Social Question

PublicBlog's avatar

Do you agree with Capital Punishment or are you against it?

Asked by PublicBlog (295points) September 22nd, 2009

…and why

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56 Answers

CMaz's avatar

Yes for both.

But, I see it this way. If they do more then 15 years. Execute them.

stedman15's avatar

I agree with it, but with conditions.

The person being executed has to have committed a serious crime and there needs to be incontrovertible proof that the accused was responsible.

There also needs to be no chance of rehabilitation. If a person has spent most of their life in prison, then they need to be executed to avoid placing a permanent financial burden on the state.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No, I do not agree with it.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I definitely am for it. What I don’t agree with is that they sit there forever, going through 100 appeals that cost the public lots of $$$. There’s a woman in Texas who was convicted of killing her 2 little boys back in ‘96. She’s been on death row ever since. If they need any help throwing that switch, I’m available to help….....

oratio's avatar

It is barbaric, and wrong. Especially since innocent people do get convicted.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

I guess I’m a little torn. I normally would say that I’m against it but I suppose that if I were either the victim of an awful crime or the family member of the victim
I would feel a lot differently.

cwilbur's avatar

I have read of too many cases where convictions were overturned to be comfortable imposing a death sentence on anyone. @jbfletcherfan, as long as Texas continues to execute innocent people—such as reported here and here—I think exhausting the appeals process is not only entirely justified, but commendable.

However, if a prisoner who has been sentenced to life without parole wants to end his or her life, I think that should be an option.

LostInParadise's avatar

It is my opinion that capital punishment is an endorsement of killing as a punishment, thus increasing the rate of homicide. If we are truly against killing then we should not engage in it ourselves.

jfos's avatar

I don’t agree with capital punishment, nor do I agree with life in prison. I think, since a country makes its own laws, a person should be barred from that country if they violate the laws there. i.e. I think we should designate a place in the world that countries can leave the so-called criminals. It is way beyond anyone’s power to sentence someone to death, and even moreso to sentence someone to spend their life in a jail cell. Counter-productive and inhumane. Ship them out.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I am for capital punishment for the following:

child molesters
serial killers

*if there is no doubt of the crime then these people need to be kept away from the rest of society and I for one don’t want to financially support them.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I am SO torn about this. If you had asked me this same question a couple of years ago I would have said that I was definately FOR capital punishment when it came to certain criminal offences. However, now I am not so sure because I wonder if we can ever be 100% sure that we are putting the right person to death and it’s because of any innocent people that may die that I am now leaning more towards being AGAINST it.

However, regardless of whether I am for or against capital punishment I certainly do not agree with the fact that so many who have been sentanced to death have to sit and wait for years and years until they are executed.

CMaz's avatar

“can ever be 100% sure that we are putting the right person to death”

In order to have to “security” we currently have;
Some will be sacrificed to save the many.

JLeslie's avatar

@jfos Like some island somewhere? And, are there wardens there, or these people just get to start a new life free? And, you said all countries get to use it, so these criminals, some mentally ill I might add, are thrown in there with people who don’t speak their language, and other complicating factors? Is it that your basic idea is to just let ‘em kill each other? As long as they are away from society you don’t care what happens to them? I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, just interested in how the whole idea would really work.

As for my answer, I am torn too. I guess I am for it for extreme cases when there is absolutely no question of the persons guilt. Which leads me to another thought…there are people in jails who have asked for genetic testing to be done to prove their innocence. I don’t care how much it costs, we should be doing it.

dpworkin's avatar

If you commit a crime I am for it. If I commit a crime, I’m against it.

ragingloli's avatar

Absolutely against it. it is antiquated, ineffective as a deterrent, expensive, wrongly convicted people die and it exhibits a profound hypocrisy within society by doing to the convict the same (or in some cases, worse) thing the convict did.
it is also a too simple way for society to get rid of their failures. every criminal is the product of the society s/he grows up in, and instead of living up to its responsibilities and rehabilitating the criminal to make him a valued member of society, it simply eliminates it. that is simply cowardly.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@pdworkin can’t really argue with your logic!!!

jfos's avatar

@JLeslie Well, I wasn’t proposing “let them kill each other”. I was proposing that, since each country makes their own laws, and the criminal would therefore be breaking the law(s) of X country, the country should have the right to ship them off somewhere (island, anywhere, etc.) rather than keeping them in a cell or killing them.

As for wardens, I don’t think so. I think this place should also be avalailable if anyone just wanted to go there, not restricted to only criminals sent there.

