Dancing Around the Death Penalty

We tie ourselves into knots wondering when executions might be defensible, but this is the wrong question to be asking

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Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP

Death-row inmate Marvin Wilson

Central casting couldn’t produce a better illustration of what’s wrong with the death penalty than Marvin Wilson, the 53-year-old Texan with an IQ of 61 who is (barring an unforeseen stay) scheduled for execution this evening. With the mental age of a 6-year-old, he reportedly had trouble mastering basic self-care skills like tying his shoes and counting change. His alleged role in the kidnapping and murder of police drug informant Jerry Williams was always unclear; no evidence or eyewitness reports directly linked him to the murder, and his alleged co-conspirator, Terry Lewis, escaped with a life sentence (with parole) when his wife testified that Wilson had confessed the crime to her.

Yet, the focus on extreme cases like Wilson’s — and whether he is legally and somehow “legitimately” executable despite his mental incapacity — prevents us from facing a larger truth that all state-sanctioned executions are a shameful relic of a bygone era along with the burning of witches and the use of child labor in mines.

(MORE: Christakis: The Overwhelming Maleness of Mass Homicide)

In nearly every way, we live in a more civilized and less violent world, with dramatic declines in homicide, rape, assault, child abuse, animal cruelty and discrimination against the vulnerable. We have also acquired an ever greater understanding of the biological and social determinants of crime. Paradoxically, we tie ourselves in knots with this newfound sophistication, searching for a mythical sharp line where mitigating factors may or may not justify a death sentence. Does a brain injury from child abuse suffice? What about a parentless teenager who was led astray by a sociopath? What about a schizophrenic whose paranoia resulted in refusing to take his medications? Poverty? Retardation? Autism?

But these mental gymnastics are morally and logically bankrupt, and we cheapen ourselves by deploying them. Our eye-for-an-eye approach to the death penalty is getting progressively harder to support with reason. We know the death penalty doesn’t deter people. We know it is extremely expensive to apply “fairly.” So the only remaining arguments are emotional — the most compelling of which is that the families of murder victims want it.

(MORE: Adam Cohen: It’s Time to End Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons)

Interestingly, the “closure” defense of the death penalty only gained traction in the early 1990s when deterrence arguments came up short and states found it increasingly difficult to bear the costs. Yet, defending the death penalty out of revenge or sensitivity to the victims’ families does a disservice to the many families who do not want this kind of justice. “It’s almost like if you really loved the person who was killed, you should seek the death penalty,” Kate Lowenstein, program staff at Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (and the daughter of a murdered father), explained to TIME.

Moreover, many of the people who witnessed the execution of a loved one’s murderer have stated that it failed to give them the closure they were looking for. This shouldn’t surprise us given renowned Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert’s research on “affective forecasting,” and specifically the striking inability of most people to accurately anticipate their future emotional states. People think something will make them happy; but we are actually not very good at forecasting our response to even common experiences.

One of the hallmarks of a civilized society is the delegation of justice to a third party rather than to a vengeful mob with flaming torches. It’s true that support for the death penalty remains higher (around two-thirds of the population) than in 1966 (42%) when the death penalty was illegal. This puts us in the dubious company of rogue states like Yemen, Pakistan and Syria. But it’s also true that just because the majority wants it does not mean it is correct. We cheapen our government — and ultimately ourselves — by requiring the state to have a hand in what Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun once called the “machinery of death.”

We can keep “tinkering” with the practice of executions, as Blackmun noted, keeping Marvin Wilson alive for a few more years while we kill a more obviously despicable person, all in the hope that we can keep our hands clean. We can’t.

(PHOTOS: Five Historically Infamous Executions: Justice Served or Grave Mistake?)

53 comments
EnoughAlready21
EnoughAlready21

Please, let's stop this pointless civilized versus uncivilized discussion.  There is nothing civilized about human nature and the cruelty and inhumane treatment we continually inflict upon each other; it is our history.  Let's just admit it: some people do not deserve to live.  The death penalty is not about closure, deterrence or morality. It is about getting rid of monsters, plain and simple.  Do I want my tax dollar paying to keep these people in prison?  Emphatically NO.  Our only alternative is to put them to death.  I have absolutely no problem with that. 

