June 17, 2010

"Death penalty scholars say that legislators tend to like lethal injection because it appears dignified and medical."

"When Utah officials were planning the state's most recent firing squad execution, they were met with interest from the international press, repeated comparisons to Old West justice, and a flurry of volunteers offering their services as executioners. Maybe firing squads get people going not just because they're unusual, but because they cater to a certain bloodthirstiness and obsession with guns. And because they seem like a more heroic way to die."

96 comments:

Tertium Quid said...

Lethal injection involves using medical doctors (against the Hippocratic Oath of doing no harm) to kill a man. It undermines the healing profession in the name of humanity. Jack Kevorkian would like it.

Firing squad is the method of the military. Traditionally, it is considered more dignified than hanging. "Cursed is the one who hangs from a tree."

Lethal injection should be abolished.

AllenS said...

a flurry of volunteers offering their services as executioners

That really made my day.

Pogo said...

Lethal injection is another example of "medicalizing normal conditions".

Better to kill them with accompanying ridicule, perhaps by driving the killer up to a Hell's Angels clubhouse, wearing only a pair of shorts and carrying a puppy, dropping their shorts and throwing the dog at the bikers, leaving no ready escape, such as a nearby bulldozer.

SteveR said...

Lethal injection involves using medical doctors (against the Hippocratic Oath of doing no harm) to kill a man.

That reminds me of something else.

Fred4Pres said...

I think LI is an attempt to santize the process. I would rather be more honest and keep it simple. Hanging is fine. Firing squad is okay (although most criminals should hang).

The gas chamber always seemed creepy, which I guess is why California went that way. The electric chair was an attempt make things neater (and to promote Westinghouse products), but hanging seems the best.

Expat(ish) said...

By scholars do you mean people who study the subject with the notion of uncovering truths not previously obvious?

Well, obviously not.

In my observational experience (my wife has a Ph.D.) of a top school you have two majority forms of "scholarship" - compliant activism with picked supporting evidence and useless resume filling pubs.

Just looking at this briefly it seems these guys have managed to tick in both columns at once. Nice.

-XC

PS - One of the *many* things making my wife the amazing person she is ... her dissertation was original, challenging, and useful for both real people and policy makers. And you can buy the book on Amazon.

PPS - Yes, I am still not sure why she married me, to be frank.

bagoh20 said...

There should be some level of violence to it, an absoluteness and quickness, a finality that is clear to all.

Read the account of the Christian/Newsome murders and then decide what is fair for such animals. They will not be executed.

That outcome is not indicative of a society that values life much nor is really all that upset about it's own worst depravities. A society that desperately defends it's pretenses and diddles the alter boys.

MadisonMan said...

My Son, the Death Penalty Scholar.

Hmm. Not what I hope for.

Lem said...

If its not a substantive harm to make the prisoner wait on death row for years (sometimes over a decade) whats a few needle pricks before checking out?

LarsPorsena said...

"....but hanging seems the best..."

It's hard to find a good hangman these days. Not enough rope and too short a drop and the condemned slowly strangles while bucking and kicking.
Too much rope and too much of a drop and the head is ripped off.

Roger J. said...

I would prefer hanging drawing and quartering preferably in a public setting--at least for some crimes. But I suppose thats the conservative in me coming out.

Beheading seems OK too--works in Saudi Arabia--every friday after mosque, they assemble in "chop chop" square and applaud after the deed is done. Usually it's Yemeni pedophiles (they do seem to have penchant for that sort of thing) or Pakistani drug smugglers. Perhaps the Saudi's could sell the falafel concession.

Lem said...

The article was incomplete.. it didn't mention the guillotine.

I guess we (the US) never had it?

Pogo said...

I would put them in a locked room with an assortment of ropes, knives and pills, and show an endless loop of "An Inconvenient Truth", "Lions for Lambs", and "American Beauty".


Suicide at Hell's Multiplex.

EDH said...

As George Carlin observed, they always use an alcohol swab to prevent infection before performing a lethal injection.

Seriously, the BBC did a show called How to kill a human being.

The host went on a scientific quest to find the least painful method of execution. The solution he arrived at: nitrogen asphyxiation.

I think that entire premise was mistaken. There should be some measure of horror to execution. Not as punishment or deterrence to the condemned, but as a deterrence to the state.

Execution should be reserved only for the most egregious capital crimes. If it’s too pleasant, as they depicted nitrogen asphyxiation, it would be easier to justify its use against lesser crimes – or even as euthanasia.

I think a democratic equilibrium is maintained by the state having to justify the severity of the measure against the severity of the crime.

rhhardin said...

I execute an injured roadside animal occasionally. A blow with a rock is involved.

Curiously it comes under respect for life.

AllenS said...

Why not just put the prisoners in a cell and not feed them. That way the prisoner would have time to reflect on what they did.

A.W. said...

Tertiam

A doctor giving a lethal dose to a killer is not doing harm. He is doing good. That person will never kill again, the families will have some measure of justice and other people might think twice before killing another.

I know, I know the libs claim that no one is deterred by the death penalty. And I don’t buy it.

