Clarion-Ledger: Wilcher Must Die | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Clarion-Ledger: Wilcher Must Die

In an editorial today, The Clarion-Ledger explains its support of the death penalty and why it is good that the state is going to kill Bobby Glen Wilcher today:

Those who oppose capital punishment on moral grounds should be respected for their beliefs. It is wrong for the government to be forced to kill anyone for a crime. It's sad, it's tragic, it's lamentable. ...

But our laws allow capital punishment as an ultimate sentence reserved for only the worst crimes and it is rarely carried out. The legal protections, in state and federal courts to ensure the guilt of those convicted of capital crimes are many.

Previous Comments

ID
106794
Comment

In particular, I would like to hear what folks have to say about this specific sentence: It is wrong for the government to be forced to kill anyone for a crime. Is the government "forced" to kill anyone? Also, being that the sentence is weakened by the requisite Clarion-Ledger passive voice, it begs another question: WHO is forcing the government to kill "anyone" (or, in this case, Wilcher). Let's give that sentence a subject even if the daily newspaper refuses to. (Remarkable to me that anyone would write editorials, for goodness sake, filled with the passive voice. Talk about passing the buck.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T10:41:58-06:00
ID
106795
Comment

I think capital punishment was much more effective in the old days when people were hung in the public squre. When it's hidden from the public, they don't really know what the state is doing on their behalf. For the most part, I support captial punishment. Especially when someone admits to the crimes. I do think executions should be televised or made public in some way, however. In regards to this particular criminal, I say fry him up good. It's a shame they retired the electric chair.

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T11:07:29-06:00
ID
106796
Comment

Well, I will agree that if we're going to do it, it should be "on the public square" -- or on television. That way, people would realize what is being done on their behalf. And I believe strongly that it should be for all murders, or none at all, and the law the same in every state.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T11:14:38-06:00
ID
106797
Comment

The government is never forced to seek death. Victim rights' advocates, and family members of victims, often pressure the government to seek death. I can understand this although I don't believe another death really grant much or any relief. The government can indict for just simple murder anytime or every time if they desire to. They might not get re-lected if they refuse to seek death too often. Some counties rarely or never seek the death penalty. Even after a conviction for capital murder, the jury never has to vote for death. They can choose life without the possibility of parole if they want to on every occasion, and the judge or prosecutor can't stop them. The problem is that juries are too frequently composed of people who only want to vote for death sentences. Prospective jurors who admit they would always vote for the death penalty, and those jurors who say they could never vote for the death penalty, can not serve as jurors. So, we wind up with jurors who say they can vote either way but who nearly always wind up believing that death is warranted, not life without the possibility of parole. The crimes death is sought for are often very brutal, atrocious, and cruel. To convince a jury to vote for life is a herculean task. Compound the nature of the crime with race (a black person killing a white person before a jury of all or nearly all white folks) and your task is made nearly impossible. This was the case with the only two I have lost so far. One of them was recently reversed. I'm hopeful the other one will be reversed too. The killing of children and old folks are also cases death seems to be likely sought and given. Personally, I'm not 100% opposed to the death penalty. This might surprise some of you. I believe this fact allows me to understand the positions of victims, and to speak to the hearts and minds of jurors. I anticipate jurors will feel the same way I initially feel when hearing about these cases, and they always do.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-07-11T13:23:37-06:00
ID
106798
Comment

Thanks, Ray. That all means a lot from you. I'm still stuck on that sentence from the editorial, though; the more I look at it, the less sense it makes: It is wrong for the government to be forced to kill anyone for a crime. If it's "wrong," it's wrong. And no one is "forcing" the government to do anything here, except the government. Huh? Does each of the Ledge edit boys pick a word and throw it at the blackboard and then publish it in the order that it sticks? Vera, vera confused here, as a queenly friend of mine might say.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T13:28:37-06:00
ID
106799
Comment

I believe that the government does watever they want to do and hide behind the decisions that the jurors make. I am opposed to the death penalty but that's just the way that I feel personally. I hope that I am never put in a position to decide the fate of another human. I also feel that sometimes death is an easy way out rather than living with the mental punishment of what a person did wrong. It seems to me that Wilcher is tired of living in hell, so why not die and ease the pain. Mayby after he saw that his request is about to become a reality, he wants to go back to his cell and suffer in silence.

Author
lance
Date
2006-07-11T13:54:16-06:00
ID
106800
Comment

This editorial shows the level of abstract thought and moral conscience I've come to expect from the C-L. I'm quite certain that each of us has already put more thought into it than the author of the piece did. It can't be "wrong for the government to be forced [sic] to kill anyone for a crime" and then be right if the accused is a Very Bad Man. That's like saying "I've never been to Albuquerque" and then later, in the same editorial, saying "When I went to Albuquerque a few years ago..." If ithe death penalty is wrong, it's still wrong. If it's not wrong, it's only "usually" wrong. This is not a case of the C-L being complex. This is a case of the author being too lazy to check both ends of the editorial to make sure they match. Capital punishment is indeed "reserved for only the 'worst' crimes," namely the murder of whites. Nationally, 56% of murder victims are non-white, but 80% of those on death row for murdering white folks--and this is taking into account the fact that most of the states banning the death penalty are in New England, which includes up the majority of states where white victims actually do outnumber blacks. So there is clearly a racist dimension to the way the death penalty is enforced, and anyone who says otherwise is simply ignoring the raw numbers. That said, I find myself in total sympathy with what Ray is saying. There are two dimensions to the death penalty. There is the racial injustice dimension, which we both condemn, but there is also the much more iconic but less representative "serial murderer" dimension, where police search a guy's house and find a dozen children buried under the staircase or what have you, where I suspect both of us are sympathetic to capital verdicts. I technically oppose the death penalty in all cases in large part because you can't allow "heinous crime" exemptions for the latter and not introduce the possibility of racial bias, as our prosecutor-sought predominantly white juries have some exemplarily proved, but when people like BTK get life in prison, there is something very deep in my gut that wishes he got the needle. But then that voice is not necessarily one that I think I should be listening to. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-07-11T14:21:48-06:00
ID
106801
Comment

Forget "abstract thought and moral conscience," Tom. I would settle for basic literacy from The Clarion-Ledger. That sentence is simply nonsensical. Otherwise, excellent points. I used to wrestle with the death penalty, too. In particular, I was so angry that the men who committed the heinous civil-rights murders in my hometown were walking free that I just wanted to see them executed. I just couldn't believe that a just society would allow them to live. And I felt very strongly that it shouldn't be decided state to state, after watching such a double standard of justice in my home state toward people of different races. (Still believe that.) However, in maturing and finding a larger frame of reference, I realized that the death penalty as a practice cannot be just if it is possible that the state kills just one single innocent person. Just one. I realized I could not morally justify a practice that is applied to unfairly, not only based on race but on economic circumstances. Then I came to the realization that it is not up to human beings to force other human beings to kill other human beings in order to get a paycheck—or to judge when someone should live or die. You could say that I now am against the death penalty for about every reason that its critics provide. In a word, I believe it is immoral. Reaching that conclusion was kind of like becoming a vegetarian for me: Once I decided to do it for health reasons, it made sense to drop the barriers to all of the other reasons to not eat meat. And there's something that feels very good about that to me, on both issues. There is something very freeing about not having to pick who I believe should live or die based on a subjective sence of how "bad" their murder was. All murder is "bad"—whether by a white Klansman in Neshoba County or a black drug dealer in West Jackson. That doesn't mean that we make it less bad by killing the killer. And the research shows that the death penalty does not deter murder—it just satisfies the need for revenge in others. Unfortunately, violence begets violence, and our country proves it every single day.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T14:34:56-06:00
ID
106802
Comment

Human beings and institutions, even (morally) good ones ARE FALLABLE...we and they are NOT GODS!!! Therefore, there's ALWAYS the possibility of KILLING THE WRONG PERSON Now if you are talking about putting someone away for life without possibility of parole, then I think we can talk. Besides, I think letting a criminal sentenced to life without parole is a worse punishment for the criminal than death( even after 15 or so years of appeals, etc., that clog up our legal system). Once you kill a criminal, he/she no longer suffers (well, there's the afterlife matter, but that's strictly a matter of one's personal faith - and so is legitimately outside the realm of policy discussions).