Robert M. Noonan
Robert M. Noonan

Nice Fluffy article, but it ignores one very important fact.  Some are so predatory and psychopathic that they are beyond "rehabilitation" and as such pose a dangerous threat to society at large.  These individuals must be removed from society beyond all recall.  How is that to be accomplished?

The quick progressive answer is Life Imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  That is all fine and good but what about 10 years down the road when when liberal sensibilities turn their sights on that sentence as  "cruel and unusual punishment", and a similar push begins for those so sentenced to be eventually released based on many of the pedantic notions forwarded here by dear Erika.

Can't happen... already has.  When the Supreme Commuted all death sentences to life in prison many of those heinous killers came up for parole.  Some unrepentant to begin with, simply kill again.  I want to know how Ms Christakis intends to address those cases like Kevin McDuff (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K....   Just what is she going to say to the next victims of her misguided sympathy when it happens AGAIN! 

The fact of the matter is that since the resumption of executions in this country NOT ONE CASE EXISTS where an innocent man has been put to death by the State.  Capital punishment is supported by a majority in this country, and quite frankly some of these scum bags need to die, period.Well?

polnick
polnick

Many street

wise drug dealers are poor test takers, but that does not mean they are dumb. Instead

of focusing on fluff they use their brains for important things, like how to

avoid police detection.  My 12 year old school

mate who was in a special education class ran a lunch money extortion gang; he

supported two of his children with the profits. His 20 year old wife called him

a RETARD because he did not know how to change diapers or open a can of baby

food.

embeddeddude
embeddeddude

The death penalty DOES deter crime.  If punishment didn't deter crime we would not use it.  The argument that the death penalty does not deter crimes is idiotic.  Jail and fines are avoided by MOST people. 

Frankly the argument that the death penalty does not deter crime is an argument for killing people who repeatedly commit crimes. It will ensure they do not commit crimes again.  If you are serious about stopping serial pedophiles, rapists and murderers KILL the criminals.  You will protect the innocent.

the real reason the courts are afraid of the use of the death penalty is that with modern trial systems, modern evidence handling and chain of custody and genetic testing and 21st century forensics we will be able to convict with certainy many more people than the government is willing to put to death.

That is the real reason the death penalty is in danger, because it will be TOO provable somone is deserving of it.

jesuguru
jesuguru

"just because the majority wants it does not mean it is correct."

And just because a Harvard administrator/"blogger" doesn't want it does not mean it is incorrect. No serious arguments here, just condescension and self-righteous moralizing.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Jovita:

 

Very difficult to argue that the death penalty has some racial bias.

 

Please review:

 

Rebuttal: Death Penalty Racism Claims

 

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

 

 

Class bias is also unlikely. The overwhelming percentage of poor murderers are not sentenced to death.  Wealthy capital murders are an incredibly small percentage of all capital murderers and likely are not sentenced to death less often than their poorer ilk.

Your linked site was no help.

 

 

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

The moral foundation for the death penalty is justice  --  that the sanction is just, proportional and appropriate for the crime committed  --  the same foundation as exists for all sanctions.

Some support:

1) Saint (amp; Pope) Pius V: "The just use of (executions), far from

involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth)

Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of

Trent" (1566).

 

2) Pope Pius XII; "When it is a question of the execution of a man

condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the

condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by

his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.

 

3) John Murray: "Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a

generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life."

"... it is this same atrophy of moral fiber that appears in the plea for

the abolition of the death penalty."

"It is the sanctity of life that validates the death penalty for the crime

of murder. It is the sense of this sanctity that constrains the demand for the

infliction of this penalty. The deeper our regard for life the firmer will be

our hold upon the penal sanction which the violation of that sanctity merit."

(Page 122 of Principles of Conduct).

4) Immanuel Kant: "If an offender has committed murder, he must die. In

this case, no possible substitute can satisfy justice. For there is no parallel

between death and even the most miserable life, so that there is no equality of

crime and retribution unless the perpetrator is judicially put to death.".

"A society that is not willing to demand a life of somebody who has taken

somebody else's life is simply immoral."

5) Billy Graham: "God will not tolerate sin. He condemns it and demands

payment for it. God could not remain a righteous God and compromise with sin.

His holiness and His justice demand the death penalty." ( "The Power of the

Cross," published in the Apr. 2007 issue of Decision magazine ).

6) Theodore Roosevelt: "It was really heartrending to have to see the

kinfolk and friends of murderers who were condemned to death, and among the very

rare occasions when anything governmental or official caused me to lose sleep

were times when I had to listen to some poor mother making a plea for a criminal

so wicked, so utterly brutal and depraved, that it would have been a crime on my

part to remit his punishment.".

7) Jean-Jacques Rousseau: "Again, every rogue who criminously attacks

social rights becomes, by his wrong, a rebel and a traitor to his fatherland. By

contravening its laws, he ceases to be one of its citizens: he even wages war

against it. In such circumstances, the State and he cannot both be saved: one or

the other must perish. In killing the criminal, we destroy not so much a citizen

as an enemy. The trial and judgments are proofs that he has broken the Social

Contract, and so is no longer a member of the State." (The Social

Contract).

8) John Locke: "A criminal who, having renounced reason... hath, by the

unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against

all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or tyger, one of those

wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security." And upon

this is grounded the great law of Nature, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man

shall his blood be shed." Second Treatise of Civil Government.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

IS EXECUTION CLOSURE? Of course.

For those who have lost loved ones to murder, the execution of the murderer definitely brings closure.

The execution is closure to the legal process, whereby execution is the most just sanction available for the crime and the family is relieved that the murderer is dead and can no longer harm another innocent - a very big deal.

It is the closure of justice.

The confusion with "closure" is when some imply that execution can bring psychological or emotional closure to the devastation suffered by the murder victim's loved ones.

I know of no victim survivor who believes that execution could bring that type of closure. How could it? No punishment can, nor is that the intention.

The concept of emotional "closure" via execution is, often, a fantasy perpetrated by anti death penalty folks, just so they can denounce it, with a talking point, as in: "Those supporting capital punishment claim that closure is a major reason to support the death penalty - but there is no closure."

When pro death penalty folks state that the death penalty brings closure, I think they are, equally, in error.

Do you know of any murder victim survivor who says that their emotional or psychological pain was closed once the murderer was executed? Me neither. And I have known a lot of them.

Murder victim "Mary Bounds' daughter, Jena Watson, who watched the execution, said Berry's action deprived the family of a mother, a grandmother and a friend, and that pain will never go away."

"We feel that we have received justice," she said Wednesday after the execution. "There's never an end to the hurt from a violent crime. There can never fully be closure. You have to learn to do the best you can. Tonight brings finality to a lot of emotional issues."

Ina Prechtl, who lost her daughter Felecia Prechtl. to a rape /murder said, after watching Karl Chamberlain executed: "One question I ask myself every day, why does it take so long for justice to be served?" It took 17 years for the execution (both the above from "Texas executes 1st inmate since injection lull", 6/11/2008, MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press Writer, HUNTSVILLE, Texas).

"(Kidnap/rape/murder victim) Cheryl Payton's sister, Susan Payton, said, "On this (execution) day, we're uncertain that you could define today as closure. It is like a chapter in a book that you just read the next chapter and you hope that the next chapter might be better" ( "Victim’s Family Reacts To Execution", by Steve Alexander, WKRG, Mobile News, Alabama, May 27, 2010).

"There may not be closure today. I think there is peace," said Judge Brendon Sheehan said, after the execution of his father's murderer. ("Judge Says 'No Closure' After Execution of Father's Killer" By Bill Sheil,Fox 8 I-Team Reporter, Cleveland, Ohio, February 18, 2011

afmajret
afmajret

If, as a society, we don't have the moral certitude to permanently remove certain individuals from our midst by killing them, then they must be banished to a place where they are no longer a threat to us. Prison isn't that place, unfortunately, because parole boards are notoriously fickle, even releasing those sentenced to 'life without parole'. Where, then to put those who cannot or will not cease to threaten us? If you wish to go on record as anti-death penalty, you've got to offer an alternative. I don't see one being offered here, so the writer of this article fails my test for reasoned opposition.

conet
conet

Competent parole boards? Certainly easier to do than justifying killing the occasional innocent person.

afmajret
afmajret

 Where do you see me justifying killing innocents? Argue the argument or keep quiet.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Of course the death penalty deters.

It is a truism that all prospects of a negative outcome deter some.

The only remaining question is "how much does it deter". A question that will never be anwered to everyones satisfaction.

Even the 28 recent studies finding for deterence widely disagree as to the degree of deterrence.

Please review sections C and D, for a full review of deterrence:

The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

In addition:

2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Of course the death penalty means closure.

For those who have lost loved ones to murder, the execution of the murderer definitely brings closure.

The execution is closure to the legal process, whereby execution is the most just sanction available for the crime and the family is relieved that the murderer is dead and can no longer harm another innocent - a very big deal.

It is the closure of justice.

The confusion with "closure" is when some imply that execution can bring psychological or emotional closure to the devastation suffered by the murder victim's loved ones.

 

I know of no victim survivor who believes that execution could bring that type of closure. How could it? No punishment can, nor is that the intention.

 

The concept of emotional "closure" via execution is, often, a fantasy perpetrated by anti death penalty folks, just so they can denounce it, with a talking point, as in: "Those

supporting capital punishment claim that closure is a major reason to support

the death penalty - but there is no closure."

When pro death penalty folks state that the death penalty brings closure, I think they are, equally, in error.

Do you know of any murder victim survivor who says that their emotional or psychological pain was closed once the murderer was executed? Me neither. And I have known a lot of them.

Murder victim "Mary Bounds' daughter, Jena Watson, who watched the execution, said Berry's action deprived the family of a mother, a grandmother and a friend, and that pain will never go away."

"We feel that we have received justice," she said Wednesday after the execution. "There's never an end to the hurt from a violent crime. There can never fully be closure. You have to learn to do the best you can. Tonight brings finality to a lot of emotional issues."

Ina Prechtl, who lost her daughter Felecia Prechtl. to a rape /murder said, after watching Karl Chamberlain executed: "One question I ask myself every day, why does it take so

long for justice to be served?" It took 17 years for the execution (both the above from "Texas executes 1st inmate since injection lull", 6/11/2008, MICHAEL

GRACZYK, Associated Press Writer, HUNTSVILLE, Texas).

"(Kidnap/rape/murder victim) Cheryl Payton's sister, Susan Payton, said, "On this (execution) day, we're uncertain that you could define today as closure. It is like a chapter in a book that you just read the next chapter and you hope that the next chapter

might be better" ( "Victim’s Family Reacts To Execution", by Steve Alexander,

WKRG, Mobile News, Alabama, May 27, 2010).

"There may not be closure today. I think there is peace," said Judge Brendon Sheehan said, after the execution of his father's murderer. ("Judge Says 'No Closure' After Execution of Father's Killer" By Bill Sheil,Fox 8 I-Team Reporter, Cleveland, Ohio, February 18, 2011

CrimsonA
CrimsonA

Killing a killer is just as bad as walking into a store and shooting someone.  If you believe someone who kills someone should be put to death then your own logic so should an executioner.  The Death penalty makes us morally blind. Every being has the right to live no matter how evil they are.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Typical death penalty idiocy from TIME. Surprise! No fact checking.

All indications in Wilson's life are that he is not mentally retarded, as the tests confirm.

"The following evidence was presented in two hearings during the state habeas proceedings."

"Wilson presented school and prison training records, including standardized testing results. Five I.Q. scores are reflected in those reports. The first I.Q. test, the Lorge-Thorndike, was administered by Wilson’s school when he was approximately 13 years old. Wilson’s full-scale score on this test was 73. At age 29, Wilson was given an I.Q. test by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and scored 75. In April 2006, when Wilson was 46 and during the post-conviction proceedings, Wilson scored 61 on the WAIS III I.Q."

"Case: 09-70022 Document: 00511667534 Page: 10 Date Filed: 11/16/2011 test." 

"On further testing by the defense, Wilson scored 75 on the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices and 79 on the TONI-II I.Q. tests. A score of 70 or below supports a finding of mental retardation. "

from

http://federal-circuits.vlex.c...

