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Connecticut Outlaws Death Penalty

Three cheers for the state of Connecticut, which has repealed their death penalty law. Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to the 11 men currently on death row, only to future cases. That’s 17 states that have done so, starting with my state, Michigan, which was the first in the country. More of this please.

Comments

  1. Gregory in Seattle says

    I’ve never understood how killing people who kill people shows that killing people is wrong. No government should have the power of life and death over its residents, under any circumstances.

    As I recall, states without the death penalty, in general, have a lower murder rate than those that do. And states that have it but use it infrequently have a lower murder rate than those who use it a lot. So I see this as a definite move forward. Thank you, Connecticut.

  2. Michael Heath says

    I think it’s a sign of wisdom for those raised in an environment which celebrates violence and the death penalty to switch sides.

    This had me eventually coming to grips with how idiotic my youthful support of the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movies truly was and what kind of adults could ever promote such swill. And understanding the supposed context of a pendulum which had supposedly swung too far to the rights of the suspected during that time is not a credible justification – mostly because it was strawman which didn’t honestly reflect the dynamics between victims and the accused.

    In Mr. Eastwood’s defense he appears to have matured beyond this series, but at an age which justifies some continued criticism that he should have known better.

  3. dingojack says

    Connecticut (finally) joins the civilised world‘.

    Has your state?*

    Dingo
    —–
    * If not, ring, email and/or write to your political representives and demand answers.

  4. says

    I will not be surprised if my state is the last to outlaw the death penalty. I’s from Texas.

    My biggest motivation for being against the death penalty is the corruption in the justice system. I simply lack confidence that the punishment is being given to the guilty. You can’t un-execute an innocent man. Not that guilt or innocence matters to people like Rick Perry.

    This had me eventually coming to grips with how idiotic my youthful support of the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movies truly was and what kind of adults could ever promote such swill.

    I don’t think I’ve ever watched it, but I’d probably be a hell of a lot more critical nowadays. I’d be interested to see a movie where the Dirty Harry rogue cop archetype is intentionally cast as the villain.

  5. neXus says

    I recently saw a video on youtube by a philosophy professor who argued that the extra money and attention given to death penalty cases made it more likely that a wrongful conviction would be overturned. He makes excellent videos, and I’d seriously recommend that people watch them:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjgsrGhqb4w&feature=plcp&context=C444d4baVDvjVQa1PpcFPCkijnvL1bJ97cWJmIySSQFMSAYXgyaOo=

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d261imvvAVE&feature=plcp&context=C43f5556VDvjVQa1PpcFPCkijnvL1bJxropWMxFEMpbWxyyvcoXv8%3D

    He makes a compelling argument, although he has yet to complete his research on the subject. Has anyone heard a similar argument?

  6. slc1 says

    One of the problems with capital punishment is that the decision to seek it is left up to proprietorial discretion. In high profile cases against celebrity defendants, prosecutors punt all too often. Case in point, O. J. Simpson. The L. A. County DA, Gil Garcetti chose not to seek the death penalty for political reasons, vis he was planning to run for governor of California and was afraid that seeking the death penalty would alienate African Descended voters in the Democratic primary in California.

    The fact is that, given the prosecution’s theory of the case, this should have been a death penalty case and would have been against an obscure defendant. Simpson was accused of premeditated murder in the death of his former wife in that he allegedly went over to her condominium with a knife with the intent of killing her. In the midst of committing this murder, he allegedly assaulted and murdered an innocent bystander, one Ronald Goldman, i.e. he committed a murder while in the process of committing a felony (first degree murder is a felony).

    This is more serious then someone who holds up a liquor store at gun point and, in the midst of committing armed robbery, a felony, murders the store clerk. Such an individual would be charged with 1st degree homicide and a prosecutor in any other jurisdiction with capital punishment would have seeked the death penalty. As it turned out, Mr. Garcetti shot himself in the foot as a death penalty case requires a death penalty qualified jury; such juries tend to be more conservative and are more likely to convict.

  7. timpayne says

    Two men break into a family home, club the husband unconscious and tie him in the basement. Then they rape and strangle the wife, tie the two daughters to their beds with pillow cases over their heads, rape the 11 year old, douse them both with gas, and set them on fire. The two men are currently on death row awaiting execution in Connecticut.

    Anders Breivik is currently on trial in Norway for murdering 77 people, many of them children shot through the head at point blank range, in conditions of unimaginable horror. He faces a max sentence of 21 years in a prison whose accommodations compare favorably with most college dorms – private bath, tv, and fridge in each cell, but shared kitchens.

