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Just hope your not in the wrong place at the wrong time or you might end up that 1/30 where they get it wrong.

PS most of them were exonerated after DNA evidence proves they didn't do it.

PPS exoneration is not the same as pardon (we are talking exoneration in the above sources),
"Exoneration occurs when a person who has been convicted of a crime is later proved to have been innocent of that crime."
"A pardon is the forgiveness of a crime and the cancellation of the relevant penalty; it is usually granted by a head of state (such as a monarch or president) or by a competent church authority."
source: Wikipedia

Don't think that confessions are a sure fire way to do it either the rate of false confession is comparable to false conviction rate (7%) source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886906000432#SECX10

Or that eyewitnesses will get it right (75% of exonerations involve eyewitness misidentification) source: http://thegazette.com/tag/witness-misidentification/

Edited by Agilemind: n/a

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Good research. Did it occur to you that if the number of victims under death penalty is high, that means the number of people murdered by these victims is higher?

What does that matter? Research has shown the death penalty no more effective a deterrent than life in prison. source: http://deathpenaltycurriculum.org/student/c/about/arguments/argument1b.htm

Countries without the death penalty of similar wealth to the USA have much lower murder rates.

So killing the murders does nothing to prevent more murders;
it may increase the number of future murders (the argument for this is weak)

PS the victims of the death penalty (the innocent) didn't murder anyone (or they wouldn't be innocent) so the number of people murdered by the victims of the death penalty is 0.

Edited by Agilemind: n/a

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>> or because it was politically expedient for an incumbent governor to do so in order to generate votes in time for an upcoming election.

Or because there was genuine misconduct, corruption, or incompetence by the prosecutor or judge or police or the crime lab.

And if you think commuting / pardoning death row inmates GENERATES votes, you're nuts. Do that and you've just lost the "tough on crime" re-election bumper-sticker and the "Arrest them at dawn, convict them at noon, hang them at dusk" voters. It obviously depends on the district. There's less blowback if you it in, say Vermont, than if you do it in Texas. The only governor who's done a wholesale commutation in recent history was Governor Ryan in Illinois and he only did it on the way OUT.

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I heard that the Old Bailey project managed to get the last 400 years of trials digitized. The way I understand it - treating guilty prisoners was similar to treating injured horses just hanging (on good days - on bad days it could be half hanging, drawing, then quartering. The drawing being one end of the intestines being 'drawn' from the body to its full length and dropped into a fire then 4 work horses would 'quarter' the still living defendent). At some point, hanging stopped being the 'goto' punishment.

Being a non-native, I probably got a lot of this wrong but this history might put me off the death penalty.

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hanging, drawing, and quartering was a means of execution reserved only for very specific crimes, especially high treason.
It was never done on the whim of the executioner, had to be explicitly ordered by the bailif (and probably the Crown).

The only recorded executions using the method are for high treason, attempts to murder or depose of the King or members of the royal family.
And they're few and far between as well (I don't think there are more than a dozen or so recorded cases over the several centuries the punishment was on the books).

The standard ways of execution in the UK were hanging, beheading, or burning at the stake (the means being dependent on the crime, social status, and sex of the condemned).

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it may increase the number of future murders (the argument for this is weak)

I love the way you mark yourself but When someone takes a life, the balance of justice is disturbed. Unless that balance is restored,
society succumbs to a rule of violence. Only the taking of the murderer's life restores the balance
and allows society to show convincingly that murder is an intolerable crime which will be
punished in kind.
Retribution has its basis in religious values, which have historically maintained that it is proper
to take an "eye for an eye" and a life for a life.
Although the victim and the victim's family cannot be restored to the status which preceded the
murder, at least an execution brings closure to the murderer's crime (and closure to the ordeal for
the victim's family) and ensures that the murderer will create no more victims.
For the most cruel and heinous crimes, the ones for which the death penalty is applied, offenders
deserve the worst punishment under our system of law, and that is the death penalty. Any lesser
punishment would undermine the value society places on protecting lives.
Robert Macy, District Attorney of Oklahoma City, described his concept of the need for
retribution in one case: "In 1991, a young mother was rendered helpless and made to watch as
her baby was executed. The mother was then mutilated and killed. The killer should not lie in
some prison with three meals a day, clean sheets, cable TV, family visits and endless appeals.
For justice to prevail, some killers just need to die."

I can pass you a whole shelf of books if more research has to be made on this subject.

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"Any lesser punishment would undermine the value society places on protecting lives."

