General Question

ninjacolin's avatar

In your opinion, what type of people are deserving of death, if any?

Asked by ninjacolin (14233points) April 18th, 2009

What would they have to do exactly for you to prefer them dead instead of alive and you alive to observe it? What is your personal capital punishment law?

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70 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

if they choose to die, theyre deserving
otherwise never

jrpowell's avatar

I do not believe in capital punishment under any circumstances.

edit :: I should add that in the cases like the pirates that took the guy hostage I am fine with killing them. But once you have people in custody and they can do no more harm I don’t think the state should be in the killing business.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

mass murder such as shootings in malls or schools, child rapists, and serial killers

seekingwolf's avatar

You talk about death like it’s some horrible, godforsaken thing…like a punishment.
I say it’s natural part of life (just like birth only nicer in a way) and it happens to everyone.

Even though I’m a Republican, I don’t believe in the death penalty. In the end, it ends up being more expensive (it’s true). I also don’t believe the govt has the authority to take away life from anyone. Not even Hitler.

Just put them in jail for life w/o parole.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

First degree murder, the rape, kidnapping & murder of a child. My state doesn’t have the death penalty. Too bad. The ‘poor babies’ sit in prison with more luxuries than a lot of people have. No justice there.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I think we should give a lot more capital punishment sentences than we do. Maybe that would help deter crime.

seekingwolf's avatar


Oh, now that’s a pet peeve of mine! I’m not for the death penalty, but jail should never be a nice holiday!

I mean…look at the economy! We need to save money. We should remove all electronics, TVs, books, and luxuries out of prison. Limit their health care and they can only eat low-grade meat at most once a day.

Sitting in a cold cell with anemia, poor hygiene, no health care unless they’re dying…that’s justice. Less people will want to go to jail.

bea2345's avatar

I am against the death penalty because mistakes are irreversible.

Blondesjon's avatar

Anyone who rapes or takes the life of a child should be put down. I know mistakes occur, but in the case of an individual who is 100% guilty, beyond any doubt, I see no problem with taking their life. The same applies to serial killers. You are never going to rehabilitate these people. Clean up the gene pool.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

All of us, in good time.

Roughdraft76's avatar

Yeah…Think about it. If there was harsher punishment for criminals in the United States like rapists and murderers, the outcome would be less crime commited.

tinyfaery's avatar

@seekingwolf Hmm? Giving a bunch of pent up criminals nothing to do and no outlet for their emotions? Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.

What kind of egotistical, sociopathic person would believe that they have the right to decide if someone deserves to live or die? Do any of you call yourself Christians? Ugh.

I’ve said this before, if one person deserves to die for causing pain and trauma, emotional and/or physical scars, for destroying trust, comfort and safety, then we all deserve to die, because we are ALL guilty.

Qingu's avatar

I don’t really see what the point of killing people for punishment is. A lifetime in jail being observed and studied seems much worse than death. Though I believe that people with a life sentence should be able to choose to kill themselves.

Roughdraft76's avatar

@ tinyfaery. I guess the husband that goes home and murders his wife and kids gets to decide.

Facade's avatar

the people that irritate me

jrpowell's avatar

I wouldn’t object to people convicted to life in prison opting in. If you know you are going to die in there you should be able to take some pills to kill yourself.

seekingwolf's avatar


Well, we can’t kill them. We don’t have the right to take away their lives. Do you think we somehow have a responsibility to make sure that the criminals in jail are happy/healthy? No. If they have frustration, they can take it out on themselves.

I have no issues with keeping criminals in their cells, preferably solitary confinement. So what if it makes them crazy; it’s not like they would be leaving jail anytime soon…I would do that only for the hardened criminals who are in there for life, no parole. Much cheaper than having capital punishment.

tinyfaery's avatar

So someone does something wrong and we treat them as less than human? As if they didn’t have a history, a family; should we treat them like rabid dogs?

“The way society treats its prisoners charactorizes the level of its civilization”
Fyodor Dostoevsky

ru2bz46's avatar

Those who serve no useful, positive purpose and are detrimental to society.

tinyfaery's avatar

And who defines what is useful and positive? I bet you and I have different ideas about what those words mean.

