument, applies an attribute (in this case, "no death penalty") to a word ("civilized") and argues based on that unargued assertion that it isn't, or isn't acting like, that word (a Scotsman, or civilized).
Edit: I'll put it this way. Here's the OP: "How can a society which calls itself "civilized" do X?" Similar to "How can a man call himself a Scotsman if he does X?". It's implying, without argument, that X is un-Scotsman-like. It's still the "no true Scotsman" fallacy, with a different sentence structure.
That's an individual who has gone out of their way to take the lives of multiple innocent people. Why does he get to keep what he took from others? Why do the families of the victims have to suffer him? It's not even a question of innocence.
If Manson was in any way sane, he'd realize that his actions were that of a monster. What is there to rehabilitate? If he's sane, how is living in a cell for decades not horrific punishment? A quick death would be a lot easier for everyone involved.
The death penalty is a harsh, horrible penalty. But everyone dies. I don't see how removing literal mass murderers is a detriment to society, unless we simply don't like the reality of it.
What's the alternative? Do we prefer situations like like Breivik?
In November 2012, Breivik wrote a 27-page letter of complaint to the prison authorities about the security restrictions he was being held under, claiming that the prison director personally wanted to punish him. Among his complaints were that his cell is not adequately heated and he has to wear three layers of clothing to stay warm, guards interfere with his strictly-planned daily schedule, his cell is poorly decorated and has no view, his reading lamp is inadequate, guards supervise him while he is brushing his teeth and shaving and put indirect mental pressure on him to finish quickly by tapping their feet while waiting, he is "not having candy" and he is served cold coffee, and he is strip-searched daily, sometimes by female guards. Authorities only lifted one minor restriction against Breivik; his rubber safety pen, which he described as an "almost indescribable manifestation of sadism," was replaced with an ordinary pen.
In letters to foreign media outlets he told about his demands (in 2013) to prison authorities "including easier communication with the outside world and a PlayStation 3 to replace the current PlayStation 2, because it offers more suitable games"; media reported in 2014 about demands that he would starve himself to death if refused "access to a sofa and a bigger gym"; furthermore he said that "Other inmates have access to adult games while I only have the right to play less interesting kids’ games. One example is ‘Rayman Revolution,’ a game aimed at 3-year-olds," Breivik complained to prison officials."
20 years in jail for an innocent person is no less horrible.
Empirical evidence strongly suggests that such a reform is extremely unlikely to happen -- and that in particular, we basically will never have a system win which the false conviction rate is not simply unacceptably high. So again, the argument is to at least design for "fault-tolerance", and not impose categorically irreversible sentences in the first place.
If you were let out of jail after 20 years, I think you might disagree. But the bigger point is that the 20-year sentence can at least be appealed (and if overturned, substantially mitigated) if new evidence emerges that's relevant to your case -- as it very frequently does, in fact.
As repeated in many other comments, it gives the innocent person a chance to be released, which is better than the zero chance.
Also as you say - 20 years in jail is a serious punishment, so it isn't eliminating the punishment, it's just only using a reversible one.
It also allows for improvements in the justice system over time.
That's openly because execution foes have made it so expensive to execute. Execution could be extremely cheap: lead the convict from the courtroom to the gallows, and be done with it. Imprisonment could be made to be even more expensive than execution, if there were strong-enough foes of life imprisonment (they could mandate every appeal and review that condemned men receive for those given life sentences).
'We shouldn't execute people, because it's more expensive to execute them (because we chose to make it more expensive),' is hardly a compelling argument.
If we kill him, why do we get to keep what we took from him?
I can dispassionately list some of the arguments in favor if you seriously want to know what they are, to understand the other perspective.
The arguments on both sides generally fall into three areas, utilitarian, normative, and pragmatic.
Utilitarian arguments in favor of the death penalty claim that there's a deterrent for future crimes, that essentially society must choose between the death of a murderer or the death of future victims. Responses to this argument typically question the effectiveness of deterrence. Causation here is hotly debated, there are studies on both sides, and it strikes me as generally unsettled (and likely unknowable).
The normative arguments are harder to understand, because most people today instinctively gravitate towards liberal utilitarianism.
Normative supporters of the death penalty find it grossly immoral to suggest that we should allow some extreme criminals, say someone who serially tortures, rapes, and murders children, the future enjoyment of life's pleasures.
Take an extreme. Would it be just to set aside a special palace of pleasures for such a criminal, where they can live out their days enjoying everything they like (except for torturing children to death)?
No, at least for most people, that would seem odd. (A very strict hedonic utilitarian might argue that we should provide pleasure palaces to serial killers, but such a view strongly clashes with our intuitions.)
Extrapolating, should we allow heinous criminals to enjoy the feeling of the rising sun on spring days and the smell of freshly cut grass outside the prison yards? Should we allow them to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow prisoners they meet?
