The Death Penalty Is Not A Deterrent

The Death Penalty Is Not A Deterrent October 11, 2018

This is part two in a series designed to debunk the arguments for capital punishment. Read the previous part here. Read the other parts here.

Picture a young David Berkowitz, perhaps 14 or 15 years old. Not yet nicknamed The Son of Sam. He’s just come in from trick or treating on Halloween night. The spooky sights and sounds have lit a fire in his veins, and a familiar, repetitive voice from deep within him becomes louder. It tells him over and over that his calling, his life’s work, his claim to fame, is to be one of the most notorious serial killers in all of history. The idea makes young David queasy so he decides to visualize the risks and rewards of such a career.

In front of him, a box of M&Ms rests atop a heap of bite-sized candy. He tears into them and dumps the coloured chocolates into his hand. He decides he’ll toss a red one back in the box for each con, and a green one in for each pro. When he’s done, he’ll count the pros and cons and decide whether becoming a serial killer is a good idea.

Picking a red M&M out of his hand and tossing it straight up, he booms, “Con: It’s disturbing and inhumane”. Snapping the airborne red candy from its flight, he tosses it in the box.

He grabs a green one this time. “Pro: It will make me feel powerful!” and into the box it goes.

Red again, “Con: I may have trouble living with myself after taking a life”. Into the box.

With a twinkle in his eye, he pulls a green M&M from his hand. He pauses and lets out a sigh. Quietly he declares, “Pro: There is no death penalty in New York.” David knows this is the clincher. He throws the pros and cons in his mouth, knowing he needs no further convincing. All he needs now, was a victim…

It’s a ridiculous scene, on the verge of being absolutely absurd. And yet, when people say that the death penalty is a deterrent, this is more or less how it would be manifested in real life.

When people assert that capital punishment is a deterrent, most of the time it’s just something they’ve said a million times before, or heard being said a million times before, and are repeating without even really thinking about it. When you stop, though, and really ask yourself, “what would the death penalty being a deterrent actually look like in reality?” it’s pretty laughable.

What is a deterrent?

deter |diˈtər| verb (deters, deterring, deterred) [ with obj. ] discourage (someone) from doing something, typically by instilling doubt or fear of the consequences: “only a health problem would deter him from seeking re-election.”

If you assert that the death penalty is a deterrent, you’re basically saying that there are men and women living in death penalty states right now who, if it weren’t for that one punishment still being viable, would be killers. You’re also saying that a man or a woman who wants to kill someone actually pauses before committing the crime to asses the severity of the punishment. You are assuming they have a sane, emotionally stable mind that is capable of weighing the consequences. You also assume they are clear-minded enough to think its possible that they will get caught.

We’ve all committed a crime at one point or another in our lifetime. Either smoking a joint, or drinking underage, or petty theft maybe. Think back to one of those times. Let’s just pretend, for the sake of argument, you were in possession of illegal drugs. Before you slipped those illicit drugs in your backpack, did you think to yourself, “Well, if I get caught and it’s my first offense, it’s just a fine. No big deal.” Or, more realistically, did it just not cross your mind at all that you would get caught? I know for me, it was the latter. I never considered the consequences of being caught with pot, because I never thought I would get caught. Even after I got caught once!

Most criminals act without fully thinking things through. They don’t consider what will happen if they get caught, because getting caught is not something they’re thinking about. Most of them think they will get away with it, and all crime across the globe considered, most criminals do.

So, why won’t you kill?

For me, the reason why I am not a killer, is because I could never cause physical harm to another human being. Certainly not harm that is so permanent and irreversible. I also would have a great deal of difficulty living with myself afterwards, knowing I took a life, and created grieving loved ones whose lives would never be the same again. I would devastate my family, my friends. I would likely experience some form of violent sick in the moment, and experience severe PTSD until the day I die. I am not a killer, because I do not think I am capable of taking a life… of a human, of an animal… heck, I even feel awful killing house spiders.

Your answer is likely similar. I’d seriously doubt that there is anyone out there reading this, who answered, “Why won’t you kill?” with, “because my state has the death penalty.”

It’s just as asinine as saying the Bible actually works as a method to make people act in a moral way. No. It doesn’t.

Of course, me saying so isn’t going to convince you skeptics, so let’s take a look at some statistics, shall we?

