Capital Punishment and Death Sentences

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by finrod, Dec 16, 2003.

  1. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    See, I don't get the whole revenge thing. It may not act as a deterrent, but it stops reoffending.

    To me it's not about revenge. It's about removing the absolute worst of the worst scum from society. Not jaywalkers or petty criminals. The really hardcore ones.
     
  2. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    but the hardcore ones don't just pop up out of nowhere. It's a system that makes them become what they are in the end.
    And the therefore failing system claims the right to "destroy" the bad results of itself, without working against what causes there are.
    (the word 'destroy' is partly sarcasm because we're talking about human lives and the results it has on their families etc)

    Look at it: What states still "use" capital punishment?
    Are those states "wellfare states"?
    Most are not.

    And I see a certain injustice in the thought that people are forced into becoming "monsters" and get punished for crimes they were likewise "forced" to commit.

    That, plus:
    - killing the murderer doesn't bring back the dead
    - killing the raper won't bring back innocence or heal any wounds
    - and killing an innocently convicted (which happens often enough) is far from any term of justice I ever heard of.
    - who gives a government the right to decide about death and life?
    - the effect is zero, since it doesn't prevent the crimes to happen but PROVOKES them
    - and locking criminals away stops reoffending as well.

    "It's about removing the absolute worst of the worst scum from society"
    ... and I seriously don't want to be asked how to define the "worst of the worst scum".
    How would you define the really hardcore ones, Mub?
    And would you ignore the causes that made those men to what they became?
     
  3. Alchemist

    Alchemist The Fighters Guide House Member

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    While sometimes the system will produce these types. I do not believe it is the contributing factor.
    how does a system produce the type of person who will rape and murder children?

    I would like to know how the system here caused a woman to pick up here children and then slice their throats? Cause that happened in a town not far from where I live.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  4. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    to explain that, I'd need to know how she lived and what her problem was.
    * when things happen of that the system does not approve it goes back to a failing socialization of one or more of the systems members

    Cases that are not caused from a system (=> the exceptions) are:
    -people with a psycho-chemical problem// people without a "normal" working brain (I'm not finding the right word)
    -relationship-dramas

    while in the first case neither the system nor the person itself can be spoken guilty, the second case only escalates when the first case plays a part in it as well- or when the socialization failed once again.


    Of course I know that the system can not totally prevent those things to happen, but it can help reduce possible causes, so that there won't be any effects.
     
  5. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't buy that. Yes that applies to instituionalised crims who've spent their life in the system, possibly due to bad choices and/or a terrible family situation from a young age.
    However jails are also full of people who decide to murder their husband/wife/boss/random person, with no prior history of violence.

    I'm sorry if I misunderstood, but are you saying that society's failings with rehabilitating offenders "forces" them to go on and commit further crimes?
    No way. Sorry, but bah humbug to that.

    It doesn't stop the bashings and rape that go on inside prisons. But that's prison in general, not just death row.
    Some crims who receive life sentences will never see daylight as a free person again. Why keep them alive? To what end? So they can die an old man or woman at the taxpayers' expense, after living like a caged animal for 50 years? I think that's more inhumane than just killing them (and repeat - this is only for the most hardcore crims, not general crims).

    If you care to read back on my posts, I've defined "worst of the worst" several times. Murderers, serial rapists, child molesters, serial killers, terrorists etc - 99% of society agrees on what "the worst of the worst" means.

    And sympathising with someone who had a rough life does not make their dead victim come back to life. Nor will that protect me from being their next victim.
    It didn't help that poor female social worker in my state who got held hostage and repeatedly raped at knifepoint by one of the prisoners she was trying to help.

    How long have humans been humans? Tens of thousands of years? How different do you think basic human nature is back in the years BC, and today? I'm guessing not much at all, if any.
    We may have cars and computers and planes and fibre optics, but human nature doesn't change. We can paint the thin veneer of civilisation over ourselves, but it doesn't take much to scrape that veneer off, and we're there in all our animalistic glory.

