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Did Texas Execute An Innocent Man?

AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
edited October 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Signs point to yes.

This story...is just disturbing on many levels. While it's been suggested several times that Texas has executed the innocent, I don't think we've had a case like this where the facts have been laid out so plainly. Furthermore, there is a trial currently going on where a Texas judge, Sharon Keller, is charged with five counts of judicial misconduct after informing lawyers filing a last minute appeal for a death row inmate scheduled for execution that night were informed that the clerk's office would be closed promptly.

I think that no matter what your view of the death penalty is, there's something very wrong with how it's handled in Texas.

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«13

Posts

  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited August 2009
    Yes. Several times. It is kind of their thing.

    Tube on
  • ElkiElki get busy Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited August 2009
    Reminds me of a very memorable quote from the Texas relevant Thin Blue Line: "Prosecutors in Dallas have said for years - any prosecutor can convict a guilty man. It takes a great prosecutor to convict an innocent man."

    Elki on
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  • King RiptorKing Riptor Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I have to admit before I clicked on this topic I knew the answer already.

    It's pretty disgusting for a few reasons the least of which is that Texas thinks their execution rate is a badge of honor. I'm not against the death penalty in theory but in practice there are to many variables and far to many chances that the wrong man was convicted for it to continue existing.

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  • themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I have to admit before I clicked on this topic I knew the answer already.

    It's pretty disgusting for a few reasons the least of which is that Texas thinks their execution rate is a badge of honor. I'm not against the death penalty in theory but in practice there are to many variables and far to many chances that the wrong man was convicted for it to continue existing.

    I'm not against the death penalty either but I am against how easy it is to convict people. Not just in Texas. My sense is once the DA is convinced you are guilty or has another agenda you are pretty much fucked unless you have massive resources. What amazes me is that there isn't an admission that guilt comes in different flavors. You can convict someone on clear evidence and be pretty sure you have the right perp or you can convict someone on circumstantial evidence that is very sketchy. It would be nice if juries could score guilt on a scale of 1-5 and that would be taken into consideration in sentencing. Obviously that would be a problem in a society that wants to believe a guilty verdict is the same as guilt.

    themightypuck on
    “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
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  • TubeTube Registered User admin
    edited August 2009
    Maybe it's less because "lol society" and more because asking a jury "on a scale of 1-5 how guilty do you think this guy is" is fucking ridiculous

    Tube on
  • themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Maybe it's less because "lol society" and more because asking a jury "on a scale of 1-5 how guilty do you think this guy is" is fucking ridiculous

    But that's how it really works. The courts demand an either or but it is an illusion. On the other hand I think you get the same jury in death penalty cases for guilt and sentence so my outrageous idea might not have any effect.

    themightypuck on
    “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius

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  • ElkiElki get busy Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited August 2009
    Isn't that built in, already? Not enough to convict for 1st degree murder could be enough for 2nd, and what might not be enough for 2nd could be grounds for a manslaughter conviction, and so on.

    Elki on
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  • KazhiimKazhiim __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2009
    perhaps we need five degrees of murder.

    The system is built on the assumption that a jury won't convict based on circumstantial evidence. The whole "reasonable doubt" thing, and all. I support the concept of a death penalty, within certain situations, but for every caught-red-handed murderer you've got somebody who might not deserve to die and the risk of executing an innocent man invalidates the system.

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  • themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Elki wrote: »
    Isn't that built in, already? Not enough to convict for 1st degree murder could be enough for 2nd, and what might not be enough for 2nd could be grounds for a manslaughter conviction, and so on.

    I guess that is how thinks work in reality. In theory a jury is supposed to look at the law and the facts and decide but you are right. So much for late night drunk posting.

    themightypuck on
    “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius

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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Kazhiim wrote: »
    perhaps we need five degrees of murder.

    The system is built on the assumption that a jury won't convict based on circumstantial evidence. The whole "reasonable doubt" thing, and all. I support the concept of a death penalty, within certain situations, but for every caught-red-handed murderer you've got somebody who might not deserve to die and the risk of executing an innocent man invalidates the system.

    This is essentially my view on it.

    In Canada, we've got some pretty hideous folk in our prison system

    Paul Bernardo, for example

    Paul Bernardo is the kind of person who is irrevocably broken and will always be a hazard to everyone and if there's anyone in the world who deserves execution, it's this guy.