Liechtenstein has the lowest homicide rate on Earth. It’s so low, it doesn’t even register as a number. The last murder that occurred in Liechtenstein was around 1997. The country has not had the death penalty since the 1700s.

Monaco is number two, with only one murder in recent times. Monaco abolished the death penalty in the 60s. Iceland has about one murder per year, and the last execution took place in 1830. French Polynesia, also with fewer than 1 murder per year, is governed by France, who outlawed the death penalty in the 80s.

It goes on and on. Meanwhile, according to the United Nations,

“The five countries in the world with the highest homicide rates that do not impose the death penalty have nearly half the number of murders per 100 000 people than the five countries with the highest homicides rates which do impose the death penalty (United Nations Development program)”.

On a smaller scale, in the United States of America, states without the death penalty consistently have lower homicide rates than states with it. A visualization from the Death Penalty Information Center,

Death penalty

In fact, one of the few times in history that New Jersey saw a significant drop in homicides two years in a row, were during the two years following their abolition of the death penalty. Murder rates dropped by 11% in 2007, the year following a moratorium on the death penalty. They fell even more in 2008 and then in 2009, it dropped by a whopping 24%.

Since Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976, our homicide rate has steadily dropped. One of the highest homicide rates in all of the USA is in Detroit, right across a bit of water from Windsor, Ontario. These are both industrial cities full of struggling blue-collar workers facing cutbacks and layoffs. They have the same climate, the same rampant poverty, the same struggles. In Windsor, in 2016, 3 homicides were reported. In Detroit, 300 homicides were reported. Detroit has 3 times the population of Windsor and 100 times the homicide rate.

A study done in New York in the 1980s by William Bowers and Glenn Pierce, even found that homicide rates increased during the month after a high profile execution.

In a 2009 study of leading criminologists, 88% said they do not believe the death penalty is a deterrent. Some have even asserted based on collected data, that the use of the death penalty can actually cause an increase in homicide rates. The thinking here, is that the state is more or less setting an example, publicly illustrating how little it values human life.

The facts are there, the data is available… the death penalty simply does not deter. And when you think about it – truly think about it – it really doesn’t make any more sense than Biblical morality. People are not inherently evil but remain good because of their holy book, just like there are not would-be killers lurking in death penalty states who’d have been on a killing spree if it weren’t for Old Sparky.

My answer to why I won’t kill is probably similar to your answer, and it has everything to do with innate empathy and compassion, and very little to do with how a judge would sentence me. In order for the death penalty to be a deterrent, you would have to accept that a man or woman who discards this empathy, this compassion, this humanness, still has the wherewithal and clarity of thought to decide that a) they could get caught and b) being put to death is a worse consequence than becoming a monster, discarding your humanity, and living with what you’ve done.

In my anti-death penalty activism, I found a pen pal on death row. Dennis. He’s still there on death row in California. He’s been down since the 80s, hasn’t had his execution scheduled yet. In my correspondence with him, he, a very religious man, once told me,

“If you’re willing to take that step; to take a life, you’ve already let go of your rational mind. You’ve set aside your own humanity, you’ve discarded your ability to see things clearly. For the sake of your trial, you may still be technically sane, sure. However, any man who is willing to take an innocent life, is not capable of assessing the consequences. Don’t you see? That is the true consequence. Life in prison, lethal injection, solitary confinement. That ain’t shit. Giving up your soul? Throwing away your humanity? That’s the true consequence. I will always and forever be a monster. God help me.”

In the book, The Guardians: The True Story of The Saints of Dannemora, the co-author Izzy Zimmerman is an innocent man doing life in prison. He spent 24 years locked up for a crime he did not commit. While in prison, Izzy was a feared man, both by prisoners and C.O.s alike. Why? Because he wanted to die. He wanted so badly to die that he didn’t care what kind of trouble he got into; he didn’t care about being thrown in the hole or being beaten half to death. Life in prison was far worse than the escape of death to Izzy and all the other lifers he knew.

“They couldn’t understand. To them, death was the most horrible thing that could happen to a person. “But,” Peewee muttered to himself, “Everybody is going to die. Nobody beats death. These ‘Guardians’ don’t really know what it is to do twenty-five or thirty years, forty-five or fifty years in the can until you die.”
from The Guardians; The True Story of the Saints of Dannemora as told to the authors by Izzy Zimmerman.

