Goldberg Waxes Stupid on the Death Penalty


Jonah Goldberg has another one of his predictably trite and overly simplistic columns — that is, after all, the only thing he has to offer — about the Aurora shooter and the death penalty. He begins by beating up a rather silly straw man:

Death penalty opponents are fairly mercenary about when to express their outrage. When questions of guilt can be muddied in the media; when the facts are old and hard to look up; when the witnesses are dead; when statistics can be deployed to buttress the charge of institutional racism: These are just a few of the times when opponents loudly insist the death penalty must go.

But when the murderer is white or racist or his crimes so incomprehensibly ugly, the anti-death-penalty crowd stays silent. If your long-term goal is to abolish the death penalty, you want to pick your cases carefully.

But the simple fact is, if the death penalty is always wrong, it’s wrong in the politically inconvenient cases, too.

Okay. Jonah, can you name someone who is opposed to the death penalty who changes his mind in certain cases? I don’t know of any. I’m opposed to the death penalty in all cases, including cases involving senseless mass murderers like James Holmes. And it isn’t because I think the death penalty is inherently immoral, it’s because our judicial system is so fatally flawed from the top to the bottom that it makes putting innocent people to death a certainty, particularly poor men of color. Some people argue against the death penalty solely on moral grounds. But I don’t know anyone who thinks the death penalty is wrong, for whatever reason, but not when the murderer is white or his crimes are particularly vile. I doubt you know anyone who does so either, but that doesn’t stop you from using that caricature of your opponents to poison the well.

Comments

  1. slc1 says

    What else can we expect from someone whose mother claims to have had a tryst with Harry Truman.

  2. Chiroptera says

    I remember in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, there were those among the anti-death penalty side who were saying that McVeigh was not a case where the death penalty opposition should be spending their time and energy — some were saying that they should be silent.

    That wasn’t a question about whether they felt it is right or wrong — it was a discussion about the best tactics to use to advance their goals.

    One columnist retorted that McVeigh was exactly the type of case to demonstrate the sincerity one’s opposition to the death penalty.

  3. lofgren says

    Shit, there are people I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to personally kick to death. Doesn’t mean I think it should be sanctioned by the state.

  4. lofgren says

    One columnist retorted that McVeigh was exactly the type of case to demonstrate the sincerity one’s opposition to the death penalty.

    Typical equivocal bullshit.

    Demonstrating sincerity in this case means personally opposing the death penalty for McVeigh.

    Ending the death penalty means deploying your resources in a way that makes sense and is effective.

    You don’t win by exhausting yourself constantly fighting every battle with everything you’ve got. It’s just not realistic. Does it suck? Yeah, of course. But that shit’s just circumstances.

  5. Who Knows? says

    I think the reason people like Jonah make arguments like this is because it is completely inconceivable to them that anyone wouldn’t just switch positions depending on circumstances.

    You know, they’re all for prayer in school, until they learn that means Islamic prayer in school.

    They’re all for getting involved with the internal struggles of other countries, until they suspect that it may go well and a Democrat in the Oval Office would look good supporting the rebels.

    They are all for military service, sacrificing for the country, until they or their sons might be drafted or the taxes needed to pay for these adventures might come out of their bank accounts.

  6. slc1 says

    Re
    Who Knows @ #5

    They are all for military service, sacrificing for the country, until they or their sons might be drafted or the taxes needed to pay for these adventures might come out of their bank accounts.

    The call those folks chickenhawks.

  7. Michael Heath says

    Chiroptera,

    Glad to see you posting here again; I always appreciate your insight. I did notice some other recent posts, but didn’t see anything from you for months prior to that.

  8. says

    But when the murderer is white or racist or his crimes so incomprehensibly ugly, the anti-death-penalty crowd stays silent.

    Why would any death penalty opponent be talking about the execution of James Holmes? He hasn’t even been found fit to stand trial yet, much less sentenced to death.

  9. rork says

    I’m with Ed, except perhaps the extra bit that I hear about but don’t deeply know the details of that is icing on the cake:
    Death penalty is not cost effective. It wastes money.

    One thing I’m glad for now that the GOP runs Michigan, is that we haven’t brought death penalty back. We are proudly the state that first abolished it. 1846.
    Oh, wiki says “for ordinary crimes” – apparently treason was exempted until 1963. Anyway, nobody has been executed since 1846.

