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Death as a punishment.

  1. Mar 27, 2004 #1
    The death sentence as a punishment. Should it exist?

    I think it serves more like a warning to others than a punishment to the criminals - you do this, you die. The problem here is that, is it necessary? Should chance be given?
     
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  3. Mar 27, 2004 #2

    FZ+

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    I don't think it even works as a deterrent - the statistics suggest otherwise. As punishment, it works as protection, and as retribution only. But the question is whether it is neccessary, whether or not it is ethical, and whether or not it is worth the risk.

    My answers would be no, no, and no.
     
  4. Mar 27, 2004 #3

    selfAdjoint

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    It is certainly not necessary, since states that don't have the death penalty, like Michigan and Wisconsin, don't have greater incidence of capital crimes than states which do, like Georgia and Virginia (to say nothing of Texas!).

    The only argument for it I see being put forward these days is "closure", that the family of the victim have the right to know that the murderer of their relative was killed. But that just makes the state complicit in bloody revenge. It's a barbarous philosophy.
     
  5. Mar 27, 2004 #4

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    I once read an absolutely heartbreaking book about Gary Tison. He was doing life in prison in Arizona for murder. In the 1970s his sons helped him escape from prison. When their getaway car gave out on them on an isolated desert road, they flagged down a family who happened to come along in a car. Tison killed the family members, including a baby, one by one with his shotgun and the gang took their car. They drove to another state and killed more people there in order to steal another vehicle, before re-entering Arizona and getting caught at a roadblock.

    Before reading this book I was 50/50 about the death penalty. As a result of reading the book, I am extremely angry that our society does not have a capital punishment law that it enforces rigidly.
     
  6. Mar 27, 2004 #5

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    Yes, if he was killed it would have been much better, since his sons would have been acting alone, and there would be fewer people around from all those wrongly executed. Gee, this single anecdote far outweighs all of the other collected evidence.

    I read an article somewhere once that concluded that the death penalty does not, in fact, grant closure. I can't find it though...
     
  7. Mar 27, 2004 #6

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    "this single anecdote" - FZ+

    I remember seeing a TV documentary about a convicted killer in Texas. I can no longer remember if he escaped from prison, or if he was released. I am thinking it was the latter. At any rate, he continued to kill again once he was out of prison. Can anyone here remind me of his name?

    FZ+, you may not be old enough to know who Ted Bundy was (or being that you are a resident of the UK, maybe you simply wouldn't have come across his name). Read up on how he escaped from the prison where he was being held on multiple murder charges, and moved to Florida to kill more people.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2004
  8. Mar 27, 2004 #7
    It's also utterly fallistic logic in killing other people as a justifiable punishment for them killing others. It's like saying: You naughty man you killed, that is VERY WRONG.
    So... now we kill you.
    It's just a revenge thing.

    I recommend seeing 21 grams about this issue.

    I feel like you're talking about something different tho Janitor. We're talking about an ethical justifiable system.
    If you go away from punishment, and think about direct situations where you see other people kill a lot of others, and you have to shoot him to stop him killing a lot of others, then I think it's justifiable to directly approach the utalitarism law, do the action that brings the most happyness to most people, and simply shoot him. But again you don't necessarily have to kill him. It's simply a logical flaw to kill another life afterwards. If it's used as a revenge how much better are you than him ? Sure much better, but maybe he also had a terrible life which he thought to bring revenge.
     
  9. Mar 27, 2004 #8

    verty

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    Unfortunately, humans are a strange breed. People do things without thinking, then when bad things happen they blame other people for what happened. All the while they are apologising, but of course they will continue to do it in the future.

    Unfortunately, talk is cheap. The only way to ensure people learn is to punish them for wrong doings. Without penalty, the can't be improvement. The death penalty issue involves what we deem to be 'too much', crimes which are 'too severe', such that anybody who would perpetrate them surely is depraved and killing them would be the kindest thing to do, for all concerned.

    Some argue that it isn't worth giving a worthy criminal the death penalty, because they are getting off cheaply. A peaceful death by needle is too good for them. We want them to live out their life in jail, which is a much greater punishment then a quick death. People want the criminal to suffer, to do his time or whatever. I agree that this should be done where the crime is of a moderate degree. I don't think it is warranted in all cases, though.

    It is completely true that executing the perpetrator doesn't provide closure. Unfortunately, closure is overrated. It never comes. Nothing changes the past; we can't ever change what has happened. We do have the power to prevent the same happening to others, and in certain cases where the crimes are heinous enough, I think this a valid course of action.

    People argue that executing criminals is barbaric; that somehow by doing that we are stooping to their level. We must 'be the better man', as the saying goes. Unfortunately, being the better man is the biggest crock going. It serves the perpetrator in favour of the victim, and to me that is backwards. People try to be good, expecting others to be good to them. They get cheated or used, and instead of taking the person to task for that action, they rather let it slide, knowing that they could have done something about it, but would rather 'be the better man', as though that's a better thing to do.

