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Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Death Penalty (Collected Parts)

Part I

There are executions taking place in the country all the time.

Some states like Texas, and Oklahoma have systems of capital punishment that move people through, bringing them to their final-end with systematic ease.

In recent years there are many states who have had to change the methods by which they execute people because the drugs that they used to bring about a painless death have been restricted from the use in capital punishment by their manufacturers.

The stock piles of these drugs have run out, or expired. There are no new protocols for how to carry out lethal injections, and because these protocols are required to be spelled out in advance, and adhered to closely, some states have had to discontinue their executions.

Some states have tried to approve different methods, such as the firing squad, or hanging. They have encountered challenges in court on the grounds that those methods meet the definition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Other states, have tried illegally to procure the drugs spelled out in their protocols. There are investigations and prosecutions underway for these crimes.

Some states have simply made up new rules, approved new drug protocols, without testing them, these executions have had horrible results, causing the subjects pain, having to be halted after hours of failure, restarted and failed again.

Capital punishment in the United States is a fiasco, the motivations behind it are fraudulent and a facade.

The death penalty does not deter crime, it does not make the public any safer. It is revenge killing, plain and simple, and because our systems of justice are flawed, innocent people are put to death.

I hear apologists for the death penalty suggest that this is okay, that Americans are willing to accept an imperfect justice system, even one that occasionally executes innocent people, as long as they also believed that it deterred crime.

It does not actually have to deter crime, the people just need to believe that it does.

Former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, William Rhenquist said: “Innocence is not a bar to the implementation of justice.” 

The sentiment is this: as long as a person has been duly convicted, and properly sentenced, given adequate representation and had their day in court. Their actual guilt or innocence does not matter.


Part II

There was a time, and it was a brief time, when the conscience of America had arrived at a place where it recognized that Law is the Servant of Justice, and that justice without mercy is dead.

In that time we had abandoned the death penalty, having accepted the conclusion that it was inhumane, it did not deter crime, innocent people were on death row, innocent people were wrongly convicted and wrongly executed on a regular basis, it did not serve the interest of public safety.

It was believed then that the taking of human life for any other interest than one that served the general good, would be categorically immoral. But slowly other interests crept into the consideration. People began talking about victim’s rights, and the death penalty returned as a vehicle of punishment and satisfaction.

Today, almost every advocate of the death penalty uses an argument based on vindication, retribution and victim’s rights in defense of the proposition.

They disregard the facts that the death penalty does not deter murder. Other industrialized nations who have outlawed the death penalty have a lower murder rate.

Our own crime rates respond more to economic forces than juridical pressures.

Education and full employment, housing and access to markets do more to reduce crime at every level, than the threat of extreme penalties under the law for the commission of crimes.

I had been recognized as a universal truth, as a Kantian Imperative that vindication and retribution are not grounds for administering the death penalty.

Our system of justice is not based on Hammurabi’s Code, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

Vindication does not provide a moral justification for taking life.

The death penalty can only be considered to have moral force, if it in fact prevents the loss of life, but it does not, it only ensures the loss of life, and makes us all the perpetrators of state sponsored murder.


Part III

I firmly believe that every human being is ultimately responsible for their own actions. I also believe that human beings are social creatures, and in a Platonic way the whole of society is present within every person.

We are a collective.

According to this logic, every society that produces a murderer bears some responsibility for that murderer.

We can never disown our criminals. We have a collective responsibility for them, and that is why the death penalty is out of the question.

The death penalty is ritual murder.

Increasingly it is only justified on the grounds that it brings satisfaction to the victims of criminals.

The death penalty does not deter anything.

No-one has a right to this kind of satisfaction.

I grew up on the streets. I know many criminals. I know that that when people are involved in criminal life the last thing they are thinking about is the penalty that they will pay if they are caught.

They do not believe that they will be caught, or they do not care. They have no appreciation for the consequences of their actions.

Many studies have been published regarding the capital punishment system in America, pointing out its critical flaws. I find it amazing that a national moratorium on the death penalty has not been enacted.

Many reputable politicians, and thought leaders have called for such a moratorium, but not enough, they are only a minority.

Key issues of unfairness in cases involving the possibility of the death penalty involve the defendant having inadequate representation at trial, an inadequate appeals processes, inadequate sentencing alternatives for juries, and inadequate evidentiary requirements.

Statistics show that a disproportionate number of poor and minorities are ever even considered for the death penalty.

In America, poor people and minorities are more likely to be stopped by police, more likely to be arrested when stopped, more likely to be charged with a crime when arrested, more likely to remain in custody when charged with a crime while they await their trial. They are more likely to be found guilty, and more likely to receive the highest punishment, including the death penalty.

This disproportionate justice is not just reflected in our capital punishment system only, but in our system of criminal justice as a whole, in a prison population that is larger than any other prison population in the world.


This is a sad state of affairs and a stark indictment on our own society.

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