June 24, 2010

Crime and Punishment

Can I ask you a personal question? I want you to level with me. Where do you guys come down on the death penalty?

I'm sure I've broached the subject before - I've been writing here for, like seven years and I'm not creative enough to avoid repetition. But I ask now because I got some interesting comments and email about the guy in Utah who was executed by firing squad last week. And that, of course, led to me wondering what you thought about it and the death penalty.

I grew up in Texas which I'm sure colored if not formed outright my opinions. When I was a kid, I took at least two trips to the Huntsville Prison Rodeo. The rodeo always had an edge to it. Probably because everything was performed by inmates who didn't much give a damn what happened to them. I mean, it was either that or trying not to drop soap. Huntsville is also where Texas' death row inmates go to die. It's a fact that's hard to forget when you visit. Since the death penalty was reinstated in the US in 1976, Texas has executed 459 at Huntsville. My current home - Virginia - comes in a distant second with 107 prisoners executed since '76. Nationwide, 1,215 people have been executed since 1976 and 3,287 people are current on death row.

Go ahead, open up the comments and tell me what you think. No opinions are wrong. You're entitled to them. No one - myself included - will think any less of you if we don't happen to agree.

(Yes, I did notice that I didn't exactly tell you where I came down on the death penalty argument. I did that for a reason.)

Posted by Chris at June 24, 2010 7:08 AM

I also grew up in Texas. I support the death penalty, more so now that I have children. I'm afraid if someone hurt or killed one of my children I would probably get to the bastard first.

Posted by: Texxla at June 24, 2010 7:13 AM

I've seen a lot of evidence suggesting we're unable to apply the death penalty fairly and consistently, and too many examples of executing people who were later exonerated for me to be comfortable with it. There's a lot suggesting that the ways we administer it are inherently flawed, very little to suggest it accomplishes anything in the form of deterrence. For me, the risk of executing even one innocent person is too great a risk.

Also, I think government-condoned death as punishment says something (and not a good something) about the government condoning it. I realize some people find the idea of an eye for an eye very satisfying, and I sort of understand the appeal at an emotional level, but I think in the case of state-condoned death it's barbaric. We're pretty much the only developed nation that practices capital punishment (it's prohibited by the laws of the EU, for example).

Posted by: pseudostoops at June 24, 2010 8:03 AM

I'm with pseudostoops. I don't deny there have been cases (none personal, which I admit does make a big difference) about which I've thought, "I don't like the death penalty, but sometimes it seems awfully satisfying."

I think that just demonstrates how unreliable we humans are, and how we shouldn't be in charge of deciding when someone else should die.

Posted by: Julie at June 24, 2010 8:13 AM

I think for truly horrific crimes, done by people who have re-offended, then yes. I do believe in the death penalty.

I have been the victim of a man who took the life of my daughter out of negligence due to being stoned and behind the wheel of a truck.
Do I think he deserves the death penalty for what he did.
He did not purposefully take her life.

However, for the man who takes the life of a child he has kidnapped and raped, etc, (like the little girl in Florida) then yes, I sure do think he deserves what he gets!
I think intent has a lot to do with it.
Here in New Hampshire, a policeman had been working in a community helping troubled teens. One night he came upon one of those teens, now a grown man, and the man shot him in the face and head and killed him, knowing full well who he was.
In that case, also, I think the death penalty is deserved.
As I said, it's all about intent.

Posted by: Maribeth at June 24, 2010 8:17 AM

I am firmly opposed to the death penalty for two primary reasons.

1. In my view, people aren't allowed to kill other people. Period. I know that it happens every day, but I don't believe that government-sanctioned murder is an appropriate response to that.

2. I believe there are fundamental flaws in the justice system that can result in unequal justice (differing punishments for a black man and a white man, for example) and the conviction of innocent people. While it is possible for these flaws to take place, no one should be put to death. Given that it seems impossible to completely eradicate these flaws, the death penalty should be eliminated.

