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22 September 2011

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confusedponderer

I think that it is immoral to kill people who are held captive i.e. already don't pose a threat to society any more.

But that is irrelevant to those who see capital punishment as retribution. Those sentenced to death are to die because of the deeds they have been sentenced for they forfeited their lives.

That argument only flies to the extent that the people in question are unequivocally guilty. A criminal court verdict is merely an official finding of facts and an assessment of guilt, based on the best, or not, available evidence present to the time of trial. In essence, it is a (necessary but far from infallible) fiction of truth.

It doesn't mean, as the Innocence Project has underlined repeatedly demonstrated, that this finding is actually true.

Consequently, the most weighty argument against the death penalty is the acknowledgement of human fallibility. We rush to judgement awfully often, even in court, with due process, rules of evidence and with a jury. Juries can be and are biased. Attorneys can be incompetent (iirc Texas had a notorious example of an attorney asleep at trial, with the outrageous ruling that this was no procedural flaw because he was 'present', so, in Texas, apparently the presence a warm body with a law degree is sufficient legal counsel). Experts can also be biased or incompetent. Prosecutors are ambitious etc pp.

In this case information strongly suggested that the man in question was innocent. To kill a man anyway, because procedure is exhausted, doubts notwithstanding, because it is good politics 'to be tough on crime', is simply judicial murder.

They essentially killed a couple of very probably innocent men on the altar of the institution of the death penalty, and let god sort'em out. Monstrous.

You can release a innocent man after 20 years in prison. You can't raise him from the dead.

John Kirkman

Those gray government folks who kill so easily are not involved in the deaths of their victims. They simply adjust their tie, nod and adjourn to the coffee shop. Unlike your experiences Colonel, there is no fear, no sound, no smell, especially no smell, the smell you can never quite wash off.
And one expects they do pray to their God whose work they are surely doing. Amen, and so on, into the night.

Babak Makkinejad

All:

Are you people serious?

Do victims have any rights in your scheme?

Do relatives of the murdered, tortured, raped, etc. have any rights?

Please come back to reality.

Killing people is not an easy task but retribution is a moral necessity in criminal justice were crimes against persons have been committed.

Lars

This a barbaric relic we can do without and as has been shown over and over, the process to get there is frequently flawed.

William R. Cumming

Crime statistic show rates are lowest in those states not permitting capital punishment! Not sure why!

The Moar You Know

"Will anyone have remorse if the man who died in Georgia last night is someday proven to have been innocent? I hope so."

Likely not those who cheered it on. The argument I always hear is "well, he was guilty of something". A sickening argument at best.

We can easily take people out of the game for good without murdering them. There are no more excuses for retaining this barbaric practice.

Arun

Justice W.T. Moore's evidentiary review, August 24, 2010 ruling for the Troy Davis case is available on the web. From there:

Justice T. Moore: "Mr Davis's new evidence does not change the balance of proof from the trial. Of his seven "recantations", only one is a meaningful, credible recantation...The value of that recantation is diminished because it only confirms that which was obvious at the trial-that its author was testifying falsely...(Kevin McQueen). Four of the remaining six recantations are either not credible or not true recantations and would be disregarded (..Antoine Williams, Jeffrey Sapp, Darrell Collins, Harriet Murray). The remaining two recantations were presented under the most suspicious of circumstances, with Mr Davis intentionally preventing the validity of the recantation from being challenged in open court....(Dorothy Perrell, Larry Young...). Worse, these witnesses were readily available - one was actually waiting in the courthouse - and Mr Davis chose not to present their recantations as live testimony....

{Regarding additional evidence} Further diminishing the value of this evidence is the fact that Mr Davis had the means to test the validity of the underlying confessions by calling and impeaching Mr Coles but chose not to do so. [106]

[106] Mr Davis has made it clear that he knew both Mr Cole's work and home address. Had Mr Davis at any time {emphasized} sought the help of this Court to subpoena Mr Coles prior to the conclusion of the hearing, the Court would have ordered the United States Marshall Service to serve Mr Coles. Mr Davis never made such a request, instead choosing to attempt self-service at the eleventh hour. His half-hearted efforts belie his true intentions: to be able to say that he "attempted" to provide Mr Coles testimony, when, in fact, he never intended to do so.

StruckDumb

Justice W.T. Moore, August 24, 2010, ruling after evidentiary review ordered by the US Supreme Court:

"Mr Davis's new evidence does not change the balance of proof from the trial. Of his seven "recantations", only one is a meaningful, credible recantation...The value of that recantation is diminished because it only confirms that which was obvious at the trial-that its author was testifying falsely...(Kevin McQueen). Four of the remaining six recantations are either not credible or not true recantations and would be disregarded (..Antoine Williams, Jeffrey Sapp, Darrell Collins, Harriet Murray). The remaining two recantations were presented under the most suspicious of circumstances, with Mr Davis intentionally preventing the validity of the recantation from being challenged in open court....(Dorothy Perrell, Larry Young...). Worse, these witnesses were readily available - one was actually waiting in the courthouse - and Mr Davis chose not to present their recantations as live testimony....