    We should be prepared to defend ourselves and our property. This doesn't mean enacting vigilante justice, but exercising all the legal recouses we can in bringing perpetrators to justice. In defending our society, it is necessary to remove certain heinous criminals from that society. Baby rapists and serial killers, for example, completely disregarded other's right to life. In response, we respect theirs, to take the moral high ground. We use the opportunity to show how 'evolved' we are. In our cheap attempts to distance ourselves from their acts we are selling out to their misdeeds.

    We must take them to task, punish them to the maximum extent of the law, and if the situation is grave enough, execute them. We don't do it for their sake, we do it for ours, because we want a more responsible society. That's what we should be aiming for.

    It's truly sad that while many dislike the death penalty, they fervently support strict gun control measures, or even the idea of disallowing guns for civilians. I saw recently that in England their will soon be a smoking ban in all public places. People won't even be allowed to smoke in their own cars.

    We stand for this erosion of liberty, but we deny people the right to self defense, the right to feel the effects of their actions. We send violent criminals to spend their whole lives in prison, but for what reason, simply to prove we are better than them? This doesn't need to be proven. They had a choice, and chose their path. Let us not deny them the effects of those choices.
     
  10. Mar 31, 2004 #9
    The purpose of the death penalty is not deturrence. It's not even really to keep us safe from that one person. The primary purpose is to fulfill Justice.

    The death penalty does not deter, that much is shown statistically. And, we could keep someone from killing others most of the time (jail breaks aside).

    But there is a difference between "social engineering" and "justice". And there is a difference between "justice" and "revenge".

    Social engineering is when you enact policies in order to try and alter various levels of crime, poverty, ect. This is fine and good, but it is not justice.

    Revenge is where the response to an act is based on anger level. It often is carried out by those without sanction to do so, or in a disorderly and violent manner. The level of the response may often exceed the level of the offense, and isn't really connected to the level of the offense.

    JUSTICE, however, is carried out by due authority with due process where such societal mechanisms exists. More importantly, it seeks to match the level of the punishment to the level of the offense. This has nothing to do with deterrence or protection. It has to do with EQUITY.

    Human beings have a strong desire to live in a world where good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished. They want to live in a world that is equitable. It is healthy to the human psyche and promotes happy and stable environments. Unfortunately, the real world (the wild world) does not operate like this, so we have to try and build such environments ourselves. We do this with institutions and customs that include honoring people with rewards, as well as punishment of wrong doers.

    But Justice is where the punishment is matched to the offense. If the punishment is too hefty, this is injustice. AND, if the punishment is too light, this is also injustice.

    This means that the punishment that justice inflicts is FOR ITS OWN SAKE. It is not to achieve some social level. It is to fulfill healthy human standards of decency by ensuring that the wrongdoers EXPERIENCE pain to the proper level comensurate with their offense - NOT on the hopes that it will "reform" them, but because it is what they DESERVE to experience for what they did.

    Again, in REVENGE you have actions that are randomly carried out, which are completely detached from the severity of the crime and are instead attached to the emotional level of the offended. In JUSTICE you have the goal of matching the level of punishment to the offense, and it is carried out in a fair, impartial, and orderly manner (that's the ideal anyway). So there IS a difference.

    The argument that it is a bad example set by the state, or that it is hypocritical is also illogical. The state is authorized to do many things individuals cannot - this is crucial to a functioning society. The state also fines and imprisons people. Does this teach people that it is ok to take money from others, and to lock them up in your apartment? Ridiculous. So, those who would advocate that murderers not be killed and instead jailed would, by their argument, be encouraging abduction.

    We reward good doers because we want to live in a world where good is rewarded - because it is decent. We punish wrong doers for the same reason.

    So, the only issue is, "is the death penalty equal to the crime of murder?"

    Murder is the worst of crimes, and what people tend to dislike the most is death. Often, victims were tortured or beaten before being killed, or they have commited several murders but have only one life to give in return. So, in many cases, death for the murderer is a lesser punishment than his crime. By no means could it be considered greater. So, if there is any injustice then it is that the punishment is too light. But many of us are willing to live with that rather than to go through the process of carrying out torture, which is our option as a people.

    By the way, social engineering and reform efforts are wonderful. But the first and foremost requirement is that the offender experience the proper punishment as an end unto itself first. Then, if that punishment didn't happen to require his death, reform can take place.

    I also agree with certain types of pauses in the capital punishment system until it has been reformed. Right now, our particular version of it is far to arbitrary, class based, and innacurate.
     
  11. Mar 31, 2004 #10

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    JUSTICE, however, is carried out by due authority with due process where such societal mechanisms exists. More importantly, it seeks to match the level of the punishment to the level of the offense. This has nothing to do with deterrence or protection. It has to do with EQUITY.