As Julie said above, given that humans have a visceral reaction sometimes of, "That sick and evil freak needs to be killed as quickly as possible" is all the more reason to get rid of the death penalty. Anger is not a good foundation for instituting justice.

Posted by: Melody at June 24, 2010 8:31 AM

I have to echo Texxla -If someone ever did anything to my family, they wouldn't have to worry about a death penalty- So, aside from my momentary loss of sanity, reason and morals I am not exactly sure where I stand. I am not particularly religious, but if there is a hell; rapists, murderers, and otherwise heinous crimes deserve a special Hell-ier place. If a killing is unintentional or out of lack of judgement/impairment; I am not sure, I guess you have to assess each crime individually. We have a justice system for a reason; sure it is abused, but we should trust in it.

I guess I didn't really answer the question...but I will say this; I think it is bullshit that Utah's AG Tweeted it.

Source: http://www.geekosystem.com/utah-attorney-gardner-execution-twitter/

Posted by: Angelica at June 24, 2010 8:32 AM

In principal, I'm OK with the death penalty. In practice, I don't trust our government with that power.

Posted by: COD at June 24, 2010 8:42 AM

I grew up in Singapore. We have the death penalty, and I support it. It seems harsh, but I think it is effective in keeping murder rates low.

I live in Australia now. They don't have a death penalty. Crime rates are a lot higher.

= /

Posted by: Aurelia at June 24, 2010 9:11 AM

I am against it. Like everyone said, the state courts can't be trusted to do it right, and it's terrifying that innocent men have been executed. Also, having someone peacefully put to sleep on a gurney (or killed instantly with a bullet between the eyes, if you are in Utah) is not really vengeance for what they've done most likely, so how can it make victims' families feel any better? It certainly can't bring the loved one back.

Although I wonder how I'd feel if I lost someone I love. I like to think that I'd not think with this primitive eye for an eye part of my brain.

Posted by: Donna at June 24, 2010 9:13 AM

I agree with COD and the others that mentioned that there are too many flaws in our justice system for the death penalty to be a form of punishment. That being said, I also don't believe that our system rehabilitates or adequately punishes criminals. I think that if prison really were a lousy place to be (without cable TV, movies, weight rooms, etc.) prisoners wouldn't be so eager to return time and time again. They need to either be miserable places or true rehabilitation/education centers to be effective. Right now, the system just wastes our tax money on entertaining criminals and connecting them with other criminals to band with when they get out. All in all, it's a huge mess!

Posted by: Tara at June 24, 2010 9:18 AM

I think @pseudostoops articulated my thoughts exactly. I would like to add that not only are we the only developed nation that condones the death penalty, until 2002 we executed people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was also legal to execute juveniles until 2005. With the routine exoneration of people who were incarcerated on death row for up to 20 years it's obvious that the procedures for conviction in death penalty cases is deeply flawed.
As you can tell I am not a supporter.

Posted by: tulip at June 24, 2010 9:19 AM

We don't have the death penalty in my country (UK) anymore and I like that.
Yet whenever I read news articles about pedophiles, rapists and murderers getting such short jail sentences my voice will be among the others calling for the death sentence to come back. It's frustrating when I don't see justice served, but I wouldn't ever want us going back to the death penalty, I like to think we can be better than that.
There is a problem with not enough justice being served, but going back to the dark ages is no answer.

Posted by: Leah at June 24, 2010 9:29 AM

My only real beef with the death penalty is how proud certain people (i.e. Texans) are that it exists. There's no pride in retribution killing and death is only a punishment if you believe that this is all there is (which would sort of be a punishment in and of itself). Looked at this way, the death penalty is basically vengeance. A society that locks people up as a kind of solution to problems without any real focus on rehabilitation or forgiveness inevitably will move farther down the road to killing people as part of the original solution. The justice system is horribly flawed in too many ways to enumerate here, but it's a human institution, so flaws are expected. It's because of that human element that dealing death out like a punishment by judges and juries saddled with personal histories and emotions seems like a horrible idea. Horrible ideas are nothing to be proud of.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 24, 2010 9:43 AM

As a Scotsman my country does not allow the death penalty and I agree with that entirely.