    But!

    Then there are cases like Steven Truscott, wrongly convicted of murder and railroaded by a miscarriage of justice, only to be released many years later when the whole fiasco was overturned.

    I'd rather imprison every guy like Bernardo for life, spending my tax dollars to keep him alive and separated from society, even though he's a worthless drain who contributes nothing, than execute one guy like Truscott.

    The death penalty is a terrible idea, regardless of what your view on when/if it's okay to execute someone, because the entire system risks executing innocent people.

    Truscott is an example of why you shouldn't be executing people: If later you find them innocent, you can at least release them, with some financial compensation for what the system did to them. You won't ever give them back the years of their life you took from them, and the cruelties they suffered in the prison system, but at least they are alive.

    You execute people and later find out they were innocent... saying "whoops!" doesn't bring them back from the dead.

    Pony on
  • themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Kazhiim wrote: »
    perhaps we need five degrees of murder.

    The system is built on the assumption that a jury won't convict based on circumstantial evidence. The whole "reasonable doubt" thing, and all. I support the concept of a death penalty, within certain situations, but for every caught-red-handed murderer you've got somebody who might not deserve to die and the risk of executing an innocent man invalidates the system.

    I'm not against the system since I don't know what the counterfactual is. I just think it is important to know about the system. I pretty much hate most retributive justice (exception for special cases which have broad notoriety) but I accept that it is deeply rooted in the human psyche. I don't know anything about the actual results of modern criminal trials--it is possible juries do a great job--but I do know that a lot of dispositive evidence is total malarkey. Find a solid scientific study on the things that gain traction in a courtroom. A good expensive lawyer can attack the crazy stuff that judges let in, but if you are stuck with a court appointed attorney you are pretty much fucked. I don't know that this is a bad thing. There are plenty of things that have horrible consequences for certain people that societies are willing to bear--wars, dangerous jobs, etc. --I just want the cost/benefit calculus to be open to debate rather than hidden.

    themightypuck on
    “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius

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  • MorninglordMorninglord I'm tired of being Batman, so today I'll be Owl.Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    [ *snip 4 short*

    The death penalty is a terrible idea, regardless of what your view on when/if it's okay to execute someone, because the entire system risks executing innocent people.

    Truscott is an example of why you shouldn't be executing people: If later you find them innocent, you can at least release them, with some financial compensation for what the system did to them. You won't ever give them back the years of their life you took from them, and the cruelties they suffered in the prison system, but at least they are alive.

    You execute people and later find out they were innocent... saying "whoops!" doesn't bring them back from the dead.

    Agreed.

    On a slightly depressing tangent though, I can see this rational kind of being forced to disappear as a result of population pressures. I talked to a chinese lawyer who was a friend of my gf's family, his basic argument for the death penalty wasn't moral at all. It was just that there's so many people, there isn't a choice. They can't incarcerate them, they don't have the resources.

    But while we do have the resources, we damn well shouldn't kill people.

    Morninglord on
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  • themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    [ *snip 4 short*

    The death penalty is a terrible idea, regardless of what your view on when/if it's okay to execute someone, because the entire system risks executing innocent people.

    Truscott is an example of why you shouldn't be executing people: If later you find them innocent, you can at least release them, with some financial compensation for what the system did to them. You won't ever give them back the years of their life you took from them, and the cruelties they suffered in the prison system, but at least they are alive.

    You execute people and later find out they were innocent... saying "whoops!" doesn't bring them back from the dead.

    Agreed.

    On a slightly depressing tangent though, I can see this rational kind of being forced to disappear as a result of population pressures. I talked to a chinese lawyer who was a friend of my gf's family, his basic argument for the death penalty wasn't moral at all. It was just that there's so many people, there isn't a choice. They can't incarcerate them, they don't have the resources.

    But while we do have the resources, we damn well shouldn't kill people.

    OK I get the whole problem of executing innocent people but what about incarcerating innocent people. Shouldn't this be a problem too? There is more to life than just being alive. Why is death so horrible and rotting in a nasty prison not?

    themightypuck on
    “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius

    Path of Exile: themightypuck
  • MorninglordMorninglord I'm tired of being Batman, so today I'll be Owl.Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    [ *snip 4 short*

    The death penalty is a terrible idea, regardless of what your view on when/if it's okay to execute someone, because the entire system risks executing innocent people.