Author
Philip
Date
2006-07-11T15:08:06-06:00
ID
106803
Comment

Being that humans and institutions (which are run by humans) are fallable, that's the main reason I'm opposed to the death penalty. The fact is, the prosecution and juries do get it wrong when it comes to convictions. Just think what would've happened to the death row inmated in Illinois had the students from Northwestern University not stepped in and investigated their convictions and, consequently, caused then-governor George Ryan to put a moratorium on the death penalty. What I also try to grasp is how people, especially Christian people, can support taking away a person's life, even if said person deserves it. If life is truly precious, this means that even a murderer's life is just as precious as the person he or she murdered. And if God is the only one that can take away a life, then how can we as humans and institutions (again, which are run by humans) play God? Finally (and I couldn't resist), WWJD?

Author
golden eagle
Date
2006-07-11T15:27:33-06:00
ID
106804
Comment

I consider it wrong to kill too. The government is no exception for me. They look like fools arguing on one hand how bad murder is then trying to compel the jury to do it for them. Lately, I've been telling jurors I'm surprised the prosecutors haven't taken a gun and gone out in the streets and killed somebody themselves considering how hungry they are to kill. Then I tell the jury the prosecutors are cowards and can't do it themselves so they're trying to use y'all to do it. Those prosecutors don't know what to say to this. However, Timothy McVeigh is a situation where general opponents to the death penalty say they can make an exception. I felt this way at certain times about him, but I doubt I could have voted for death in his case. I know I couldn't have personally executed him.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-07-11T17:06:11-06:00
ID
106805
Comment

I am against the death penalty. I don't think people should kill each other...legally or illegally. Holding a criminal for 20 years and then going through with the execution seems wrong to me. If the death penalty is sentenced, I think it should be carried out in a timely manner. I've heard people express an opinion that Kenneth Lay got off easy because he died before being sentenced for the Enron crimes. Yep, I'd say he lucked out. I don't think that death is the worst possible punishment for unspeakable crimes but unfortunately, death as a punishment seems to make a lot of people feel that justice has prevailed.

Author
BKS
Date
2006-07-11T17:32:42-06:00
ID
106806
Comment

Let us pause in this hour to recall that two wrongs have never made a right. Bless us all for the decisions we make as a society.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T18:20:13-06:00
ID
106807
Comment

Just saw that the killing of Wilcher has been stayed. Let's pause anyway to consider what all this means.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T18:21:54-06:00
ID
106808
Comment

Not a stay, just a delay for now.

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T18:27:12-06:00
ID
106809
Comment

Well...now it's a stay. Guess our tax dollars will be supporting this monster for a little while longer.

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T19:02:16-06:00
ID
106810
Comment

Don't forget: It costs more to execute "monsters" than imprison them. And you can un-do imprisonment if the human involved made a mistake. You can't bring someone back to life.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T19:04:34-06:00
ID
106811
Comment

Interesting point....what does it cost, in dollars, to execute someone?

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T19:09:59-06:00
ID
106812
Comment

IMO, "cost" is beside the point. The point is, as I stated above, there is ALWAYS the chance of killing an innocent. Even in cases where there's no doubt about the guilt, I favor life imprisonment w/o parole because the death penalty against the truly and undeniably guilty sets a bad precedent.

Author
Philip
Date
2006-07-11T19:24:47-06:00
ID
106813
Comment

I agree, Philip. One should define "costs" as more than just the financial burden. It's hard to account for the "costs" of living in a society where one has no choice but that our taxpayers go to kill human beings. Yet, the financial cost argument is compelling, still. There's a lot out there on this, Jim; it's a major argument against capital punishment. Here's one source, for instance. And it's impossible to argue that the expensive appeals process should not happen. Lord, the state is KILLING people. We have to exhaust all the appeals to retain some sense of morality here.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T19:30:51-06:00
ID
106814
Comment

Interesting info. Donna. I'll give it a good read. Of course, I've always thought a better alternative to the death penalty is something like the idea in the movie "Escape from New York." Find some ghost town somewhere. Build a 50 foot wall around it. Throw the convicts in and don't spend one dime on their upkeep. If they find food, they eat. If not, let nature take its course. Wow...I'm in a really radical mood tonight for some reason.

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T19:41:30-06:00
ID
106815
Comment

Jim Throw the convicts in and don't spend one dime on their upkeep. If they find food, they eat. (a)If not, let nature take its course. (a)In effect, this is still the death penalty because in practice, you're sentencing some of them to death - starvation and brutal beatings by the strongest/most politically astute convicts, if nothing else. But far more likely, IMO is the next one (b) It'd probably turn into a gulag type camp. As remote as ghosttowns tend to be, this system would be prime potential for abuse! Hence, we'd be little better than China or the USSR. Best to simply keep the worst of them in for life without parole.

Author
Philip
Date
2006-07-11T20:12:11-06:00
ID
106816
Comment

Yes, JimNWR, you seem very angry tonight, for whatever reason. I always thought the idea was to have a civilized society, you know, to maintain some small distinction between us and the "monsters." I do not think the death penalty can be defended on a factual basis. It's all about anger, so let me speak to that, after a fashion. Murder is a blood crime that will stain the murderer for the rest of his or her life. Why should we all get blood on our hands in response? It doesn't reduce crime and or expense; it doesn't produce any tangible good. All it does is answer the anger in us, that all too human desire for an eye for an eye. People are fond of quoting that passage of the Bible, but Jesus repudiated it. Um, considering that Jesus was a victim of the death penalty, I have a feeling he would be against it. The late Bill Hicks was very funny on this, specifically how Jesus would feel about all these people walking around with crosses around their necks. The modern equivalent would be people walking around with little gold electric chairs around their necks. And yes, I get that it's a symbol of something else. But Hicks--and I am paraphrasing wildly--imagined Jesus saying something like, "Hey, hey, HEY. That is not a pleasant memory for me, people." Crucifiction was a horrible way to die, far worse than hanging or electrocution or even being drawn and quartered. Jesus was lucky to be nailed to the cross, since most people were simply tied up, left to suffocate after days of exposure, when their diaphrams could no longer lift their lungs. Nevertheless, Jesus did not call down the multitude to rescue him, and this was not a matter of strategery, as our president, who said Jesus was his favorite "philosopher," might put it. It was a lesson.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2006-07-11T20:12:47-06:00
ID
106817
Comment

Yeah...I must admit to being in more of an Old Testament mood tonight. I guess I'm just thinking about those two ladies with 47 stab wounds in them. Sometimes crimes like that make me want an eye for an eye.