By the way, exit question, to all the death penalty abolitionists. So suppose you give a guy life in prison. Okay. Then he kills someone else. What do you do to him, then?

> Lethal injection should be abolished.

Yeah, this is the whack a mole method. You constantly say X method is barbaric, we should do Y. Then when we do Y, you claim that Y is barbaric. I would bet that in truth you just oppose the death penalty entirely.

Pogo

Lol, you know you should never throw a puppy at a Hell’s Angel.

bagoh20 said...

"Why not just put the prisoners in a cell and not feed them."

With a glass covered box on the wall containing a cyanide capsule.

Hoosier Daddy said...

By the way, exit question, to all the death penalty abolitionists. So suppose you give a guy life in prison. Okay. Then he kills someone else. What do you do to him, then?

Easy. Double secret life sentence. That will show him.

Then again there isn't as much outcry when one criminal whacks another.

A.W. said...

> Then again there isn't as much outcry when one criminal whacks another.

Who said that other person was a criminal?

Pogo said...

"So suppose you give a guy life in prison. Okay. Then he kills someone else. What do you do to him, then?"

In Minnesota, they usually release him to a half-way house without notifying the neighbors.

Collateral damage is an unfortunate but necessary part of the liberal state.

bagoh20 said...

I know life in prison would suck for me, but really how bad is it. If you look at the daily regime of such a person, it is virtually identical to most people's lives who may be elderly shut-ins, handicapped, slackers, etc. It's virtually no punishment at all, except for the rape part, but if you just kill a fellow prisoner, you get your privacy back. So we essentially give them retirement, with an incentive to kill again. Brilliant!

Ann Althouse said...

"With a glass covered box on the wall containing a cyanide capsule."

And in the next scene, he gets a prison guard in a headlock and threatens to ram that capsule down his throat unless his demands are met.

And then there's the Goering association:

"Hermann Wilhelm Goering cheated the gallows of Allied justice by committing suicide in his prison cell shortly before the ten other condemned Nazi leaders were hanged in Nuremberg gaol. He swallowed cyanide he had concealed in a copper cartridge shell, while lying on a cot in his cell. The one-time Number Two man in the Nazi hierarchy was dead two hours before he was scheduled to have been dropped through the trap door of a gallows...."

Cheating the gallows... by taking death into one's own hands. Is that the way we still think? Do we want the graphic, dramatic killing of the condemned man or do we just want him gone?

A.W. said...

Bagoh

Dude, this was (unintentionally?) hilarous.

> It's virtually no punishment at all, except for the rape part

Sure, except for being cornholed its no different from a country club!

I mean that is a big exception, there.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Do we want the graphic, dramatic killing of the condemned man or do we just want him gone?

My guess with the Nazis it was a combination of both. As the Tertium said in the original comment, firing squad has a certain dignity (eschew the blindfold but accept the Marlboro ;-) to it while hanging is a fairly ugly way to go.

prairie wind said...

I dunno. Plenty of cases to make me think the death penalty is justified, but what about mistakes? That's the one thing that makes me question whether we should use the death penalty. We've seen several (many?) convictions overturned because of DNA testing in the last few years. How do we feel when we've wrongly executed someone?

Then someone mentions the Christian/Newsome murders and I'm back on the other side.

wv: morwork, a hint for me, probably

Big Mike said...

My personal preference would be for the death penalty to be much more rare than it is, and I think EDH and I are on the same wavelength. But I would never leave a person alive with nothing left to lose.

As A.W. wrote, what do you do with someone who is already sentenced to life without parole and who kills another person?

And if I had to go, I'd chose the firing squad for myself. You can feel the floor of the gallows falling away beneath you, you can feel the drugs entering your veins, you can hear the sibilant hiss of the guillotine blade dropping down, but rifle bullets travel faster than the speed of sound so you have no advance notice that your life is down to milliseconds. (At least not if the signal to fire is given nonverbally.)

Yeah, I was quite something in previous lives.

(No I wasn't. I was framed! Framed!)

Pogo said...

"Do we want the graphic, dramatic killing of the condemned man or do we just want him gone?"

The former, because the state jealously reserves the right to violence.

That's why the left abhors the second amendment.

Leland said...

The host went on a scientific quest to find the least painful method of execution. The solution he arrived at: nitrogen asphyxiation.

How about the way Payne Stewart went out? High altitude asphyxiation. You don't even have to lose the plane. Just load the condemned into an unpressurized part and take them up.

Or, we can just do what Obama is doing. Let them loose in Pakistan and hunt them down with drones.

virgil xenophon said...

Shooting IS too dignified for common criminals, and lethal injection too clinically, antiseptically banal. Post WWII the gas chamber being seen as mucho un-PC in many circles, and hanging also carrying civil rights PC baggage but OTOH also may alternatively be viewed as reserved for arch criminals (think Nuremberg) Therefore I elect for the "common" blue-collar approach of factory-floor industrial grade old sparky so as not to provide a scintilla of cache to their crimes or persons, i.e., to treat them like the common criminals they are and process them like so much slaughter-house beef.