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This is part two in a series designed to debunk the arguments for capital punishment. Read the other parts here. To be notified of the next installment, please subscribe using the form in the sidebar or follow me on Twitter: @godless_mom.

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  • Cozmo the Magician

    “So, why won’t you kill?”

    Well, I DO have a little list… But the fact is that I’m so used to playing video games with ‘do-over’ that I know I would likely get caught on my 1st attempt. And even a long prison sentence ain’t worth it. Sure, if I knew for 100% sure I could get away with it. Yeah, there are a couple of people I would happily rid this world of. One person on my list may not have actually killed anybody, but he took advantage of her death, and his story about trying to save her does not ring true. Others on the list include serial rapists and enablers (I’m looking at YOU papa frank) , and even just minor annoying fucks like my neighbor who blares his rap music 24/7. Yeah, I’m an evil prick.

    BUT, it is NOT JUST the thought of being punished that stops me. It is also knowing that if was justified to met out a death sentence based solely on MY personal peeves then so would everybody else. And FFS, I’ve pissed off enough people in my life that my life expectancy would drop in the negative number of days (;

  • Grimlock

    To what extent is the numbers you list controlled for by other factors? Such as various socioeconomic factors. I imagine comparing Iceland to the US without trying to control for other factors might not be entirely accurate, for instance.

    Note that I do find the numbers fairly convincing. But then, I’m already against the death penalty, so that’s hardly surprising. However, I imagine that if I were for the death penalty it’d be easy to use any lack of controlling for other factors (or lack of mention of such) as a reason to dismiss the numbers.

  • mikespeir

    It looks to me like you’re arguing that no penalty is a deterrent.

  • MystiqueLady

    I’ve done similar research and found, according to prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement agents/agencies, the greatest deterrent was the possibility of getting caught. (Note: This research was done 30 years ago, and I no longer have the paper with the sources.)

  • anxionnat

    I live in California, where there is, unfortunately, the death penalty. I live just across San Francisco Bay from San Quentin Prison, which has the state’s most notorious death row. I have committed exactly the number of rapes, murders, and other major crimes that I want to–and that’s zero. What freaks me out about death row about five miles away, is what I read about the inmates on death row: they are more likely than the state’s overall population to be non-white (which is going a ways, as we are a minority-majority state), more likely to be illiterate, and more likely to have brain damage. How the heck could I support the death penalty, with those types of findings?

  • Martin Riordan

    In 1975 the Birmingham Six were wrongly condemned to life imprisonment in England, based on false evidence created by the police. It took 16 years to prove their innocence and they finally walked free.

    Judge Denning, when sentencing them, regretted that he could not apply the death penalty. He wanted to hang them. In an interview in 1990, he said the following:

    Question: Nevertheless, were you glad to see the death penalty abolished?

    Denning: Not really. It ought to be retained for murder most foul. We shouldn’t have all these campaigns to get the Birmingham Six released if they’d been hanged. They’d have been forgotten, and the whole community would be satisfied.

    It is frightening that he thinks it would have been better to have hanged six innocent men than to have a campaign that proved their innocence.

    This case is concrete proof that (1) sometimes the justice system goes haywire, for whatever reason, but often because the police want to “solve” the case by any means, and (2) without the death penalty, it is possible for innocent people to be freed, even after many years, which is better than being dead. There are many other such cases. This is one important reason why the death penalty must not exist.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “The Death Penalty Is Not A Deterrent”

    The death penalty keeps convicted & executed murderers from re-offending.

    Why spend thousands of dollars each year keeping a convicted murderer incarcerated?

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “This is one important reason why the death penalty must not exist.”

    And what about the cases where there is absolutely no doubt who the guilty party is?

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “”The Death Penalty Is Not A Deterrent””

    If someone murders a friend or family member, I don’t care whether their execution deters other people from killing. I want the S.O.B. to die for their crime.

  • Martin Riordan

    The judge had no doubt whatsoever that the Birmingham Six were guilty because the police had “proven” it. I accept that there are cases where it seems clear who the guilty party is. So society has to decide if it is better to kill innocent people sometimes in order to kill some guilty people, or keep even guilty people alive in jail for the rest of their lives. I read about frequent cases where new DNA evidence proves that the person found guilty of a serious crime many years ago is in fact innocent. It is instructive to examine how Norway has handled the case of the man who murdered dozens of innocent adolescents some years ago. There is no doubt about his guilt and he is in prison. Norway struggled to maintain its “civilized” approach to serious crime, and seems to have succeeded. The temptation of seeking social revenge by killing the murderer was avoided.

