Tony Medina was convicted in 1996, aged 21, for a drive-by shooting that killed two children at a new-year party. Since then, for 23 years, he has been awaiting execution. [In solitary confinement.]
The way it is practiced in the US is both inefficient, incompetent, often unjust (racism, poor legal representation, biased judges/juries, evidence tampering, unreliable witnesses, dna evidence, etc), often controversial, needlessly cruel, and obviously not working in terms of its supposed preventive function. It's a mess.
That's the reason why an increasing number of states are opting not to. It's just too controversial of a topic and the political price of getting it wrong is too high. It's a PR nightmare and it's one of those things that is only getting harder because of all the recent problems failing to get it right. At this point all executions are highly political and typically only pursued in states where this is relatively uncontroversial. All opponents have to do is point all of the above out. Which of course they do.
The hypocrisy around trying to humanize what is basically state sanctioned murder has resulted in weird practices around multiple executioners pushing a button to avoid knowing for sure whether or not you killed the person, weird rituals around selecting the means to kill where the result is neither humane, particularly efficient, or cheap. The whole thing is a weird guilt trip gone wrong. Ironically this has made it more controversial, not less.
From what I understand, killing people swiftly and painlessly is not technically hard. Any vet or butcher knows how to put down an animal humanely. This is done routinely every day. E.g. a bit of N2, N2O, CO, or similar is all you need for what is pretty guaranteed fatal and painless. Hypoxia followed by unconsciousness in seconds and death in minutes, typically. The main objection against this particular method seems to be that it is too humane (make up your mind already). The key point of that is that the death penalty is primarily about revenge and not about prevention. Stating this further de legitimizes the death penalty and is in itself controversial. State sanctioned torture is even more controversial than the state sanctioned executions.
At least the Brits were efficient and competent about hanging people. It's the systemic incompetence around the death penalty that is killing it in the US. Either way, I'd suggest fixing that level of incompetence and getting that off the table at least. I'd say the Brits were wise to get away from that.
You can't give a person two decades of their life back either.
Sure, it's better to only take away two decades from someone than all of their remaining years but not as much as people like to believe. Especially when you consider that earlier years have a much higher utility than later years. And later years have again higher utility if you could freely spend your earlier years creating a life you would enjoy, in particular have kids to watch them grow up.
The rate of suicide is much higher in prison than out, and is also higher after release for people who have served their prison sentence.
And that's without an impending death sentence - just a regular prison term.
I can't imagine it'd be that different because they were incarcerated incorrectly.
Here's a list, for example: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-cases
edit: and why would you expect differently about suicide rates? Prison is awful. It is punishment, and it the punishment doesn't end after you have left because loss of vote, inability to work in many fields, social stigma, and broken relationships. However, generally speaking, most people in prison are guilty (even if many are not). It is a distinctly different group than people than those exonerated after a death sentence, who are invariably not guilty and they know it. The two groups aren't comparable even though one is a subset of the other.
I’m sure you’d change your mind.
You also can't un-imprison someone. Sure, you can release him, but he'll never get those years back; his relationships will never be the same again; the trauma of imprisonment will never leave him.
I think the thing which needs to be done is to fix the judicial system: if we can't rely on it to correctly impose death, then we can't rely on it to correctly impose imprisonment. Maybe we need to incentivise prosecutors differently; maybe we need to conduct investigations differently; maybe we need to adjust the jury system.
Some people are against capital punishment in any case even if it is 100% painless and the judicial process is completely correct. I don't really have anything to say to them: it's obvious to me that there are certain crimes which absolutely merit that punishment and that to refrain from killing the guilty in that case is a profound injustice.
Well, a good thing is to not immediately cut off any possibility of reaching a common ground.
I think you describe the issue perfectly. Given an imperfect criminal justice system, how to you administer punishments?
Maybe the DA, the police involved, the judge, and every member of the jury should all be summarily executed in the case of wrongful conviction involving the death penalty? I can see some crimes that merit the death penalty, and if everyone involved had to risk their own life to apply it I would be more comfortable that it was not applied lightly because of racial/socioeconomic issues, police misconduct, or the political ambitions of a district attorney.
That's only the case if you believe in free will ideology. The injustice is "society" villainizing a person who had no control over their fate if you understand free will is an illusion because of determinism and how the brain functions.
Free will doesn't exist in society and similar to humans. The will of society is a summation of all the preceding forces upon generations and without any real control. The result being what we experience today as our society we live in.
This all is important to understand because hidden in it is the knowledge of why we have what we have now. Also the fact of how important the majority operates, behaves and thinks.
Currently, the majority thinks contrary to the fundamental truth of how their life will play out. I hypothesis if this wasn't the case, our society would adapt and because there is something similar to moral judgement.
Basically, the collective unconscious of society. The objective is made with effort of being positive, fair and right. That's assumed with how the majority believes the justice system we experience today is right and without understanding the true knowledge making it neither positive, fair or right.