Jeruba's avatar

@ru2bz46, would you then order death for a quadriplegic who is supported by public funds? for an ailing geriatric patient who is crabby and difficult? for a baby born with complicated ailments who is never going to grow up into a healthy and productive citizen?

How about an insane person? a person whose political views challenge the established powers? a person who vandalizes parking meters?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Child molesters
Serial murderers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

That leads down a dangerous road. Thinking like this is very subjective. This is coming from a person who doesn’t believe in taking life. Even a condemned death row inmate can decide to do some good.

augustlan's avatar

No one deserves the death sentence. If they are sentenced to life w/o parole, I have no problem with it being a stark, somewhat harsh environment.

Killing in self-defense or in defense of another is the only way I could justify it.

seekingwolf's avatar


Well, I’m sorry, I just don’t think jail should be a walk in the park.
We don’t owe anything to the prisoners and we don’t have to make their lives nice.
They lost their rights and freedom when they were put in jail.

If we make jail more unbearable, less people will want to get in and those who do will suffer. It’s called consequence. deal with it.

ru2bz46's avatar

@Jeruba I knew somebody would get me for tossing out such a concise, somewhat unqualified answer. Sorry, but please let me specifically exclude the innocents and non-violent offenders from my reply.

bea2345's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence What is the American version of Broadmoor (a hospital/prison for the criminally insane in the UK)? The costs of maintaining prisons for those who are not curable, but are too dangerous to be let loose, are high: in human, financial and physical resources. But better these prisons than the alternative, the death penalty. It is too easy to forget one’s humanity and sentence other people to death, especially if the other people are different in some way.

tinyfaery's avatar

Ever been in prison? Ever been to a prison? I’d say unbearable pretty much sums it up. The inmates become more and more carnal just to adapt. Our prisons just make better criminals.

ru2bz46's avatar

@bea2345 “Rapists, child molesters, and serial murderers” are just “different”?

ru2bz46's avatar

@tinyfaery Yes, it would be helpful to reform our prisons into the “rehabilitation facilities” I’ve understood them to be, instead of punishment farms. Does it make more sense to torture someone for the rest of their life, or kill them? I’m actually torn on this one. I don’t know if we should be killing them, but it seems impossible to reform them in our current prison system. It seems a little less cruel to put them to death.

bea2345's avatar

@ru2bz46 Of course not. But these are the category of offender that it is difficult, if not impossible, to treat, let alone cure. But that does not give us the right to kill them, like putting down dangerous animals. By ‘different’ I meant defendants who come of a different social group, however defined; they are the ‘other’. Often such defendants are convicted because they belong to the wrong group.

ru2bz46's avatar

@bea2345 Oh, yeah, like the “Dead baby rapists” group. ;-) No, I understand where you’re coming from. It is a fuzzy line that is difficult to draw.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

A little case from my neighborhood:

Didn’t get much attention nationally, but a convincing argument against the death penalty. Everyone wants justice in these cases, but when there is a rush to judgment, nobody wins. The Nicaricos are still waiting for justice.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@bea2345: What are the costs of maintaining the criminally and violent insane? I don’t know. What I do know is President Reagan pretty much dumped them all out onto the city streets in the 1980’s and prisons were soon swelled up with them. As far as I’ve heard, there is no cure no deterrent for rapists or child molesters and the serial murderers don’t want to be cured. Bullets are cheap.

Ivan's avatar


The history of prison’s in this country clearly shows that inhumane prisons do not deter crime, but only fashion the criminals into more violent ones.

casheroo's avatar

Too funny, while going through my things today I found a paper I wrote on this in 2002 (i was in 10th grade)
I wrote that people who kill should also be put to death. I still feel that way.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@bea2345 – Every US state has its own facilities for such people. In New York, where I live, there are two called “forensic psychiatric centers”: Mid-Hudson and Kirby. Kirby serves NYC and Long Island.

seekingwolf's avatar


That’s if they’re let out.