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T20:24:45-06:00
ID
106818
Comment

Brian, your post brings to mind some past Clarion-Ledger gems on the death penalty: This is 'conservative' court questions why the Supreme Court would care about cruel and unusual punishment issues: So, now, courts must decide how comfortable poison may be? Like others, Mississippi uses sodium pentothal to put the inmate to sleep, followed by Pavulon to stop breathing, then potassium chloride to stop the heart. The case claimed the paralytic agents prevent visible effects of suffering and potassium chloride gives a burning sensation, causing "gratuitous infliction of unnecessary pain." Does this court understand what a death penalty is? Obviously not. Look at that last line. It seems apparent that The Clarion-Ledger edit-boys think that the death penalty should also involve torture. Remarkable. My personal favorite was some time back when Sid Salter wrote is infamous "Will they ride that needle?" column. We blogged about it some, but oddly that column has been de-linked from its Clarion-Ledger URL. But here's a quote we had pulled out: It is only too bad that many years of legal appeals remain until the death needle finds his veins. No, actually, someone employed by the state and the taxpayers is finding the vein into which that person will then administer poison that kills another person. Again, The Clarion-Ledger buries the subject (so to speak). This turns my stomach. And, just for giggles, here's Barbour's uber-moral "Too Bad the Needle Took So Long" statement.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T20:30:27-06:00
ID
106819
Comment

I know how you feel, Jim. After I read all the details about Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, and especially about the condition of Chaney's body, I used to fantasize about those ugly Klansmen who made all my people look like monsters being hung from a tree. But I've moved to a different space.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T20:31:58-06:00
ID
106820
Comment

... and it's a space where I feel very strongly that old man Killen better the hell not get out of prison Friday. He needs to sit in there and think about those heinous murders he almost got away with, just as every murderer (or manslaughterer, ahem) needs to do, while his wife and young'uns gather back home for Sunday dinner.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T20:35:11-06:00
ID
106821
Comment

Remember: The evil ones, so to speak, win when they make us no better than they are. And I'm sure not the first person who has said that.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T20:35:50-06:00
ID
106822
Comment

Donna...you're sounding almost like a prophet tonight. I think one of the biggest challenges for me in trying to live a more Christian life is not judging others and letting God handle vengeance. It’s a daily struggle, among many others.

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T20:42:49-06:00
ID
106823
Comment

My main beef with the death penalty is that it's massively inefficent. 20+ years on death row? Come on! Appeals, Appeals, lawyers filing appeals for you... it's silly. Either speed it up or abolish it.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-07-11T20:58:36-06:00
ID
106824
Comment

It's a daily struggle for all of us, Jim. I feel your pain. And don't be fooled by my mutterings. I'm a bit tired, and I get pretty emotional and impatient whenever the state kills someone, and I just start emoting. I know that, as a society, we will evolve beyond the bloodthirst stage, just as we did beyond the evils of slavery and then Jim Crow and various other archaic evils, but I wish we didn't have to go through these stages of understanding, and pain, first. Why can't we hit fast-forward? Our society will become less violent when we decide to become less violent. Not before, and that breaks my heart.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T21:02:49-06:00
ID
106825
Comment

This is not a case of the C-L being complex. Tom! Don't do that! Now you owe me a new keyboard. *snicker* Aside from that: Donna, I had the exact same initial reaction to the editorial that you did. Who's "forcing" the government to execute anybody? What the hell is that? Lazy thinking, that's what. They couldn't be complex if they were Oedipus. Best, Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2006-07-11T21:08:30-06:00
ID
106826
Comment

True. How do you write a sentence like that and not go back, read it and say: "That doesn't make a damn lick o' sense." Really. With such nonsensical writing, The Clarion-Ledger is giving off a really bad impression of "Real Mississippi." Now, my guess is they're, once again, sticking their finger in the wind and realize that public sentiment, even here, is shifting on the death penalty, even if it's not all the way shifted, yet. So, now they're not "riding the needle"; they are concocting dumb little ditties that, supposedly, acknowledge that many believe the death penalty is wrong, but well you've got to kill the killer anyhow because, after all, their biggest advertisers want the death penalty, even if not everyone in the state does (known around town as "The Ledge's Endorsement Logic"). It's a painful tightwire act, so we're stuck with sentences like: It is wrong for the government to be forced to kill anyone for a crime. ... that make no sense and make Mississippians look illiterate. Pardon my cynicism. Execution days do this funny thing to my mood.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T21:13:04-06:00
ID
106827
Comment

If y'all haven't figured it out about me, yet, I really hate being treated like a fool, or a ravenous bloodhound, just because I'm a Mississippian. We deserve better than this drivel.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T21:16:10-06:00
ID
106828
Comment

I actually think most people would support life without parole if they were convinced it was truly life without parole. I think people have a fear that the convict may escape and do it again or get let out on some technicality someday.

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T21:17:56-06:00
ID
106829
Comment

So, we balance that fear with the fear that we will execute the wrong person. Which fear trumps in a moral society? And it's not as if the standard for the death penalty is applied any more fairly than that of life without parole or other harsh punishment. Those with money and connections do not do the same time ... or ride the same needle. My argument is that we need to reduce the number of murders in the first place, but people don't really want to do that. If they did, they would actually look at preventive measures that actually work rather than believing that the death penalty deters, which it doesn't, according to the science. Now, as I've said before, if you actually applied the death penalty to each and every possible killing—it might actually deter. But our society is most certainly not going to do that, either. Nor should it. For one thing: the increase in violence would bring on even more violence to balance out that being deterred. Violence is a vicious cycle. I'll say it again: If we want to be less violent, we must be less violent. And we need to change the conditions that breed violence. It's remarkable the money that is spent to be reactive rather than proactive. But as long people are driven by bloodthirst, this cycle will continue. Lord help us.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T21:24:59-06:00
ID
106830
Comment

Donna, I do know how you feel about those who were responsible for the murders of the civil rights workers in Philadelphia. I was torn about it in the film version of The Chamber, when Gene Hackman's character was about to be executed. I didn't have any sympathy for his character because he was a white supremacist, but I also didn't want to see him die for his crime because no matter how dispicable he was, he was a human being. Sometimes, we have to be bigger than our emotions.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2006-07-11T21:33:27-06:00
ID
106831
Comment

Just in: Barbour's statement on the stay: Statement of Governor Haley Barbour Concerning the United States Supreme Court Decision Tuesday, July 11, 2006 "The only injustice here is that 24 years have already passed since this murderer earned the death penalty. It is hard for me to believe that a majority of the United States Supreme Court has granted this stay. Nevertheless, that is within the court's power, and I am required to abide by their decision, as bad as I think it is." ### Couldn't he even express a thought that perhaps the court—a court supposedly friendly to his political peeps—is seeing a problem and he trusts that they will sort it out to ensure that no problems are evident? Of course, that wouldn't qualify as sticking one's finger in the wind—a top entry in the political playbook.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T21:33:41-06:00
ID
106832
Comment

Agreed, golden boy. Another good example is the Timothy McVeigh case. And "Dead Man Walking" really aired out all these kinds of emotions. Personally, I believe that being "bigger than our emotions" is part of being an American. Our very constitution, and our foundation of freedom, is based on the idea that the government cannot infringe on our rights based on the will of the majority. That is, if we really mean this freedom thing, we have to defend the rights of those for whom we have the greatest distaste. Thus, I could have some Klucker show up on my private site and kick his ass off because he doesn't have the right to kluck in my sandbox, but I would defend to the end his right to express himself in the public square without the government interfering in any way. In the same way, I can be disgusted and mortified and angered by an act of murderous violence by a criminal, while still believing that we-the-people do not have the right to in turn murder that person, thus prolonging the cycle of violence. I get so tired of the rhetoric that tries to make it sound like we're "soft on crime" if we don't believe in hiring a state employee to kill someone on our behalf. It's such bullsh!t logic and, worse IMHO, immoral to pressure people to support state killing in such a manipulative way. Two heinous wrongs don't make a friggin' right. On that note, I should bid y'all adieu. Adieu, adieu, adieu. (She signs off after a weak attempt to inject a bit of "Sound of Music" humor into an über-heavy conversation.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-11T21:42:07-06:00
ID
106833
Comment

GEB, it's ironic that you should mention The Chamber as this book is what helped resolve what had always been a struggle for me: do I believe in the death penalty or not. Before reading the book, I was back and forth on the subject. After reading the book, I became firm in my belief: no death penalty. I, like most of you it seems, would hear or read about a particularly horrible crime and think, "well, for that, then death may be okay." As I got older, those crimes seemed fewer and farther between. Now it is never. I just don't want my government killing people. There is no way to have a "humane" death -- it is cruel and unusual, whether it be the electric chair, the needle, the gas chamber, etc. Mistakes happen -- and I am in the camp that would rather let 100 murderers go free than have 1 innocent man convicted (or put to death). Nice to read others views on this subject. It isn't one I generally discuss in our conversative state. Too many people today were saying they couldn't wait for Wilcher to die. Made me sad.