The incorrect perspectives of how reality is,.. collectively prevents evolution of society and because the collective unconscious is still fixed upon incorrect beliefs. Thus, I think I'm sort of answering your question.
Part of it is the incredible disparity between the equitable application and quality of defense based on class and race. Seems like you have to fix the criminal justice system before you make an ultimate and irreversible punishment more efficient.
This gives me a flashback to when statisticians found that the number one issue that predicted whether or not a Brit voted for Brexit was their opinion on the death penalty: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36803544
Shortly before the EU Referendum, support for remaining commanded a similarly small majority but then lost. Those supporting Leave ran a more effective campaign, including making use of data gathered online, targeted advertising via Facebook, and mostly emotional arguments. So I would be very concerned if a referendum were to be held on capital punishment.
MPs of all parties are overwhelmingly against reintroduction and there is no chance of it passing in a free vote in the House of Commons.
Remain was nowhere near as dishonest as Leave, especially if you look at what the Electoral Commission said. Not to mention the two contradictory Leave campaigns.
I don't know who was saying it? I think everyone can agree (even the courts) that Leave campaigning was far more underhanded both in terms of veracity and in terms of legality.
> they're saying that Remain was worse
Worse in terms of less effective and less emotionally appealing, yes. Again that is fairly universally acknowledged.
Both systems are humane compared to the earlier status quo, but an even more humane system could certainly be devised. To answer your question, in the case of decapitation there is reason to believe death is not instant but rather that the severed head may remain aware for a few seconds. This is faster than hanging, but still not instantaneous.
A shotgun slug straight to the skull would be pretty damn close to instantaneous, but that's got a few problems. In addition to the psychological damage inflicted on any witnesses to the execution, it will have more inconsistent results. What happens if the shot is poorly aimed and 'merely' removes somebody's jaw bone? Done correctly, a shotgun slug would provide a more instantaneous death. However it's a less foolproof system. That's just an example though, it's easy to conceive of systems that are simultaneously more instantaneous than a guillotine but are simultaneously are more reliable.
Edit: re inert gas: Yes, though again there is the matter of reliability. An inert atmosphere will kill a human reliably, but the apparatus used may fail to provide an adequately inert atmosphere. This probably wouldn't happen with a mechanism designed specifically for execution, but it does happen a lot in cases of attempted suicide. Inert gas suicides will sometimes be botched, with the victim receiving just enough fresh air to survive the experience (typically with severe brain damage caused by the oxygen deprivation.)
Ultimately I think the whole matter is about risk tolerance. How much risk of executing an innocent man do you tolerate? How much risk of a botched execution do you tolerate? How much risk of releasing a guilty man do you tolerate? These are questions with subjective answers, and for many people their answer will be to tolerate no risk, e.g. abolish the death penalty. Other people are willing to tolerate more risk, so for them the answer might be "bring back execution but modernize the methods". Generally people on one side view the thought processes of people on the other side as alien or obviously defective, but I think that's generally not the case.
There did seem to be some resistance to the idea that executions would be simply drifting off - suffering seemed to be a desired part of it :-(
Edit: For the record, I'm not in favour executing anyone but if it has to be done I don't see why people have to suffer.
Many proponents of the death penalty want to see pain and suffering. They aren't remotely interested in humane execution.
1) How much damage a brain can take before it's incapable of experiencing.
2) How fast a brain can have an experience.
3) How long it would take for a supersonic shotgun slug to reach point 1.
I'm extremely skeptical that point 2 is fast enough to meet the deadline imposed by point 3. I suppose I can't say it's impossible, but it seems very unlikely.
For that matter though, let's suppose point 2 is fast enough to meet the deadline. We don't actually know if that is a more unpleasant death experience than being hanged or decapitated. We can speculate about which experience is the worst, but none of the dead can actually report back to us with real data. My personal suspicion is that decapitation is the most unpleasant, since there is a strong possibility you will be conscious long enough to experience your situation, and that experience will be truly unpleasant. But who knows.
But what if an intact brain is an important part of navigating the first 10 minutes or so of the experience of being dead?
I prefer not to have my brain mushed at all, and let it very slowly decompose. Certainly the first hours of being dead, while it's still possible that electrical or chemical activity in the brain is ongoing, I prefer for it to be intact and at peace.
In my model of the world, perhaps a brain slowly ramping down is a pleasant experience. That's totally conceivable to me. However the brain being instantly disassembled faster than it can have experiences would be the absence of experience, be it a pleasant or unpleasant.
But even then, we can't know the difference in experience for brain matter sprayed all over the room vs contained in one place.
A materialistic model asks us to question what happens when the material in question is rapidly separated and damaged, no?
Are individual pieces of cortex capable of experiencing distress for the minutes or hours in question? We have no idea.
What I don't understand is how people can be against the death penalty but yet be totally OK with locking people up for the rest of their lives. I personally know someone who, if they live to be 75, will ultimately end up being in prison for over 5 decades. How is that not "cruel and unusual"?
