Here is a death penalty candidate

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Syzygys, Apr 27, 2012.

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  1. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    My view is that conclusive evidence of whether the deterrent effect is real or not remains lacking. While this state-by-state comparison is certainly better than country-by-country, it's still not unequivocable. For example, there are "death penalty states" that haven't actually executed anyone in decades, so it's unclear how they should be accounted when it comes to assessing deterrence.

    But I think that's all side-show - even if it were clearly shown to work, it still wouldn't justify the numbers of wrongly-executed people that we already know about. So I think it's a tactical mistake to get sucked into a technical argument on this subject - you won't end up with a clear outcome, even after expending lots of space and energy debating tons of details, and in the meantime the larger point will get lost.

    It's an interesting question, but I'm not sure the rate is that much lower. Looking at the variations across states, it's not clear to me that the difference is even statistically significant. Also, I'd be much more interested in seeing the median murder rates - the averages are going to be thrown around by some of the outlier states. For example, if Louisiana were to abolish the death penalty tomorrow, it's possible that would result in the murder rate for non-death-penalty states being higher than that for death-penalty states.

    Again, notice that this subject is a real can of worms, which is why I council avoiding it. Upshot is that even if we think that deterrence works, the death penalty is still a net loser.

    Yeah, but there are lots of social policies that don't make sense from a purely financial standpoint. It's not a very useful perspective for social policies.

    I think you can get that conclusion just as forcefully without worrying about counting money. Just ask people exactly how many innocent people a year they're comfortable executing in order to get whatever benefits they believe accrue from the death penalty. Dollars to donuts, it will be far less than the number we have been executing.

    I say this because I used to go back and forth on the death penalty question, and always get bogged down in all these diversions whenever I'd try to reason through it. Then I encountered an argument that focussed almost exclusively on the issue of exeutions of innocent people. It was an eye-opener to realize that I could dispense with all of the sticky questions and reach a satisfactory, clear-cut answer.

    Perfectionism makes for a nice slogan, but note that that same argument there applies to any kind of criminal penalties. At some point, we simply have to accept a certain cost in terms of punishments of innocent people. But the upshot is that, without getting into detailed considerations of irreversibility and gradations of severity, you'll find that if you ask people exactly how many innocents it's okay to execute, they will almost always answer a number that is far below the one we already exhibit. Point is that you can win the death penalty argument simply by focussing on advertizing exactly how many innocents are being executed - even people who greatly disagree with you on the various finer points of all the other questions will agree that it's way too high.

    There, now you're talking. You should be hammering this point above all the others. Essentially nobody is going to argue that it's acceptable to execute multiple innocent people every single year.

    Nah, that's a tragedy, but it's still not murder. It isn't really possible, technically, for a legal action to be "murder."

    That's for sure.

    At this point, if I were you, I'd settle for insisting that the burden is on advocates of the death penalty to conclusively prove that it has deterrent value. The idea that we are paying the real costs of executing innocent people, etc., without the question of whether there is any benefit at all being settled, is unacceptable.​
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  3. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    I am bored, so...

    Already answered at least 2-3 times, read the thread. Also, are you willing to drive with no more than 20 mph everywhere, just because we could save 25K people annually?

    Exactly the SAME number that we are willing to lock them up. Do you know how many innocents are in prisons? So why don't we let everyone out, so just we wouldn't make mistakes??

    Kind of funny, no anti-DP people ever answered this question...

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  5. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    See, that's why it is meaningless to talk to you. First, the execution rate is really LOW. If I recall it is something like 1 in 100 or so, for death row people.

    Second, a deterrent only works if the tool is used. If you just threaten your kids with punishment, but never follow through, they will figure it out and won't give a shit eventually.

    If we only execute 1 in 100 people on death row, that is not really a deterrent now is it? So I say let's execute 5-6000 criminals a year (instead of the 2-300) and THEN see if crime rate falls.
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  7. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    Come on guys, I already told you all your arguments belong to us.