Paddy O said...

"Yes, I am still not sure why she married me, to be frank."

Clearly it wasn't for your marketing ability. A book on Amazon is mentioned, but no link?

"Do we want the graphic, dramatic killing of the condemned man or do we just want him gone?"

The right answer is we want him entirely reformed. The lesser right answer is we want him gone.

For almost all people, the answer that is most truthful is wanting a graphic, dramatic killing. Public hangings and guillotinings were immensely popular events. They still would be. But, people know they are not supposed to want this, so they funnel their interest to video games, movies, and Middle East politics.

bagoh20 said...

"Sure, except for being cornholed its no different from a country club!

I mean that is a big exception, there."



And if he's gay?

Leland said...

Therefore I elect for the "common" blue-collar approach of factory-floor industrial grade

I read this, and thought the next word would be garrote.

Roger J. said...

I agree with Pogo: it should be horrific and public. The death penalty is not about the sensibilities of the condemned--it is to demonstrate the state's ability to control violent behavior (with state sanctioned and administered) violent behavior. Cue the folks who will claim executions don't deter violent behavior. To which my response will be we do not know how many will have been deterred, and the state has eliminated at least one person who has demonstrated violent behavior.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

"When Utah officials were planning the state's most recent firing squad execution, they were met with interest from the international press...

I know the Jean Francois Kerry types among us obsess about this, but why should we care what the Euros think?

Maybe firing squads get people going not just because they're unusual, but because they cater to a certain bloodthirstiness and obsession with guns. And because they seem like a more heroic way to die."

In that case, maybe we should string 'em up. It is, after all, the American way.

Or you can give 'em the old coup de grace - a bullet behind the left ear.

Big Mike said...

And for those of you who think the guillotine is quick and efficient, there's a story that when the great scientist Lavosier was beheaded he arranged for colleagues to position themselves where they could see his head after the blade came down. He managed to blink his eyes fifteen times before they stayed open forever, indicating that his head was still thinking, still capable of controlling facial muscles for several seconds after being separated from his body.

Other folks call BS.

You decide.

bagoh20 said...

"Do we want the graphic, dramatic killing of the condemned man or do we just want him gone?"

Part of the purpose of the death penalty is to demonstrate how much our society values innocent life, our right to and the level of wrong that murder is. If we allow the murder to live out his life with some minor inconvenience, no worse than what many innocent people have, then we seriously devalue the victims' loss and show the crime to be less than capital.

virgil xenophon said...

Ann, after Goering was found dead in his cell the newspaper headlines blared:"Goering CHEATS DEATH by suicide!" demonstrating the ceremonial aspect of the imprimatur of official governmental sanction for societal retribution by killing. It's FAR MORE than the fact we merely want them dead. The symbolism is important--publicly demonstrating as it does that there are transgressions against a civilized society that will not be tolerated by that society and that society thru its government has a right to protect itself and the government a directed duty to be the instrument to carry out societies' protective retribution.

bagoh20 said...

"Do we want the graphic, dramatic killing of the condemned man or do we just want him gone?"

Part of the purpose of the death penalty is to demonstrate how much our society values innocent life our right to it, as well as the level of wrong that murder is. If we allow the murder to live out his life with some minor inconvenience, no worse than what many innocent people have, then we seriously devalue the victims' loss and show the crime to be less than capital.

Greg Hlatky said...

My guess with the Nazis it was a combination of both. As the Tertium said in the original comment, firing squad has a certain dignity (eschew the blindfold but accept the Marlboro ;-) to it while hanging is a fairly ugly way to go.

Several of the Nuremburg defendants (Jodl, Goering, Keitel) requested the firing squad as more dignified for an officer but the Allied Control Commission insisted on hanging.

A.W. said...

Prairie

> We've seen several (many?) convictions overturned because of DNA testing in the last few years.

And that also means we are no longer making those mistakes. I would add that not all of those guys “cleared” by DNA testing were necessarily innocent, just not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In many ways our society should treat them as though innocent, but let’s not go too far pretending they were pure as new-fallen snow.

Pogo

> The former, because the state jealously reserves the right to violence.

> That's why the left abhors the second amendment

That’s has an interesting and possibly unintended meaning. Look if you want to eliminate the right to bear arms, you are trying to grant the state a monopoly on the use of force. But very often the same people who want to give the state the monopoly on the use of force also don’t want the state to actually use very much force. They want lighter sentences, no death penalty, and tons of exclusions of evidence for reasons that don’t strictly relate to guilt or innocence. Now if the whole idea is to provide a suitable alternative to private force, that all seems counter-productive. But then I think a lot of liberals want the government to have the monopoly on force precisely so we can be “more civilized” by being kinder to criminals.

Ditto on the criminalization of war. They want to make war a criminal matter, but they are the same people that make our criminal justice system incapable of dealing with things like terrorism.

Bagoh

> And if he's gay?

Well, at the very least its still rape. Beyond that, the discussion takes me in a direction that I don’t want to go.

That being said, consider me in the pro-death-penalty side. But I just dispute that prison is no big deal to endure.