So I'm one of those people. It's simple really - death penalty is permanent, while life imprisonment isn't. Yes it sucks that sometimes we might have to release someone who spent 30 years falsely imprisoned - but it's sure a hell lot better than finding out that there is no one to release because the person was executed a decade ago. And secondly, I just don't see any need to execute people, the risk vs reward is not worth it.
I think the word you're looking for here is "irreversible", not "permanent." Life imprisonment is, by definition, permanent.
And yes, you can "reverse" life in prison by setting the prisoner free. But what you can't so easily reverse is the psychological damage done by the false imprisonment.
And it's still less irreversible - to them, and to family and friends - than killing them.
In practice, mistakes are made, regularly, and these mistakes are distributed unevenly, such that the poor and minorities suffer the most.
The many wrongful deaths at the hands of the government is a good reason to be skeptical of arguments which assume the death penalty can be applied perfectly. It can’t.
For a simple counter example, you can look up the Outreau case : 12 people were accused of raping and videotaping children, with multiple testimonies. And 5 years later, the majority of them were found to be actually innocent.
If death penalty was a thing in France, they would have got it for sure, as it was a very emotionnal case at the time.
You can also check the movie 12 Angry Men, which is a work of fiction obviously, but still very relevant on why counting on 'black and white cases with extreme evidence' is simply wishful thinking, and will lead to innocent people being killed
It was highly influential in the eventual abolition of the death penalty in the UK in the 1960s.
Because the cost of putting them to death using a system that has sufficient checks to (mostly) prevent innocent people from being executed (i.e. the current system, if you believe it works) is greater than the cost of imprisoning people for life.
For society's conscience, certainly. For the prisoner, I'd say it depends. I suppose most will agree that a swift death would be preferable to 65 years of extreme torture with a "sorry, you're free to go" in the end. It comes down to whether long term imprisonment, especially solitary confinement, is close enough to torture. Some prisoners apparently prefer death, the suicide rate is much higher than that of the general population, and iirc, quite a few prisoners dropped their appeals and asked to be executed, likely because they prefer a horrible end to never ending horror.
If and where you draw the line between "this is fine" and "no person shall suffer like that for decades, no matter what they may have done, ending their life is the humane thing to do" is up to you.
Death being permanent is a feature, not a bug. Is it possible that evil people can continue to negatively influence society from prison? Or even continue to commit heinous crimes in prison? I'd say this scenario happens much more often than killing an innocent.
For example, organized crime. If you don't kill organized crime leaders, they continue to spread their secret oaths among other prisoners and continue to manage affairs even outside of prison via comm links.
I agree that it's bad to kill innocents, but I think with the right policy and rigor, we could make the death penalty an efficient and painless process that has an extremely low false positive rate.
In my mind it's like "yeah, we save the extremely rare false positive at the expense of allowing all the non-false positives to continue to spread and propagate evil for decades"
For me personally, 0 is the only acceptable number. The only way to get that is to end the death penalty.
But why? Surely you must acknowledge that the "innocent people murdered by the state rate" is inversely proportional to the "innocent people murdered by criminals who should have been put to death but weren't rate"? This latter rate includes prison murders, calling/paying for hits from prison, influencing copycat killers, being released and then killing again, etc.
So basically you are trading one form of innocent death for another (not to mention introducing a host of other negative effects to society by allowing truly evil people to interact with people in said society). For me, death penalty is acceptable as long as the "innocent people murdered by the state rate" is less than the "innocent people murdered by criminals who should have been put to death but weren't rate".
> Our prison system is barbaric and the solution isn't to just kill all criminals
I never said it was. I think DP should be reserved for organized crime leaders, serial killers, and other people who have repeatedly shown that they are fundamentally incompatible with a good society.
A crime of passion such as a husband killing the man cheating with his wife does not necessarily deserve DP and would be a candidate for reform.
To be in favor of the death penalty is to accept the possibility of abuse, something we've seen occur where people are rushed to death row before their criminality can be fully presumed.
The death penalty should never be on the table because the possibility of abuse is too high and the history of it being abused proves that it can't be handled in any rational way.
I think the reversibility argument is a sloppy way of trying to say that there is some massive difference in kind between a lifetime of imprisonment and an execution. The argument seems to be implying that outright ending a human life is taking infinite value, but imprisoning someone for an entire lifespan is taking only finite value. That's the only way it would make sense to allow for the possibility of some erroneous lifetime imprisonments, but not allow for the possibility of some erroneous executions.
Secondly, and I'm sorry, but your characterization is incredibly sloppy. The overall outcome is better if even one exoneration happens and you assume equal preference for life imprisonment vs execution. However:
* Many wrongful convictions will be exonerated. There are multiple per year. There has been at least one this year: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-cases#CliffordWilliam...
* Further, while the preference might not be "infinite" you can just look at the overwhelming majority - innocent or not - of death row prisoners that exhaust all avenues of appeal to see that there is a strong preference there.