Why does lavishing pleasures on them in a special palace seem so morally odd and allowing these continued pleasures of life seem ok? For the normative supporter of the death penalty, it's not. After a certain line has been crossed, certain categories of especially heinous murders, the state has an obligation to ensure the criminal no longer enjoys life's pleasures.
Another normative argument is along the lines of the "worst crimes deserve the worst punishment." When you study crime for a while, it becomes pretty apparent that some crimes are not just more intense than others, some are so heinous they belong in an entirely separate class. It seems wrong to punish them in the same way that we punish theft or assault but just for a longer time, because the spectrum of inhumanity gets so extreme. They are different in kind not just in degree, and the punishment should be different in kind as well.
Pragmatic considerations arise for a variety of reasons. There are arguments about the cost of housing a prisoner for an entire life. Cost may seem a base concern, but if the system simply ignores cost, then it will be able to process fewer criminals, which means some serial criminals go free. (Death penalty skeptics will question the cost figures, noting that the appeals process is generally lengthy and expensive.) Another consideration is the impact on victim survivors of heinous crimes, who may know that the person who murdered their family and tried to kill them would like to escape and finish the job.
If we are unable to securely hold criminals who might break free and commit more crimes that raises other pragmatic concerns. Call it the Batman rule. Even though I oppose the death penalty, I think after the Joker escapes a few times to kill more civilians, after that Batman starts to become responsible for everyone the Joker kills.
Comics provide a straw hypothetical, but you don't have to go too far before drug kingpins like El Chapo are regularly escaping or buying their way out of prisons. We don't have escapees too often in the US, but a variation on this, criminals can commit crimes while locked up. If criminals repeatedly violently attack other criminals while locked up, and if we have exhausted all other measures of control, then at a certain point we cannot either house them or let them free while ensuring the safety of others. Since the state has a duty to protect innocents, in those cases I feel like the arguments get stronger.
For me, the arguments against the death penalty that I find most compelling come from understanding the impact of the process on living victims, who have to repeatedly attend appeals. They come from biases that emerge in the system (primarily against the indigent and mentally ill). I worry about misfires in the justice system that could lead to the execution of innocents. I feel like we can accomplish similar societal goals through incarceration, and if you can choose between two options where one has less killing, I think that option is generally superior. I also worry about whether any state should have the authority to take the lives of its citizens, bit of a libertarian critique.
I think there are some very bad reasons to support and some very bad reasons to oppose the death penalty that each get used quite a lot. I get the impression most people have a strong gut reaction on one side or the other and leave it at that, never really learning about the other side.
* Note: I never tried a case that would have involved a question of the death penalty, though, for what it's worth.
> Martin E. Gurule, 29, became the first Death Row inmate since Floyd Hamilton, a member of the Bonnie and Clyde gang who escaped in 1934, to have successfully broken out.
This is versus the 98 that were executed in 1998 (28 in 2015). 
Absolutely right. That's why I used a fictional character to introduce that line of reasoning.
That was a lead up to a key pivot though: incarcerated individuals do not need to escape to attack others (inmates or guards). Death row prisoners in California have slashed at wrists and necks of guards using homemade razors for over a decade. Tim McGhee, a self-described "thrill" killer, cut and sent two bloodied guards to the hospital in 2012. Guard Timothy Davison was beaten to death by a prisoner in Texas just last year. Two convicted murderers killed 59-year old Susan Canfield in 2007 after overpowering another guard.
Better protocols and supervision can prevent some of these. Gang-related killings inside prison walls are too common too, but there are not as many easy response options there. People need to be allowed to socialize, but once you have people in a big group, they can harm each other.
There are several no-win scenarios in running corrections facilities.
As I said in the post, I oppose the death penalty, but I wouldn't find it unreasonable or "uncivilized" as the GP put it to be moved by these concerns (albeit in certain very limited situations).
"The death penalty is bad" is not an a priori conclusion; unless you work it directly into the definition, it doesn't necessarily contradict "civilized society."
I am not a supporter of death penalty too, but labeling everything outside of the current zeitgeist as inconceivable really hurts the cause.
The problem is that the death penalty can't be reversed or the person compensated if someone is found to have been wrongly convicted.
Well, what you say doesn't necessarily has to match what you are.
Hypocrisy is a thing -- and modern society is full of it.
There is a long list of "murders" that were found not guilty after being executed:
Beyond that, some confessed murders go on to contribute to society, for example:
Feel free to respond with your reasonings, though think in the end they'll fail to be reasonable.
Personally I am not particularly for or against capital punishment, because I don't think the subject is researched well enough.
And seeing as this is morally a problematic subject with regards to human rights ETC. I don't really have too many hopes it would ever be properly studied.