Is only one reason needed for state execution ?

Author: AddledBrain ,

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  • AddledBrain
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    Is it possible that the only reason necessary for state execution to be a valuable public safety tool is that it absolutely guarantees that a convicted, proven, violent criminal never has the chance to harm another person ever again ?
  • Castin
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    --> @AddledBrain
    Isn't that what life without possibility of parole does, as well?
  • AddledBrain
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    No.  It's similar but nothing provides the safety and assurance of execution.

      A person in prison without parole can get out in quite a number of ways and kill more people.  There could be an administrative mix-up that releases the wrong prisoner.  There could be a jailbreak.  There could be a riot or insurrection where prisoners escape.  There could be a fire or earthquake or flood, any of which could provide means to escape.  A violent criminal could bribe or coerce a guard to help him escape.  A judge or parole board could decide to release him, life without parole notwithstanding.

    It's just not worth the risk to honest society including former victims or families of victims of the perpetrator.  They, and we, all suffer some risk for the rest of the criminal's life.  The only sure way to expunge the fears and risk of all of us is to be sure the violent criminal's life is very short.  There is no method that can provide the level of safety that execution does, without a doubt.
  • HistoryBuff
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    I don't think the risk of criminals with a life sentence escaping is all that high. Do you know how many of such criminals actually escape?

    I think the risk of executing innocent people, along with the fact that executions are actually more expensive than incarcerating them pretty well eliminates execution as valuable tool. There have been many cases of innocent people being wrongly executed, and there is no way to take that back. Since the process to execute someone requires numerous appeals, it is actually extremely expensive and takes alot of time and effort for the courts. 

    I'd say, let them rot in jail. 
  • AddledBrain
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    --> @HistoryBuff
    I question whether executing a criminal is more expensive that supporting him in prison for his entire life.  If the costs are greater, It's because the costs and impediments are contrived.  There's no reason why the costs to prosecute a capital case where the criminal is subject to execution should be higher than for a criminal who is not.  If that is, indeed, the case then the criminal up for life in prison is being cheated out of the quality defense the other criminal gets.  They should both get equal quality defenses.

    Regarding executing wrongly convicted criminal, you can't pin that on the institution of state execution.  That's the fault of a broken justice system.  Fix the problem where is lies don't blame an effective solution.

    Regarding rotting in jail, that reeks of vengeance to me, not safety.
  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @AddledBrain
    I question whether executing a criminal is more expensive that supporting him in prison for his entire life.
    here is some info on it. It is much more expensive sentence someone to death than it is to incarcerate them for life. 

    If the costs are greater, It's because the costs and impediments are contrived.
    There are lots of reasons it is more expensive. But generally, there are extra steps required to try them. There are constitutionally required steps for appeals. It can take decades to go from trial to actually executing someone. And every step of the way is extremely expensive. But this is required to try to prevent innocent people from being executed.

    Regarding executing wrongly convicted criminal, you can't pin that on the institution of state execution.  That's the fault of a broken justice system.  Fix the problem where is lies don't blame an effective solution.
    humans are fallible. We make mistakes. we convict innocent people sometimes. If we put them in prison and more evidence comes to light, we can let them out. If we kill them, there is no correcting the mistake. 

    Regarding rotting in jail, that reeks of vengeance to me, not safety.
    how so? They are safely locked away and unable to hurt anyone. They are no threat in prison. Trying to kill someone who can't harm you, that reeks of vengeance. 


  • AddledBrain
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    --> @HistoryBuff
      Buff, the extra costs heaped on capital cases of defendants up for execution are arbitrary and contrived.  They're instituted exclusively to make it harder to help secure the Community from harm by way of execution.  That's the only reason they exist.

      If it's important to require this extraordinary "Cadillac" defense for those who face execution why shouldn't we give the same opportunity to those who are on trial but aren't up for execution ?  We're cheating those up for life in prison out of the top notch defense that those who face execution are afforded.  Why the unfairness ?