  10. vmanis1 says

    Expecting Jonah Goldberg to say anything sensible about any topic at all is pretty much like expecting a scorpion not to sting. He’s like a stopped clock, except that he’s not even right once a day.

  11. bradc says

    I don’t agree with him on lots of other issues, but conservative Dennis Prager has an interesting perspective on the death penalty, specifically on the chance of executing an innocent person (from this post):

    Nor am I persuaded by the argument that we cannot execute any murderer, no matter how certain his guilt, because we might execute an innocent person. In America, that is so rare (if it has happened at all in the last half century) that the chances of executing an innocent person — actually executing an innocent person, not sentencing an innocent person to death — are much fewer than the chances of a convicted murderer murdering another prisoner, or murdering a prison guard, or escaping and murdering someone outside of prison. In other words, more innocents die with no capital punishment than with it.

    A similar argument in this article:

    An innocent may be killed? Many moral social policies have the possibility and even the inevitability of the death of innocents. As I noted in a previous column on this very issue, even if raising speed limits means an inevitable increase in innocents’ deaths, the greater good of higher speed limits will still prevail.

    In fact, if preventing the killing of innocents is what should determine capital punishment policy, one should support capital punishment. It is the absence of the death penalty that leads to more innocent people being killed. When there is no death penalty, convicted murderers kill other prisoners and guards; and, when these murderers escape, they kill innocent civilians. If those of us who are for the death penalty have blood on our hands when the state executes an innocent man, abolitionists — now including George Will — have the blood of innocents on their hands every time a convicted murderer murders again.

    Recently, a former Roman Catholic priest imprisoned for child molestation was murdered in prison by a convicted murderer. His blood is on the hands of the abolitionists.

    And if the system is flawed, fix it. That is what Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is arguing in trying to bring capital punishment back to his state. You don’t end a good policy because it is flawed, you end a bad policy, flawed or not.

    Moreover, the possibility of error has always existed, and it is actually less likely to occur today in the age of DNA.

    This doesn’t address other objections to capital punishment, of course, but I’d be interested to hear what you think of his argument.

  12. Doug Little says

    Talk about jumping the gun the guy hasn’t even been sentenced yet. I’ll oppose the death penalty in his case, I’d prefer that he rot in jail for the rest of his life.

  13. Doug Little says

    bradc @11

    . In America, that is so rare (if it has happened at all in the last half century)

    It is the absence of the death penalty that leads to more innocent people being killed.

    Well there’s his problem. His building an argument on false premises.

    even if raising speed limits means an inevitable increase in innocents’ deaths, the greater good of higher speed limits will still prevail.

    WTF is the greater good of raising speed limits.

  14. rork says

    10+11: let’s see the math.
    The convicted murder who murders again – they have to have been spared by a no-execution law, and would have been executed without it, to count. And they would have had to commit the next killing after they would have been executed. There’s more details like that.
    Also, the point that death sentences are not handed out fairly still stands. Until I alone am the one who gets to decide, I do not like it. Sorry my fellow citizens, but I do not trust you with this call.

  15. yoav says

    @Bradc #11
    I guess that’s why the US has a much lower murder rate then all these European countries that were stupid enough to abolish the death penalty.
    To the google machine, batman!!!
    Looky here’s some data
    Oh, my bad, that’s a complete pile of bovine poo.

  16. lofgren says

    Sorry my fellow citizens, but I do not trust you with this call.

    That’s fair. I don’t trust you with it either.

  17. says

    Doug Little “Well there’s his problem. His building an argument on false premises.”
    Dennis Prager? No way!

    “WTF is the greater good of raising speed limits.”
    Mr Prager can’t drive 55. It’s like the movie Speed, but instead of a bus, it’s got a moron.

    yoav “I guess that’s why the US has a much lower murder rate then all these European countries that were stupid enough to abolish the death penalty.”
    The Europe only has such a low murder rate because they already murdered all of their murders back when they had the Death Penalty.

  18. bradc says

    @rork:

    The convicted murder who murders again – they have to have been spared by a no-execution law, and would have been executed without it, to count. And they would have had to commit the next killing after they would have been executed. There’s more details like that.

    Sure, but even with those narrow requirements, I’m sure there are some examples out there, just like there are some examples where it appears that an innocent man was actually executed. Does it become just a comparison of numbers, then?

    To be clear, I don’t really think this is a great argument to support the death penalty, per se, but it does appear to effectively counter the “an innocent person could be executed” argument of many death penalty opponents.