Author
Newt
Date
2006-07-11T22:03:37-06:00
ID
106834
Comment

I mentioned fear earlier. You know....it's interesting when you look around and see how fear affects people in their everyday lives. You see all of the steps being taken in Jackson because people are afraid of crime. You see older people, who live in good neighborhoods in the burbs, with steel bars on their doors and windows. You see people in very poor areas who live in substandard housing, but they have vicious guard dogs chained in their front yards to protect them from whatever. Not sure where I'm going with this, I just think fear is a part of everyday life for some people.

Author
James Hester
Date
2006-07-11T22:30:35-06:00
ID
106835
Comment

Fear is an extremely strong emotion. It's the one thing politicians have been able to exploit the most. When you use fear, it causes us to be irrational on how we think. Fear was used very effectively during the run-up to the war in Iraq. The American people were so fearful of another terrorist attack that they were willing to believe anything their government said, no matter how falsified the information is, to go to war there and make us feel protected. Closer to home, politicians' exploits on fear brought us Willie Horton, more harsher punishment on crime (leading to mandatory minimums), prisons being built in a fever pitch and this nation is now spending more money on the penal system than we are on education. Throughout much of the 90s, violent crime was going down, but you didn't know it by the tough talk from exploitative politicians and constant advertisements by security alarm companies. My own conspiracy theory is that since a lot of the prisons built are being run by private firms, they have to have bodies in them to make money. In this case, contrary to popular belief, crime does pay.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2006-07-11T23:17:58-06:00
ID
106836
Comment

Jim, There are 365 mentions of how we SHOULD NOT FEAR in the Bible. One for every day and a leap year. That knowledge got this once broke/single/painridden mom through to a better place. I'd always remind myself that fear is not a gift from God. God does not give us a spirit of fear, but the Lord has given us power. So if fear is part of everyday life for someone, they are using the wrong spirit to live a life. I think the same applies to our society. He's told us not to fear, there's nothing new under the sun and all sorts of other things to let us know, it's not our dog in this hunt. There's my late-night-can't-sleep Jesus for the evening :)

Author
emilyb
Date
2006-07-12T00:23:06-06:00
ID
106837
Comment

Good post, Emily. :o) I abandoned orthodox Christian theology a long time ago, but I still find an awful lot of meaning and strength in the example of Jesus. My more secular attitude about fear is that sometimes it's good--sometimes it sends us in the right direction--but it always has to be tempered by rationality. There have been many things I've done in my life that scared me to death at first, I'm about to do more, but I'm reminded of that Eleanor Roosevelt quote: "Do something every day that scares you." To overcome irrational fear gives me a feeling of immense power. To submit to irrational fear gives me a feeling of profound helplessness. All I know for certain is that one day I'll die, and it won't be on my terms--that's just a cliche. But by damn, I'll live on my own terms. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-07-12T03:12:31-06:00
ID
106838
Comment

Fear is also good so you can call it courage :) If there's nothing fearful involved, is it really a courageous act? I mean, I can kill a spider and it's not bravery. But if my step-daughter does, that's courage. Because I ain't scared of spiders! Wasps maybe, but not spiders.

Author
emilyb
Date
2006-07-12T07:51:24-06:00
ID
106839
Comment

my gosh, Tom is sounding like G. Gordon Liddy.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-07-12T08:51:59-06:00
ID
106840
Comment

I just don't want my government killing people. Thank you, GLB. That's all there is to say, really. And you're right: people don't talk about a lot of things in our state. And when they do, they find that more people agree with them than they ever thought possible. Keep talking, friends.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T09:55:34-06:00
ID
106841
Comment

The evidence shows that whenever capital punishment is applied CONSISTENTLY or against a small murder rate it has always been followed by a decrease in murder. I have yet to see an example on how the death penalty has failed to reduce the murder rate under those conditions. FEAR WORKS! Most murderers know right from wrong! So capital punishment is very capable of deterring murder if we allow it to, but our legal system is so slow and inefficient, criminals are able to stay several steps ahead of us and gain leeway through our lenience. Several reforms must be made in our justice system so the death penalty can cause a positive effect. If that sounds calloused, think about the murder victims' mother, father, children, relatives and friends who are left behind to mourn for the rest of their lives. Why don't we think about the VICTIMS for just once? According to the US Department of Justice, the average prison sentence served for murder is ONLY five years and eleven months. I'd rather have my tax dollars go to poor beggars than to support a known unrepentant murderer with three hot meals and a cot for the rest of his life (or five years), whichever comes first.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-12T10:26:49-06:00
ID
106842
Comment

To add to my last post—it's funny that the same people who distrust the government to do a single damn thing (that does benefit them) manages to trust it completely when it comes to deciding who to kill and how to kill the. Shudder. Here's the way the Gannett outlet, The Hattiesburg American began its editorial on this yesterday: At 6 p.m. today, Bobby Glen Wilcher is scheduled to be strapped onto a gurney and life-zapping chemicals pumped into his body. Soon after, his heart will stop beating and he will be declared dead. Thus will justice come to Wilcher 24 years after he killed two Scott County women who made the unfortunate decision to give him a ride home from a bar. "life-zapping chemicals"!?! In these parts, Gannett is nothing if not consistent. We better start checking on the free publications down south to see if Goliath is breathing down their necks, too.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T10:28:16-06:00
ID
106843
Comment

Joerob, when has the death penalty ever been appllied consistently!?! There can't be evidence on that front that proves that it works, being that it has never been applied consistently. Otherwise, the rest of your post isn't convincing, either. Right now, so much of your tax dollars are going toward the death penalty that could be used in other ways. If you care about it from a financial standpoint, you can't support the death penalty. It's bad business. I have never seen a convincing argument about how the state hiring people to kill other people is "thinking about the victim"? That sounds like pure emotion talking, much as when I wanted to see those men in Neshoba County flapping from a tree. I can understand that kind of emotion, but you can't make good policy based on pure emotion. I agree, however, that the laws must be applied more evenly. Right now, a rich white man gets free passes all the time in our criminal system. That's its biggest weakness.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T10:35:29-06:00
ID
106844
Comment

Donna, it's not about money. I simply mentioned that notion in passing. You, Donna, must also admit that one cannot totally eliminate emotions from this equation regardless of which side you're on. It's about morality and putting a value on life. I guess both sides could use this argument to their advantage as well. I simply believe that if a person knew that there would be immediate consequences to his/her actions, they would think twice before acting. For example, if a robber knew that I owned a gun and was not afraid to use it, he/she would think twice before coming to my house to take my belongings. He would more than likely choose a safer venue to commit his crime. Why? Because he values his life. In this case fear works. Just because the death penalty isn't used on a consistent basis in this country doesn't mean that it shouldn't be used at all. That's more of a judicial issue which needs to be addressed as does the issues of class and race. Percentage wise, whites are executed more than blacks, so it seems that whites are being discriminated against. Most Americans (80%) favor the death penalty, and rightly so. I would rather spend my time in support of the murder victim's family and loved ones than in support of a murderer's right to live.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-12T11:19:18-06:00
ID
106845
Comment