      If this enormous expense is necessary in order to find justice for some capital defendants it should be necessary for all.  Then, if all capital defendants receive the same quality defense, supporting a violent criminal in prison, feeding him, clothing him, securing him, securing others from him and taking care of his medical needs for his entire life would be much more costly than executing him and securing the Community.

      Technology is getting better and less fallible all the time.  Some death row inmates are found to be innocent sometimes because updated technology, such as DNA testing, is now available when it was not at the time when the defendant was convicted.  With the current technologies the mistakes are found even before trial and those who are not guilty aren't even charged now.

      This publication from the John Howard Society outlines how, using various modern technological methods, we can be more certain of guilt or innocence : https://johnhoward.ca/blog/fewer-wrongful-convictions/  If it cannot be positively ascertained that a defendant is guilty, of course he shouldn't be sentenced to execution.  If evidence were later found that assures his guilt then he could and should be executed at that time.

      We shouldn't execute based on unsure evidence.  Indeed, a defendant shouldn't even be found guilty on unsure evidence.

      Regarding "rotting in jail", you're the one who said it.  It sounds vengeful, not just or safe.  You keep saying confining someone in prison with no possibility of parole is safe but, to be sure, nothing can be as save as eliminating the threat surely and permanently through execution.  It's the only thing than can guarantee safety from repeat offense.  People are killed in prison, even without the killer getting out in some way, quite often.
  • HistoryBuff
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    Buff, the extra costs heaped on capital cases of defendants up for execution are arbitrary and contrived.  They're instituted exclusively to make it harder to help secure the Community from harm by way of execution.  That's the only reason they exist.
    no. they exist to reduce the risk of executing innocent people. Some of them are required by the constitution. Around 1/3rd of all people sentenced to death have their sentences overturned on appeal. 

     If it's important to require this extraordinary "Cadillac" defense for those who face execution why shouldn't we give the same opportunity to those who are on trial but aren't up for execution ?  We're cheating those up for life in prison out of the top notch defense that those who face execution are afforded.  Why the unfairness ?
    everyone gets the right to defend themselves at trial. We require extra steps be taken to sentence someone to death because this is the ultimate punishment that cannot be taken back. Once it is carried out, it is final. So we must be more careful about it. That is not "unfairness".

    If this enormous expense is necessary in order to find justice for some capital defendants it should be necessary for all.  Then, if all capital defendants receive the same quality defense, supporting a violent criminal in prison, feeding him, clothing him, securing him, securing others from him and taking care of his medical needs for his entire life would be much more costly than executing him and securing the Community.
    your argument seems to be that we should just rush through capitol cases and kill them as quickly as possible. We would be murdering alot of innocent people that way. 

    We shouldn't execute based on unsure evidence.  Indeed, a defendant shouldn't even be found guilty on unsure evidence.
    very few things in life are certain. There will always be some level of doubt about whether a defendant is guilty. There is always a way (even if it is ludicrously unlikely) that the evidence could exist and the person could still be innocent. If we required absolute certainly in every case, very few people would ever be punished for their crimes. 

     Regarding "rotting in jail", you're the one who said it.  It sounds vengeful, not just or safe.
    you are choosing to interpret my words that way. I said that once they are locked up, they are no longer a threat. You have protected society. Pushing to have them killed even though you have already neutralized the threat smacks of vengeance. 

    You keep saying confining someone in prison with no possibility of parole is safe but, to be sure, nothing can be as save as eliminating the threat surely and permanently through execution.  It's the only thing than can guarantee safety from repeat offense.  People are killed in prison, even without the killer getting out in some way, quite often.
    ok, so you want to execute all criminals for every offense? that is the only way to ensure there are no repeat offenders and that no one dies in a prison. The death penalty doesn't solve these problems you are pointing out. 

    People locked up for life without parole rarely escape. You are advocating for killing lots of people to solve a negligible problem. 
  • AddledBrain
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    --> @HistoryBuff
    Around 1/3rd of all people sentenced to death have their sentences overturned on appeal. 
    Do you see this proves my point ?  If 1/3 of convictions are overturned on appeal, why don't we require the same extensive appeals process for all capital defendants ?  Why should those facing life in prison not get the same full access to required appeals so they can get their convictions overturned on appeal ?


