Why We Need to Save the Death Penalty and Two Suggestions as to How

 

shutterstock_307561823Pope Francis’s visit to the United States brought a tide of stories not directly associated with his address to Congress, but one matter he did discuss — and subsequently followed-up on — seems to have slipped past with little discussion. To wit, Francis found time between his surreptitious visit with Kim Davis and various other activities to have a curious letter be written on his behalf to a Georgia parole board requesting clemency to one Kelly Gissendaner, who had been sentenced to death for her involvement with the murder of her husband in 1997 by her lover. Regardless, Gissendaner was executed on Wednesday after various appeals were denied.

The pope’s position on the death penalty is, at the very minimum, consistent with his position on abortion. But foolish consistency can be the hobgoblin of small minds. It’s one thing to be consistent, but it’s another thing entirely to be morally consistent. That’s where my position on the death penalty comes in. It seems appropriate to draw distinctions between the taking of innocent versus guilty life.

Our system of criminal justice — and, thus, our use of the death penalty — is based upon retributive justice. This is distinct from “revenge,” which has a connotation of arbitrariness, disproportion, and emotionality. Under retributive justice, we punish wrongdoers in a fashion meant to be in proportion to their offense. In the case of property crime, offenders will frequently be imprisoned for some period of time in proportion to the severity of the damage suffered by their victims and, in some cases, face a financial penalty. In the case of murder, it should be obvious that nothing could replace that which was taken. What financial sum could replace a life? What term in prison could serve as just retribution equal to another person’s value to society? The answer, of course, is none but we attempt to do so by imprisoning people for the remainder of their natural life without the possibility of parole.

There are certain situations where this may be appropriate, but it is morally insufficient, nonetheless. Justice demands that the perpetrator should be made to surrender his life in recompense for his theft of another’s life. This is why we need the death penalty. Not because killing murderers will restore to life those whom they’ve taken, but because it’s the closest we can humanly get to extracting a measure of justice equal to the crime. It is also why we need to reform the death penalty so that it can be applied both with greater frequency and with an eye towards increased justice.

There are varying degrees of murder ranging from those committed in a “heat of passion” all the way up to deeply premeditated, cold-blooded slayings, and mass-murders too heinous for morally normal people to contemplate. The case of Kelly Gissendaner falls neatly into the second category. It’s also a case of where the death penalty is seen as being applied unequally.

The moral case for executing Gissendaner is fairly simple: even though she did not directly carry out the deed of murdering her husband (she left this to her lover; we’ll get to this in a minute) it is arguable that she used another person as the murder weapon. Further, she could have prevented the murder at any time merely by revealing the conspiracy but chose to allow it to be carried out with complete malice aforethought and in full understanding of the penalties that might accrue to her. Compounding the felony is the fact that the victim was her husband, with whom she had several children. This reveals in Gissendaner a sort of moral turpitude, remorselessness, and contempt for society’s standards that should merit death as punishment for her actions on their own.

(The complication in this situation is the fact that Scott Owen, Gissendaner’s lover and accomplice, actually carried out the killing and will be eligible for parole. There are good reasons for this apparent injustice. Prosecutors offered both perpetrators plea bargains that would have spared them the death penalty. Owen accepted the deal, and rolled over on Gissendaner who was subsequently convicted and sentenced to death.)

Critics of the death penalty cite several reasons for wanting to do away with it. None (save one, in my estimation) are sufficient to justify its abolition. The arguments range from the moral (the state shouldn’t kill people) to economic (the death penalty is expensive) to the practical (you can’t un-kill people whom you’ve erroneously put to death.)

The first two arguments are sophistry. The same people who are opposed to the death penalty on so-called moral grounds probably have no issue with police officers carrying guns which they could use to kill people in the process of apprehending them. Barring genuine pacifism — an inherently immoral position that relies upon the assumption of other people doing violence in one’s stead — they likely support state power used to kill people on a scale that eclipses by orders of magnitude potential deaths by execution. Many such deaths are even less justifiable than execution, being as they are frequently the result of accidents. But we live in a world run by flawed human beings and we understand that (lamentable though they are) mistakes are inevitable and we don’t throw up our hands and give up on the whole system as a result.