    I challenge anyone to explain how Norway isn’t the one in a moral sewer in this comparison. There are crimes so vile that execution is society’s only ethical choice.

  8. dingojack says

    timpayne – you’re asking the wrong question. The question is:
    “Why does all availble evidence point to Norway being a much better place to live than the US (particularly in relation to the relative crime rates)?”

    Perhaps the death penalty is a factor in making the US worse.

    Dingo

  9. joe_k says

    @timpayne – and yet, the average annual murder rate in Norway is 30 people, with a population of 5m. In Ct, it has averaged over 100 in the past decade, with a population of 3.5m. Yet Norway is the uncivilised country?

  10. interrobang says

    I challenge anyone to explain how Norway isn’t the one in a moral sewer in this comparison.

    Because I’m a better and more civilised person than the jackhole who used a pair of scissors ninety times on my great-aunt when she wouldn’t lend him money, so I don’t kill people (or get my designated governmental proxies to do it for me) when they don’t do what I want, that’s how.

    And if you can’t see how that example applies to Anders Breivik, I can’t help you. Now, I do agree that neither of them should never get out of prison (or, actually, preferably a mental institution), but dead? Fuck that, I want them to have to stare at a wall and think for a couple decades or ten.

  11. Chiroptera says

    timpayne, #9: There are crimes so vile that execution is society’s only ethical choice.

    Well, this is just my opinion, but I don’t think that there is a person so beyond redemption that they shouldn’t at least be given a chance a parole even if sentenced to life.

    The closest to crimes so vile that I would at least consider the death penalty all involve state terrorism committed by government officials.

  12. Michael Heath says

    Bronze Dog writes:

    I don’t think I’ve ever watched it, but I’d probably be a hell of a lot more critical nowadays. I’d be interested to see a movie where the Dirty Harry rogue cop archetype is intentionally cast as the villain.

    Well, the franchise covers that as well in Magnum Force. In that movie some hotshot rookies start a vigilante force supported by entrenched city powers working behind the scenes. Dirty Harry routs out these rotten cops and their political backers. However I don’t think the nuance this movie added to the franchise sufficiently counters the franchise’s primary meme; which is that we favor criminal rights far too much over the rights of victims and at the expense of justice.

  13. timpayne says

    Dingojack and joe_k, you are arguing with strawmen. Sure, in most objective quality of life measures (except mosquitoes/m³ air), Norway exceeds the US. Makes sense, if you don’t squander your national budget on military, there may be money available for health care and social services. And any society not awash in semi-automatic firearms will naturally have lower murder rates than the US, which is awash in semi-automatic firearms. Also, only an idiot would argue that the threat of capital punishment reduces violent crime.

    But none of that changes the fact that there are crimes so heinous that execution is the only moral response. I won’t go so far as to say Connecticut will be a better place on the day Komisarjevsky and Hayes are executed, but Norway will be worse on the day Breivik is sent to prison for 21 years.

  14. Chiroptera says

    timpayne, #15: But none of that changes the fact that there are crimes so heinous that execution is the only moral response.

    That isn’t a fact. It is an opinion.

  15. says

    The crime allegedly committed makes no difference to the question of whether the death penalty is ‘right’.

    It doesn’t affect the argument that killing people is bad, so the state should not do it.
    It doesn’t affect the argument that false convictions happen.

    IMO, the death penalty is never right, no matter what the alleged offence.

  16. says

    “Dingojack and joe_k, you are arguing with strawmen.”

    No, they’re arguing on the basis of a different moral premise than you. You seem to think that the purpose of punishment is to make the evil-doers suffer. I (and I suspect, the ones you replied to) regard punishment from a utilitarian perspective: its purpose is to improve public safety through deterrence and isolation. If the punishment isn’t making us safer, or otherwise making the world a better place, then all it’s doing is causing more suffering.

    The evidence is pretty clear that the death penalty doesn’t deter crime. It also costs more. It’s also applied in very unfair and capricious ways, disproportionately to poor minorities. It’s rife with abuse. As such, it appears to have no purpose other than to please people who want to see evil-doers put to death. If that’s what drives you, there’s no arguing with that. But for other people, the actual consequential outcomes of the Norwegian criminal justice system vs. our own is how you judge the relative morality of the two systems. If their system does a better job of protecting the public and inflicts less harm on the convicted, it’s clearly the better system.

  17. Michael Heath says

    timpayne writes:

    But none of that changes the fact that there are crimes so heinous that execution is the only moral response

    That’s two opinions, not a fact. It’s also a conclusion unsupported by any factual premises which buttress your opinion, making your conclusion wholly uncompelling if we consider only the argument you post here.