    We require extra steps be taken to sentence someone to death because this is the ultimate punishment
    Again, why are defendants not facing execution not afforded the required extra steps ?  They're arbitrarily getting short shrift simply due to the nature of the punishment they face.  If the required defense is good for one defendant, it should be good for all defendants charged with the same crime.


    your argument seems to be that we should just rush through capitol cases and kill them as quickly as possible. We would be murdering alot of innocent people that way. 
    This statement barely deserves comment.  How in the World could you come to that conclusion ?  What have I said to indicate that I believe, "we should just rush through capitol cases and kill them as quickly as possible." ?  When I say we should afford those up for life in prison the same safeguards afforded those facing execution, that affects the defendants facing life only.  How on Earth does that mean I want to kill the others quickly ?  That's just desperation on your part.

    Additionally, execution is not murder.  Murder is an illegal act.  Execution is not only legal, it is prescribed by law.


    There will always be some level of doubt about whether a defendant is guilty.
    Not near as much as you claim.   If that were the case, there would be much less crime.

    A large percentage, indeed the largest majority of convicted criminals are, without doubt,  guilty .. proven by their own admission or by airtight evidence which, as I previously stated, is getting more and more assured all the time by the use of new technologies and methods such as the one I offered by the John Howard Society.

    Besides, as I already stated, defendants who are not found to be guilty without a doubt should not be executed for the very reasons you cite.  ..But that should not mean that,  those who have been found guilty with certainly should not be executed.  The safety of the Community requires it.


    Did you not say :

    I'd say, let them rot in jail.
    as a stand-alone paragraph with no context or mitigation ?  Please own up to it if you said it.  If you don't mean it, just say you don't mean it and it will be finished.


    ok, so you want to execute all criminals for every offense?
    Wow, Buff !  Where did you pull that one from ?  When did I ever say anything even resembling "all criminals", "every offense" ?  We've been talking about capital crimes all along.

    You're getting more and more desperate, Buff.  Kindly debate the issue at hand.

    The death penalty doesn't solve these problems you are pointing out. 
    State execution absolutely, without a doubt, solves the problem of one single violent predator having the opportunity to kill another person sometime during his life.  No other method can grant the guarantee execution does.


    You are advocating for killing lots of people to solve a negligible problem.
    The problem is absolutely not negligible and it has a simple, absolutely effective solution.

    My question to you is, : Why would you feel the lives of proven, violent criminals are more valuable than the lives of those they kill during the course of their lives after we already knew they were violent, had the propensity to kill and had killed people ?


  • HistoryBuff
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    --> @AddledBrain
    Do you see this proves my point ?  If 1/3 of convictions are overturned on appeal, why don't we require the same extensive appeals process for all capital defendants ?  Why should those facing life in prison not get the same full access to required appeals so they can get their convictions overturned on appeal ?
    It simply isn't possible. This level of appeal is very time consuming. the justice system already struggles to cope with the amount of cases and procedure they have. This extra level of care needs to be applied when you are seeking the ultimate punishment. 

    Again, why are defendants not facing execution not afforded the required extra steps ?  They're arbitrarily getting short shrift simply due to the nature of the punishment they face.  If the required defense is good for one defendant, it should be good for all defendants charged with the same crime.
    same as above. All accused people have a right to defend themselves. However people who stand to receive the ultimate punishment must be given extra care as the punishment is irrevocable. 

    Additionally, execution is not murder.  Murder is an illegal act.  Execution is not only legal, it is prescribed by law.
    if you are killing innocent people because you intentionally removed some of the safety procedures, that seems like murder to me. Or at least negligent homicide. 

    There will always be some level of doubt about whether a defendant is guilty.
    Not near as much as you claim.   If that were the case, there would be much less crime.
    this doesn't make sense. There is always doubt. The relevant question is whether there is reasonable doubt. If there is a reasonable chance they are innocent, then they should not be found guilty. but there is always a chance the person is innocent. 

    A large percentage, indeed the largest majority of convicted criminals are, without doubt,  guilty .. proven by their own admission or by airtight evidence which, as I previously stated, is getting more and more assured all the time by the use of new technologies and methods such as the one I offered by the John Howard Society.
    it's hard to know exact numbers. But the estimate I found was that 5% of convicted criminals in the US are innocent. so 1 of ever 20 people convicted were innocent. Given the current prison population, that is about 120,000 innocent people in prison in the US right now. That is pretty high to me. If 5% of the time you started a car it exploded, no one would ever drive a car. 

    I'd say, let them rot in jail.
    as a stand-alone paragraph with no context or mitigation ?  Please own up to it if you said it.  If you don't mean it, just say you don't mean it and it will be finished.
    You keep insisting on reading meaning into a sentence even after I have explained the meaning of the sentence. I said those words. I meant them to mean that leaving a guilty person in prison for life is a much better plan that executing them. Whatever other meaning you read into that is all on you. 

    The death penalty doesn't solve these problems you are pointing out. 
    State execution absolutely, without a doubt, solves the problem of one single violent predator having the opportunity to kill another person sometime during his life.  No other method can grant the guarantee execution does.
    ok, but is that even a problem? How many men convicted to life without parole are escaping and killing people? You have yet to establish that there is any significant risk of this happening. If it only happens once every 30 years or something (yes I made that up as an example), then spending hundreds of billions of dollars and killing a bunch of wrongly convicted people is a much worse option. 

    You are advocating for killing lots of people to solve a negligible problem.
    The problem is absolutely not negligible and it has a simple, absolutely effective solution.
    prove the problem isn't negligible. Show me that alot of innocent people are dying from criminals convicted to life without parole escaping and killing people. If you can't show that this is something that happens very often, then it is a negligible problem. 

    absolutely effective solution.
    but the costs of that solution are huge. billions of dollars wasted, innocent people executed. Why spend billions and execute innocent people to solve a negligible problem?

    My question to you is, : Why would you feel the lives of proven, violent criminals are more valuable than the lives of those they kill during the course of their lives after we already knew they were violent, had the propensity to kill and had killed people ?
    this question is a misdirection attempting to trigger an emotional response. I never said they are more valuable. I said there is no value in executing them. You are advocating that executing them is better than imprisoning them. But it is way more expensive and leads to the deaths of wrongly convicted people. You have yet to provide evidence that many people would be saved by executing them or that saving this tiny number of people is worth the massive price tag attached and the number of innocent lives that would be lost to executing wrongfully convicted people. 

    If you want to show me why executions are needed, then you need to provide evidence that there is a real problem that this solves. 

  • AddledBrain
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    --> @HistoryBuff
    Convicted murders do murder again within prison and outside, after managing to get out in some way.  After a quick search, here are a couple of references you may find informative :

    All the rest of your arguments are recycled from previous posts .. nothing new.  My counter-arguments have not changed.  I disagree that capital defendants facing execution should get a superior defense and that those up for life in prison should deserve less.  All, being tried for the same crime, should deserve an equal quality defense.

    My opinion is a murdering predator's life is not more important than the life of his next innocent victim.  I don't feel murders should be coddled at the expense of Community safety.  I appreciate that you feel differently. 

    Buff, you seem to think I like the idea of killing.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I don’t know how you feel about abortion or mercy killing but, if you feel the way I do about it, the need for it overrides the revulsion to do it.  That’s how I feel about execution as a public safety measure.  It's necessary to allay the real fears and secure the safety of former victims and families and friends of victims who often have been threatened if the murderer should ever get out.  They've already suffered at the hands of the convicted murderer for his original crime and now they must continue to live in fear of reprisal.

    Unless you have another argument, I feel this debate has run it's course.  We feel differently about it.
  • Castin
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    --> @AddledBrain

    One could also say that the only way to absolutely guarantee that an innocent person never gets put to death is to eliminate the death penalty.

    It seems you are willing to accept the risk of innocent people being executed, and HistoryBuff is willing to accept the risk of violent criminals escaping and harming more innocent people. You both argue the risk is negligible and defensible.

    So I would need to look at prison escape statistics versus wrongful death sentence statistics.

    This PNAS study estimates that about 4% of people sentenced to death are falsely convicted. This is a very conservative estimate; it's pretty much impossible to know how many there are. The actual number is almost certainly higher.

    Clear statistics on prison escapes seem harder to find - it seems that's the nature of the beast (The Murky Math of Counting Prison Escapes). If you can dig up some good stats on this, I'd be all ears.

    I would think a violent criminal serving life without parole would not be in a minimum security prison, and most escapes are from minimum security prisons. So I would need stats on how many prisoners in medium or maximum security prisons escape. And as to that, I'm coming up dry. USA Today reports that escapes from maximum security prisons are exceedingly rare, but doesn't seem to give a hard nationwide percentage. 

    ^ (Btw, that last USA Today article has a story that is pretty much the exact scenario you described: two murderers in New York escaped prison with the help of a contractor who was working in the prison.)

    But if violent offender escapes are rarer than wrongful death sentences, weighing the risks would lean me against the death penalty.

  • AddledBrain
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    --> @Castin

      Castin, thank you for weighing in on this subject.  I must object to your characterization that I'm good with innocent people being executed.  I absolutely am not.  However, the institution of state execution is not to blame for it.  The blame lies with a faulty justice system that fails to use available technology to positively ascertain guilt.  Worse yet, some prosecutors, judges and public safety officials, who are corrupt, have prosecuted people whom they know are innocent, or will prosecute the first likely suspect to come along just to get the case closed.  These are the people to blame for wrongful convictions and executions.  Indeed, some of these people should be charged and prosecuted, themselves.  Please put the responsibility and the blame where it belongs.  Let's reform the justice system and not put the blame on an effective solution to public safety.

      Regarding comparing statistics of post-conviction murders, please keep in mind that it's not just prisoners who have escaped who commit additional murders.  Indeed, most of the post-conviction killings are perpetrated behind bars, against other inmates, or guards, or other prison personnel, or against hospital employees when the convict is taken for medical treatment, or when taken to court for some  post-conviction reason, or during a transfer, for example.

      When examining statistics of wrongful convictions, it would be inaccurate to only consider past convictions where modern forensic technology was not available at the time.  Forensic technologies and investigation methods are improving and becoming more accurate all the time.  What would really be more telling of the truth would be to use current and future convictions, when modern criminology is in play, to determine the rate of wrongful convictions.  Of course, that is impossible, but it's inaccurate and misleading to only consider past statistics.

      Additionally, as I tried to make clear to Buff, if there were not invincible proof of guilt, of course a defendant should not be sentenced to execution, indeed, he shouldn't even be convicted.  State execution should be reserved only for those whom we know are proven killers.  I don't know, nobody seems to know, for how many suspects there is absolute proof of guilt .. I would suspect, the largest percentage .. but, even if it were only, say, half, executing them would make society, and their former victims, and family members and friends of former victims, ultimately that much safer and free from worry of reprisals.
  • Castin
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    --> @AddledBrain
    I didn't say you were good with it, I said you seemed willing to accept a risk. I don't think HistoryBuff is "good with" violent criminals escaping and hurting people, either. We all support things that have some risk of harm; it doesn't mean we are in support of harm. It means we have weighed a tradeoff and found that the good outweighs the risk. Regardless, if I gave any offense, I apologize; it really was not intended.

    I agree the justice system is to blame, but I can't imagine that our accuracy will ever be perfect, and there will always be some risk of us getting it wrong. Our justice system is a long way from cleaning up the problems you accurately describe, and frankly, I don't trust it to be, well, just. Not often enough, anyway.

    If I knew we would always be right about who we convict, I would be in support of the death penalty. But if even one innocent person could be put to death, I am left with the question: Is it worth it to kill guilty people if it will also kill innocent people? It's a heavy question. The thought of executing innocent people genuinely haunts me. My conscience says it cannot be worth it if there is some other way of neutralizing criminals so they cannot harm anyone else. And there is. If prisoners sometimes escape, or get off, or get out, then I could borrow your argument: that is our justice system's fault and we need to improve it.

    When examining statistics of wrongful convictions, it would be inaccurate to only consider past convictions where modern forensic technology was not available at the time.  Forensic technologies and investigation methods are improving and becoming more accurate all the time.  What would really be more telling of the truth would be to use current and future convictions, when modern criminology is in play, to determine the rate of wrongful convictions.  Of course, that is impossible, but it's inaccurate and misleading to only consider past statistics.
    I agree. The study I cited was from 2014, and was the best I came up with on short notice. I believe the cases it examined dated from the 70's to the modern era of forensics.

    One part of the study caught my attention, though:

    • "It is possible that the death-sentencing rate of innocent defendants has changed over time. No specific evidence points in that direction, but the number and the distribution of death sentences have changed dramatically in the past 15 y. One change, however, is unlikely to have much impact: the advent of DNA identification technology. DNA evidence is useful primarily in rape rather than homicide investigations. Only 13% of death row exonerations since 1973 (18 of 142) resulted from postconviction DNA testing, so the availability of preconviction testing will have at most a modest effect on that rate."
    This is rather disturbing to me, tbh. I would have thought DNA testing would have much more of an impact.
  • AddledBrain
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    --> @Castin

      Thanks for your response, Castin.  I didn't mean to indicate I took offense and I apologize for the misunderstanding.  I just wanted to distance myself from the idea of executing innocent people as no one wants that.

      I don't think we're separated all that far in ours opinions on this subject.

      Don't forget to include in your calculus of possible outcomes, not only wrongful executions and the number of convicts escaping from prison but, any people killed by convicted killers both within and outside prison.  That is, regarding your statement, "...even one innocent person could be put to death, I am left with the question: Is it worth it to kill guilty people if it will also kill innocent people ?" while that would be horrible, what if one person were killed by a convict when we could have prevented an innocent's subsequent death by permanently eliminating the threat from the time of the conviction ?  ..And please don't forget killings inside prison, hospitals and court facilities.  You tend to gloss over those when you speak of only escapees and those let out improperly.

      You say : "I can't imagine that our accuracy will ever be perfect," with regard to assuring the guilt of all capital criminals but, we don't have to be perfect.  Naturally, we can and should only execute the criminals we know are guilty.  If, later, we find evidence that assures their guilt, we should carry out the execution at that time for the safety of the Community.

      It's difficult to know how to think about your last statistic.  "Only 13% of death row exonerations since 1973 (18 of 142) resulted from postconviction DNA testing,"  When you think about it, that means 87% were exonerated by other reliable means.  What if we were to employ those other means, plus DNA testing, in the investigation process rather than after trial ?  Indeed, that's what's happening now.  The new technologies, including DNA, and forensic methods, such as those advocated by the John Howard Society,  are being used early in the process, and can determine absolute guilt.  ..And, I can't stress this strongly enough, those who are not absolutely guilty should not be executed.

      Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.  We have a method that know will prevent proven killers from ever killing anyone ever again.  Just because we can't be certain of guilt in all cases.  Let's protect the safety of the Community as best we can by executing those whom we know are guilty.
  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @AddledBrain
    Most convicted murders are not "serial killers".

    Just because someone snapped and killed their entire family doesn't necessarily mean they're perpetually a heart-beat away from flying into a nation-wide psycho murder spree because they've been cursed with an insatiable blood-lust.
  • AddledBrain
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      Rural, I could easily see how a convicted killer could have a vindictive streak and wish to go after anyone who put him behind bars if the opportunity were there.  Anyone on the outside who did testify against him should, rightly, be worried for the rest of the killer's life.  The best way to allay their fear is to be sure the killer's life is short.