  • Martin Riordan

    I would add that the right to life is one of the most fundamental human rights. A society that believes in human rights should not run the risk of depriving innocent people of this right. There is no turning back…

  • Martin Penwald

    Who cares? Death penalty is a barbaric punishment, whatever the crimes committed. And in the U.S specifically, there is a racist bias leading more minority to get death penalty when white christians won’t get it for the exact same crime.
    As long as this bias exists, death penalty is just a racist barbarism.

  • Martin Penwald

    It shows you don’t care AT ALL about justice, due process, and laws. You’re just a vengeful person with a very small civic sensitvity.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “I accept that there are cases where it seems clear who the guilty party is.”

    And in those cases ( Charles Manson is one example) the guilty person should be executed.

    “So society has to decide if it is better to kill innocent people sometimes in order to kill some guilty people, or keep even guilty people alive in jail for the rest of their lives.”

    In the cases where it IS known who the guilty party is, that decision becomes moot.

    When guilt is known, there is no reason to spend any money keeping the guilty person incarcerated.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “I would add that the right to life is one of the most fundamental human rights.”

    And a murderer has taken away another person ( or persons) right to life & so has forfeited their right to life.

    “A society that believes in human rights should not run the risk of depriving innocent people of this right. ”

    In cases where the guilt is known & no doubt exists, there is no reason to spend any money or resources keeping a murderer alive.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    How the hell does christianity become a factor when using the argument of race?

  • Martin Penwald

    Because in the U.S, a white can brandish his christianity as a free get-out-of-jail card.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “If someone is found guilty in a court of law, then due process has been exercised.

    If that person has murdered another person, that person deserves to be executed.

    Failing that, they should be incarcerated for the remainder of their life & the cost of that incarceration should be paid for 100% by people that oppose the death penalty.

    Let those opposed to the death penalty spend their money ( rather than having the taxpayers pay) keeping a murderer alive & incarcerated.

    If enough money isn’t donated to keep the murderer properly fed, tough luck.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Riiiiiiiight. Because no white Christian has ever been sent to prison in the US.

    I understand, you don’t want facts to get in the way of your rants.

  • Martin Penwald

    Here : impunity for childs murderers in Idaho, because they are white and christians
    https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/03/10/parents-beliefs-vs-their-childrens-health/child-abuse-under-the-guise-of-religion
    If you believe that minority parents will get the same treatment, I have a bridge to sell…

  • Martin Penwald

    Let those opposed to the death penalty spend their money ( rather than having the taxpayers pay) keeping a murderer alive & incarcerated.

    If enough money isn’t donated to keep the murderer properly fed, tough luck.

    OK. And all lawyers fees, prosecutors salaries and every other expenses occuring when appealing a death penalty judgement will be financed by death penalty advocates and not by taxpayers, and if not enough money is raised, the suspect is freed.
    Deal?

  • Martin Riordan

    But this is the problem, “knowing guilt”. OK, in some cases, it is clear even to a child. But, in law, these cases are not differentiated from others where it is not so clear. One assumes that, in all cases where the judge gives a death sentence, he thinks he “knows” that the person is guilty. And, in so many cases, it is later proven that he was wrong. So who decides in which cases the judge is right and in which he is wrong? The appeal system, both in the UK and the US, has failed many innocent and condemned persons. There are so many miscarriages of justice that I personally feel that a civilized society should not take that risk. And why kill these people? For revenge? To deter? (the article shows that the existence of the death penalty is not a deterrence.) I put myself in the shoes of the Birmingham Six, the Guilford Four and the Maguire Seven, all cases where Irish people were “proven” guilty by crooked policemen, who were never punished when their innocence was established. I imagine the experience of being in prison for something I did not do. Being executed by the state for something I did not do would be worse. There is no turning back…

  • Martin Riordan

    Here is an interesting article about Norway’s reaction to the mass murderer.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45705939

    The last line reads: “Only now is Norway back to where it was,” he said. “We are not victims any more.”

    It was a traumatic event, but the country refused to become a victim, to be brutalized by the brutality of the murderer. I admire and respect the Norwegian reaction to this event.