I Don't think the death penalty overall is a good thing. That doesn't mean I don't believe there are people who don't deserve to be sentenced to death but as human being I believe we should not take another persons life. There are also far to many cases of people being jailed where we find out later they were innocent that the system is obviously flawed.

Posted by: Steven at June 24, 2010 9:49 AM

Well I think it is way more complicated than just "Eye for an Eye". I used to think it was that cut and dry. But then many years ago I happened to find myself in a position of actually knowing a man (boy!) and his family who brutality murdered 3 people who I also was acquainted with and their family. I remember seeing them all in court, this 18 year old boy had been sentenced to death and it was horrible, it was then that I realized his acts caused so much pain to so many people not just the 3 he killed but their family along with his own. I wonder is it ok to perpetuate that pain further by killing again? I understood (understand) the victims and their families, but I could also empathize with the boys family and their loss. I guess what I am saying is that I truly don't know what is right and when I don't know I usually lean to the side of caution.

Posted by: Regina at June 24, 2010 10:05 AM

I am opposed to the death penalty for a few reasons:
1. I think our justice system is not always fair, and the more money you have the more likely you are to get off. I live in NC and in the last 2 years we have had at least 3 death row cases overturned - based on DNA evidence where the technology was not available before. And one recent case (not death row) involved a woman who was raped who was sure that she identified the right man but was later proven wrong with DNA evidence and now they (the man she first accused) are friends and give talks (I think about forgiveness and how people in trauma situations often make mistakes iding someone).
2. The death penalty is very expensive to execute (no pun intended) with all of the appeals required. I think life in prison may be a harsher punishment. Though sometimes I do question myself when there is a particularly heinous crime - like a serial killer or someone who harms/kills children.

Posted by: beth anne at June 24, 2010 10:07 AM

Nope, not a supporter. My reasons aren't as black and white as many people, I just think there are too many people in prison who are innocent, and the thought of executing one of them is just sickening and I don't want any part of that.

Also, I really don't understand the spectacle of the execution. The witnesses and the press and all. If we're executing someone because their crime is so heinous that they can't be rehabilitated, what's the point of all the media? Do it quietly.

Posted by: Candy at June 24, 2010 10:14 AM

I am not sure of my opinion. I used to say I was all for it.

Then I read about how heinous it is and not very quick at all. Not to mention some media may have influenced me.

However, I do have kids and I think that if anything ever happened to them, I would want that person to pay the ultimate price.

But on the other hand, how can I condone killing, in any way shape or form, since it is so wrong?

In conclusion, I am confused and have no "set in stone" opinion.

This is a very touchy subject and one that is hard to defend either side.

Posted by: debb at June 24, 2010 10:56 AM

I can't say I haven't had moments when I have thought that the death penalty is just in some cases. I believe that is an emotional reaction to some of the horrid things the animals who have been convicted and sentenced to death have done.

But I don't agree with it. It hasn't proven a deterrent. And our justice system is not a flawless system...there are those who are sentenced to jail/prison/death that didn't do the crime.

I'm not necessarily happy to pay to keep these animals alive, and I think that they shouldn't be allowed some of the privileges that prisoners are given (if I ran prisons, sure, I'd feed them and clothe them and give them shelter, but that would be about it. I'm not talking torture, but I sure wouldn't want them comfortable nor would I want them not thinking every minute of every day that they wish they were some where else).

I guess I just don't want to stoop to the same level as the animals that are sentenced to death. It doesn't bring back the people they killed.

