DC Sniper

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by TheShaman, Mar 9, 2004.

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  1. TheShaman

    TheShaman Notebook Consultant

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    Sometimes I can't stand the American legal system.
    I guess that's why I'm going to law school.
    It's frustrating on one hand that for trial purposes the courts can treat the individual shootings as individual crimes (which in essence they are) and try the two shooters one county/crime at a time, while on the other they treat them collectively while sentencing. Most state laws, including Virginia, allow the death penalty in cases of murder during a felony (which this wouldn't be), and aggrivated heinous crimes. Cold-blooded murders that the shootings may be they only contain aggrivating elements when you look at the big picture.
    What upsets me is that the prosecutors (legally) used the system as a 'trial'-and-error to keep at it until they found 12 men and women who were willing to recommend the death penalty.
    Personally, I think that there should have been one trial for all the Virginia murders, packaged nice and neat, and allow one jury to make the decision. In my eyes that would have been the Virginia Beach jury, the good, decent folks who looked at the evidence and said that Muhummed (sp) should get life, not death.
    If the prosecutors don't want to play the big picture during the trial, they shouldn't be allowed to present the big picture during sentencing.
    I guess I'm just so up about this because I'm anti-death penalty.
     
  2. Slat

    Slat Notebook Evangelist

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    <blockquote id='quote'>quote:<hr height='1' noshade id='quote'>Originally posted by TheShaman

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  3. TheShaman

    TheShaman Notebook Consultant

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    Well, I'm in no mood to construct a full reply right now, but as far as living conditions go, they vary from prison to prison. Typically death-row inmates are kept in their 6x9 cell 24 hours a day, with an hour of exercise 3 times a week. One prison in Louisiana, I think, does provide cable, but not in the cell. The TVs are across the hall, about 15 feet away, and the inmates don't control which channel they watch. Some have windows, but also not in the cell, but most don't. Very few death rows have AC, and those that do only have them because their locations demand it. Prisons don't want to kill the inmates until their scheduled date. The one previously mentioned has great big fans next to the TVs to circulate air. Letter writing, book writing, painting, and other artistic venues are basically the only perks. Typical prison life does not apply on death row at all.
    Oh, and I don't know much law, either, just the broad strokes as it applies to the death penalty.

    As far as the opinions you've presented, they fall under two categories: retribution and deterrence.
    Retribution is just a fancy word for revenge, and is an emotion based argument. There aren't any facts to back it up or logic that can really attack it. However, being a retributive society puts America as only one of three industrialized countries that have the death penalty. The other two are Iran and China.
    As far as deterrence (don't kill because you may be punished severely) there are books and volumes of studies that state that there is any deterrent value at all - IE murder rates go down because there is a death penalty. In fact there are a couple which indicate a brutalization effect - there are MORE murders where there is a death penalty. This is certainly counter-intuitive, but then again, so is murder. I know of only one study which supports deterrence in regards to DP.

    Well, it seems I've gone ahead and given a fairly extensive answer, though I hadn't meant to. I welcome futher arguments and questions. How else can we right the wrongs of society but through education?
     
  4. Slat

    Slat Notebook Evangelist

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    What about non death-row inmates? If Muhammed didn't get sentenced to life--he would be in prison with cable tv, ac etc? Or did I mistunderstand you?

    You are against the death penalty, so that would mean that prison inmates wouldn't get the same "death row" treatment? I just want to understand what your opinion is. If you don't think there should be a death penalty, what is the right punishment in your view?

    Lets say a man raped and murdered 16 little girls. . .how would you deal with him? Do you propose to put him in jail for the rest of his life?
     
  5. TheShaman

    TheShaman Notebook Consultant

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    Actually, in that specific case, I'd be all for putting him in general population. He'd last - at most - a few years. Very, very, very unpleasant few years. Even criminals have a sense of decency, and child rapist/murderers aren't on their A list.

    Paradoxically, I view the death penalty as both inhumane and perhaps too lenient. LWOP (life without possibility of parole) is preferrable.
    The fact is that the system is not perfect, no matter how hard we try. People are fallible. We make mistakes. Despite the miles of beaurocracy required by law on the road to an execution, incompetent lawyers, apathetic judges, prosecutorial misconduct, political pressure, and just plain bad luck are more than enough to exhaust the appeals process and put a man or woman who doesn't deserve death on the chair, while enough money is enough to keep even the most vile and evil murderer out of it. Occasionally there have been completely, factually innocent men on death row, and if it hasn't already happened it's only a matter of time before one is put to death.
    That idea, alone, is enough to make me anti-death penalty: that I could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up with a death sentence.
    Besides which I am a more forgiving person than most. I believe that only extremely mentally ill people could commit so terrible a crime and not be changed by it, not have the potential to become a better person. Many of them were decent people originally, who made terrible mistakes that have terrible consequences: such as pulling the trigger during a robbery (IE murder during the commission of a felony.) I have no qualms about punishing these people, but I cannot find it in my heart to say that despite the imperfections in the system, despite the imperfections in people, and despite the imperfections in me, despite all that, that I could condone the state committing the same crime that it condemned these men for.
    And one more note on your child murderer - odds are that a human being capable of such crimes is so mentally ill that they would never see a courtroom or jail cell, but spend the rest of their lives in a padded room or similar enclosure.
    As for general population inmates getting modern conveniences such as cable and a/c - it's for the safety of the guards. With prison inmate/guard ratios becoming more skewed the need to keep the inmates docile is more and more imperative. An inmate who's frying his brain watching Ricky Lake and who releases his physical energy with basketball and weight lifting is far less likely to attack a guard or join in a riot. Besides which, no matter how many creature comforts we afford these people, prison life is still not pleasant (understatement.) Loss of freedoms, privacy, and the company of the opposite sex are enough punishment.
     
  6. Slat

    Slat Notebook Evangelist

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    <blockquote id='quote'>quote:<hr height='1' noshade id='quote'>Originally posted by TheShaman

     
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  7. TheShaman

    TheShaman Notebook Consultant

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    Very good point there.
    You see a lot of "opinion" polls out there that say that the american public is something like 60% in favor of the death penalty. Give them the option of LWOP, and it drops to under 40. Really makes you think about those folks running polls and what they do to make us think what they want us to think.
    I believe that most folks don't like the idea of the death penalty, but they're afraid of mass murderers being let out by the system because they fell through the cracks.
    LWOP solves this and sets us on the path towards healing this wound in the side of American ethics.
     
  8. Slat

    Slat Notebook Evangelist

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    You're right, most polls are done improperly--either the questions they ask are made to skew you in one direction or they seemingly ask only the people who agree with them with a few who are against it to make it look good.

    I know I for one don't like the idea of murderers and rapists roaming on the streets--regardless if they are "reformed" or not. Perhaps I've been watching too much Law and Order but I'm under the impression that most people who committ these crimes are not handed a very long sentence--and if they are they get parole in less than half of that sentence, which to me is ridiculous. I know when I look at my local paper and see what some of these criminals are getting it frustrates me to no end.
     
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