Death penalty.

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View Poll Results: Are you for or against the death penalty?
For 25 73.53%
Against 8 23.53%
Undecided 1 2.94%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

 
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  #1  
Old 12-17-2007, 06:42 PM
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Default Death penalty.

Looks like New Jersey outlawed the death penalty. Are you for or against the death penalty? This is a hard question for me as I think concentrations of power in certain communities abuse their power and can easily lead to the railroading of innocent people or at least unpopular people. Against some slime who commits atrocious murders, I have real trouble seeing why anyone would want to keep this person alive even if his or her life is quite miserable. In prisons in the US, some of these monsters are looked up at by other prisoners.

I spent some time around MN prisoners as part of Legal Assistance to MN Prisoners while a law student at the U of MN Law School. Did not come across anyone I thought might have been an innocent person who had been convicted of a crime that they did not commit. It has happened in various states though that an innocent person is found on death row.
  #2  
Old 12-17-2007, 07:19 PM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

To me, murder is murder, whether done by the State in the name of the People or by the individual they are killing. That makes it easy for me to say no to the death penalty.

I do understand that some people truly should not be allowed to live. However, if it can be guaranteed they will be given life without any possibility of parole and not be allowed to be with the general prison population (something like Pelican Bay in California comes to mind), then I think they are getting a punishment fitting the crime. I think most would rather be dead than have to live in a cell 23 hours out of every day and know that is their fate for the rest of their lives.
  #3  
Old 12-17-2007, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

Good topic. It will surely generate some lively discussion. Myself, very much for it. The argument that it not a deterrent to crime is bogus. If you doubt it, visit Singapore. Drug possession, murder, violent crime of any type is not tolerated. Example, if you are caught with drugs, you are arrested, tried, and if found guilty, hung within 3 days. Believe me it is one of the safest countries in the world. You can walk out of a restaurant, leave your wallet on the table and come back 3 hours later and it is untouched. Serious crime just doesn't exist there. Malaysia is very much the same for drugs and murder. And again a safe country. Although Malaysia isn't as hard on robbery and other type crimes as Singapore and they have a lot more per 1000 people. Both countries look the other way on the sex trade, but that's common to most Aisian countries. But even that doesn't spill over into other crimes because of the strict laws.
  #4  
Old 12-29-2007, 05:26 PM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by l2ridehd
Good topic. It will surely generate some lively discussion. Myself, very much for it. The argument that it not a deterrent to crime is bogus. If you doubt it, visit Singapore. Drug possession, murder, violent crime of any type is not tolerated. Example, if you are caught with drugs, you are arrested, tried, and if found guilty, hung within 3 days. Believe me it is one of the safest countries in the world. You can walk out of a restaurant, leave your wallet on the table and come back 3 hours later and it is untouched. Serious crime just doesn't exist there. Malaysia is very much the same for drugs and murder. And again a safe country. Although Malaysia isn't as hard on robbery and other type crimes as Singapore and they have a lot more per 1000 people. Both countries look the other way on the sex trade, but that's common to most Aisian countries. But even that doesn't spill over into other crimes because of the strict laws.
You have to give up quite a lot of freedoms for this kind of control though.
  #5  
Old 12-30-2007, 09:24 AM
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Default Opinion Depends On Perspective

A person's opinion on the death penalty depends on their life experiences, I think. Those that have experienced the murder of a close family member probably have a different opinion than those who discuss the issue with no particular experience or maybe inadequate thought. Those with that type of unfortunate experience probably favor the death penalty, not so much as a deterrent but as a penalty comparable to the crime committed and a way to assure that the perpetrator is never again permitted to enjoy the freedoms of law abiding citizens.

The laws of many states and our federal government often have sentencing guidelines that are disturbingly generous to those convicted of some pretty awful crimes. If you were related to a victim, you might be disturbed to find that the person who took the life of your loved one could be walking free in a time much shorter than you might imagine. You might be willing to accept a sentence such as "life imprisonment with no chance of parole" instead of death. But would your opinion change if you found that your state's sentencing guidelines prescribed a sentence of only 15-20 years for a person convicted of a heinous crime against your family member? And then permitted that sentence to be shortened significantly for "good behavior" while in prison? That's a more common situation than most people realize. I have had such an experience. But while I can't say that I am an activist proponent of the death penalty, I do think it is an appropriate penalty in a significant number of murder cases.