Aditya Jagirdar
Aditya Jagirdar

I think the death penalty is absolutely necessary. Of course, watching the killer die will not bring closure to the victims near and dear, at least not by itself but sometimes it is necessary to begin that healing process. Time and counseling are a major part of recovery...I think, capital punishment also serves to eradicate individuals who can never be safe for the society. Mentally diseased or not, I think anyone who commits crimes, heinous enough to warrant the sentence is bound to be sick, one way or another. It doesn't really matter what the medical community calls that disease, it does not make him any less dangerous to the society..

Jardin J
Jardin J

What about when we get it wrong?

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better

record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Jardin:

My apologies, I thought I did.

Innocents are more at risk without the death penalt , meaning that those sentenced to life are more likely to die in prison, than it is likely an innocent will be executed.

Therefore, in both cases,  we can express our true sorrow as such horror, investigate why it happened and improve the system so as to reduce such probability again.

Please review, below.

What should we do about the many thousands of innocents that the criminal justice system allows to die every year, as reviewed below?

On the death penalty saving more innocent lives, that is also reviewed within the links, below.

You need to read them.

THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better

record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Liveshttp://prodpinnc.blogspot...

2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

Jardin J
Jardin J

First of all- you didn't answer my question: What happens when we've executed an innocent person?

Second- A link to a blog citing other blogs isn't evidence. Show me a scientific study (within one decade) showing evidence that states with a death penalty are safer.  

Spokie_S
Spokie_S

I live in a country with some of the highest (top 5) murder, rape, assault and child sexual assault rates in the world. When DanoM speaks of someone who kills "without thought or remorse", he speaks of the kind of criminals we have in our country. The kind who laugh as they are led away to cells to serve their time for beating elderly people to death.

The writer may see the death penalty as immoral and wrong, but I challenge her to find some other way of dealing with the kind of offender who is released on parole, and simply goes out to commit a yet more gruesome crime, without putting them to death.

mmill928
mmill928

>"I challenge her to find some other way of dealing with the kind of offender who is released on parole..."

...don't give them parole?

Spokie_S
Spokie_S

I think most people would agree that parole boards are some of the most incomprehensible, near incompetent government bureaucracies out there. And why on earth should my tax money pay for a serial child molestor or murderer to languish in jail, watching TV and probably picking up tips for when he inevitably gets out?

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

The article above starts by featuring a case in which there are many questionable elements of justice, but transitions to focus on the assumed universal immorality of the death penalty.

Taking the argument to the other extreme, if one opposes the death penalty, one must ask if it would be justice for Hitler to have been given a life sentence instead of a death sentence?

A civilized society must have available the ability to permanently remove those persons who, through their actions, have proven that they are an extreme danger to society.

It is immoral to not consider that some persons commit actions so heinous that those persons forfeit the right to life.

PaoloBernasconi
PaoloBernasconi

come on, u r mixing individuals who have been a real threat to human civilization (Hitler) with common murders. 

And anyway Hitler killed himself.

Look, the issue with  death penalty is very simple: is killing wrong? Yes it is. 

Then do not kill. Period. 

It is always between the murderer and the civil society (not the victims). 

If one  individual murders someone else,  all he is saying is that he does not like civilization. Well, then he gets what he wants, he gets separated from civilization.  Lifetime jail without parole.  

We the society can then move on. The relatives of the victims cannot do anything else anyway. Revenge will not give them anything.

With the death penalty all we do is having a debate of who has the right to kill and who has not. The murders simply does not recognize the society has being the only one who has such right. It lowers the right to life to an issue of opinion and moves the debate from being between civilization and murders to authority and rebellion to it. 

No, let's keep it simple. No death penalty for crimes against individuals, only for crimes against humanity/civilization itself.

Please note that crimes against humanity/civilization can apply only to leaders of political and cultural significance who have been leading their subordinates into crimes against humanity , not crimes against specific individuals. That requires them (the leaders) to have the help of many subordinates in the killing of individuals at large.  It's about civilization and humanity .. not about the victims.

The problem with death penalty is that the people who want it, seek revenge or just simply the right to kill legally. 

