Death Penalty

Gold Member
What do you think of death penalty? Is it fair or unfair? And could help to decrease the crime rate?

Gold Member
Man lisa, you sure know how to throw up some not so flame retardent threads out there.

Staff Emeritus
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Dearly Missed
There's no evidence the death penalty inhibits murder. Most murderers are so dim or so impassioned that deterrence doesn't phase them. In my observation, politicians favor the death penalty because the public wants to see revenge done on killers, especially those who do lurid killings.

WhiteWolf
I support the death penalty, but there a some changes that I think need to be in order. First off, there needs to be an astronomical amount of evidence before someone can be sentanced the death penalty. It shouldn't just take a murder conviction, the courts need to be controlled on the level of evidence against someone before they can take their life. Mistakes can and do happen. If this bar is met, then I think there needs to be restrictions on the particular criminal's appeal rights. If they are convicted of murder in the first degree, and they are overwhelmed with evidence against them, they should lose the right to tie up the courts with pointless appeals that will all be rejected anyway. Capital punishment can be financially plausible if society wants it to be.

KC9FVV
I agree with selfAdjoint on both points. Politicians do seem to use revenge, which I think is entirely pointless. Also, even if there wasn't a death penalty, they would still get life.

Gold Member
Which countries abolish the death penalty? UK?

Gold Member
Lisa! said:
Which countries abolish the death penalty? UK?

The EU as a whole for starters.

Homework Helper
Society is beneficial, and humans have the capacity to appraise the value of society. The role of sending criminals to prison is that we remove them from society for a time, and we hope they come to realize that it is better to behave and then reap the benefits of society than to misbehave and be deprived. That's the theory, anyhow.

The prison time is varied based on how serious the crime is, but some crimes are deemed so serious as to be irredeemable. An individual who would do such a heinous crime obviously does not value society at all, or lacks the capacity to appraise society's value. We remove such elements from society, whereby we give them the death sentence or life imprisonment.

The death penalty does not allow for mistakes, which is why there is a rigorous process to go through until a person is executed. At the same time, these lifetime prisoners are a drain on society to some degree. Others must work to pay for them. For a few prisoners, that drain is not significant, so we would keep them alive, to allow for mistakes.

However, if there were a great number of these prisoners, and the drain on society became significant, we might choose to execute some of them. People such as the B.T.K killer would be the types we would execute.

The death penalty is bad in that it doesn't allow for mistakes, but beyond that it isn't bad, and I disagree that it need be about revenge. There should be no problem with executing heinous criminals who confess, such as the B.T.K killer, unless we have reason to believe their confession is a lie. However, faced with a death penalty, I doubt many would falsely confess, so that point is moot.

There is no good reason to keep them around indefinitely (those who confess and whose crimes meet the criteria for lifetime imprisonment), unless it is for revenge. I hear sometimes that death for certain individuals is 'too good'. This is a sure sign revenge is the motive. Sometimes to not grant the death penalty is to seek revenge.

Who can argue that the calls for the B.T.K killer not to be given magazines in prison is not about revenge?

Gold Member
KC9FVV said:
I agree with selfAdjoint on both points. Politicians do seem to use revenge, which I think is entirely pointless. Also, even if there wasn't a death penalty, they would still get life.

The whole idea of a prison system and "crimes" is about revenge. Steal my car? Revenge = going to jail. Let's face it, every jail sentence is revenge. Otherwise we'd be giving rapists a big ol hug and saying "go back to your job and normal life"

WhiteWolf
Pengwuino said:
The whole idea of a prison system and "crimes" is about revenge. Steal my car? Revenge = going to jail. Let's face it, every jail sentence is revenge. Otherwise we'd be giving rapists a big ol hug and saying "go back to your job and normal life"

I agree, it is simply another form of punishment. It is not revenge anymore then giving someone a fine or any type of legal retribution. People make mistakes, but there needs to be a punishment. People need to learn from there mistakes. There are also those that are opportunists that will take advantage of that attitude of forgive and forget. If there is no motivation to not do a crime, then crime will be rampant. Crime causes disorder and chaos and man can not physcologically live in such an environment. Capital punishment is simply the most dire method of punishment, after all, they took an innocent life. That cannot be returned. That person made no mistakes. And no they have no chance to do things different. For that person, their part in history was robbed and ended by another, what other punishment is suitable or that?