A.W. said...

funny verification word: brotag.

its a blog tag for my bro...

A.W. said...

Big Mike

i would think it is illogical to think that death would be literally instantaneous. i mean, look, when you cut off their head, what kills them is the sudden deprivation of nutrients to the brain.

Okay, so imagine instead of chopping the head off, you just fastened a device that suddenly crushed your blood vessels so that no blood got in or out of the brain. would you die right away? um, no. in fact, if there was a way to remove the device, you would have half a chance of doing so.

That doesn't mean all the urban legends about the guillitine is true, but the idea that the moment the blad has cut through you are dead is just illogical. there has to be at least a few seconds before the brain starvation kicks in.

Hagar said...

"Death penalty scholars"?

Lethal injection is an attempt to depersonalize the act and pretend we are not doing what we are doing.

Pogo said...

@ A.W.: exactly the point.

The state is a jealous god, and usually ends up forbidding its subjects access to lightning bolts, mainly because they fear those weapons will be turned against it.

But the modern state abhors killing even its most abhorrent members, preferring to look the other way when the rascals fail to be domesticated.

Denying victims the means for self-protection saves face; their deaths can be safely ignored.

Hoosier Daddy said...

How do we feel when we've wrongly executed someone?

I guess probably as shitty as someone who spent their life in prison for a crime they didn't commit.

As with any human endeavour, mistakes are going to happen and even when can only do the utmost to mitigate them there is always the corruption of power. DNA evidence is obviously 99.999% accurate provided it isn't tampered with.

Kirk Parker said...

"Yeah, I was quite something in previous lives."

Tuco, is that you???


wv: recopere - time off for recovery after a staged hanging

Big Mike said...

@Kirk. Nope.

Linda said...

In Norman Mailer's book THE EXECUTIONER SONG, Gary Gilmore chose the firing squad because of the Mormon belief in "blood atonement". Isn't that why the firing squad is provided as a choice in death penalty cases in Utah?

Geoff Matthews said...

Linda,

Nope, its because its an efficient method of execution. Unfortunately, the Utah house did away with it.

The condemned actually gets to choose their method of execution. Lethal Injection is the default method. Ronnie Lee Gardner chose the firing squad, as did the last person executed (he broke into an apartment and strangled a young girl with a telephone cord). There are 5 inmates on death row who have the option of choosing it. After this, only lethal injection is available.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Gary Gilmore chose the firing squad because of the Mormon belief in "blood atonement".

I was raised a Mormon and never heard of "blood atonement" except from anti-Mormons. It's gone the way of polygamy.

As for the death penalty, I never heard an argument against it that wasn't also an argument against prison. Prison time is also irreversible. You cannot give Gerald Amirault his 18 years back.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Amirault

In general I have found the people who argue against capital punishment to be less than honest. For them, capital punishment is immoral in any circumstances whatsoever. Arguments about deterrence, the wrongly convicted, and the suffering of the condemned are just means to that end. I saw one activist, in a debate on capital punishment, say that it was very important to ban capital punishment now, before forensic science gets so good that wrongful convictions don't happen.

Alex said...

Honestly what difference does it make? Dead is dead.

Alex said...

Part of the purpose of the death penalty is to demonstrate how much our society values innocent life our right to it, as well as the level of wrong that murder is.

This is bullshit. This is neocon morality. Europeans are horrified by our death penalty!

Paul Zrimsek said...

Back during the Terri Schiavo controversy I heard a lot about how swell it is to die of dehydration. Perhaps we should look into that.

Alex said...

Somehow Europe is doing just fine w/o barbaric executions or life-sentences. Yes even the most barbaric, horrific killers deserve our mercy IF we are compassionate, loving people.

A.W. said...

Alex

> Somehow Europe is doing just fine w/o barbaric executions or life-sentences.

sure. look how well they handled milosovic.

> Yes even the most barbaric, horrific killers deserve our mercy IF we are compassionate, loving people.

Hitler deserved our mercy? Jeffry Dahmer did?

AllenS said...

Why not tell the prisoner that he's going to die by lethal injection. Then give him a placebo. When nothing happens, everyone could have a big laugh, and then you could take him out back and shoot the fucker.

Synova said...

Because they seem like a more heroic way to die?

Yes, I did indeed choose "firing squad" on that poll because if guilty it's dramatic and if innocent it's messy as hell.

A.W. said...

sy

Scott thompson (of kids in the hall) once said that if he is ever given the death penalty, he wants the gas chamber, so he can go up to the window and flail against it as he dies, for dramatic effect.

bagoh20 said...

"This is bullshit. This is neocon morality. Europeans are horrified by our death penalty"

Oh, then I change my mind. The Europeans are horrified. The same ones who... ah hell, it's just too easy. Everyone knows how moral European history is.

Cedarford said...

"Paul Zrimsek said: Back during the Terri Schiavo controversy I heard a lot about how swell it is to die of dehydration. Perhaps we should look into that."

Schiavo was a breathing corpse. NO functioning brain. Her husk should have been let finish the dying process 15 years earlier. The Right to Lifers looked stupid and ignorant yet again.

Alex said...
Somehow Europe is doing just fine w/o barbaric executions or life-sentences. Yes even the most barbaric, horrific killers deserve our mercy IF we are compassionate, loving people.


Europe is also doing fine without:

1. A capable military.
2. Affordable energy prices.
3. A jewish population.
4. A right to own firearms.
5. 1st Amendment Rights.
6. The oddball American-Commonwealth justice system.
7. The people getting in the way of what far better trained and educated Eurocrats at the Ministries determine is best for them.

GMay said...

A.W. said: "I know, I know the libs claim that no one is deterred by the death penalty. And I don’t buy it."

To me it's not about deterrence.

People who use the "deterrence" argument seem to overlook the "penalty" part of 'death penalty'.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

"Do we want the graphic, dramatic killing of the condemned man or do we just want him gone?"

I think that we just want to be in control of what happens, as if that in some way makes up for our lack of control over the circumstances of the crime.

Remember when the Enron (I think) guy had a heart attack and died right before sentencing? (I might have the details wrong) People were really upset about him beating the rap then, too. And he wasn't up for the death penalty.

- Lyssa

WV: "Morom" : For an example, read the article that Kent linked in the last cafe, about the woman who was planning to leave her kids behind to pursue her dream of becoming a stripper.

GMay said...

AllenS said: "Why not tell the prisoner that he's going to die by lethal injection. Then give him a placebo. When nothing happens, everyone could have a big laugh, and then you could take him out back and shoot the fucker."

Funniest damn thing I'll have read all day.

Thanks!

bagoh20 said...

Europe has gone from the opener of the world, the creator of ideas and the inventor of the modern world to a whimpering pet; unable to defend herself or even assure her continued existence; an old dog waiting to die.

All due to a change of values, a weakening of resolve and a pursuit of lies.

Damn, I'm a hard ass!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Europeans are horrified by our death penalty!

Big deal. Europeans are horrified by McDonalds.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Europe has gone from the opener of the world, the creator of ideas and the inventor of the modern world to a whimpering pet; unable to defend herself or even assure her continued existence; an old dog waiting to die.

Much of Europe have become the Eloi.

Joe said...


As for the death penalty, I never heard an argument against it that wasn't also an argument against prison. Prison time is also irreversible. You cannot give Gerald Amirault his 18 years back.


I guess that’s proof that what you HEAR and what’s SAID, are two different things, then. I can be PRO-PRISON and ANTI-DEATH PENALTY. And I haven’t heard very many folks who are against the Death Penalty rail about prison. As to Amirault, which is preferable, being exonerated and released or being exonerated POSTHUMOUSLY? Or put another way, would YOU prefer to be released after 18 years or would you prefer POSTHUMOUS exoneration? For me, and most folks, I think the answer is pretty clear, better to be alive and have to deal with the consequences of the trial than be a dead martyr.

A.W. said...

Allen S.

> Why not tell the prisoner that he's going to die by lethal injection. Then give him a placebo. When nothing happens, everyone could have a big laugh, and then you could take him out back and shoot the fucker."

Better yet, hang the guy with a breakaway rope. He falls, for like half a second he is choking, then bam, it snaps and he falls on his ass. then shoot him as you laugh.

A.W. said...

Gmay

I 100% agree that justice (what is sneeringly called retribution) is a sufficient justificatin for the DP. But i was responding the Tertium's argument that the death penalty did harm.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Joe:

And I haven’t heard very many folks who are against the Death Penalty rail about prison.

You haven't listened. Supermax prisons and solitary confinement are also a travesty on par with the death penalty; and once they get those abolished they can move on to maximum security, and so on down the line. The goalposts are always in motion.

http://www.supermaxed.com/SM-index-p-2.htm

This article makes all the arguments against supermax prisons that you make against the death penalty.

http://www.monthlyreview.org/091116eisenman.php


Or put another way, would YOU prefer to be released after 18 years or would you prefer POSTHUMOUS exoneration?

How would you like to be murdered by a criminal who's murdered before, but wasn't given the death penalty? Even if he wasn't let out of prison, how'd you like to be a guard or another inmate murdered by a guy who didn't get the death penalty?

If we execute people, innocent people are bound to be executed, even if it's very rare. What is much MORE common is murderers murdering again. How many innocent people must be murdered by guilty people before we risk executing an innocent man? Your cost benefit calculations never take this into account.

An executed murderer never murders again. The same cannot be said for those spending "life in prison"--even if life in prison really means they never get out, which in the majority of cases is not true.

Joe said...

An executed murderer never murders again. The same cannot be said for those spending "life in prison"

Then you’ll have some numbers and statistics to back this claim up with, right?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Joe:

In addition, some European and Latin American countries have already abolished life imprisonment, as you can see here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_imprisonment

The arguments against capital punishment work equally well against prison. Enjoy your unintended consequences.

Dutch Canuck said...

A.W.:

Better yet, hang the guy with a breakaway rope. He falls, for like half a second he is choking, then bam, it snaps and he falls on his ass. then shoot him as you laugh.


Only if you dress him up as a clown first.

