Worst Anti-Death Penalty Argument Ever

Long time readers will know that after years of being a death penalty hawk in my younger years, have turned against the death penalty because I do not think that our government run legal system is capable of handing out death sentences fairly.  In particular, we see too many case overturned 20-30 years after the fact by DNA and other evidence, as well as changing social pressures (e.g. increased sympathy for blacks in the deep south) that I don't like the death penalty because it cuts off the ability to appeal.  Sure, folks on death row get a zillion appeals, but after 6-8 years these run out and the person is killed.  How is that going to help the black man convicted in 1962, when changing societal dynamics might only offer him a fair hearing in 1985, or DNA evidence in 1995, or help from the Innocence Project in 2005?

Never-the-less, I have to say this may be the worst appeal I have ever seen against the death penalty, with one man trying to hold up the process because the lethal drugs were obtained from a non-US supplier.  LOL, I don't think he is really worried about the drugs somehow being ineffective.  I sympathize with him, I would be doing everything I could too, particularly in a state like Arizona where law-of-the-west politicians compete to see who can send prisoners to the grave fastest.

  • epobirs

    6-8 years? Are you kidding? It takes more than two decades to execute a capital offender in CA. Most of the guys up for execution recently were convicted in the 80s.

    Once upon a time I might have had a problem with capital punishment but as forensic science becomes more effective the validity of the convictions becomes more solid. Groups like the Innocence Project like to talk about the prisoners freed through DNA analysis but rarely mention the people whose convictions were upheld by the same process, or the persons already in prison who were tied to additional crimes due to being in the database when the biological evidence from a decade old crime is finally analyzed.

    The faster and cheaper DNA analysis becomes the more I find capital punishment supportable.

  • Douglas2

    "as forensic science becomes more effective the validity of the convictions becomes more solid."
    The "forensic science" within my scientific field is still mostly woowoo without any statistical foundation.

  • Tim Smith

    hay it's awesome ..................i like it

  • Tim Smith

    Groups like the Innocence Project like to talk about the prisoners freed through DNA analysis but rarely mention the people whose convictions were upheld by the same process, or the persons already in prison who were tied to additional crimes
    Consolidation Debt

  • harmonitarian

    The first duty of a state is to keep its citizens safe from harm by other states & effectively in the short and long term. This is not the case presently, we spend far too many resources on this.
    The second duty would be resolution of citizens disputes and grievances. This would be timely justice carried out to the satisfaction of those citizens affected.
    What we actually have is a bizarre war machine justice system that drags on for years and whose main goal is to justify its own bloated ineffective existance. This terrible performance would never be tolerated by paying customer and is a perfect illustration of why a limited government is best.
    A bigger government only fails at more things in greater measure, giving almost no real value for all its destruction of resources.

  • ParatrooperJj

    Even inmates are protected by the FDA.

  • ColoComment

    Many years ago, I was converted to the belief that death was an appropriate penalty for heinous crimes after an episode in California, where a man assaulted a teenager, then cut off her arms at the forearm and left her in the desert to die. I was appalled at the inhuman callousness of such an act. His victim survived and testified against him. To me, his actions were such an egregious assault on normal social mores that I felt he had forfeited his right to membership in human society, and that his execution would have been deserved (his sentence was light & he was released early.)
    I believe this is the right story: http://crimeshots.com/VincentNightmare.html

    However, once the Innocence Project demonstrated the fallibility of the criminal judicial process w/r/t death penalty prosecutions, I became an un-fan. Barry Scheck's book about the IP is very convincing in its recount that numerous persons have been falsely found guilty on the basis of erroneous eye witness testimony, simple lack of an alibi, or prosecutorial abuse, or the like. It's a bit hard to make amends if your falsely-accused person is already dead.

  • Val

    I have to agree with ColoComment. It would be useful if those opposed to the death penalty were to specify cases and what those inhuman perps did. I think of a case in which a meth abuser ran out of his house with a battle axe and attacked a young woman with her walking her baby in a carriage. The infant was hacked to death and the mother severely wounded. I say kill the son-of-a-bitch. What possible good is served by spending a ton of money incarcerating him? If you have children the choice should be crystal clear.

  • me

    The death penalty would be a whole lot more palatable if there was accountability for incorrect application - let's say the judge, prosecution, defender and jury would be put to death if it turned out they convicted an innocent to die.

  • tehag

    "I do not think that our government run legal system is capable of handing out death sentences fairly"

    This is exactly why I am against imprisonment. Better dozens of guilty go free than one innocent be imprisoned for one hour.

    "The death penalty would be a whole lot more palatable if there was accountability for incorrect application – let’s say the judge, prosecution, defender and jury would be put to death if it turned out they convicted an innocent to die."