SheWasAll_'s avatar

As a criminologist, I have to be against it because there is NO evidence that it deters violent crime (which is why we have it). As a human being with a conscience? I can’t say I disagree with putting the needle in a serial child rapist’s arm.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I forgot to mention in my post above that even though I think I am against capital punishment on the whole, I can’t honestly say that I would feel that way if someone I loved was the victim of certain crimes. I wonder if there is anyone who, even if they claim to be 100% against capital punishment, can say they would still feel that way if they or someone they loved were victims?!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Leanne1986 I hope to never find out, obviously…but I still don’t think murdering them would be what I’d want…I’d want them tortured slowly and for a while…

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’d probably feel the same way about them being torutured as punishment but that probably doesn’t make me any better than the criminal.

Strauss's avatar

I am totally against capital punishment. If we kill someone who killed someone, that brings us down to the level of the murderer.

JLeslie's avatar

@SheWasAll_ we have it to deter or we have to punish and rid society of the menace? I find it interesting that it does not deter crime. I have heard people say that in coutries where they cut your hand off if you steal, people don’t steal. Someone also was telling me when American’s expat to Singapore, where rule of law is very strong, if an American teenager is found with drugs or does some other stupid thing because they don’t quite get they aren’t in America anymore, the parents have 24 hours to ship the kid out. Singaporian (sp?) kids get it I guess? I am not challenging your statement, just intersted on your thoughts. Neither of my examples are of violent crime I realize.

I think violent crimes are committed by mentally unstable people most of the time, or people who have been subject themselves to horrible conditions. I think punishment might not be a deterent here, because they are so compelled by their mental condition they do not even consider the consequence.

Harp's avatar

I’m completely against it. Regardless of the nature of the crime, regardless of whether the crime victim is related to me or not, I can’t imagine a circumstance where killing an already confined criminal is the right thing to do. I don’t think vengeance should have a place in our criminal justice system. Do whatever’s necessary to protect the public, yes; but killing is only about vengeance.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

I think GOD should be the only one deciding who should live, and who should die.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@JLeslie My dad has a theory which I agree with. There are petty criminals and there are dangeroous criminals. Petty criminals are the ones that may be detered by stricter laws and harsher punishments (such as the cutting of off hands for theives as in some Eastern countries). The dangerous criminals are the ones that can rarely be detered because, like you said, most of them are mentally ill in the first place and so aren’t thinking like a normal, rational person (ie: “if I do this then the chances are I will be punished in this way and I don’t want that”).

Obviously this isn’t based on fact but it’s a theory that makes sense.

ragingloli's avatar

most people who commit crimes won’t be deterred by harsher punishments because they don’t think about getting caught.

SheWasAll_'s avatar

@JLeslie Actually, the statistics show that mentally ill people are NOT more likely to commit violent crime. Please, this stereotype needs to stop, it’s a horrible thing to think, especially for those people who are mentally ill and have no history of violence or criminal activity. Most of them are quite aware of the consequences, but don’t care because they think they’ll do the crime better and get away with it. Also, if you compare rates of violent crime in the 30-some states that impose the death penalty and the states that do not, the murder rate is either the same or HIGHER for state’s with the death penalty. Feel free to message me, I have multiple textbooks with examples if you’re looking for more info.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Capt_Bloth that’s irrelevant because the killer on death row made the decision to kill…you can say they should’t have in the first place, but they did and now we have to decide if we should kill…

ragingloli's avatar

actually he did. he decided we should kill people when they commit adultery, stone children to death when they disobey their parents, etc.

JLeslie's avatar

@Leanne1986 Yes, we are agreeing.

@SheWasAll_ I was NOT saying that mentally ill people are more likely to commit crimes. I was saying that something is wrong if you are able to stab someone to death or if you are a serial killer. It is a commentary on society more than on our justice and prison system. My grandfather grew up in horrible conditions, he and a brother were paranoid schizophrenic, another brother killed himself, a sister was inpatient in a mental hospital for the majority of her adult life. None of them were violent. I work in a psych hospital, sorry if I did not communicate well, I in no way meant to imply that the mentally ill are more likely to commit a crime. I’m glad you responded with what you did so I could clarify. When I look at my family I see that none of the later generations have any psychosis, so I tend to think that environment is even more important than genetics. I know we are a little off topic from the original question, but my point is I think the best way to deal with these criminals is to not have them in the first place. I live in Memphis, and the violence and crime is outrageous and sad. But, these people grow up with bullets flying in their neighborhoods. I think it has to affect you mentally to live in a war zone.