    Since the value of a human life to the human is infinite, that is to say beyond rational measure, no system of equity of taking lives can be rationally formed. All attempts to justify capital punishment on this basis are at bottom fake, just covers for fear and anger.
     
  12. Mar 31, 2004 #11

    verty

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    "Since the value of a human life to the human is infinite"

    What ever made you think that? There are plenty of examples where people regard things as being of higher value then their life. People commit suicide, for instance. People give their lives in heroic deeds for others. The human life is definitely not of infinite value. Many times people prefer death to continued life in a certain situation.
     
  13. Mar 31, 2004 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    I think the death penalty is completely wrong for the reasons already given and many more. This is a primative, horrific practice that belongs in the dark ages. Unless you happen to believe in evil, in which case vengence is not ours anyway, we will almost certainly understand all of this in terms of biology and chemistry one day. Are we killing people because of the chemistry and structure of their brains?

    Also, never give this much power to any government again. No system should ever have the power of life and death over people. We can't always avoid war, but beyond that we can avoid government sponsored murder.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2004
  14. Mar 31, 2004 #13

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    A human may choose to give up his own life. But another person, or any association of people is totally unable to value that person's life to himself. That is my basis for saying there is not and cannot be any equity basis for capital punishment.
     
  15. Mar 31, 2004 #14
    People still retain responsibility for their actions, even if their choices are ultimately predetermined.

    If brain chemistry and structure absolve criminals of guilt, why should we punish anyone? I recognize that there are cases of chemical imbalance and such, but what about the simple case of a boy punching his sister? Is punishment justified?

    From a purely sociological standpoint, if punishment of a certain sort changes the brain patterns that produce crimes or even prevents these patterns from developing in other people, why not use that particular punishment to better society, even apart from an idea of guilt?
     
  16. Mar 31, 2004 #15

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    If brain chemistry is the cause of violent behavior, and if furthermore brain chemistry is heritable, then at the very least should convicted murderers not be allowed conjugal visits, or the right to marry while in prison?
     
  17. Mar 31, 2004 #16
    I agree with Vertigo that the value can't be considered infinite. Especially blunt systems that make no distinction between murderous villains and good people. Of that I can tolerate no equivelancy, sorry.

    As for government having too much power - it already has great power over a lot of things. If you imprison someone for 20 years, then find out they were wrongly accused, you can set them free but, just as will execution, you can't give those 20 years back - the damage is permanent. Does that mean we can't have any sort of government controlled justice? The government may have a lot of faults, and in a democratic one it's up to all of us to try and help it improve, but the fact is that someone has to deal with matters of justice because the alternative is true revenge, chaos, and anarchy.

    As for "being a guise for fear", I'm not sure what people in my position are afraid of, other than murderers not being put down as they should. It is morally wrong/unethical NOT to kill a murderer.

    Lastly, it IS our place to judge - In the absence of a god (or at least the absence of a directly present and obvious one visible before us) it is our moral responsibility to judge one another and reinforce principles through social pressures, public acknowledgement, and support of proper government policies. Those who spread notions like "we can't judge one another" usually are (knowingly or not) laying the groundwork for evil to prevail.
     
  18. Mar 31, 2004 #17

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    Haiti is a place where something close to anarchy has been tried recently. I can't say that the conditions that held sway there were ones that appeal to me.
     
  19. Mar 31, 2004 #18
    So what is the next step after that? A person is in prison, not allowed conjugal visits and has possibly been sterilized by your way of thinking? And their child from previous life exhibits violent behavior in school. The kid already has to live with the reputation of having a parent in the joint. Now that we have proven his violent tendencies are hereditary he is watched like a hawk for the first time he screws up and WHAM! throw him in the joint and say "No kids for you!"? Isn't that justified genocide? I believe society is taking genetics TOO FAR.

    Here is something to think about concerning crime in general:

    We are ALL capable of some form of crime. Pushed to a certain point, ANYONE will kill. I admit it, I would kill for food if I were hungry enough. Some people are less malleable than others to the type of society we live in. Some of those people are the ones who end up in crime. They cannot fit in any other way, so they turn to crime because to them it is much easier than trying to fit in. So what we need to ask is where do we draw the line? What can be done to get some of these people to quit doing some of the things they are doing to get locked up? Face it, some people are just not smart enough to live in the high tech world we live in today. This tendency IS hereditary. So are we going to continue to lock people up with growing numbers? This does have a tendency to reduce the number of offspring with those criminal tendencies. Is it the right thing to do or would it be better to spend tax dollars in such a way as to keep them out of prison and productive to society in some way?

    I say do something to keep the people from doing the things to get into prison in the first place. There will always be people to lock up, that is not going away, but I think it would be smarter to keep the prison population down by way of preventative measures.
     
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