The second argument, regarding expense, is both laughable in comparison to the gravity of the first objection, and deeply ironic, as the very people calling attention to it are those most responsible for its existence. Their complaints are akin to a child who killed his parents pleading for amnesty on the grounds of his being an orphan. If these people were being honest brokers, they would be looking for ways to streamline capital punishment. Their argument isn’t even effectively against capital punishment, so much as the legal system itself.

That leaves us with the most persuasive argument in my mind: that you can’t unkill people who might later be exonerated. Obviously, the unjust killing of a person by the state — intentional or not — is a grave concern and something that needs to be avoided. Which brings us to how the death penalty ought to be reformed.

There are certain, high profile cases where the use of the death penalty is hard (in my estimation) not to justify. The case of James Holmes — who murdered 12 in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 — bears examination. There was never any doubt as to whether Holmes had committed the murders. Indeed, his defense team never even attempted to assert that he was innocent; their defense rested solely upon the concept that the defendant was so mentally unhinged that he was incapable of telling right from wrong. The prosecutor, District Attorney George Brauchler, had the option of offering Holmes’ defense team a plea bargain involving life without parole in exchange for a guilty plea but, in the interest of justice, he sought capital murder charges.

We all know how this turned out. Holmes was convicted of capital murder on all counts, along with various other assault and weapons charges, but a single juror out of twelve decided against giving Holmes the death penalty. Instead, he will now live out his days as a guest of the Colorado department of corrections.

This situation has the effect of reducing the process of justice to a form of Kabuki theater. How can it be avoided in the future?

I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that a legislative remedy might be to create a separate class of crime to cover such cases. Let’s call it “mass murder,” a crime defined as the murder of three or more people simultaneously and set the penalty as being a mandatory death sentence, thereby effectively taking the penalty phase out of such situations. In such cases of obvious guilt, why are we wasting time carrying out a prosecution where we rigorously prove with forensic evidence that the guilty party killed each victim? It seems like an odd thing to do, so perhaps legislators need to be able to grant prosecutors the ability to reach for this arrow in their quiver which would quickly clean up a lot of the legalistic baggage being carried around in such a situation.

How can we lessen the expense of death penalty appeals? Why can’t legislatures create a special court whose sole jurisdiction is the oversight of death penalty appeals? This would have the effect of quickly adjudicating such death penalty cases and exhausting appeals (which are infrequently about the facts of the underlying conviction and are more about problems with the process) much more quickly, which would vastly reduce the amount of time between conviction and execution while maintaining the necessity of due process.

Help me out here, lawyers of Ricochet. How can we better attack this problem so that we can utilize this essential tool of justice in a more fair and frequent fashion?

Published in Domestic Policy, Law
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  1. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    I believe most criminal justice should become torts. Sending people to prison for things like property crimes doesn’t restitute anyone. People should have to compensate victims for what they took from them and their time and money, as well as any costs of prosecuting them.

    If they can’t pay they can go to a prison camp to work off their debt and the money they earn can go to compensating the victims.

    In the cases where there is too much to pay back, the victims should get some choice in if they would accept whatever they could pay back in their lifetimes, or if someone is so terrible like multiple murderers, it probably makes sense to kill them. So I agree that there isn’t a per se reason to get rid of the death penalty.

    The problem with locking everyone up is it doesn’t compensate the victims and the taxpayers have to pay to take care of them. Then in prison, many learn how to become better criminals and become more resentful and actually are more dangerous when they get out. Pretty much lose, lose.

    Obviously there are a lot of things that could be done to make prisons better for everyone involved, but even if everyone agrees with this the state doesn’t have to do anything about it. I doubt anyone is going to not get reelected because he didn’t make prisons nicer places even if it had the effect of reducing recidivism.

    Sorry, this is somewhat beyond the scope of your article and was more about reforming the criminal justice system in general.

    • #1
  2. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    I admit to being one of those folks who believe the death penalty (and all its appeals, etc.) costs too much – and that we should lock them up and throw away the key. I’d be okay with solitary confinement 24/7 for the rest of their days. But you are right – my reasons are really based in frustration over the legal system itself – not opposition to the death penalty.

