Death penalty: yea or nay? : LUSENET : Novenotes : One Thread

Death penalty: yea or nay? Feel free to debate any and all.--Al

-- Al Schroeder (, February 24, 2000


I have a question, why did the government stop executing people by hanging or firing squads? Death row is backed up, admitting 200-300 people per year and only killing 60-70. We already have 3500 people on death row!

-- Boston T. Party (, January 25, 2001.

the debate still rages in my head. making someone miserable for the rest of their life as punishment doesn't seem to be a solution. killing doesn't seem to be either - - - - - and from prison interviews the hardened criminals have no regrets - no conscience. to put it on a strictly economical basis, (which i don't like) a firing squad against a wall would save the taxpayers billions of dollars in the long run. only thing i can think of, if enough wise men can be gathered in this country is to do the military bit of triage. but at least put the unsavanble out of their misery. this is another damned if you and damned if you don't questions. and i am sure that all kinds of arrows and bull's digestive effluent will come my way. doug

-- doug (, February 24, 2000.

I am absolutely, one hundred percent against the death penalty. Yes, people who murder people should not have human rights. However, does two wrongs (the murder itself and the lethal injection) make a right? I remember debating this with my parents when I was younger and we would argue about it all of the time. My mother asked me "what if someone walked into our house today and killed me? Would you want that person to be able to live?" As much as I love my mother, I would not want the person to die in that situation. Even if I lost someone close to me, God forbid that, I wouldn't want the murderer to lose his/her life, as well. It just isn't right in my eyes.

-- Meg (, February 25, 2000.

My opinion isn't the popular one, but I agree with the death penalty. If someone takes it upon themself to kill another human being they do deserve to die as well. And I don't put an upper age limit on the death penalty. Regardless of how old she was she murdered at least one man if not two. And for her to say that not one, not two, but five men abused her. Something doesn't add up here. There was no evidence of abuse. And obviously many people (judges in all the courts the appeal was brought to) agree with me.

-- Suzy (, February 25, 2000.

I was watching one of those TV News/commentary programs. They said that under Texas law, the Governor (Bush) does not have the power to pardon the offense or commute the sentence--as Governors in other states can do. The only power the Governor of Texas has is the power to delay the sentence by 30 days. Since no one is contending that this delay would have accomplished anything, I don't feel that it is fair to blame Bush in this instance.

-- Joe Shedlock (, February 25, 2000.

ive thought about this question alot.

im pro death penalty - and this is why.

to me murder is terrible, but should people die for it?

so i thought what would *I* want done to me if i killed someone out of cold blood. *I* would like to be killed. for me to do something like that would go against everything i stand for, and i should be punished for it.

but i still respect everyone elses views.

-- alisa perne (, February 25, 2000.

Nay. When they use the justice system to kill the a millionaire I might change my mind.

-- Susan (, February 25, 2000.

I don't think the death penalty solves anything. Yes, others need to be protected from people who murder, but I don't want to be responsible for saying who should live and who should die. If you murder someone, you take that responsibility. What is the difference between being in a jury and voting guilty and being a murderer yourself? Then there is the matter of evidence. How can anybody really know what happened? Something you can't prove has not happened? can you prove what you ate for breakfast this morning? I am dutch and in holland we don't have death penalty.


-- Saskia (, February 25, 2000.

Yay. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is what I say.

-- Dana (, February 25, 2000.

I'm pro death penalty. In this case, she killed one man, and very probably killed another. I, like others, am not condoning spouse abuse. I too was a little sympathetic to the great grandmother, but put another face on this case. Suppose she wasn't a 62 year great grandmother. Suppose they convicted a 26 year old man who looked like a Harley biker and found two dead ex-wives buried in his front yard and they had been shot execution style. I don't think people would have been as sympathetic. She got the sympathy for her age, yet she wasn't too old to pull that trigger. She killed her husband(s), and she died for it. Justice is served.

Inmate #N508853 The Jailbird Journal

-- Inmate #N508853 (, February 25, 2000.

I'm for the death penalty. I think if a person does something, he deserves all the foreseeable consequences of taking that action. People know the death penalty may be used if they murder someone. If people know this may happen to them and they murder anyway, I have no pity at all for them. I don't care if your parents abused you or if you were poor or on drugs, you are 100% responsible for your actions and fully deserve the consequences that you knew of before you took the action.

