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Life in prison - is it more civilised than execution?

Diuretic

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In another thread http://www.usmessageboard.com/law-a...th-penalty-for-white-collar-crimes.htmlGeorge Costanza wrote:

The cost of keeping a murderer in prison for the rest of his life is the price we pay for the right to call ourselves a civilized society.

Is it civilised? This is not a new question. J.S.Mill spoke for the death penalty and against life imprisonment but I think it was from the position that prisons of his time were so bad that it was merciful to execute someone rather than allow them to spend the rest of their life in a squalid prison.
THE longest serving prisoner in Queensland, and possibly Australia, has died in his cell.

Edward Arthur Antony Rawlins, 82, who was sentenced to life in 1956 for the 1955 murder of a 12-year-old girl in Townsville, was found unconscious in his cell at Wolston Correctional Centre, in Brisbane's south, at 6.15am AEST today.

Man dies in custody after 54 years behind bars | Courier Mail

One reason for life imprisonment is that you can let the person out if they've been wrongly convicted so I suppose in many ways this is a question with a ready-made answer but I wonder if keeping someone in prison for life is any more civilised than executing them. If it is more civilised, why?
 
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uscitizen

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Life in prison is a easy way out of making a hard decision.
Wussing out you might say.

We must do all we can to ensure that the innocent are neither imprisoned nor executed. But as things go it is much more exacting and accurate than say war or even driving down the road.
More innocent are killed on the highway in America in one month than in 20 years of executions.
And will killed enough innocent in Iraq to cover the innocent error rate for executions for the next 1,000 years or so.

Nothing man does is perfect.
 
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George Costanza

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In another thread http://www.usmessageboard.com/law-a...th-penalty-for-white-collar-crimes.htmlGeorge Costanza wrote:

The cost of keeping a murderer in prison for the rest of his life is the price we pay for the right to call ourselves a civilized society.

Is it civilised? This is not a new question. J.S.Mill spoke for the death penalty and against life imprisonment but I think it was from the position that prisons of his time were so bad that it was merciful to execute someone rather than allow them to spend the rest of their life in a squalid prison.
THE longest serving prisoner in Queensland, and possibly Australia, has died in his cell.

Edward Arthur Antony Rawlins, 82, who was sentenced to life in 1956 for the 1955 murder of a 12-year-old girl in Townsville, was found unconscious in his cell at Wolston Correctional Centre, in Brisbane's south, at 6.15am AEST today.

Man dies in custody after 54 years behind bars | Courier Mail

One reason for life imprisonment is that you can let the person out if they've been wrongly convicted so I suppose in many ways this is a question with a ready-made answer but I wonder if keeping someone in prison for life is any more civilised than executing them. If it is more civilised, why?

That's MR. Costanza to you. ;)

Good question. Frankly, I think LWOP (life without possibility of parole) is much more cruel than execution. So, for all of you "the bastard deserves it" pro-death penalty folks, take heart - there is a valid argument that LWOP is indeed worse than death.

Suppose you are given the choice of death by lethal injection or LWOP. Honest to God, I'd have to think about it.
 

Modbert

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This is all we need to know about the Death Penalty in the United States.

Sidebar - Group That Shaped Death Penalty Gives Up on Its Own Work - NYTimes.com

Last fall, the American Law Institute, which created the intellectual framework for the modern capital justice system almost 50 years ago, pronounced its project a failure and walked away from it.

Instead, the institute voted in October to disavow the structure it had created “in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment.”

That last sentence contains some pretty dense lawyer talk, but it can be untangled. What the institute was saying is that the capital justice system in the United States is irretrievably broken.
 

goldcatt

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This is all we need to know about the Death Penalty in the United States.

Sidebar - Group That Shaped Death Penalty Gives Up on Its Own Work - NYTimes.com

Last fall, the American Law Institute, which created the intellectual framework for the modern capital justice system almost 50 years ago, pronounced its project a failure and walked away from it.

Instead, the institute voted in October to disavow the structure it had created “in light of the current intractable institutional and structural obstacles to ensuring a minimally adequate system for administering capital punishment.”

That last sentence contains some pretty dense lawyer talk, but it can be untangled. What the institute was saying is that the capital justice system in the United States is irretrievably broken.

I agree with the ALI.

I oppose the death penalty in general, for reasons of personal conscience. But if it's going to be applied we need to have a system that makes damn sure a person is guilty, makes sure they have competent counsel, examines the case with an eye toward exculpatory evidence and applies the penalty evenly and objectively. There is too much evidence this is not happening. And the fact that Death Row inmates whose crimes occurred prior to DNA testing availability do not have the right to a test is especially deplorable. If anything, we need to err on the side of caution. If we screw up, it's not like we can apologize and let them go.
 