    I've seen graffiti on the walls of Pompeii, which was buried in volcanic ash in 69AD. Those 2000 year old humans wrote stuff like "John sells dodgy merchandise" and "Peter has hemorrhoids". People are people.

    So either you excuse all criminals for having some level of mental illness, or you say that the crime is worthy of punishment. Current law does allow for mental state to be a factor in sentencing and culpability, but sometimes people just do bad things.

    I'm a "normal" guy with no history of mental illness. If I were to go and shoot someone dead in cold blood, rape a woman, and burn a house down with a family inside it, what then? Many criminals haven't been "failed by the system", they just wanted to kill someone for revenge, or the insurance money.

    Convince me why I should go on living if I did all those things. What good does it do society to have me released in 25 years' time?
     
  6. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    It wasn't the "bad" system I was referring to but society as a system. When people decide to murder other people and actually DO it in the end, then they missed a rule that society tried to establish. I admit that there were moments when I pictured hurting someone, but I'd never do it (I hope) since I understood (and accepted) the general norm of not killing/hurting someone else.

    Someone once said that the people in (insert country) were peaceful until they started killing others. You never have a history of violence until your first act. And if the first act is killing someone then you understood the rule of society of not hurting others, but it didn't go deep enough and it wasn't a high enough priority for "you" // the trigger was too big to keep the rule in mind.


    In that part I referred to the "slum"-situations every society produces, where the rules and norms are not established as well as in the better parts of society.
    So society produces slums- slums produce members of society who do not learn to "accept" the rules society sets up- criminals are "born".
    And my personal believe is that some criminals can be rehabilitated and others can't because it's to late to "teach" them the rules of "our" society. And those others would then be the ones who continue to commit crimes because they know no better. It's their way to live, it's how the "society" know to them works.


    I don't get that. You say that some criminals earn the death penalty and then you pity them because they get bashed in prison?! (Not that I'm pro bashing and rape in prison- not at all)
    Prisons are islands of the "lower" parts of society in my opinion. There "our" rules don't apply (well they do officially but risoners don't really care I guess) and they continue to live the only life they've known in prison: law of the jungle/ might makes right etc.

    I guess that is simply a different point of view we two have.
    I am of the oppinion that humans do not have the right to decide over life and death.
    The criminal who kills someone does no have the right to decide about it and so the government does not have the right either.
    Imagine the criminal had a good cause to kills someone, e.g:
    Going-to-be criminal gets abused by the own father as a kid. Father keeps terrorising kid and later adult. At some point the adult decides it's time for a payback - and he only knows one way how to do it since he grew up in a surrounding of violence: He kills the father more or less intentionally. (Maybe he didn't plan on killing him, maybe he just wanted to make him taste his own medicine).
    The government of course says: You can't go around simply killing people. And since it was a very inhuman way of killing someone, it's death row for you, my dear.
    The criminal will see that as an injustice since noone punished his father for the "same" violence. It won't make any sense to the criminal, really.
    The system in that case only catches the effects of its not-working parts. (the murder of the father)
    Would it start working on the lower levels (trying to prevent child abuse etc) the murder would not have happened and the criminal would have been properly socialised.

    the taxpayers you mentioned are a whole different aspect. It's like saying: It's to expensive to keep those people alive, we'd rather spend the money on better government buildings.
    You measure money against human life- which (in my view again) is morally not justifyable.
    And within "my theory" paying for the caged in criminals would even make sense since society produces them and then it has to pay for them.

    Durkheim (I'm not sure if you're familiar with him, he was some french sociologist) stated the theory that sociaty always educates the next generation as it (society) needs it. So if society needs soldiers then the focus is on obedience of the child and not on how smart it is. And so on...
    According to Durkheim, the society still needs or at least accepts criminals because it still seems to produce them. If it didn't need criminals, then there wouldn't be "any".
    Provocative, isn't he?