    Truscott is an example of why you shouldn't be executing people: If later you find them innocent, you can at least release them, with some financial compensation for what the system did to them. You won't ever give them back the years of their life you took from them, and the cruelties they suffered in the prison system, but at least they are alive.

    You execute people and later find out they were innocent... saying "whoops!" doesn't bring them back from the dead.

    Agreed.

    On a slightly depressing tangent though, I can see this rational kind of being forced to disappear as a result of population pressures. I talked to a chinese lawyer who was a friend of my gf's family, his basic argument for the death penalty wasn't moral at all. It was just that there's so many people, there isn't a choice. They can't incarcerate them, they don't have the resources.

    But while we do have the resources, we damn well shouldn't kill people.

    OK I get the whole problem of executing innocent people but what about incarcerating innocent people. Shouldn't this be a problem too? There is more to life than just being alive. Why is death so horrible and rotting in a nasty prison not?

    Did you read the first post in this tree? It has the rational you are seeking.

    Morninglord on
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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    [ *snip 4 short*

    The death penalty is a terrible idea, regardless of what your view on when/if it's okay to execute someone, because the entire system risks executing innocent people.

    Truscott is an example of why you shouldn't be executing people: If later you find them innocent, you can at least release them, with some financial compensation for what the system did to them. You won't ever give them back the years of their life you took from them, and the cruelties they suffered in the prison system, but at least they are alive.

    You execute people and later find out they were innocent... saying "whoops!" doesn't bring them back from the dead.

    Agreed.

    On a slightly depressing tangent though, I can see this rational kind of being forced to disappear as a result of population pressures. I talked to a chinese lawyer who was a friend of my gf's family, his basic argument for the death penalty wasn't moral at all. It was just that there's so many people, there isn't a choice. They can't incarcerate them, they don't have the resources.

    But while we do have the resources, we damn well shouldn't kill people.

    OK I get the whole problem of executing innocent people but what about incarcerating innocent people. Shouldn't this be a problem too? There is more to life than just being alive. Why is death so horrible and rotting in a nasty prison not?

    Everyone likes to say "rotting in prison" and media likes to romanticize the idea that the death penalty is somehow more "peaceful" than the horrible indignity of being imprisoned.

    But let me tell you something. You know why I use Steven Truscott as an example? Because I've met Steven Truscott. I've spoken to the man personally.

    He was supposed to be executed for a crime he did not commit. Instead, he was sent to prison for ten years of what was supposed to be a life sentence.

    Man spent ten years doing federal time for something he didn't do. I asked this man, to his face, if he ever thought it would've been better to be executed than be imprisoned like that.

    He told me that he did, sometimes, think that. When he was depressed and basically suicidal, sure, he thought that. But for the most part, being alive always gave him the hope of being released and found innocent. That hope, the knowledge that one day he might be free, kept him going and allowed him to live no matter what.

    I asked him "even if it took twenty years for that to happen?"

    and he said "Even if it took fifty."

    So, no.

    It's not more "merciful" to execute these people than leave them "rotting" in prison.

    Pony on
  • themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    [ *snip 4 short*

    The death penalty is a terrible idea, regardless of what your view on when/if it's okay to execute someone, because the entire system risks executing innocent people.

    Truscott is an example of why you shouldn't be executing people: If later you find them innocent, you can at least release them, with some financial compensation for what the system did to them. You won't ever give them back the years of their life you took from them, and the cruelties they suffered in the prison system, but at least they are alive.

    You execute people and later find out they were innocent... saying "whoops!" doesn't bring them back from the dead.

    Agreed.

    On a slightly depressing tangent though, I can see this rational kind of being forced to disappear as a result of population pressures. I talked to a chinese lawyer who was a friend of my gf's family, his basic argument for the death penalty wasn't moral at all. It was just that there's so many people, there isn't a choice. They can't incarcerate them, they don't have the resources.

    But while we do have the resources, we damn well shouldn't kill people.

    OK I get the whole problem of executing innocent people but what about incarcerating innocent people. Shouldn't this be a problem too? There is more to life than just being alive. Why is death so horrible and rotting in a nasty prison not?

    Did you read the first post in this tree? It has the rational you are seeking.