To add to my post, I don't trust the government in all that it does. As an individual citizen, I'm not allowed to be the judge and executioner, however I wouldn't mind sitting on a jury. It's the government's responsibility to carry out the edicts of our judicial system according to our Constitution. That's just the way it is.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-12T11:37:17-06:00
ID
106846
Comment

It's about morality and putting a value on life. If that's true, then why do you support the state being able to take a life? You just contradicted yourself.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2006-07-12T11:50:49-06:00
ID
106847
Comment

Joerob, I'd love to see the sources for your statistics. Those are different from some I've seen. Also, there is a higher percentage of whites in America, so saying that a higher percentage are excuted does not logically follow into whites are being discriminated against. Also, you have to factor in the types of like murders that folks are excuted for and so on. That said, there is no question that the biggest different between those who are and those who aren't is money, and that should be no basis for whether the government kills someone. I simply do not trust the government to judge who should and should not be killed by state employees. It's not the government's role, and other civilized nations have figured that out. We're behind the curve. It's the government's responsibility to carry out the edicts of our judicial system according to our Constitution. That's just the way it is. Are you sure? Was that the case 40 years when the Mississippi government was claiming it was doing the same thing? Are you really one who believes we should never question the government? Just because the death penalty isn't used on a consistent basis in this country doesn't mean that it shouldn't be used at all. Why the hell not? You just argued for an uneven system of justice that leads to the state killing people. Are you sure? And, no, the death penalty does not deter. Neither does gun ownership. If it did, the United States wouldn't be one of the most violent nations on the planet, considering how strong gun ownership is. In fact, there is a direct correlation between gun saturation and the violence levels in a society. There is a similar correlations between heinous crimes committed in countries with the most cruel and unusual punishment. And in today's world, the death penalty is certainly unusual, and there is no question that killing someone is cruel, even if they did something cruel themselves. I would rather spend my time in support of the murder victim's family and loved ones than in support of a murderer's right to live. Well, that's quite the logical fallacy. (What's it called, Philip?) You don't have to choose, Joerob. That's what so wonderful about life. We can choose to be compassionate toward all sorts of people, all at once. In fact, some pretty impressive spiritual leaders have told us to do just that. Too bad we ignore their teachings and warnings. We are reaping what we sow.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T12:12:20-06:00
ID
106848
Comment

Also, I don't believe one supports a victim's family by convincing them that the only way they can get closure is by pining for another person's death. That seems pretty cruel to me. And a lot of victim's families agree.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T12:28:57-06:00
ID
106849
Comment

Golden eagle boy, morality is in the eye of the beholder. My morality may be completely different from the next person's. That's why I clearly said in my previous statement that one could argue either side of this debate. I could ask you a similar question... why would you be in support of a known murderer?

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-12T12:45:42-06:00
ID
106850
Comment

Just throwing this out there... Since Wilcher seemed to look forward to dying and actually broke down when he found out his execution was delayed, would it be a greater punishment to let him live?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-07-12T13:04:38-06:00
ID
106851
Comment

Only if he didn't enjoy living, L.W. :)

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-07-12T13:15:03-06:00
ID
106852
Comment

Donna, there's a vast difference between killing someone and bringing a person to account for his crime. Don't confuse murder with being accountable for one's deeds. In some countries, the populace is allowed to stone a murderer simply because the government refused to do it for them. Does this mean that that particular country's populace is not "civilized"? No. Many Arab countries have the lowest crime rates in the world. On a sidenote, Australia and England's crime rates skyrocketed immediately after guns were outlawed. Again, morality and civility are subjective terms. Yours may be completely different from mine. I've admitted this for the second time. You have to admit this as well. I never said that I blindly support our government. I support our Constitution as long as it's appropriately being adhered to. That was not the case 40 years ago, that's why certain civil rights laws had to be passed. No one ever said our system of government was perfect. It's not, but it's perhaps the best system we have in the world today. As I said before, most murderers only get five years and then are eligible for parole. After taking an INNOCENT life, they are then "rewarded" with parole eligibility. Every two years, this person has a chance of being released back into society, not to mention the victims' loved ones having to go through the torture of the possibility of the murderers release. The sad fact is that sometimes they are released, only to go out and kill another innocent person and the torture of loved ones starts all over again.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-12T13:21:49-06:00
ID
106853
Comment

Donna, there's a vast difference between killing someone and bringing a person to account for his crime. Don't confuse murder with being accountable for one's deeds. Joerob, I'm not confused anything. Killing is killing. The only discussion point here, really, is whether one believes that the government has the right to judge just who should be killed for his/her crimes. Otherwise, we clearly define "civilized" differently. Remember that Star Trek episode where Wesley went to that great planet where everything was pristine. The only problem was that if you did anything wrong, you had to be killed. And I have no problem "admitting" that you and I clearly define civility and morality differently. Stipulated. The question of "parole eligibility" is a different issue than whether the state should be allowed to kill people. The answer to that second cannot rely on how well the first one works. Fix the first if you have a problem with it. But it's absurd to, somehow, argue that we should execute humans because, otherwise, we won't keep them in jail long enough! WTF? Talk about a bizarre either-or proposition. I think there's some gray area to explore here. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T14:16:37-06:00
ID
106854
Comment

It's interesting that you distinguish so readily between "innocent" and, I presume "guilty" life. Does that mean if someone takes a not-so-innocent life that they should not then themselves be killed by the state? Or, could "innocent life" be a semantic trick to try to justify the government killing people? Such word games sound mighty manipulative toward the "innocent" victim's families. OK, let's recap: The death penalty costs more. It doesn't deter the types of murders that people are executed for. The government isn't exactly qualified to judge who should live or die. The death penalty is used more on certain types of people than others. If the government makes a mistake in deciding who to kill, it cannot be undone. Many victims' families are further haunted by the idea that the state killed someone on their behalf. We're one of the few countries in the world that still use the death penalty. Public support for the death penalty is dropping. "Thou shalt not kill." Remind me again why we allow government workers to kill people on our behalf.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T14:22:14-06:00
ID
106855
Comment

Also: I could ask you a similar question... why would you be in support of a known murderer? That question is ridiculous on its face. ARe you truly saying that because someone does not support the state killing human beings that that means, somewhere on some planet, that that same person "is in support of a known murderer." Support? Emotion is clearly clouding your logical abilities on this issue, joerob. Come on.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T14:24:20-06:00
ID
106856
Comment

Donna says: "Killing is killing". Law enforcement and punishment is to crime as water is to fire. "The death penalty costs more": If it does, it doesn't have to. Why not do it expeditiously...with a bullet? Why waste more money? The murderer didn't hesitate to shoot, stab or strangle his victim, so why should he be given preferential treatment? It doesn't deter the types of murders that people are executed for. Like I said before, that's because it's not done on a consistent basis. The government isn't exactly qualified to judge who should live or die. The government simply carries out what the judicial system orders. If the judge orders the death penalty that's the system we live under. The death penalty is used more on certain types of people than others. What kind of people? Percentage-wise, white males are killed more than black males. Discrimination must be abolished by abolishing discrimination - not by abolishing penalties. Yet the fact that one person or group gets away with it is no reason to let another one escape. If the government makes a mistake in deciding who to kill, it cannot be undone. I must point out that in this imperfect world, nothing that is worth having comes without risk. After all, far, far more innocent lives have been taken by convicted murderers than the supposedly 23 innocents mistakenly executed this century. Also consider that thousands of American citizens are murdered each year by released and paroled criminals. Many victims' families are further haunted by the idea that the state killed someone on their behalf. How many is "many"? One percent, five percent? A victims' family is not responsible for the person's death. He committed the dastardly deed, so he's responsible for his own bed that he made. We're one of the few countries in the world that still use the death penalty. 80 percent of Americans support the death penalty. Sounds like an internal affair to me. Europeans or Asians don't cater to our laws, neither should we to theirs. Public support for the death penalty is dropping. 80 percent is a long ways from dropping. "Thou shalt not kill." I didn't know you were the Bible believing type Donna. That question is ridiculous on its face says Donna. Donna, don't hold back your feelings or your emotions now? Like I said earlier, it's very difficult for one to emotionally distance himself/ herself from this debate.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-12T15:32:19-06:00
ID
106857
Comment