    This is exactly what I propose for parole, furloughs, pardons, etc. Anyone who paroles, pardons, etc. a criminal who re-offends must serve out the remainder of the first sentence and all of the second (and subsequent) sentences.

    "after an episode in California, where a man assaulted a teenager"

    You omitted the part where he was paroled, after which he did it again, but fixed his earlier mistake by murdering his next victim.

  • Val

    me, apparently you live a life with zero contact with those who are on death row. While I admit that a higher standard of proof is necessary (much higher) with application of the deathe penalty, it should definitely be used in warranted cases. And there are plenty.

  • http://manicbeancounter.wordpress.com ManicBeancounter

    Like you Warren, I too am both a global warming sceptic and oppose the death penalty. The reason I oppose the death penalty is that the police too often look for the evidence to support their case, but not for the evidence that contradicts this. As a result, here in Britain, some serious miscarriages of justice occurred. For instance in the 1970s the IRA brought their bombing campaign to Britain. 21 people died in Guilford and 10 people died in Birmingham. In both cases both groups of men convicted were entirely innocent. One group was convicted due to residue of a chemical used in the bomb being found on the hands of the accused. It was later explained by the chemical also being found on a new deck of playing cards.
    However, the worst case was for the murder of the hugely popular TV presenter Jill Dando. It was a cold-blooded shooting, by someone who then calmly walked away and disappeared. Barry George, was convicted of her killing on the evidence that there was a speck of gun residue in a coat pocket; that he had tried to join a gun club; that he had multiple newspaper images of the accused; and had a picture of him masked and holding a gun. Turns out the guy had a low IQ, who had a stack of old newspapers in his room, had and old Polaroid of him fancy dress with a de-commissioned gun. Jill Dando was a celebrity who had appeared 6 times in that stack of papers. He had attended a day care centre a short while afterwards and appeared calm. Yet he was a man easily excited and incapable of calm planning. The coat was handled by police officers who had recently handled firearms and the speck of residue was miniscule.
    The alternative explanation was this was a gangland hit. Jill Dando was mostly a newsreader, but whenever she fronted any other show, the ratings climbed. Once a month she fronted "CrimeWatch", the first program in the world to recreate crime scenes to help solve crimes. It has scored some notable successes over the years.
    We are all fallible, particularly those who are trying to confirm their answers. It is often those who are least able to defend themselves (due to low IQ, or race, or poverty) that get wrongly convicted.
    The global warming hypothesis is similar. There is weak circumstantial evidence to suggest catastrophic warming, but with a superior Queens counsel (public prosecutor) a persuasive case can be made. But a similar defence counsel would have the case quashed early in the trial.

  • epobirs

    It's all well and good to argue over cases where the evidence linking the accused was tenuous at best. But that doesn't address the many capital cases where there is no doubt whatsoever. Take Jeffrey Dahmer, for example. Were it not for his murder at the hands of another prisoner, Dahmer would likely still be drawing breath and groupies. What argument, other than one purely of philosophical differences rather than the possibility of judicial error, can be offered to keep a Dahmer alive behind bars for decades?

  • http://manicbeancounter.wordpress.com ManicBeancounter

    epobirs would have a point about the clear-cut evidence cases if it had no impact on the decisions made. But we then have a double-standard. For lesser crimes, the punishment is according to the severity of the crime. But for murder the punishment fits the level of the evidence. The clearest proof is for someone to freely admit their guilt. For lesser crimes you get a lower sentance as a result. Except for the murder when you get a severer punishment.
    Alternatively, the level of evidence is not that objective, especially in the hands of a fancy lawyer. So a poor person who kills whilst robbing a store gets the death penalty, whilst a serial contract killer with connections gets a lesser punishment.

  • pyeatte

    Actually they get one final appeal after they are executed - the only one that really matters.

  • me

    @Val - I am rather satisfied I don't have regular contact with deathrow cases. That said, I am all for putting deserving people to death quickly and efficiently. However, to make such a system workable, it's important to make sure that putting innocents to death by action or inaction of the state is treated just like murder, hence the suggestion that the crucial parties in the guilty verdict are exposed to consequences if the err.

  • Lawrence

    Here's a thought: let's modifiy our judicial system wrt assigning the death penalty. I.e., allow juries and judges to sentence murderers to life w/o the possibility of parole but WITH the possibility of a death sentence contingent upon a subsequent judicial proceeding before a different judge and jury. Maybe require a minimum time interval before before a subsequent proceeding could take place.

    Such a possibility would allow juries to give the death penalty where warranted, but would force the state to go through additional proceedings at a later date to actually carry out a death sentence. This would undoubtably reduce the possibility of the state executing an innocent person.

    In practice, however, I suspect that the number of executions would not increase significantly. But those most deserving of capital punishment would be more likely to receive it.