Secondly, of course I don’t dispute that there’s generally a preference for life imprisonment over execution.
From the perspective of the - potentially falsely - accused, "The difference is that you’re still alive" is a pretty fundamental distinction and "The finality of imprisonment and execution are the same" is false.
How low of a rate are you willing to accept, and how do you plan on getting there?
See my other comment
> and how do you plan on getting there?
By restricting death penalty not just to the type of crime, but the type of crime and the type of evidence. I think death penalty should be reserved for repeat offenders of egregious crimes where there is overwhelming strong evidence.
Humans are fallible and therefore incapable of creating an infallible justice system.
Allowing any death penalty means murdering some number of innocent people to "get" a greater number of bad people who you already have locked up.
So answer the question. How many innocent people are sufficiently low collateral damage and stop pretending we can only execute bad people.
"See my other comment"
Where you never answered.
1/10? 1/100? 1/1000?
Keep in mind that those statistics are very indirect, particularly since once an execution is carried out, no one has any incentive or interest in reexamining the case.
What if the rate of false positives varies by race, is that still acceptable to you?
I’d hate to overlook a 10x improvement for all because one group got a 2/10ths penalty and another got a 1/10th penalty. The alternative (to give one discriminated against group a penalty 50x worse and the lesser discriminated group a penalty 100x worse “because fairness demands it”) is worse, IMO.
I am a little worried that you are using these made up numbers actively to justify your thinking to yourself. I understand it’s just a hypothetical to explain your framework for reasoning. But you should have actual numbers before you commit to that framing, no?
The subtext of my comment was that your formulation might be immoral given the racial context (i.e. “racist”), and I think your detailed answer still probably is that, by assigning different wrongful death targets to different races. But I understand your moral position is that you just want the best possible for each race, which is.... well, racist but morally defensible I suppose.
I used a constant non-state rate in my example. If I had actual data, I’d have been happy to use it. Without that, I had to go theoretical and argue that if every group is made better off, there’s an argument to support. Surely, before such a plan is changed, it will be studied to an extent that’s impractical for news.yc commenting.
Life imprisonment is unusual? For the absolute worst possible crimes? Again, no, not really. It certainly must suck, but what is unusual about society wishing to protect itself from it’s worst offenders?
Life imprisonment has the huge benefit of being undoable if new evidence exonerates someone.
I am certainly opposed to “BS life imprisonment”, like US drug three strike laws leading to that outcome. But for murder, rape, etc? No, I personally am entirely on board with life imprisonment, provided the justice system can demonstrate the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Forcing someone to eat a box of baking soda would be unusual to me because it's in a totally different category of punishment. Like fining, community service, or death instead of prison.
That's a blatant lie. If an innocent man ends up in jail at the age of 20 and it "is undone" when he's 40, his life is destroyed anyway: No career, no savings, no family, no prospects for ever amounting to anything. How do you undo that?
Get off your moral high horse. Life imprisonment is more cruel than death.
This entire comment chain seems to be conflating two common arguments:
1) If it's wrong to kill an innocent man, it's also wrong to imprison that same man; you can call one more unjust than the other, but (as the argument goes) you can't say that one is justified while the other is not.
2) Our society has gotten too used to locking people up in metal cages for several decades; there are many arguments in favor of moving back to flogging
It's sort of too bad that there aren't many mostly empty wastes that we can exile people to any longer. Remove them from society, but give them the chance to make what life they can under the sky.
But context matters. I'm really objecting to the weird notion that miscarriages of justice are sort-of okay, as long as they don't result in capital punishment. It makes little difference whether a man's life is unjustly destroyed or unjustly extinguished!
Besides the fact that execution (last I checked) is permanent, there are no methods used in the US (or most places in the world) that guarantee a quick, painless death.
Practically, the most likely methods (lethal injection) end up torturing people to death.
That’s really the kind of world you want to live in?
Imagine yourself in the situation: you are 20, you go to jail. You are 40, now exonerated. You have no friends, no skills, no job, no money. You are a failure. It's unfixable. You are likely to commit suicide.
The point isn't so much whether a messed up life is still better than no life, the point is that someone upthread glibly asserted that wrongful imprisonment can be reversed. That is a convenient lie. Those years are lost. Forever. Irreversibly.
Still not getting through? Fine, imagine a women spending her third and fourth decade in jail. That means no children. Ever. Is that enough to get the point across that imprisonment causes permanent, irrevocable damage and that it isn't markedly different from capital punishment in this regard?
I think you need more practical life experience to understand why you are wrong.
> You are 40, now exonerated. You have no friends, no skills, no job, no money. You are a failure. It's unfixable. You are likely to commit suicide.
That was me at 40. I didn't go to prison. I got sick. Lost everything and had to start over. And 15 years later life is okay.
Friend mentioned his college professor. He fled the Nazi's and went to Argentina. And then had to flee again to the US. Each time he started over with _nothing_.