    So going back to the example I gave above, if you were judge, you'd find the criminal guilty, did I get that right?
    He had a rough life etc, that's a pity for him, but he can't go around killing "others"...
    I get that point of view, I even understand it in some parts- but it a cartain way it's like calling the Massai barbarians, simply because a) we don't understand their culture and b) they don't know any "better".
    Sure we can't accept a criminal walking around in our society. But many have some form of "twisted" reasons beyond their deeds hat we may not find to be reasons at all- but that does not give "us" the right to take their life from them.

    Of course the rough background the criminal might or might not have had does not help the victims. But neither does the death of the criminal help either. At all, really.


    I don't disagree. But as long as we pretend to be "civilised" people, we should react to animalistic deeds with "civilised" consequences. Or we can just give up all the pretense and see who survives when the governments collapse. I'm certain I won't...
    "Fighting fire with fire" comes to mind, or "an eye for an eye"- and what did Ghandi say (or is it from Jesus originally, I have no clue) it turns the whole world blind.
    An eye for an eye: we'd have to keep killling the killers and raping the rapers and there'd only be one left who'd have to rape himself and then commit suicide.
    The other option of course would be, to not kill the killer. Then life could go on "normally"

    People don't just run around and think: "Oh now I'm gonna do a bad thing, I just feel like it." And if they think that then something went seriously wrong in their life earlier.
    That's the part of socialisation I'm talking about the whole time.

    Yeah but you don't go around and shoot somebody and that is the whole difference. There's something in you, that keeps you from shooting others for money etc. And I wonder if that something would be there if you'd grown up in the slums of I dunno... africa, where you had to steal and deceive and kill to survive.

    [/QUOTE]
    Convince me why I should go on living if I did all those things. What good does it do society to have me released in 25 years' time?[/QUOTE]
    Society might have made you see the "bad" in your actions and you MIGHT once again become a "valued" member of society. (member are important, because if no members, then no society)

    And on the other hand what good does it do to society to kill you? They wouldn't have to pay for you, right, but they'd give up their own values for which they judged you- and then there'd be no reason to judge you anymore.
     
  7. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    This is a bit of a weird example, because I doubt any prosecutor in this case would be asking for the death penalty. This would be a substantial mitigating factor in sentencing, and does not fit into most people's definition of "worst of the worst".




    Well yes obviously the killer did kill someone, that's unquestionable. However, with such major mitigating factor, the death penalty (or even a harsh sentence) would likely not be sought. So in the context of a debate about the death penalty, this example is kind of way off base.


    I strongly disagree.

    Sometimes people just snap. Look at road rage. That's not caused by daddy not going to your ballet recital or having a tough life. Sometimes "normal" people with "normal" lives, no mental illness, no appreciable hardships in life etc - sometimes these "normal" people commit horrible crimes. We see it in the news all the time these days. Someone can get killed for cutting someone off in traffic, and the killer is a 9 to 5 office worker, not a mentally ill closet serial killer.


    I will always believe that some things cannot be undone, nor should they be ignored. In those "worst of the worst" cases, removing the problem permanently to me makes simple logical sense, like cutting off a gangrenous limb. Of course cutting it off won't make your leg grow back, but you're not taking revenge on the problem. You're simply stopping it from ever doing any further harm. Gngrene cannot be reversed or rehabilitated, and neither cn certain hardcore criminals.
     
  8. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    Wait,
    Clarification: You'd give the guy out of my example a life sentence for example and sentence the 9 to 5 office worker who just "snapped" to death? That's how I understood it, so based on that I form my reply.

    - the guy out of my example is traumatized for life by what his father did to him. Everytime a situation that compares to his Trauma appears, he might be doing it again, taking revenge for something his father has done.

    - whereas the 9 to 5 office worker snapped once for god knows what reasons (stressed out, angry, I dunno what) and he doesn't get a chance to learn "snap-"control?
    That's a little unfair IMO
    The traumatized man is more dangerous to society than the 9 to 5 office worker (after he got help to control his rage)
    In fact however, both cases can be worked with. But the office worker has a higher chance of finding himself able to live a "normal" life again than the abused son.