  • Martin Penwald

    Here : impunity for childs murderers in Idaho, because they are white and christians
    https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/03/10/parents-beliefs-vs-their-childrens-health/child-abuse-under-the-guise-of-religion
    If you believe that minority parents will get the same treatment, I have a bridge to sell…

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Yes, there are some cases where the person may be found guilty & later the verdict may be overturned & the person released.

    This does not change the fact that there are ALSO some cases where there is no doubt at all who the guilty person ( or persons) are.

    In such cases, there is no reason they should not be executed immediately.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “And, in so many cases, it is later proven that he was wrong. So who decides in which cases the judge is right and in which he is wrong? ”

    As you stated earlier in the same post by you: “But this is the problem, “knowing guilt”. OK, in some cases, it is clear even to a child.”

    In cases where it is known with 100% certainty, there is no reason the guilty person should not be executed as soon as possible.

    “And why kill these people? For revenge?”

    Why not?

    ” To deter?”

    It is a fact that no executed murderer has ever re-offended.

    Here’s why to kill them: financial reasons.

    Why should the taxpayers be on the hook financially to keep a known murderer alive & incarcerated? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year are spent keeping known murderers in prison & well fed and provided with medical care?

  • Martin Penwald

    It has already been explained to you by the other Martin, but it seems that you don’t like facts that are inconvenient to your limited point of view. There IS NO clear cut between “obvious cases” and others. It has been repeatedly pointed to you that there have been cases where the “obvious” murderer was innocent.
    Again, it shows that you don’t care at all about laws and justice, you’re just a bloodthirsty ignorant.

  • Martin Riordan

    That’s part of the cost of running a civilized country! I guess I’m just not so much into killing people when there is a possibility that they haven’t done anything wrong. Or even if they have killed someone. A murderer can violate human rights but I don’t think he should be allowed to dictate them. We’ve each said our piece – let’s agree to disagree!

  • Mythblaster

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I did not read the whole article. I didn’t even read most of it. It’s all been said before, again and again and again…

    I admit to having reservations about the death penalty when guilt is less than 100%PROVEN. But for caught-in-the-act child rape and equally heinous crimes where 100% PROOF exists of guilt, I adhere to the belief that while putting the guilty monster to death may not prevent similar crimes by other monsters, this PARTICULAR monster will be deterred from committing similar acts in the future due to their being DEAD. I know, I know , PCP makes people do bad stuff and Billy had a rough childhood, but resources are too precious to spend a penny of it keeping these monsters alive.

    If you’re a believer, you ought to be satisfied that God will sort out the innocent.

    Sorry, I’ve droned on for too long, so I’ll leave you with these two images:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e7c48513b495fc5c17979fa06c5bce72d1a889cc19d9ffb516a8653de68b857f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dbea7338e040752e212a0677d375b8384033646d572dfded50f831ba37818426.jpg

  • Jim Jones

    > The Death Penalty Is Not A Deterrent.

    If it was, the US would be safer than most other Western nations.

    https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/nation-now/washington-supreme-court-tosses-out-states-death-penalty/465-ff86aa55-0a6e-4995-a5fa-af3dc6f58ddd

    OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday ruled that the death penalty, as applied, violates its Constitution.

    The ruling makes Washington the latest state to do away with capital punishment. The court was unanimous in its order that the eight people currently on death row have their sentences converted to life in prison. Five justices said the “death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”

    “Given the manner in which it is imposed, the death penalty also fails to serve any legitimate penological goals,” the justices wrote.

    Gov. Jay Inslee, a one-time supporter of capital punishment, had imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2014, saying that no executions would take place while he’s in office.

    In a written statement, the Democrat called the ruling “a hugely important moment in our pursuit for equal and fair application of justice.”

    “The court makes it perfectly clear that capital punishment in our state has been imposed in an ‘arbitrary and racially biased manner,’ is ‘unequally applied’ and serves no criminal justice goal,” Inslee wrote.

    The ruling was in the case of Allen Eugene Gregory, who was convicted of raping, robbing and killing Geneine Harshfield, a 43-year-old woman, in 1996.

    His lawyers said the death penalty is arbitrarily applied and that it is not applied proportionally, as the state Constitution requires.

  • Jim Jones

    California has a very poor legal system. IMO, it’s as unreliable as a southern state in the bad old days – innocent people are convicted, people whose crimes are not so bad are severely punished and really guilty people get light punishments.

