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News Death Penalty

How do you feel about the death penalty

Poll closed Mar 21, 2005.
  1. Support it - we have this penalty for a reason; its the only way to really punish people

    8 vote(s)
  2. Against it- it doesn't make sense to have this kind of punishment

    16 vote(s)
  3. Indifferent- I don't really care either way

    1 vote(s)
  1. Mar 16, 2005 #1
    I was had the news on this morning as I was getting my breakfast in the kitchen. Normally its too early in the bloody morning to really pay attention to what is being reported. However in my quest to get my coffee, I heard something mentioned about the death penalty in the states.

    I thought to myself, "Interesting how something as dismal being reported this early in the morning." Then I started to wonder exactly what people think and feel about the death penalty. I also wondered if there were other countries who have a death penalty for crimes.

    So being the group of highly intelligent people you are (seriously and sincerly meaning it) I thought you would be the best group of people to poll. How do you feel about the death penalty?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2005 #2
    The first section of the poll, was cut short; it was supposed to end with "who have commited crimes so henious they don't deserve to be allowed to live."
  4. Mar 16, 2005 #3


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    In principle, it can sound like a good idea. Some people are beyond rehabilitation and are a burden on society - so why not remove them? (I don't mention that they are a danger to society because it is difficult to believe that someone who will spend the rest of his life in prison will be a danger to society.) In practice, however, it's difficult to ignore the historical bias of capital punishment towards ethnic minorities and those too poor to afford good legal service. There is also a good argument put forth by many that, by encouraging a spirit of vengeance in the guise of legal revenge killing, you actually increase the brutality of society rather than ease it.

    I remember someone saying "It is better to let a hundred guilty men go free than to kill one innocent man." I don't know if that's the official opinion of the US Justice Department, but it's always struck me as good policy - even if not particularly utilitarian.
  5. Mar 16, 2005 #4


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    I think in an age of DNA and chemical analysis and pro-bono defense lawyers and all sorts of good stuff, we should have the death penalty. Really, if you DIDNT do the crime... then a LOT of things have to happen entirely by coincadence for you to be accidently convicted. But then again thats in a perfect world. In the real world, you have lawyers and attorneys whose livelihoods depends on getting a decision in their favor so the truth isnt always shown. Unfortunately the decisions are made by humans, big mistake lol. Humans can easily be fooled or deceived or fall for the little tricks. But even so, that doesnt relate to the death penalty because that would mean any and every conviction by jury for any crime shouldnt happen.

    As far as the death penalty goes, im for it because think about it. 12 people have decided that a person did a crime so horrid and they have no reasonable doubt to believe that this person should have his life taken away. There are other countries who are far more brutal then say, the US and they do not have hte death penalty and visa versa. Theres very little coorelation between the two. And as far as the "historical bias" towards killing minorities; that is actually.... ok blanking out on the word... but its not accurate. More white people have been killed in the US as of late then any other race. The correct discription is that more minorities have been put on death row, but more whites have actually been executed.

    I believe there was a study a while back that polled a bunch of teens/young adults and the results were that people said they would be more inclined to commit murder if there were no death penalty in the state. Also, when you put someone in prison for life, there is no guarantee you can get an appeal so you in essence, gave them a pro-longed death penalty and didnt even give htem a chance to prove their innocence. Of course, those convicted and sentenced to death do automatically get an appeal.
  6. Mar 16, 2005 #5
    Its a very good arguement. I happen to agree with you. I don't think I could have said it better myself. :smile:
  7. Mar 16, 2005 #6
    In an ideal world where there can be no shadow of a doubt about a person's guilt then I wouldn't have a problem with it. The problem I have consists of finding articles in the paper about pardons for people who were given the death penalty only to have new evidence come to light after they were killed that they were innocent after all. I can't in a good state of mind say I support taking someone's life away when there is a chance that we've screwed up. And we can screw up: we we are people and people are fallible.
    Of course as long as I'm at it, I'd also like jail to be a little more unplesant then it is now (for example, moving death row inmates to Alaskan penitentaries). But that's me.
  8. Mar 16, 2005 #7
    i have not decided on the death penalty, but if yes, I think there should be a way to save there organs for those who need them. Put simple, they are going to die, so why not let them save another's life when they die. And since the organs are removed after death, it is to late for them to make an appeal, there already dead!
  9. Mar 16, 2005 #8