Regardless of one's feelings regarding the laws and penalties prescribed by our worldly courts, victims can and should be comforted by the knowledge that criminals will ultimately face judgement by God with a far more fearsome consequence that any that can be even imagined by our worldly courts. If unrepentant criminals go to sleep each night with a deep fear of that judgement day, that would be a sufficient penalty for me. But by definition, those that are unwilling to repent are also unlikely to fear any such judgement by God. Taking the life of that type of person is probably appropriate.

I don't intend to debate this question. But I do wish to point out that people should consider walking in a victim's shoes before forming an opinion on the issue of the death penalty too quickly.
  #6  
Old 12-30-2007, 11:50 AM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

Kahuna -- Nice, thoughtful post on a very controversial topic. I've been fortunate that I haven't lost anyone to crime. I have been severely injured and assaulted in two separate crimes. In one, the culprit was never caught. In the other, the police did not give the SOB his Miranda rights (how does anyone not do that today???).

In the first assault, it was a dumb kid. I would have liked to have seen him get help rather than punishment. He was young enough to have a chance to turn his life around. In the second, I probably would have killed him myself if I'd been given the opportunity but would not have wanted the State to do it for me.
  #7  
Old 12-30-2007, 02:25 PM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by redwitch
Kahuna -- Nice, thoughtful post on a very controversial topic. I've been fortunate that I haven't lost anyone to crime. I have been severely injured and assaulted in two separate crimes. In one, the culprit was never caught. In the other, the police did not give the SOB his Miranda rights (how does anyone not do that today???).

In the first assault, it was a dumb kid. I would have liked to have seen him get help rather than punishment. He was young enough to have a chance to turn his life around. In the second, I probably would have killed him myself if I'd been given the opportunity but would not have wanted the State to do it for me.
Redwitch. Good input.

Kahuna? Nice post. I am not so sure that this applies though in many cases. Some people forgive the people who harmed loved ones, some do not.

I have had friends and acquaintances involved in all kinds of crimes and was the victim of an attempted carjacking myself in 1984 and the reactions people had to these crimes varied greatly from person to person but was often based on people's individuals ideals and ideas about right and wrong and the like.

One college friend was stabbed 6 times near the heart and the oxygen was cut off from his brain for a few minutes but the jury in that case seemed to find fault with my friend and gave the assailant a light sentence. It was a jealous husband that did this stabbing. The circumstances of each case do play a lot into it too.

Like our jury system a lot as long as the jury is not too manipulated by the lawyers, the media, and the like. Of course, there is also the plea bargaining and deals that come into play as well.

From the victims' point-of-view, the sentencing guidelines do leave a lot to be desired as you wrote. But one victim may be quite different from another victim in how he or she sees things.
  #8  
Old 12-31-2007, 02:18 AM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

I guess a lot has to do with how you interpret "an eye for an eye."

My view: If you take a life, you need to return a life. Taking yours doesn't balance the scale.

To me, the "eye for an eye" justice is to incarcerate the felon who now becomes a medical donor - blood, bone marrow, organs, et cetera - until the scale is considered balanced again by whatever formula one wants to apply. In this way, the felon now has a means to "return life." To kill the felon only rids you of the felon, but the scale is still askew.

Capital punishment is enforced by society, as crimes are harms against society. That's the way our legal system works. If society believes justice is served by killing the felon, that's society's choice until legislation is effected or the judicial system counters its use on constitutional grounds. We have a lot of "societies" here (Federal, State, Tribal and Territorial jurisdictions), all who have wrestled with this issue and are applying in in different ways.