Posted by: cyndy at June 24, 2010 10:58 AM

I've done some research on the death penalty and I don't support it - not that it matters as it's not legal in Canada anyway. But my reasons are multiple. First, innocent people have been executed. No one likes to talk about it but it happens. Once someone is dead, that's that. It does happen. Second, there is A LOT of doubt as to whether lethal injection is actually as "humane" as people have been told. I read a lot of information regarding executions gone wrong. Third, the death penalty has not been proven to work as a deterrent. Fourth, is my personal feeling that it is wrong to kill someone, regardless of what they have done. I understand that many people feel differently and certainly those who have suffered at the hands of a violent criminal or had someone they love hurt are entitled to their feelings. But I think it is the government's job to keep people from acting on their emotions and rather to make careful choices based on the best information available, and not on our personal desire for revenge.

Posted by: Shannon at June 24, 2010 10:59 AM

I'm not really sure.

How's that for being noncommittal?

I think there are some people who TRULY deserve to die - for example, the Timothy McVeighs of the world - but I often wonder if there is too much question as to someone's guilt or innocence that it's just such a slippery slope.

I guess where I get torn is that tax dollars are used to support prisoners or the cost of imprisonment (I tried to google it but the range was pretty great, so it's probably that I don't really know specifically what I'm looking for - but I've seen quotes from $20,000 per year to $175,000 per year) on death row.

When I think of all the programs that could be funded with the money used to keep these prisoners alive - people who showed no respect for others and their lives, people who callously killed others, did very bad things to children, who left nothing but mass destruction in their wake...

I guess part of me wishes the cost of maintaining life in prison for these people wasn't so high - that money could be spent enriching the lives of others in poverty or who are sick - versus keeping someone alive for however many years they hold on.

And I'm not comfortable with my way of thinking, not entirely.

Posted by: Sarah at June 24, 2010 11:09 AM

I'm torn. I've written papers for and against on it in college.

I'm kind of an eye-for-an-eye guy, but at the same time it is so very immoral and arrogant of us to think we have the right to detain and kill someone legally.

I guess in cases where the guy is found fucking dead bodies in his house, I'd go right for a bullet to the head and skip the paperwork. For everything else I'd say the death penalty is stupid and of an older generation.

Posted by: Brad at June 24, 2010 11:11 AM

I personally know 2 people who were killed by monsters. One was the mother of a friend, abducted and killed by a spree killer in 1984 - her name was Carolyn J. Hedrick and she had 3 children. Her killer was executed. The other, David Scott Gwaltney, was a 13 year old child from my neighborhood. He was abducted walking to another friend's house on a June afternoon in 1983, sexually assaulted and strangled with his own sock. It took 16 years and a cold-case DNA hit to catch his killer- in prison on another rape, who said the sex was consensual and that the victim paid for it. His killer still sits in prison. I have no doubt that if he gets out, he'll re-offend. I have no problem with the death penalty for cases like these.

Posted by: Sue R at June 24, 2010 11:34 AM

Against, for practical rather than humane reasons. It's too expensive. It makes murderers of us all, or at least those who carry out the sentence. And, really, it's too easy for the people who earn it. I don't think those in jail should be subjected to a tortured existence, but it should be hard and they should earn their keep behind bars.

Posted by: Kate M at June 24, 2010 11:45 AM

I've done research for a journalism class...and here are my thoughts, both researched and personal opinion:

1. it is actually cheaper to keep someone on death row than to kill them...all costs considered.

2. If you kill someone for killing another person, where does that leave you? How does that make you any better than the person you killed? I don't think state-sanctioned makes it OK.

3. We are the only developed country that still has the death penalty...so how developed are we?

4. Are we able to be 100% accurate in our findings? If not, then the state should not condone it until we are able to be certain that the state is not killing innocent people.

Posted by: Krush at June 24, 2010 11:46 AM

You know, I'm not really well-informed about the whole death penalty thing, but generally, I'm not a fan. Being a Christian (I was recently informed by both my atheist husband and my really Christian friend that I am not "religious", and that is a compliment I guess), I believe people who do bad things or cut me off in traffic will get theirs, so I don't need my state to execute them. I have also been told it costs more to execute someone than it does to keep him in prison for the rest of his life, so it makes sense not to execute people.