If it does, it doesn't have to. Why not do it expeditiously...with a bullet? Why waste more money? The murderer didn't hesitate to shoot, stab or strangle his victim, so why should he be given preferential treatment? That statement truly speaks for itself. Not only do you believe in the state killing people, but you want them to do it quickly without regard to whether you have the right guy. Judge quick, kill quick. Gross. I'll bow out from here, I think. We've got to use some semblance of logic to have an interesting conversation.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T15:35:40-06:00
ID
106858
Comment

BTW, your 80 percent number is dated: WHO SUPPORTS THE DEATH PENALTY? By Joseph Carroll, Gallup Poll Assistant Editor November 16, 2004 Since 1936, Gallup has been asking Americans, "Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?" The percentage of Americans in favor of the death penalty has fluctuated significantly over the years, ranging from a low of 42% in 1966, during a revival of the anti-death penalty movement, to a high of 80% in 1994. More recently, public opinion on the death penalty has been more stable, with upward of two in three Americans supporting it. Gallup has asked Americans this question at least twice a year since 2001. To examine responses to this question more closely, Gallup combined the results of the nine surveys that asked this question from 2001 through 2004 on a year-by-year basis*. Overall, the data show that 67% of Americans supported the death penalty for convicted murderers in 2001. This percentage increased slightly to 71% in 2002, before dropping back to 67% in 2003. Results for this year show essentially no change since last year. Link. ____ Two-thirds of Americans (68%) support the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to a July 2005 poll by the Pew Forum and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. However, public support for the death penalty was somewhat stronger in the late 1990s (74% in 1999). Most Americans continue to oppose the death penalty for those convicted of offenses when they were under age 18 (54%-37%), and the Supreme Court cited a national consensus when it abolished the death penalty for minors in March 2005. More white Protestants than white Catholics favor capital punishment for adults (80% compared with 66%), but this gap disappears when it comes to minors. Only 38% of white Protestants and 39% of white Catholics favor applying the death penalty to those convicted when they were under age 18. Link.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T15:43:24-06:00
ID
106859
Comment

More facts from Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice: Facts about the Death Penalty If you are poor or happen to commit your crime in certain counties of certain states, your chances of getting the death penalty are much higher than if you are rich or live elsewhere. If you murder a white person in America, you are much more likely to get the death penalty than if you "just" murder an African-American. 81% of capital cases involve white victims, though only 50% of murder victims are white. This is racism. The ultimate injustice is seen when the state kills innocent people. Since 1999, 24 persons sentenced to die by a supposedly fair justice system were freed based on later DNA evidence. How many innocent persons were put to death before DNA testing? In July 2001 Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said, "If statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed." The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs $2.16 million per execution over the costs of a non-death penalty murder case with a sentence of imprisonment for life (Duke University, May 1993.) On a national basis, these figures translate to an extra cost of over $1 billion dollars spent since 1976 on the death penalty. The study, "The Costs of Processing Murder Cases in North Carolina," is available online at www-pps.aas.duke.edu/people/faculty/cook/comnc.pdf . In Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years (Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992). States without the death penalty have lower homicide rates than those with it. Many more non-partisan facts on the death penalty are available here and here.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T15:49:29-06:00
ID
106860
Comment

More from MESJ: There are many reasons to oppose the death penalty . . . It is ineffective as a deterrent to crime. It does not provide psychological "closure" for victims. It reinforces the idea that violence and killing are the solutions to social ills. It is more expensive than a life prison sentence. There is ALWAYS the risk of executing an innocent person. (Since 1973 in the U.S., 117 persons sentenced to die by a supposedly fair justice system were fully exonerated based on late evidence, such as DNA.) It is not administered equitably in the U.S. If you murder a white person, are poor, or happen to commit your crime in certain counties of certain states, you are much more likely to get the death penalty than otherwise. All western industrialized countries except the U.S. have abolished the death penalty as ineffective and inhumane. While religious arguments and the Bible are used by both sides, MOST RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS in the U.S. find capital punishment inhumane and unjustified, including: American Baptist Churches, Episcopal Church, Lutheran Church (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Roman Catholic Church, Mennonite Churches, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T15:49:46-06:00
ID
106861
Comment

"But you want them to do it quickly without regard to whether you have the right guy." Donna, that's the furthest thing from my mind. I simply meant AFTER the person has had his day in court, then the punishment should be rendered. Nothing more, nothing less.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-12T15:56:45-06:00
ID
106862
Comment

Only one day in court before the state puts a bullet in your head? Boy, do you trust the government. I remind you: Since 1973 in the U.S., 117 persons sentenced to die by a supposedly fair justice system were fully exonerated based on late evidence, such as DNA. The price to pay for a quick bullet to the head, I suppose? God only knows—really—how many innocent people were excuted before 1973 right here in Mississippi. It's easier to figure out how many that law enforcement lynched than how many innocent were sentenced to death. Killing = killing. You can't hide from that fact no matter how much emotion and bloodthirst you cloak it in.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T16:01:44-06:00
ID
106863
Comment

That's far less likely to happen today due to DNA testing. This justifies the death penalty even more. Let's see how many innocent lives have been taken by murderers since 1973? On average, 15,000 people are murdered every year. Let's take half of that (7500) and multiply it by 32 (for the years between 1973-2005). This equals 240,000 murders. Out of more than 240,000 murders, 117 people fell through the cracks. That's unfortunate, but we don't live in a perfect system and never will. DNA tests now lowers this amount exponentially.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-12T16:24:15-06:00
ID
106864
Comment

We are different people, pure and simple, Joerob. I don't believe a single person should "fall through the cracks" by being legally killed by a government worker. I rest my case.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-12T16:33:21-06:00
ID
106865
Comment

FEAR WORKS! It works great, if what you're trying to achieve is a fear-ridden society. That's not my vision of the United States, but it appears to be yours. So capital punishment is very capable of deterring murder if we allow it to, but our legal system is so slow and inefficient, criminals are able to stay several steps ahead of us and gain leeway through our lenience. Several reforms must be made in our justice system so the death penalty can cause a positive effect. If that sounds calloused, think about the murder victims' mother, father, children, relatives and friends who are left behind to mourn for the rest of their lives. Why don't we think about the VICTIMS for just once? So in your mind, permitting appeals equates to slowness and inefficiency? Do you even know how (and more importantly, WHY) the appeals process works? As for your appeal to the families of victims: The victims' families I've heard speak on this issue who've made sense to me are the ones who've emphatically said that they don't want revenge taken in their names. They have the good sense and the compassion to realize that more killing isn't the answer, and won't do anything to assuage their grief, and won't do anything else to make this world a better place. -- Tim

Author
Tim Kynerd
Date
2006-07-12T18:20:44-06:00
ID
106866
Comment

Joerob writes: Let's see how many innocent lives have been taken by murderers since 1973? On average, 15,000 people are murdered every year. Let's take half of that (7500) and multiply it by 32 (for the years between 1973-2005). This equals 240,000 murders. Out of more than 240,000 murders, 117 people fell through the cracks. That's unfortunate, but we don't live in a perfect system and never will. If 15,000 people are murdered in a year and the government executes 100 more, then 15,100 people are murdered in a year instead of 15,000. I fail to see how that's supposed to be an improvement. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-07-12T18:31:05-06:00
ID
106867
Comment

Joerob quotes Donna: "If the government makes a mistake in deciding who to kill, it cannot be undone." Joerob responds to Donna: "I must point out that in this imperfect world, nothing that is worth having comes without risk. After all, far, far more innocent lives have been taken by convicted murderers than the supposedly 23 innocents mistakenly executed this century. Also consider that thousands of American citizens are murdered each year by released and paroled criminals." Crowley responds to Joerob: I know how much Donna hates ad hominem attacks, but I'll risk banishment to say, what kind of stupid sonofabitch would say that it's worth the risk that the government executes a few innocent people so long as we usually kill guilty people. Joerob, tomorrow, when you're sober, go back and read your response and see how ridiculous it sounds.