Dutch Canuck said...

And put a whoopee cushion in the seat of his pants.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Joe:

Then you’ll have some numbers and statistics to back this claim up with, right?

Don't you know what "parole" is? Aren't you aware that people sentenced to "life in prison" are eligible for parole after a period of years that varies with the crime and the state?

Cedarford said...

Joe - "Or put another way, would YOU prefer to be released after 18 years or would you prefer POSTHUMOUS exoneration? For me, and most folks, I think the answer is pretty clear, better to be alive and have to deal with the consequences of the trial than be a dead martyr."

Robust, effective human systems are not perfect.

Our soldiers are sometimes killed by friendly fire. The option to "be perfectly safe" and not fire at anything until a senior officer and a lawyer deliberate and the decision is reviewed by other lawyers is not possible in combat. We could eliminate friendly fire deaths, actually, but at the cost of the enemy inflicting 4500 casualties for each friendly fire casualty avoided.

The trite Lefty catch-all against the death penalty "how would you FEEEEEEL IF IT WAS YOU AND YOU WERE INNOCENT!!!!.If true, then we should abandon artillery or close air support unless all involved vote on it and there is an appeals process because ...How would YOU FEEL if it was your husband or daughter killed by friendly fire??? Is stupid. OBVIOUSLY, people would feel bad. But if such fire saves 15 from becoming casualties for every friendly fire casualty inflicted, it makes perfect sense. And such human systems are inherently imperfect. A firing mission that would take 2 days to clear all channels is impractical, so too is a death penalty that liberal WASP and progressive Jewish lawyers have made so that it takes 30 years to carry out.

Our medical system kills 95,000 people a year in "medical misadventures" and "permanently messes up/badly mess up another 40,000 or so.
This could be cut by 2/3rds by refusing the riskiest patients, surgical procedures, and medicines that proponderately are the OD risks.
But only by killing or disabling 22 patients or each "saved!!" by denying such care.

The death penalty is like that. If it deters, and saves 700 people from being brutally, savagely, painfully murdered in a long ordeal for each "truly innocent" person snuffed...I'm for it.
It is no different really than a decision to use artillery or air in support of troops on the ground or have sentinels armed and authorized to shoot intruders, inc. some friendly fool forgetting to use the password as he runs on base...

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Joe:

Here's the law in my state; yours will vary:

http://www.srb.wa.gov/about/faqs.shtml

Every crime has a minimum sentence; after that you are eligible for parole, unless you are specifically sentenced to "life without parole". Not every state has it, and it too is "cruel and unusual" if applied to juveniles, according to the Supreme Court.

Why is the Board even considering releasing this sex offender? Doesn't he have a life sentence?

The Board must see CCB (convicted sex) offenders prior to the expiration of the minimum term that the sentencing Judge determined in the original court proceedings. In-prison release hearings are used to meet with the offender to gather information. After the hearing the Board makes a release decision. Specifically, they must determine whether or not the offender is "more likely than not to commit future sex offenses if released with conditions".

The Board must set a new minimum term if the preponderance of evidence leads them to find that the offender is more likely than not to commit another sex offense. Up to 60 months may be added to the minimum term. The Board must then hold another hearing for the offender before the end of the new minimum term. Each time the Board finds an offender not releasable, this process is repeated, until the offender's maximum term is reached.


Joe, how'd you like to be molested by a repeat sex offender who was let out on parole? How'd you like to be murdered by a murderer out on parole? How'd you like to be an inmate murdered by your cellmate?

Joe said...

First off the alternative to Capital Punishment is NOT Life in Prison…it is Life in Prison WITHOUT PAROLE (LWPOP). Which you well know, if you don’t well Welcome to your Emily Litella Moment.

Joe, how'd you like to be molested by a repeat sex offender who was let out on parole?
So now Sex Offenders get the Death Penalty? Otherwise this is a pointless argument.

How'd you like to be murdered by a murderer out on parole?
Statistically, murderers only commit ONE murder…which is not to say that they only commit one Felony, but that usually they only commit one murder. So it’s EXTREMELY unlikely that a murderer is going to kill you, on or off parole. So now, you’ve upped the ante on Murder to the Death penalty, as well?


How'd you like to be an inmate murdered by your cellmate?

That’s whey Death House or LWPOP don’t have cell mates, Emily.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Joe:

First off the alternative to Capital Punishment is NOT Life in Prison…it is Life in Prison WITHOUT PAROLE (LWPOP).

It doesn't exist in 35 states, genius.

So now Sex Offenders get the Death Penalty? Otherwise this is a pointless argument.

You played the "how would you like it if" card, and I trumped, that's all. It is a stupid argument--and I showed you why it's stupid.

So it’s EXTREMELY unlikely that a murderer is going to kill you, on or off parole.

And the probability of being an innocent person convicted and executed is vastly smaller, O Colossal Mind, so thank you for stretching out your neck and handing me Occam's Razor.

There are fewer than 4000 people on Death Row as of 2009; there were 14000 people murdered in 2008 alone. Your odds of being murdered are far, far higher than your odds of being sentenced to death for murder.

Thus it is far more rational to fear murderers than to fear being wrongfully sentenced to death for murder, now isn't it?

Synova said...

I think that flogging and then letting someone go is more humane than locking them up.

But it, like a firing squad vs. lethal injection, is violent and messy and locking someone up and irrevocably stealing a portion of their life is out of sight and out of mind.

Sort of like war and sanctions.

It's all about protecting the sensibilities of people who can't be honest about the violence they condone or promote.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Joe:

It doesn't exist in 35 states, genius.

I was wrong about this. Alaska is the only state that doesn't have it.

But you are wrong when you say that LWOP is the "alternative" to the death penalty. It most certainly is not, there are many different sentences which can be imposed.

Murderers can be paroled, they can escape, they can murder guards and each other, they can be granted clemency and murder again, as just happened in my state thanks to Mike Huckabee. The number of murders committed yearly far exceeds the TOTAL number of people on death row--yet you are so scared of capital punishment.

But you, like all people against capital punishment, are an absolutist. It doesn't matter what the guy has done or how certain he is guilty, his life is precious to you--so precious that you would risk letting him kill an INNOCENT person, rather than kill him.

Just admit it and save us the time. You can't argue with an axiom and I won't try.

Joe said...

First off the alternative to Capital Punishment is NOT Life in Prison…it is Life in Prison WITHOUT PAROLE (LWPOP).

It doesn't exist in 35 states, genius.


Actually Emily, FORTY-NINE states have LWOP……

So now Sex Offenders get the Death Penalty? Otherwise this is a pointless argument.

You played the "how would you like it if" card, and I trumped, that's all. It is a stupid argument--and I showed you why it's stupid.


You did, how? All you did was make a non sequitur statement……

So it’s EXTREMELY unlikely that a murderer is going to kill you, on or off parole.

And the probability of being an innocent person convicted and executed is vastly smaller, O Colossal Mind, so thank you for stretching out your neck and handing me Occam's Razor.

There are fewer than 4000 people on Death Row as of 2009; there were 14000 people murdered in 2008 alone. Your odds of being murdered are far, far higher than your odds of being sentenced to death for murder.

Thus it is far more rational to fear murderers than to fear being wrongfully sentenced to death for murder, now isn't it?


Actually, NO it is not more RATIONAL to fear murderers….your argument is NOT rational. I pointed out that MOST murderers commit ONLY ONE MURDER, in their lives. So no it is NOT more “rational” to fear murderers than to be wrongfully convicted…well actually, the whole seems again, a non-sequitur argument…no one I know fears being wrongly convicted of murder OR being murdered, by either a paroled murderer or by an un-paroled, or unsentenced murderer. It really isn’t rational to fear being “murdered.” It is much more rational to fear dying in a car accident as about 3.5 times as many folks die from them in a year as are murdered.

Joe said...

But you, like all people against capital punishment, are an absolutist. It doesn't matter what the guy has done or how certain he is guilty, his life is precious to you-
So far, so good…..

-so precious that you would risk letting him kill an INNOCENT person, rather than kill him.

And this makes NO sense at all. You DON’T get the Death penalty for Murder, you know. You get it for Felony(ies) with Special Circumstances or in commission of another Felony. You get “The Needle” when you:
1) Kill a Peace Officer;
2) Or Bind, Torture and Kill (BTK Killer), a particularly gruesome or heinous crime;
3) Or are a Killer for Hire;
4) Or when you commit a Robbery (Felony) and “Eliminate the witnesses”, killing in conjunction with another crime.
You don’t get the Death Penalty for a Drunken Brawl in Bubba’s Beer and Bar-B-Que Barn over the affections of Lucinda, the waitress. You don’t get it for being drunk and running down someone. So, letting murderers go free, is or is NOT going to be related to the Death Penalty. As to the rest of your “argument” then I guess we need to kill murder suspects, after all they could escape and kill again….

You are not arguing well. Sorry.

rcocean said...

I've always wondered about anti-death penalty fanatics. They really get worked up about it and I always wonder why. Keeping a convicted murderer from the hangman (metaphor) seems like a rather odd use of time. Time better spent helping the innocent.

Also, the quickest and most painless way to kill someone is the Guillatine or a bullet in the back of the head. Another painless way is a massive overdose of barbituites. We don't use these methods because of the discomfort it causes the witnesses and the executioners.

Big Mike said...

@Joe, I don't think that's right. I recollect cases where people who were with the killer, quite plausibly claimed not to have known that murder was intended, were sentenced to death while the actual killer was given life, or in one case that I disremember but which struck me forcibly at the time, the killer didn't even get that.

Joe said...

Big Mike;
1) I oppose the Death Penalty, so you're making my case, but
2) It's not just YOU, but the posse and it's who makes the deal first.

So you and your crew roll into the 9Th National Bank, and Mr Pink wastes the Office Manager and the tellers, it's not relevant as to whether YOU pulled the trigger or PLANNED on killing the witnesses. Merely that Murder occurred whilst YOU were robbing a bank. And if Mr Pink gets to the DA first, and blames YOU for the planning and orders.....you're F*cked.

Justice ain't perfect....and that's why I oppose the Death Penalty. The Death Penalty is FINAL, no appeal, no "do-overs." So in an imperfect world, I'd liefer as not err on the side of reversible error, than "Oooops our Bad"....to your Estate.

Big Mike said...

@Joe, as I've said upthread, I don't oppose the death penalty, but I think we do overuse it in this country. Maybe even wildly so.

But as I also said upthread, I'd never leave a person alive who had nothing left to lose. The people in prison are not there because they stole pennies from a wishing well (or were alleged to steal have stolen pennies from a wishing well, to be precise about it).

And, as prairie wind pointed out upthread, thing like the Christian/ Newsome murders make it hard to justify total abolition of the death penalty. (Add in Jeffery Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Ira Einhorn, and a few more like that, where there is no possibility of innocence, and the argument for a death penalty is overwhelming.)

Joe said...


And, as prairie wind pointed out upthread, thing like the Christian/ Newsome murders make it hard to justify total abolition of the death penalty. (Add in Jeffery Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Ira Einhorn, and a few more like that, where there is no possibility of innocence, and the argument for a death penalty is overwhelming.)


No sorry...Gabriel was right about one thing, I AM an anti-Death Penalty Fanatic.

I don't believe in the Death Penalty...Period...for Dahmer, Berkowitz, Bundy...Hitler or Saddam.

As far as I am concerned, it's "State-Sanctioned Murder." It's not simply the odd innocent would die...I don't believe in it for the GUILTY either.

As long as it's cost-efficient to have LWOP I'm going with LWOP...it cost about 35K per year to house a prisoner, and in fact, that how DoC calculates it's costs, per PRISONER Per Year. As it costs about 1.5 MILLION to kill someone that translates into over 50 years in jail. We don't lose money UNLESS we convict and incarcerate you at about 15....

So I'd put Dahmer OR Saddam into the Death House, and leave them there until they die...of Old Age.

Alex said...

Joe - there is ZERO morality to your position. The blood of the victims cries out for justice.

Joe said...


Joe - there is ZERO morality to your position. The blood of the victims cries out for justice.



Really have you any recordings or DVD's of this "Blood crying out?" I'd be interested in hearing them. Does my blood cry out when it's removed from my body by the Red Cross or ONLY if I'm murdered?

And does the blood of someone who OPPOSED the Death Penalty crie out too, for the execution of their killer? Isd blood just his..."Blood thirsty?"

And if the heirs to the victim ask for mercy, do their requests get shouted down by this "Blood?"

What's immoral about saying, "Put this person in jail for 50 years." Rather than saying, "Put this person to death."

I don't see it...does the death of Bundy bring his victims back? Did I miss some miracles a while back? Does frying Bundy deter OTHER Ted Bundy's?

Sorry, just not seeing how being opposed to the Death Penalty is immoral, on the basis of some rhetorical out-burst concerning "The blood of the victim crying out."

Synova said...

No punishment undoes any crime... ever. Even a theft returned or repaid doesn't undo the violation. Punishment fixes nothing. Punishment doesn't make the crime not happen.

So by that logic we don't punish anyone.

For anything.

In some cultures miscreants, even murderers, were simply removed from polite company. Sent a viking. Murder and pillage isn't so bad when it's someone else dying and they bring the loot home.

Hagar said...

I am against the death penalty, not because I am against the death penalty, but because we refuse to take it seriously.

Vide, Gov. Ryan of Illinois who commuted the sentences of everybody on "Death Row" in Illinois, because -after studying their cases as best he could - he concluded he did not have confidence in the process by which they were convicted.

(So the Empire struck back and prosecuted and convicted Gov. Ryan of malfeasance in office, but that is another story.)

Synova said...

Isn't it interesting how elected officials don't seem to worry about shredding confidence in the judicial or democratic systems?

People have to trust that elections are legitimate and democracy works or voting will no longer take the place of other methods of establishing government.

People have to trust that the judicial system can be trusted to punish criminals or they have no reason not to resort to vigilantism.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Joe, you reveal your true colors as an anti-death penalty absolutist--it is clear that your arguments about vengeance or fairness or whatever are not in good faith. Even if every single one of your objections were met, you came out and said you could not be satisfied--why bother with you anymore?

That was the whole point of arguing the way I did--to expose you. You don't take your own arguments seriously. Why should we?

And as Synova pointed out, Joe's arguments about capital punishment not helping the victims apply equally well to prison time, as I stated earlier.

A.W. said...

Btw, they shot him last night. Good riddance.

As for the Joe/Gabriel thing, look obviously you guys aren't going to agree. But I wouldn't go as far as to say that Joe has no morality at all. I think his morality is incomplete. As one famous person put it, some people have more sympathy for the murderer on the gallows than for his victim. But the reason why isn't hard to guess. the murderer is still alive, and allowed to make sympathetic noises. the victim is dead and silent. So its normal, albeit flawed, to focus solely on the living. nor can we possibly know how many murders are prevented by the DP. Which is not the sole reason for it to exist, but its one of them.