Posted by: Brooke at June 24, 2010 12:04 PM

ooh, i can go around and around on this one in my head. i can tell you right now if anyone did anything to my kids i could kill them myself, so i would technically be all for the death penalty instead of "making them live for years thinking about what they've done" in one of our cush prisons, where they have better lives than a large majority of our poor population. is it right and would it make things better? maybe not, but some people do NOT deserve to live. but as it stands, with the death penalty costing tax payers more than life in prison and years of agonizing appeals and so on, i can NOT get behind that. my head says our justice system is the way it is to make sure innocent people are not executed. my heart says do it like they do in china. those guys that went into schools and hacked up children were executed within days/weeks. done. *washes hands*

Posted by: kati at June 24, 2010 12:21 PM

I am against it. The legal system is flawed and the chance that someone is wrongly executed is very real. It actually costs more 9because of appeals, etc) to execute someone than it does to keep them in prison. Besides, I don't think anyone has the right to take anyone elses life for ANY reason. period.
Personally, I'd rather see the Jeffrey Dahmer's of the world used for research and testing - and then they could leave the innocent animals out of it.

Posted by: LaineyDid at June 24, 2010 12:22 PM

I am vehemently anti-death penalty. Vehemently. I don't trust the government to properly oversee the financial industry. Why should I trust them to decide who lives and who dies? It's just a matter of time before there is conclusive evidence that an innocent person has been executed.

Posted by: Hope at June 24, 2010 12:23 PM

do the crime, do the "time", if its death hope you made peace with your creator or yourself whatever you believe. I know mistakes can happen, thats why we have a very long drawn out appeals process. child molesters should be publicly executed, IMHO.

Posted by: linda at June 24, 2010 12:25 PM

As long as human beings are the ones arresting, processing crime scenes, prosecuting, defending, adjudicating and sentencing, the system will always be inherently flawed. Mistakes will be made and without question the innocent and the mentally ill will die. One only has to look at the number of death row inmates exonerated with DNA evidence to understand that errors are commonplace.

In my opinion, capital punishment is barbaric and doesn't belong in any civilized society.

Posted by: Wackado at June 24, 2010 12:31 PM

I just finished reading a book that touched on this issue (briefly). The book didn't change my opinion, but did offer some good philosophy on the matter. (The book is _In Praise of Doubt_ by Berger and Zijderveld.)

I am against the death penalty mostly for the reasons other people have given. Coming from Illinois (land of corruption, apparently), the permanentness of killing someone who might possibly be innocent, even if that possibility is 1%, is a real possibility and just terrible.

The book pointed out that not only are we the only developed nation with the death penalty, and that the UN condones the practice, that enacting the death penalty, regardless of reason, is an assault on human dignity. (I think you could use that for either side of the argument, now that I say it.)

Plus, I think life in prison with no chance of parole, ever, is punishment enough. Even if it's cushy, it's still prison. You're still not free. You can never freely go anywhere or do anything outside of those prison walls. That, to me, sucks, and is a deterrent.

Posted by: Kelly at June 24, 2010 1:55 PM

Against. In France, death penalty was abolished in 1981, and that is one of the rare things I am proud for being French about. I completely agree with Melody. I think death penalty is barbaric. This is the 21st century, not the Middle Ages.

Posted by: viviane at June 24, 2010 2:02 PM

I am also vehemently opposed to the death penalty. I think most of the previous commenters hit on the main reasons why I am opposed (the miscarriage of justice in putting innocent people to death being the main one for me). But, there are a few more:

1. There is way too much bias in the handing down of a death sentence. African Americans and indigent people are much more likely to be sentenced to death than other groups.

2. The death penalty is not a deterrence. There are numerous studies that have shown this time and time again. What is the purpose of the death penalty if not to deter crime? Nothing but pure vengeance. Which to me sounds like a really crappy reason to kill someone.

Posted by: Jennifer at June 24, 2010 2:29 PM

I support the death penalty. If someone is deemed dangerous enough for life without parole, why should we pay to take care of them? They did things to hurt people. Granted, I'm not God and it's not my place to judge.... I think the firing squad is a bit barbaric, but that's just me....