In one case, you can potentially reunite a person with their family. In the other, the state has killed an innocent man and permanently destroyed a family.
I'm really having a hard time understanding how locking someone up and potentially freeing them later after a miscarriage of justice is discovered is the same as murdering that person.
Really the worst case would be to convict someone who is 60 years or older who then dies in prison because of a lack of medical attention.
Are you being satirical here? The rest of your comment, other than this line, seems like you are trying to be serious, but this is so clearly over the line into absurdity I can't tell.
> No prospectors for ever amounting to anything? Get off your high horse, he'd still have 40 years left to do that. Especially for men 40 years is a perfectly fine age to start a family nowadays.
Assuming you are being serious for the moment (and if you arne't, good on you, I honestly wasn't sure): it seems like you are not accounting for any of the realities of the scenario you are describing. What about the trauma and PTSD from living through decades of psychological torture? What about the destroyed social networks? What about the consequences of decades of poor diet and exercise?
Cruel refers to punishment which is torturous. Prison, in theory, should not be torture, despite often being so. Many aspects of incarceration in the US which are effectively torturous are commonly excused as being necessary for security and safety (e.g. solitary confinement) or medical reasons (e.g. force feeding), or being acts of other prisoners not under the control of the state (e.g. bullying). By contrast, many other countries' prison systems treat these factors as being within their responsibility.
Unusual refers to the punishment being arbitrary or not appropriate for the crime. This doesn't set a standard for what punishment is reasonable, but only requires punishments be consistent (for similar crimes). Additionally, if the punishment could not have been expected, then it can't be considered useful for the purpose of deterrence.
Crucially, the requirement that punishment not be cruel and unusual does not require the punishment to be reciprocal to the crime.
There are countries where prisons are not exploitative hellholes, and locking people up for life is not a form of punishment but an acknowledgement that society has failed them, so there is no point in making the prisoner's incarceration as unpleasant as possible.
If it's "cruel and unusual", it's your society that makes it cruel and unusual. It doesn't have to be that way.
There are cases where people have been overlooked, needed help, etc. But the evil among us should be purged. Locking up serial rapists, serial paedophiles, and serial murderers does nothing but waste taxpayer money. If someone who commits these crimes is found guilty beyond any shadow of a doubt, they should be removed from society.
Norway, for all its goodness, needed to execute that moron who murdered all those kids in cold blood. Yet, he enjoys an expansive room, cooked meals, TV, games, conversation... all like it's no big deal. I think that is an example of society failing to deal with a problem. There is no closure for all of those families who lost innocent children. They exist knowing he exists, and is enjoying life as he's able.
Yet, you take issue with a murderer being offered anything that could be considered a comfort.
Assuming he's completely severed from society, what difference is it making? I'm genuinely curious.
If we sent him out into space with a couch and a chess partner, is the "closure" of anyone victimized the responsibility of anyone other than the victims?
It's harsh, but no one can "give them closure", and it's not clear that watching the perpetrator die is the one true form of final closure.
However, there are better "prisons" (see e.g. what Norway does) and it is possible to let (dangerous) people live lives that are dignified, fulfilling and productive (when they are able to work) under the constraints of captivity.
1. It removes the cruelty of life imprisonment. If we take away someone's freedom permanently and they will never have the option to regain their freedom, they can "take the easy way out". Those who are innocent and believe they will eventually be freed can stay the course, but those who know their life is over can choose to exit early.
2. It removes the added bureaucracy and delay to execution and death penalty cases. By removing the government's ability to kill someone, we no longer need additional hearings for death penalty cases or need to hold out a very long time for possible appeals many years later. It just becomes someone's choice.
Now, there's other considerations, I think there'd still need to be a minimum time for euthanasia after being sentenced, you'd want maybe a periodic opt in period for people to elect for euthanasia, maybe every five years or so, and you'd want to have someone evaluate that the prisoner wasn't making a rash choice due to recent news from the outside or the like.
But this allows death as an "escape" for a life of misery in jail and also removes bureaucratic overhead to the government electing to kill someone.
Shouldn't we aim to give them the most freedom we can, though? The ability to ideally, in a restricted environment, continue to read and learn and grow, or if that won't satisfy them, to remove themselves from the situation?
One consequence is for the brothers Tilmon and Kevin Golphin. Tilmon was 18 and Kevin was 17 when the crime occurred. At the time, both were convicted of the death penalty for the same event. However, due to the US Supreme Court ruling, Kevin later had his sentence changed to life in prison. Tilmon is still on death row.
Their situation presents a lot of moral questions about the death penalty, morality, fairness, and so on. Justice is never going to be fair, and it is always hard for a society to determine the correct balance.
I think the Danish model is the best - but that looks out for the person and the future, rather than pure punishment; https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d3dabz/adopting-denmarks-...