    I didn't see the rationale. I understand why the death penalty is bad--irreversible. I would just prefer that our society spent more time on the obvious problem of wrongfully convicting people rather than just accepting that wrongful convictions are inevitable and hence the death penalty is wrong. I think there is a strong moral argument against the death penalty that doesn't depend on how good our legal system is at discovering the truth. Moral arguments against the system as it presently functions should consider people wrongly convicted of all crimes, not just capital ones.

    themightypuck on
    “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius

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  • autono-wally, erotibot300autono-wally, erotibot300 love machine Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    yeah, every innocent persone killed is state sanctioned murder

    autono-wally, erotibot300 on
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  • MorninglordMorninglord I'm tired of being Batman, so today I'll be Owl.Registered User regular
    edited August 2009

    I didn't see the rationale. I understand why the death penalty is bad--irreversible. I would just prefer that our society spent more time on the obvious problem of wrongfully convicting people rather than just accepting that wrongful convictions are inevitable and hence the death penalty is wrong. I think there is a strong moral argument against the death penalty that doesn't depend on how good our legal system is at discovering the truth. Moral arguments against the system as it presently functions should consider people wrongly convicted of all crimes, not just capital ones.

    If it interests you, I hear that in law (in particular, those areas of psychology connected with law) there is some attention being payed to how cognitive biases and the unreliability of, eg, eye witness reports affects conviction rates. Errors, biases and criticisms of the current legal system are frequent research topics.
    I'm sure that eventually these things will be changed, it's just that it will take a long time, because it has to go against the status quo, which is always hard.

    However, there is not going to be a perfect system. If you are coming into this argument that there may one day be one and we are just not trying hard enough, I'm going to have to directly oppose that view. There will not and because of this, while you have the luxury of enough resources to take into account ethical problems such as this, you should.

    Morninglord on
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  • themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    It's not more "merciful" to execute these people than leave them "rotting" in prison.

    But it isn't an either/or. I would prefer a society that actually takes into consideration the hell of prison. I think the problem of innocent people being convicted and the problem of the death penalty as two separate issues. Right now the death penalty is all about removing doubt. What about a moral argument that it is wrong regardless of guilt? I think it is horrible that innocent people get convicted of any crime and I think, for the most part, we shouldn't execute people regardless of their crime (I have some exceptions that I'd probably have to theoretically abandon if I got into a strong debate about the subject).

    themightypuck on
    “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius

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  • MorninglordMorninglord I'm tired of being Batman, so today I'll be Owl.Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    It's not more "merciful" to execute these people than leave them "rotting" in prison.

    But it isn't an either/or. I would prefer a society that actually takes into consideration the hell of prison. I think the problem of innocent people being convicted and the problem of the death penalty as two separate issues. Right now the death penalty is all about removing doubt. What about a moral argument that it is wrong regardless of guilt? I think it is horrible that innocent people get convicted of any crime and I think, for the most part, we shouldn't execute people regardless of their crime (I have some exceptions that I'd probably have to theoretically abandon if I got into a strong debate about the subject).

    I think I understand your view now based on this. I don't disagree with you.

    Morninglord on
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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    [ *snip 4 short*

    The death penalty is a terrible idea, regardless of what your view on when/if it's okay to execute someone, because the entire system risks executing innocent people.

    Truscott is an example of why you shouldn't be executing people: If later you find them innocent, you can at least release them, with some financial compensation for what the system did to them. You won't ever give them back the years of their life you took from them, and the cruelties they suffered in the prison system, but at least they are alive.

    You execute people and later find out they were innocent... saying "whoops!" doesn't bring them back from the dead.

    Agreed.

    On a slightly depressing tangent though, I can see this rational kind of being forced to disappear as a result of population pressures. I talked to a chinese lawyer who was a friend of my gf's family, his basic argument for the death penalty wasn't moral at all. It was just that there's so many people, there isn't a choice. They can't incarcerate them, they don't have the resources.

    But while we do have the resources, we damn well shouldn't kill people.

    OK I get the whole problem of executing innocent people but what about incarcerating innocent people. Shouldn't this be a problem too? There is more to life than just being alive. Why is death so horrible and rotting in a nasty prison not?

    Did you read the first post in this tree? It has the rational you are seeking.

    I didn't see the rationale. I understand why the death penalty is bad--irreversible. I would just prefer that our society spent more time on the obvious problem of wrongfully convicting people rather than just accepting that wrongful convictions are inevitable and hence the death penalty is wrong. I think there is a strong moral argument against the death penalty that doesn't depend on how good our legal system is at discovering the truth. Moral arguments against the system as it presently functions should consider people wrongly convicted of all crimes, not just capital ones.

    Call me a pragmatist if you like, but I think these issues are unimportant while the busted ass legal system in some countries (like the USA) are still killing people.

    Once that is stopped, then you can start addressing the more pressing concerns of the investigation and legal prosecution process.

    In Canada, we have that luxury, and I'm certainly very opinionated about how the legal system in my country operates and its room for improvement.

    The United States is still executing innocent people and until you stop that nonsense it's hard to really question the validity of your legal system.

    It is impossible to guarantee a perfect legal system that under no circumstance can execute an innocent man. This cannot exist except in some science fiction world that has capabilities and technology that we do not possess and are not capable of constructing.

    Given that being the case, whether you ever consider it moral to execute a guilty person is not relevant to the larger issue of potentially executing innocent people. Executing innocent people is inarguably, absolutely wrong under all circumstances and systems.

    So is imprisoning innocent people, obviously, but it's the lesser of evils here. Having a legal system capable of taking away the rights of others to live freely (or live at all!) is inherently flawed because people are inherently flawed. Any system run and maintained by human beings has capacity for error, and when that error can result in death its best to err on the side of caution and the least of evils.

    Like I said earlier, at least when you imprison someone, you can later release them, and compared to being executed I'm not sure there exists an innocent man in the prison system who would rather die than have the chance of ever being released.

    And, to head this off before someone makes this comparison, this is not akin to military action, or law enforcement officers having to use lethal force in a crisis situation. Those are circumstances where inevitably someone is going to die and the only choice you have is who is going to die, and how many of them. Given the inherent flawed and error prone nature of humanity, killing innocent people along the way in these sorts of crises is a statistical inevitability. This isn't good, but it's something that unfortunately must be accepted as a result of the circumstances.

    By contrast, there's never a circumstance where you desperately need to execute someone and you have no choice but to kill this person you have unarmed and imprisoned. They are helpless, harmless, and at your mercy. They don't need to die for the immediate safety of others or anything like that.

    Pony on
  • KazhiimKazhiim __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    It is impossible to guarantee a perfect legal system that under no circumstance can execute an innocent man. This cannot exist except in some science fiction world that has capabilities and technology that we do not possess and are not capable of constructing.

    Yeah, but if you ask someone (in, say, texas) if we should A). Abolish the death penalty, or B). Make sure we don't convict innocent people, they're going to choose option B even though it's more or less a pipe dream

    Kazhiim on
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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Kazhiim wrote: »
    Pony wrote: »
    It is impossible to guarantee a perfect legal system that under no circumstance can execute an innocent man. This cannot exist except in some science fiction world that has capabilities and technology that we do not possess and are not capable of constructing.

    Yeah, but if you ask someone (in, say, texas) if we should A). Abolish the death penalty, or B). Make sure we don't convict innocent people, they're going to choose option B even though it's more or less a pipe dream

    I don't give a shit. It's not an attainable goal, so trying to focus on investigative and prosecutorial reform only obfuscates the reality that you are still going to fucking execute innocent fucking people.

    Saying "well, in Texas that won't fly, so you gotta try to meet these folks halfway" is bullshit.

    Federal ban on executions. Period. Done. Start there, and then you can start to address everything else that is wrong with the legal system as it currently operates.

    Pony on
  • YallYall Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I've always felt the death penalty should be reserved for the most extreme and easy to prove cases.

    Like: "We have video and 35 witnesses who saw you shoot 10 people in the gym before the police were able to subdue you" kind of thing.

    Anything else is to risky in terms of getting the wrong person.

    Yall on
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Yall wrote: »
    I've always felt the death penalty should be reserved for the most extreme and easy to prove cases.

    Like: "We have video and 35 witnesses who saw you shoot 10 people in the gym before the police were able to subdue you" kind of thing.

    Anything else is to risky in terms of getting the wrong person.

    But how do you define the most extreme and easy to prove?

    Where there's video evidence? A dozen eye witnesses? A hundred?

    The legal system is supposed to be founded on the idea of a person being guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    If you create some kind of super-standard, where a person can be executed only if they are beyond beyond reasonable doubt, how do you define that legally?

    Pony on
  • YallYall Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    Yall wrote: »
    I've always felt the death penalty should be reserved for the most extreme and easy to prove cases.