Posted by: Rose @Dozenroses13 at June 24, 2010 3:03 PM

Serial killers,repeat child molesters, a one-time offender who took pleasure in victim torture, those judged criminally insane, sociopaths, mass-murderers... .
I do support the death penalty and I don't care to be financially supporting certain people for life.

But hardly any situation is cut perfectly down the middle.

Posted by: Karen at June 24, 2010 3:04 PM

I don't agree with it and am glad to live in a country where it is illegal. A person who has committed a crime should have their freedom taken away as a punishment, but not their life, look at all the times they've got it wrong.

That's not to say there haven't been some cases that have really tried this belief.

Posted by: Katherine at June 24, 2010 3:05 PM

I'm against it. I don't deny that as a parent, when I think of someone doing horrendous things to my kids I'd likely want to kill the person, but I don't believe our country should use killing as a punishment. And that doesn't even get into the reality that we kill inmates who were not guilty of the crime for which they die.... (And don't even ask about prison terms for drug possession /use! what a waste of time/resources/lives!!)

Posted by: pvz at June 24, 2010 3:14 PM

Chris! I didn't see how I could just e-mail you directly, but I thought you would get a kick out of this http://epicwinftw.com/2010/06/23/awesome-photos-read-on-the-go/#comments

It made me think of you!

Posted by: Sara at June 24, 2010 3:32 PM

I'm a hypocrite. I can sit at my keyboard and say "Yes, kill them." But if I had to be the one to press the button; to look them in the eye, their family, and know that I was snuffing out their life and taking this person out of so many other people's lives, I wouldn't do it. I would feel that it would be the greater injustice to remove them, their potential for redemption, and the influence that they could still have on the world. Now that's not too say that if I was the one who was wronged I would be strong enough to not push the button, but it would haunt me.

Posted by: metawizard at June 24, 2010 3:44 PM

dead set against it. quite simply stated: how can any person kill a person because this person has killed a person.
the logic of the death penalty escapes me.

and why is attempted murder punished less. they should add a few years for having screwed up:)

Posted by: tineke at June 24, 2010 4:05 PM

I'm afraid if I get started, I'll write a book.

1. I sincerely believe it's morally wrong.
2. It's unevenly administered (I could write a book on that too).
2 (a) Money makes a difference. So does race and to some extent gender. And so does venue (see Texas).
3. Life without parole is sufficient and probably cheaper than the huge expense of trials and subsequent appeals.
4. Mistakes can be rectified with a life sentence but hard to do after we've killed someone.
5. I look at it as vengeance rather than justice.
6. It doesn't bring one single person back from the dead.
7. There seems to be a macabre enjoyment that attends executions. People used to use a hanging in the town square as a holiday and that mindset hasn't changed a whole lot if you look at the crowds outside our San Quentin.

8/25 You get the idea.

All that being said, it's not always easy to hold on to my convictions. Some cases are horrid beyond belief and my initial reaction is anger. I decided I couldn't pick and choose when a beloved nephew was killed years ago even though my first impulse was "kill the sob" or to flip the switch myself. I chose to stand on my own moral values. Self defense or defense of another? Absolutely. Capital punishment? No.

Posted by: Ann Elizabeth Adams at June 24, 2010 5:50 PM

The death penalty is a just and appropriate sanction and it saves additional innocent lives.


"Death Penalty Support: Religious and Secular Scholars"

"The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"


The false innocence claims by anti death penalty activists are legendary. Some examples:

"The Innocent Executed: Deception & Death Penalty Opponents"

The 130 (now 139) death row "innocents" scam

"A Death Penalty Red Herring: The Inanity and Hypocrisy of Perfection", Lester Jackson Ph.D.,

"Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown", A Collection of Articles


All prospects of a negative outcome deter some. It is a truism. The death penalty, the most severe of criminal sanctions, is the least likely of all criminal sanctions to violate that truism.