I think correction facilities are okay for people with drug problems, minor theft, etc would be more appropriate. Then they can be reformed into proper human beings.

But what about serial murderers, or rapists? Or child molesters? really bad criminals who have a long rap sheet? They should be put away for life in a really bad jail. It would save us money and it’s not like they would ever leave. They would just die there.

susanc's avatar

Seekingwolf is right about the relative costs of lifelong incarceration vs. death penalty.
Death penalty involves years and years of wildly expensive appeals. Strange but true.

How about: incorrigible types of criminality is punished by un-luxurious life incarceration with access to plenty of drugs?

fundevogel's avatar

I don’t know if I could say I’m against the death penalty, but I can’t think of a situation where I would approve of it either.

Maybe a better statement would be that I think every penal system I’m ever heard about sounds fundamentally flawed to me. I’m referring to two flaws. The first is that they fail to investigate why people commit crimes or attempt to ameliorate the situations that lead to crime. The second is that once in prisons inmates usually either become further steeped in criminal culture by exposure to shock more criminals or become institutionalized. Neither is an acceptable outcome.

YARNLADY's avatar

At the present time, I do not oppose the death penalty. I am very reluctant to say I approve of it, because I don’t. I would much rather have science find a chemical way to treat the brain and get rid of crime all together.

fundevogel's avatar

@bea2345 the prison I know of for the criminally insane in the US is Bridgewater. I read a book about it that was written by a man who had worked his way through college (studying psychology) as a guard in the 70’s. It was pretty intense Stanford prison experiment stuff, but much worse. I mean, if Stanford students, screened for good mental health, couldn’t cope with other Stanford students getting a bit sadistic how the mentally ill supposed to do it with guards that don’t show as much restraint?

I’m sure it’s been reformed since the events of the book, but it still gets me edgy.

rooeytoo's avatar

Australia does not have the death penalty but it does have a lot of overfilled prisons. Because of this more and more of the less violent offenders are being sent out of court with a slap on the wrist, free to offend again and in most cases they do.

It is a hard call, but I am intrigued by the fact that most supported the killing of the pirates. That was capital punishment without the judge and jury part coming first. So are you saying if a criminal is caught in the act it is acceptable? If a rapist is caught in the act, he can be shot and killed? Reminds me of the Johnny Carson line that said something like Republicans are opposed to abortion but in favor of capital punishment, guess it’s all a question of timing.

Then it would follow that we should all carry a gun and if you see a crime being committed, do your civic duty and shoot the perp so the prison system is not clogged and the poor misguided criminals are not subjected to the nastiness of jails???

ru2bz46's avatar

Right about now, I’m thinking the old “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” thing would be good for the guy who just beat my downstairs female neighbor’s face to a bloody pulp with a whiskey bottle a few hours ago. The cops just left.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@ru2bz46 that’s awful! Even in light of such senseless brutality beating the perpetrator to a bloody pulp with a whiskey bottle isn’t justice and surely would not prevent him from doing this to someone else.

ru2bz46's avatar

Oh, I think that if he was about to start beating a woman in the face with a whiskey bottle and knew that his face was next on the list, especially if he’d had his face beaten to mush before, he may think a little harder before taking that first swing.

augustlan's avatar

@rooeytoo Regarding the pirates. The captian’s life was in imminent danger. I find it justifiable to kill the pirates in defense of the captian’s life.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

The deed is already done. Retribution won’t undo this. I understand the anger though.

rooeytoo's avatar

@augustlan -That is what I don’t understand, if you see the crime being committed you are justified in killing the criminal, but if he goes before judge and jury and is found guilty, multiple eye witnesses, then you think he should go to a nice, cosy jail to be rehabilitated. I just don’t quite get the distinction.

augustlan's avatar

@rooeytoo No, no… not any old crime. Only if an innocent life is in imminent danger. Once a criminal is in custody, that is no longer the case. Also, see above where I mentioned that criminals sentenced to life w/o parole should not have a nice, cozy jail environment.