One day America will grow up to get rid of death penalty ... not there yet, but then again, America is a young uneducated country.  Wisdom isn't really an American strength.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Dan:

A real problem is that the author also failed to fact check the story. Wilson has 5-6 additional IQ tests all of which are above 70.

The author has told me she doesn't care about his IQ, which is total nonsense, of course, because she intentionally used the 61 IQ in this story.

I see this type of irresponsible "jounalism" quite often.

scrag00
scrag00

But of course Hitler killed himself along with his wife, showing he'd rather die than be a prisoner.   A man who also probably had some forms of mental illness as well.

There's also the issues of stereotyping and class that effect our flawed application of the death penalty.  The rich along with the more prilvildged of groups will never face the death penalty.   Look at the faces of men on death row...they are almost all black or hispanic men.  So we will continue to execute only certain specific people - the poor and the under

prilvildged  who commit crimes. While other groups who commit the same crime will never face such penalties.

Kind of reminds me of our insane drug laws.   Only arrest one group and heavily punish them and give other groups a slap on the wrist.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Having equal justice for all is one question. The death penalty is another question. They are separate issues, unless one is purposefully trying to confuse the issue.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

To mmill928,

When you can do away with murder (most of the people murdered are from minorities and the lower incomes, so you have to agree by your reasoning that murder itself is equally unjust), then we can talk about doing away with the death penalty, which you probably consider murder. At the least, the death penalty eliminates repeat murder.

scrag00
scrag00

True.  Problem is it seems our system is always so messed up that to trust it with the responsiblity of anothers life just doesnt make sense.   Having "equal justice for all" is like having "peace on earth".  Its a great goal to be sure but probably unrealistic.  Id rather not see wrongfully convicted people get killed by the system and then we find out later after DNA tests they were innocent, which seems to happen sometimes.  One innocent person's death isnt worth having the penalty.

As far as the "They will be dead and cant kill again" arguement thats a problem with letting dangerous people out of the system and is a seperate issue that needs to be fixed.

mmill928
mmill928

 They cannot be separated in debate until they are separated in real life. If you want to debate the death penalty, you have to include the fact that it is racially and class-biased.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

The death penalty is not the mark of a civilized society. State-sponsored murder makes us no different or better than the criminals we seek to destroy.

Oh, and before you start with the "if you have ever been the victim of a violent crime", you can stop right there because I have been.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Hollywood cannot tell the difference between crime and punishment, guilty criminal and innocent victim.

Most folks know the moral differences.

Folks that wrongly equate murder and execution, also wrongly equate kidnapping and incarceration, and robbery and fines.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

That's quite a stretch there, Dudley. Jesus was a victim of the death penalty, as I recall.

Interesting that you presume to know the differences I can and cannot tell.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

State-sponsored murder makes us no different or better than the criminals we seek to destroy.

So, the Allied soldiers who fought WWII were no better than the Nazis? How silly. A society has the right to decide the rules of living in that society. Those who break the rules are subject to the penalties. Certain heinous crimes should result in a death penalty.

Prop41
Prop41

I disagree.  The fate of the free world is never at stake when matters of capital punishment are involved.  So I'm not sure about your analogy.  In my opinion, every level of government has demonstrated time and time again that it cannot be trusted to mete out the death penalty in a fair and just way.  In the last 40 years at least 140 people have been released from death row as new evidence surfaced of their innocence.  How many others  may have been innocent that we don't know about because we condemned them to die and no one took up their cause?  Is this a chance we can take as a society?  I say no.  I live in a city that can't keep roaches and rats out of the projects, I'm not sure about entrusting them with matters of death.     No matter how you sanitize it, be it with needles instead of electricity or nooses... it's murder.  Capital Punishment does not prevent crimes, it does not deter criminals, it does nothing more than put a body in a box. This is NOT the way a civilized 21st century society should function.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Prop41:

The 140 innocents released from death row is a well known fraud.

Please review:

The 130 (now 140) death row "innocents" scam

http://homicidesurvivors.com/2...

In fact, the death penalty protect more innocent lives.

THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

Karim
Karim

"

So, the Allied soldiers who fought WWII were no better than the Nazis? How silly."