    Like: "We have video and 35 witnesses who saw you shoot 10 people in the gym before the police were able to subdue you" kind of thing.

    Anything else is to risky in terms of getting the wrong person.

    But how do you define the most extreme and easy to prove?

    Where there's video evidence? A dozen eye witnesses? A hundred?

    The legal system is supposed to be founded on the idea of a person being guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    If you create some kind of super-standard, where a person can be executed only if they are beyond beyond reasonable doubt, how do you define that legally?

    Fair question, and I don't really have an answer.

    Yall on
  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Well I guess you could go with "without any doubt at all" but I don't think it'd work in practice as I'd imagine any decent defense lawyer could find a way to create at least a tiny amount of doubt.

    HappylilElf on
  • RingoRingo He/Him a distinct lack of substanceRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    Yall wrote: »
    I've always felt the death penalty should be reserved for the most extreme and easy to prove cases.

    Like: "We have video and 35 witnesses who saw you shoot 10 people in the gym before the police were able to subdue you" kind of thing.

    Anything else is to risky in terms of getting the wrong person.

    But how do you define the most extreme and easy to prove?

    Where there's video evidence? A dozen eye witnesses? A hundred?

    The legal system is supposed to be founded on the idea of a person being guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    If you create some kind of super-standard, where a person can be executed only if they are beyond beyond reasonable doubt, how do you define that legally?

    That's easy - you just ask "Do you make more than $100,000 in a year?"

    Ringo on
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  • gigEsmallsgigEsmalls __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2009
    Cases like these make me sad. I'm totally against the death penalty.

    gigEsmalls on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Well I guess you could go with "without any doubt at all" but I don't think it'd work in practice as I'd imagine any decent defense lawyer could find a way to create at least a tiny amount of doubt.

    This (a separate "all doubt" standard for death sentence) was proposed in...Massachusetts, maybe?

    It makes some amount of sense, until you realize that either A) it would be trivial for a decent lawyer to manufacture enough doubt to avoid the sentence, keeping the same inequity of the current system or B) the jury would just subconsciously revert (for the most part) to a "reasonable doubt" standard, nullifying the language.

    You execute people, you'll execute innocent people. Period. The only question is how many you're okay with. Me? Zero. I'm not really even okay with putting innocent people in prison (especially our prisons, as they currently stand) but I'm even less okay with executing them.

    mcdermott on
  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I hate to say it, but the Penn and Teller episode on the Death Penalty was pretty enlightening for me. Before I was kinda on the fence about it, but they made some really good points. I know going in it they will obviously push their agenda, but know I'm pretty anti-death penalty.

    urahonky on
  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    mcdermott wrote: »
    Well I guess you could go with "without any doubt at all" but I don't think it'd work in practice as I'd imagine any decent defense lawyer could find a way to create at least a tiny amount of doubt.

    This (a separate "all doubt" standard for death sentence) was proposed in...Massachusetts, maybe?

    It makes some amount of sense, until you realize that either A) it would be trivial for a decent lawyer to manufacture enough doubt to avoid the sentence, keeping the same inequity of the current system or B) the jury would just subconsciously revert (for the most part) to a "reasonable doubt" standard, nullifying the language.

    You execute people, you'll execute innocent people. Period. The only question is how many you're okay with. Me? Zero. I'm not really even okay with putting innocent people in prison (especially our prisons, as they currently stand) but I'm even less okay with executing them.

    Oh, by all means. I really think that "beyond all doubt" would essentially just mean "no more executions" because even a public defense lawyer could find a way to creat some amount of doubt.

    And I'm right with ya. As long as there is any chance of executing an innocent man (and such a chance will always exist imo) then we shouldn't be executing people.

    HappylilElf on
  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    It would sure be great if we could build a machine that could tell with 100% accuracy whether somebody was telling the truth or lying (barring the ethical and privacy concerns).

    But, since we'll never be able to do it, there will always be the chance that somebody innocent has been convicted. Even the "killer caught with blood on his hands" could possibly have some very strange (and true) explanation that many view with skepticism, condemning him to death.