You can argue that a convicted murderer deserves no rights and therefore should not have a 'protected life'.

However, how do you reconcile a mistake? "Oops", "Sorry", "We'll be more careful next time","Damn, if you can't trust a 90 year old blind eye-witness, who can you trust?"

Do you advocate that the killing of a handful of prisoners every year justifies the state taking innocent lives (possible miscarriages of justice)?

How much does 'death row' cost the nation anyway? This 'sense of closure' thing also seems a bit of a misnomer to me. I'm no expert, but aren't 'stays of execution' reasonably common or extensions on death row pending further evidence? How do those affect the families of the victims? Death Row to me is not closure, just a protracted period of misery, going from one deadline/event to the next.

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>> However, how do you reconcile a mistake? "Oops", "Sorry", "We'll be more careful next time","Damn, if you can't trust a 90 year old blind eye-witness, who can you trust?"

That pre-supposes that we're constantly revisiting the sentences of people who are ALIVE and wrongfully convicted. There's an occasional person who gets sprung from prison because someone took it upon themselves to dig up old cases, but like I said before, the odds of someone reviewing your case for a wrongful conviction go UP if you're on Death Row so you should WANT the death penalty. If you're a wrongfully convicted life in prison convict, you're probably screwed. Most of the innocent people serving life in prison are going to die there. Innocent and indigent and serving TEN years? Forget about it if there's not some "cause" behind your case that society can get behind or there's something quite interesting about your case. The only way you're getting out is if that 90 year old blind eye-witness wants to get right with God before he dies and retracts the testimony.


>> Death Row to me is not closure, just a protracted period of misery, going from one deadline/event to the next.

My point exactly. It's decades, if ever, between conviction and actual execution. Why I'm not sure. We have hundreds of people on Death Row in California. It seems like the only case that's being worked on is the NEXT guy scheduled to die, so when he gets a stay, they all get stays. There's this big flurry of activity in the last 48 hours. Robert Alton Harris was scheduled to die at midnight and had six hours and four separate instances of "It's a stay. No it's a go" in that six hour period. Must be a pretty traumatic way to go, both for him and the families. Something in between "Arrest them at dawn, convict them at noon, hang them at dusk" and that is in order, or scrap the whole system.

One thing that has not been brought up is the plea bargaining leverage that the Death Penalty offers. You plea down a Death Penalty case to a Life Without Parole case. If you got rid of the Death Penalty, you'd have tons of trials that you don't have now. No one would plead guilty to a Life Without Parole sentence unless there was a Death Penalty if they lost the trial. I don't know how much money that saves.

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I love the way you mark yourself.

That's because I deal in evidence and the closest approximation to the truth we know of, not nice little stories people make up to justify their own opinions on a topic. So when I present a nice little story some one made up (in this case that having the state murder 3-4 people per year leads to a 'brutalization' of culture and an increase in homicides) I let people know that that is what it is. I don't present it is a 'fact of the universe' as you have.

There is plenty of evidence showing the death penalty does not reduce the homicide rate so it does not save a single life. It is debatable how useful religion has been at holding society together, and I feel I should point out that ruthless dictators are also good at holding society together. And I fail to understand how killing 3-4 innocent people every year shows your respect for life.

Also not all religions are based on the "eye for an eye" type penalty systems so your statements are a generalization. And there are many contradictions to the 'eye for an eye' if we consider the New Testament.

For some fun rhetoric (since that seems to be your MO) how about "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind", "two wrongs don't make a right", "turn the other cheek", "better to forgive and forget".

The brutality or horribleness of the offense is not relevant when we are considering the risk of wrongful-conviction. To kill an innocent person wrongfully convicted of dismembering a child is no more acceptable than killing an innocent person wrongfully convicted of smoking weed.

I do not argue there are messed up people which society would be better disposing of and if there was a perfect way of identifying them I wouldn't have a problem, but the fact is such a system does not exist and may never exist.

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>> However, how do you reconcile a mistake? "Oops", "Sorry", "We'll be more careful next time","Damn, if you can't trust a 90 year old blind eye-witness, who can you trust?"

That pre-supposes that we're constantly revisiting the sentences of people who are ALIVE and wrongfully convicted. There's an occasional person who gets sprung from prison because someone took it upon themselves to dig up old cases, but like I said before, the odds of someone reviewing your case for a wrongful conviction go UP if you're on Death Row so you should WANT the death penalty. If you're a wrongfully convicted life in prison convict, you're probably screwed. Most of the innocent people serving life in prison are going to die there. Innocent and indigent and serving TEN years? Forget about it if there's not some "cause" behind your case that society can get behind or there's something quite interesting about your case. The only way you're getting out is if that 90 year old blind eye-witness wants to get right with God before he dies and retracts the testimony.