    • #2
  3. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    I started out going more in that direction (criminal justice system reform) and ended up more just looking at the death penalty in particular.

    That said, I don’t disagree with you that it’s counterproductive in some cases to simply lock people up in prison.  I could envision a much better system than we currently have where low-level offenders have to work off their debts to their victims in the form of, say, working at menial jobs with the county or state – in addition to required courses in high school equivalency or the like.  Keep them busy – so busy that they don’t have time to make trouble while they’re working.

    Unfortunately, I think this isn’t Constitutional, as it seems like a form of involuntary servitude.  I could see an alternate scenario though where you make it an option for perps in the case of a plea bargain – they agree to go into the program; their finances are managed and make restitution while getting skills in addition to a credible work history so that they are employable post-prison.  In order to incentivize them to enter this program prison would have to be distinctly unpleasant.  I’m in favor of a Panopticon.

    I really don’t see a way out of locking people up in the case of violent crime, however.  Certain people are so anti-social as to be incapable of reform.  This is the case with the death penalty.

    • #3
  4. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Oh – I totally think we should lock up violent offenders. And I agree that murderers should receive the death penalty.  I’ve only waffled on the death penalty because of how expensive it has become to implement it. So – I admit to being with you philosophically.

    And I agree that the only good reason to oppose it is the possibility you have the wrong guy.

    But Jonah Goldberg kinda dismissed that in The Tyranny of Cliches by disassembling the old “better ten guilty men go free” cliche.

    Great post, btw.

    • #4
  5. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Majestyk: Unfortunately, I think this isn’t Constitutional, as it seems like a form of involuntary servitude.

    I think the amendment specifically exempts this sort of thing, so the constitution is not a bar.

    • #5
  6. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Judge Mental:

    Majestyk: Unfortunately, I think this isn’t Constitutional, as it seems like a form of involuntary servitude.

    I think the amendment specifically exempts this sort of thing, so the constitution is not a bar.

    Not a lawyer, but you could be correct.

    • #6
  7. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Majestyk:

    Judge Mental:

    Majestyk: Unfortunately, I think this isn’t Constitutional, as it seems like a form of involuntary servitude.

    I think the amendment specifically exempts this sort of thing, so the constitution is not a bar.

    Not a lawyer, but you could be correct.

    I went and looked.  The 13th amendment:

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    (Emphasis mine, obviously.)

    • #7
  8. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Judge Mental:

    Majestyk:

    Judge Mental:

    Majestyk: Unfortunately, I think this isn’t Constitutional, as it seems like a form of involuntary servitude.

    I think the amendment specifically exempts this sort of thing, so the constitution is not a bar.

    Not a lawyer, but you could be correct.

    I went and looked. The 13th amendment:

    (Emphasis mine, obviously.)

    Fair enough.  I could still see the argument made however that this form of punishment would need to be voluntary – mainly because the people whom you are attempting to get straightened out would have to be the sort given to genuine remorse, and wouldn’t use this modicum of additional freedom to commit more crime.

    • #8
  9. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Majestyk:

    Judge Mental:

    Majestyk:

    Judge Mental:

    Majestyk: Unfortunately, I think this isn’t Constitutional, as it seems like a form of involuntary servitude.

    I think the amendment specifically exempts this sort of thing, so the constitution is not a bar.

    Not a lawyer, but you could be correct.

    I went and looked. The 13th amendment:

    (Emphasis mine, obviously.)

    Fair enough. I could still see the argument made however that this form of punishment would need to be voluntary – mainly because the people whom you are attempting to get straightened out would have to be the sort given to genuine remorse, and wouldn’t use this modicum of additional freedom to commit more crime.

    My only point was constitutional.  You may be right about the need for the voluntary action to make the plan work.  But you could make the alternative a less relaxed form of involuntary servitude instead of prison, and it would still be legal.  Making big ones into little ones, for example.

    • #9
  10. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Locking up those who commit property crimes has the advantage that they can’t commit further such crimes, at least as long as they’re locked up.  My impression from criminal justice studies is that a large proportion of crime is committed by a small number of people, and that imprisoning them is quite effective.