RadiomanATL

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So let me see if I have this right...

LWOP is worse than death....AND has the added benefit of letting the person loose if they have been wrongly convicted.

win/win. :thup:
 

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I agree with the ALI.

I oppose the death penalty in general, for reasons of personal conscience. But if it's going to be applied we need to have a system that makes damn sure a person is guilty, makes sure they have competent counsel, examines the case with an eye toward exculpatory evidence and applies the penalty evenly and objectively. There is too much evidence this is not happening. And the fact that Death Row inmates whose crimes occurred prior to DNA testing availability do not have the right to a test is especially deplorable. If anything, we need to err on the side of caution. If we screw up, it's not like we can apologize and let them go.

In part, it's also class warfare. Those who can afford a competent lawyer are more likely to not receive the death penalty then those who cannot. Plus, there's the evidence shown in more than a few studies that the death penalty is racially biased. A person who killed a white person is several times more likely then to receive the death penalty then someone who is not white. Plus, considering what percentage of the population that African Americans are, they are a heavy percentage of the total amount of the people on death row.

I just did a paper for a class on the Death Penalty, it only reverified my stance of being against it.
 

goldcatt

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I agree with the ALI.

I oppose the death penalty in general, for reasons of personal conscience. But if it's going to be applied we need to have a system that makes damn sure a person is guilty, makes sure they have competent counsel, examines the case with an eye toward exculpatory evidence and applies the penalty evenly and objectively. There is too much evidence this is not happening. And the fact that Death Row inmates whose crimes occurred prior to DNA testing availability do not have the right to a test is especially deplorable. If anything, we need to err on the side of caution. If we screw up, it's not like we can apologize and let them go.

In part, it's also class warfare. Those who can afford a competent lawyer are more likely to not receive the death penalty then those who cannot. Plus, there's the evidence shown in more than a few studies that the death penalty is racially biased. A person who killed a white person is several times more likely then to receive the death penalty then someone who is not white. Plus, considering what percentage of the population that African Americans are, they are a heavy percentage of the total amount of the people on death row.

I just did a paper for a class on the Death Penalty, it only reverified my stance of being against it.

Class certainly has a lot to do with it. Horror stories aside, and they certainly exist, in some areas public defenders are still drawn from a pool of attorneys who may specialize in any area but passed the bar exam and therefore are considered "competent" to defend a capital case. That means a defendant could end up with a tax attorney defending him, or a family lawyer. Nothing wrong with that until you consider not only is the entire procedure different, but the law itself is simply too big a subject for anyone to know it all.

Race per se may play a role, but I would again refer back to classism as the underlying factor. If you look not at skin color but at income levels and representation, how many on death row come from poverty and had public defenders for their trials? There are public defenders who believe in their work and do an excellent job, don't get me wrong. But representation is going to be a big factor in whether a death penalty is handed down.
 

strollingbones

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i am against the way this country uses the death penalty...for example...taking the death penalty off the table if one confesses or turns on the others involved...it should not be used as a bargaining tool...

the lets look at the state of texas....there are men on death row who have been there for 20 years..while you have men who have been there several years...common sense would say the guy there for 20 yrs would be executed first...well no....due to the laws they were sentenced under...the 20 yr dude may have unlimited appeals while the 3 yr due my be limited in appeals...

then you have the states w/o death penalty..why should a person in one state be killed but not in another state?
 

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I have no problem with the swift execution of certain kinds of criminals IF Law is clearly enforced which ALSO mandates the execution of those who corrupt the legal process by giving or soliciting false testimony, conceal evidence of the accused's innocence or are in any way particpants in entrapment.
 

mudwhistle

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I love this country.....we keep assholes like Charles Manson alive....even when you're in a state that has the death penalty they hang around for 20 yrs putting in appeal after appeal.

Then there's the old folks that the left wants to just die and leave this country to them....forget about their old-fashioned ways of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What an outdated concept.

And then there's the unborn.....Just don't get me started about that issue.

Yup...snuff anyone that gets in your way but keep these murdering assholes around at the cost of about 100k per year. Yeah...that makes sense.
 

George Costanza

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I agree with the ALI.