I did not make that argument. I only argued that having free will or not makes no difference as long as we cannot tell whether we have it. Even supposing we all believed none of us has free will, it doesn't follow that we wouldn't agree to have rules. It also doesn't follow that believing we have or might have free will is what makes us behave well, but having rules does seem to help that.
As to fairness, there's also fairness to the rest of society -- if a person cannot help but commit crimes, then maybe they shouldn't be free to do so. You might think that unfair to the criminal, but it is certainly better for everyone else. Call this whatever you want, but it is pretty much how all societies work, from the most primitive to the most modern -- we have rules, and we seek to enforce them.
I'm not saying it's fair that we don't allow people to be free to act upon what is bad. I'm saying the system needs to be designed to be a rehabilitation modal and not a punishment modal because it's dehumanizing, amoral, and unethical to punish a person who is forced into the circumstances. The punishment modal doesn't help fix the problem and keeps a system from evolving to where people can be fixed like illnesses in the healthcare system.
Or look at it this way: if the universe is fully deterministic and we have no free will then what's the problem if a criminal goes to jail? It's not as if it means anything, and it was all pre-determined, no?
But the real answer is that we neither know for sure whether the future has been pre-determined, nor could we predict the future if it were, and we do not know if we have anything like free will, but we at least have the illusion of free will, so we have no choice but to act as if we do.
Rules can change, get better or worse and effect society in a little way. I have no problem with that! I’m not saying if someone cannot follow a rule it’s not good.
I’m saying the consequences of breaking a rule need to be a rehabilitation modal compared to a punishment modal. The illusion of free will is similar to humans once perceiving the world is flat. I’m a firm believer that it’s better to not live a life under an illusion and when the consequences to humanity are something like the justice system being built incorrectly in a dehumanizing manner. I find it heartless when a person feels like the people fated to suffer should just be damned instead of acknowledging a problem. Predetermination doesn’t make me into that type of person and while living several years with the illusion gone. I find that attempt something a person who hasn’t thought much about life (would say) while not thinking everything is determined.
In the end from a cost perspective it's a lot cheaper to have a productive member of society living on their own than it is to lock someone up for life. You have to weigh the recidivism rate vs. the cost of the program, but there isn't any country in the world with a more expensive criminal justice system than the US. We can definitely do better.
At all costs? No. Otherwise? It depends.
You said it yourself: Some people are dealt terrible cards, and that can include (as yet) unfixable aspects of brain function.
This argument always strikes me as bogus. Is it possible to tell the difference between "real" free will and "illusory" free will? If so, how? If not, than why does it matter?
Yet these illusions are strong and people have been writing about them for at least for 2500 years. Epicurus effectively suggested to believe in gods since the alternative, physical determinism, is just hopeless and useless.
As with gods the free will is matter of belief and cannot be proved or disproved.
Not that it’s not interesting. Just a little out of scope IMO.
Having said this, I'm for the death penalty for the following crimes, if they are proven beyond a shadow of a doubt (video evidence, bodily fluid DNA match, plethora of independent witnesses):
- Forcible rape (either sex)
- Aggravated armed robbery (which is terrorism)
- Premeditated aggravated assault leading to injury (which is terrorism)
- Kidnapping at gun/knifepoint
- Intentional illicit drug sales to a minor child
- Sex slave trafficking (adults and minors)
* Please note that "terrorism" doesn't have to be political. Many states have laws against "terroristic threats" and "terrorism" (personal); sadly they are not often used.
I know almost everyone here will disagree, but let's be honest here. Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand and many other countries have these laws, and while I disagree with them on many points, they deal harshly and swiftly with the dregs of society.
My British uncle has personally witnessed several hangings in England before the death penalty was rescinded. As a senior police officer at the time, he made it a point to witness the hangings of those people whom he brought to justice who received the death penalty. Closure. Let's be honest: If I took months of my life to bring a child rapist/paedophile/killer to justice, I'd want to watch, too. People like that deserve it.
I disagree with lethal injection, firing squad, and gas chamber. They are too expensive and require too much oversight (chemists, European reluctance to sell drugs, doctors, etc.). Hanging is quick and cheap. The Singaporeans do it best.
The state has a right to execute heinous crimes. I think the Saudis have it right when the cut off hands for theft. Note, though, that theft of food, items to help one's family is not given that punishment. Car theft, bank theft, ID theft all warrant something like this in my mind. The West has, in my mind, grown soft. A serious crimes serial thief will continue to steal. A rapist will continue to rape. Paedophiles have the highest repeat rate. Why should I, a law-abiding tax payer have to pay for three hots and a cot for those who deserve the death penalty.
For those crimes warranting the death penalty, and for which there is ZERO doubt, the sentence should be carried out within 24 hours. No family visitation, no last words, nothing. If you are a terrorist, rapist, murderer, sex trafficker, drug dealer, or paedophile, you should receive zero consideration once convicted.
Considering the seriousness of ending someone's life, these cases would need to be 100% airtight. Video evidence, plethora or independent witnesses, DNA evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt. If these things are in place, and they are verified by say three agencies: police, FBI, independent lab, then go ahead.