      Killers who must be in prison often develop a mean streak and other inmates, guards, other prison personnel, medical or legal professionals or others may be at the wrong place at the time when pressure or anger gets the best of the killer.  A known killer doesn't have to be serial to be a danger.
  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @AddledBrain
    I could easily see how a convicted killer could have a vindictive streak and wish to go after anyone who put him behind bars if he had the chance.
    Are you in the habit of punishing people for crimes you imagine they might commit in the future?
  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @AddledBrain
    Killers who must be in prison often develop a mean streak
    It's worth pointing out here that perfectly innocent people who are sent to prisons also often develop a mean streak.
  • AddledBrain
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    Are you in the habit of punishing people for crimes you imagine they might commit in the future?
    No.  I don't see state execution as punishment.  Punishment is retributive or instructive ; execution is neither.

    State execution is strictly a Community safety measure, as is stated in the original premise.

  • AddledBrain
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    --> @3RU7AL
    It's worth pointing out here that perfectly innocent people who are sent to prisons also often develop a mean streak.
    amen

  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @AddledBrain
    State execution is strictly a Community safety measure, as is stated in the original premise.
    Only if the killer is rabid.
  • Castin
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    --> @AddledBrain
      Thanks for your response, Castin.  I didn't mean to indicate I took offense and I apologize for the misunderstanding.  I just wanted to distance myself from the idea of executing innocent people as no one wants that.

    I don't think we're separated all that far in ours opinions on this subject.
    Thanks. I don't think we are, either.

    Don't forget to include in your calculus of possible outcomes, not only wrongful executions and the number of convicts escaping from prison but, any people killed by convicted killers both within and outside prison.  That is, regarding your statement, "...even one innocent person could be put to death, I am left with the question: Is it worth it to kill guilty people if it will also kill innocent people ?" while that would be horrible, what if one person were killed by a convict when we could have prevented an innocent's subsequent death by permanently eliminating the threat from the time of the conviction ?  ..And please don't forget killings inside prison, hospitals and court facilities.  You tend to gloss over those when you speak of only escapees and those let out improperly.
    Well, I need hard data to turn our "what ifs" into quantifiable realities that I can weigh and measure, and I'm just finding that data a little difficult to come by. Exactly how often do we sentence innocent people to death today, even with modern forensics? How often do convicted killers escape prison? How often do they kill their fellow inmates or prison staff? I'm not armed with solid information on these questions. Obviously, I want whatever policy or method that prevents the most harm.

      You say : "I can't imagine that our accuracy will ever be perfect," with regard to assuring the guilt of all capital criminals but, we don't have to be perfect.  Naturally, we can and should only execute the criminals we know are guilty.  If, later, we find evidence that assures their guilt, we should carry out the execution at that time for the safety of the Community.

      It's difficult to know how to think about your last statistic.  "Only 13% of death row exonerations since 1973 (18 of 142) resulted from postconviction DNA testing,"  When you think about it, that means 87% were exonerated by other reliable means.  What if we were to employ those other means, plus DNA testing, in the investigation process rather than after trial ?  Indeed, that's what's happening now.  The new technologies, including DNA, and forensic methods, such as those advocated by the John Howard Society,  are being used early in the process, and can determine absolute guilt.  ..And, I can't stress this strongly enough, those who are not absolutely guilty should not be executed.

      Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.  We have a method that know will prevent proven killers from ever killing anyone ever again.  Just because we can't be certain of guilt in all cases.  Let's protect the safety of the Community as best we can by executing those whom we know are guilty.
    All I can say is I want to believe this.
  • 3RU7AL
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    --> @Castin
    Well, I need hard data to turn our "what ifs" into quantifiable realities that I can weigh and measure, and I'm just finding that data a little difficult to come by.
    Well stated.
  • AddledBrain
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    --> @3RU7AL @Castin
    I agree, Brutal.  Well stated, indeed, Castin.  We certainly are handicapped at this point of our discussion due to a lack of data.  I would love to know the statistics, too.  I can only go by what seems right to me without substantiation.