Actually in places without the death penalty life imprisonment inmates do get their cases revisited. I vaguely remember the exoneration of a person who had served 12 years not that long ago here in Canada (haven't had the death penalty since the 70s). So the reason they don't get looked at in the USA is because everyone is too busy with the death row inmates. And mistakes happen whether or not we ever find out about them through exoneration.

As for the plea bargaining, interesting argument, but I still don't think it justifies state sponsored murder. There is always plea bargaining down to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years or just life in prison, but if this only applies to the most serious offenders I doubt there is much money saved through plea bargaining. Canada has "Dangerous Offender" status as a replacement for the death penalty (life in prison no chance of parole + burden of proof on the offender) but I'm not sure what the next step down would be for plea bargaining....

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@VD - I think we're arguing the same side on a couple of points, but coming to different conclusions.

Hang 'em at dawn just doesn't wash with me. If an innocent man is executed with no time for review, how would the victim's family then feel, especially if they were instrumental in the conviction?

However, harking back to the question of whether it actually works in reducing murder. No.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/deterrence-states-without-death-penalty-have-had-consistently-lower-murder-rates

So, the argument must be pure bloody vengeance, retribution, call it what thou wilt.

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"Arrest them at dawn, convict them at noon, hang them at dusk" was a Jwenting quote I was parroting. It's definitely NOT my philosophy. It's completely absurd. I can't imagine he even thinks it's a good idea. I'm against the death penalty until they make it fair, and since I don't think that's happening anytime soon, I guess that makes me against it altogether. That said, frankly I don't see a whole heck of a lot of difference between life in prison and the death penalty and if I was convicted, guilty or innocent, I think I'd rather just have them kill me and get it over with. Life in prison seems like a pretty miserable existence. Death would be preferable. That's just my personal opinion for my own life. I know a lot of people who think life under any circumstances is better than death, so they'd just make lemonade out of lemons and try to enjoy prison.

I agree that it isn't a deterrent. In 95% of murders, the murderers aren't thinking of the consequences at all, much less of whether they'll get life in prison or the death penalty. I'll say this for Jwenting's idea. If people got executed right away for a crime in the town square, that MIGHT be a deterrent to everyone else.

Edited by VernonDozier: n/a

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Sorry VD, didn't realise you were quoting. :(

I'll say this for Jwenting's idea. If people got executed right away for a crime in the town square, that MIGHT be a deterrent to everyone else.

Yep, stoning in Iran sure gives one second thought about committing adultery (if you're a woman that is).

However, crucifying all the Christians in Rome didn't stop them spreading their stuff. In fact, given that, wouldn't public executions spread just the murder-fest? :)

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Sorry VD, didn't realise you were quoting. :(

Yep, stoning in Iran sure gives one second thought about committing adultery (if you're a woman that is).

However, crucifying all the Christians in Rome didn't stop them spreading their stuff. In fact, given that, wouldn't public executions spread just the murder-fest? :)

In fact, it did stop Christians in Rome spreading their stuff quite effectively :)
It would be centuries before they were a threat to the authority of the empire again, and by that time the empire had been so weakened by outside invasion they were more than willin to try this newfangled single god idea if it might work to save them (it didn't).

Christians in Rome btw brought their persecution upon themselves. They were NOT arrested and killed for being Christians, but for denouncing the divinity of the emperor (and thus denouncing his right to rule) which under Roman law (and similar acts still are under the law in many countries) was a capital offense.
Had they (and many Christian groups around the time did so, at least in public) accepted that other gods can exist and have a place in the world, they'd not have been in trouble as the Romans were always willing to let new gods take a place in their pantheon, and in fact did so repeatedly around the time Christianity got started.
The Roman pantheon over time came to include deities (sometimes with changed names and character traits over time) from many of the cultures they absorbed. Greek gods were plentiful, but there were Egyptian and Sumerian ones as well and some from the Celtic and Germanic tribes too.

And oh, "arrest at dawn, convict at noon, hang at dusk" should not be taken literally.
But a more speedy process than the current one is needed both to reduce cost, reduce uncertainty for both the victims' families and the convicts, and reduce the number of leeches (or was that lawyers?).

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