{Regarding additional evidence} Further diminishing the value of this evidence is the fact that Mr Davis had the means to test the validity of the underlying confessions by calling and impeaching Mr Coles but chose not to do so. [106]

[106] Mr Davis has made it clear that he knew both Mr Cole's work and home address. Had Mr Davis at any time {emphasized} sought the help of this Court to subpoena Mr Coles prior to the conclusion of the hearing, the Court would have ordered the United States Marshall Service to serve Mr Coles. Mr Davis never made such a request, instead choosing to attempt self-service at the eleventh hour. His half-hearted efforts belie his true intentions: to be able to say that he "attempted" to provide Mr Coles testimony, when, in fact, he never intended to do so.

PS

There was a stunning piece of reporting (Atlantic or New Yorker?) about a Texas man who was executed recently for setting fire to his trailer and killing a small girl based on the expert testimony of a forensic scientist. When an independent review panel was about to issue a report that the expert's testimony claiming arson was a Texas-sized bucket of s---, which meant Texas had executed an innocent man, Perry dismissed the panel without cause.

I also believe the tally is around 17 on the number of Texas deathrow inmates who have been exonerated by new DNA evidence, and the nationwide numbers are probably just as scary.

YT

Col. sir,

I live in a region where many gov'ts abide by this philosophy:

殺雞儆猴 (Pour Encourager les Autres)

"Kill the chicken to make an example to the monkey."

Guess the U.S. is catchin' up with the philosphy of "they're all expendable".

Ah, human life; all so cheap in whatever time & age (as well as place now).

Eric Dönges

You can't blame this on "gray government folks". The fact is that the majority of the U.S. public approves of capital punishment, regardless of how many miscarriages of justice are brought to their attention. The majority of the U.S. public are also OK with the fact (or maybe they just don't care ?) that the U.S. jails more people per capita than any other country in the world, or that some U.S. prisons are run more like concentration camps than correctional facilities.

howler

Camus says it better than I can:

But what then is capital punishment but the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated it may be, can be compared? For there to be equivalence, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.

Babak Makkinejad

And I suppose John Wayne Casey and Jeff Dahmmer should have been locked up?

I mean, some of you guys are former milirary personnel and must understand the idea that one must be able to defend oneself - both internally and externally.

Evil exists and that fact must be squarely faced.

That there are human beings - largelu men - who enjoy inflicting pain and sufferring on others - it is for fun.

Do you disagree?

Medicine Man

It all comes down to a lack of doubt. A religious man might say that having no doubts while wielding the power of a judge and executioner is a sort of hubris. I'm not sure what to say myself.

Fanto

All: how does the 'christian' nation read the New Testament? What do the US Christians say to that argument?

The Twisted Genius

PL, your choice of Goya is a powerful part of your post. I am also offended by the execution of Davis. I am forced into deeper introspection because of the near simultaneous execution in Texas. That didn't bother me to the extent that the Georgia execution did... but it should.

turcopolier

Babak

Prisoners are not a threat if they are sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. That is what we do in Virginia. Do you imagine that they will escape? If they try, then they must be hunted down.

It seems you see the death penalty as revenge. That is a barbarous attitude.

I wonder what your attitude is about prisoners of war. Would you kill them as well? pl

J

Colonel,

It [U.S. Federal/State Executions] all stem from the 'retribution rule' contained in the Old Testament. We can blame Moses for it, as it was his writings that our nation's judicial framers used to craft our nation's laws regarding killing on behalf of the government.

Grimgrin

If retribution is a moral necessity, who should we kill when the state puts an innocent man to death?

par4

I'm a supporter of the death penalty as long as there is irrefutable proof of guilt. Eyewitness testimony is NOT sufficient proof. If guilt is established beyond ALL doubt string them.

YT

Col. sir,

Re: "Prisoners are not a threat if they are sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole."

I guess that is why capital punishment is an essential my side of the planet.

Too costly to feed that many "evil beings".

Byron Raum

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?
Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.

ked

I've always been struck that there appears a correlation between those who rail against the dangerous power of the state (in the face of its oft demonstrated imperfections), and those who support capital punishment.

Maybe some people don't distinguish between personal desire & government policy. Perhaps the death penalty is simply one of many (& growing number of) political acts having no moral dimension.

Charles Martel

Judge Moore's review of the case blasts any idea that Davis was possibly innocent out of the water, but I want to pursue a different point -- to all the respondents who think the government overreached or acted improperly: how do you continue to give the government more power over every facet of our lives when, in your opinion, it can't get it right even in the most important instance? If it can't get the big things (executions) right even after years and years of legal review, and bungles less critical things like education, the DMV, the Post Office, and spending stimulus money on "shovel-ready projects" how do we hand them any authority over, say, our health care or our retirement savings?

Seems like those who are convinced of the inability of the government to get things like a capital case right, would be arguing for smaller government and less intrusion into our lives -- frankly there are lots of things individuals and NGOs can do better than the government, but we keep spending money on failing programs anyway.

walrus

Arun, the issue is not that certain witnesses recantation was not credible, the issue is that ANY witnesses could be found that would recant. Furthermore, there was no physical evidence linking the victim and the accused, not one shred, hence his conviction relied solely on witness testimony. The innocence project has conclusively demonstrated time and again that quite often witnesses are simply WRONG, even without being "led" by police.

As such, the verdict, let alone the sentence, was manifestly unsafe.

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