Ironically, the victim (or surviving relatives) has little input on what actually happens to the felon. Again, the "crime" is against society, not the individual. If the individual (or surviving relatives) want private justice, that's a civil law issue for harm/damages due to the commission of a "tort." Remember OJ - acquitted in criminal court, but the loser in a tort claim in civil court for essentially the same action.



  #9  
Old 12-31-2007, 03:56 AM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

Good to see people posting about this issue.
  #10  
Old 12-31-2007, 04:31 AM
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Default Forgiveness

Taltarzac introduced the issue of forgiveness. That's an extremely important factor, but I left it unmentioned because I believe it has more to do with the personal response of victim to criminal than having anything to do with the criminal justice system.

In the case of our family, we very quickly forgave the man who beat and stomped our 85-year old Mother to death and then attempted to rape her while she lay mortally injured. I describe the crime with some hesitation, but it needs to be known in order to provide context for what I'm about to say about forgiveness.

To the person, our family quickly forgave the murderer and prayed that he would seek God's forgiveness and redemption for his crime. Why did we react that way? I can think of no reason other than because that's the way we were taught in Church as children. Jesus forgave his murderers from the cross and it seemed that's we had to do even in our time of grief. We knew that the murderer would face whatever penalty the Illinois courts would deem correct. But we also knew that if he did not confess his sins and seek God's forgiveness he would face an eternal penalty far worse than anything a judge or jury might consider. We prayed then and we pray now that he will seek God's forgiveness from his cell in prison. If he does, his sin can be forgiven and he can spend eternity in Heaven. If not, he will face the eternal agony of hell.

Having participated in the Illinois State Attorney's Victim's Assistance Program, I can tell you that those lessons we learned as children helped us deal with our loss far better than those who couldn't rid themselves of hate and malevolence against those that caused them to be victims.

But again, I firmly believe that forgiveness by the victim(s) and the criminal justice process are issues that may parallel one another but are not and should not be related.
  #11  
Old 01-05-2008, 09:20 PM
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Default Re: Forgiveness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Villages Kahuna
Taltarzac introduced the issue of forgiveness. That's an extremely important factor, but I left it unmentioned because I believe it has more to do with the personal response of victim to criminal than having anything to do with the criminal justice system.

In the case of our family, we very quickly forgave the man who beat and stomped our 85-year old Mother to death and then attempted to rape her while she lay mortally injured. I describe the crime with some hesitation, but it needs to be known in order to provide context for what I'm about to say about forgiveness.

To the person, our family quickly forgave the murderer and prayed that he would seek God's forgiveness and redemption for his crime. Why did we react that way? I can think of no reason other than because that's the way we were taught in Church as children. Jesus forgave his murderers from the cross and it seemed that's we had to do even in our time of grief. We knew that the murderer would face whatever penalty the Illinois courts would deem correct. But we also knew that if he did not confess his sins and seek God's forgiveness he would face an eternal penalty far worse than anything a judge or jury might consider. We prayed then and we pray now that he will seek God's forgiveness from his cell in prison. If he does, his sin can be forgiven and he can spend eternity in Heaven. If not, he will face the eternal agony of hell.

Having participated in the Illinois State Attorney's Victim's Assistance Program, I can tell you that those lessons we learned as children helped us deal with our loss far better than those who couldn't rid themselves of hate and malevolence against those that caused them to be victims.

But again, I firmly believe that forgiveness by the victim(s) and the criminal justice process are issues that may parallel one another but are not and should not be related.
That's very interesting Villages Kuhuna. Should not the victims have more of a say both in regard to harsher penalties for what was done to them as well as leniency if that is how the victims in each case see it? The problem though is that with a murder victim the family is left to deal with justice towards the victim as is the state. Family and friends of murder victims vary often in how they see the accused.

I would like to see more input from victims whether they take an Old Testament approach (an eye for an eye) to their defendants as well as if they take a more New Testament outlook (the Golden rule).