Author
Curt Crowley
Date
2006-07-12T22:37:46-06:00
ID
106868
Comment

Curt Crowley responds to Joerob: What kind of "stupid sonofabitch". Curt I can say the same about you, however the extent of my language overpowers my urge to use derogatory undertones in describing your ignorance. And I don't appreciate you calling my mother a bitch. She has nothing to do with this conversation.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-13T01:26:31-06:00
ID
106869
Comment

If I can inject some numbers back into this discussion: Joerob, there have been about 600,000 murders since 1975. 1,029 people have been legally executed since 1976. Season to taste. Any system of capital punishment will sometimes kill the innocent--I have seen some estimates as high as 10%, based on prior exonerations. And this is all taking into account the lengthy appeals process we have in place--one of the reasons why it's a bad idea to have a system of capital punishment. Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't cry if they put a needle in BTK's arm, or Edgar Ray Killen's. But that doesn't make it right. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-07-13T02:27:38-06:00
ID
106870
Comment

And may I say that there's something vaguely barbaric and creepy about reading a newspaper that tells us how important it is that a certain prisoner be killed? Yes, Wilcher did some horrible things. Yes, we can be reasonably certain, in his case, that he actually did them. No, that doesn't mean it's okay to murder him. I mean, come on, people, is this really such a difficult concept to grasp? That said: The calculus of human lives--"collateral damage"--is a distasteful part of, well, nearly everything, from pharmacology to medicine to war to law enforcement to alcohol to driving...and on and on. Sometimes people will die simply because life happens. The difference? Executions aren't collateral. Executions are intentional. These are people we have in captivity, rendered harmless, and we're killing them for strictly emotional reasons when it serves no larger purpose. Even if every single person who was executed in this country were guilty--and we know that isn't even close to true--then it would still be wrong. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-07-13T02:34:31-06:00
ID
106871
Comment

why would you be in support of a known murderer? Donna already sorta defended me here (thanks!), but I'm a big boy and can defend myself on this one. To answer your question...balderdash! Since when does not support the death penalty equate to supporting the murderer? That sounds almost exactly like the right wing's analogy of not supporting the war in Iraq=not supporting the troops. I had a cousin in Chicago who was murdered 15 years ago this December, supposedly over a woman. He left behind four kids. The guy who killed him plead guilty. But even if it had gone to trial, I would not have wanted him to die. In fact, my cousin's mother didn't want that either. The government isn't exactly qualified to judge who should live or die. So what's the point in having the death penalty to begin with? Also, you seem to be blahzay about the possibility of an innocent person being executed. Would you be willing to bear the cost in a wrongful death lawsuit?

Author
golden eagle
Date
2006-07-13T08:34:56-06:00
ID
106872
Comment

Over on his blog, Sid Salter is making a caveman argument in favor of the state killing people: This week, death penalty opponents have been afforded a bully pulpit from which to pontificate against capital punishment. While I respect their right to their opinions, I just don't agree with them. Those opponents talk about being "sickened" by the concept of the state killing as a punishment for killing. They talk about race, socioeconomic factors and poverty influencing who lives and who dies in crimes that invite capital punishment under current laws. They talk about morality and justice. What they don't talk about is retribution. In the final analyis, that's the rub. Is it wrong for society to seek retribution against those who commit the most heinous of crimes? The problem here, beyond basic morality question about the government having the right to kill people, is the logic. Who could argue that the only possible "retribution" for a murder is someone (say this with glee now) "riding that needle"?!? Wheeeeeeeeee! And is a bloodthirsty columnist's right to decide that the "final analysis" is going to be death instead of some other form of retribution that wouldn't force state employees to kill people? I guess Mr. Salter is a real fan of the government and trusts them implicitly and explicitly. However, many people do not. And even if we could get to a place where the only "retribution" that makes sense is the government killing people, we are a long way where a place where we can trust the government to make no mistakes along the way to killing people for retribution. This is truly backward thinking. I feel very sad for people who think that the way to a more civilized society is by taking the most dramatic forms of retribution that cannot be undone if the government makes a mistake in who it chooses to kill.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-13T12:49:52-06:00
ID
106873
Comment

I think the death penalty is a just sentence for those who have committed premeditated murder. Not necessarily preferable, but just. It is debatable whether the death penalty is en effective deterrent, but this is a secondary consideration. Justice must be about what one deserves, not what effect one's punishment will have on others' behavior. However, the death penalty is only just if we can achieve absolute certainty that the right person is being punished. And we can't. Our system uses a "reasonable doubt" criteria, which is not a high enough standard. So for this reason I'm opposed to the death penalty.

Author
GLB
Date
2006-07-13T13:07:20-06:00
ID
106874
Comment

Sid's opinons are designed to provoke, that's about it. I doubt if even he believes them. That being said, that has to be one of the lamer arguments I've heard in favor of it. "Retribution"? I don't think anyone has a "Right" to retribution.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-07-13T14:00:13-06:00
ID
106875
Comment

Since most of you guys on this post seem to be against the death penalty, let's compromise. Why not allow the KNOWN murderer to be beaten within an inch of his life on a daily basis? Will that soothe your conscience or is that too demeaning inhumane for the killer?

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-13T16:36:34-06:00
ID
106876
Comment

Joerob: I would rather spend my time in support of the murder victim's family and loved ones than in support of a murderer's right to live. Donna: Well, that's quite the logical fallacy. (What's it called, Philip?) Philip: I think this qualifies as Prejudicial Language. Here, it does not necessarily mean racial prejudice but in the sense of, to quote the site Loaded or emotive terms are used to attach value or moral goodness to believing the proposition. So what is the “loaded or emotive” term in Joerob’s statement? There are a few I can pick out, but the main one is “a murderer’s right to live”. So…does a murderer have a right to live? IMO, strictly speaking, no. HOWEVER there is FAR more to the issue than that. To my mind, the simplest and most direct reason is that there is always the chance of executing the wrong person (Philip on Jul 11, 06 | 8:12 pm). Furthermore, if you value punishing criminals so much that you are willing to sacrifice a few innocent lives, you are in effect putting a finite price on innocent life. I agree with one of the founding fathers, John Adams when he represented British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial that it is more important that the innocent be protected than for the guilty to be punished. Let’s take another scenario: a woman is tried, convicted and sentenced to death for bludgeoning her husband to death with a shovel and tire tool. No doubt about the guilt, no doubt about the weapons. But there is doubt about the motive. She rightfully claimed her husband abused her horrifically, but due to lack of sufficient evidence (or a poor defense), neither the jury nor the judge believed her. Where’s the justice in sentencing her to death? Even if, by some chance, the jury’s and judge’s opinion is perfectly correct when a death sentence is handed out, I still cannot go along with the death penalty because even if in this case the legal system’s understanding was factually correct, there’s still the future LIKELIHOOD of a wrongful execution (and there have been plenty of them over the years, thanks to DNA testing). So, no thanks, I’ll settle for a life sentence without parole.