While I see what you're saying, "pedophilia" isn't a crime.
>they deal harshly and swiftly with the dregs of society.
The goal shouln't be dealing with the "dregs of society", it should be dealing with people who have committed crimes, whether they are dregs or not.
>The West has, in my mind, grown soft.
Perhaps because people prefer a "soft" system. I don't see why softness is bad in itself.
>and for which there is ZERO doubt
This is surprisingly rarely the case; in various countries with huge oversight and process, innocents have been killed.
>Why should I, a law-abiding tax payer have to pay for three hots and a cot for those who deserve the death penalty.
Because justice shouldn't be predicated on how costly or cheap it is to carry out. I have trouble understanding why you think it should be. Is justice subservient to the money it costs to carry out? Do you think it should be? And this argument only makes sense if we agree that they "deserve" the death penalty in the first place, which I don't agree with. Because someone deserving the death penalty hasn't been argued for (at least not by you), it's possible for me to agree with you (i.e those who deserve death should get it) while thinking that nobody deserves death.
>The state has a right to execute heinous crimes.
Oh really? The anarchist movement, for example, would disagree with this assertion.
>A rapist will continue to rape.
Is this backed up by empirical data? If it's true, why is death preferable punishment to lifetime imprisonment or chemical castration?
>Paedophiles have the highest repeat rate.
This is only true among a subclass of offenders; since your usage of the term is ambiguous, I'm assuming it also includes people who possess child pornography, but their rates of reoffence are low, and there is no established likelihood of possessors going on to abuse children. (Though possession should still be a crime, of course).
> I'd want to watch, too.
So I really don't understand why you seem to be indulging in such fascist revenge fantasies? It's not healthy.
I also don't get why such people are always obsessed with rape and paedophilia? The latter isn't even crime, btw.
> Aggravated armed robbery (which is terrorism)
Now you're just redefining things. Terror has a definition: to cause terror (fear). Robbery has a different intention (getting something valuable).
> ID theft all warrant something like this in my mind.
Sure. Also breaking the speed limit and taking the express checkout lane with more than 10 items.
How do you know they're dealing with the "dregs of society", and not "here's someone we accidentally caught and killed"?
> I think the Saudis have it right when the cut off hands for theft.
> Why should I, a law-abiding tax payer have to pay for three hots and a cot for those who deserve the death penalty.
Because many do not agree with your views on who deserves the death penalty: note there are many criminals who have done things on your list and not become repeat offenders.
I don't feel sorry for the evil in our society. These people cost us dearly by dint of housing them, feeding them, providing medical care, entertainment. All the while, their dead victims, their raped and permanently-violated victims get no justice other than knowing that the evil person is behind bars. That's not justice. That's sweeping it under the rug and calling it good. It's intellectually dishonest to say the death penalty should not be used for heinous crimes. It breaks the social compact with the victims and society at large.
The theory of the social contract is also a very liberal view.
>All the while, their dead victims, their raped and permanently-violated victims get no justice other than knowing that the evil person is behind bars.
That's the thing, though; justice is qualitative, not quantitative - why would you suppose that knowing the criminal is dead offers so much more solace than knowing they're behind bars? Isn't the whole puzzle and mystery of justice knowing how to balance fairness and the desire for retribution? Why are you assuming that retribution is the only relevant factor here?
>It's intellectually dishonest to say the death penalty should not be used for heinous crimes.
No it's not.
> If you <do bad things>
> If you are convicted of <doing bad things>
You have made many very emotionally charged posts in this thread. Take a rest.
If you are going to execute people for "premeditated aggravated assault leading to injury" (would a high school fight after a football game qualify?),
What keeps people from ramping the crime up into flat out murder? What is the additional negative incentive?
And what paradises those places are!
10 seconds? Seems pretty improbable. 10 minutes maybe.
I wonder if many cases of officer-involved shootings aren't a side-effect of this, a short-circuiting of the justice system. For instance, I find it nothing short of miraculous that the Tsarnaev brother was taken alive, rather than winding up with a few bullets "resisting arrest."
Do you at least get a chance to explain yourself?
It’s literally and definitionally extra-judicial. You can maybe say that thing is ok for some reason but I don’t see how that thing can be “not that thing”.
I mean, there is an obvious reason.
That "obvious reason" is a level of marksmanship and organizational competency that makes cell phone video coming out of Syria look like a documentary about an elite fighting force.
The previous time they tried to shoot him all they did was pepper a house in an upscale neighborhood. Then there was the friendly fire thing. They also peppered the boat pretty good. It's not like they didn't try. They tried to shoot him several times and they failed.
And that's just the tip of the stupidity iceberg when it comes to the Boston bombing. The worst part is they basically proclaimed victory on something that was a textbook failure at every step and the people of MA are so devoid of critical thinking skills that they mostly bought it.