    On the involuntary servitude issue, it seems unlikely to me that prison labor would earn enough to pay the cost of incarceration.  I don’t know the economics, but that is my best guess.  Is there anyone here with better information?

    On having property criminals pay the victims, the tort laws already provide for this, and the real problem is that most such criminals have no significant assets or earnings out of which to collect such payments.  I am a civil litigation lawyer, and the phrase we use for such people is “judgment proof.”

    • #10
  11. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Arizona Patriot:Locking up those who commit property crimes has the advantage that they can’t commit further such crimes, at least as long as they’re locked up. My impression from criminal justice studies is that a large proportion of crime is committed by a small number of people, and that imprisoning them is quite effective.

    On the involuntary servitude issue, it seems unlikely to me that prison labor would earn enough to pay the cost of incarceration. I don’t know the economics, but that is my best guess. Is there anyone here with better information?

    On having property criminals pay the victims, the tort laws already provide for this, and the real problem is that most such criminals have no significant assets or earnings out of which to collect such payments. I am a civil litigation lawyer, and the phrase we use for such people is “judgment proof.”

    Here is where we could make some progress: the county jail where some of these property criminals get locked up get place those guys into the “jobs pool” and they get called out to do things like “pick up trash along the highway,” “fill potholes” or various other tasks that are normally subcontracted out.

    The county could then repurpose those funds currently going to subcontractors for such work towards paying members of this jobs pool, part of which would go towards restitution.

    • #11
  12. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    You haven’t made the case of why there should be a death penalty at all. Sentences such as “Justice demands that the perpetrator should be made to surrender his life in recompense for his theft of another’s life” are just opinion, not conclusive arguments. The onus should be on proponents of the death penalty to prove the case that it is a deterrent to would-be murderers. Because outside of this justification, there really isn’t any. We shouldn’t kill people just to get even.

    As a Christian, I believe in forgiveness. That doesn’t mean we should be naive goody two shoes and let murderers go free. Lock them up forever and find a way through which they can contribute something positive to others.

    • #12
  13. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    I think the whole purpose of going through the trial of the Colorado shooter is that as a system there can not be cases of “obvious” guilt. The implicit assumption of our judicial system is that all accused are innocent until they can be proven guilty. The trial is the means by which one is proven guilty. To not go through the process or to create an avenue for ignoring our core assumptions primary principles will lead to a degradation of the system.

    I think one of the biggest problems in our legal system is that so few people are actually proven guilty. Most cases end in a plea bargain. The dynamics of which are not about demonstrating guilt, but rather playing a game of risk and reward. If anything as a whole I think we actually need more trials, not fewer.

    • #13
  14. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Marion Evans:You haven’t made the case of why there should be a death penalty at all. Sentences such as “Justice demands that the perpetrator should be made to surrender his life in recompense for his theft of another’s life” are just opinion, not conclusive arguments. The onus should be on proponents of the death penalty to prove the case that it is a deterrent to would-be murderers. Because outside of this justification, there really isn’t any. We shouldn’t kill people just to get even.

    As a Christian, I believe in forgiveness. That doesn’t mean we should be naive goody two shoes and let murderers go free. Lock them up forever and find a way through which they can contribute something positive to others.

    John Lott of More Guns, Less Crime fame did an analysis on this.  Because of the large number of variables involved the variance was fairly high, but he found that for each execution between eight and twenty-eight lives are saved due to deterrence.

    • #14
  15. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Unfortunately, each problem of our judicial and penal systems (and the abundant criminal laws that feed them) is bound to the others. Reform of one inevitably requires reform of others to be effective.

    A couple common assumptions here merit deeper consideration.

    • Killing an innocent is worse than letting a murderer walk (possibly to murder another innocent). Why?
    • Immediate death is a harsher punishment than life imprisonment. Why? Our soldiers regularly risk their lives for freedom, so it must be a higher value.

    Also, retribution is not the only goal of our justice system. Aside from hope for reform of the offender’s soul (the Church’s primary reason for generally, though not absolutely, forbidding the death penalty), another goal is security… which retribution does not wholly satisfy (note recidivism rates). Prisons remove offenders from society to protect innocents from further crimes. Absent of hope and mercy, they are also intended to scare criminals straight. But modern standards seldom achieve that goal.