    I agree that problems have to be "cut out" of society. We just have a different definition of "problem".
    You define the killer as the problem.
    I define the causes that led to the killing as the problem.

    It's that never ending cause-reaction circle. To prevent a reaction you have to prevent the cause, that is the result of a previous reaction. IMO you'd stop the circle by taking out the "reaction"-link in the chain- I'd start just one step before you and try to take out the "cause"-link- then there'd be less harm done and the death sentence would be unnecessary.
    If I got your point wrong, please correct me.


    About the "revenge" I brought into the discussion: It was leaned on the Mafia wars, vendetta etc. If you kill a member of Family A, Family A will kill you/ a member of your Family (B). B takes revenge in killing an A etc and it goes on and on and on- and most likely they will forget when and why the killings started.
    It has nothing to do with justice, it doesn't undo any harm, the dead don't come back to life only because another one is dead. And the criminal (= one of the various killers) does not learn any lesson (especially not if he's the next one dead) neither do the other participants notice, that killing someone is NOT the way to go.
    It's like that with the death penalty. The government imposes a rule: Don't killer. Never ever, no matter what happened, killing is bad, you'll be punished for that.
    And then it continues: The government however is allowed to kill "at will" (they just need a good lawyer or something like that, who knows how to be convincing)
    How then does the first part still apply? If you are to never ever kill, how come the government is allowed to kill? To simply break this most important of all rules?
    And where is the "role-model" function behind it?
     
  9. A Soul So Dark

    A Soul So Dark Advocatus Diaboli

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    I favour the old Saxon method whereby the perpetrator of a heinous act became an outlaw, i.e. outside the protection of society and subject to whatever punishment those who caught up with him chose to dole out. I'd adapt this so that the state played its role: from initial investigation to final prosecution the judicial system would have primacy. Upon conviction, however, the criminal would be handed over to the family of the victim and they would be free to exact whatever punishment they deemed fit without fear of legal comeback.
     
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  10. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    and what if the judicial system was wrong?
    Just ooops, or what? That would pick up on the revenge thing again, which most of us agree on, shouldn't be supported in a state.
     
  11. A Soul So Dark

    A Soul So Dark Advocatus Diaboli

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    Humans are fallible. There will always be 'ifs'. If we let that dictate our system of justice we'd never sentence anyone. I think it's probably a case of making the best of what we have until we invent a system above reproach. As to the matter of revenge, I'm not one of those who agree. The thirst for vengeance is ingrained in the human psyche. The only reason it's developed negative connotations is because for centuries the Church has been trying to convince us that humans exist outside the natural world. We don't. It's a basic animal instinct. Kick a goat up the arse and see what happens. It'll butt you. Like the need for sex and food, the basic urge to exact vengeance on those who have wronged us is hardwired into our brains, and no amount of moralising or intellectuallising can remove it. We are part of the animal kingdom, and suppressing our instincts won't make society any fairer or more 'civilised'. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a vengeful person. If anyone harmed me or mine I'd do my utmost to pay them back in kind, regardless of what the law says. Laws don't equal justice. They only exist to keep our society in a state of social equilibrium. Personally, I'm not willing to follow society's norms if they conflict with my own. I'm an individual. If I wanted to be an amorphous blob I'd join the Socialist Party.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  12. Utterly Unhinged

    Utterly Unhinged He knows you know.

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    Another classic. You should be on the stage.:D
     
  13. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    And there we seem to disagree as well. Animals have no instinct of revenge.
    The goat will eventually kick your butt because it defends itself.
    But once you killed one of her kids, it's not gonna sneak up on your kids to kill one of them. It'll try to protect the others or run to safe the own life.
    Animals do not have any instinct of revenge. They live on the take what you need if you can or die- principle. No room for social revenge behavior. Which humanity developed relatively late I guess.