Gold Member
Yes, I agree Whitewolf.

What we're looking at here is not if we're promoting Revenge, but whether it is justified (I don't want to say 'right' and 'moral' less we get people in here on the "You can't say what's right or wrong or what's moral or not, its relative" issue) to take someones life in the name of justice.

Gold Member
PerennialII said:
The EU as a whole for starters.
Oh yeah, I totally forget about that. Thanks to mention.

Now I think we should compare the crime rates in countries with death penalty and countries which's abolished death penalty.
I think the result wouldn't be in favor of death penalty!

Gold Member
Lisa! said:
Oh yeah, I totally forget about that. Thanks to mention.

Now I think we should compare the crime rates in countries with death penalty and countries which's abolished death penalty.
I think the result wouldn't be in favor of death penalty!

Don't forget the information on their crime rates BEFORE they abolished the death penalty as well.

Gold Member
Pengwuino said:
Don't forget the information on their crime rates BEFORE they abolished the death penalty as well.
Good point. And we should also notice the kind of crimes.

Gold Member
Lisa! said:
Good point. And we should also notice the kind of crimes.

Yah. Few decades ago, people were still getting the death penalty for... well, crimes that don't call for it (i can't remember... but no one was even physically hurt in teh type of crime). It'll be easier to get state statistics in the US since a lot of states have somewhat recently switched from death penalty to life-only. If you can get them in fairly recent decades, you can rule out social changes as an externality.

Gold Member
Pengwuino said:
The whole idea of a prison system and "crimes" is about revenge. Steal my car? Revenge = going to jail. Let's face it, every jail sentence is revenge. Otherwise we'd be giving rapists a big ol hug and saying "go back to your job and normal life"

Should this be taken seriously or is this just a practical observation of sorts Doing good by subjecting people to more harm sure sounds like a handicapped approach.

Gold Member
Pengwuino said:
The whole idea of a prison system and "crimes" is about revenge. Steal my car? Revenge = going to jail. Let's face it, every jail sentence is revenge. Otherwise we'd be giving rapists a big ol hug and saying "go back to your job and normal life"
The legal system does not exist for the purpose of orderly revenge. The main point of it is to make it unprofitable for people to do bad things so that they don't do them. For many people, the reason they don't steal is that they consider it not to be worth it because of what would happen if they were caught. The other big reason to have a legal system that can put people in jail is that you can keep dangerous people off the street. The death penalty has been proven ineffective as a deterent. People who commit murder, it seems, either don't care about being caught, or believe that they will not. Putting people in jail for life under high security also keeps them off the streets. Revenge for the sake of revenge is purely destructive. It is harming people for harm's sake. If seeing someone else killed brings you joy, why should it be the job of the government to satisfy your sick desire?
WhiteWolf said:
People need to learn from there mistakes.
Yes, the death penalty is quite educational.
WhiteWolf said:
First off, there needs to be an astronomical amount of evidence before someone can be sentanced the death penalty. It shouldn't just take a murder conviction, the courts need to be controlled on the level of evidence against someone before they can take their life.
The degree of evidence needed for a murder conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt". There really is no practical degree of evidence higher than this. If you go to "beyond any doubt", then no one will ever be convicted. A murder conviction requires proof of intent. How could you ever prove beyond any doubt what was going on in someone's mind? You can't, you can only prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no way to make a distinction between "guilty" and "really, really guilty".

WhiteWolf
Maybe I didnt explain that very well. People can get convicted by a jury's emotions as well. You don't have to have a lot of evidence against someone, but if say the murder weapon is found in you home, and you have a motive, that would be a conviction. But maybe it was your spouse that killed this particular person. It is a possiblility. Alot of people have motives to be angry with a lot of people. But maybe it is someone in your home that is the pshycopath. When you said that the death penalty doesn't teach andything, but it was also said that murders don't care about being caught, they are emotionless...yadda, yadda, yadda, this was the case, then there is no reason to keep them in society because they will never learn. Life in prison doesn't teach much either. All it does is make you live in misery for the rest of your life. And if this particular person serving a life sentance feels bad for the crime, which happens and should be considered a good thing, he still doesn't get anything to show for it. He spends his life feeling sorry for it. Big deal. What does life sentances do for society except mop up tax dollars?

Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Previously, I was rather heatedly against the death penalty; nowadays, I regard it as a rather dumb societal reaction that in some instances at least, should not be met with extreme degrees of condemnation.

I personally regard the whole "punishment" idea as rather silly and medieval, not the least because it is in my view a misdirection of attention.
Some people show themselves through their actions to be dangerous to others; that's what I basically think confinement of individuals should be about.
This implies that I fully support that some individuals should be monitored or confined to some extent throughout their entire lives.
With more and more opportunities to do productive work without direct personal contacts (say in providing and keeping up .com services, for example), I see no reason why SOCIALLY confined individuals cannot be put quite effectively into various FINANCIALLY productive work situations.
That is, with a bit of clever thinking, the cost in keeping individuals confined might not become too big a drain after all.

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Homework Helper
Pengwuino said:
The whole idea of a prison system and "crimes" is about revenge. Steal my car? Revenge = going to jail. Let's face it, every jail sentence is revenge. Otherwise we'd be giving rapists a big ol hug and saying "go back to your job and normal life"

P.S. I think LeonardE has tackled this in a way that I mostly I agree with. I used to think that if there is going to be death penalty then DNA evidence should be compulsory. I now think even that is not sufficient guarantee -- hyper-ambitious professionals are known to have manufactured false DNA evidence.

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Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Pengwuino:
No, it is not true that the "whole idea" is about revenge.
As EnumaElish mentioned, having prisons as a means of social engineering in deterring other individuals from doing similar acts, is also an aspect.
Using prisons as a type of waste bin in hazard removal projects is also effective.

WhiteWolf
And what do we do when this waste bin is full?! Build more prisons with the money that the democrats seem to think that the republicains hide in a big vault and keep it form the American people.

Gold Member
Who are we tryen to kid here. Revenge, deterence, same thing. What am I being detoured by? An act of revenge. What will the vengeful act be used for? Deterence.

This is just wordplay. If I rob a bank, i believe society will seek revenge on me by trying to lock me up. No matter how you slice it, I will commit a crime and society will decide in return, to act upon me in a negative way. This is A=B, B=A, no way around it.

Homework Helper
Pengwuino said:
Who are we tryen to kid here. Revenge, deterence, same thing. What am I being detoured by? An act of revenge. What will the vengeful act be used for? Deterence.

This is just wordplay. If I rob a bank, i believe society will seek revenge on me by trying to lock me up. No matter how you slice it, I will commit a crime and society will decide in return, to act upon me in a negative way. This is A=B, B=A, no way around it.
Suppose you are thinking of stealing $1 million. There is a 50 percent chance that you'd be caught and sent to prison for Y years. You hate closed spaces, so you'd rather pay$100,000 than be prisoned for a year. Your expected profit is 0.5 ($1m) - 0.5 ($0.1Y) million = \$0.5(1 - 0.1Y) million. If deterrence is the primary goal then Y has to be set > 10, anything less will not deter you. But if revenge is the primary goal, then Y could be anything, even zero. The point is that deterrence requires an ex-ante calculation, but revenge is ex-post.

Gold Member
Hmm... guess i didn't understand the math behind our criminal justice system...

Joel
I also think deterrence is a good way to prevent rational crimes. However, as far as I know, there is a continuing discussion between those advocating a rational choice theory of justice and those advocating a more diverse approach that takes into account deprivation, trust towards the justice system, etc. They argue that irrational crimes (like family violence) isn't planned, so it can't be effected by the deterrence effect and it must be prevented in other ways. The truth probably lies somewhere in between all the schools of thought.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
It's not just deterrence, either. Part of the point of locking people away is to keep them from committing any further crimes, at least against non-inmates.

WhiteWolf
loseyourname said:
It's not just deterrence, either. Part of the point of locking people away is to keep them from committing any further crimes, at least against non-inmates.

Exactly, that is one reason I support the death penalty. If you are a pshyotic murderer that planned and successfully killed someone, then there is no reason to waste tax dollars on making sure you don't kill in-mates. I would rather my tax dollars go to my child's education rather then keeping murderers alive!