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Friday, December 02, 2005
Death Penalty

While I am a supporter of the death penalty, I would not consider myself overzealous. I firmly believe there should be an automatic appeals process (there is), and that court oversight should ensure the legal process was properly followed.

Today there is a lot of (negative) press about the 1,000th inmate put to death since 1976 when the death penalty has been reestablished. Of course, the articles really don’t display any outrage about the small number of inmates put to death in the last 29 years, but instead focus on the “large” number.

Couple of random musings:

1. 1,000 executions. I’m sure this is disproportionately small when asking how many others are on death row? What is the average time on death row? How many death row inmates die from natural causes while the appeals process slowly grinds?

2. Most death penalties are handed down by states. Chris can probably help here, but this means that a convict’s appeal can go through the state court, state supreme court, state court of appeals, federal court, federal circuit court of appeals, and US Supreme Court. As federal death penalty cases are tried in federal court, they only have to go through the federal court of appeals and the supreme court (think Tim McVeigh – fast-tracked to execution…and it still took a long time).

3. We’ve all heard the argument that executions aren’t a deterrent. This never fazes me. It’s a punishment, and permanently deters a convict from killing anyone else. If it does in fact deter other people from heinous crimes, that’s just gravy.

4. I wonder how many people were killed by these 1,000 executed inmates. We’ll never know how many people were prevented from being killed by these convicts, but I’m sure some innocent people are still walking around because these convicts were executed.

5. It’s time to stop making quasi-celebrities out of the likes of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stanley “Tookie” Williams, but execute them and inform the public exactly all the details of what they were convicted of doing.

I am one hundred percent against the death penalty, and yes, even if the victim of the murder was my child, wife... I'm not against it because I feel bad for the killer's, I just don't think a state should have the right to kill. I also think that we are too civilized a nation to have something as silly as a death penalty. Just lock them up forever, eventually they will die of aids or a proper shanking. Remeber, the Catholic church is also against abortion, so your just not disagreeing with me, your disagreeing with the Pope.
Oh, but one more thing, I am all for the victims family doing some serious vigilantie(sp?) buisness, like gunning the guy down when he gets out of the police van to get read his sentence, that, in my world, is ok, cool even.
So since the victim's family can do it but not the state, you condone the guy getting executed for his crime. What matters to you WHO does it?

In your scenario, the guilty person would have a better chance to live going through the court process. There would be a higher chance of a 'mistake' if the vigilante family took care of it.
Yes, there would be, but who said I was bothered by mistaken executions? I just don't like the idea of a nation as great as ours killing people in such a formal way,and the courts being involved. Now the families doing it is fine with me, but not the government. Did you ever see that video of the guy who's kid was molested taking out the molester in the airport as the marshall's escorted him, it was classic, and perfectly fine with me. The guy got what he deserved from WHO he deserved it from.
State sentences usually do wend their ways through Federal Courts - but only when the claims are Federal and courts are not all that receptive to litigious death row inmates.

Interesting question -
A 45 year old man is convicted of murder. The life expectation of a man in prison is about 55 years - so assume he serves 10 years in jail before dying. The conditions in prison are what 'causes' his premature death. Though the state only builds the walls which hem him in, serves the unhealthy food which slowly kills him and puts him in close proximity with the inmates who may shank him much sooner.
The question should be asked: Isn't the state at least partially responsible for him dying much sooner than he would die naturally?

Under this logic we are forced to make a choice: either house our inmates like they do in Sweeden, or accept the state's role in death.
Our three most cherished rights are life, liberty and property - they can take liberty and property subject to due process and compensation - I see no reason why life (subject to due process) is any different.
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