    In addition, what about cases where guilt is absolutely indisputed, even by the accused?

    Also, the point that death sentences are not handed out fairly still stands. Until I alone am the one who gets to decide, I do not like it. Sorry my fellow citizens, but I do not trust you with this call.

    This seems a more compelling objection. Reading the detail behind the wrongful execution of Carlos DeLuna is a sobering look at the failure at all levels of our justice system.

    To be clear, I’m actually undecided on this issue at the moment (I’ve gone back and forth on the death penalty several times in my life), and I’m willing to be persuaded.

  19. lofgren says

    it does appear to effectively counter the “an innocent person could be executed” argument of many death penalty opponents.

    If you think that, then presumably because you, bradc, might potentially murder somebody someday in the future, I would be justified in killing you and your best friend/parents/significant other, because you and he/she/they share certain characteristics. After all, since we are trying to prevent deaths here and you might kill somebody, we can safely conclude that they might kill somebody as well, or even if they probably won’t we can just chalk it up to collateral damage.

    You seem to be sketchy on the rudimentary concepts of justice, let alone the death penalty.

  20. bradc says

    @lofgren

    If you think that, then presumably because you, bradc, might potentially murder somebody someday in the future, I would be justified in killing you and your best friend/parents/significant other, because you and he/she/they share certain characteristics. After all, since we are trying to prevent deaths here and you might kill somebody, we can safely conclude that they might kill somebody as well, or even if they probably won’t we can just chalk it up to collateral damage.

    This is exactly Prager’s point, that you can’t decide a policy like the death penalty based on hypotheticals (a hypothetical innocent executed vs a hypothetical innocent killed by an escaped life-in-prison felon).

    That just means we need to focus the discussion elsewhere.

    I think the “our court system is royally screwed up, especially for minorities and poor” is a very strong anti-capital punishment argument. (See my link to the Carlos DeLuna case above.)

    Prager’s affirmative argument (which I haven’t mentioned here yet) is that capital punishment is actually a superior moral position (from the same article I quoted earlier):

    And, in any event, the primary purpose of capital punishment is not deterrence.

    It is to prevent the greatest conceivable injustice — allowing a person who deliberately takes an innocent person’s life to keep his own.

    And it tells society that murder is evil in ways that no amount of imprisonment can ever convey. Every member of society, from young child to old adult — perceives that killing murderers means society hates evil in a way that it clearly does not if it only imprisons them.

    Even if you believed this (and I’m sure there are many here who won’t agree with his idea of justice), the “our courts are still too screwed up” argument might still trump it.

  21. says

    lofgren’s comment made me think of Judge Death from the long running British comic series Judge Dredd. Death came to the conclusion that the mere fact people were alive caused drime, so the answer to stopping all crime was to kill everyone. He proceeded to do just that before travelling into the universe where Dredd existed, becoming a persistent problem and foe for Dredd and the other Judges of Mega City One.

  22. lofgren says

    This is exactly Prager’s point, that you can’t decide a policy like the death penalty based on hypotheticals (a hypothetical innocent executed vs a hypothetical innocent killed by an escaped life-in-prison felon).

    Except that killing an innocent person is not a hypothetical. It is a surety.

    The argument boils down to “It is justifiable to kill innocent people because of the hypothetical future crimes of other people who have been accused of similar crimes might have committed had we allowed them to live.”

    It’s monstrous, plain and simple.

    Instead of “Let the punishment fit the crime,” it’s “Let the punishment fit the crime plus some imaginary crimes that other people might possibly commit.”

  23. says

    How many convicted murderers escape prison and kill again? The number must be far smaller than those who are executed. Certainly it happens very infrequently, so I don’t see how that is much of an argument.

    The murdering of other prisoners and prison staff has nothing to do with whether murderers are sentenced to death or not. In 1980 the state prison homicide rate was 54 per 100,000. By 2000 it was only 5 per 100,000. That’s a whopping 90% drop in 20 years during which death penalty practices barely changed.

    Clearly, preventing prison murders is all about the way prisons are run and almost nothing to do with whether murderers are executed or not.

  24. bradc says

    How many convicted murderers escape prison and kill again? The number must be far smaller than those who are executed. Certainly it happens very infrequently, so I don’t see how that is much of an argument.

    That’s not quite the right comparison; it’s all murders (including guards and other inmates) committed by convicted killers vs executions of innocent people.