Author
Philip
Date
2006-07-13T17:24:31-06:00
ID
106877
Comment

Joerob: Why not allow the KNOWN murderer to be beaten within an inch of his life on a daily basis? Philip: Why not simply allow him to live the rest of his/her life in prison without ANY possibility of parole? LW herself said that Wilcher's crying when his execution got stayed might imply he actually wanted to die. Assuming LW is right in her interpretation, isn't it more of a punishment for him to LIVE? Joerob: Will that soothe your conscience or is that too demeaning inhumane for the killer? Philip: Again, why bother with him at all if he/she is put away somewhere deep in Parchman WITHOUT ANY possibility of parole? In that case, the state can forget about him - it proved its point. Now it should move on with more immediate and pressing issues.

Author
Philip
Date
2006-07-13T17:44:23-06:00
ID
106878
Comment

Philip: Again, why bother with him at all if he/she is put away somewhere deep in Parchman WITHOUT ANY possibility of parole? In that case, the state can forget about him - it proved its point. Now it should move on with more immediate and pressing issues. The state can't get on with other issues because in FIVE SHORT YEARS, a large percentage of murderers then become eligible for parole. Some end up being released and end up killing again. Even though technically a sizable percentage are sentenced to life, parole is only a few short years away.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-13T20:14:44-06:00
ID
106879
Comment

Joerob writes: Since most of you guys on this post seem to be against the death penalty, let's compromise. Why not allow the KNOWN murderer to be beaten within an inch of his life on a daily basis? You mean the 39 lashes? That's the sort of thing the Eighth Amendment was written to prevent. Read Cesare Beccaria. The Founding Fathers did, and that's where they got the idea that torture was not an appropriate punishment. Will that soothe your conscience or is that too demeaning inhumane for the killer? It's too demeaning for my country, that's for sure. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-07-13T22:09:33-06:00
ID
106880
Comment

While it's legal, people should realize that their actions will have a deadly consquence in the end. If they don't like it, don't do it. It's hard to whine for sympathy when you're a few minutes from the final pinprick. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to come up with a solution for a country that simply won't behave.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-07-13T22:15:48-06:00
ID
106881
Comment

The state can't get on with other issues because in FIVE SHORT YEARS, a large percentage of murderers then become eligible for parole. Some end up being released and end up killing again. Even though technically a sizable percentage are sentenced to life, parole is only a few short years away. Do you have any data from the department of corrections to back that up? Or are you just going by hearsay? Of every 1,000 felons sentenced to life, how many are actually released on parole within 5 years? 10 yrs? 20 yrs? Even if you are right in that a lot are released within 5 years, all that would prove is that we need to reform the state's parole laws. It's not a reason to bring in the death penalty or beating prisoners within an inch of their life.

Author
Philip
Date
2006-07-13T22:31:02-06:00
ID
106882
Comment

Sorry, the first paragraph in my previous post was my quoting of Joerob

Author
Philip
Date
2006-07-13T22:31:57-06:00
ID
106883
Comment

Tom Head says "you mean the 39 lashes? That's the sort of thing the Eighth Amendment was written to prevent. Read Cesare Beccaria. The Founding Fathers did, and that's where they got the idea that torture was not an appropriate punishment." That's not truly accurate Tom. What is “cruel and unusual” has NO fixed meaning, and so decisions interpreting the clause are sometimes controversial. The Supreme Court has generally held that a punishment that is wildly disproportionate to the crime committed is cruel and unusual. The Court has also upheld the death penalty against claims that putting someone to death, regardless of what that person did, is cruel and unusual. Cruel and unusual punishment is in the eye of the beholder.

Author
Joerob
Date
2006-07-14T07:50:21-06:00
ID
106884
Comment

I am against the death penalty in any case. Period. The first reason is because I believe that killing people is wrong. Pretty simple. You shouldn't kill people. And, killing people who kill people to show people that killing is wrong just doesn't make sense. Also, like Ladd siad, if one innocent person is put to death, then we can't have a death penalty. It IS more expensive than life in prison. I think that life in prison is a better punishment anyway. I am all for killers being punished and removed from society. That is something a lot of people miss when they hear that I'm against capital punishment. I am against killing killers, but that doesn't mean I think they shouldn't be punished and be allowed to roam the streets. Lock 'em up in solitary confinement for the rest of their lives. I was at an anti-death penalty vigil the other day. There was a lady there that lost a daughter, and quietly stood with us in opposition to what we were doing, holding a sign with photos of her daughter. I feel horrible for her. I hope she understands that we weren't supporting a killer, but showing that we do not support state-sanctioned killing. It also makes me sad for her to see that she is so consumed with hate for her daughter's killer (who has already been put to death by the way) and so concerned with revenge. Killing a killer doesn't bring the victims back. I understand that a lot of victims families want revenge. It's sad, but true. Hell, if somebody did something to one of my family members, I would want to kill the worthless scum sucker myself. But, that isn't what the judicial system was set up for. It isn't about revenge. It's supposed to be about justice.

Author
Tre
Date
2006-07-14T14:45:27-06:00
ID
106885
Comment

No one who won't push the button (push the syringe) has any reason to be in favor of capital punishment. I am in favor of capital punishment, and would push the syringe myself. I read an article in the NYT today which said that Missiouri can't find any "board-certified anesthesiologists" to sign up to lead executions. The state of Missiouri has had defendents state that intravenous injection is "cruel and unususal" because the "recipe" for injection doesn't "insure" the killer is "insensate" during the injection. This ruling is ridiculous. All they need to do is give 3 times the lethal doses of pentothal, muscle relaxants, and potassium. I'll be happy to give them the "recipe." It's interesting to me that the American Medical Association, and the Americn Society of Anesthesia both have "position papers" against any ot their members participating in executions. I suspect that over 80% of their members are in favor of capital punishment, but are against member participation. I feel that if you are not able to push the button, then you can't expect someone else to to it for you. HDMatthias, MD

Author
HDMatthias, MD
Date
2006-07-15T16:12:01-06:00
ID
106886
Comment

Good column from David Hampton in The Clarion-Leger on the death penalty Sunday. Good to see him go a bit against the finger-in-the-wind grain: I oppose the death penalty mainly on moral grounds. I don't think the state should kill people. I understand that a moral argument is just that and we could debate it ad nauseam with no conclusion. So, I'll leave the moral argument there. But I also just don't think it works. It is not a deterrent to crime and serves little purpose toward the aims of justice. Perhaps there is no deterrent to the crimes that the people on Death Row commit. Some are so heinous that they are just evil. But killing someone for a crime a quarter of a century after the fact removes any deterrence. Perhaps a few remember, but there is no statement of justice from a society and its judicial system. NO ROOM FOR MISTAKES I also don't trust the competence of the state to carry out the ultimate sanction of the death penalty. The judicial system is not perfect, and we accept that. But in dealing with life or death, "beyond a shadow of a doubt" becomes essential. How many innocent people have been put to death because of a mistake? The advance in science with DNA testing has proven the flaws in the system. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 120 Death Row inmates have been released since 1973 after new evidence proved their innocence. The politics of the death penalty are difficult, especially in the South. It is difficult for officials to openly oppose it. I admire Illinois Gov. George Ryan who a few years ago put a moratorium on the death penalty because of the questions raised by DNA testing. That was not easy. Deep down, I don't think Americans really want to face the death penalty. If we started putting the more than 3,000 inmates on Death Row to death on television every night, I doubt it would last long. That is one reality show that wouldn't make it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-07-17T11:38:23-06:00

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus