A Secular Conservative Take on the Death Penalty - It makes sense when you're not over-emotional.

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  • [ – ] KennKong reply I have no personal moral objection to the death penalty for the guilty. However, if the state executes an innocent person, no matter how rare that event is, I have become a murderer myself. But that's my personal belief. So long as it's constitutional (and it is) and a majority of citizens want it (and they do), even if I were dictator of Florida (my home state), I wouldn't abolish the death penalty for that reason. You talk about being pragmatic, yet you only touch on the cost of prosecuting the death penalty. In Florida, just the cost of prosecution (excluding costs of incarceration) is estimated to be $2.4 million per trial, and much higher than that per death penalty imposed. That's enough to incarcerate each accused for 75 years, and each death sentence imposed for over a 100. When you factor in the much higher cost of incarceration for death row inmates, the cost benefit analysis gets much, much worse. However, I agree with you that this shouldn't be a factor in the calcula...moretion since executions should be carried out immediately after final appeals. I think you make a very bad argument when you say that capital criminals aren't valuable members of society anyway. While that may be true, the only just justice system punishes for the crime, not for the criminal's character. You completely failed to address the issue of prosecutors using the threat of the death penalty as coercion. This definitely happens, and is a clear violation of one's right to due process. Until prosecutors have no discretion in applying the death penalty, I believe this is a constitutional impediment to the death penalty. I suggest that one fair way to address this is to have all capital offenses tried by one jury that does not impose sentence, and then all cases have a separate sentencing jury that assumes guilt and adjudicates aggravating and mitigating factors only. While I agree that the execution itself should be quick and painless for the convict, I don't think it should be for the public. I would have executions carried out by firing squad or guillotine (my preference) and all executions would be publicly broadcast live on all TV stations within the jurisdiction. This would serve to impress "we the people" of the gravity of our choice to have the death penalty. So, back to my dictatorship. I would abolish the death penalty unless and until all the following are achieved: 1. Differential cost of prosecution no more than twice that of non-capital cases. 2. No prosecutorial discretion in seeking the death penalty, and separate sentencing juries. 3. Live public broadcast of executions by visceral means.
    • [ – ] Bitchspot parent reply You can't be a murderer unless you pull the proverbial trigger yourself. The government doesn't operate at your personal behest, it acts on a mandate from society, not from you individually. The only reason that the death penalty costs so much is because we allow the court costs to run rampant. If people got convicted, then a mandatory appeal, then they got executed without being able to file appeal after appeal after appeal, the cost would be positively cheap. You have to remember that the cost for LWOP is higher. Take a case in California, where the average cost per year per prisoner is around $70,000, if you put someone in prison for 50 years, that's $3.4 million dollars. We have to stop the insanity, which is what much of the criminal justice system is right now.
      • [ – ] KennKong parent reply That's why I said it (murder of an innocent person) was a personal belief. The possibility that you wouldn't convict me of murder doesn't change that. I share your conviction that personal responsibility is a duty of all citizens, and I include the actions of the state as my representative in that responsibility. I would support a constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty, and until such time as that passes, I accept my responsibility for the death of innocent persons. As an advocate of evidence-based policy, I recognize this is an extremely rare circumstance, and is far from sufficient cause to abolish in and of itself. If we're going to compare apples to apples, the cost in California per execution is $308 million. The estimated annual cost with the DP in CA is $137 million per year, and $11.5 million without. As you claim to be a fiscal conservative, the sensible thing to do would be to suspend the death penalty now, and use some of the huge savings to figure out if i...moret is even possible to conduct DP trials in a cost effective manner. We can discuss the facts all day, but I don't think it will change a thing. Social conservatives want the death penalty because of feelings, not facts. They believe in seeking revenge at any price.
        • [ – ] Bitchspot parent reply First off, it can't be murder because murder is a legal term denoting the ILLEGAL killing of a person. Anything the state does in accordance with the law isn't illegal, by definition. Secondly, as I said before, it isn't the actual sentence that costs money, it's all of the legal wrangling around it. California is absurdly liberal, but there are enough people with sense that they can't eliminate the death penalty. That doesn't stop activists from trying over and over and over again to overturn every single death row conviction, whether there is any reason to do so or not. That's where the money goes. Eliminate all of the stalling tactics and it becomes downright cheap. It isn't that these people aren't guilty and don't deserve death, it's that all the idiot bleeding heart liberals don't want it to happen. At least IMO.
          • [ – ] KennKong parent reply Are you honestly arguing that something cannot be wrong just because it is legal? The fact that it is not legally murder doesn't make the killing of an innocent person justifiable. Your statement "eliminate all of the stalling tactics and it becomes downright cheap" requires evidenciary justification. First, whether an appeal is warranted is a matter for a court to decide, not the legislative or executive branches. Second, people choosing to appeal death penalties are exercising their constitutional right under the first amendment to "petition the government for a redress of grievances." Third, any state action which threatens the imposition of the most severe penalty must provide for the maximum protection of the defendant's constitutional and civil rights. One might argue that all defendants are entitled to equal protection, but then you have to provide maximum protection for all of them. I cannot see any way in which a death penalty defendant could have less protection than any oth...moreer. Given the above, it is highly unlikely that you could significantly reduce the costs and difficulty of the state to obtain a death sentence. The people could place a time limit on appeals shorter than which we currently have (in Florida) but could never limit the number and scope of appeals. The courts could impose a time limit on motions before and during the trial, but again, this could not limit the number and scope of motions. So where do you think your great cost savings are going to come from? This isn't a rhetorical question: propose a policy change that will stand up to constitutional scrutiny and show me the evidence that it will accomplish its objectives. So we're back to pragmatism. The shortest path to reducing the cost of death penalty cases is to impose a moratorium now, and let the blood-thirsty social conservatives (you started using pejoratives about liberals, blame yourself) put their vengeance toward finding the cost savings you seek. Or just admit that your social conservative values trump your fiscal conservative values, and quit bitching. Admit that you're willing to spend huge sums of public money to enforce a policy which provides little public benefit. Life without parole is demonstrably cheaper, and provides 100% of the public safety benefit. I have no problem with anyone's desire for vengeance. It's a natural part of the human condition, and one that I share. But if you're not willing to bear the cost of that vengeance as public policy, you'll just have to accept the fact that we live in an imperfect society. You say you want people not to be "over-emotional" about this. I think I have made a fairly good case that death penalty proponents are just as over-emotional as the opponents, and that the most rational position at this time is to place a moratorium on the death penalty. Show me how I'm wrong!
            • [ – ] Bitchspot parent reply Right and wrong is purely subjective and personal. There is no such thing as objectively wrong. You're certainly welcome to your opinion and I will fight to the death for your right to express it, but at the end of the day, it means nothing to anyone but you. All that matters is the law. So long as it is legal, it is legal. If you don't want it to be legal, you're welcome to pursue whatever legally permissible avenues to get it changed, assuming you can get a majority to agree with you. As far as appeals being warranted, you're looking at people who have already been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by two juries of their peers. That's pretty good evidence of guilt right there. Beyond that, people on death row file appeal after appeal after appeal, not because they are factually innocent, but because they don't want to die. And anti-death penalty groups purposely stall the process as long as they can. All of that costs money. Lawyers get paid for the time they are on t...morehe case, whether that's 6 months or 6 years. All of that money comes out of the taxpayer's pocket. That's where the expense is. Eliminate all of that, get rid of the stalling tactics and the money grabs and the emotional outbursts and only allow appeals that seek to prove factual innocence, not just avoid the inevitable for as long as possible.
              • [ – ] KennKong parent reply Now your arguments are starting to go off the rails. I didn't claim that there is objective wrong. The majority believe think that killing an innocent person is wrong, that's why we have laws against it. It's subjectively wrong, even if it's legal. But why even bother to argue the point, when I conceded from the beginning that it "is far from sufficient cause to abolish in and of itself." Furthermore, since I stated that execution of the innocent is extremely rare, I am by inference acknowledging that almost all convictions are just. I am not arguing that the death penalty should be abolished because it is unjust by this reason. And since you have deferred discussion of the criminal justice system, I won't address those issues here either. I am arguing that the death penalty is not cost effective. I have asked you for a concrete proposal of how to reduce the costs, yet you continue to engage in wishful thinking that you can make lengthy trials and appeals just go away. I've already ...moreestablished a defendant's constitutional right to file as many motions and appeals as they can. As it stands, most motions and appeals are already quickly dismissed by the courts. So there's not much room for cost savings there. The defendant also has the 6th amendment right "to have the assistance of counsel for his defence." So there's little hope of getting the taxpayer off the hook for those expenses. However, I dispute your claim "All of that money comes out of the taxpayer's pocket." Many motions and almost all appeals are filed pro bono by non-taxpayer funded civil rights organizations. So we can't save any money there. You want to "only allow appeals that seek to prove factual innocence", which is your wishful thinking again. It simply isn't constitutionally permissible to deny a defendant any of their civil rights. If it were legally possible to do so, it would already have happened. The Florida legislature has tried a great many times to accomplish this, and have been shot down by the courts every time. I also dispute your contention about "just avoid the inevitable for as long as possible." In Florida, since 1988, more death penalty convictions have been overturned than executions carried out. That's not inevitable. And I think you know that if you were in their shoes, you would fight just as hard as they do. Now allow me to suggest simple and achievable methods to reduce costs. I'm only going to address Florida, because that's what I know. 1. Pass a law with an already approved execution method. The firing squad has been expressly permitted by the US Supreme Court. 2. There is a 2 year limit after sentencing for appeals. Stick to it, and the appeals process would be over in about 3 1/2 years. 3. Sign the fucking death warrants on this first day it is legal to do so. 4. Carry out executions within 72 hours. This won't do anything about lengthy and expensive trials, but it will save a shitload of money for incarceration. However, I don't think it would make it down to my 2-to-1 cost ratio, but that's negotiable.
                • [ – ] Bitchspot parent reply I've already said that you're perfectly welcome to have any personal opinion you want, nobody is saying otherwise, but to say that it's wrong in any way beyond your own opinion is simply not defensible. I'd agree that killing an innocent person, knowing that they were innocent, is wrong. That's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about convicted murderers who have been found guilty by their peers multiple times. If they later turn out to have been innocent, which happens in a ridiculously tiny percentage of cases, that's a shame. It's unfortunate. We need to change the system so that it doesn't happen in the future, as much as we can, understanding that we are not now and will never be perfect. But to throw the system entirely out of the window because we're quaking in our booties that we just might make a mistake, that makes no sense at all. If the overwhelming majority of executions are just, then we only need to worry about the minuscule minority that are not, g...moreetting rid of the death penalty makes no sense whatsoever. And of course, the death penalty itself isn't expensive. It is the irrational legal wrangling around it that costs all of the money. 99.99999% of the money in any death penalty case goes to lawyers. Maybe Shakespeare had a point.
                  • [ – ] KennKong parent reply And now you're starting to contradict yourself. " We need to change the system so that it doesn't happen in the future, as much as we can, understanding that we are not now and will never be perfect." " It is the irrational legal wrangling around it that costs all of the money. " What other methods besides "legal wrangling" are there in courts of law? You are acting as if this hasn't already been tried many times and failed. Every legislature in every death penalty state has tried to reform their system, many times, and the systems we have today are the result. You're trying to squeeze blood from a stone! As a self-proclaimed conservative, you have only two realistic choices. Put your social values first, and accept the high cost of the death penalty. Or put your fiscal values first, and abolish it. Both of these choices have been realized, as voters in some states have accepted the high cost of the death penalty, and voters in others have abolished it. Pick one and vote accordingly....more But your pie-in-the-sky keep the death penalty but make it cheaper position just isn't realistic. From listening to your videos, my opinion of you is that you are a fairly rational thinker. But on this issue, I think a bit of dogmatism is clouding your reason.
                    • [ – ] Bitchspot parent reply The whole point of the wrangling is not to see justice done, it is to put off the penalty for as long as possible, regardless of whether the person is factually guilty or not. But then again, we have a lot of people out there for whom hatred of the punishment is more important than justice or whether or not a person is guilty of a capital crime. Their emotions override justice. That's why we have the system we have now, because you have a large number of politically active people who oppose the penalty regardless, they'd be saying "Hitler doesn't deserve it!" It's an emotional reaction and as I said, once you remove emotion from the equation, it doesn't make any sense to behave that way. And as I keep saying, and you keep ignoring, the cost of the death penalty doesn't lie in the penalty itself, but in these emotional idiots running around and wringing their hands because the penalty exists, in trying to stop people from being executed because they don't like execution. That's wh...moreat needs to go away. Once that goes away, it's downright cheap. So stop with the false dichotomy, thinking there are only two choices when there is one that is very obvious that doesn't fit your emotional narrative.