Bringing up the most extreme case you can think of doesn't do your argument much good. Besides, I believe he/she was talking in particular about killings that are not in self-defense. I don't believe the government has the right to choose who gets to die and who doesn't, ESPECIALLY when they have made mistakes.

If even one innocent person has to die for the sake of keeping the death penalty, then no, the death penalty has to be abolished. The fact that this has already occurred should be testament to the inefficiencies of having a small group of human beings deciding whether others deserve the right to live.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Karim, reconsoider.

THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better

record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty

http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...

vuducat
vuducat

The allied soldiers who fought WWII fought for a country guilty of committing a war crime every bit as heinous as the Nazis.  Dropping an atomic bomb on mainland Japan, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians in the process, is the same sort of ugly.  The only rationale behind claiming Allied soldiers were better than Nazi's is the misguided belief that God condones one sort of killing, while condemning another.  You are, simply, wrong.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

Jesus and the death penalty

Dudley Sharp

 

God/Jesus: ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother must certainly be put to death.’ Matthew 15:4

 

This is a New Testament command, which references several of the same commands from God, in the same circumstance, from the OT.

Jesus: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Jesus) replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43

It is not the nature of our deaths, but the state of salvation at the time of death which is most important.

Jesus: “So Pilate said to (Jesus), “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered (him), “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above.” John 19:10-11

The power to execute comes directly from God.

Jesus: “You have heard the ancients were told, ˜YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court”. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca”, shall be guilty before the supreme court and whoever shall say, “You fool”, shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.” Matthew 5:17-22. 

Fiery hell is a  considerable more severe sanction than any earthly death.

The Holy Spirit,  God, through the power and justice of the Holy Spirit, executed both Ananias and his wife, Saphira. Their crime? Lying to the Holy Spirit – to God – through Peter. Acts 5:1-11. 

No trial, no appeals, just death on the spot.

God: “You shall not accept indemnity in place of the life of a murderer who deserves the death penalty; he must be put to death.” Numbers 35:31

(NAB) full context

http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible...

For murder, there is no mitigation from a death sentence.

God: Genesis 9:5-6, from the 1764 Quaker Bible, the only Quaker bible.

5 And I will certainly require the Blood of your Lives, and that from the Paw of any Beast: from the Hand likewise of Man, even of any one’s Brother, will I require the Life of a Man.

6 He that sheds Man’s Blood, shall have his own shed by Man; because in the Likeness of God he made Mankind. 

Of all the versions/translations, this may be the most unequivocal -

Murder requires execution of the murderer. It is a command. The Noahic covenant if for all persons and all times.

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"All interpretations, contrary to the biblical support of capital punishment, are false. Interpreters ought to listen to the Bible’s own agenda, rather than to squeeze from it implications for their own agenda. As the ancient rabbis taught, “Do not seek to be more righteous than your Creator.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7.33.). Part of Synopsis of Professor Lloyd R. Bailey’s book Capital Punishment: What the Bible Says, Abingdon Press, 1987.

Saint (amp; Pope) Pius V, "The just use of (executions), far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this (Fifth) Commandment which prohibits murder." "The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent" (1566).

Pope Pius XII: "When it is a question of the execution of a man condemned to death it is then reserved to the public power to deprive the condemned of the benefit of life, in expiation of his fault, when already, by his fault, he has dispossessed himself of the right to live." 9/14/52.

"Moral/ethical Death Penalty Support: Christian and secular Scholars

"http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/...  

Christianity and the death penalty

http://www.prodeathpenalty.com... 

Catholic and other Christian References: Support for the Death Penalty,

http://homicidesurvivors.com/2...

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

The atomic bombs saved at least 400,000 American lives, and that is a totally good thing. Possibly 10 million Americans would not be here as their descendants if we had not dropped the bombs. The responsibility for saving Japanese lives during WWII rested with the emperor and Japanese leaders. Even after one atomic bomb, they were still willing to sacrifice the lives of their Japanese citizens for the sake of their fanatical nationalism. It took two bombs to knock some sense into their heads. No American who knows history will apologize for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They saved American lives.