General Question

aaronou's avatar

Is capital punishment in its final days in America? Are you for or against it?

Asked by aaronou (733 points ) July 29th, 2008

The United States appears to be one of the last industrialized countries to continue the use of capital punishment. Psychologically, it may reinforce aggression. Economically, it is preposterously expensive. Ethically, it is debatable. As for a deterrent, most crimes are crimes of passion anyway. Perhaps it may give solice to some families, but is that enough to keep it around? What are your opinions?

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30 Answers

lefteh's avatar

Look here, here, and here. I’m not dancing this number again.

gooch's avatar

Oh please keep it. I feel the price of killing should be death.

cheebdragon's avatar

Why would we want to get rid of it?

wildflower's avatar

What lefteh said…

shilolo's avatar

@Gooch and Cheeb. Because it doesn’t work.

nayeight's avatar

I’m against, I don’t think it’s necessary. And why kill people if it isn’t necessary?

gooch's avatar

@ nayeight if they rape and kill you they deserve death. Why keep a useless piece of crap like that around. You sure don’t have to worry about them doing it again to another person.

poofandmook's avatar

People always say it doesn’t work, and maybe it doesn’t. I’ll give you that. But it takes a big person to not change that tune when someone rapes or murders one of their closest loved ones.

qashqai's avatar

I think is barbarian.
You are actually the last civilized country that still has it running, although not in all the states. (Yes, I am not considering China as a civilized country because there are no civil rights, at present time). Why that happens? Are the 99% of the so called civilized countries just fools? We have bad people in Europe killing and raping, as well.

I’ll tell you what, capital punishment is a legalized homicide. You are putting yourself at the same level of the murderer.

rawpixels's avatar

Capital Punishment is an appropriate response in certain cases. I’m not sure how gashgai claims it’s “legalized homicide.” Thinking people realize there’s a huge difference in taking innocent life in a brutal fashion, compared to the state taking a guilty life after trials and endless appeals. I happen to think the death penalty is an easy out for some murderers, though. I would prefer a life filled with torture and suffering for certain individuals.

poofandmook's avatar

I look at it like any other robbery. If you take something, you should give it back. If you take a life, you should give one back.

Harp's avatar

As qashqai so succinctly points out, most of the world’s more evolved societies have realized that the state shouldn’t be in the business of revenge killing. We now find ourselves in the dwindling company of the world’s most thuggish states.

We now look back on our days of slavery and segregation with horror, wondering how we ever managed to justify it and congratulating ourselves for having moved on from that. Most of the world looks at capital punishment in the same light. But we may eventually find ourselves in the position that South Africa was in at the end of apartheidt, defending a barbaric practice on spurious grounds.

qashqai's avatar

@rawpixels
Homicide= killing someone (anyway you kill him or her)
Legalized= intended by law.

rawpixels's avatar

@Harp

So, countries that don’t have the death penalty equates to that country being more “evolved”? In my opinion, removing a parasite from this world is a gift to civilized society.

rawpixels's avatar

@qashgai
What if you kill someone in self defense? Is that homicide?

Harp's avatar

No, rawpixels, you’ve twisted what I said.

And would it be “self defense” to kill someone you’ve already captured and bound?

rawpixels's avatar

@Harp
How have I twisted what you said? Please be specific.

When the state permanently removes a killer from society, in effect the state is defending it’s law abiding citizens. It’s self-defense in a forward looking sense.

qashqai's avatar

@rawpixels

So, countries that don’t have the death penalty equates to that country being more “evolved”? In my opinion, removing a parasite from this world is a gift to civilized society.

the equation is not that simple, unfortunately. However if you think that in middle-age capital punishment was an everyday practice you may see in moving away from that a sort of evolution.

What if you kill someone in self defense? Is that homicide?

technically is homicide, yes, although it may appear unintentional or unintended.

rawpixels's avatar

To sum up, I would only support the death penalty in cases in which the accused is clearly guilty of brutal pre-meditated murder/s. If there’s even a small amount of doubt, I would favor a lengthy prison sentence instead. Also, as I stated before, the death penalty may be too kind of a response for some psychopaths in this world, but unfortunately my brand of punishment would never become law.

