Generic Execution Debate

Rather than let this thread go totally off-topic–I’m starting this new one to debate the following topics:

  1. Is there a point to executing people?
  2. For what crimes (and/or the intentions behind those) would execution be advised if not already?
  3. Is there a point at which we should determine that guilty is guilty, or can we never determine enough guilt to morally execute a person?
  4. What about if a person is found out to have been innocent after having been executed?

Now as this is beginning from a debate already in motion–Sage Rat vs. Lissa!–I would just like to point out that: I have very little time to do research nor to follow any sort of journals or such. Of course it is my intention to do as good a job as I can to support my opinion with facts but I am largely hoping others can pop in with any sources they know of that are from reliable sources on the net that I can look over. (Please.)

So my responses:

  1. Yes. I believe that there are people in the world, which the world would be safest to just get rid of and have done with it. Bringing out Hitler is generally viewed as bad form, but this is a well known and good example of what I mean. Yes if you caught Hitler and put him in a secret room entirely separated and without any contact with humanity–there is little to worry about. But I see no point in expending any resources to do so–and the possibility of his breaking lose, writing and publishing a book to guide little Hitlers, or whatnot all go away as well.
    Please note that I don’t view death as a bad thing, just nothing; so this wouldn’t be an act of cruelty nor punishment. And I doubt the death of anyone I am discussing would have any effect on this class of person to deter their behavior–so this wouldn’t be a matter of deterring crime.

  2. So far as I would be concerned, anyone who solely gains pleasure from doing things superiorly harmful to others, is better off executed. This would include serial killers, rapists, pedophiles, and such. And as noted, since I don’t view death as a bad thing, I personally view rapists and pedophiles as having commited worse crimes than murderers; their victims will be affected for life.
    I can expound on this further, but that’s the gist.

  3. I do agree that someone who has been found guilty and given the death penalty should have a chance to combat this. I do not think that it should cost more to allow this than it would cost to keep a person incarcerated for the rest of his life as theoretically this is just a matter of plugging the person into the wall-socket or what have you. If it is impossible to provide a reasonable chance to combat your charges for a budget less than keeping you until you die; unless those numbers are drastically different I would still opt for the execution because it is inherently more effective and because “it’s not my fault that lawyers charge a lot.”
    Specifically, my reasoning is that in the initial trial, for the person to have been convicted he had to have proven “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” before a jury of impartial and fair peers, with no need to prove innocence and every chance to instill doubt. So this is already close enough to 100% guilty that I’m pretty convinced–the system was indeed set up this way for just that reason.
    While I could be convinced that a Statute of Limitations is not necessary for conviction (specifically concerning worse crimes)–when it comes to revoking guilt as already proven in a fairly conducted trial, I see no reason to give anyone more than 5 years. After that point memories will be gone, any extreme public hatred against you will have faded, new evidence extrememly unlikely, and just generally it would seem extraneous to proceed past that. Similarly, I see no reason to allow more than one chance to contest the charge–you have already been found 99.999% guilty.

  4. Certainly it will happen eventually–after all nothing is perfect. But that fact is something I am sure all members of the trials’ jury members will have on their mind when they decide their verdict. No one person proclaims guilt and no one person caries out the execution–this is good enough for me.

Now, to specifically reply to Lissa’s last post in the previous thread:

Much of this I replied to above, but I would note that I disagree with the “automatic appeals.” Of course, I am also not anti-suicide.

Well, I would include rapists and pedophiles so that bumps the number. But even with overcrowding in the prisons, it can still be stated that the number of prisoners is linked to the total number of prisons. If only 1% of criminals are in the death penalty wing (and assuming they costed no more than normal prisoners nor took up more room) then for every 100 prisons in the US, one of those is unnecessary. We don’t just build prisons for the hell of it.

Sticking mostly to #3 in your list, an applicable quote from the movie Unforgiven

You do not do such a thing on evidence that is “close enough”. You also do not do it to save a few bucks.

Our system is too blunt an instrument to allow death to be a penalty. 99% right isn’t good enough, because that 100th person is dead for doing nothing but being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dead because a witness didn’t see the criminal clearly enough. Dead because a cop grabbed the wrong guy, or a DA pushed too hard for conviction to further his political career. Dead because your court appointed lawyer was too overloaded to give you a top notch defense. Those are crappy reasons to wind up dead, but it happens.

This is coming from someone who thinks death is an approprate penalty for certain crimes, I just don’t think we are correct often enough to deal out the ultimate, irreversable penalty.

1- My answer is no. Society has the right to isolate those that commit crimes from the innocent population. Society does not have the right to vengeance. If we are equally safe with these people in prison for life as we are with them executed, then the execution gains nothing for society.

2- Given the answer to 1, none.