25 recent studies finding for deterrence, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation,

"Deterrence and the Death Penalty: A Reply to Radelet and Lacock"

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"

Posted by: Dudley Sharp at June 24, 2010 6:39 PM

I am against the death penalty. There are people who have done things so horrific that I may wish they were dead, but I think when the state kills people it drags us all down to the level of the horrific.

Posted by: Lisa V at June 24, 2010 6:43 PM

I am against the current standards for enforcing it. If you have committed and extremely violent crime and it can be proven scientifically, I really don't care what happens to you as long as society is done with you one way or another. My problem is that it is generally more expensive to put a prisoner to death than it is to put them away for life (based on research for a paper I did many years ago, but I can't imagine correctional spending has been rehabilitated). With the multiple appeals process and such, death row inmates are pricey. I would rather spend my tax dollars on giving our educational and social services (this is not a welfare-state argument, I mean training programs for parents and mentors) a chance to create as many responsible, non-violent adults as possible.

Posted by: Melissa at June 24, 2010 7:43 PM

I'm anti-death penalty - only because I think it's a way out. A person who has committed a crime punishable by death should have to sit and think about what they did for the rest of their natural life. They should suffer. In that way, I also think that our prison system is WAY too cushy. These individuals should be made to live in the most bare minimum of standards. No TV, cable, etc. It's too much like a hotel.

Just my thoughts.

Posted by: Melissa at June 24, 2010 7:58 PM

I not only support the death penalty, I don't think it's used often enough. I think there are crimes for which the death penalty should be an option. I think life in prison without parole is a more cruel punishment than a quick and painless death, and it uses resources that shouldn't be spent on people with no hope for a return to society.

Posted by: Becky at June 24, 2010 9:56 PM

Against only because it gives the person an out. I realized how completely against it I am when Susan Smith was being tried. I thought a fitting punishment was her spending the rest of her life in a room surrounded by pictures of her sons taken during happy times and after their death.

Posted by: Dee at June 24, 2010 9:58 PM

When I am level-headed I am against it for four reasons: 1) the convicted may be innocent after all; 2) it's more expensive to the taxpayers than to sentence to life w/o parole; 3) studies show the incidence of violent crime escalating to murder decreases when death is not a punishment concern; and 4) it takes away the felon's chance at redemption.

That said, when I am emotional, such as when I first find out about a heinous crime, I want the perpretrator dead. Now. In the most horrific way possible. By liquid fire. Slowly. No excuses. Kind of like how I feel about the people behind 9/11. Them, I could kill. And rescuscitate. And kill again. Laughing.

But I'd also change all prisons so convicts stay in 5'W x 10'L x 8'H single-occupancy cells with built-in shelf beds and one window for 23 hours a day, regardless of the crime. Also no direct contact with one another other than in very restrictive settings, if they earn the right with good behavior. But they'd also get access to education, if they were so inclined.

Kind if like a sci-fi prison. Ish.

Posted by: la isla d'lisa at June 24, 2010 11:09 PM

In principle, I am against the death penalty. I do not believe that as humans, we have the right to take the life of another.

I can see where one might see exceptions for 'really bad people that did really bad things', but based on my principle, I remain against it, even in situations where I might even believe that someone deserves to die. I just don't think that I have the right, or that anyone has the right, to decide.

Posted by: at June 24, 2010 11:13 PM

I can remember my father saying, when I was a child, "The problem with the death penalty is: there are mistakes."

I have the unique experience of personally knowing someone who was put to death in Alabama. A guy I graduated HS with was once a decorated firefighter but went off the deep end in regard to an estranged wife & son. He broke a restraining order, was arrested, broke out of jail, and killed a cop. It was that last thing that landed him on death row.

I knew that he was on death row. Then one morning, I was driving to work listening to NPR, as I did every morning, and they reported that Mario Centobi had been put to death on the electric chair in Alabama at midnight.