In a similar vein, I have no problem with physically painful punishment, such as caning. The person knew that the punishment would happen if they committed a crime, but they committed the crime anyway. They deserve what they get. If they didn't want to be punished, they wouldn't commit the crime. No one forced them to commit the crime.

Of course, if the person is so insane, or so young, that they can not control their actions or can not foresee consequences, then I don't think capital punishment or physical punishment should be applied. Also, for capital punishment and physical punishment to be morally defensible, the courts can not be sentencing innocent people to these punishments.

-- Jason (, February 25, 2000.

I am absolutely against the death penalty. Nobody has the right to take another's life, regardless of what they have done. The criminal who commits such an act should be incarcerated for the remainder of their own, with no opportunity for parole.

Personally, I think a life sentence in prison is a more severe punishment....and it eliminates the moral question of who should decide whether another lives or dies.

-- Bob Beltran (, February 25, 2000.

In no way do I support the death penalty. It is a perfect example of both racism an classism in America. Look up the statistics on the hugely inprortionate number of poor people and people of color who are executed. I have a degree in social work and I grew up poor, so I have definatly seen the dark side of life. We treat our poor worse than any other first world nation. It's time to start looking for real solutions to America's problems. Instead of voting for the death penalty, volunteer for a inner city program, a homeless shelter, or a literacy program. Take actions to change our country in a positive manner. It doesn't make sense to not volunteer or do anything to help people, and then say they should be put to death.

-- AJ (, February 25, 2000.

I have a rather unusual opinion on the death penalty. I think there should be a voluntary death penalty.

I agree that some people have done such terrible things that they deserve to die, and I will admit that I have felt a sense of profound satisfaction upon the death of a few terrible criminals. However, whether or not a person deserves to die, and no matter how much satisfaction I feel that he is dead, I still do not believe that we have the right to kill. How does the states approval make the action of the executioner different from that of a murderer? There also is the issue of how many people have been very close to execution when their convictions were overturned. You cant free an innocent man who has already gone to the chair.

The voluntary death penalty is my one bit of compassion for those criminals who have done things terrible enough that they can never be allowed to be free again. I admit that I have absolutely no idea what it is like to be in jail, but still, "Give me liberty or give me death." I believe that I would rather die than live in prison for the rest of my life, and so I dont like to think of others forced to do so, no matter what there crime. Putting them in prison for the rest of their lives is basically the same as throwing them away, so if they want to die, why not let them? Whats the point of keeping them alive against the will? Anyone convicted to life should be able to request a lethal injection, perhaps with a waiting period to keep them from making rash decisions.

Does it ever strike anyone else as ironic when a prisoner on death row is put on suicide watch?

-- Lara (, February 25, 2000.

I am pro death penalty in SOME cases. Anyone who can look at a child and kill them anyway, they deserve the death penalty. People argue that the death penalty is no deterrent to crime. I think we don't use it enough. The reason I believe people still commit violent crimes is that if a criminal is sentenced to death, it could take years for him to actually die by lethal injection,electrocution, or firing squad. He or she has a better chance of dying of old age rather than by the state. If you are in Texas though your are as good as dead. Eventhough I may seem somewhat passionate about the death penalty, I do support an appeals process because sending an innocent person to the death chamber is something I know I could not live with, but maybe the state could. On the other hand, I could be wrong.

-- Kenneth S. Mullins (, February 25, 2000.

nay. you can never bring someone back to life if it later turns out they were innocent, or that evidence in the trial was flawed. how the hell can you recompense their family "yes we were wrong to kill your relative, but erm, it's too late now".

we don't have it in this country.

will (

-- will wohlman (, February 25, 2000.

Scientifically, there are two pretty clearly defined types of killers. The affect killer will, after having killed once, be LESS likely to kill again than the average person. This is because killing does not feel good to most people. It feels immensely bad, and people who are ruled by their emotions will avoid it thereafter regardless of punishment. The serial killer is driven by an urge that is very different. To the serial killer, the murder is deeply meaningful and he (it is almost always a he) will do it again and again regardless of cost. Before he is let loose, he will have detailed plans for his next murder in his head. To use the same reaction against all murderers is no more meaningful to me than using the same treatment for all diseases.

-- Magnus Itland (, February 26, 2000.

Nay, Nay, Nay! Apart from the fact that I do not believe desire for revenge is a good basis for justice, there have just been too many cases where someone on death row has later been convincingly cleared. And as someone else has said, the "justice" system is so biased towards those with money and power, that inevitably those without are more likely to be falsely convicted, just as those with are more likely to get off regardless.