    Even if one accepts the Christian premise that the soul of a murderer or rapist should be granted undeserved opportunity for hope of eventual repentance (not equivalent to legal absolution), there remains the consideration of security. If a society is somehow unable to maintain secure imprisonment of villains or to disrupt their influence outside the prisons, then killing is an acceptable option (as with war, a last resort). Weaker societies than ours must worry about prisoner escapes by war, natural disasters, and criminal raids.

    • #15
  16. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    On a less productive note, I think our entire system of trial and punishment needs a reboot. It’s confused and corrupt to its core. I doubt reforms at this point will accomplish anything more than nibbling around the edges.

    I support the death penalty for serial killers and some other criminals will negligible rates of repentance. But I consider it a minor issue in comparison with the mindless use of imprisonment as punishment for every felony. It’s a delusional culture that abhors physical pain so much that it would spend millions of dollars to keep a criminal in a concrete cage for years, as if that was more humane or remotely cost-efficient.

    • #16
  17. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Aaron Miller:

    Also, retribution is not the only goal of our justice system. Aside from hope for reform of the offender’s soul (the Church’s primary reason for generally, though not absolutely, forbidding the death penalty), another goal is security… which retribution does not wholly satisfy (note recidivism rates). Prisons remove offenders from society to protect innocents from further crimes. Absent of hope and mercy, they are also intended to scare criminals straight. But modern standards seldom achieve that goal.

    On this topic I think we are also going about it wrong.  While prison ought to be a deterrent, I think there’s ample evidence that organized criminal gangs view the system as a game which is to be played, with lower level soldiers being used as pawns to carry out criminal acts who then serve time and in the process establish the equivalent of social networks and clout in prisons.

    A wholesale change in how we handle various types of crime may be in the offing.  Some individuals may be open to remediation by cognitive behavioral therapy in combination with other incentives, but the previous class of criminal mentioned is unlikely to be such a case.  Such individuals are career criminals primarily concerned with serving their interests and those of their affiliates.

    • #17
  18. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Majestyk: The first two arguments are sophistry. The same people who are opposed to the death penalty on so-called moral grounds probably have no issue with police officers carrying guns which they could use to kill people in the process of apprehending them. Barring genuine pacifism – an inherently immoral position that relies upon the assumption of other people doing violence in one’s stead — they likely support state power used to kill people on a scale that eclipses by orders of magnitude potential deaths by execution. Many such deaths are even less justifiable than execution, being as they are frequently the result of accidents. But we live in a world run by flawed human beings and we understand that (lamentable though they are) mistakes are inevitable and we don’t throw up our hands and give up on the whole system as a result.

    These are false equivalences. A police officer who shoots a suspect in the line of duty does so because he has no other option. We rightfully expect the police to make every effort to capture a suspect and to use deadly force as an absolute last resort. The argument that the state should not take the lives of those whose threat has already been neutralized has nothing to do with pacifism and everything to do with the idea that only the minimum force necessary should be used. Your distinction between retribution and revenge is one of degree, not of kind.

    • #18
  19. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Umbra Fractus:

    These are false equivalences. A police officer who shoots a suspect in the line of duty does so because he has no other option. We rightfully expect the police to make every effort to capture a suspect and to use deadly force as an absolute last resort. The argument that the state should not take the lives of those whose threat has already been neutralized has nothing to do with pacifism and everything to do with the idea that only the minimum force necessary should be used. Your distinction between retribution and revenge is one of degree, not of kind.

    I am looking not only at net effect but also what people’s tolerances are.

    To you, which is preferable: the killing of a person by a police officer in the course of apprehending them (in the case where they are resisting legitimate arrest) or the execution of a miscreant like Ted Bundy?

    I know immediately which is preferable – but I think that the first is utterly unavoidable, and once you accept that premise, the second is morally obligatory.  If we accept that the state has the power to deprive people of their life without due process (as in wars or police actions) then it hardly seems consistent to say that it’s unacceptable in the case of due process.

    • #19
  20. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    The difference between systemic retribution and revenge is that revenge is self-focused while retribution is society-focused.

    Some would argue that legal retribution pursues peace and revenge seeks only the sharing of one’s own pain. But, as someone who doesn’t believe vigilantism is necessarily selfish and unjust, I’d say that legal punishment and revenge can overlap. The state can carry out one’s revenge without intending to satisfy that personal need.

    • #20
  21. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    I concur with those who say the death penalty should be maintained: limited to First Degree Murder, and left as an option (not a requirement) for the jury.  I trust juries to discern in the individual cases where life in prison vs. execution is warranted.  Given modern forensic methods and the prevalence of various forms of tracking, the likelihood of false conviction, at least such making it through appeals, seems to me to be very low.

    I do have one change to the death penalty.  It should exclusively be public hangings.  Perhaps streamed by the relevant DOCs.  I am serious.  I think the sight of a convict dancing on the end of the rope and losing their bowels will have some deterring effect.  It would be especially so on the would-be mass murders such as the one who shot up the school in OR.  They want to go out in a blaze of glory.  Hanging is an ugly and ignominious end.  Not a glorious one.  That such individuals may themselves be attracted to watching public hangings can be seen as a honey trap of sorts.

    Another reason is the observation that the more we are separated from death in society, the courser we become.  In my experience, those who are closer to life and death have a greater appreciation for the former.  It’s easier to be harsh and callous in the abstract.  The ill effects of too much carnage are obvious, but we’ve gone too far in the other direction of over-sanitization.  It’s only under such a regime that the Planned Parenthood baby-butchering for parts could continue.

    • #21
  22. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Solution:

    1.  Create a new “death penalty review” court separate from the Supreme Court which has as its charter the duty to review all death penalty convictions.  This frees up the Supreme Court.

    2.  The appeal from the primary conviction goes directly to the death penalty review court, thus bypassing all the numerous appeals used today to stall the execution.

    3.  No plea bargains for one accomplice to testify against the other.  There’s too much incentive for one person to lie, thus sparing his life.

    • #22
  23. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I was just thinking the other day while showering (I have the most profound thoughts in the shower), when people say that the US used be more open to immigrants, they neglect to mention that the US also used to execute people for a much wider variety of offences. “Of course you can become an American, but remember, if you steal anything we’ll kill you.”

    • #23
  24. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Majestyk: If we accept that the state has the power to deprive people of their life without due process (as in wars or police actions) then it hardly seems consistent to say that it’s unacceptable in the case of due process.

    It is consistent; the principle at play is necessity. Just because I recognize that the use of deadly force is often necessary to neutralize a threat does not mean I am bound to accept its necessity after the threat has already been neutralized.

    • #24
  25. Majestyk Contributor
    Majestyk
    @Majestyk

    Umbra Fractus:

    Majestyk: If we accept that the state has the power to deprive people of their life without due process (as in wars or police actions) then it hardly seems consistent to say that it’s unacceptable in the case of due process.

    It is consistent; the principle at play is necessity. Just because I recognize that the use of deadly force is often necessary to neutralize a threat does not mean I am bound to accept its necessity after the threat has already been neutralized.

    Visiting justice equivalent to the crime committed upon the convicted is a good unto its self.  If you sentence somebody to life without parole you are in a very real sense sentencing them to death.  Only the manner and time of death is different – in the one case, old age or violence from others and in the other death by a very different and more immediate means.

    I also take my cue from these individuals’ attitude towards the death penalty: they don’t want to be killed.  They would prefer to stay alive, even in prison, and a person with a life sentence without parole has no incentive to not cause mayhem in prison, attacking guards and other inmates.

    They would also likely prefer to be free compared to being in prison.  I’m not down with giving them what they want.  If you come across the random Timothy McVey who waives his appeals, it’s good riddance to bad rubbish.

    • #25
  26. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar
    @NoCaesar

    Misthiocracy:I was just thinking the other day while showering (I have the most profound thoughts in the shower), when people say that the US used be more open to immigrants, they neglect to mention that the US also used to execute people for a much wider variety of offences. “Of course you can become an American, but remember, if you steal anything we’ll kill you.”

    Though, in fairness, that was a fairly global phenomena.  I’m not sure the US was more aggressive with the capital punishment than most of the rest of the West, never mind the rest of the world.

    • #26
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