  25. says

    Read the second half of my comment. Prison murder rates are all about the type of conditions and policies put in place in prison (look at the stats).

    Linking prison murders to whether or not the death penalty is enforced is clearly fallacious given that the US state prison system managed to reduce homicides by over 90% in 20 years without any changes to the death penalty practices.

    Murder rates in prison are just not that high any more, and nor are the murders all committed by murderers. Then you even have to account for the number of violent prisoners who are victims (they die at twice the rate of non-violent offenders) thus reducing the risk that innocents may be harmed.

    Basically, Prager’s argument is extremely weak sauce. Murderers can and have been successfully prevented from murdering others, in and out of prison, without resorting to wholesale execution. As history shows, prison security practices have so much of a greater impact on the number of killings that occur, in and out of prison, that increasing the number of executions would barely register as margin of error in comparison. The numbers just aren’t on his/your side.

  26. bradc says

    I don’t disagree with any of your comments about prison security practices and the improving rates of inmate violence/murders. But even in the very best case scenario, you are still going to have at least a handful of murders committed every year by convicted murderers serving life that couldn’t have occurred if they weren’t still around.

    That’s compared to something on the order of 10 “possibly innocent” people executed since 1976 (according to the Death Penalty Information Center)?

    I keep trying to say this, but I must not be communicating it very well: This argument is not an affirmative argument for the death penalty. This is an argument that attempts to demonstrate that one specific anti-death penalty argument is flawed. Specifically, the argument that any possible implementation of the death penalty, no matter how careful, has a non-zero chance of an innocent person being executed, therefore we must repeal the death penalty to eliminate that chance, no matter how slim. Or that proponents of the death penalty have “blood on their hands” if the state executes an innocent man.

    Is this a straw man? Possibly. I haven’t seen it argued by anyone in this thread. I’ve re-read the original post, and its clear to me now that Ed doesn’t hold this position either:

    And it isn’t because I think the death penalty is inherently immoral, it’s because our judicial system is so fatally flawed from the top to the bottom that it makes putting innocent people to death a certainty, particularly poor men of color.

    Sounds to me like his objection is more specifically about the current lousy state of our justice system than it is an absolute moral position about the death penalty. And perhaps that a compelling enough objection.

  27. Pieter B, FCD says

    Death penalty opponents are fairly mercenary about when to express their outrage

    Any guesses about what little Jonah thinks “mercenary” means? I think I detect a thesaurus accident a la Shrub’s “lacerates were running down my cheeks.”

  28. says

    bradc “I don’t disagree with any of your comments about prison security practices and the improving rates of inmate violence/murders. But even in the very best case scenario, you are still going to have at least a handful of murders committed every year by convicted murderers serving life that couldn’t have occurred if they weren’t still around.
    That’s compared to something on the order of 10 “possibly innocent” people executed since 1976 (according to the Death Penalty Information Center)?”

    I’m still trying to get over the idea that only murderers murder in prisons.

  29. marcozandrini says

    I think many of my fellow comments are nibbling at, in my mind, is the crux of the issue: capital punishment based on the expertise of the defendant’s counsel. While the defendant’s wealth or access to wealth may not be an ironclad predictor of the imposition of the death penalty, I think we can all agree that a defendant’s wealth, and hence the defendant’s ability to hire quality representation, is a factor in the imposition of the death penalty.
    I strongly believe that while the death penalty is disproportionally imposed on people of color, I don’t believe this disproportion to be racially based, per se. I believe that because statistically people of color typically have significantly fewer financial resources, they receive less than optimum representation. Now, that said, I am not inferring that a high priced lawyer guarantees a defendant won’t receive the death penalty, I believe that representation by a highly qualified and experienced attorney does significantly reduce the likelihood of a death sentance.

  30. says

    Ed:

    Goldberg was dead right.

    Lots of people change their mind on the death penalty, depending on the type of case.

    When Gallup asked about truly “death penalty eligible” murders, as with Timothy McVeigh’s mass murders in the Oklahoma City bombing, his execution was supported by 81%, while 16% opposed (Gallup 5/02/01).

    With nearly identical polling dates (Gallup, 6/10/01), Gallup found 65% general support for executions for all murders, with 28% opposed (1).

    Those Gallup polls found that death penalty opposition fell by 43% and support rose by 25% (1), when comparing polls of a specific death penalty eligible crime (more support. less opposition) to the category of all murders (less support, more opposition, still majority support).

    That should come as no surprise.

    Qinnipiac polling duplicates those results, within the same poll, with 67% death penalty support, 28% opposition, to the general question, with similar results since 2007. (poll question/answer #41 and TREND within 41, Dec 2011) (3).

    Within that same poll, only 16% agreed that no one should be executed, with 83% death penalty support (based upon 10% supporting executions for all murders and 73% saying it depends upon the crime).

    This has been the consistent response since 2000, as shown in #43 TREND, showing a 43% reduction in opposition and a 24% rise in support (3), almost identical to Gallup.

    40% who say they oppose the death penalty, generally, actually do support it for terrorists. (79% support and 18% oppose the death penalty for terrorists. 67% support and 29% oppose the death penalty for “murder”.) (SAME POLL – Survey USA News Poll #12074, Sponsor: WABC-TV New York, 4/26/2007 New York State poll)

    84% of those who, generally, say they oppose the death penalty, in general, actual did support it for Michael Ross. (SAME POLL – 85% say Connecticut serial rapist/murderer Michael Ross should be allowed to waive appeals and be executed. When asked whether they favor or oppose the death penalty, 59% favor – 31% oppose (Quinnipiac University Poll, January 12, 2005).

    (1) “Death Penalty Support Remains Very High: USA & The World”
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/07/death-penalty-polls-support-remains.html

    (3) RELEASE, March 10, 2011 – “Death Penalty Support At New High In Connecticut, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters High On Medical Marijuana, Sunday Liquor Sales” http://www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-and-centers/polling-institute/connecticut/release-detail?ReleaseID=1566

    Within poll number 43 and the TREND within poll 43,

    NOTE: In 2011, the Quinnipiac Poll (2) finds 83% support the death penalty, that percentage is the combination of (a) death penalty support for all murderers (10%) and (b) (it depends upon the circumstances) crimes (73%). Only 16% oppose the death penalty in all circumstances, as per question and answer number 43, from the March 10, 2011 (1).

    82% support and 16% opposition, is the average of polling since 2000, using those same combinations.

  31. says

    Ed:

    You need to reconsider.

    Innocents are more protected with the death penalty.

    The following reviews every aspect of the innocence debate.

    THE DEATH PENALTY: SAVING MORE INNOCENT LIVES

    Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

    1) The Death Penalty: Saving More Innocent Lives
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/03/death-penalty-saving-more-innocent.html

    2) Innocents More At Risk Without Death Penalty
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/03/innocents-more-at-risk-without-death.html

  32. says

    marcozandrini:

    On both race and economics, I suspect there is very little evidence of death penalty bias, solely based upon the reality that it is extremely rare for any group to receive the death penalty.

    There have been about 700,000 murders since 1973, for which there has been about 8300 death sentences (1.2%), of which about 1300 have been executed (0.2%).

    Regardless of race, sex, finances, etc., it is incredibly rare that any murderer will face execution.

    No one is going to disagaree that better counsel and better resources should provide a better defense and a lesser probability of facing a death sentence.

    It must be noted that the overwhelkming majority of those defendants in a death penalty trial are indigent and that 2/3 of all death penalty trials result in a sentence less than death. The system makes it incredibly difficult for murderers to be given a death sentence.

    BTW, white murderers are twice as likely to be executed as are black murderers.

    Please review:

    Rebuttal: Death Penalty Racism Claims
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2012/07/rebuttal-death-penalty-racism-claims.html

  33. says

    The anti death penalty folks knew they had lost the moral argument against the death penalty and, thereore, switched to implementation aspects of the death penalty, which they hoped would persuade some to join their position.

    Problem is, every topic they pickk eventually, doesn’t help their position, because they have lied about it.

    Apparently, there most persistent argument is based upon the “innocents” at risk of execution.

    The problem with this atrgument is that innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

  34. Chris from Europe says

    @dudleysharp
    It’s amazing how much delusional warped bullshit you produce.