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    Actually, you missed the point of the story. It wasn't the deterrent effect, but the effectiveness of the prosecution. Once the police/good citizens started to use the same tactic as the druglord, it worked.

    But let me use your same argument: Since we have newer and newer criminals all the time, thus obviously prisons don't have any deterrent effect, so why don't we close all the prisons??

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    How you like me now??? And you worry about the government?? The government is starting illegal wars already, worry about that, then we can come back to the DP...
  8. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    Anyhow, until I get bored again, I would like to present Bells with a present, Indonesia death penalty case:

    "Ahmad Suradji (born 10 January 1949 - 10 July 2008) was a serial killer in Indonesia. Suradji, a cattle-breeder born on 10 January 1949, was executed July 10, 2008.He admitted to killing 42 girls and women over a period of 11 years. His victims ranged in age from 11 to 30, and were strangled with a cable after being buried up to their waists in the ground as part of a ritual...."

    Personally, I don't notice ladykillers, unless they hit the number 100, so 42 is kindergarden really. But I am sure we should have kept this fine specimen alive so he could have written a tearjerking autobiography explaining his childhood and such...

    P.S.: Kind of hard to explain a few dozen bodies buried around your house....
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  9. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    It's easy to point to specific cases and say the death penalty was justified, but that does not justify the death penalty in general when so many innocent people are wrongly convicted.
  10. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    Yes, actually, that's why I started the thread with that gentlemen. Anti-DP people never argue individual cases (because they would have to agree with the penalty), they immediately generalize the issue and ASSUME that there must be tons of innocents convicted. But nevertheless, they would keep them in jail for decades, the little sadists....

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  11. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    That's because I'm not actually against killing the guilty, I'm just against the death penalty. The thing about life in prison is you still have the possibility of justice.
  12. Cavalier Knight of the Opinion Registered Senior Member

    I know many anti-death penalty advocates, who'd freely say that even serial killers have a right to life and should not be executed as a result. There are even families who've suffered the murder of a loved one, who have appeared to say that they did not want the killer executed.

    That said, I myself am in the same boat as Spidergoat, I am not opposed to the death penalty, in principle, it's just that in practice it is highly likely that we execute innocent people all too regularly, because our system sucks.

    In the face of an unreliable system of pronouncing guilt, I'd rather err on the side of not inflicting permanent harm, especially where it costs me more money to inflict that permanent harm than it would to simply incarcerate. Making certain innocent people are not killed unjustly, and saving money to boot? That's win/win.

    That said, I accept that most of those convicted of heinous crimes are guilty, so simply releasing them is not an attractive option. There is nothing sadistic about that.
  13. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    That's a preposterously bad analogy. Essentially all of the deaths involved in the transit system are accidents.

    So you see no moral difference between imprisoning an innocent person, and killing them?

    If so, well, you're pretty much alone and so your position isn't one I'm worried about addressing.
  14. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    I actually wanted somebody saying, I am for the DP in SOME cases. Then you have to realize that you don't have to throw the baby out with the water, just rise the standard and limit mistakes...

    You just have reached this realization...Congratulation my friend, and welcome to the darker side!
  15. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    You're missing the point that even the highest standard ever witnessed on this Earth falls far short of where most people would be comfortable executing people.

    I've asked repeatedly in this thread already, and never received any answer: exactly how many innocent people are you comfortable with executing, on an average year, to maintain a death penalty? I'm looking for an integer number in response here.
  16. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    How is 3 decades in prison not permanent harm? Innocents can easily end up in prison for decades...What you don't get is that prisons are full of innocents, thus by your logic, we should do away with the whole prison system, because for god's sake, we don't want to hurt the innocent.

    So far I haven't heard a response to this argument, but I don't hold my breath...

    Not the money saving again. So if we close the prisons, just imagine how rich we get.
    Not to mention than it is OK to execute people in countries where it is cheaper then life in prison?? (which is most countries)

    There is plenty of sadistic about having a sensitive human being locked up for life. How is the puppy doing in the crate? Has he gone insane yet?

    I really hate to repeat myself, and none of my arguments are met with anything serious counter argument...
  17. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    Are we talking about the justice system itself too? Open the prison doors right now!