-- Kay (, February 26, 2000.

Texas does not have life without parole. Texas gives you prison good time before you are ever tried and convicted, you carry it with you to prison. They have all kinds of credits you receive yearly. Betty would of been back on the streets to kill again. Would you have felt as strongly on saving the life if it had been a man killing his wives and/or children?

I don't like Bush, he hasn't done a thing for this State but the stay of execution would of only held for 120 days. And no Gov. would have given her clemency and turned her out!

-- Bonnie (, February 26, 2000.

I do support the death penalty.

As for Betty Lou Beets, I've read numerous articles about her and I have really mixed feelings about her case. I find it greatly disturbing that the reason given for motive in the death of her second husband (insurance money) was later shown by her lawyer to not be possible since she didn't know of the insurance claim until after her husband's death.

However, for her to have shot and killed two husbands and attempted to kill a third (he survived and she was charged with a misdemeanor), this woman was definately a menace.

Another aspect of this case really bugs me. The constant references to her status as a "great-grandmother." As if having kids who've had kids makes one incapable of murder.

The Karla Faye Tucker situation upset me as well. All those groups begging for clemency because she'd "found God." As if that erased all that she'd done.

-- pamela hichens (, February 27, 2000.

I wrote the following paper a few years ago for class, but it states my views on the death penalty pretty well:

The initial appeal of the death penalty is evident. It possesses the beauty of Newtonian law  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction  and resonates of the Hamurabi code of justice, the source of the Bible's "an eye for an eye." The death penalty sings of retribution; it avenges murder victims and restores the honor robbed of them in death. Yet, in today's society, the Hamurabi code and avenging honor are barbaric relics of the past, or are they? The death penalty is alive and well in the U.S., and executions are on the rise. Since the more cost-effective and humane alternative of life imprisonment and no empirically proven link to deterrence exist, it is clear that the death penalty is a reincarnation of these ancient practices society professes to abhor. The death penalty then serves primarily as a retributive measure that has no place in the criminal justice system.

Retribution finds its roots in a natural desire for vengeance. The desire itself is understandable, as it is a necessary stage of grief for people coping with the loss of a loved one. The culmination of this desire into a palpable action against the perpetrator, however, is unacceptable, as it undermines the value of human life and dignity. According to Amnesty International, a leading human rights organization:

In its simplest form the argument for retribution is also often no more than a desire for vengeance masked as a principle of justice. The desire for vengeance can be understood and acknowledged, but the exercise of vengeance must be resisted... Human rights apply to the worst of us as well as the best of us, which is why they protect all of us.(2)

The emotional appeal of retribution in regards to capital punishment is undoubtedly persuasive, but emotions are not a substitute for reason. Retribution in the form of seeking the death of a criminal does not serve society, with perhaps the exception of providing a temporary catharsis for victims' families.

Retribution does not have to involve the death penalty. As Justice Brennan writes, "it cannot be concluded that death serves the purpose of retribution more effectively than imprisonment" (492). If society truly wants to seek revenge on criminals, life or lengthy imprisonment is sufficient to that end. The loss of freedom is, in fact, a powerful punishment, despite the myth that prison is a veritable country club at taxpayers' expense. Death row inmates typically live in a 6' X 9' cell which they cannot leave except for two one hour sessions per week for recreation and showers three times a week. Death row does not have cable TV and most prisons do not have air conditioning. Even during recreation, death row inmates are labeled misfits, as even the general population (non-death row prisoners) do not associate with condemned men. Death row is living in a highly controlled exile. Life with the population consists of being caught in a bizarre war zone, with clear lines between races, prisoners and guards, and the strong and weak. In either form of imprisonment, it is no picnic and should satisfy societal calls for vengeance.

This type of call for retribution, accepting only the death of another human being as its reward, is not only inhumane and unnecessary, but also selfish. To require the death of an inmate dismisses the possibility that the inmate can no longer serve society in a useful manner. Prisons do not allow death row inmates to work; therefore, they may not even usefully serve the prison where they are housed. Criminals are capable of usefully serving society. For example, in the case of Leopold and Loeb, the perpetrators of 1924's "Crime of the Century," they were sentenced to life in prison instead of death. Although they committed the monstrous act of kidnaping and killing a fourteen year old boy, they went on to help society through hospital work, literacy programs, and further educational endeavors through such projects as writing a grammar book. As Horwitz notes, "an inestimable amount of people were directly helped by Leopold and Loeb; both of them making a conscious commitment to atone by serving others" (109). The justice system prevents worthwhile endeavors such as these when condemning a criminal to death.