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    People can be wrongly convicted. I would say I would only feel comfortable with the death penalty if the person confessed, or there was irrefutable proof like a video of the person committing the crime. Even eyewitness testimony can be wrong.
  10. Mar 17, 2005 #9


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    I can't wrap my head for argument that a legal system can legalize the murder of the very citizens it's protecting. Murder and other henious crimes in all their forms are as despicable as it gets, how does it get any better when a society commits more of the same ? Revenge and "closure" are worthless arguments by default, and the "he's gonna be in jail for the rest of his life - why not execute him and save a penny" is a practicality at best, not something you use when building a code of laws. Deterrent ? Well, if you want to live in a Hammurabian system (would think loosing your life behind bars is deterrent enough, large parts of the world seem to manage with it), but if it's in the fabric of society that murder is the worst of the worst, how can society - sanctioned murder be anything better (crime for a crime :yuck: ) or different? Let alone the can of worms we can open if we show a green light for murder under certain circumstances.
  11. Mar 17, 2005 #10


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    That logic is highly flawed Perennial. The fact that we think murder is so wrong is the reason we end peoples lives for it. We convey to people in our society that we believe murder is such a horrible thing, that we as a society are ready to commit the act of ending someones life to deter it. There is also no connection between the death penalty and changing laws to say 'murder is ok under certain circumstances'. Whats coincadental about that statement is people who are usually anti-capital punishment are pro-choice. A country that legalizes abortion is in fact, the country that gives the green light for murder under certain circumstances yet are traditionally countries that do not have death penalties. And a citizen is under the protection of a government if and only if that citizen chooses to follow the law. If they do not follow the law, they have disobeyed that government and the society and are no longer under the protection of that government and society. Its a contract, you break the contract, you are punished. Funny enough, its like the mafia. You join the mafia, you get all the protections but if you defy the mafia, you get wacked :P lol dumb comparison but hey, the mafias cool with their trenchcoats and stuff.

    And i dont see the argument of "well people can be wrongly convicted, that means we cant do it". There is flawed logic in that. That is saying that it is somehow OK to lock people up for life even if their innocent yet not ok to kill them. The situation is the same, there lives are gone, they will never get out, they die in prison either way; one is just delayed. You convict them of murder which means you take their life away, be it in 5 years in a gas chamber or 50 years of natural causes. They will never see the light of day, they will die, there is absolutely no difference. Its like saying if you kidnap someone and tie them up and lock them in a room and they die of starvation, that they should not be tried for murder because they didnt personally shoot the victim or kill the victim in a direct fashion.

    Im sure theres been people who have died in prison of natural causes that later turned out to be innocent of course.
  12. Mar 17, 2005 #11
    Well this is opinion and opinion can't be flawed, but that's my opinion. I fully concur with Perennial. Do we want the mafia to be our government, being wacked if you defy them?

    Opinion and culture may also differ about the main objective of justice, is it revenge? An eye for an eye? Or is it the protection of society against evil elements? Humanity is all about achieving that objective with the least possible damage to anyone.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2005
  13. Mar 17, 2005 #12


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    I don't really think we can bash our logics, since this is one of those cases where the standpoint on some key matters specifies where we end up with our opinion about the capital punishment.

    If you commit a crime, it doesn't mean that others can commit crimes against you, as far as crimes are concerned, committing a crime against the offender is just as bad as committing one against anyone else. It means that you're subjected to punishment and rehabilitation (in the correct proportions), with the ultimate goals that you wouldn't ever commit a crime again and could still be an asset of sorts to the community. I'm not willing to give anyone or any institution the right to declare people worthless even though they've violated the law, because the way I see it, it's the easy way around the problem (by introducing a double standard)... declare people unworthy and unfitting -> fry them, because they committed a crime. I'm for the notion that we're all equal in worth, there aren't monsters but rather people acting on a motif, the motif being the explanation for the crime and typically pinpointing a societal injustice, something where our constructs malfunction. I can't see how giving up on people solves any of our problems, no one ought to have the authority to decide whether someone lives or dies.
  14. Mar 17, 2005 #13
    In today's day and age with all the technology we can use to gather evidence and convict someone, if you are wrongly convicted there must have bee a lot of coincidenses between you and the killer to get you convicted. It seems more difficult to be wrongly convicted if there is a lot of evidence against you.