Edit: replaced "brainwashed" with "devoid of critical thinking skills" because the former gives the government too much credit.
Yeah, doesn't pass the smell test for me either. 110+ bullets in that boat, and the guy wasn't far from dead when they brought him to the hospital.
I said luck, because not much beyond plain luck allows you to survive 110+ rounds fired into the relatively small fiberglass boat you are hiding in. Not moving might have helped, but there's still quite a but of luck there. He had at least three serious bullet wounds.
The reputation police have for poor marksmanship and giving zero fucks for what is behind their target (I can't stress enough how irresponsible this is for a civilian police force operating in urban environments) is well deserved.
I guess the national news only covered the "we got'em boys" official statements.
I think if I supported the death penalty, I think I'd be comfortable finding out that 5% of executions were of innocent people. If I was religious, I'd be willing to accept a much higher number.
The suffering associated with death is the suffering associated with the survivors and the suffering in being told you're going to die.
How much money do you figure it is reasonable to spend to avoid the risk of killing one innocent person?
How many people is it reasonable to let be killed/raped/etc because guilty people were kept alive?
I don't think "it's never ok to sacrifice an innocent person" is the right answer.
You need to show a strong deterrent effect of the death penalty for this to be a reasonable line of argument. In addition, you'll find that almost all of the rich democratic world, except the US and Japan, have answered this with "nobody is allowed to be put to death by the state" as per the article.
The death penalty exists so the decent don't have to suffer the truly evil to live.
This is why arguments weighing pros and cons fall on deaf ears.
This ^. I don't want to end someone's life because they did something bad. I want to end it because it's too much of a cose to keep them alive. Most importantly, the risk they will do something horrible again. If a given person has shown themself (grammar?) to be a severe risk to society, then ending that person may be the right solution.
Thus, it makes no sense to ask what is or is not a "privilege that can be taken away", since this is a question with no logical or scientific meaning.
The only thing you can ask is "given a specific set of criteria we are trying to optimize for, is it better or worse for this to be a privilege that can be taken away". Which, of course, depends on the criteria.
A civil society breaks its pact with law abiding people people when it allows these people to go on living when they've not only broken the social compact, they've destroyed it by dint of murdering, raping, selling drugs, ruining the lives of others, some of whom were parents who have left a child parentless, sometimes orphans, who then become a burden on the state (albeit a worthy burden). Actions like these are grounds for state-sanctioned execution of the offender.
However, that's an irrational cognitive bias like any other, and I wish people wouldn't succumb to it on HN.
Whether I agree with it or not, your comment is an interesting and rarely-heard perspective, and rationally argued.
Say you have an opportunity to end a person's life instantly, without their foreknowledge, without pain. This person has no friends or family or responsibilities of any kind. This person is virtually guaranteed to do more harm than good to society on par over the rest of his natural life. No other people will ever know of this execution. Without emotions, there's no reason not to legally oblige such an opportunity to be taken.
I have always suspected that Asperger's and autism (full disclosure: neither of which I have) are just extreme versions of the same underlying personality trait, but I have no background in psychology so that could also just be totally wrong pop-science BS :)
That in turn is a problem because an innocent person convicted almost always also means a guilty person left free to reoffend.
Jailing the offender also prevents them from killing/raping/etc because now they are in jail. Really a false comparison here. I think all the countries of the world overwhelmingly have voted in favour that this cost is worth it. The countries that did not, made it very hard to execute prisoners anyways and very rarely use it.
That works out to about $0.14 per year per citizen, or $0.37 per household (assuming all my math is more or less correct)
I agree with your analysis that it's not a lot of money. I will ponder this.
1. How many lives are we willing to end to save one life? 1:10? 1:100? 1:1,000,000?
1.1. Does it depend on the lives (if they are kept in jail and kill other inmates, is that better than if they get loose and kill non-inmates)?
2. What are the odds that one killer that is kept alive will kill more people?
There's a lot of questions to be answers, and some of them are opinion not math. However, I don't believe the correct answer is that it is never ok to end the life of another person.
If you are uncomfortable with and unwilling to examine the consequences of your stances, consider that that may mean you know on some level that they do not hold up.
I have the totally opposite impression. That commentator is very explicitly making the point that yes, in fact, sometimes policies leading to the killing of innocent people have benefits that outweigh that cost.
Where did you see any equivocation or "dancing around" ?
The human race is going to end on Tuesday unless Bob is killed. Bob has done nothing wrong. However, he has a unique genetic condition that means, on Tuesday, he's going to come down with the plague, and it's going to spread and kill everyone. There is no way to stop it except to end his life before that happens.
I would kill Bob in this situation. I might hate myself for it, I might even take my own life knowing I had killed someone (or maybe not, because of my religion; I wouldn't know until I was in the situation). That being said, I would kill Bob to save the rest of the human population.
10000 that are guilty of something else (example: they were not the shooter, but they helped)
Compare with deaths by lightening, car crash, bath tub...