Retribution is a desire based purely upon emotion and therefore does not have a place in the justice system or in capital punishment debates. As Clarence Darrow notes: long as the state rests content to deal with crime in the barbaric and futile manner, society will be lulled by a false sense of security, and effective methods of dealing with crime will be discouraged. (51)

Crime does deserve punishment, but death prevents future accomplishments, is barbaric, and ignores the preferable alternative of lengthy imprisonment.


Brennan, William J. "Furman v. Georgia." Current Issues & Enduring Questions. Eds. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. 485-493.

Darrow, Clarence. "The Futility of the Death Penalty." The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints. Ed. Carol Wekesser. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1991. 47-52.

"Georgia: Time to Abolish the Death Penalty." Amnesty International Report. EUR 56/01/97. January 1997. Amnesty International. .

Horwitz, Elinor Landor. Capital Punishment U.S.A. New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1973.

-- Elan Kesilman (, July 13, 2000.

Yay and Nay... I have mixed feelings on the death penalty. Recently in my debate class, Capital Punishment came up as out Linclon Douglas debate topic and we were assigned the task of writing a case for both sides. My opinion is that there are certain cases that the death penalty is absolutly right, and some cases where is totall wrong-- it all depends on the case.

-- Duska Anderson (, December 06, 2000.

Yea There are many good reasons why the death penatly is a good thing - too many to name now, but it is right - an eye for an eye - a tooth for a tooth

-- Leila Battison (, December 11, 2000.

No mixed feelings here..I believe in it. I was raised in the mountains of Virginia..I was once chased by a fox with rabies..he was destroyed. Sadly I believe that there are people like that fox..Nothing will make a difference, no amount of rehabilitation, education, "taming" will change them. They are predators and evil. They do not recognize the need to live within a ordered society with rules..or have respect for others. The problem I have is "when" are they destroyed and how. Certainly they should not lanquish for years in a prison and wasting the taxpayers money. They should not be housed and fed and treated better then our homeless and hungry. If guilt is clearly doubt-then a price of a bullet to the brain would be to much to spend on them -tho justified. We are to educated and civilized to do the same to them as they have done to "us". 57 year old grandma..

-- Peggy (, December 13, 2000.

I say nay. The death Penalty shows a sign of helpness. It shows that we cannot find any other to punish murders rather than make ourselves the murders.

-- MaRisha Thevenin (, January 25, 2002.

I live in the UK and find that the USA death penalty repulsive. The USA is alone in the western world and i would compare the USA to China on this one.

British police have murdered 600+ people in the last 12 years, majority of which are black people who have suffered at the hands of the police.

But when we talk about justice - I am interested. The real murderers are let off:

Henry Kissinger - various war and human rights crimes. Pinochet - sent home a freeman by the UK, but he is a killer of tradeunionists in Chile. Suharto (indonesia) - killed 3million communists and tradeunionists with the blessing from the US/UK. GWBush has oraganised the murder of 3000+ Afganis. Clinton has organised the murder of half million iraqi children with help from UN sanctions. Bush (senior) warred with Iraq using deadly DU munitions. Regan gave Saddam chemical weapons to use against Iran as a policy of dual containment. Also helped the Taliban (Regan and bush). Carter - haven't found anything on him but i am sure there is. Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon/Ford - vietnam 3million dead also Collin powel (My lia cover up) and Robert Mcnamara (body count stratergy) can should be brought to justice. Eisenhower - Korean war. Roosevelt/Truman - two nuclear devices on Japan. They were about to surrender but a show of force was needed to stop stalin?

UN: Jang Zemin - Tianemem square butcher. Vladimir Putin - butcher of Chechnya. Blair and the rest of the lousy Uk primeministers who follow the US lead. Jacque Chirac - thief,will go to prison his preseidency is keeping him out.

Other: Those industries that break health and saftey. All those preventable industrial accidents.

Justice? It appears it only affects the poor whilst the rich go scot free.

-- Richard Stephens (, October 19, 2002.

I think that the death penalty is good! People get what they deserve and they no what is going to happen when they kill the person they know the results.A person cold blooded enough to kill a person is most likely not goin to change.

-- Stephen Kerr Pessina (, April 14, 2004.

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