Lightlyseared's avatar

There are some criminals that comit evil crimes for example here are a couple that thought raping a 12 week old baby was a socially acceptable way to pass the evening that personally I can’t see any reason why they should be allowed to live.

dalepetrie's avatar

As far as I’m concerned, people who intentionally harm others should be removed from society for the benefit of society. Of course, I want to 100% ensure that it is only the people who can be proven beyond any doubt to have committed these awful crimes who pay the ultimate price. I don’t believe our standard of beyond a reasonable doubt when combined with a jury of one’s peers is a good way to ensure this (and at times it has the opposite effect of letting violent criminals off the hook). I’m OK with sufficient DNA evidence which proves you were the murderer/rapist/criminal being enough to end your miserable existence if keeping you alive posed a threat to society. I don’t agree that the death penalty is a deterrent, nor do I think it’s a vengeful act…for me, if applied correctly, it’s about removing a problem that makes the world less safe, not revenge.

JLeslie's avatar

@Capt_Bloth So are you against keeping people alive who are sick? I don’t think God has anything to do with it. Humans interfere in life and death situations all of the time.

CMaz's avatar

War leads to Capital Punishment. Individual tries to interfere with your freedom.
They get shot or blown up. We have an entire military machine designed to delegated Capital Punishment right on the front line.
Surrender or die.

What is the difference.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

I was a bit careless using the word GOD. I tried nature origially and it just didn’t look right. What I mean is that I don’t like the idea of people having that much power over other people. I think it is sick that our government can hold people in a box, aginst their will, for years. It is absolutly horrifying that they will kill people, it is part of the system and people just accept it.

@JLeslie That is something I would rather not get into.

JLeslie's avatar

@Capt_Bloth I respect that :).

Capt_Bloth's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvior How is it irrevelant? If you believe in something you act accoringly.
The way you deal with a murderer is your choice. If you don’t believe in killing, then I can’t think of a more suitable time/place to exercise your belief.

nikipedia's avatar

To echo some of the thoughts above, I am absolutely opposed. We can never be 100% sure of someone’s guilt, and moreover, vengeance is not justice.

filmfann's avatar

Back in the Old West, watching hangings was considered your public duty. Kids saw what happens when they stray, and the victims families got their moment of vengence.
I am generally against capital punishment, since I am Christian, and hope everyone can find their salvation. However, I think capital punishment can only work when it is a deterent, and that would require frequently and publicly carrying out the death penalty.
A FOX reality show each week would be how I see it. 20 minutes on the crimes, 20 minutes on the criminal, and 20 on the execution.
That’s good television!

PenguinOsteotomy's avatar

If the convicted person was absolutely proven guilty and the crime was severe enough, (murder for example) then I fully believe in capital punishment.

filmfann's avatar

@PenguinOsteotomy Welcome to Fluther. Lurve.

PenguinOsteotomy's avatar

@filmfann Thank you for your kind welcoming.

benjaminlevi's avatar

Too bad there isn’t some place where we could just lock violent criminals away to keep them from harming society, since we can never really “prove 100%” that someone committed a particular crime. We should just kill everyone who might be a criminal to be safe.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

@benjaminlevi one can never be too safe…

phoenyx's avatar

I’m for it in theory, but in practice it seems disproportionate towards minorities.

dalepetrie's avatar

@nikipedia – Really? “We can never be 100% sure of someone’s guilt”? Really?

So, person A walks up to person B and shoots person B in the face on live television in front of 80 million people and in front of a live crowd of 100,000 people. He turns himself in, gives a full confession and just to be safe, the gun is fingerprinted, the blood splatter on his sleeves is DNA matched to the victim.

What percentage would THAT be? Could we not be 100% sure some times, really? Are there really no cases in the history of criminal justice where guilt was 100% established? Really?

nikipedia's avatar

@dalepetrie: I mean, if you want to get philosophical about it, I think one could argue that we can never really be sure of anything—what does “sure” even mean, anyway.

But for practical purposes, we need to set some kind of threshold of certainty. I agree that your example is well beyond the accepted threshold. The problem is that our justice system has a classic signal detection problem. While some defendants are clearly guilty or clearly innocent and correctly detected to be what they are, some cases will always exist in which it is impossible for us to correctly discriminate.

Here is another good website on signal detection theory.

dalepetrie's avatar

I’m totally in agreement with you that we have a signal detection problem (and though I’m the first to love facts and figures…that’s a lot of words and math to say “err on the side of caution”). I’d say in our criminal justice system, first off, I’d focus between violent crime with a victim or victims, where one person does some form of harm to another. Then when you have a suspect, you can determine guilt or innocence, and we only look at that subset in which guilt is established. Once guilt is established, we need to determine certainty. Yes, there are a number, probably the great majority of people who have been found guilty with whom we could not establish 100% confidence. But I think there are a large number of whom we could establish clear guilt. With these and ONLY these (and our system should strive to find ways to increase the number of people in this category by improving our detection methods), I have no moral qualms about getting rid of them…again, not for the sake of vengeance, but for the sake of that it does not benefit society in any way to keep them on the planet, in fact, it poses a risk.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

In America, the death penalty is often seen as a viable way to seek justice in cases where a person has killed another human being. From a certain standpoint, it is easy to see why one believes in the death penalty, as many people view it as the only recourse they have against a perpetrator who has heinously taken the life of a loved one. On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, are those who would seek to abolish the death penalty because they believe it to be economically costly, on top of the fact that many people have sat on death row for years, only to be proven innocent years later. For the integrity of society in general, we must consider if changes to the death penalty should be made.

Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977 1,136 prisoners have been put to death as of December 2008. While people clearly choose to enact the death penalty, some important questions are raised by others who oppose this particular approach to justice. The biggest concern is that technological advancements such as testing for DNA have proven many people to be innocent. Since 1973, 133 people – who were condemned to death – in 26 states, have been proven innocent. For those who know the statistics, this naturally begs the question of how many innocent people have possibly died as a direct result of the death penalty. How many more might die before one’s case is reexamined, if it ever even is reexamined? Killing innocent people is not acceptable (which is why murderers are convicted to death in the first place, keep in mind), thus many wish to abolish the death penalty.

When considering abolishing the death penalty, however, the families and loved ones of murder victims must not be forgotten. Often times, someone convicted of murder will spend an average of 8.5 years in jail before being put on parole and released to society once again. Many people – such as the family of a victim – do not, understandably, see this as justice or a proper punishment against whoever has committed murder. To prevent a killer from walking free families may seek the death penalty simply because they feel that otherwise, our justice system may completely fail them. 8.5 years in prison is no kind of punishment when compared to the fact that the victim has not life left at all. It is for that reason that those against the death penalty can not simply abolish it.To do so would be highly unfair for the families of victims, not to mention possibly dangerous for society overall. If murderers are not kept in prison, what use was sending them in the first place? However, any decent person (even the family of a victim) should not tolerate the fact that innocent people are being murdered on death row in the name of “justice”. To tolerate innocent people being killed in prison makes no sense, because that is exactly what the victim was – innocent. Clearly, the issue is a big one. But knowing the facts from the side of proponents and opponents both, helps to clarify what things can be done to improve the integrity of the entire system.

Currently, our justice system appears to be entirely too unbalanced. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, there is something wrong with how things are handled. Perhaps those in our justice system should stop being quite so lenient when sentencing those convicted of cold-blooded murder. I propose a “first strike, you’re out” law when dealing with these specific criminals. Do not condemn them to death, but do not allow these adults parole, for the simple reason that the life of the victim can never be gained back, so the murderer should not be allowed a chance to gain their life back. When considering minors who are responsible for murder, I believe that some kind of reformatory school should be considered, however, before condemning them to life in prison.

Another alternative to the death penalty may be considered, simply because of the economic burden placed on society every time a murderer is sentenced to death. For a federal death case, the average cost is approximately $620,932, which is eight times the amount of a federal murder case where the death penalty is not sought. Now take into consideration how many people are currently on death row, how many were already put to death and the fact that every single one of those people had federal death cases, required by law. The amount of money spent becomes absolutely astounding.

Ultimately, I propose a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for adults convicted of murder. Substantial proof must be given for one to receive a life-sentence, such as DNA testing or something similar, to avoid incarcerating innocent people. The money saved by abolishing the death penalty could be spent on reformatory schools for troubled youth to ensure they do not end up in the same position as the convicted adults.

In addition, I propose that some of the more cooperative and guilt-ridden convicts share their stories with the youth at these reformatories to better scare the youth “straight”, as stories coming from “lifers” would have much more of an impact on youth than would stories coming from a state worker who has no direct experience with the matter. It may even be proposed that convicts be paid a typical hourly wage while sharing their stories in the reformatories – or simply from being put to work inside of prisons – whose “paychecks” are then sent to the immediate families of their victims.

Abolishing the death penalty would have many positive outcomes. It would help the economy overall, it would serve to better educate children and help those who already show warning signs. Not only would murderers be kept off of the streets for good, the money they earn would also directly contribute to the general society and economy. The outcomes would, I believe, satisfy both current proponents and opponents of the death penalty.

dalepetrie's avatar

@DrasticDreamer – If it costs $620,932 to try a murderer, convict him, let him go through 8.5 years of paroles and then be put to death, how much does it cost if we allow him to live another 40–50 years, possibly continuing appeals for many of those years and being a ward of the state?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dalepetrie Good question. I’ll look into it.

oratio's avatar

The european stand is clear, and the EU works for the abolition of it globally.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@Capt_Bloth Yeah, for all I know, you could be a criminal…

Ltryptophan's avatar

I am against the death penalty.

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