  18. says

    It’s really not complicated. The death penalty is wrong because it is permanent. You cannot unexecute someone, and innocent people will be sentended to death because there is no such thing as perfect justice.

  19. Chiroptera says

    timgueguen, #20: You cannot unexecute someone, and innocent people will be sentended to death because there is no such thing as perfect justice.

    Such a thing can be said about life imprisonment, especially if parole is removed as an option. Twenty years later, if the person is found to be innocent, then you can’t give that person those twenty years back. Not as bad as death, I admit, but still not something I would want to face.

    On the other hand, even if we had a justice system that never, ever wrongly convicted innocent people, I would still be opposed to the death penalty. As well as any overly harsh sentencing.

  20. timpayne says

    I think, Area Man, the only thing I said about the deterrent value of capital punishment is that there isn’t any. I said that first, not you. And your sermon about utilitarianism is simply camouflage for a moral imperative, ie. that it’s never acceptable for a society to kill someone. Without the benefit of religion, that’s the irrational position.

    My point has nothing to do with punitive suffering, prosecutorial misconduct, the cost of capital cases, or the quality of life in Norway. It’s just that there are a few bastards in the world who commit such abominable crimes that as a society, we should retain the right to terminate their existence.

  21. timpayne says

    Dingo@22, I’ve not used the word evil, although several others have. So Ridgeway’s plea bargained sentence doesn’t mean Americans are evil, it means they’re stupid.

  22. thomasmorris says

    Without the benefit of religion, that’s the irrational position.

    No more irrational than:But none of that changes the fact that there are crimes so heinous that execution is the only moral response

  23. Chris from Europe says

    Without the benefit of religion, that’s the irrational position.

    Given that people have been successfully convicted of murder based on phantasy stories, it’s quite rational because of self-interest.

    Even a slippery slope wouldn’t be a fallacy here, as assassination is becoming acceptable for a majority of Americans. The argument which people are acceptable targets for execution or assassination is dominated by emotion.

    Given the additional cost (which is still too low in many states) and the lack of reversability, the arbitrariness and also the racism (minority criminals, majority victim etc.), I cannot see how a rational person could support the death penalty.

  24. Chiroptera says

    timpayne, #23: Without the benefit of religion, that’s the irrational position.

    Well, with the benefit of religion, everything becomes tainted with with irrationality. I’m just sayin’, is all.

    At any rate, if Area Man is saying “that it’s never acceptable for a society to kill someone,” that is no more irrational than saying “some crimes are so heinous that the perpetrators deserve to die.” Both are subjective value judgments and so are inherently “irrational” (although maybe “arational” would be a better word).

  25. timpayne says

    Chiroptera@27, I was never any good at getting the correct implication of multiple negatives in a sentence (is there a formula for that?); but I understand your earlier statement that even if no one was ever, ever wrongly convicted, there should be no executions.

    I’ve been scolded by the resident pedant for my use of the word “fact”, and by others expousing home grown utilitarian tripe about the practical value of execution. The only real question is, is there any crime so horrendous that society should eliminate its perpetrator? After that it’s all details.

  26. thomasmorris says

    It’s hardly pedantic to point out that your consistent misuse of the word “fact” is, in fact, a misuse. In fact, since your entire “argument” consists of nothing more than a continual reiteration of the statement that “it’s a fact that some crimes are so heinous that they deserve execution” – with added claims about the irrationality of anyone who disagrees with your assertion – I’d say that the distinction is actually pretty central to what you’re trying to argue.

    Of course, the sooner you accept that your statement is not, in fact, a “fact,” the sooner you realize that your argument is no more rational than those being offered by anyone else – and considerably less reasoned and rational than that those of posters like Area Man. So I can understand why you’d prefer to pretend that an insistence on accuracy is only “pedantic.”

    On a side note, considering your consistent inability to present a valid argument, I’d suggest that it’s not the best idea to accuse others of creating “tripe” arguments.

  27. thomasmorris says

    Of course, the sooner you accept that your statement is not, in fact, a “fact,” the sooner you realize that your argument is no more rational than those being offered by anyone else – and considerably less reasoned and rational than the arguments of posters like Area Man. So I can understand why you’d prefer to pretend that an insistence on accuracy is only “pedantic.”

    Fixed, sort of.

  28. dontpanic says

    It is too an objective fact that there are some crimes so heinous that execution is the only moral response. Certainly anyone who uses four spaces, instead of three, when indenting code is guilty, guilty I say! And lets not even speak of those who’s unspeakable crime is … the use of, ah, tabs [shudder]. That lot deserves waterboarding before being sent to the firing squad. These are just facts. You can’t dispute them, ’cause I’ll re-iterate them several times and that will prove them to be true facts. Don’t talk to me about any slippery slope these are heinous crimes we’re talking about.

    but I understand your earlier statement that even if no one was ever, ever wrongly convicted, there should be no executions.

    I can’t ever hope to be Chiroptera, but yes, even if there were never wrong convictions there should never be executions. It’s a values thing, perhaps you wouldn’t understand. Practically, I’d also worry that even without the unfairness of killing the innocent capital punishment could be carried out unfairly. I have little trust that it would be applied uniformly … systemic racism would probably insure that it wasn’t. And that kind of thing is corrosive to society. Yes, sentence lengths are also subject to this unfairness, but killing someone is fundamentally different. If it weren’t then you wouldn’t be suggesting it needs to be there in the judicial arsenal.

    Sure, in most objective quality of life measures (except mosquitoes/m³ air), Norway exceeds the US.

    So instead of looking at what even you, timpayne, concede are objective measures you instead succumb to mindless blood lust. [Back away slowly]

  29. dingojack says

    Timpayne – if you read my post (#22) and listen really, really hard, you may just make out the faint whooshing sound of the point sailling way, way above your tiny head.

    Dingo

  30. harold says

    I challenge anyone to explain how Norway isn’t the one in a moral sewer in this comparison. There are crimes so vile that execution is society’s only ethical choice.

    So despite everything else about Norway, if a murderer is given a long prison sentence instead of executed, that makes them a “moral sewer”?

    For the record, I split the difference. I do think that some people should be locked up for life without parole, and I have a mild issue with excessively short maximum sentence laws.

    As I will explain, my attitudes have nothing to do with either revenge or “redemption”. I just think that someone as violent as Brevik will always be a threat until he is too elderly and/or disabled to be so. Obviously he should receive health care when he is – but in a forensic setting (for one thing, others who are elderly and disabled, but were law abiding, might not want him in their facility). I greatly respect those who would wish to help him achieve “redemption” based on their spiritual or secular ethical system, but they can visit him in prison for that.

    I’m a very strong advocate of one of the major missing elements in the US justice system, rehabilitation (not out of some concern with some kind of spiritual or ethical “redemption”, just because it is cruel and stupid to destroy the economic and social future of people who can be learn to be law-abiding). But proponents of rehabilitation can’t succeed if we unrealistically argue that everyone can be rehabilitated. We don’t know how to fix brains that engage in sadistic and/or narcissistic violence. The US actually does NOT seem to have an excess of such criminals, by the way. We have a huge excess of economically motivated drug prohibition-related murders, and otherwise mainly unexceptional crime statistics.

    It’s just that there are a few bastards in the world who commit such abominable crimes that as a society, we should retain the right to terminate their existence.

    I basically agree with Area Man, but let me put it a different way. Are you going to rape, torture, and burn those CT muderers to death? Are you going to chase the Norwegian down with a gun and shoot him – over seventy times?

    Of course you aren’t. Therefore we can forget about fantasies of perfect revenge, or “closure”, as it is eumphemistically called. They can never be achieved.

    Instead, we should think about this – “Overall, within a free society, what is the best way to prevent these types of crimes from occurring to the greatest extent, and when they do occur, solve them correctly and rapidly and prevent the culprits from doing further harm?”

    We can eliminate the death penalty from any reasonable consideration. It is strongly associated with excessively high murder rates. I’m not saying that the death penalty motivates people to murder, directly. It doesn’t seem to. But it does signal a locale where human life is under-valued. The best that can be said is that, while creatining the horrific spectacle of wrong executions, it may not have any impact on overall murder rate. The worst that can be said is that maybe it encourages social conditions that increase murders.

    It’s useless and should be eliminated.

  31. Rick Pikul says

    Restitution
    Rehabilitation
    Isolation
    Deterrence
    Vengeance

    Those are the five things criminal punishment is used for. So, Timpayne, which of these do you think apply in cases where capital punishment is the only moral option?

    It’s clearly not rehabilitation and you have already said it’s not deterrence. I can’t see how creating a corpse is, in general, going to give restitution to a victim, (I could see some special cases involving organ harvesting). Long prison terms are about as effective at isolating a threat and far cheaper, (unless you want to start killing the innocent).

    That just leaves vengeance, the “you hit me so I’ll hit you back” of a child.

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