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Capital Punishment. Will you pull the switch?

 
 
Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 09:55 pm
On the Euthanasia Thread, Lightwizard posed a question that I thought merited examination and discussion.

Lightwizard wrote:
The same things goes for euthanasia as capital punishement -- could one honestly pull the plug or trip the switch?

My views on this subject began to wiggle and shudder ten years ago, and changed completely when Susan Smith admitted to murdering her children. She met all the criteria for the Death Penalty. 1) More than one person killed in one act, or at one time. 2) Aggravated circumstances.(How can you kill someone without aggravated circumstances?) 3) Malice of forethought.
She still lives.

During her trial, a man was executed for murder. He was caught in the act of robbery (No criteria #3). He killed one person. (No #1). Do I need to say he was black and mentally retarded. She is white and female.

If we can't do it right, we shouldn't do it at all.

And, PS, Lightwizard makes a powerful point. I can not, in good conscience, vote to kill if I could not pull the switch myself. My vote for capital punishment IS the pull of the switch each time it happens.

Very interested to hear others' views.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 10,450 • Replies: 146
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timberlandko
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 10:46 pm
I am very dissatisfied with The Death Penalty as it exists. I support the extreme sanction only in the rarest, most egregious and heinous of circumstances. As things are now it is an error-prone, inconsistent system in need of total overhaul. What Jim Ryan did in Illinois could be echoed throughout the nation in the not so distant future. DNA evidence has exonerated several death-row inmates. Before too long, it no doubt will clear some hapless individual too late to be of any comfort to that individual. The Media will go wild. It's as sure as rain, as far as I can see.



timber
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Lash Goth
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 10:52 pm
Honored by your pop in, timber.

I agree with your statement. What I can't understand is why we HAVE criteria stated, and then play around so cruelly with the Death Sentence. To me, if you meet the criteria, as Susan Smith did, the moment the verdict is guilty--you should know you have earned death.

And when the criteria is not met, you should know you won't recieve death.

Our judicial system, IMO, is ridiculous. No sentence stands. Years are taken off for this and that....
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JoanneDorel
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 10:55 pm
Never ever could I condone capital punishment. And I am a victim of homocide, my daughter was raped and murdered in 1986, an automatic death penalty in Virginia. But I still cannot advocate his death. I prefer that the perp spend time in prison for life without parole. There is no closure and the death of another person would not change anything for me. I often feel sorry for those that think killing the killer will help.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 10:57 pm
The death penalty is barbaric; few, if any, other "civilized" nations use it. The recent news (from Illinois and elswhere) provides even more reasons for stopping it. It's employed unfairly, even when the defendant is guilty.

Life imprisonment without parole is adequate punishment. Anyone who thinks that life in prison is somehow easy is blowing smoke...
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maxsdadeo
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:05 pm
Quite topical, Lash, especially because my departing Governor (Ryan, IL) just emptied out Death Row.

There are glaring abuses, which highlight the problem, but should not deflect attention from the fact that the great majority of people who are there deserve to be there, and committed unspeakable and horrific acts to get there.

Here in Illinois, despite our departing Governor's "convenient compassion", we're still seeing an 80% positive response for continuing the death penalty.

I am in that majority.

Timber: It's George not Jim, but don't feel bad, the inability of the electorate to tell the difference kept the latter from replacing the former!
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Lash Goth
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:06 pm
Joanne--

Bless you. Horror rushed over me as I read your words. Warm, supportive, respectful thoughts to you from me.

And, the reality of your views on capital punishment in the face of your experience is powerful.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:09 pm
maxsdadeo wrote:


Here in Illinois, despite our departing Governor's "convenient compassion", we're still seeing an 80% positive response for continuing the death penalty.

I am in that majority.


If we really used popular majority opinions to determine punishments for heinous crimes, some folks would die by drawing and quartering, or worse. What is the principle behind a lethal injection for someone who slowly and cruelly murders another person? Is that too easy for the perp?
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eoe
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:11 pm
It's so hard to say. When I hear the stories of babies, children being beaten and killed, I feel like I could. I could hit that switch and live with it.
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timberlandko
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:11 pm
Hey, Lash, thanks for an interesting thread!
Interestingly, what with appeals and other inevitable wranglings, it frequently costs far more to execute someone than to incarcerate that individual for fifty or sixty years. There is no economy in the practice.

Also,most murders are crimes of instantaneous passion or error of judgement, while many others are carefully calculated and plotted. In neither case does the thought of retribution enter the equation. There is little deterrent in the practice.

And irrefutible argument can be made there is uneven justice in the practice as we currently employ it.


The way it is now, I'm dead set against it.



timber
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Lash Goth
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:18 pm
max- glad you dropped in.

I used to be a die-hard advocate for the Death Penalty. My spirituality kept butting heads with my political view of this subject.

I reasoned that murderers didn't deserve a chance to murder again...That decent folk ought to be protected... That we shouldn't have to foot the bill for lifetime incarcerations...

But, finally, I came to the conclusion that the murderers were getting away with murder, that I couldn't back up my ultimate disagreement with the Death Penalty with facts that would evidence it was the best decision.

I just felt to kill them would take me down to their level, and make me a killer, as well. Ten years ago, if someone had said what I just said to me--I'd have thought they were dodging the issue, and revealing weakness.

When I look at Joanne's post, I think sometimes, rejection of the Death Penalty may be an example of incredible strength.

I digressed. I understand your view well. Does it bother you that some on Death Row have been found innocent? Does the fact that the Death Penalty is handed out unfairly tempt you to change your mind? I'm interested in how you feel about these issues.
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JoanneDorel
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:26 pm
Just one other thing I feel I should add. This guy is white, there is DNA evidence, and he was from an affluent family in Fairfax, VA. I only add this because it seems to me that just one look at the men on death row and you have to wonder why are they are mostly people of color. Could there be discrimination inovolved I think so.
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maxsdadeo
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:36 pm
Drawing and Quartering, that would kind of be like a Dilatation and Curettage, right?

That I would be against.
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Eve
 
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Reply Sun 12 Jan, 2003 11:48 pm
The way I see it capital punishment is an admission of defeat - it is saying that the only way we can deal with evil is to sink to the same level. I have heard all the arguments about paying to keep these people for the rest of their lives and I also have suffered from a heinous crime - my grandmother was raped and murdered - but how can we teach the world a better way if we create excuses for doing the same thing.
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 12:14 am
Without reading the replies here:

I think the death penalty appeals to our baser instincts and is a very shoddy form of punishment.

Man has long tried to justify his baser instincyts but I do not agree with any of the justifications used for this punishment. I think it's a blemish for any civilized society.

I do not support the death penalty.

That being said, I'd love to pull the switch, "revenge is like the sweetest joy next to getting (bad word)".
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eoe
 
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 12:19 am
Joanne, Eve, I gotta say that I admire the both of. To have lived thru the horror of crime so close to home and still feel the way that you do is saying quite alot.
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 12:40 am
I would support the death penalty only in the most egregious of circumstances, when there is absolutely no question about the guilt of the prisoner.

IMO egregious circumstances would include, serial murder, torture-murder, kidnap-murder. In other words, the murder would have had to be planned beforehand, cold and calulated.
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JoanneDorel
 
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 01:55 am
"An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind"

Mahatma Gandhi
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dlowan
 
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 03:45 am
I most certainly would not pull the switch - and I think that if there is one to pull in a country, then every time the switch is pulled it tears at the very fabric of civilization in that country.
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georgeob1
 
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Reply Mon 13 Jan, 2003 08:41 am
Interesting to note that, notwithstanding the unanimous views of the posters on this thread, the death penalty remains a favored option among a majority of the American electorate - as indicated by both surveys and election results.

Interesting too that many surveys of the views of Europeans concerning this and other crime-related issues show a public that is a good deal more in favor of such punishments than the governments they elect.

I believe the available evidence tells us that we should pay more attention to the administration of justice in all criminal matters, those involving the death penalty and those that do not. The wrongful incarceration of a person for a decade or so is also a rather bad thing - as is the inappropriate release of an individual who will commit more violence on innocents. There are lots of problems out there. I believe the exclusive focus on those involving the death penalty misses the mark.

It is a curious thing to note that the European nations that for so long (and so recently by historical standards) made such public spectacles of their own very numerous executions, often by rather brutal methods, are the very ones that make so much of the issue now.
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