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    Otherwise you can check Japan's standard if you want high standard...

    Oh, you haven't got an answer? NOW you know how I feel. By the way I have just answered your question a few hours ago, so START READING THE THREAD!

    Here it is again from post #62:

    In short, I am willing to execute as many innocents as you are willing to lock up.... So what's the number, you tell me...
  18. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Because you can always release that person from prison, and then hand them a huge check for their pain and suffering. Maybe that doesn't get them the lost years back, but it's a hell of a lot more than you can do for someone that you killed and buried 30 years back.

    There's a reason that your snarky little turn there isn't impressing anyone. It's because the logic isn't "don't hurt the innocent" but rather "don't create a situation in which you have no chance to make up for the inevitable harms that will befall the innocent."

    If you can't address your interlocutors honestly, then you should do us a favor and at least stop trolling this thread.

    Your argument is an obvious strawman that doesn't merit serious response, in the first place, but since you are determined to troll so badly I've provided you with one. So you can drop that line, forever.

    There's another dishonest strawman argument from you - this one so cheap and idiotic that it certainly does not bear a serious response.

    Zero of your "arguments" merit any serious consideration. You're clearly trolling here.
  19. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    I am confident that you will find that almost everyone is more comfortable locking up a certain number of innocent people, in order to retain a functioning penal system, than they are executing that same number of people.

    Do you have some data that shows that Japan attains an especially low rate of false convictions? I've done a curosry google on that topic and not found much.

    I note that the conviction rate in Japan is extremely high, which will make a neutral comparison difficult - it seems that Japanese prosecutors try much fewer criminals than do American ones (on a per-crime basis, of course).

    Considering the facts that you've repeatedly given me a pointed non-answer, and that I've provided you with straightforward answers to your question, I am not seeing the alleged symmetry in our positions.

    Like I said, that's you making a point of being non-responsive. The fact that you imagine this is a cute tactic is just that. I asked for an integer response - why can't you provide one?

    As explained by the reasoning at the start of this post, it's a rather large one. In a country the size of the modern USA, it's surely somewhere in the thousands per year. Maybe higher.

    Point is that it's a number so large that for you to declare that you're okay with executing that many innocent people per year renders your position repellent and barbaric on its face. You're being a real fool by agreeing to endorse the executions of a much larger group of wrongly-convicted than just the capital crimes in question.

    But even if we limit the discussion to capital crimes, you're still simply stating a tautology: advocates of the death penalty are willing to execute exactly as many innocents as would be locked up for capital crimes in the absence of the death penalty, by definition. That doesn't bear on the question of whether that's too many, and it's a pointed evasion of the point that the moral weight of false imprisonment is less than that of false execution. If you're just going to beat your chest about how you reject that difference, without offering any actual argumentation in support of that, then you're just trolling. And meanwhile, no reasonable person rejects that difference, so you're doing a great job of ensuring that every reasonable person rejects your position in the process.
  20. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    How do you limit mistakes? You see, the justice system is still comprised of fallible human beings. Only Dexter knows for sure.
  21. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    If prisoners are dangerous, they need to be in high security lockup. That leaves the vast majority of the rest of the two million or so who are not considered dangerous. Of that number, I suspect that more than half are eligible for parole. Also, people are serving huge sentences compared to the era before Reagan and Bush-daddy waged their war on drugs. All my life all I have heard politicians promise, and deliver--concerning criminal justice, that is--is harsher sentences. This means more people locked up for longer periods of time, a huge explosion in the prison populations, and fewer probations and paroles. All I'm saying is, roll this back to before the religious right got ahold of the agenda and went crazy with it. Ask anyone who had their wits about them in the 1980s when all of this began: are we safer now than then? I doubt if anyone would notice the difference. So why do we have ...I don't know... maybe 10 times as many people locked up today? Answer: harsher and harsher sentences, every year since the War on Drugs era.

    If you want to save money on the cost of prisons, if you want to bring people back to productive lives, supporting their families and paying in to social security and tax revenue, then--if they're eligible for probation or parole, let them go. They will be monitored, but at a fraction of the cost of prison.

    And I never said prisons should be in debt. You either don't understand me or you just got it wrong. Prisons already get all the free labor they want. So you think you're improving on a cost, but you fail to take this into account.

    The question is: why are people still locked up if they're eligible for parole? Why are so many first-time losers not given probation? Look in that direction, and that's where you will find opportunity for fundamental change. The alternative is. . .business as usual. . .
  22. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    No, what you said was: add the death penalty for certain crimes other than murder. Therefore you don't care whether the executed person committed murder or not, you're still going to kill him.
    Maybe. I try to choose my words a little more carefully.

    You ever see (or read) Twelve Angry Men? You remind me of the last juror, the one that was crazy for the death penalty.

    You were talking about raising a punishment for something like fraud, to the death penalty. My statement was: if the perp is facing prison, he will be less likely to kill witnesses because that will get him the death penalty. So he can try to launder the funds and take his chances that no one's on to his little scheme. On the other hand, if he knows he's facing the death penalty for fraud now, besides laundering the dough he's going to go around killing anyone he thinks might know some trivial fact that could lead to him. Why you don't understand this baffles me.

    News flash: crime is here to stay. What you fail to recognize is that crimes have different severity levels. Would you give the death penalty to a jay walker? How about 20 years? So what if someone stole money from a retirement account? Now you want to execute them? SO how's that different from giving 20 years for jay walking.

    It's a huge deal and your failure to recognize this puts you way, way out on the fringe.

    A constitutional amendment of this kind is a huge change in policy. Basically, you're saying you have a problem with the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of the 8th Amendment. Did you ever take US history? Can you tell me where this amendment came from? It was because the British treated their American prisoners with cruelty. So now you want to go back to the colonial period? Maybe you'd like to see shackles and chains, branding and the rack. You see the issue here? You want the Constitution to say "Cruel and Unusual punishments shall be allowed." Is any of this soaking in on you yet?

    The legal issue I was talking about is that you would have to convince 2/3 of the house and senate that this level of cruelty is OK. Then you would have to get 3/4ths of the state legislatures to be OK with cruel and unusual punishment. (That's how the Constitution is amended.)

    You don't think it's a big deal because you have no sense of large ideas--at least not as far as this subject is concerned. You'd better hope they don't start locking people up for being small-minded.

    No.. Keep the dangerous people, and release everyone who's eligible for parole. Cut the prison population in half. Separate the wheat from the chaff, instead of executing them all together, as if their crimes are equal. It's ridiculous.

    And you'd be willing to go to your death to show your support for this law? After all, it could turn around and bite you. Someone might think they saw you at the scene of the crime. Maybe your brakes went out right after they decided to punish vehicular manslaughter with execution.

    You haven't talked about how you'd be willing to support your own idea if the shoe was on the other foot.
    Stop? We have one of the largest systems in the world, what are you talking about? All I said was, let the eligible people go--put punishments back to pre-Reagan levels.
    After you put half the prisoners on death row, there will be more people desperate to break out and more murders once they're out, to cover their tracks.

    Of course the other thing you did by bringing up Ted Bundy was to take the most notorious prisoner, from 35 years ago, and now you're tying to apply him to the stock broker who rips his clients off - who you want to execute. It's that extreme lumping together of the most extreme psychopath with the guy who never harmed a fly (physically, that is; a rip-off artist) and you're pairing these two together as if they're the same. This is what makes your ideas so absurd.

    Anyway, under your system, it's just like having Ted Bundy loose. You're OK with killing innocent people, and your scheme will kill a Bundy full of them every day. Hour? Minute? Hell, let's just build ovens and do it up right like the Nazis did. Pretty soon there won't be anyone around to steal FROM.

    You mean because I shot holes in your sadistic scheme?
    I'm not the first and I won't be the last.
  23. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member


    Let's hope after a few decades, the authorities were right.

    But what if they're wrong?

    Last edited: May 8, 2012
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