My HS in Mississippi was pretty small. Mario sat behind me in Algebra II my junior year. He was mostly a class clown. The winter after I graduated, Mario was the first person I ever smoked pot with. We weren't close. We weren't good friends. But in a town that small, you have stories about everyone.

Does it bother me that Mario was executed? IDK. I find it sad. A life wasted. It's not about taxes and the cost to keep them and three squares a day. It's not turn the other cheek or an eye for an eye. It just is what it is. A lot of people from my class are gone. His is just one of the more colorful stories.

That being said, I stand behind this adage: People who hurt children should get life in prison. People who hurt their own children should get the death penalty.

Posted by: Kalisa at June 24, 2010 11:17 PM

I am against it for many of the usual reasons: it's wrong to kill to show that killing is wrong, mistakes are made, etc. But the reason that really speaks to me is that when you cut someone's life short you rob them of the opportunity to repent and try to apologize and make amends. If not to people, then in a spiritual capacity.

Posted by: lorien at June 25, 2010 12:52 AM

I think that if a criminal is so bad that it comes down to the "death penalty"...I'm for it...definitely. There are truly some real "sicko's" out there! So yeah...I do think that the crime has to be pretty heinous before I'd say "go for it"...

When I was in college (taking criminology courses) and asked to write an essay on my thoughts on the "death penalty"....I received a "below average" mark...why?...because the instructor was not on the same "wave length" as I...he had his opinion and he didn't agree with mine. I guess you had to "agree" with the teacher if you wanted to pass the class.

Thanks for being "non-judgemental".

Posted by: Lujza at June 25, 2010 1:03 AM

I live in Utah. I think most people here who have heard this guy's story would agree he deserved what he got. I also understand that the guy was given the choice to die by lethal injection or firing squad. He chose the firing squad because he felt that was the right thing to do... let that one roll around in your head for a minute.

I think anytime a life is taken by someone else it is a tragedy. And the death penalty is just a perpetuation of that tragedy. Where should it end? Who really has the right to decide if live or die no matter what I do?

It's a reflection of a society who just wants the easy way out. It's easy to say "that person is 'evil' so put him/her to death." The real challenge is finding the alternative. Prison won't help... but what will?

Posted by: scott at June 25, 2010 1:27 AM

I honestly don't know where I stand on this one. I really think the death penalty is more for the people who wronged then for the criminal themself. They are either going to make their own life a hell living with the remorse of what they did, or they are just not going to care one way or the other- so what does it matter if they die?

Posted by: Debra at June 25, 2010 3:43 AM

I'm for it in cases of child molesters. Shoot them right in the genitals, no questions asked. In other cases, I'm not sure. I tend to think that murderers deserve life in prison so they have to live with what they did. But child molesters? Kill em.

Posted by: Stephanie at June 25, 2010 7:00 AM

I'm late to the party...how did I miss this yesterday?!

I am torn on this one and have been for a long time. There are some criminals that I believe TRULY deserve to die. But, who are we to make that decision? I feel like giving someone the death penalty is giving them an "easy out". I think they should rot in jail and have to remember on a daily basis what they did to put themselves there. However, I don't think that would affect a lot of these criminals, because they don't have a conscience. I've always had issue with spanking your children for hitting, what kind of lesson is that? So that's similar to killing someone for killing someone. But....death by firing squad? I realize that this is what the inmate chose, but it just seems so damn barbaric.

Posted by: js at June 25, 2010 8:43 PM

I really feel like some people truly deserve the death penalty, especially those who hurt children or serial killers and the appalling things some people do...but, partly because I want it so badly, that I feel this passionate anger towards them, where I know that my own humanity is complicating the equation. It's sort of like, when I think, "Wow, I really NEED a drink!" and then I know that I'm not allowed, yknow? My need for revenge colours my decision and I know I'm not sufficiently impartial for justice. Also, I think life in prison would be a greater punishment - as well as being less expensive!

Posted by: Heather at June 26, 2010 4:16 AM

Set your life more simple take the mortgage loans and everything you want.

Posted by: Ball29Amparo at June 15, 2011 10:56 AM