  35. zmidponk says

    OK, let’s reason out the morality behind executing people for crimes. Start with ‘let’s execute all murderers’. OK, what about the woman who, after years of verbal, physical and sexual abuse, simply snaps, picks up a knife and stabs her husband in a momentary fit of rage. Does she deserve to die? No, so we say, ‘OK, let’s just restrict that to more extreme cases, like serial killers’. What about the guy who kills people because he’s genuinely convinced they are demons sent to bring about the apocalypse? Does he deserve to die, instead of getting help in a psychiatric institution? No, so we say, ‘OK, let’s make an exception for insane people’. What about people whose sanity can’t be properly determined? For example, take one of the most notorious serial killers of recent years, Fred West. Killed 11 people that’s known of, some after imprisoning them for a number of days and repeatedly raping them, and possibly has killed up to 20 others. A certain case for death penalty, we might say. However, there is some evidence that he came from a family where incestuous relationships were common, and where any kind of parenting was pretty much absent. There is also some evidence that part of his psychopathic tendencies came from a head injury received in a motorbike crash when he was 17. So, as a possibly insane, possibly just very, very evil person, would he deserve death if he hadn’t committed suicide?

    The simple fact of the matter, it seems to me, is that, no matter what criteria you place at the top of the ‘should be killed’ column, there is always going to be cases, quite possibly a great many cases, that simply don’t fit in the nice, neat boxes that categorising in this manner requires. That, combined with the whiff of hypocrisy there is in killing people for the crime of killing people persuades me that the question is not ‘why shouldn’t we kill these criminals?’ but ‘why should we kill them?’, and that is a question I’ve yet to hear a persuasive answer to.

  36. says

    The anti death penalty folks knew they had lost the moral argument against the death penalty and, thereore, switched to implementation aspects of the death penalty, which they hoped would persuade some to join their position.

    Lost? Seriously? Take a look around the world and let’s see who’s lost. The only other nation with a strong democratic tradition that still uses the death penalty is Japan, but even they use it very rarely these days. Contrast that with the number of despotic regimes who still use it regularly, like the USA.

    Almost everywhere where democracy flourishes, the death penalty debate is over, and has been for a long time in many places. Only in America does the debate rage on, but even here the signs are that support is beginning to fray around the edges. One day, it will be over here too, and there is only one possible outcome–the death penalty will be consigned to the trashcan of history.

  37. slc1 says

    Re dudleysharp

    Of all endeavors that put innocents at risk, is there one with a better record of sparing innocent lives than the US death penalty? Unlikely.

    Ah gee, that’s a big comfort to someone who was innocent but was executed based on a wrongful conviction. I suspect that if one of those individuals was a relative of Mr. Sharp, he wouldn’t be so blase about it. As a matter of fact, if Mr. Sharp was in the slammer awaiting execution for a capital crime he didn’t commit, I would be quite willing to bet the ranch that he wouldn’t be posting the type of putrid comments we have seen so far.

    The Innocence Project has, so far, freed over a hundred wrongly convicted individuals who were given the death penalty, based on DNA evidence. Everyone of those individuals would have been executed were it not for the implementation of DNA technology. One can only speculate how many individuals were wrongly executed before DNA technology came into widespread use.

    By the way, can Mr. Sharp point to a single individual accused of a capital offense who had the wherewithal to hire a high priced attorney like Richard “Racehorse” Haynes or Jerry Spence who has been executed? Capital punishment is for those who don’t have the resources to hire that type of legal talent.

  38. says

    “I strongly believe that while the death penalty is disproportionally imposed on people of color, I don’t believe this disproportion to be racially based, per se.”

    Really? The reason LOTS of people are poor is because we have a financial and economic engine that considers them to be fuel while the wealthy are the ones who exercise the controls. Fixing that problem (while simultaneously rooting out corrupt and venal police, prosecutors, judges and warders) would make it a lot more likely that only the truly guilty would wind up in a death penalty situation.

    bradc:

    This:

    “Nor am I persuaded by the argument that we cannot execute any murderer, no matter how certain his guilt, because we might execute an innocent person. In America, that is so rare (if it has happened at all in the last half century) that the chances of executing an innocent person — actually executing an innocent person, not sentencing an innocent person to death —”

    is either an example of Praeger being, an idiot, too fucking stupid to tie his own shoes or his being a cynical, lying sack-o-shit–it’s likely that he’s both.

    When your definition of “guilt” v “innocence” conveniently ignores situations like the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. But, that’s what asshats like Praeger generally do; ignore any facts that conflict with their narrative.

  39. says

    Should have read:

    “When your definition of “guilt” v “innocence” conveniently ignores situations like the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham it’s inevitable that you will write something as stupid/dishonest as Praeger has done.”

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