Harp's avatar

@rawpixels
What I said was that most of the societies that we consider to be evolved (in the sense of espousing the highest standards of governance and social structure) have abandoned capital punishment. I did not say, as you implied, that all countries that have abandoned capital punishment are so evolved I’m surprised that I have to point out this distinction.

Poser's avatar

You can’t talk about getting rid of the death penalty in America without addressing the poor state of our prison system in general. There is a clear constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” While the anti-capital punishment crowd wields the eighth amendment when arguing their case, I’ve seldom heard it used in regards to the prison system in general. As I mentioned in another post, a lifetime spent in prison is, to some, a fate worse than a quick and relatively painful death (minus the years of appeals and sitting on death row).

If we do away with the death penalty, but do nothing to fix our broken prison system, what we are effectively saying is that we, as a society, care more about those who are completely broken beyond repair than we do about those who ran into some trouble along the way and could be rehabilitated. Without the death penalty, the murderer/rapist goes to the same place as the 18 year old kid who got in with the wrong crowd and got busted for possession of marijuana.

We have to clearly determine what we hope to accomplish by throwing people in prison. Are we simply trying to get rid of all the bad elements of society, regardless of their future potential for rehabilitation? Or are we serious about getting people back on their feet, turning them into contributing members of society? Are prisons supposed to punish, deter, rehabilitate, or simply dispose of? Obviously the answer would be different depending on the individual criminal. The problem is that our current system only has one effect: it creates violent criminals. Until we solve this problem, the capital punishment question is irrelevant.

qashqai's avatar

Capital punishment question is relevant, Poser.
In 2007 U.S.A. carried out 42 executions (wikipedia)
I don’t think there would be much of a hassle to keep them in prison for life in a separate sector from the one where the 18 years old guy got busted for retention of marijuana.

(and with that I am saying that I recognize there is a prison system issue, as there is for way too many countries in the world, but this should not used as a poor escuse to shut our eyes).

cheebdragon's avatar

@poser- I agree 100%, but a better example might be a 18 year old kid who’s only crime was having a 16 year old girlfriend with asshole parents….....since he would be more likely to go into PC with the rapists…......(altho going thru reception they would all be together, your right)

marinelife's avatar

The state should not be in the business of murder.

Poser's avatar

@cheeb—Good example. I agree.

gahgai—My point wasn’t that the capital punishment question wasn’t relevant, but that it’s not relevant unless it is looked at along with the entire prison problem. The emphasis when it comes to justice reform is always on the death penalty. It’s argued that it is “cruel and unusual,” but the alternative—life in the prison system in its current sad state—is much more barbaric. It is those who call capital punishment inhumane, then go on to say it would be much less brutal to keep criminals in prison forever, who are shutting their eyes.

marinelife's avatar

@Poser We do need prison reform. Prisons are breeding grounds for crime and huge cost centers. I disagree that it can’t be separated from capital punishment. the two things are related, but can be viewed separately.

aaronou's avatar

Clearly prison and legal system reform is a major issue that ought to be, in my opinion, at the top of Congress’ list. I know an 18 year old boy who got his 15 year old girlfriend pregnant and is now serving 30 years in prison, which is absolutely absurd. However, I think speaking out on capital punishment may be a place to begin such reform. It is one of several components that needs to be addressed in our legal system. By advocating the termination of capital punishment, one is not necessarily supporting an eternity in prison at the same time. Rather, I would say that advocating the termination of capital punishment is a place for some of us to express our desire to begin repairing our broken corrections system. I entirely agree that there is need of better rehabilitation type programs that can give people a second (perhaps 3rd or 4th) chance to get their life together. After all, have we not also dubbed our prisons “correctional” facilities for a reason? I think that if we should ever have hope of restoring a life, we must first have hope of allowing life to continue. Again, for me, as I am sure for many others, abolishing capital punishment is a place to start, not the end all of our problems.

webmasterwilliam's avatar

I am 100% for the death penalty. Having the state execute someone that brutally murdered a close family member would keep me out of jail due to me enacting my own death penalty.

Nullo's avatar

I’m in favor of capital punishment. I believe that the justice system is as much about seeing that criminals are punished according to their crimes as it is about deterring criminals.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Serial killers desirve it. Nuf said.

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