                      • [ – ] KennKong parent reply I will grant you that many, if not most, death penalty opponents are very emotional about it. That doesn't mean they don't also have a rational justification for their position. Just as you can make a case for vengeance as a means to obtain justice, so can they make a case for mercy. The difference between these two positions is that yours leads to more killing, and theirs, less. You are on the losing side in this battle over moral standards. The only nations which execute more people than the US are China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, to all of which I am sure you would proclaim moral superiority. In Europe, only Belarus has the death penalty and they haven't executed anyone. Only three tiny nations in the Americas besides the US have the death penalty, and they haven't executed anyone. In Africa and Asia, excluding China, the combined population is ten times that of the US, but their combined executions are less than ours. You need to accept the fact that in civilized nations, t...morehe death penalty is headed for the same graveyard as slavery. You say that I am ignoring that the cost of the death penalty is due to "emotional idiots", despite my affirming repeatedly that is indeed the case. The point you keep ignoring is that these "emotional idiots" have a legal right to fight tooth and nail. You say "That's what needs to go away." Well, you're just denying the reality of human nature, that we are emotional beings. You fail to acknowledge that your support of the death penalty is based on an emotional desire for vengeance. If you can't dispense with your emotions so easily, you are being irrational to expect the same of opponents. I have not presented a false dichotomy. Your "obvious" third choice is utterly unrealistic. You will not be able to stop death penalty opponents from exhausting all legal means (without severely degrading your own civil rights). And it is even more unrealistic to think that those opponents are suddenly going to turn into emotionless robots! And finally, don't accuse me of presenting "[my] emotional narrative". From the very first sentence of my first reply, I made it clear that my objection to the death penalty isn't moral, it's practical.
                        • Bitchspot parent reply And there you go doing exactly what I've criticized you for doing once again. I've already addressed the "vengeance" claim, back in the video in fact, and you're still trotting that straw man out as though it's impressive. All you continue to do is trot out all of these emotional positions, proclaiming that you're right for moral reasons (news flash, morals are subjective), yadda yadda yadda. You have no rational argument. You just want to pretend that you're right because it makes you feel good and anyone who disagrees is wrong. Thanks for continuing to demonstrate what I said all along. You don't even recognize what you're doing and that's just sad.
  • [ – ] Maingun reply I agree with most of what you say here, but I would like to address a couple of points. I seen others, and have been on the receiving end myself, of a miscarriage of justice. Granted, these are usually traffic violations and misdemeanors. But even after speaking with the district attorney in my case, the prosecution decided to continue. They knew that it would cost me four or five times as much as the fine to fight it. And so I chose to plead guilty as a matter of pragmatism. At the time I knew a US circuit judge socially and was griping to him about it. He told me that two of his favorite lawyer TV shows were Law and Order and Shark. He liked Law and Order because the prosecution will go to any lengths to secure a conviction. A real prosecutor is not interested in the truth. A prosecutor's sole job is not to convict the bad guy, but to convict the guy that the police say is the bad guy. And he liked the opening of Shark where the leading character says "It's not about the l...moreaw. It's about what 12 people think is right." I am unconvinced that the courts that deal with more severe crimes than traffic court are any more concerned with actual justice. Do I have an alternative? No. And I will admit that I have no data one way or the other. Frankly, I have no idea where or how to acquire unbiased data of this kind. But when a man's life is on the line, my skepticism goes into overdrive. Secondly, on the point of compensating the wrongfully convicted. You're right that those years can never be given back. All we can do in those cases is attempt to compensate. You can't even compensate a dead man. All that being said, I'm still in favor of the death penalty. It's what we have to work with and I can't think of a better system, but I would like to see some modifications as to what type of evidence is necessary in order to qualify for the death penalty. I want to make damn sure as possible that we're throwing the switch on right guy.
    • Bitchspot parent reply There is some truth to what you say, and as I said in the video, that's really something to be addressed at a different time, dealing with the justice system. I'm really convinced there should be no prosecution and no defense, just a team effort dedicated to finding the truth no matter what it is.
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