    Your tax dollars at work:

    On November 4, 1995, Leandro Andrade stole five children’s videotapes from a K-Mart store in Ontario, California. Two weeks later, he stole four children’s videotapes from a different K-Mart store in Montclair, California. (He was caught by security both times so apparently got nothing). Andrade had been in and out of the state and federal prison systems since 1982. By the time of these two crimes in 1995, he had been convicted of petty theft, residential burglary, transportation of marijuana, and escape from prison. Under California’s three strikes law, any felony can serve as the third “strike” and thereby expose the defendant to a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

    The trial court denied Andrade’s request to classify the two petty theft charges as misdemeanors, and Andrade was ultimately convicted of the two felony theft charges. As a result of his prior convictions, Andrade was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison (i.e. life, with a minimum of 50 years).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockyer_v._Andrade

  • Jim Jones

    Clarence Brandley – Wikipedia

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Brandley

    Cheryl Dee Fergeson, a 16-year-old junior at Bellville High School, was murdered on August 23, 1980. Fergeson was part of a school volleyball team playing a match against another high school in Conroe, Texas. Her body was found in the loft above the school auditorium.

    Suspicion immediately fell on two of the custodians, Brandley and Henry (Icky) Peace, who had found the body. During their joint interrogation — as Peace would recount — Texas Ranger Wesley Styles told them, “One of you is going to have to hang for this” and then, turning to Brandley, added, “Since you’re the nigger, you’re elected.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Wrongfully convicted ex-death row inmate Clarence Brandley dies, months after DA reopens case – Houston Chronicle

    Years later, as he worked to pay off child support accrued during his time in prison, the police department’s failure to arrest the right man still stung.

    “All I know is that I’m the first person in the state of Texas to have been indicted for capital murder and go to trial within 90 days,” Brandley said. “I participated in the investigation, gave my hair, saliva, my blood. And the medical examiner said that because no one asked him to preserve that, he threw it away. Threw it away.”

    The case was closed, and in 2014 prosecutors and police said they had no intention of reopening it.

    Then, in January 2018, former Conroe Police Chief Charlie Ray died. And, when his relatives started going through his belongings, they found a box of trial exhibits in his garage.

    https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Death-row-exoneree-Clarnece-Brandley-dies-months-13220646.php

  • Jim Jones

    You’d be amazed how many of those there are – and the convicted person is still innocent.

    ‘It’s better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be wrongly convicted’ | The Independent

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/its-better-that-10-guilty-men-go-free-than-one-innocent-man-be-wrongly-convicted-944059.html

  • Jim Jones

    Scott Hornoff shares wrongful conviction story | Department of Government and Justice Studies

    https://gjs.appstate.edu/news/scott-hornoff-shares-wrongful-conviction-story

    In June 1996, Hornoff, a former Rhode Island police officer, was wrongly convicted of first-degree murder. Hornoff was incarcerated for 6 1/2 years before being exonerated in 2003.

    According to the National Registry of Exonerations, exoneration occurs “when a person who has been convicted of a crime is officially cleared based on new evidence of innocence.”

    Hornoff knew the victim; however, it was later found that many pieces of evidence such as footprints and a bloody glove were overlooked. The real killer came forward in November 2002.

  • Jim Jones

    > In cases where the guilt is known & no doubt exists

    Examples?

  • Jim Jones

    Executions cost more. And the DP is often used for extortion, not punishment.

    Jeffrey Dahmer, the Green River killer, the Hillside Stranglers and the BTK killer – none were executed. But Rolando Cruz was after the cops framed him in revenge.

  • Jim Jones

    > It is a fact that no executed murderer has ever re-offended.

    And it is a fact that no executed innocent has ever offended at all.

  • Jim Jones

    T. Cullen Davis.

    Robert Durst.

    Rich. White. You walk.

  • Martin Riordan

    Horrific! Yet another case that proves the weaknesses of the criminal justice system in the hands of crooked policemen. Like the cases in England, due to racism which distorts some people’s sense of justice and fairness. With so many cases like this, it is impossible to understand how any reasonable person who believes in justice could support the death penalty.

  • Martin Riordan

    “Anybody can be wrongfully convicted, it doesn’t really matter who you
    are as a person,” freshman political science major Paige Skinner said.
    “(Hornoff) was a white middle-aged man and a police officer when he was
    convicted.”