    EDIT: In fact, our government is built with checks and balances in place because it is clear that no system is perfect. Why would the judicial system be any different?

    joshofalltrades on
  • HalfmexHalfmex I mock your value system You also appear foolish in the eyes of othersRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    I don't really get life imprisonment, though. Let's say you've got a person who you're 100% positive killed a person or three. He confessed, you've got video of him using his victim's blood on a Slip n' Slide™, he's promised to come for their children (again, on video), and he's not the least bit remorseful about any of it. In fact he's proud and vows to kill everyone on the Jury because they didn't say "chowdah" right.

    But you don't want to kill him, so you're going to send him somewhere for the rest of his life (some people on death row are serving "multiple" life sentences so the idea of parole is right off the table). Isn't it then just a matter of getting them away from the public, at which point you're admitting that they'll never be rehabilitated, so why wouldn't you execute them? Outside of moral belief, that is.

    Halfmex on
  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Kazhiim wrote: »
    perhaps we need five degrees of murder.

    The system is built on the assumption that a jury won't convict based on circumstantial evidence. The whole "reasonable doubt" thing, and all. I support the concept of a death penalty, within certain situations, but for every caught-red-handed murderer you've got somebody who might not deserve to die and the risk of executing an innocent man invalidates the system.

    The suspect was found beside the body, wearing gloves, with the knife a few feet away. The victim had bled to death. The suspect was covered in the victim's blood. There were signs of a struggle at the scene. The suspect had massive blunt force trauma to her chest as well as several stab wounds, causing broken ribs.

    Do you execute this man?
    PROTIP: the suspect is a doctor that was passing by and performed CPR. The point is that there is no such thing as the ideal logical construct of the "red-handed" murder case.


    Also hurgl blurgl differing execution rates among rich/poor white/minority etc

    Robman on
  • KoolaidguyKoolaidguy Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    The death penalty is really just a way to distract the public from the flaws of the leagal system. Whenever people have a problem with the efficiency of the state's crime fighting they can just kill someone and make it look like everything is really going fine.

    Koolaidguy on
  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Halfmex wrote: »
    I don't really get life imprisonment, though. Let's say you've got a person that you're 100% positive killed a person or three. He confessed, you've got video of him using his victim's blood on a Slip n' Slide™, he's promised to come for their children (again, on video), and he's not the least bit remorseful about any of it. In fact he's proud and vows to kill everyone on the Jury because they didn't say "chowdah" right.

    But you don't want to kill him, so you're going to send him somewhere for the rest of his life (some people on death row are serving "multiple" life sentences so the idea of parole is right off the table). Isn't it then just a matter of getting them away from the public, at which point you're admitting that they'll never be rehabilitated, so why wouldn't you execute them? Outside of moral belief, that is.

    Because there's never a zero chance that somebody will be rehabilitated? Look at the Son of Sam killer.

    joshofalltrades on
  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Halfmex wrote: »
    I don't really get life imprisonment, though. Let's say you've got a person that you're 100% positive killed a person or three. He confessed, you've got video of him using his victim's blood on a Slip n' Slide™, he's promised to come for their children (again, on video), and he's not the least bit remorseful about any of it. In fact he's proud and vows to kill everyone on the Jury because they didn't say "chowdah" right.

    But you don't want to kill him, so you're going to send him somewhere for the rest of his life (some people on death row are serving "multiple" life sentences so the idea of parole is right off the table). Isn't it then just a matter of getting them away from the public, at which point you're admitting that they'll never be rehabilitated, so why wouldn't you execute them? Outside of moral belief, that is.

    Moral belief is why we locked this fellow up in the first place, trying to divorce morality from justice is pretty dumb if you ask me.

    Robman on
  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Pony wrote: »
    Yall wrote: »
    I've always felt the death penalty should be reserved for the most extreme and easy to prove cases.

    Like: "We have video and 35 witnesses who saw you shoot 10 people in the gym before the police were able to subdue you" kind of thing.

    Anything else is to risky in terms of getting the wrong person.

    But how do you define the most extreme and easy to prove?

    Where there's video evidence? A dozen eye witnesses? A hundred?

    The legal system is supposed to be founded on the idea of a person being guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    If you create some kind of super-standard, where a person can be executed only if they are beyond beyond reasonable doubt, how do you define that legally?

    Here's how to tell if the eyewitness is getting the facts of the case completely wrong. Are they discussing the event? They're wrong. Is their statement being read in court? It's wrong.

    Robman on
  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited August 2009
    Because no matter how great the evidence against someone is, if it turns out it was wrong for some reason, you can't unexecute someone.

    HappylilElf on
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