Now, if we’re talking about a non-violent offender, I think prison conditions should promote rehabilitation and eventual reintroduction to society.

rooeytoo's avatar

@augustlan – I am not necessarily disagreeing with you, I am unsure. As always I am a coward, I do think capital punishment is called for in some cases, but I sure don’t want to be the one to flip the switch.

I just get so disgusted with the judicial system, there was recently a case here where a young man (low 20’s) broke into a house and sexually assaulted a 7 year old girl who was sleeping in her bed. The judge let this guy completely off, no jail time, no fine, just the proverbial slap on the wrist, the reason being it was his first offense (as an adult, juvenile offenses not allowed to be mentioned) and he was able to be rehabilitated. What the hell about the 7 year old girl who will probably never feel safe again anywhere! Then of course a week later an 18 year old girl who was picked up after graffitiing a public wall, she was given 3 months in jail.

Just sort of leaves you feeling a bit out of sorts!

ru2bz46's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic It’s not retribution; it’s behavior modification. If we want to rehabilitate criminals, instead of puting them into a prison system that will simply harden them and make them better criminals, it should do the trick.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@ru2bz46 Violence only predisposes a person to violence. This is why abused children grow up to abuse children in so many cases.

ru2bz46's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic What sort of rehabilitation do you think would work to prevent this man from saturating a bath towel with the facial blood of a petite young woman by repeated blows using a whiskey bottle?

rooeytoo's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic – and how do you do that, will you take some criminal home with you and modify his behavior. Or do you want the victims to pay for modification process. Should the criminal be housed and fed and watch dvd’s and swim in an indoor pool, are these all necessary for the modification process.

Could you perhaps offer some practical solutions to achieve your goal? Solutions that preferably are not going to cost the taxpayer and the victim, if he/she is ever able to go back to work, a lot of money.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@ru2bz46 Prison may not rehabilitate him but at least in prison he wont be able to hurt innocents.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@rooeytoo This is why we have prison and parole. Neither of you are going to convince me that an eye for an eye is the way to make our society safe. History has shown time and time again that violence does not prevent further incidents of violence.

ru2bz46's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic Puting him in prison, a system that does not rehabilitate, but just makes the angry and teaches them better ways to victimize people in the future.

How is that beneficial to him? How is it beneficial to society? I understand that society will be safe from him while he is in prison, but what about when he is released?

Do you honestly think that he will be less likely to drain the blood of another woman through the gashes that he just ripped into her cheeks, nose, and forehead?

wundayatta's avatar

People who ask questions like this???

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@ru2bz46 Is your method going to do any different? You may think it will. Historically that is not the case. You’re essentially asking me how to rehabilitate a vicious and violent mind. That is not my expertise and I don’t have an answer that would satisfy you.

Let me preface any further statement by saying it’s important that you and I do indeed connect on the fact that this man’s actions can NOT be tolerated in civilized society.

It’s horrible the crime this man committed. Incarceration is a must! If only to keep him from doing this again in the short term. Jail is the only forseeable future for this man for the time being. We can agree on this. My contention is that beating him the way he beat this woman will not keep him from drinking and doing this to someone else. The fact that he used a whiskey bottle suggests that he is an alcoholic and it is no secret than there are many alcoholics that are prone to violence. So how do we deal with his alcohol and anger problems? I don’t have an absolute answer for this. I am sure that violence against this man will absolutely NOT prevent further acts of violence from this man.

ru2bz46's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic It might not, but it does have a better chance than spending a few months in “time out”.

Most likely, this man will be prevented from doing further harm at some point down the road. It won’t be from rehabilitation because nobody is willing to deliver swift and effective punishment.

This man will beat more women. He may kill a few in the process. There may be innocent people killed or injured when a drug deal goes bad while he’s trying to score a fix. At some point, after doing much more harm to society, he will mess with the wrong person and will be killed on the street, maybe even by someone trying to defend themselves or defending his next victim, kind of like the aforementioned pirates. All I know is it won’t be our current criminal justice system that stops his behavior.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@ru2bz46 I agree with you. Our prison system rehabilitates no one who doesn’t want to be rehabilitated. My only point in all this is that an eye for an eye won’t prevent him from doing this again. I’m not saying anything beyond that.