I oppose the death penalty in general, for reasons of personal conscience. But if it's going to be applied we need to have a system that makes damn sure a person is guilty, makes sure they have competent counsel, examines the case with an eye toward exculpatory evidence and applies the penalty evenly and objectively. There is too much evidence this is not happening. And the fact that Death Row inmates whose crimes occurred prior to DNA testing availability do not have the right to a test is especially deplorable. If anything, we need to err on the side of caution. If we screw up, it's not like we can apologize and let them go.

In part, it's also class warfare. Those who can afford a competent lawyer are more likely to not receive the death penalty then those who cannot. Plus, there's the evidence shown in more than a few studies that the death penalty is racially biased. A person who killed a white person is several times more likely then to receive the death penalty then someone who is not white. Plus, considering what percentage of the population that African Americans are, they are a heavy percentage of the total amount of the people on death row.

I just did a paper for a class on the Death Penalty, it only reverified my stance of being against it.

Yes - but where would you be if all of those problems (wrongful convictions, elimination of racial bias, etc.) were eliminated. Would you still be opposed?

I would be. To me, the main issue with the death penalty is not unfairness in application but, simply, the moral issue: even though a person is clearly guilty of a capital crime, is it morally proper for the state to execute them? I hold that it is not.

How about you, Dogs?
 
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Diuretic

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Is it moral or not? Let's say, for the sake of argument, that there are no errors in the criminal justice system and no corruption (okay, I'll give you some time to work up that frame of mind :lol:). Now, every murderer on death row is guilty, not just beyond a reasonable doubt, but guilty in absolute fact. Is it moral for society to execute them? I'll give a tentative yes. It's as moral to execute them as to put them in prison for any length of time. The state is acting judicially in either case, why would execution be less moral then imprisonment?

(Let me make it clear that I am not a supporter of the death penalty for many reasons, morality or lack of it isn't one of them).
 

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All right, I'll take a stab at it.

Looking at our body of law, there are three things the State can take away from you in punishment for committing a crime - Liberty (incarceration), Property (Fines and so on), and Life.

Two of those things have at least an arguable premise that the State actively promotes, protects, grants or in some way controls them - Property and ownership as we think of it being the more obvious, Liberty being less so.

The one thing I have never seen an argument for is that the State gives, regulates, promotes and/or controls Life - Life meaning the property of being alive. If the State does not grant it or have any control over it, how can it be rightfully empowered to take it away?

(Waiting for the collective apoplexy of the resident originalists ;) )
 

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All right, I'll take a stab at it.

Looking at our body of law, there are three things the State can take away from you in punishment for committing a crime - Liberty (incarceration), Property (Fines and so on), and Life.

Two of those things have at least an arguable premise that the State actively promotes, protects, grants or in some way controls them - Property and ownership as we think of it being the more obvious, Liberty being less so.

The one thing I have never seen an argument for is that the State gives, regulates, promotes and/or controls Life - Life meaning the property of being alive. If the State does not grant it or have any control over it, how can it be rightfully empowered to take it away?

(Waiting for the collective apoplexy of the resident originalists ;) )

The state does have a contract to protect life and we collectively agree that it is paramount. To take a life is the most serious of crimes and we have a duty to the person who's life was taken to administer justice, even posthumously.
 

goldcatt

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All right, I'll take a stab at it.

Looking at our body of law, there are three things the State can take away from you in punishment for committing a crime - Liberty (incarceration), Property (Fines and so on), and Life.

Two of those things have at least an arguable premise that the State actively promotes, protects, grants or in some way controls them - Property and ownership as we think of it being the more obvious, Liberty being less so.

The one thing I have never seen an argument for is that the State gives, regulates, promotes and/or controls Life - Life meaning the property of being alive. If the State does not grant it or have any control over it, how can it be rightfully empowered to take it away?

(Waiting for the collective apoplexy of the resident originalists ;) )

The state does have a contract to protect life and we collectively agree that it is paramount. To take a life is the most serious of crimes and we have a duty to the person who's life was taken to administer justice, even posthumously.

I agree with you as far as the paramount duty to protect life, which as you point out is the reason behind having laws criminalizing homicide and having the harshest of penalties for deliberately breaking them.

But when looking at the penalty itself, it's counterintuitive. If the State has the utmost duty to protect life, what is the justification for it then actively taking life?
 

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Then there's the old folks that the left wants to just die and leave this country to them....

Please. If you're going to argue an issue, at least do so with a valid premise.

It's quite valid.

The left likes to act with compassion unless showing compassion means it's an inconvenience.

We do have people currently in the WH that believe what I said about the elderly. Even folks like Nancy Pelosi have talked about it.
 

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