    By protecting those convicted (i.e. not executing them), we are protecting ourselves, our family members, our friends. It could happen to any of us.

  • Martin Penwald

    any REASONABLE person who believes in justice could support the death penalty

    Here, you have it. Just look at this comment section, there are people who don’t care about justice at all, they are led by racism, bloodlust or revenge.

  • If a person has murdered, I do not want them to be executed. At most I want life imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

    Even if the murdered person was the love of my life, I am not going to risk wrongful execution of an innocent person for the petty emotionalism of revenge.

  • Jim Jones

    > Charles Manson is one example.

    Charles Manson killed no one. He was an accessory before and after the crime.

  • Guthrum

    What about when a violent murderer escapes?

  • Raging Bee

    You mean, like, ALL gruesome murder cases? Prejudice and hysteria have a funny way of erasing all doubt, at least for a few years.

  • Raging Bee

    What about when an innocent person CAN’T escape?

  • Raging Bee

    If you base even basic matters of justice on money-efficiency calculations, where will that stop? Democracies that respect individual rights are pretty “inefficient.”

  • Raging Bee

    I support capital punishment in theory: those who commit murder without a damn good reason deserve to die. But if we’re going to have it, then, at the very least, every death sentence MUST have an automatic 5-10-year delay, to give people time to get over whatever emotional/mob/hysterical reaction the crime generated, and to give the defendants time to do more research and appeals to re-establish their innocence.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    If you believe that because you can point out a case where a white person got away with murder it means no white person ever gets charged & convicted of murder I have a bridge to sell.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “It has been repeatedly pointed to you that there have been cases where the “obvious” murderer was innocent.”

    And it has been repeatedly pointed out to you that there are, in fact, some cases where there is no doubt who the murderer is ( Charles Manson is one example… in Canada there was Clifford Olsen ( Olson?) and Karla Homolka & her husband ( I forget his name).

  • C_Alan_Nault

    ” I guess I’m just not so much into killing people when there is a possibility that they haven’t done anything wrong. Or even if they have killed someone.”

    In other words, even if someone is a murderer, you don’t think they should be executed.

    OK< you and people with that same opinion should contribute as much of your own money as you want to to pay the cost of keeping the murderer incarcerated.

    "We've each said our piece – let's agree to disagree!"

    Let's not. There are 2 positions here. One will be supported by facts and the other will be supported by personal feelings.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “‘It’s better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be wrongly convicted’ | The Independent”

    That statement says NOTHING about what to do about the guilty person who is rightfully convicted.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    In the US Charles Manson. Any serial killer that ( after being captured and arrested) reveals to the authorities were he or she has disposed of bodies and those bodies are there.

    In Canada Clifford Olsen ( Olson?), Karla Homolka and her husband Paul Bernardo, and Weiguang Li.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Executions cost more.”

    Oh? How much does the gas for a gas chamber cost? How much does the drug for a lethal injection cost?

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “I am not going to risk wrongful execution of an innocent person”

    The fact is there are cases where the guilt of the person charged with the murder is known for a fact.

  • Martin Penwald

    So, you’re willing to pay for the appeals and all the procedures before the execution, aren’t you?

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “So, you’re willing to pay for the appeals and all the procedures before the execution, aren’t you?”

    If it is known for a fact that the person found guilty of the murder IS guilty of the murder ( there are such cases), there is no need for any appeals or other procedures. All that is required is the execution of the murderer.

  • Martin Penwald

    Again, you show that you don’t care about justice. The Birmingham Six were not guilty of terrorism, the Central Park Five were not guilty of rape, and many others have been wrongly condamned by petty authoritarians like you that just want minorities to keep their place.

  • Martin Penwald

    And what if the murderer is a friend or family member ? The love of your life ? Your beloved child ?

  • C_Alan_Nault

    If you want to reply to my posts here, you should reply to what I posted instead of going off topic.

    I said nothing about the Birmingham 6 or the Central Park 5. Why mention them at all?

    I never said that some people are not wrongly convicted.

    I said there are some cases where it is known for a fact who the guilty party is. In a case such as that, why shouldn’t they be executed after being convicted?

    “petty authoritarians like you that just want minorities to keep their place.”

    It IS true that murderers are a minority. And it IS true that I think the place for a murderer is their exection.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    And what if the murderer is a friend or family member ? The love of your life ? Your beloved child ?

    What if they are? I am not the one that convicts them of the murder. If they did murder someone they deserve to be executed.

  • Jim Jones

    That’s stupidity at a Trumpian level.

    “Give a law enforcement professional like me that $250 million, and I’ll show you how to reduce crime. The death penalty isn’t anywhere on my list.” — James Abbott, Police Chief, West Orange, New Jersey

    https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty

  • Jim Jones

    Canada has already hung innocent men and nearly hung an innocent 14 year old boy.

  • Jim Jones

    What do we do about a murder lust like yours?

  • I’m not prepared to risk it. Life imprisonment with no parole is adequate.

  • Raging Bee

    I want the RIGHT S.O.B to die for their crime. I’m willing to wait a few years to be sure we’re killing the person who actually deserves to die.

  • Raging Bee

    That’s kinda my philosophy: ask for death, settle for life.

  • Raging Bee

    Sure it does: it says to keep the convicted person locked up, either till he dies on his own, or till a fresh look at the case shows he’s innocent.

  • Martin Riordan

    “In other words, even if someone is a murderer, you don’t think they should be executed.”

    I think the discussion makes clear that someone who “is” a murderer today can be proven years later to be totally innocent. So I don’t think that someone who “is” a murderer today should be executed, even if the police “prove” their guilt.

    “One will be supported by facts and the other will be supported by personal feelings.” Well, if we take my opinions as “facts” (and they are strongly supported by facts about condemned people being found innocent years later) and yours as “personal feelings”, then you will of course agree with me! But you may see it the other way round…

    As for contributing own money, that’s not how democracies work. Collective decisions are paid for by all taxpayers, not just those who agree with the decisions. If it worked that way, one would just have to disagree with all government decisions involving expenditure and never have to pay any tax.

    Agreeing to disagree is a very mature and democratic course of action. It shows tolerance of the diversity of opinions and beliefs commonly found in a civilized society.

  • Adrian

    I remember seeing it argued that having the death penalty around actually makes criminals more likely to resort to murder, and -at least when it comes to trying to cover their tracks in a capital crime- it makes sense: after all, they can’t be executed twice…

    Also, considering the reputation of the US prison system, if you are accused of a crime heinous enough to warrant the death penalty, death may be a less scary/painful option than spending years/the rest of your life either in solitary confinement or getting beaten and raped by your cellmates.

  • Adrian

    I’d ask “if money is reason enough for you to have a life ended, how are you any better than a hired killer?”, but at least the hitman actually profits from his murders. It’s not like executing the most heinous criminals in your state’s prison system will cause your taxes to be lowered… And actually, it has been known for a long time that the death penalty is a lot more expensive than mere incarceration: these appeals cost the state a lot of money.

    As for me, not stooping to the level of the murderers is reason enough to do away with the death penalty, even if there wasn’t the risk of executing innocents. But then, you sound like of of these authoritarian, vindicative assholes who just want someone -anyone- to pay when your precious rules have been broken, not like a reasonable person who cares about actual justice…

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “I’d ask “if money is reason enough for you to have a life ended, how are you any better than a hired killer?””

    Not sure where you are getting this strawman argument, no one here has stated that money is a reason to end someone’s life.

    Killing another human being is reason enough to end the murderer’s life.

    “It’s not like executing the most heinous criminals in your state’s prison system will cause your taxes to be lowered.”

    It will prevent a murderer from re-offending.

    ” And actually, it has been known for a long time that the death penalty is a lot more expensive than mere incarceration: these appeals cost the state a lot of money.”

    Your argument is flawed.

    Your argument points out the flaws in the appeals system, not the cost of executed someone.

    In cases where the guilt is known ( there ARE such cases), there is no reason to hear any appeal.

    ” But then, you sound like of of these authoritarian, vindicative assholes who just want someone -anyone- to pay when your precious rules have been broken”

    It is telling that you are reducing the act of murder to the breaking of a precious rule>

    ” not like a reasonable person who cares about actual justice”

    If person A has killed another person & their guilt is not in question at all ( such cases DO exist), can you explain how keeping a person who is known to be a murderer alive at taxpayer expense ( with the possibility that at some point in the future, the murderer may eventually be released from prison or may kill another person) is justice but taking the life of a known murderer is not justice?