I can’t imagine the scene you witnessed tonight. I am sorry. I’m angry too, that people in our world do these sorts of things.

augustlan's avatar

I agree that sending small-time criminals to prison only teaches them to be big-time criminals and more violent, desensitized ones, to boot. Prison reform is the solution to that problem, not the death penalty.

rooeytoo's avatar

When I was a kid and we drove down south, there were prison gangs out everywhere doing manual labor in the hot sun. It was a punishment, that is what jail was meant to be. Now the warden in Arizona is criticized for making the inmates work and jail is about tv’s in air conditioned cells and rehabilitation. Is this system working better, is there less recidivism? I think punishment is what is needed, not coddling. People who used to called criminals or juvenile delinquents are now called disengaged.

The bottom line is, was there more or less crime in days gone why when jail was strictly punishment or now when they are like health spas with weightlifting and sports hour and staff counsellors? I don’t know the statistics but I am sure someone here will.

I don’t know that capital punishment is the answer, but the kid glove approach doesn’t seem to be working.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I don’t think we should make prison comfortable by any means. I think it would be good to at least teach some sort of trade that would make prisoners somewhat of an asset to society upon their release. Ex-cons will still need to work and if an ex-con can’t find a job, that makes them all the more likely to resort back to their more familiar criminal exploits to make ends meet. Perhaps make some sort of trade a mandatory part of their release. If they don’t show up for work, they go back to jail. At least let’s try to establish some sort of framework that get them back into a lifestyle that is sustainable for them and benefits the society from which they have wronged. Maybe it’s not a job at a Fortune 500 company but at least get them something that will pay some bills and keep them out of trouble from 9 to 5.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Ultimately, I don’t believe in the death penalty, not even for child molesters – and I often find myself saying that they should just be killed. However, I think the reason I say that so often is out of frustration because America’s judicial system is so absolutely fucked. Child molesters constantly get “second chances” in this country, only to be let out (if they go to jail at all) and become repeat-offenders.

How is that okay? People who smoke or sell marijuana end up in our prison systems for months or years, but child molesters and rapists walk free, even when they’ve committed these crimes multiple times. It’s infuriating and in instances like that I say people like that should just die. Not because I ultimately believe they should be put to death, but because children come first. I would rather have a child molester be put to death than to have him go to jail, get out, molest a child and do it all over again.

Screwed up? Absolutely. But again, it’s better than someone molesting who knows how many children because our fucked up judicial system allows it to happen. I would be happy if these people spent their life in jail, but that generally doesn’t happen in this country. Until it does… I can’t help but feel the way I do now. Especially taking into consideration that if a boy is molested, more often than not, he himself becomes a predator. That can not be allowed to happen.

ru2bz46's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I have always said I am in favor of the death penalty; however, I never wanted to be the one to have to throw the switch. I’ve asked myself why I would not be willing to actually kill the person that I think needs to die, and I just can’t answer.

After reading your response, I think I’m a little clearer on it. Maybe I’m not really so much in favor of putting them to death, but it seems like the better option. I hate seeing bad people get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. There needs to be a real deterrent so these people actually don’t want to commit the crimes. Right now, death is the only thing, but we hardly ever follow through with that threat, so they maintain the bad behavior, anyway.

fundevogel's avatar

I listened an episode of This American Life about inmates in a prison theater program putting on a play. It was pretty amazing. I think the best part was that one actor/inmate said that it made him feel like a person again and he contrasted that with the dehumanizing elements of prison, having his butt cheeks spread and his ass searched specifically.

It seems to me that if a lot of these people are criminals because that’s what they know how to be, showing them that they can be regular people and teaching them how find pride in that and in themselves could potentially help a lot of people.

This particular episode was a rerun and at the end they mentioned that a few of the inmates that had since been released continued to meet up for theater activities.

They were performing Hamlet, which was selected for their ability to relate to the situation. :)

It’s an hour long program, but if you like you can hear it here

Strauss's avatar

I disagree with the death penalty. That just brings the state (or other governmental entity) down to the level of the murderer.

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