    The only way you might be able to be wrongly convicted would be if there isn't enough concrete evidence to hold up the prosicution's case and much of the evidence is circumstantial.
  15. Mar 17, 2005 #14


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    I am and have always been against the death penalty. It isn't effective in deterring murder, it is dependent on highly dubious lawyer practices in court and the opinion of a random sample of individuals that is far too smal to be statistically significant. I do think it is "state murder" against a helpless prisoner, and people who say "we are against murder, that's why we have the death penalty" sound like they are contradicting themselves to me.

    I formerly lived in Illinois, the state that discovered a lot of its prisoners on death row were innocent. This hasn't weaned them from capital punishment, though now they're trying to restrict it to "perfectly certain" cases. I really want to see how that concept plays out in the appelate courts! What will Posner say?

    Now I live in Wisconsin, a no capital punishment state. What a relief! And the murder rate is a fraction of Illinois'!
  16. Mar 17, 2005 #15


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    If I never heard the details about the criminals and the crimes that result in the death penalty, I might agree with you on general sentiment. In most places, it's pretty hard to get someone the death sentence. You pick a case at random and it's pretty safe to say the person is well deserving of the death sentence. They have committed a horrible crime in a particularly horrible way and they are unworthy and unfitting to live in human society.

    An argument could (and should) be made that a few states are too eager to implement the death penalty, but that's an argument about implementation, not the concept.
  17. Mar 17, 2005 #16


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    I oppose the death penalty. I consider it an act of violence, and I will have not part in it.

    Many people seem to justify 'revenge'. In seeking vengeance, one becomes what one kills.
  18. Mar 18, 2005 #17


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    Yeah, I don't think there is much argumentation whether the implementation has been "successful", there have been / are some pretty grave deficiencies.

    Other than that I don't see the death penalty serving anything else than primitive emotions, and don't overall consider anyone fit to make the decision whether someone lives or dies.
  19. Mar 18, 2005 #18
    I can see where your coming from Astronuc. I understand your position. I don't condone revenge, but I do believe that there are some crimes that are so henious that the perpetrator must pay with their life.
  20. Mar 18, 2005 #19


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    Well put it that way and the idea sounds absurd right. But put it in its real world light and that sentence turns into "do we want teh government to kill us if we murder other people". "defy" and "mafia" are just silly buzz words to try to take the focus away from the actual issue and should be left out of such a argument.

    PerennialII: Your obviously missing the point of being convincted of murder and being sent to prison for life vs. death. The very fact that such a ruling is handed down that takes a persons life away (death or jail) means that a group of people have decided that a person is beyond rehabilitation and must be taking out of society permanently. And "pinpointing a societal injustice" is just silly. People kill for every reason known to man and there is no majority case (which you'd say is money for poor people im sure) as to why someone kills someone else. Look at columbine, no money motive there. Look at Atlanta last week, no money there. Look at Stalin, no big money motive there. As you can see, murder can be done for hatred, contempt for human life, or political gain (or well, a whole lot more in stalins case).

    And one thing no anti-death penalty advocate has ever been able to answer is what is the true difference between life in a prison and the death penalty. As i pointed out in another post, if you kidnap someone and they die in your custody, are you any less of a murderer? Did you not actually kill that person? Just because you didnt fire a bullet or use a knife or choke someone to death does not make it anymore moral or right or anything. And to whoever said it does not discourage murders, yes it does, studies do show it.
  21. Mar 18, 2005 #20


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    Money. Sentencing someone to death costs more than sentencing them to life without parole.

    If a life sentence with no parole truly means the person will never leave prison alive, that's an acceptable sentence to me. I have no problem with the death penalty, but removal from the society is the number one priority.

    Yes, that is the primary purpose it serves. Finding the death penalty acceptable or not acceptable basically comes down to differences in values and is hard to debate.

    Your second reason is more bothersome. I'm not sure what you mean. Do mean humans aren't qualified to make the decision whether someone lives or dies just in court cases or in general? And you obviously mean humans just aren't fit to decide death for someone, since not letting them decide is automatically making the decision 'lives'.

    Life or death decisions aren't that uncommon a decision for humans to make. People in the combat make them all the time - decisions about their own people and decisions about the possibilities of innocent civilians getting in the way. Everyday, pregnant women make life or death decisions about whether their unborn child will live or be aborted. National leaders make life or death decisions for hundreds to thousands.

    Twelve people deciding the life or death of one person just isn't out of line with the kinds of decisions humans are expected to make.
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