Arming victims with more say in the criminal justice (CJ) system would eventually put more checks and balances into the CJ system.
  #12  
Old 01-05-2008, 10:40 PM
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Default Victims Really Can't Have A Say

The laws broken by felons are laws established by society in the form of local, state or federal laws. The penalties for various offenses are also provided for in the legislation for the specific purpose of providing guidance to juries or judges in the sentencing phase of the process. That is done in order to provide for consistency in sentencing for like offenses. To permit the victim(s) to have any meaningful say in the sentencing of felons would result in wildly unequal and unfair sentences for similar crimes against society.

Often the state's attorneys will seek the input from the victim or victim's family in planning the prosecution. As an example, I was given the final say in whether the State would enter into a plea bargain with my Mother's murderer. Initially I was willing to consider a plea bargain, but I rejected the idea when it became clear that the defendant refused to admit his guilt and intended to use every strategy and ruse in the book, legal or illegal, in order to either avoid conviction or lessen his sentence. He did not earn my forgiveness in the context of the criminal justice process and so it was withdrawn.

But that did not alter my willingness to forgive him in a human or religious sense. Our family did forgive in that regard. But I must say that our forgiveness recognized that the continued refusal of the murderer to admit his guilt and seek God's forgiveness and redemption would still result in a more horrible eternal penalty than any that could be prescribed by worldly courts. We could forgive but still have the knowledge and confidence that the eternal destination of the murderer's soul would remain in God's hands, not ours or the State's.
  #13  
Old 01-05-2008, 10:51 PM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

Color me OLD for old testament
If you take a life before God does, then you need to give up your life also (eye for an eye)
Handie :joke:
  #14  
Old 01-06-2008, 02:04 PM
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Default Re: Death penalty.

I have no problem with the application of the death penalty on the guilty. I'd even volunteer to pull the switch on some of them. My problem is killing innocent people. If the state decides to charge you with a capital crime and you're poor, you're screwed. Guilt or innocence is secondary. If I can't be confident in our criminal justice system, I can't support the death penalty.
  #15  
Old 01-06-2008, 02:59 PM
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Default Re: Victims Really Can't Have A Say

Quote:
Originally Posted by Villages Kahuna
The laws broken by felons are laws established by society in the form of local, state or federal laws. The penalties for various offenses are also provided for in the legislation for the specific purpose of providing guidance to juries or judges in the sentencing phase of the process. That is done in order to provide for consistency in sentencing for like offenses. To permit the victim(s) to have any meaningful say in the sentencing of felons would result in wildly unequal and unfair sentences for similar crimes against society.

Often the state's attorneys will seek the input from the victim or victim's family in planning the prosecution. As an example, I was given the final say in whether the State would enter into a plea bargain with my Mother's murderer. Initially I was willing to consider a plea bargain, but I rejected the idea when it became clear that the defendant refused to admit his crime and intended to use every strategy and ruse in the book, legal or illegal, in order to either avoid conviction or lessen his sentence. He did not earn my forgiveness in the context of the criminal justice process and so it was withdrawn.

But that did not alter my willingness to forgive him in a human or religious sense. Our family did forgive in that regard. But I must say that our forgiveness recognized that the continued refusal of the murderer to admit his crime and seek God's forgiveness and redemption would still result in a more horrible eternal penalty than any that could be prescribed by worldly courts. We could forgive but still have the knowledge and confidence that the eternal destination of the murderer's soul would remain in his hands, not ours or the State's.
In a criminal justice system that works well, you do not need more checks and balances. Except that from the Columbia University death penalty report http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn.../deathpenalty/, it looked like judges and lawyers were not playing by the rules. If you have well informed and conscientious jurors as well as victims acting as players in the legal drama, then that should at least put more checks and balances into the system. That seemed to be something quite important to the Founding Fathers, the march of folly in human affairs needed a way to prevent people from yielding too much power.

While in law school, I was a student lawyer in Minnesota and was trying to do something for an infamous in MN inmate at Minnesota Correctional Facility Stillwater. This was something that could give the victims from his crime a bit of trouble (a name change), but the judge gave me a thorough chewing out for just submitting the papers for a name change request.

I believe that in MN as well as probably every other state in the US, the court that convicted the inmate or probationer would notify the victim quite soon about any name change made. Long before he or she got out of prison though.
 

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