    And for someone to be able to wrong you, you'll need to set up rules for what is right and what is wrong. Animals don't have that either. It's human all over again. Human morals and values is all that it is.
    Right and wrong are rules that we set up to be able to live with each other in those huge herds we have by now. If you don't abide them, you get kicked out of the community. Now that can be compared to animals: The rule is: run with the herd when the enemy shows up. If you don't run, noones gonna turn around to save your butt. You'll get eaten.
    Laws equal set up rules, they do not equal the ultimate "right". Made from humans for humans and as long as the large part of the herd agrees on them, you better stick to them or get eaten.
     
  14. A Soul So Dark

    A Soul So Dark Advocatus Diaboli

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    Not entirely true. From the New Scientist:

    Amid frequent reports of herds of elephants destroying African villages without apparent cause, some scientists are speculating elephants might be attacking humans in revenge for years of abuse, giving new meaning to the saying "elephants never forget," New Scientist magazine reported.

    Joyce Poole, from the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya, told New Scientist: "They are certainly intelligent enough and have good enough memories to take revenge. Wildlife managers may feel that it is easier to just shoot so-called 'problem' elephants than face people's wrath.

    "So an elephant is shot without (hunters) realizing the possible consequences on the remaining family members and the very real possibility of stimulating a cycle of violence."


    Again, it comes back to this Judeo-Christian concept that we exist apart from the animal world, that we're 'special' and subject to special laws and conditions. As for running with the herd, only the weak have anything to fear from the majority. It only takes one bloody nose to make the proles turn and run. Tyranny by majority is no better than tyranny by minority. Again I say: we are animals, and our desire to exact revenge is something we should neither be ashamed nor proud of, merely accepted as part of the natural order.
     
  15. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Running, yes I do think my "9 to 5 office worker" who snaps one day and kills someone for a road rage incident should go on trial for the death penalty. They took a life and (in this hypothetical example) it wasn't self defense. Things like that cannot be undone.

    No society in humanity's history that I know of has either eradicated crime, or even come close. Human nature means we will always do horrible things to each other. Whilst I believe we shoudl work hard to find cures for genuine mental illness and try new methods for rehabilitation, the current fact is that most systems don't work.
    Am I saying we should stop trying? Not at all.
    Am I saying we should just forgive and forget something like a rape or a murder? Hell no.
     
  16. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    I'm not for forgiving and forgetting either.
    I'm just against killing itself as well.
    I'm against the practical principle of "killing", you're against the defined crime "killing". I guess we're not gonna find neutral ground in this debate.
     
  17. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Not likely, but then where's the fun in that? :)
     
  18. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    yeah, and then again, I like winning better than a compromise.
    What's the saying? Being right is only fun when someone else is wrong! :D
     
  19. Window Bar

    Window Bar "We Read for Light"

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    Out of thirty-four pages of opinions, I admit there are a lot I haven't read... but just in case no one has signed in with this one, here goes....

    We live in a time of oppressive religion (Muslim jihadists, certain Christian fundies) who have no problem killing in the name of their deity du jour. We also live in a time of oppressive regimes that redefine crimes in whatever fashion suits them.

    Do we really wish to plant the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on capital punishment? It simply makes it more available as a tool of oppression.

    -- WB
     
  20. curunir's bane

    curunir's bane Kwisatch Haderach

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    Justice, i'm not trying to say that you are wrong. However, i'm trying to say that your point isn't as "black and white" as you make it out to be. This is one of the first issues that will come up in any ethics course: Should you kill one to save more than one person? You may find it to be an easy question to answer but not everyone feels the same way about it as you.

    Furthermore, I don't think your comparison between releasing a thousand criminals and not executing guilty murderers to be very fair. If a murderer isn't executed they are still kept in jail. This means that they aren't going to create any more victims. So if we stopped execution to prevent the killing of possible innocent prisoners I don't see how that is the same as releasing a crapload of criminals into the public. The people that we decide not to execute will still be in jail. And the prisoners who are innocent will also be in jail but they won't be executed. So I have to say I disagree with your philosophy on this matter and I don't believe it is an acurate description.
     
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