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Capital Punishment


I've brought up some pretty controversial topics in this forum and so far everyone has played nice. I hope this topic doesn't push the boundaries too far! Remember that everyone has their own opinions. If you disagree with some one, debate their opinion and don't attack the person. Ok, let's go!

What are your thoughts on capital punishment? How does your locality handle it? Just looking up a few places where I know folks to live:

Germany: not allowed under the current constitution adopted in 1949 (East Germany did allow the death penalty until 1987).

US: For a brief period in the 70s, the US supreme court found the death penalty to be unconstitutional. The punishment was quickly resumed a few years later with a slight change in trial procedures. Two phases were to take place - guilt-innocence phase and the sentencing phase.

Alabama, Tennessee and Texas all have the death penalty, Michigan does not.


[sign in to see URL] few years ago, my attitude about the whole thing changed during a conversation with a cousin. I was taken aback by his reasoning but now I've come around. People can debate the morality until they are blue in the face. There's the problem with executing innocent people, do the current methods fall under 'cruel and unusual punishment', who are we to decide who lives or dies, etc. Usually when someone has made up their minds about these things, it's hard to change them. But there's one argument that a lot of people overlook.

Money.

It costs a LOT more to sentence and execute a person than it does to house them in prison for the rest of their lives. California spends something like $60 million a year on it. Shouldn't that money be used elsewhere? Even if you think a person 'deserves' to be executed, doesn't something else (education, public transit, etc) 'deserve' that money more?

Seems a bit callous at first to boil down someone's life as to how much it costs and whether or not it's even worth killing them. But it has allowed me to step back from the sticky moral issues and see it in a new light. It's a waste of money in my opinion!

Thoughts?
10/23/2009, 5:23 pm Link to this post Send Email to TexasMadness   Send PM to TexasMadness
 
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Re: Capital Punishment


[sign in to see URL]'s look at another aspect of the money issue on this. If a prison is built to hold x amount of prisoners, and a third is housing lifetime inmates, eventually that third becomes a half, then more and more till new prisons have to be built to house prisoners. How is spending that money to build new prisons any different than spending it to put someone to death? I know that here in my town, an old K-Mart store was redone to become a new jail. That didn't take a great deal of money, but it took some none-the-less. But what of larger towns/cities that have to spend millions+ on building new prisons to house the displaced prisoners in the older prisons because those are full of lifetimers? And how many prisoners sentences are reduced because of lack of room to house prisoners? Yeah, it happens all over. You get a 30 year sentence and only have to do 10 years or less of it, simply due to room issues. You go on parole for the remainder of your sentence, which most criminals break and end right back in jail, creating an ongoing problem of housing.

Then, let's look at how your taxes are affected by the need to build new or add to prisons. Land/property taxes go up, in our [sign in to see URL] are looking at another hike in wheel tax for such things, gasoline taxes may go up, county, state, sales taxes all increase to make up. WE have to pay to house [sign in to see URL] state/county doesn't.
I would MUCH prefer that my taxes went toward education, roads, and such, but they go toward things like new jails, or additions to jails and such as that. I can see where you're coming from on the financial thing, but you really have to look at that from every side, not just the side of how much it costs to terminate the life of someone who terminated someone else's life versus keeping that killer in [sign in to see URL] [sign in to see URL] whatever the case may be.

I would rather know that person is off the streets permanently than worry about cost. That person could escape, and who's to say I'd not be their next target? About 3 months ago, less than half a mile from my home, a man was murdered in his home. Thankfully the 2 people who killed this gentleman were caught within 2 days of the killing and are serving time. They do not deserve to continue to live in MHO. The man that was [sign in to see URL] refused to give them some money earlier in the [sign in to see URL] the female half of the killer duo was a relative of the victim's. Granted, I probably had nothing to worry about from them as the killing was of a personal [sign in to see URL] what if they had to run, and chose to hide out here? I could have just as easily been a victim [sign in to see URL] my daughter or my husband. Because we live in a very rural area, with neighbors not very close by, no one would know for a while if something was wrong here. There have been other killers hiding out in this area, as well as prison escapees that have hidden out around here. We NEVER see cop cars out here unless they are searching for someone, or someone out here has called them for some type of vandalism (mailbox smashing, trash throwing, drunk driving, etc) or some such. Because we are not on a routine route for police (county) to patrol, anything could very easily happen here. I'm going into all of this simply to state that I prefer a killer to meet his/her demise in a prison environment rather than hope they stay put and don't escape and possibly cause another [sign in to see URL] of the monetary cost. The cost of a life can not be measured by money, in any shape, fashion or form.

For [sign in to see URL] be the [sign in to see URL] what you have to do to keep everyone safe from that killer/molester/rapist. That expense is nothing compared to the loss of a loved one at the hands of a [sign in to see URL] anyone can be the next victim.

As for how our area handles it, I'm not totally sure where death row inmates are sent when their time comes to be "ended". Around here, however, there are not many who are against capital punishment that I know of. It's the whole "Eye for an eye" thing for most.

The ONLY issue I have is if the evidence isn't to the point that it's pure and sure. If there is a question of guilt or [sign in to see URL] it looks like the person truly is innocent, then there is something wrong with the system if that person ends up imprisoned anyway.

I still stand by my [sign in to see URL] be [sign in to see URL] you kill someone, then you deserve as good as you gave.



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10/23/2009, 9:47 pm Link to this post Send Email to Saijen SilverWolf   Send PM to Saijen SilverWolf Yahoo
 
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Re: Capital Punishment


yes, the system is broken!

i dont even know where to start, most if not all of the points brought up here and by others in general have valid bases.

i would like to think outside the box for a min.

let is assume that we all agree that repete violent predator type offenders that show no remorse a subject to death. what we need to ask our selves is why do we have so many of these folks running around. is there a way to fix this?

i dont have the answer, but i do know i am disapointed daily by the actions an attitudes of people i meet. a totla lack of respect for others. a total lack of responsibility. and many other things, that make me feel the morality of the world is degrading at a rapid rate.

i think here in the US we have been far to lenient on criminals in training. you can get away with just about anything without significant punishment. it make the risk worth it to many folks. they just dont fear getting caught.

back to the question, i do think there are lines that when crossed, deserve death. but if we are going to execute people we need to stream-line the procedure. no need for a million appeals based on quasi-political law. appeals should be based on whether there is evidence the person is innocent, not on if an investigator hurt their feelings. it should not cost more to execute then to incarcerate for life.

there are not many criminals over the years that i have been ok with executing but there have been a few.

i think before we can tackle the capitol punishment issue we would be better served working on fixing the problem that allows people to degenerate to the point we want them dead.

just a few of my thought on the subject, hope i didnt ramble to bad
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Re: Capital Punishment


Huh, that is a difficult topic, especially with the money factor. As far as I know, the US has the highest "inmate population", partly because of the three-strikes rule that many states have passed (and are now repealing that prisons are getting overcrowded).

I can tell you a bit more about the situation in Germany. It's true there's no capital punishment here. It's also true that "for-life-sentences" usually end after about 25 years max.

However, there has been a law added that allows those sexual predators and serious repeat offenders to be locked away in therapy centers, really for life. I think that's a good idea, because it relies on expertises about the person's character, and isn't a blind and irrevocable process.

In East Germany, they used to execute people by gun-shot. The person would be given no warning at all, was sent into a room with the executor hiding behind the door and shooting the person in the back of the head. The argument for this was that it was quick and humane, with no prior stress. I'll leave that for you to decide.

I'm glad my country doesn't have capital punishment. At least it's possible to set someone free if they are proven innocent after all. And I still believe that even prison is the worst punishment for small offenders. Here, they are moving to offering them the choice of social work (usually hard work), which helps them to better themselves. In a prison, they just make contacts with worse people than themselves. Of course, there are some who'll never learn.

I think that prevention would be more helpful. Spending money in youth centers, getting people into therapy early, helping them get out of miserable lives - these things make a huge difference, and actually save a lot of money in the long run. That includes reducing the amount of prisons.

Ah, well. I'm rambling as well.

Last edited by Firlefanz, 10/26/2009, 8:28 am


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Re: Capital Punishment


Good points everyone!

Saijen, when they've done studies, they include ALL the costs of housing inmates for life compared to executing them. It still turns out to be far more expensive to execute - mainly because of court costs for the appeals.

But where would we be without the appeals process? I don't have any statistics but I wonder how many innocent people have been found guilty the first time around before some piece of evidence set them free? Maybe not many, but even ONE would make you want to keep the expensive appeals process in place.

Which brings up an argument I hear a lot. In Germany, if you are later found innocent, you can be released from prison and at least have the rest of your life back. Not so for a person in the States that has been executed. This is actually a hot debate in Texas right now. There is a huge controversy over the 2004 execution of Cameron Willingham, convicted of arson that resulted in the death of his own three young children. This year, it was brought to the public light that the Governor may have prevented new evidence from coming to a deciding committee on the case. Many people now believe Willingham was innocent and his wife not only suffered the tragic loss of her children but of her innocent husband as well. It's very sad.

I also think it's very appropriate to point out that we should be looking at solutions to PREVENT these sorts of things. Granted, you can stop everything. But there are escalating cases where earlier intervention could save people's lives - the victims and the criminals.

But for those entirely intractable cases where the person is truly "evil" (whatever you want to call it), it is such a hard situation. What do you do with them?
10/28/2009, 3:33 pm Link to this post Send Email to TexasMadness   Send PM to TexasMadness
 
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Re: Capital Punishment


I don't agree with capital punishment.
However, I do feel that if you murder someone you should give up all claims to human rights. In Scotland jail cells have sat TV, internet, playstations. Life sentence is ten years, but don't expect to get more than 6 or 8. You can be out in four if you are good or appeal that a jail sentence is against your human rights.

This has come about since we have joined Europe. The European Laws take precedence over our own, and they are strong on human rights... which I can respect. Most of Europe still has a strong racial memory of the Holocaust, be they the aggressors, the aggressed, or simply observers. I get that we can't let this happen again, but surely innocent victims have more rights (or as much rights) as the monsters who kill them.

The worst thing about being part of Europe is that our government has (in a democracy) never actually allowed us to vote on whether we want to be part of Europe. (I think they know the vote would be to stay separate. Britain sees itself as more American than European).

A life sentence should mean imprisonment until they die. That cost too much? Well, as I keep explaining to my five year old, it isn't a punishment if you like it. So no sat TV, no playstations, and put them to work. Building more prisons, hiring more prison guards would get the unemployed employed, helping to end the recession.

Put the guilty to work. Have them earn their prison keep by doing jobs that can be done in prison, like sorting mail or something.

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10/29/2009, 10:44 am Link to this post Send Email to Blitzen   Send PM to Blitzen
 
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Re: Capital Punishment


Blitzen, I think prison reform is LONG over due. The US has similar things too with giving prisoners a cushy life. I do think they should have to pay for their own stay in prison. Not the old chain gangs, but doing SOMETHING. Some prisons do it and I think it's the only way to go!
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Re: Capital Punishment


Truthfully I have no clue if I am for or against capital punishment.

It is harder for the wrong person to be excuted these days with DNA testing.

Why is the cost so high?

I have a friend she is a scarey woman she would gladly ecute 10 a week all in one day for $100 each by leathly injection (she's a RN) just as long as she can read the transcripts and agree. (yes, I think she has a god complex)

What bugs me most is if we are going to as a country excute people then we should make one change. We should offer these prisoners the option to donate their organs. Then at least it would serve a purpose. We can not force them or we would end up with people being killed just so some wealthly dude can save his immoral behind.

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Re: Capital Punishment


I think that when an individual is sentenced to prison, the prisoner should forfeit all "human rights" until their debt to society is paid in full. Once that is done and they are freed, they regain full human rights (except child predators).
That means no tv, no entertainment, no games.
I think they should bring back the chain gangs and make prisoners do all the dirty work most Americans don't want to do. 12hrs a day, six days a week.

When prison once again becomes a place of PUNISHMENT rather then a comfortable place to pass time....... that is when we'll finally see crime going down again.

Right now many people don't care about going to prison. Big deal. They get to watch their shows, play, free education if wanted, 3 meals a day, very little stress or worry.

I have some personal insight because my father served time twice (stupid petty offenses for which he deserved the time he got). He obviously didn't care about going back because it wasn't much of a deterrant.



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Re: Capital Punishment


The one thing I disagree with you on PC is about education. I do think prisons should provide free education. Most of the people in prison don't have access to education. But if you can teach them something that will help them get a (legal) job, then I think the reform part of prison has been fulfilled. I think there is a delicate balance between prison being a place for punishment and a place for reform.
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