3- Juries are fallible. If anyone had enough evidence to fry, it was OJ yet the jury could not convict him. Conversely there are some who were framed and fried. Until juries and prosectors and judges and police are perfect, uncertainty remains. The error rate that is acceptable to you might change dramatically if you were one of the errors.

4- It isn’t theoretical, it has happened and will continue to do so. Again, going from life sentence to death doesn’t gain society anything, but it can and does make it impossible to correct mistakes.

  1. Well, revenge and bloodlust are the point. But is there any practical difference between execution and life imprisonment, aside from savings (which really don’t exist once you tally up all the costs of further trials) and the possibility of escape (which is purely a physical failing and can be averted with appropriate prison technology)? I don’t think so. The goal of law should be the removal of dangerous persons from society, so in practice both imprisonment and execution are identical. The difference is, imprisonment isn’t permanent.

  2. I don’t believe it should be given for anything, but I believe life imprisonment without possibility of parole should be given for murder, rape, molestation, and grand-scale robbery that affects the public at large (Kenneth Lay, I’m looking at you).

  3. There is always doubt. Even if the person confesses, they could be lying to protect someone. Even if there are a dozen witnesses, their memories could all be fallible because of a trick of the light. DNA evidence? Sloppy lab techs could be a factor here. Even if the margin of error in a case is 0.0000001%, that is still not the same as zero and there will never be any case where the error margin is zero, no matter what CSI says. Sorry, but I don’t think beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt is good enough when people’s lives are at stake–we need to consider unreasonable and downright loony doubts as well. These are human lives we’re talking about.

  4. Criminal investigations against the prosecutors and other people who may have been involved in the conviction seems like a good idea, also reparations should be offered to the innocent person’s family. Treat it like you’d treat any murder or death through negligence, because that’s what it is.

Given all that, I am against the death penalty. However, I do support the right to self-execution if a prisoner feels he cannot live with the guilt of having murdered someone, as long as we could find a way that such a policy would not be abused by those in power (“choose to be executed or we’ll torture you, choose to be executed or we’ll kill your wife,” stuff like that).

I like that idea. There are some that would prefer death, and if it is their choice I see no problem with them killing themselves.

Not that there aren’t plenty of people in this world that deserve killing, or at least regularly scheduled brutal beatings… but I’m not confident enough in the justice system (infested with people such as it is) to be sure innocent people won’t be wrongly accused and sentenced.

So yeah, lock 'em up but let the fuckers live.

Its a lazy cop out. The system isnt perfect, but death is. It kills 100% of the time and there’s no going back. Therefore, since no judge or jury is perfect, the death penalty should never be an option…yes not even for the likes of Hitler. No civilized leader can possibly sanction it.

Now concerning Hitler and other totally obvious cases like that, they should be totally isolated from society and probed and prodded so we can glean as much good out of them as possible. Killing Hitler would not help society improve or really offer protection. Locking him up and putting him under close study to try to determine WHY he did that, what makes him tick etc. so we could more effectively recognize people like him and circumstances that would cause him to do what he did in the future to prevent it is the civilized approach. I would also support keeping nazi relics, copies of Hitlers writings, and memorials all to serve to keep us well aware of the negative side of our history, if for nothing else than to keep it from being revised later.

Civilized societies do not destroy life, they study it and learn from it.

Ages ago, I watched that on CourtTV. I’d have voted “not guilty” in that case. The prosecution blew it.

In my opinion, not a valid one. I feel that it is gross hypocrisy for the state to decry intentionally killing someone and then turn around and do the same thing. I don’t care how “nicely” we do it, or how careful the process of determining guilt may be. We are taking a human life in cold blood, which is wrong. Period. I don’t believe that a particularly reprehensible crime makes an exception.

None. Nothing justifies killing someone in cold blood.

Guilt has nothing to do with it. You bring up Hitler in your reply: I would not have supported his execution, even though he is the most heinous individual in the modern era.

It is not a matter of mercy for the individual, but that I think that we as a society should be better than that. We should not have to stoop to killing.

As I said, guilt has nothing to do with it, so we would not be more culpable if the accused turned out to be innocent. No matter who we kill or why, we’ve still ended the life of a human being.

I also disagree with the death penalty for fiscal reasons, and because it has no deterrent effect. It has no practical purpose.

Well I don’t know why you say it has no deterrent effect, it is the only 100% iron clad way to deter a criminal from ever commiting a crime again.

So then the US must abolish its military?
Last I was informed, it’s entirely purpose in existing was to kill (most probably) people who had performed no crime previously except to kill in self-defense. I fail to see how one could decry execution which allowed a one in 100,000 chance of killing someone who probably was only partially guilty–yet allowing the existence of a military.

And similarly, have any of you tried particularly hard to get the laws which require putting a dog down to be changed to life imprisonment for the dog?

As to the matter of proof: Do any of you have any doubt that Hitler was guilty? (I am guessing “no”) Yet if you were to take him to court, filled with a jury of impartial peers who were told “he is not guilty unless the evidence that is presented leaves no possibility of doubt of that guilt”–I doubt we have enough evidence to convict him. Yet people against whom we have evidence that is so unshakeable as to leave no nagging uncertainty in the minds of twelve people can somehow less trusted than that Hitler was a murderer? So simply, do you have any reserves in your own mind that Hitler may not have been guilty of any crime, and would you curse our military to this day had it killed him?

Did any of you boo when Samuel L. Jackson won at the end of A Time to Kill?

So is locking them up in a totally secure prison for the rest of their life. But in this context, “deterrence” has more to do with deterring others from committing the same crime.

The military is (ideally) used only for the defense of the nation. Similar to how our laws allow for persons to use deadly force in self defense. Once a person is put on trial and convicted, there is no need for self defense, there is no compelling reason to kill to ensure our safety.

If the military is used to wreak vengence upon people deemed guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then it is being used wrongly. It is acceptable to kill in defense, less so to kill in punishment.

Well here’s a generic execution reply.

  1. It’s ok to kill certain people.
  2. We might execute an innocent person.
  3. What affect does executions have on those who have to perform them?

I think executions in the United States should come to an end. I know there are people who really deserve to die but the risk of executing the innocent and the psychological damage done to the executors (prison staff, etc) outweighs other considerations.


What about the other questions?

Also, in the case of the military being only defensive, would this mean that you would rather the US had allowed the South to split off and continue slavery into modern day?

I oppose the death penalty in the case of our (US) judicial system. It’s just a random few dozen or so out of thousands of heinous felons each year, so any attempt to liken it to some inevitable justice brought to the deservedly guilty is a load of crap. We don’t apply it reliably where guilt it most obvious, nor where the crime is most brutal, or most harmful to society. We only apply it when the prosecutor is skilled, and the criminal has inadequate resources (that’s money) to avoid it.

But there is a theoretical case that makes me question the wisdom of entirely eliminating it. Were my beloved brutally killed, and no death penalty were extant, how could I not kill the murderer? I am not sure that I would not choose to climb the thirteen stairs, rather than walk the streets with him. And if there were no possibility that I would be executed? The beast within me is confidant that murder for murder would be my choice, however much the civilized man within me recoils from it.

So, I will keep the threat in the hands of the state, and out of my own.

But I think only jurors, willing to state the sentence in words, face to face with the condemned should be allowed to impose this most final of punishments. “I do find your crime to be unforgivable, and hereby state that you should be killed, for the protection of society.”

I also believe that gradually increased percentage of carbon dioxide gas without warning should be the method of execution. It’s quick, painless, and easily done without danger to others. Go to sleep, don’t wake up. We decided to kill you, you have no rights other than those against torture. We don’t have to explain it to you again.


The South splitting off was a threat to the nation, and a justified target for the military. We did not just send troops into a separate country under the guise of ending slavery.

The other questions… A dog is a dog. People get much more consideration with respect to their right to life. A pig is just as high on the evolutionary chain as a dog, but we kill them every day for food.

Hitler, eh? Would it be beyond the realm of possibility for Adolf to have been nothing more than a poster boy, an eloquent speaker who was the public face of the real decision makers? Yes, I’m playing devil’s advocate (literally!) but the point is valid. You don’t really know who did what unless you were there in the rooms watching the decisions being made. I’m sure there is a mountain of verifiable evidence to convict Hitler, but I have not personally seen it, I’ve just been told about how evil he was in History class.

It’s also not JUST the death that is an issue. It’s the fact that a non-death penalty is available that keeps society safe. With the military, if there is a non-war alternative that is just as good as war at keeping us safe, we should use it. With the dog, if there is a non-euthanasia alternative that keeps us safe, use it. With Hitler, if there is a non-death alternative that keeps the world safe, use it. If Adolf is running out the back door attempting to escape, blast his ass off, if he’s shackled and surrounded by troops, arrest him and jail him.

In what way was this a threat to the nation? And in what way would such a crime as slavery justify the killing of unknown persons who may or may not have even owned slaves?
Morally, there would only be the option of finding those who had commited the crime of slavery and taking them to court. …But if they resist arrest, are we best off to kill them and all who help, or to just “banish them”–particularly when that is what they themselves desire?

But why not lock them up for life? Certainly we can keep a dog alive much cheaper than a human.

And yet, would you curse the military had it killed him instead of him killing himself?

That seems reasonable. Of course, not executing people simply because they are poor seems a bit odd to me.